Archive | March, 2013

Nothing Says “Happy Easter” Like A Smoked Salmon Platter

31 Mar

EasterHappy Easter! While I’m not making a fancy holiday meal today (I have to get ready for Game of Thrones tonight, duh), we started the day with a platter of Smoked Salmon (with fresh dill, pea shoots, hard boiled egg, red onion, tomatoes, and an assortment of toasted bagels and english muffins), lots of fruit (clementines, bananas, grapes, mangoes, and apples), and some roasted asparagus for good measure.

Hangover? What hangover! Uh…I mean Happy Easter!

Easter1{ yes, that’s an Obama mug }




Sweet Potato Hash with Apple and Sage Sausage, Roasted Asparagus, and a Poached Egg

29 Mar


My parents came into town a few weekends ago to celebrate my birthday (hello last year of mid-twenties). How did we celebrate? By going to Detroit’s Eastern Market, of course. I like to think of it as the Brooklyn of Detroit (however don’t take my word on it, I am in no way a connoisseur of Detroit-ings, I’m just a fan).

While there I got special birthday $1 bundles of veggies (we got there pretty late in the day) such as asparagus, PURPLE cauliflower (which I’ll go into for another post), tomatoes, brussels sprouts, squash, and (non veggie) blueberries. I also got a nice package of Pork, Sage, and Apple sausages from Corridor Sausage Co. Holy Christ. Delicious. We all left Eastern Market that day full of sausage samples from various vendors, and the knowledge of what time to get there for the discounted merchandise. It was a birthday event not to be forgotten.

While I’ve been utilizing my veggies for most of the week, I had to make a decision: use the sausage, or pop into the freezer. I came across this recipe and was inspired:

{ Food52 – Merguez and Sweet Potato Hash }

I saved one sausage to utilize for this dish, and put the rest in the freezer. While I’m a big lover of the cured and spiced meats, I’ve realized that with good product, you don’t need to over power the dish with too much of a good thing (and the same goes for cheese). So I paired one sausage with one LARGE sweet potato and created a meal fit for a grad student and amateur home chef (i.e. John and I).

First thing’s first, let’s use this delicious $1 Asparagus and pop it in the oven while we prepare the hash in question

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Place asparagus on tinfoil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  • Roast for 15 minutes (check them around 10 minutes, I like mine a little al dente). Take out and set aside.


While your apartment (or house, for those of you who are “real” adults) fills with the sweet smells of slowly caramelizing asparagus, let’s brown up that sausage.


Which will yield us this



Yes, it doesn’t look like much, but trust me, it’s just the right amount. Now, potato time



Give these Amber beauties a chop, and sauté them with some onions in the delicious sausage drippings.PotatoOnion



Let’s get a little crazy, let’s add spices! I choose a hodgepodge of cumin, fennel, and corriander.



Oh yeah, my coffee is going to taste savory this weekend! I didn’t add much though, I’d say 1.5 teaspoons of spice in total



Now here’s the tricky part (for those of you who are impatient like me). You want to get a nice browning on the potatoes, so you give it a stir, and let it sit, then give it another stir, and let it sit. All I want to to is keep stirring! You also have to be careful not to break up your now-soft potatoes while doing said stirring. But with the right touch, you’ll be in sweet potato-browning country. Once you’ve achieved this, stir back in the sausage until it’s all warmed through



Do a quick Poached Egg, arrange the asparagus on the bottom, pile on the hash, and top with that ooey-gooey egg.



