Friday, November 21, 2008

half is better than nothing at all.

It's a running joke between Paul and I, I am half Jewish and often this cultural heritage ends up being a scapegoat for many of my quarky characteristics. Though I am only half (and let's be honest a conservative synagogue woldn't even recognize me because it's on my father's side), I was lucky enough to benefit from some of its pastimes and traditions. The most important one being food. The majority of this heritage was mainly celebrated when my grandmother was alive, though my parents were friends with Jesus. Christmas mornings featured "bagels" for breakfast and matzo ball soup was often the only source of comfort when I was sick with the flu. When I moved to the midwest, it became obvious, my boyfriend had no clue what a matzo ball was, let alone, a real bagel. Often compared to chicken and dumplings (but there is truly no comparison), matzo ball soup is a step up from the traditional chicken noodle soup most are familiar with. Matzo balls are light and fluffy in comparison to dumplings which can often take the unlikely turn for hockey pucks. The wonder behind this simple soup is its chameleon-like ability. Some joints serve it in broth alone, others with noodles. I prefer a combination myself - some left over chicken, tiny pasta granules, diced carrots and onions, compliment this comforting soup. On days like we've been experiencing (30's), it's the perfect soup to warm your spirit and your belly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review of Don Chavas

Check out page 15 of today's published Whatzup magazine for my second restaurant review! I reviewed a new Mexican joint in town called Don Chavas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

panade. what's in a name?

The recipe concotions continue with this Acorn Squash, Mushroom and Red Wine Panade recipe which The Wednesday Chef insisted fellow readers try a couple weeks ago. Turns out I own the book, Chez Panisse Vegetables, and if I'm going to be completely honest here, I haven't tried one bloody recipe from the the book! I've been collecting the Alice Waters library for quite a few years now and am frankly embarassed by its crisp white pages, hardly doused with olive oil or crustiness from countless cooking endeavors. Anyhoo, the point is the blog I read was so inspiring that I decided to give this recipe a try.

Now you may very well be asking yourself, what the heck is a "panade"? According to some online dictionary, it's a mixture of butter, water, and flour, often the base for choux pastry. Here, however, I believe the reference is purely "show". This vegetable casserole is definitely time consuming. Onions are caramelized in olive oil with garlic, thyme and then reduced with red wine and simmered with the addition of chicken stock and sliced and sauteed mushrooms. The recipe calls for chanterelles, but I substituted cremini mushrooms and it still turned out delicious. You lightly brown slices of country bread in a skillet before the layering process. Country bread, broth, thinly sliced acorn squash (which has been peeled and seeded), more broth, more bread and the rest of the broth. I practially had my own production line, unfortunately, I was the only employee and the boss. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top, I substituted it with pecorino romano and baked covered and then uncovered for an hour or so. The texture is definitely different, probably the first layer of bread, but the bread and vegetables soak up the goodness and earthy flavors of the flavorful broth. The crunchy layer of bread on top gives it character and the saltiness of the pecorino was a nice touch. Time consuming yes, but worth every minute? Absolutely.

Sometimes the best things in life are the result of time, precious time.

Monday, November 17, 2008


You know the old question, alive or dead, if you could have coffee and a conversation with one person, who would it be? And right now, I'd like to sit down with Ms. Waters! Well, this past weeked I busted out two, count them two, of Alice Waters' recipes. The first was from her most recent book entitled The Art of Simple Food.
Side note - Because I am on a budget, like so many of you out there, I carefully pick and choose the latest cookbooks to add to my overgrown library. Since living on my own, I have used and abused the privilege of my library card, I often raid the cookbook section to taste and try out new recipes. It's a great way of ensuring that you will want a certain book, before you buy it.
Back to the blog, I was definitely in the mood for pasta and had a hankering for some seafood, so I decided to make this simple dish of linguine with clams. Steamed in olive oil, lots of garlic, red chili pepper flakes, chopped italian parsley and white wine, this meal is elegant and hearty. Paul and I enjoyed mopping up the sauce with slices of thick country bread, it should be considered an abominable sin to do let such a delicious sauce go to waste. Waste not, want not, that's my adage.

Monday, November 3, 2008


An extremely momentous occasion took place this past Friday, I hit the big 3-0! Paul and I took the day off and took a day trip up to the art coast of Michigan, Saugatuck and Douglas, to be more specific. What a beautiful area, on Lake Michigan, scenic with it's fall colors holding on for dear life. Art galleries, wine tasting, tourista shops, restaurants, beaches, and more, we couldn't have asked for a better day. For the birthday dinner, we went to Everyday People Cafe in Douglas. I found this gem through Chowhound, an excellent resource for foodies across to the nation to recommend restaurants of all walks. The executive chef of Everyday People Cafe has been hailed as "best chef" on the east side of Lake Michigan and trust me, it's no lie. This joint doesn't take reservations and is a hoppin' place and we were lucky to even get it. After perusing the menu for quite a while, it was obvious that these decisions would be tough. I ended up ordering the braised lamb shank and Paul ordered one of the specials, blackened ahi fish tacos. For an appetizer, we went with the Pizza Bianco and I think that was our very part of the whole meal, it was a perfect balance of flavors. For a birthday dessert, we ordered the creme brulee, deconstructed. Not your typical creme brulee my friends, it was layered on top of two puff pastry triangles and doused with a divine raspberry sauce. tart, sweet and creamy. A perfect way to end a perfect birthday.