Sunday, December 25, 2011

A new Christmas tradition?

We always have a big breakfast Christmas morning. "Nero Wolfe" scrambled eggs (cooked over a double boiler slowly for a long time), ham from Christmas Eve, homemade rolls, fresh fruit salad, bacon, sausage. The whole nine yards.

But to gild the lily this year, Yorkshire pudding was introduced. A puffy, dramatic and - actually - pretty light carb to balance the proteins.

Michael Ruhlman's blog yielded a very simple but terrific recipe. Basically 4-5 eggs and a cup of flour and then good fat (we used bacon drippings), popover pan and high heat. Wow!

These were architectural beauties -- golden, narrow hipped, huge on top, light and fluffy and and filled with air and deliciousness.

This may be the start of a new tradition after 20 years of wonderful meals. Our pals Kim and George are new additions as well, with bubbly and bacon, and who add freshness and friends to the breakfast table.

You can't buy a breakfast like this for food, wine or especially company. And that's the big present of the day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crappy dinner

Despite years of cooking, experience and interest in food-- some tag-teamed skills between us, the baker and the more savory cook -- now and then a really crappy meal comes out of the kitchen despite best efforts.

So: leftover burger, some beef broth, cabbage, carrots, lots of onions, celery, Great Northern canned beans and a bit of leftover rice = a totally sucky dinner.

The rice blew up in the broth, the beans and rice suck up any flavor so it was really bland and not soupy. I mean, it was food if you were really, really hungry (which I know is prevalent in so many places. ) But, wow. All this stuff and no flavor and crappy texture.

Hmmm, guess a little failure in the kitchen is always a bit of a bracing slap in the face and kind of refreshing.

English muffins for dinner, and the cook is humbled.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thanksgiving gravy starts now!

We are starting the Thanksgiving gravy three weeks early. Here's the plan:

We roasted two turkey legs and three turkey wings. First, collect the drippings. Let them chill, separate the fat, and freeze the drippings and fat separately. After stripping the bones of their meat, we will make about two quarts of rich stock from the bones and scraps, along with onions, celery, carrots. After straining the stock, we chill it to let the fat rise and solidify atop the liquid. Remove the fat and freeze it.

Now boil the stock down, reducing it by about half. Freeze the quart of concentrated stock.

When Thanksgiving comes, we will have extra turkey fat, extra drippings and plenty of stock to extend the gravy.

Since gravy is simply fat and flour, cooked to a brown roux along with flavorful liquids stirred in, we are in great shape. Plenty of turkey fat and plenty of drippings and stock to make the most flavorful of gravies.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I wonder if the little ones would rather have a nice slice of Halloween meatloaf than all that candy?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sydney Bogg chocolates

Lucky me, I won a box of Sydney Bogg chocolates from Sweet Essentials in Berkley. It was elegant and totally delicious.

I remember the store at 7 mile and Woodward which seemed magical and and beautiful -- went as a Girl Scout on a field trip and passed it countless times on my way to downtown for work. Glossy chocolate, gleaming glass cases, gorgeous boxes and all on a a wide city highway across from a park. You know it was a special event when you got something from Bogg's.

What I didn't know is the same recipe is being made here in my home town of Berkley. The owners of Sweet Essentials have been making the candy based on Bogg recipes for the last 25 years. It's a small store with choice chocolates.

The box I took home can hold its own with any first class chocolates. Glad to know a Detroit legend lives on nearby and is just as glamorous, delicious and a treat as it was 50 years ago.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remembering Eloise

We had some sad news in the last days, the mother of one of my best friends passed on.

Eloise was a sassy, smart, sharp, fun and vocal lady who I spent lots of time with during college and especially during a number of trips to Sanibel Island.

Her daughter is brilliant, fun and creative and we have had a long and wonderful friendship since college.

So how does this relate to Detroit Food?

A week in Sanibel
= gorgeous tomatoes in Feb.
=Key lime pie

=Anything you ever wanted to eat in the fridge

=Frozen cookie dough whenever you wanted it

=Bubble Room bread (which we deconstructed, see another post.)