And now for some porn:



Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash

  • 1tsp oil
  • 1 Tasty Sausage, casing removed
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato, diced
  • 1 Medium/Large Sweet Onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel, ground

Heat cast iron skillet over medium hight heat. Add 1 tbs oil and brown your sausage (about 5 minutes)

Remove sausage with slotted spoon. Add sweet potato, onions, and spices to pan

Cook, stirring in frequently, until potato is soft and browned on the edges (about 15 minutes)

Add sausage back to pan, cook until heated through

…And Moses Said Onto Thee “Let There Be Sephardic Bread and Beet Normandy”

26 Mar

I’ve had quite the week. My birthday was last week (March 19) and since then I’ve had about 50 different celebrations. After this week of non-blogging and ruining my body from the inside out (particularly my liver), I’m ready to get back in the kitchen and nurse myself back to health. (Sidenote: John got me tickets to Book of Mormon in Detroit for my birthday, and it was literally the most entraining 2.5 hours of my life)

And hey, not only is it Passover, but it’s Oberon day! Being from Kalamazoo, Bell’s Oberon release day is somewhat of a city-wide holiday. Want to know more about Oberon? Check our A2GastroBoy’s post last week about this sun nectar. I vowed to take a week off of drinking, until I was honest with myself, so hey, I’ll catch up with that wagon eventually. But back to my Jewish roots. What to make for Passover? I didn’t have time to execute a soup (of the Matzoh-Ball persuasion), and I didn’t want to purchase a big ol’hunk of meat (Brisket) so let’s go a different route: Gefilte Fish? Well, not exactly, but a fish terrine seems to fit the bill. Pair that with a raw beet tartare, and throw in a new recipe for Challah, I’d say you’ve got yourself quite the meal.


{ Martha Stewart – Halibut and Salmon Terrine }

{ Food&Wine – Jessamyn’s Sephardic Challah }

{ Mark Bitman – Beet Tartare }

*Deep Breath* Let’s do this thing. Let’s start with the bread since there are about 4 steps that involve letting it rest and rise (great, it only bakes for 30 minutes…oh, that’s AFTER it rises for about 2.5 hours, splendid). Now, I’m no stranger to the Challah-d Arts, but this recipe really intrigued me. No eggs in the dough, toasted sesame seeds, and savory spices? I’m in. You Sephardic Jews are alright in my book.


Working on this bread made me thirst for the day I get a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.


Doesn’t it hurt your arm just looking at it?? For this dough it called for proofing the yeast in about 2 Tbs of warm water while you mixed the other ingredients together, and then you add the yeast mixture. Well since I DON’T have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, I like to do a little mixing in the bowl, then transfer everything to a flat surface and just mix it by hand. When you’re adding liquid to a kind-of-already-formed dough ball on a flat surface, a lot of it just pours off and starts to roll across said flat surface. And a lot of times this causes one to freak out since the yeast is the best part of bread (perhaps this is where my beer love comes from?). After frantic scooping and the addition of some more flour, our dough came together. This recipe calls for Bread Flour, and since I have tons of All Purpose flour, I decided to keep my money, and obsessively look up what the difference is online. The answer: gluten content. Bread flour will give you a denser dough, but do you know what kneading does? It forms the gluten particles together, so by giving a good old fashioned knead-down, you’re setting yourself up for some (hopefully) great bread. But enough of that, it’s part 1 of it’s 2.5 hour nap.

It’s Fish time now. I decided to make this because it’s not quite Gefilte fish (which I’ve never had a good one of, I’m sure it exists, and I like both pickled things and fish, but yikes, not this pickled-hamburger-fish monstrosity that is served to the chosen people), but still fits in with the theme. And who doesn’t want a fish meatloaf on a Monday?

To begin we need to chop up carrots and Parsnips. Have you ever noticed how phallic parsnips are? Because holy-jewish-holiday they are. And as I peeled these long pale bad boys, I felt I was performing another Jewish tradition: The Bris.

5_Seinfeld_Bris Parsnip


Tee Hee Hee [sorry]. Anyhoo, after you have your root veggies cut and some onions sautéed, you want to mash up Salmon and Halibut in a food processor, which just kind of feels wrong. 2 Beautiful pieces of fish, ripped into a strange chunky fish paste. Hm.



So at this point you mix the veggies, fish paste, and all the other ingredients to make a fishloaf (I’m ashamed to admit that I used Panko breadcrumbs for the matzo meal since I didn’t want to buy it. What kind of Goyum have I become?), push it into a pan, put that pan into a bigger pan, and fill the bigger pan with water. And now we cook.FishMixture



While it’s cooking, let’s check on our bread.

