Thursday, December 26, 2013

Eat It Detroit is always right

Eat It Detroit consistently does great reporting on the Detroit food scene. She's never wrong:

Eat It Detroit

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A small taste of Detroit

A colleague of Gourmet Underground Detroit, Nicole de Beaufort, was assembling a small recipe book for a souvenir for a number of German Marshall fellows. Heady company. The goal: to send them back with a taste of Detroit.

It was a quick project and a number of folks dived in, including Detroit Food. The end result is a charming, well-designed and tasty look at some of the delights of Detroit cooks. There's some talk of an expanded book -- a welcome addition to Motor City chow!

Detroit Food's (aka Gary and Martha Shea) contributions are Sloppy Joes and hamburger gravy -- iconic foods of junior high school and a highlight of Catholic school lunches.

Read it here:   Detroit Delicacies

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Harvard + Science and Cooking

Harvard: The Michigan of the East

Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science

This is the first course I've taken through HarvardX , the online learning portal for Harvard. 

It's pretty rigorous and not a beginner cooking class. Per class syllabus: "At the end of the course, students will be able to explain how a range of cooking techniques and recipes work, in terms of physical and chemical transformation of food."

Each week we virtually visit a world-famous chef, who shows some of the secrets of their cooking. These include:  Jose Andres, Nathan Myrhvold, Dan Barber, Ferran Adria, David Chang, Wylie Dufresne as well as author Harold McGee and food scientist Dave Arnold. We're using Harold McGee's "The Science of Food" as a textbook. 

We'll have homework each week of the 10-week course, and a new lab exercise every Tuesday, where we can experiment with the scientific concept of the week. We'll submit home and lab findings  and will finish with a final project where were can carry out our own scientific study of an aspect of cooking in your kitchen. 

As knowledge of high school physics and chemistry are useful, there are whole review sections on calculating density, pH, logorithms, geometry, and chemistry. Good combination of video and work pages. So I've been figuring volume of cubes, density of a solid in a solution,  and about to relive my chemistry class and taking multiple choice practice tests.  

Parts of my brain feel like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz --- rusty but starting to move. 

I'm excited about this, and including it on the blog so I have some accountability and push through the hard parts. 

Wonder if I need Harvard t-shirt? 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A simple pizza dinner

Homemade pizza

A busy couple of days, and today a bunch of games. No time or inclination for a full dinner.

But we had some simple, delicious ingredients; tomato sauce made from Marcella Hazan's tomato/butter/onion recipe, fresh mozzarella, good olive oil and garlic and homemade pesto. 

Threw it all on a simple crust brushed with the garlic oil, tossed on a couple of pepperoni slices, good cheese and a short stay in the oven. Here's what emerged. 

A good early evening - good chow, Michigan won, Michigan State did, too. No pizza left for watching the Tigers. Maybe next game. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chickarina soup

Serious Eats is one of my favorite food blogs, great food cred, smart writing, good research and a site that you can count on as solid and yet always new.

Italian wedding soup is always a favorite, but Serious Eats introduced chickarina soup just last week. Basically, it's a great chicken soup with chicken meatballs, and pearl pasta added to a  basic chicken soup.

Today was the day to try. After a number of autumnal nights, including clicking on the heat, soup was calling for dinner.

The recipe is pretty simple  -- chickarina soup

The chicken meatballs emerged from the food processor just as the recipe called for. The soup meat came from some chicken tenders, chunked and browned. Skipped making the stock from scratch but used a good chicken broth.  A bunch of onion, garlic, carrot and celery browned up in a soup pot, along with a bay leaf and some gentle long cooking gave the stock a real home-cooked flavor .

Dropped in the chicken meatballs = awesome and fun to watch they float upwards! The recipe calls for baking soda that added that lightness to what would otherwise be meatballs. These really were chicken meatball dumplings, which were just delicious.

With all the ingredients melding, some spinach from the fridge called and a couple handfuls added some color and texture.

Crostini with garlic, buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomatoes added to the meal.

A good first outing for what will be a standard soup dinner - and probably a regular come colder weather.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Honeyrocks rock!

Honeyrock melons taste like summer

Honeyrock melons have been out for a little while and one of them lasts about a day and half at Detroit Food's table. One of the best tastes in the world, honeyrocks rock out tomatoes. Sorry tomato fans, but they just do. 

A big bowl of chilled honeyrock in the morning makes life worth living, makes you an optimist and a better person. The season is short, don't settle on a cantaloupe. Michigan honeyrocks should have their own Pure Michigan commercial. 

So I'm going the fridge, right now. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

New old-fashioned chicken salad

About once or twice a month a couple of bone-in chicken breasts go in the oven with good seasoning to bake until done. Sometimes we have a bit for dinner.

But the best is left for chicken salad. The basic one - chicken, mayo and diced celery, a little salt and pepper and that's it.

