Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pestos, Pickling & More

We finally have some semblance of a food processor in my house. My Dad bought a Ninja blender/food processor (I'm assuming to make smoother margaritas, but whatever). It's no 11-cup Cuisinart, but I will take what I can get. In celebration of the momentous occasion, I started attacking my list of things-I-want-to-make-but-can't-easily-because-of-no-food-processor. 

First up, pesto. I bought basil at the Farmer's Market on Saturday for $2.00 since something enjoyed my basil while on vacation.

I used Mark Bittman's recipe for Traditional Pesto (pg. 27) in How to Cook Everything. Here's the shorthand version of the recipe: 2 loosely packed cups of basil, salt to taste, 1/2 clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of pine nuts or walnuts, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Process all of the ingredients with half of the specified oil, then gradually add in the remaining oil once all ingredients are processed. 

Then, all of that thinking about pesto reminded me of the walnut pesto I enjoyed on a sandwich at Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft in NYC with my sister last spring. A Google search brought me to this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for walnut pesto. I used red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar, and added a bit of smoked paprika instead of sun dried tomatoes. I think the sun dried tomatoes would have been the "something" the pesto was missing, but it is still very much edible. I've been using both pestos to make a whole wheat sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes this week, very tasty. 

The kitchen motivation rolled on in Sunday afternoon when I decided to try my hand a pickling beets. "The Preservation Society" article in this months Bon Appetit was my inspiration. Motivation dwindled when I realized just how much work goes into pickling, a lot of work for two quarts of pickled beets that might be good. Not unreasonable just not what I was expecting on a relatively "lazy day." I don't think it would take much more effort to pickle larger amounts of produce keeping with the same process. I'll let you know how they turned out in a few short days when I open up one of the jars. 

Finally, I have one more small project to update you on next week. I'm harvesting the coriander seeds from our cilantro coriander plant. The plant is your run-of-the-mill Burpee plant so I doubt I will be able to replant the seeds, but I'm hoping I can use them in a recipe or two (not that I normally do :/). Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Family Dinner

Few times are my dinners blog worthy, but last nights dinner - totally blog worthy. It also featured lots of local ingredients.

My Dad grilled Copper River Salmon (ok, not local) with a brown sugar and mustard glaze. I prepped and helped grill sweet corn from my favorite Battle Creek Farmer's Market. This was my first time grilling sweet corn. I followed these instructions to grill and also made the accompanying herb butter with parsley, thyme, and rosemary. My Dad said we should have left more husk on the corn and soaked it in water prior to grilling and as the corn silk caught fire, I began to agree with him. Nonetheless, everything turned out fine. We also had coleslaw made by Mom and Dad using a recipe my grandma used to make with cabbage from the market a few weeks ago.

Earlier in the day, my bro-in-law David made a blueberry pie with berries we picked up in Middleville on vacation earlier this week. The crust was probably my favorite. Great finale to a great dinner. 

P.S. Currently listening to The Outer Vibe, they played at an outdoor concert in Battle Creek on Friday. Loving it. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vacation (all I ever wanted)!

Ah, vacation. I'm at one of my favorite places in the whole world, the cottage my Mom and Dad have been renting every summer for over 30 years. My days have been filled with reading, lathering my niece and nephews in sunscreen, eating, spending quality time with three of four sisters, snuggling with puppies, gazing mindlessly on the lake for extended periods of time, and the occasional sunburn of my knees. Meanwhile little sister anxiously awaits her room assignment for college this summer and Dad perfects his margarita recipe (you were right on with that one, M).

This morning something notable happened in food world. The family went to Food Dance in Kalamazoo. I love it because its the closest one can get to Zingerman's in west Michigan, they even serve some Zing breads and cheese. I ordered Julie's French Toast which is made with challah bread and soaked in a cinnamon orange brandy batter. Then I traded with sister #3 for some of her Smoked Whitefish Scramble (OMG!). Per usual, everything was great. If your in the area, stop - you won't be disappointed.

During brunch, my bro-in-law and nephew wandered off for a walk and came back with lots of "foodie treats" from Food Dance's market just outside of the restaurant. I was able to enjoy of few of his finds this evening on a dessert plate he made. A dessert charcuterie plate, if you will. Clockwise from the top, Vosges chocolate, Oreos, coconut macaroons, Food Dance brownie (buy 4, get 1 free) and marshmallows. A perfect mix of class and classics. Thanks, D.

Photo Credit: M's iPhone. 

Monday, July 11, 2011


Alas, the promised Detroit post (a week or so late). If your a regular reader of Munching in the Mitten, you know I spent some time in Detroit this spring. Two months to be exact. I was doing a program through the University of Michigan that gives students the opportunity to live, learn, work and engage in the city for a semester. I was part of the first ever spring semester of the program, so I spent two months there as opposed to the regular four months. During my two months I took a class on the history of Detroit in the 20th Century, completed an internship with an environmental action organization, ate lots of good food and was overall able to experience and learn a lot. Oh, and became a lifetime Detroit lover.

Below is a quick guide of places to eat, places to shop and things to do in Detroit based on my two months in the city. This is by no means a be-all-end-all list, I know there is so much more to do.