DoughBallAwwww yeahhhh. When I poured it out of it’s napping bowl, it landed with a sound that was a mixture of shunk and thud {thunk? shut?}. We cut it in half and wait, roll it out and wait, roll it out again and coil it up.

DoughRollAnd now we’re just about read to bak–damnit it needs to rest for another hour?? Ok, well let’s check on the fishloaf.

TerrineThat’s right, it was too big for any of my plates, it had to rest on my cutting board. That looks tasty….well, it SMELLS tasty at least. And hey, I can nibble on this while I’m waiting for the brea–it needs to cool in the fridge for at least an hour? OH COME ON.

Fine, I’ll work on my Beet tartare. Chop everything up and mix together. Well, that took up about 4 minutes. I have 56 minutes to kill until it’s bread bake/fishloaf go time.


BeetMix{the colors Duke, the colors!}

I’ve actually made this Beet Tartare before, and I really love it. It has a lot of flavor, and if you can put up with the next 30 hours of pink Beet pee and the ravaging of your digestive system, it’s a great [vegan] meal in itself.

Let’s fast forward to the bread being done:

ChallahIt’s worth being a Jew just for that. Half the seeds/sesame seeds are in the bread, the other half are on the outside. I added some coarse KOSHER salt to the topping mixture, and wowza, just delightful. AND it makes 2 loafs, so bring one and brag about it at work the next day while everyone is picking seeds out of their teeth.


The Terrine (read: fishloaf) was cooked through and chilled thoroughly, but never quite kept it’s shape when cut. Unfortunately it looked a bit like wet cat food, but hey, bygones.

Plate1I’m not going to lie, this was a very time-consuming meal, but making bread from scratch AND putting beets into a food processor all in one night isn’t too shabby. And Mr. Oberon Sun was there to tell me “baby, you’ve done such a good job, I’m so proud of you. Let’s make this a Passover we’ll never forget” and I said “you’re right Mr. Oberon Sun, let’s never fight again.” And we never did.

John came home right after I made the Beet Tartare, and all I heard from the kitchen was “It looks like Beet Normandy in here” because I didn’t do the best job of cleaning up my beet mess (read: beet skin peels were everywhere with pink smears all over the counter, and I assume there was a tribal-like red beet handprint somewhere on the cupboards).

Happy Passover/Happy Oberon Day! I wish it would stop snowing!







Local Celebrity

22 Mar

OneDo you see that? It’s Bacon and Pea Shoot Soup [drool]

It’s a special soup I made from ingredients from the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market….FOR the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market Blog. You can find the article here.

The story behind the recipe: I went to the market a week in advance to scope out the produce to create a fun recipe (I did this at the tail end of a morning run, equipped with a credit card shoved in my running pants butt-pocket). I saw lots of greens, root vegetables, and sausages, so I thought “veggie-heavy cassoulet, BOOM, Erica, you’ve done it again”. Once I was done browsing I stopped at Durham’s Tracklements and Smokery for some smoked salmon, and jogged over to Zingerman’s Deli to grab some bagels (paying with my sweaty butt-credit card, mind you). Nothing says “cool” like jogging a half mile home in head to toe running gear and holding a bag of smoked fish. It made for a delightful breakfast for many days to come.


However, when I made my way to the market the next week to assemble the dish, almost all the items I had seen the previous week were not there. Crestfallen. I was almost inconsolable until I saw the pea-shoots (which make a DELICIOUS, healthy, and expensive snack if you feel so inclined). After doing about 3 more awkward circles through the booths I came up with the recipe (which, again, you can find here)


Beer’s The Word

15 Mar

I spent the majority of my morning and afternoon researching Michigan Craft Stouts/Porters/Irish Reds for a St Patrick’s blog piece for work (which you can view here) which made me think: Sweet Jesus I want a beer.