Except tonight.  A wonderful meal in Brooklyn started a jones for arugula salad, simply dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice and shards of good parmesan. One of the best salads ever.

So, with the ideal chicken salad just made, a small arugula salad followed, generously lined the plate and complemented the salad.

Fresh lemon, chicken salad's new best friend

The bite of the arugula and the blast of citrus from the lemon gave a whole new dimension to our much-loved chicken salad.

Blasted a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in the leftover salad and - wow - it really popped!

It's never too late to love a favorite in a new way.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Behold! The new grill= Broil Master

After a number of years buying Home Depot, etc. grills that last about four years (or less) and conk out we stepped up and about doubled our budget to get this Broil-King grill.

Now, on day two/dinner two we're using it again. Ramps up to fiercely hot in 6 minutes, is so solid and well-built, we are so happy we moved up a big step. And, while not American built, it's built in Canada, which makes us happy, too.

We're in the shallow end of Broil-King, but it's worth every dollar.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Strawberries and guacamole == might be the soul of Detroit this week

We took a morning jaunt to Eastern Market, which is one of marvels of Detroit and of farmers' markets anywhere.

A trip with our friend Kim from and her friend Rod took advantage of a perfect Michigan day - high blue sky, low humidity and good options at the market. We bee-lined for the Michigan strawberries. Now, who wouldn't? They are the best in the world. YES, the world. See...

And other purchases were spring Michigan asparagus and a couple of flats of flowers to brighten up the yard. Miss the impatients this year but they're off the table due to an infection of downy mildew.

We made the full circuit of this giant market, sampled some good stuff and two of us came back with horseradish plants. Harvested in the fall, these simple plants can dig deep, roots at two feet, so we're inviting in a bit of a wild plant here. But should pay off with the hot stuff in the fall.

A trip to Honey Bee Market in Mexicantown capped the day. It's a terrific market -- best guac we've ever had. Wonderful salsa, huge selection of produce, spices, tortillas, masa and the hot food take out is irrestible.

We shared tamales, chicrones, homemade chips, guac, salsa verde, red salsa and a really cold Tecate beer on the picnic tables on the patio.

With the balmy weather and breezes, cool music and great company, it was like were on vacation. Can't ask for more for a Saturday morning.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Michigan Strawberries = strawberry shortcake for dinner

This is the time of year when so many of us are cheering that summer is here. Well, of course, we are.

But, this is the best time of the year for the most delicious strawberries in your life. The spring Michigan strawberries.

They are marvels of intense flavor, the best we've ever had, anywhere. And all the more precious because the season isn't that long. We take every advantage of getting these beauties home whenever we can. (Plus MI asparagus is almost as good and we do the same for these lovely stalks.)

So what else would you have for dinner, other than strawberry shortcake?

These are the beautiful berries --

So we start with macerating the berries with just a touch of sugar

Bake up some real biscuits -- these are from the original "American Cookery" by James Beard (with just a touch of sugar added.)

Beat your real heavy whipping cream with a touch of vanilla.

Pile the fresh berries, the macerated berries with juice on a fresh biscuit and dollop fresh whipped cream on top.

Perfect for lunch, dinner, breakfast, midnight snack, mid-afternoon meal. The food of the gods who probably only eat Michigan strawberries.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Atomic Dawg in Berkley

Always good news that Berkley is getting more tasty chow places.
 Here's a review, thanks to the Detroit News:

Atomic Dawg

We'll chime in soon.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Two happy days at Meijer's

I don't know about you, but I like and do most of my bulk shopping at Meijer's in Royal Oak, MI. When I was single and living near there I would go in and feel like I was in a Star Wars movie -- way too much space, and a universe of choices. I'd feel overhwhelmed.

Well, times change don't they? I've shopped there now for years, as our two children grew we needed more and more and more chow. It was convenient, prices were great for commodities.

The produce section has evolved into a cool way to buy specific MI farmers' crops as they ID them.

But that's not the story, the last two times I've shopped there I've not only had help but have just learned to like a couple guys there. The produce guy pickles 25 POUNDS of asparagus a year. Found out he's from my rival high school and graduated the year after me. It all started with trying to find a bag of lemons.

The meat guy changed some prices for me and smiled the whole time.

And I saw the produce guy again tonight on a not quite desperate, but urgent, trip to get cat food for the old lady cat Sylvie.

This guy totally made my day, we laughed, talked about high school - the bad guys he knew, a little bit of politics. It's such a pleasure to find foodly people, colleagues wherever you go. And this is why I want to share such experiences on this blog. You never know where a good person and a food person turn up. And they're always a keeper.

So props to Mark at Meijer's. My bagged lemons are proudly in my fridge.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


The King of Freshwater Fish

A dinner of fresh walleye last night confirmed that the fish should be the state fish of Michigan. As delicious as brook trout is, and it's really pretty, walleye is a transcendent experience.