Everything we ever had, in the company of Eloise and my friend, was delicious. Breakfast with Jane Pauley despite I never watch TV in the a.m. Happy hour on the patio. Brunch with stone crab claws and omelettes, of course.

Food tastes best with the people you care about most. Food tastes the best with Karen and Eloise.

She is and was a great lady, with fun and spark and a zest for life. Lucky to know her.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Joys and Comforts of a Bloody Mary

Now Bloody Marys are almost never on the menu at our home or choices we make out or at social gatherings. However, a request by a young family member for a Bloody Mary birthday brunch was filled and it was just delicious.

It seems that Bloody Marys show up at the most joyful and and saddest occasions -- as a celebration and a comfort.

For the birthday of a lovely young woman, it added spice, verve and savoriness to a homemade (and well-made I might add) brunch of eggs, sausage, fruit, homemade bread --- eaten with family and good, young friends. And a perfect summer evening with an ice cold Bloody Mary sipped while on the phone with best friend across the country was just a perfect counterpoint to a lifelong connection.

After losing beloved family, a post-funeral Bloody Mary offered refreshment, a little bit of life and real comfort, especially made by other loved family.

Interesting how a simple drink can take on an iconic status and emotional weight. That's the beauty of sharing good food and drink.

Here's how we made Sunday's Bloody Mary:

36 oz V-8 (not tomato juice)
6 oz ice cold vodka
Juice of 1 1/2 to two lemons
12- 15 shakes of hot sauce (used Frank's but any works)
3 generous shakes of Worcestershire
1 T fresh horseradish

Mix well, chill well and serve ice cold over ice in a tumbler or highball glass garnished with a long stalk of celery (or a dill pickle.)

Open to individual taste --- add more or less spice, etc. Lime is a good option in place of lemon. This is a good basic recipe you can take and make your own.

Remember: Ice cold!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fun at Pig and Whiskey, Ferndale

Some good eatin' at Ferndale Pig and Whiskey

Barbequed pork belly with onions and peaches from Roast in Detroit. Succulent for sure, though I expected more aggressive seasoning from Michael Symon.

A nice Pork slider from Real BBQ (Lincoln Park and other locations around Detroit). Their sauce is just on the edge of sweet.

Macon Bacon slider from Union Woodshop, Clarkson. This sounds wonderful - Angus slider, bacon, bacon jam, prosciutto, and cheese. Alas, the bacon just overwhelmed everything else.

Finally, a smoky, smoky, smoky pulled pork slider from Union Woodshop. I liked it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Maurice? Mai oui!

The J.L. Hudson Maurice salad

When I was younger, J.L. Hudson department store in downtown Detroit, a fixture on Woodward Avenue, was a glamorous and big city destination. It was a very big deal to go downtown. When I was in high school and maybe jr. high, my sister and a couple friends would dress up (sometimes in our spring coat -- remember those) and maybe even gloves, to spend the full day there.

Always alluring were the "aisles of beauty" where you could test fragrances, check out new make-up but, because we were students, could never afford to buy. Made no difference, the sleek cosmetic clerks were as close as we could get to glamour.

We'd wander around the multi-level store, gotten to by elevators manned by elevator operators in snappy uniforms. I always thought of them as pretty powerful, maneuvering the elevator to just meet each floor.

And lunch was the highlight. Up on the top floor, with rows of windows letting in light but judiciously tempered by long, elegant curtains, the Hudson dining room was elegance par exellance.

So what did we order? Maurice salad, of course. A gorgeous plate of shredded, ice cold iceberg lettuce topped by thin batons of ham, turkey and Swiss cheese. And then the dressing. The dressing!

Creamy, a little bit tangy - and I recall studded with sweet gherkins, it was heavenly. Rich, piquant, a little saucy it made the day. Seriously. That salad was that good.

So, on this hot day, I decided to recreate the J.L. Hudson Maurice. Got the recipe off the internet, made a couple tweeks (minced onions rather than onion juice.)

Shredded the lettuce, laid on the sliced ham, turkey and Swiss and then, the crowning glory, the dressing.