I’m normally a fan of the big, hoppy beers–(sidestory-I used to hate hops, just HATE them. I attribute that to someone buying me a Bell’s Two Hearted on my 21st birthday, and it was the last thing I drank before I started puking. Traumatizing. Coincidentally, Two Hearted has become my “go to” beer when I’m out because bars with the worst tap line ups full of watery mass-produced garbage will usually somehow have this, or at least feature it in bottles. When in doubt, Two Heart-it)–but after my hours-long trek behind the bar of the internet I’m in physical pain based on how badly I want a smooth and comforting stout. And soon that turned into just a hard wanting for a beer…ANY BEER.

Admittedly, I am one lucky gal living in Michigan, a state that is just lousy with great beer. Someone complimented me on my choice of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale the other week while I was out, and it took every fiber of my being not to say “ehhhh yeah, this registers low on my spectrum, but, uh, thanks.” Not to say it’s a bad beer, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a go-out-of-your-way-to-acknowledge-how-great-it-is kind of beer. I swear I’m not THAT big of a beer snob, I just want to make sure the right breweries are getting their acknowledgements.

There is so much rich history in beer. The pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock because they ran out of beer, and therefore ran out of clean, drinkable liquid (true story). Monks brew beer (Trappist Ales) as their major monastery fundraising. Hops were originally used as a preservative to keep beer good on it’s long sea voyages from England to India (that’s how we got the India Pale Ale, or IPA). Erica once wrote a post about beer in her critically-acclaimed blog Now Entering Flavor Country (eh? eh?).

I’ve been fortunate enough to work on Kalamazoo Beer Week, be part of the planning for amazing Beer Dinners and Beer Events, attend various beer festivals throughout Michigan and even the Great American Beer Festival, have met many brewers of my favorite beers, and even have my own little “cellar” of fancy 750s and rare bottles. While I myself may not be a beer reviewer, I will take you on a trip down memory lane as I reminiscence about some recent beer travels and experiences from the past 2 or so years.

Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, MI

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, MI. Boy did I take for granted that this was a few miles from me while living there. Everytime I go back home, I make sure to stop here. I’ve been assured the abv listed for the beers on tap are accurate, but I always feel it 2x. Maybe it’s just my giddy quick-consumption?

Taking in the local color of National Bohemian Beer in Washington DC (I realize it's from Baltimore, but hey, potato-potato)

Taking in the local color of National Bohemian Beer in Washington DC (I realize it’s from Baltimore, but hey, potato-potato). I believe this night they were $1 along with $0.50 wings.

Cans of in Seattle (tip: don't make fun of this beer or the bartender will tell you to "go the fuck back to Michigan")

Cans of PBR…er-Rainer in Seattle (tip: don’t make fun of this beer or the bartender will tell you to “go the fuck back to Michigan”)

At Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, CO...clever eh?

At Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, CO…clever eh? This was our 3rd brewery stop for the day, so I’m SHOCKED the camera is this steady.

At New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO being an "IPA Ranger"

At New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO being an “IPA Ranger”. I was almost too short to reach my head into the face hole.

At the Great American Beer Festival on Denver, CO being...mature

At the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO during the Brewer’s Session being…mature

The most expensive beer I've ever purchased: $30 for this bottle of Russian River at Monk's Kettle in San Francisco, CA

The most expensive beer I’ve ever purchased at a bar: $30. Russian River Temptation at Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco, CA. Worth it.

Silverado Brewing Co (because we needed a break from wine for an hour) in Napa, CA

Silverado Brewing Co (because we needed a break from wine for an hour) in Napa, CA…I’m behind the camera, classy shot.

A fancy flight from Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, OR

A fancy flight from Hair of the Dog in Portland, OR

A recent gift package I got from a friend on the West coast...I still owe him a package of Michigan beers

A recent care package I got from a friend on the West coast…I still owe him a package of Michigan beers

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some clocks to stare at until I can quench my thirst. 