Sweet, large fillets, dusted with flour and sauteed in butter with just a little seasoning may be one of the best dishes in the world. Yes, THE world.

Not ready to set up a referendum, but can't rule it out.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's and the Lost Tribe of Israel

In honor of Detroit Food guy's father, Edward Francis, who believed that the Irish were the lost tribe of Israel, we enjoyed corned beef and cabbage this year with a nice Kosher cabernet sauvignon from Israel.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bangers and Mash


Bangers and Mash for Dinner

A package of "Irish" bangers  called to me recently and I also thought of boxty - mashed spuds with green onions as well. So that what was for dinner would be a good addition. 

A little research and I knew...despite the small lure of St. Patrick's Day dinner and thinking this would work, this is not an Irish meal. 

First, the Irish didn't have meat. And because of that they didn't make sausage. So what they had were potatoes... lots and lots of potatoes, until they didn't. And we know what tragedy happened. 

However and nonetheless the bangers were on the menu. A couple of Google searches and Serious Eats landed the recipe. Gently cook the bangers, then crisp up in a pan. 

Make the spuds (the other Detroit Food guy is a pro at that.) 

And, the kicker, the onion gravy. SO easy. Caramelize a couple of onions, toss in a bit of white wine, a little flour, cook and add beef broth. 

Serve the bangers over the fluffy spuds and ladle on the gravy, which is just ridiculously good. The gravy can anticipate a number of appearances in the future.. over spuds, noodles, and a great burger. 

So while our Irish DNA is a little bit offended by the non-Irish-y bangers, our tastebuds were fine with it. Easy and comforting and hearty. Serve with peas for the full English treatment. But not on an Irish holiday. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beyond gut busters

IHOP's gut and artery buster breakfast

Holy moly! Center for Science in the Public Interest released its most extreme eating chain restaurant dishes. 

Let's just say Cheesecake Factory, Johnny Rockets and Maggiano's have not, and never will be, on the (KFC) bucket list....See the link here -

Hey, I want four days of fat and sodium in one meal!

Cheesecake Factory's Bistro pasta sodium fest

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Post-holiday happy chowing

We all know we overdo it, maybe slightly, maybe a lot, during the season between (let's be real here, including Halloween) November and January. This is followed by eater's remorse, the whole fake resolution thing and then the dreary march on through the rest of the winter days until we can redeem ourselves outside with exercise and fresh food.

OR you can be strolling through your local market and find on the fast-sell rack three great green peppers and realize all kind of really great fruit is on sale.

The mental cooking computer clicks in pretty quickly and comes up with - stuffed peppers and lavish fruit salad.

Which is tonight's menu. Instead of using rice, Trader Joe's brown rice/black barley/other grains mix that had been lingering in the pantry sprung into action. Not exactly sure if I like the outcome as I added pearl barley as well. But, how bad could it be with ground round, good onions, Worcestershire and homemade tomato sauce tucked into those halved peppers.

Turned out, pretty good. Not totally on the top 10 crave list, but a very decent effort for several meals to go into the freezer. And decent daily cooking after the weeks of feast-making.

The fruit salad is glistening, fresh, delicious and full of all kinds of stuff you should be wanting - antioxidants, fiber, nonprocessed stuff.. and etc., etc.

So let's admire it again:

Best thing is, this tastes really good. Made on a balmy and sunny day that ended with  a feeling of  solid creative, daily cooking.

Pat yourself on the back if you're doing the same...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A simple fondue makes a holiday

New Year's Eve is never our favorite time to be out and about. Not only is it amateur hour on the roads, but after the warmth of family and friends at Thanksgiving and Christmas it always seems a little like forced fun. So we always downsize the night.

 This year the force for fondue was strong. There were only two of us. So some Emmenthaler cheese, picked up that night, along with a little Gruyere from the house, some white wine and a non-stick pot yielded up a luscious, warm and cheese-y light dinner to graze on. Include some great crusty bread, some crisp green apples, pickles sweet, dill, and hot (and Michigan product or two), eaten on a coffee table with some atmospheric votive candles = one great and simple meal. Add a nice red Beaujolais Villages to enhance the party.

Best of all, it's easy to produce as a hearty appetizer or a light meal when the force calls:

Cheese Fondue 

 1 1/2 lbs shredded Emmenthaler (we added about half Emmenthaler and half Gruyere. Has to be the good stuff.)

 Toss cheese with 3 T flour and 2 tsp dry mustard. 

 Boil 1 1/12 cups dry white wine (best in a good nonstick pot).

 Toss in a handful of cheese mixture - stir with wooden spoon till melted.

Proceed to add the rest of the cheese by the handful.

You might need to add more wine if the cheese seems too thick. Be generous with the vino.

Serve to admiring eaters. You will feel like a genius! (We didn't have a fondue pot. Added smaller amounts to a heavy ceramic bowl, re-heated in microwave if it thickened.) Great the next day reheated as well.