Maybe not exactly, but close enough, to Hudson's dining room. A couple bites in I was roaming those upper floors and the aisles of beauty.

Here's the recipe:


2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons onion juice
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 hard-cooked egg, diced
1 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound turkey breast, cut into strips
14 ounces Swiss cheese, cut into strips
1/2 cup sliced sweet gherkin pickles
1 head iceberg lettuce - rinsed, dried, and shredded
12 pimento-stuffed green olives

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, lemon juice, onion juice, sugar, Dijon, dry mustard and mayonnaise. Add the parsley and egg; mix well.
In a large bowl, combine the ham, turkey, cheese and pickles. Add the dressing and mix well. Divide the lettuce among plates, top with salad and garnish each plate with 2 olives.

Note: Mixing the cheeses and meat and pickles is great. But as I recall, the salad came unadorned, so you could as much of the dressing to your taste. Do either, it'll still be delicious.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kansas City 'Q Fest

Once again the baker blogger made his trek to Kansas City to be a reader for the AP Psych Exams. This is a big deal. Tons of readers for many of the AP tests -- psychology, biology, calculus and others converge in KC for one week of reading thousands of exams. The psych folks alone read some 400,000 essays. The backside pain and the mental exhaustion caused by reading and thoughtfully grading essays for 8 hours a day were ameliorated by access to world class 'q in KC.

We have been holding the annual KC BBQ Fest since 2009, when the trips to KC began. For this year's feast, I brought back ribs, burnt ends and pulled pork from Arthur Bryant, ribs from Big T's, and ribs and beef brisket from Oklahoma Joe's. Bryant's and OK Joe's are repeats from past years, but Big T's ribs are new this year. I sampled the Big T's rib plate this year and came away very impressed - meaty, juicy, tender as a KC jazzman's love song. T's ribs were the favorites of the BBQ Fest's guests.

The OK Joe brisket is wonderful - in KC. For the second year in a row, the brisket has failed to make the overnight trip from KC to Detroit. The counter guys at Joe's suggested that the hot brisket is only good for an hour or so, but that the cold brisket should make the trip successfully. We tried the cold brisket. It was better than last year - not dried out - but it still lost that ineffable essence of brisket that, in KC, you not so much taste as become one with. My reading partner tried the brisket, at OK Joe's combination rib shack and gas station. She's from North Carolina and seemed almost willing to forswear NC BBQ is she could eat Joe's brisket regularly.

I should mention that just down the street from Big T's is another well-known KC BBQ landmark - LC's. I wanted to get a sample plate from each of them to compare and consider for inclusion onto the BBQ Fest menu. I did not eat anything from LC's. I did not like the joint from the second I entered. There were only a couple people inside, and they didn't seem happy; the waitress was scowling; the place felt dirty. I studied the menu for a minute before I realized I didn't want their food. Lots of people love LC's; I am afraid of it.

This reader stopped at Arthur Bryant's, Big T's and Oklahoma Joe's for smokey, delectable q, maybe the best since he's done the epic take-out.

Accompanying the take-out, homemade baked beans (with good chunks of salt pork) and corn bread, a great Caesar salad from our neighbor Donna (time to and a citrus-y delicious cake from Allison across the street.

Hands down winner: Big T's ribs. Huge, meaty, great rub smoked in. And the BBQ sauce was saucy and hot, just needed a bit, because the ribs just rocked it.

Hands down winner #2: Arthur Bryant's burnt ends. Bryant's ribs were delicious, deeply smokey, and with a good chew. The pulled pork is stringy deliciousness, and we had to just put down the fork, to move to other 'q favorites.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Days of Wine and Kroger's

Professional Pours is a new business with which we're associated. Now that Michigan passed a law that allows wine tasting at retail outlets, Professional Pours provides specially trained, professional staff to serve according to state regulations, as well as provide knowledgable commentary on the wine with a focus on personalized service.

We were thrilled to be part of Kroger's first tasting at its 15 Mile and Lahser store, featuring an appearance by chef Tyler Florence. He was there to sign his new book, "Family Meals."