Hungarian Meatbawls

11 Mar

There is something so comforting, so rich, so filling about a good meatball. I’ve made plenty of delicious meatballs in my day (one of the best recently was a curried turkey meatball with spaghetti squash I made from random stuff I had in my kitchen, it’s a travesty I was too lazy to document the outcome). However, I’ve also made plenty a bland, dry, and strange textured ball of meat as well. One of the biggest hurdles with any type of meat mixture is you can’t taste as you go, leaving a world of possibility open for under-salting (or the dreaded over salting, you just can’t come back from that man), drying out, and more. I’ve had to start getting a little more heavy handed with my salt and spices because I’ve been the victim (read: the culprit) of some under-salted and bland balls. Let’s just say it takes some real culinary balls (hey-O) to salt meat with confidence. Or maybe I’m overreacting, whatevs, but I made some meatballs recently, could you guess?

{ Food52 – Hungarian Meatballs }


John and I had been talking meatballs, and while I was first gravitating toward some type of italian-esque dish, when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. And rather than take shortcuts (subbing turkey for pork, etc), I dove right it and got the correct blend of meats.



What was intriguing about these meatballs was the incredible blend of spices that went into the meat. Red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, caraway seeds, kosher salt, and ground pepper. I took it a step further and ground up some fennel to give it that extra “sausage-y” flavor. I’ve felt a noticeable shift in my cooking lately, as I get more comfortable with various spices and herbs, the proper application of the little lovelies will take anything from “hey this is pretty good” to “oooh! what is that I’m tasting”

HandAnd what is it about mixing raw meat with your hands that brings out your primal urges, such as squeezing said meat, or clubbing the closest person and dragging them to your cave. Hey, this species needs to procreate and live on SOMEHOW.

Once you’re done walking on all fours, form the meatballs, and give them a quick nap in the fridge to harden up (or take the shortcut and put them in the freezer for 5 minutes). Then give them a good browning all over



Be sure to do this in a large pot or dutch oven so you are able to use this “container” for the rest of the dish to utilize all those delicious brown spots left on the bottom (oooh yeah, brown spots on the bottom). Once they’re all browned, set them aside



When they look like that, I always just want to try them, but have to remind myself that “Hey buddy, they’re raw in the middle”.

Now onto the sauce. Chop up your veggies (oOOooo, is that a Hungarian pepper I see?)
INgredientsAnd give them a good stir along with wine, spices, tomatoes, chicken broth, and lots of different types of paprika. This recipe calls for porcini mushroom powder, but I don’t have that, and wtf is porcini mushroom powder anyways, so I omitted it. I’ll always wonder “what if”, but so is life. Once you’ve got yourself a nice stew going, toss the browned meatballs back in, cover, and bake for about 90 minutes (or until you can’t stand it anymore).

MeatballBakeOoooooog yeahhhhh. At this point you’re supposed to mix in sour cream to give the “broth” a nice and creamy texture, but someone (me) forgot to get sour cream, so she substituted about 1 Tbs of greek yogurt since that was readily available. I don’t think it made a difference, honestly. But, that is not to say this wasn’t DELICIOUS. Just, magnificent, really.

I boiled up some egg noodles, for a nice base, and spooned the meatballs over top for a delightful meal. It made a TON so we had meatballs coming out of the wazoo for about 3 days (which in our house is a long time), but I enjoyed every re-heated minute of it.


{ Food52 – Hungarian Meatballs }

For the meatballs

  • 3/4pounds ground pork
  • 3/4pounds ground beef (80/20 or 85/15)
  • 1/4pound pancetta, small dice
  • 1/2cup parmesean, grated
  • 3/4cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/4cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1teaspoon (each) red pepper flakes, ground coriander, ground cumin, caraway seeds (crushed), kosher salt, and ground pepper
  • 2eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3cups whole milk
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
For the sauce

