Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chicken Marsala

A quick trip to one of our favorite markets, Holiday Market in Royal Oak, MI, offered a fast inspiration for dinner on a cool, breezy autumn night. 

I always like to check out their ready-to-eat entrees and yesterday, the chicken marsala just rang my bell. Dark, mushroomy gravy did it. So, what to eat that night was taken care of in a snap. 

Picked up a nice, hefty full chicken breast, package of cremini mushrooms and a small, good bottle of marsala - thanks to the great wine folks there. 

Now to make. Checked through the usual suspects -- couple of Marcela Hazan cookbooks, Silver Spoon cookbook (translated to English from the very popular Italian version), Batali, NY Times/Craig Claiborne, Joy of Cooking. Not a recipe to be found. 

The interweb offered up a good and simple recipe from the late, great Gourmet. Dredge chicken in flour, brown on both sides till done, saute shallots and mushrooms in butter, add marsala and some stock (beef stock on hand worked well though it called for chicken.) 

End result was a gorgeous plate of golden chicken, topped with a savory dark mushroom and jus, served with the just-picked spinach from the farmer's market. A side of buttered linguine was the vehicle to soak up all that winey/chickeny goodness. 

This will be a keeper - fast, delicious and good enough for company, or for a relaxing night before the cold winds of October blow and the World Series game three starts. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Julia's Boef Bourguignon

My first attempt at Julia Child's boef bourguignon

As the temps dropped a bit and I spent a good part of the day at a farmer's market and Michigan food tasting both outside, I had the urge for boef bourguignon. Just came to me out the blue, or should I say gray sky. Why? I'd never made it, but I can take a hint when I get one.

Got about a pound and a half of stewing beef, some cremini mushrooms, a decent bottle of pinot noir from Castlerock, downloaded Julia's recipe and I was off.

What I found really interesting was browning the meat before flouring. She directs you to brown the chunks well, then the carrots and onions, add back in bacon you'd already fried and THEN, only then, sprinkle about 1-2 T flour over the beef and shoot into a 425 degree oven for four minutes. Toss again and throw in for another eight minutes. Then add the stock and wine and let it cook in the oven for three or more hours or till meat is fork tender.

It yielded a wonderful, shiny and glaze-y sauce for the meat and vegetables, very subtle hint of wine and just wonderfully rich and flavorful.

There are a couple of steps to it, but no harder than making your everyday beef stew. I've got to say I was impressed myself by the end product.

I loved Julia before but now she makes me look like a genius and my regard's only gone up.

Try it yourself!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Early Easter fest

Due to a variety of circumstances we held Easter brunch today. We did the whole nine yards -- deviled eggs, a new addition of dill pickle soup, and our adopted Polish brunch of fresh and smoked kielbasa, mushroom/sauerkraut pierogies and potato/cheese and meat pierogies. An addition of a gorgeous fruit salad and a middle European/Hungarian salad of thinly sliced cucumbers and onions in sour cream along with fresh steamed asparagus and rye bread and butter completed the meal.

Chocolate bunnies, Peeps and jelly beans are a given.

Nothing like the comfort and fun of family, a celebration of spring and a huge and delicious meal to celebrate the new season!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vinsetta Garage = Great news for Woodward food

Couldn't be happier at the news that Vinsetta Garage is morphing into a real, local restaurant. Not theme stuff, T-shirts, Woodward cruise memorabilia.

I can't think of a better way to respect and re-use this iconic place on Woodward.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

An old favorite from my peeps

                                                                 Chicken paprikash

My grandfather grew up about six hours outside Vienna, near the Hungarian border, and about 15 miles from the Yugoslavian border. My grandmother was born and grew up only several miles away from the village of grandfather, Rabfidisch, but over time it made all the difference. As the imperial Austro-Hungarian Empire gradually contracted from its wide world domination, the little village of Theresia Yost's became part of Communist Hungary.

Way before then, they had both emigrated to the U.S., landing in Allentown, Pennsylvania. That's where they met, not in the cozy landscape of their native land. My grandfather was a high-level professional waiter in Europe, and started his own restaurant in either Newark or Manhattan...a white table cloth place with a dining room and gentlemen's grill. My father remembers sitting in the kitchen with the very tall cook making small things.

So the upshot is, we grew up with a variety of Austro-Hungarian foods -- my German/Irish mother tried to keep up now and then.

And in this finally really cold chapter of winter, I decided to go back to the old school dinner. Hungarians make everything delicious -- meats, salads, vegetables, chicken-- with the addition of a little flour and sour cream.

Several chicken thighs, onions, some fresh Hungarian paprika, sour cream made a warming and nostalgic dinner.

And a loving salute to family.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Diner's Guide

With so much talk about sustainable agricultural practices and humane treatment of animals, where do the people who work in restaurants fit in?

Michael Pollan says, "Ethical eating takes in the welfare of the restaurant workers. Or at least it should."

A new national Diner's Guide is out listing those restaurants who take care of their employees and others who don't.

It's good to see how many Detroit area restaurants are on the stellar list!

Here's the link to the Diner's Guide

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Eat Your World = Detroit props

I follow, and find all sorts of good stuff there. Today was an intro to a new website/blog Eat Your World. Creators have been all over the world and give insights into eating the real deal in cities.

Of course, I lasered in on Detroit. Expecting the worst or a bunch of cliches. Not.

They got us, the city, the food, the artisan and local food stuff, Eastern Market's importance. I'm impressed.

This was true Detroit food and they did us proud. I'll be watching these guys.
Fried yellow perch from Hamtramck

You know what this is.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ginger Scallion Sauce

I love running across great recipes on Twitter. In this case, this is an iconic food from a family that comforted the writer for many years. It's now a sacred food. I can relate. (Hello..Taylor ham?)

Here's the link that intrigued me: ginger scallion sauce.

So tonight's the night to make it. Followed directions, salted the hell out of it. Big bowl so it didn't blow up. Here's the sauce in the first minutes;

This is supposed to be transformative on noodles, eggs, rice, chicken, and whatever else you can think of.

Here's step one. Will update on using this ethereal sauce.

And the final product:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coco Pazzo Cafe, Chicago

We had wonderful weekend trip to Chicago for the American Historical Association annual conference.

We had a stellar dinner at Coco Pazzo Cafe, walkable from our hotel. Convivial atmosphere - very much a neighborhood cafe vibe and look. Even more fun, a whole lot of history profs/teachers/writers there for the conference got the vibe to go there.

Loved the murals on the wall, and the baroque huge floral arrangement on an old farm table that also held bread and appetizers. It was cozy but still had room between tables and very reasonable noise level that lent itself to conversation.

We had some of the best service I've had in years-- personal, interested a little quirky and definitely sincere.

Of course.. the food. The pappardelle w/ wild boar ragu totally rocked. Wide, al denta papparadelle with diced boar in a tomato and spiced sauce that had strong hints of cinnamon and allspice. Served absolutely piping hot, it warmed the soul and body on a chilly and windy night. Could only eat half, just great as a reheat when we got home. Carpaccio a little weak but the parm was just delicious. The veal scallopine was pristine and very flavorful with a rich jus and mushrooms, however - the ragu won.

Wine prices were extremely reasonable ($28 for a bottle of hearty red) and added to the meal.

Might be the go-to meal next time we're in beautiful Chicago.