And we were there to share the new wine Tyler has partnered with Michael Mondavi and his son Rob Mondavi, a fourth generation winemaker. Their Folio Wine Partners has worked to create five wonderful blends, of which the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon are the first two.

The wine is delicious; the Sauvignon Blanc was the stand-out for us. Fresh, crisp and well-rounded it has overtones of citrus - grapefruit and Meyer lemon, and a refreshing acidity that makes it great with food. Perfect for summer.

Kroger's bistro served a rich asparagus risotto with black truffle oil. And to accompany the Tyler Florence Cabernet Sauvingnon, hangar steak on a bed of creamed Swiss chard with a demiglace reduction, and caramelized onion crostini. Both wines were a great match with the food.

Nice way to kick off a new venture! We'll be back at Kroger next weekend (June 18,19) for another wine tasting.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It may be utopia

I had the opportunity to sample Sam Adams Utopia beer - if beer is the right word. The decanter-like container held, I was assured by the friend who acquired it, a beer aged for more than twenty years, part of the time in old bourbon barrels. It is made with a proprietary yeast and is about 25% alcohol.

The taste was a subtle mix of beer (faintly) and whiskey, with the whiskey mainly noticeable in the finish. The aroma was that of old port, and the mouthfeel was lightly viscous, almost the consistency of light olive oil. Utopias is intense, syrupy, almost sweet.

We sipped it from shotglasses, which was just about the right size serving.

We enjoyed this on a patio on a lovely, early summer afternoon. I'd do it again in that venue, but I really think Utopia is made for a man with grown sons, who share sips with him before the fireplace on an evening before New Year's while the father reminisces of more dangerous, more intense times, of life more full.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trying frying = eh

We love to post our triumphs, our finds, our small joys and successes in good chow. But in the interest of full transparency, we also want to share our also-rans.

After a number of media exposures (TV, articles) to awesome fried chicken, we were hankering and hungering for some. This weekend was the experiment.

Great chicken, marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce. .... Check
Properly heated oil in heavy cast iron pot...... Check
Well prepared batter, nicely seasoned..... Check

End Sometimes all the ingredients are great, you have an instructive and appealing new recipe to use and the results fall flat -- or in this case soggy. Upside, the chicken was moist and well-cooked. Downside, flabby and not very crusty outside; leftover a disaster.

Next up: egg wash and flour only

Have to offer even more props to those folks who cook this wonderfully. Not as easy as it tastes.

We did a re-do of the chicken. Same marinated in buttermilk chicken, seasoned flour, a wider pan with same oil and temp. Result = pretty good fried chicken. Key was finishing it in the oven @ 350 degrees. We're not rare chicken people so we kept it there more than the recommeneded 10 minutes. Turned out pretty good. Still have some work to do, but we're on the right track here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Grilled chicken ... and beyond!

An intruiging conversation on, our go-to place for delicious food intel, is touting the charms and tastes of a couple grilled chicken places in Mexican Town (Detroit). Have to put these on the "to-do to-chow" list for the summer: El Pappo de la Pollitos and Taqeuria del Ray:
chowhound grilled chicken - Mexican Town

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

15 degrees = Tasty!

Here's the latest from the Pork Board -- they've lowered the temperature by 15 degrees so that pork is "done" earlier, stays moister!

This promotional video was done by offspring Tom Shea, featuring Detroitfood blogger in a cameo role at the picnic table.


Click on "Fifteen Degrees" at this link: Pork Be Inspired website

Monday, May 16, 2011


So we're entering the crazy season -- the asparagus fest. Thrilled to find Michigan asparagus at the Royal Oak Farmers Market last weekend. Missed the very last bunch by 30 seconds the week before. Like Michigan strawberries, asparagus is so delectable during this short spring season. We love the thick stalks, especially steamed with butter and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan. However, we're doing a nice job of making some great seasonal pasta with asparagus, spinach and dandelion greens, a little onion and a hit of garlic. Maybe next time with some Swiss chard, too. Peas are always a plus.