  • 1medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1large banana pepper, chopped
  • 1tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika (1 heaping tbsp)
  • 1/2teaspoon hot or half-sharp paprika
  • 1/4teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1teaspoon porcini mushroom powder
  • 1/4teaspoon (each) dried rosemary, thyme, crushed fennel seeds, and marjoram
  • 1/4cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2cup dry white wine
  • 15 ozstewed tomatoes, chopped, with juices
  • 2cups chicken broth
  • 1/2cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly mix all ingredients for the meatballs except the olive oil together and form into balls 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter. (Depending on size, you should get between 20 and 30.) Allow time to refrigerate them so they firm up a bit.
  2. In an oven-safe pan, brown the meatballs in olive oil on all sides. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the pan dripping and saute until starting to brown. Add mushroom and saute a few minutes more, until they start to brown as well. Add garlic and peppers and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the paprikas, the porcini powder, and the rest of the herbs and spices. Cook, stirring, about a minute. Deglaze with wine. Cook until wine is mostly evaporated, then stir in tomatoes and their juices and the broth. Bring to a boil and return the meatballs to the pan.
  4. Transfer the pan the oven and braise for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and luxuriating in the awesome aromas that should be enveloping your kitchen at this point.
  5. When the braising time is up, remove the pan from the oven. Put the sour cream into a small bowl, then temper it by stirring in a few spoonfuls of the braising liquid. Stir the sour cream mixture back into the pan, coating the meatballs and heating through. Serve as an appetizer or with spaetzle or egg noodles for an entree.



Curry Chicken Salad with a side of Ow Everything Hurts

7 Mar

Recently I was at the gym, minding my own business, pumping some iron (naturally), when I heard a commotion. From one of the group workout rooms came lots of “C’mon!s” and “You CAN do this!s” while lots of rapid movement could be seen through the small window in the door. After about 10 minutes, out walked the most fit group of people I’ve ever seen. I had to get me some. Fast forward 4 weeks later, and I was ready to start my first CrossFit class. Well, that was last night, and today I’m so tired and sore it’s incredible. I tried to go running this morning because I know I’ll be in worse shape tomorrow, however I had to turn around after 5 minutes because my legs kept giving out. Anyhoo, that has zero to do with cooking and/or food, I just had to share my less-than-stellar current physical state. I should also mention that I got “exhaustion sore throat” that I haven’t experienced since the mile run in elementary school. Flashbacks of running laps around the playground took over most of my dreams last night.

Speaking of walking funny and cRaZy dreamz, let’s make some Curry Chicken Salad!

Now Entering Flavor CountryDo you have a simple dish you love to make, but for some reason you haven’t made it in a while? Well this is that dish for me. I LOVE deli salads, especially of the curry-persuasion. And they’re so easy to make at home, it’s stupid. Did you hear that? You’re stupid. 

I didn’t spend much time documenting what went into this salad (chopping, stirring), but I did get john to take some “action” shots of me ripping apart the grocery store-bought rotisserie chicken. I’d say the hardest part of this salad was waiting for the chicken to cool enough for me to handle it.


SaladSo what goes in this anyways?

  • 1 Whole Rotisserie chicken, skins removed and bones discarded (save for homemade stock!) — Shredded by Hand
  • 5 Stalks of Celery — Diced Small
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion — Diced Small
  • 1 Apple, cored — Diced Small
  • Lots of Red Grapes — Halved
  • 1 Small Container of Greek Yogurt — Non Expired
  • 2 Heaping Tbs Mayo
  • (at least) 2 tsp Curry Powder — I’m sure I used about twice as much, but I like it VERY curry-y
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • Salt and Pepper — to taste






How do you make it?

  • Mix everything together and eat right out of mixing bowl because you’re hungry after waiting for the chicken to cool.

I like making these salads at home because there are a few things I don’t like about deli salads: getting a bite that has nothing but a big cube of chicken, too many fruity aspects without enough savory to balance it out, too much dried fruit, waay too much mayo. This is the first time I’ve substituted so much of the mayo for greek yogurt, and if you’re using high enough quality spices (like me, because you know my standards are just SO high), it shouldn’t be very noticeable. In fact, I don’t think John even realized there was any switcharoo…until this post, when I gave everything up like a Bond villain who should have waited until they EXECUTED the plan, DAMN THIS EGO OF MINE!

Now Entering Flavor Country





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