Place to Eat:
+ Cass Cafe: I loved the lentil burger, but they also have some pretty tasty daily specials.
+ Motor City Brewing Works: Pretty good pizzas. I split four pizzas with three friends and was able to try the Margherita, Roasted Pear & Fig, Danimal, and the Godfather. I loved the classic Margherita. Pretty decent Root Beer too.
+ Bronx Bar: Three Words. . .Plate of Bacon.
+ Traffic Jam & Snug: I only tried their homemade ice cream, chocolate with fresh raspberries. I've heard mixed reviews on their food.
+ Harmonie Garden: My program ordered Harmonie Garden during one of our orientation days, needless to say I liked everything I tried.
+ Good Girls Go to Paris: A unique treat near the Detroit Institute of Arts, I tried the Savory Pascalle, very goat cheesy, and the White Kristy with lemon, butter and sugar. Bonus, bottomless cups of coffee if you eat in.
+ Slow's & Slow's To Go: I almost always got The Reason Sandwich - pork butt, pickles, slaw and your choice of one of five barbecue sauces. Don't be afraid to make a meal out of sides though - the mac n' cheese, sweet potato mash and baked beans were all favorites of mine.
+ Avalon Bakery: I lived way to close too Avalon and was a frequent customer. The Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookie is a must if you go but I also loved their granola bars, almond spice and trail mix cookies.
+ Hygrade Deli: My friend Jeneen found this restaurant and we went one Thursday morning for breakfast. We were the only people their by 10AM and enjoyed chatting with the owner, and listening to the waitresses talk about how their front door hasn't worked the same since Detroit 1-8-7 filmed there.
+ Neighborhood Noodle: One of the pop-up restaurants working to establish more permanent status as a food truck/cart/restaurant. I was able to attend their last Noodle Nights at Supino Pizzeria. Hopefully they will be up and running with their Noodle Mobile soon; they, along with many other vendors in the city are working with the city to establish ordinances for mobile food vendors. You can read about my experience at Noodle Night here.

+ Supino Pizzeria: The best pizza I have had in the Mitten, hands down. The crust, the crust, the crust. I was a fan of the Supino and San Gennaro. Supino is located in the Eastern Market District.
+ Russell Street Deli: Located next to Supino in the Eastern Market District, Russell Street serves up delicious, fresh food for both breakfast and lunch. Tons of vegetarian and vegan options to choose from.

Places To Shop for Groceries and More:
+ University Foods: A great grocery for students at Wayne State and nearby neighborhoods. The store is small but offers a wide variety of products, including organic food.
+ Kim's Produce: A small grocer along Woodward that offers fresh produce and popular health food brands. Most importantly they sell Calder Dairy Chocolate Milk.
+ Goodwell's Natural Foods: Another small grocer near Wayne State, Goodwells offers many unique health foods as well as some delicious prepared foods. The Famous Pocket Sandwich is a personal favorite.
+ Honeybee Market: Located in Mexicantown, Honeybee has a wide selection of Latin specialty foods in addition to the staples of your regular grocer.
Eastern Market: A gem in Detroit for over 100 years. The Saturday market is an experience you must have if you come Detroit, there are a wide variety of food vendors across several market sheds. I'm partial Shed 2 where you can find many specialty foods. Starting this Tuesday, you can enjoy the market from 11AM-7PM.

+ City Bird: Once you fall in love with Detroit, go to to City Bird for all of your Detroit loving needs. The also have great greeting cards and gifts. Bonus, the store was opened by some University of Michigan grads.

Places to Go:
+ Dequindre Cut and Detroit Riverwalk: Bike, walk or run on this rails to trails path. Read about my experience here.
+ Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: I took the most impressive museum tour I have ever been on here. Go here.
+ The Heidelberg Project: A community art project on Detroit's east side that is transforming the way people view the conditions of community.

+ Detroit Institute of Art: I never actually went, but I should of and I will. Among other things, the museum is known for it's Diego Rivera mural.
+ Green Garage and the Green Alley: The green garage is basically the mecca of green technology and the re purposing of materials. The building is being rehabbed in a cooperative manner by teams of professionals, skilled tradesmen and volunteers. The group also created Detroit's first Green Alley, planted with native Michigan plants.

This is just a sampling of what Detroit has to offer. If your interested in a structured tour of the city, I wrote a history tour and community visions tour for my History of Detroit class that I would be happy to share.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Inspiration

I'm feeling so much excitement and motivation to try new recipes this week. It's great. I checked out three cookbooks from the library today: Moosewood Restaurants New Classics , Seasonal Preserves by Joanna Farrow, and Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook my father's daughter (it was in Bon Appetit, so I figured it was legit).

Yesterday I made this lentil and rice salad, courtesy of Giada. The recipe was really easy to make, I had all ingredients on hand except a lemon for zest. I also added about a teaspoon of curry powder and a handful of raisins. Next time I think I will add a little more curry powder, but the recipe seems versatile for a number of flavor combos. Bonus, rice + lentils = complete protein.

This afternoon I was sitting out on the porch staring a the herb garden my Mom and Dad planted. The basil caught my eye and I remembered earlier this summer when a coworker was drinking sweet basil iced tea during a staff meeting. One Google search later, I was setting up at the stove to brew Sweet Basil Honey Tea from Food52. Of course, I was missing the essential regular black tea (and once again lemon - must.get.lemons) but I did have a cinnamon vanilla black tea from Trader Joe's. Unfortunately the vanilla and cinnamon dominated the flavor of the tea, but it smelled like basil. Delicious and refreshing nonetheless. I'll definitely give it another try with the right ingredients too. 

Any plans for the holiday weekend?