This time of year spring offers its greatest offerings and we're taking advantage of every option. Next up: Michigan strawberries!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day roast

We had a nice standing rib roast for Mother's Day. We did the low-and-slow method with this roast - about 2-1/2 hours at 200 F followed by a 1/2 hour at 300 F until the meat thermometer read 125F internal temp. We let it rest for 45 minutes, then popped it back in a 550F oven for about 7 minutes. It came out crispy and caramelized on the outside and pinky medium rare on the inside. We roasted peeled, chunked potatoes (olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary) at 400F for about 30 minutes, added some fresh asparagus, and a drinkable Trader Joe red wine.

All in all, a satisfying dinner - less trouble overall than raising two children to adulthood, but, even with plenty of leftovers, the joy of the two of them will long outlast the pleasures of this meal. Happy Mother's Day to all.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kielbasa Fest

One of the great things of marriage adding to the family is what they bring, literally, to the table. Twenty-plus years ago, our brother-in-law brought a Polish Easter that is now a revered and anticipated part of the year.

We former ham and lamb eaters celebrate the holiday with earthy garlicky fresh kielbasa and rich smoked kielbasa, all products of family butchers/meat stores in Hamtramck, the mecca for Polish food and culture.

Along with tangy rye bread, doughy and butter laden pierogis and desserts of honeyed babka, poppy seed roll, we are converts to the Polish way. We generally add a couple of green or healthy items, a couple pounds of asparagus, some fruit salad, and some bubbly.

But let's not kid ourselves, the kielbasa is the main show. We compare how smoky/garlicky it is from year to year. Desserts are always the same (never the strong suit for us, but a must nibble item.)

Accompanied by jelly beans and deviled eggs as appetizers, you can't beat this for a family holiday feast --- blooming flowers are the icing on the cake.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On the trail of the elusive rye

After a couple not-quite-so successful starts, the baker was determined to nail a loaf of Jewish rye. The secret: first clear flour and using a rye-based sponge.

First clear flour

First clear flour is a high-protein, high-extraction, high-ash flour - the secret ingredient to New York City's signature Jewish-style rye breads. After some local searching, a mail order from King Arthur Flour delivered both the first clear flour and some good light rye flour.

The result: a chewy, rye-y, rye bread. A recent purchase of a good electric knife lets the slices be thin for a great sandwich base, thick for terrific toast.

Not bad for the Irish Catholic baker.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mess o' perch

A nice mess o' pan-fried perch for dinner tonight with a caper/butter sauce, a salad of greens and fruit, a bit of mashed potatoes. It must be Lent and I must be 9 years old again. Life is good.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pho Viet: Pho Sho'

Beef pho w/ rare beef and well-done brisket

Spicy beef with lemongrass soup

Summer roll with peanut dipping sauce

There's a newcomer restaurant in "Little Saigon" area of our fair metropolis. Pho Viet just opened at 13 Mile and Ryan Road. My fellow culinary adventurer Kim and I checked it out for lunch today. Verdict: It's a keeper. We'll be back.

The space, formerly a nightclub is in a small strip mall. The space is surprisingly large and spacious with nice parquet woodwork, modern halogen table lights and sleek black furniture. The service is sincere, warm and welcoming. We were even thanked for our question about the cilantro garnish.

We started with very generous spring rolls ($3.50/2) that were full of fresh shrimp and delicious herbs. Accompanying peanut dipping sauce is addictive, the best I've had at any of the other Vietnamese places.

I ordered the beef pho with rare (yes rare!) beef and well-done brisket ($7.50). The meat was juicy, thin-sliced and served in a large portion. Beef broth was meaty, a little light on spices (start anise), but in a good way. Very generous pho/rice noodles. A wonderful meal -- and the beansprout, thai basil, cilantro, lime, and jalepeno garnish was not only beautiful but bountiful and delicious.

Kim had the spicy beef lemongrass ($7.50). It came with a generous portion of beef and a couple unfortunate chunks of liver (which she removed) and had a well-rounded warmth and clear taste of spice and citrus-y lemongrass. The flour noodles weren't quite as large a serving as the pho, but well cooked.

