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