The bill for this came out to an even $20.

The quality of the meal, nice surroundings and the sincerity and warmth of the service speaks, I hope, to a long run for this newcomer.

Pho Viet
3854 E. 13 Mile Rd
Warren, MI 48092

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We Need No-Knead

The above beauty is a product of five minutes of active work ---aka the Sullivan Street Bakery no-knead bread. Such dividends from such little effort!

We are using the recipe from the New York Times (Mark Bittman). Assemble the bread, let it rest for 12 hours for first rise, after a quick second rise, shape in a ball and bake in a high-sided pot pre-heated to 450. Bake, turn down temp and -- voila, a tangy, crusty artisan-like bread. Made in your own kitchen!

The baker has perfected this....the non-baker may even be so bold as to give it a try.

Hey, take that you $7 loaves!

Mo' Food for Thought

Just returned from Model D's "Mo' Food," a panel and conversation on the future of food and food systems for the Detroit economy and community.

Among issues discussed were: What are the emerging opportunities for Detroit's local food economy? Is the city open to new ideas and ways of doing business? How are markets and restaurants changing the economic profile of the city and how can they contribute to its growth? What are the opportunities for collaboration between large scale markets, existing food markets and emerging entrepreneurs?

A panel discussion led off -- on it were DanCarmody, president ofEastern Market Corporation; Todd Abrams, food writer and co-founder ofGourmet Underground; James Garrison, kitchen manager at Honey Bee Market La Colmena; Joe McClure, co-founder of McClure's Pickles; and Jess Daniel, founder of Neighborhood Noodle. Noah Ovshinsky, WDET reporter on food issues moderated.

First off, the venue, Cliff Bells downtown was packed to the gills, standing room only. Clearly, there's a lot of interest and passion in the topic.

Second, Eastern Market is set to become a real power house in the development of food systems, linking consumers, wholesale, retail, entrepreneurs and even schools in developing a comprehensive, fresh, Michigan-centric products. According to Carmody, Michigan stands to become a national leader this area. Among things planned at Eastern Market are an open market kitchen incubator available to cottage and emerging artisan food producers; technical and business support for these emerging producers, a linkage between Detroit Public Schools kitchens (Carmody says they're some of the best commercial kitchens in the country) and entrepreneurs and farmers, making these sites for fresh produce for neighborhoods.

Also learned more about the Good Food Working Group that's helping start-ups connect with others in the same boat, the Detroit Food Policy Council and the Food Justice Task Force.

A critical mass is converging around this broad topic - food access, food business, food fairness and justice and it's an exciting mix of individuals, business, city experts all working to push Detroit to embrace and lead in this important area.

I'll look forward to learning more about all these various efforts --- inspiring and exciting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Charleston Chow

Short trip to Charleston -- chowriffic
Thanks to chowhounds and yelp we had a great couple of chow days in Charleston. Lunch at See Wee restaurant in Awandaw --- special of fried flounder, shrimp oysters, fried green tomatoes, red rice (husband has mac and cheese and slaw.) Hot, fresh, ethereally fried -- washed down with a hop-sy Palmetto lager. Just a great, great meal and such friendly service.

Breakfast at Hominy Grill next a.m., Chalreston -- best grits I ever had, mile high biscuit -- husband had eggs and sausage -- very porky, spicy, coarse ground and obviously made there. Fresh and lovely restaurant in charming neighborhood, again, great service. Think I could eat there three meals a day.

Dinner at Magnolia's on East Bay. Rich and luxurious blue crab bisque, spicy shrimp and grits with andouille and tasso gravy, husband had the shellfish with lobster sauce over grits. Impeccable service, white table cloth but very warm and chic. Food was perfect --rich but not overwhelming, very nice wine list.

We loved the city and the chow. Just sorry it was a short trip. We'll be back as soon as we can.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Michigan's Lower Peninsula in cheese

You never know what wonders you'll find making lunch. Here's the Lower Peninsula, courtesy of Hoffman's extra sharp cheddar. On rye.