August 31, 2008

Biryani Inspired Quinoa Salad

I've struggled with cooking quinoa. Time after time it came out of the pot mushy, clumpy, soggy, or chalky. On my recent trip to Top Chef tour we were served a quinoa salad that was delightfully crunchy and I realized what I'd been missing. I could hardly wait to try and replicate it! With some new tips from Nikki of season 4 on how to prepare better quinoa, I felt inspired to make a new dish with this versatile seed to enter in this month's Royal Foodie Joust. This month's Joust ingredients picked by Kittie of Kittens in the Kitchen were: whole grains, ginger and citrus.

The combination of ginger and citrus immediately steered me towards Asian flavors. That brought to mind some comments made on my Gingered Sweet Pickled Cauliflower post. A comment from Salt & Turmeric was that the pickles would be good with biryani. I decided to try making a cold quinoa salad with the flavors and ingredients found in vegetable biryani. Here's my recipe:

Biryani Inspired Quinoa Salad
Makes 6 servings

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup dry lentils
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup diced onion
juice from 1 1/2 limes
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
1 cup raisins
1 medium zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup sliced almonds

-Cook the quinoa: Add the quinoa to 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer 10-15 minutes. You want to taste the quinoa periodically and stop the cooking when the chalky inside has disappeared. Immediately rinse in cool water, drain and refrigerate.
-Cook the lentils: Add the lentils to a saucepan and cover with water (an inch above the lentils is good). Bring to a boil and then simmer 15-30 minutes until completely cooked through. Drain and allow to cool.
-Add the oil and curry powder to a pan to toast the spices. Carefully fry the spices ~1 minute over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions soften.
-Add the lime juice, zest, agave nectar, salt, cayenne pepper and raisins to a bowl and mix together. Add the quinoa, zucchini, and carrots and toss gently. Taste for seasoning and add more lime juice, cayenne or salt as needed.
-Top with almonds and serve. Good with my Gingered Sweet Pickled Cauliflower on the side.

My quinoa was much, much better with Nikki's tips. I think it could have been cooked a tiny smidge longer but it had the desired crunch and wasn't mushy. I'll need a little more practice to get it perfect. I loved the curry spice on the quinoa and the raisins and nuts for sweetness and crunch. I think I'd like to try chickpeas instead of lentils the next time I make this. The size of the lentils was too similar to the size of the quinoa. In all, this was a tasty dish worth making again to perfect my quinoa skills. It'll be interesting to try different vegetable combinations depending on what's available.

Top Chef: The Tour in Detroit
Gingered Sweet Pickled Cauliflower recipe
The Royal Foodie Joust
The Leftover Queen
Kittens in the Kitchen (Awesome blog name!)
Salt & Turmeric (Thanks for the inspiration!)

Daring Bakers Chocolate Eclairs

For August's Daring Baker Challenge, Tony Tahhan and MeetaK choose a recipe for Chocolate Éclairs from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé.

Back in March, I came across a paté choux (cream puff dough) recipe with half whole wheat flour and made lemon-raspberry cream puffs. They were a huge hit with me and Alex. I really loved the nutty taste of the puffs and Alex loved the raspberry glaze made with frozen raspberries. Unfortunately, they spoiled me terribly.

When it came time to make the Daring Baker eclairs, I decided to stick to the original double chocolate recipe and only do my standard dairy-free substitutions. This meant soy milk for the cow's milk and Earth Balance for the butter. But after baking most of my eclairs deflated and almost all of the eclairs and puffs were a little soggy in the center. Maybe this was the soy milk or maybe it was my technique, I'm not sure. The chocolate pastry cream came next and it was very chocolaty but I could tell it wouldn't be sweet enough for Alex's tastes. It made a lot extra as well. The assigned chocolate glaze recipe called for heavy cream so I found an easy chocolate glaze recipe on All Recipes. Again, it was really chocolaty due to the Scharfen Berger 70% semi-sweet chocolate I used but not sweet enough to appeal to Alex.
Mostly, I just couldn't stop comparing these cream puffs to the raspberry ones. Darn it, I was craving nutty puffs and raspberry glaze! I passed along half to my in laws and the other half to my parents. Everyone seemed to like them, except me and Alex. Despite my husband's convictions, sometimes chocolate isn't the answer for the perfect dessert. I probably just need to wait and try these again when I'm craving dark chocolate. Or maybe it's time for another batch of the whole wheat ones?

To read other post from people who surely enjoyed their puffs more than I did visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll. Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom for the other alternative bakers. The inventive substitutions for wheat flour and eggs are my favorite reads.

For the full chocolate éclair recipe please go to either Tony Tahhan and What's for Lunch Honey.

Iron Cupcake Voting Now Open!

Voting for the Iron Cupcake Earth Challenge: Chili Pepper has opened and lasts until noon, Sept 4th at no one puts cupcake in a corner.

Of course you should go vote for me as Dog Hill Kitchen, I entered a Cincinnati Chili cupcake, but for inspiration and admiration here are some of my favorites:

Triple Cherry Chili
A visual stunner. The cake has two types of cherries and cherry peppers along with almond paste and coconut milk and it's topped with almond cream cheese frosting.
From A Sweet Piece

Just Peachy Texas Kicker
Inspired by BBQ sauce! The cake has peach preserves, cornmeal, chipotle chili and fresh Texas peaches and it's topped with a chipotle pepper peach glaze and white chocolate ganache.
From Walking the Vegan Line

Chocolate Chipotle del Muertos
A cupcake with a skull and chili crossbones, it's going to murder the competition! The cake is chocolate chipotle and it's filled with lime pudding and topped with lime cream cheese frosting. The skull is fondant.
From Cupquake

Black Sesame Chocolate Chili
Black sesame and chocolate cake with a baked in habenero-sesame ganache center topped with chocolate cream cheese frosting with New Mexico chili powder.
From Delightful Delicacies

Texas Torpedo Cake
This one is just gorgeous inside! A vegan pineapple cake with candied fresh jalapeno, dried pineapple, and cocoa nibs mixed into the cake topped with vegan cream cheese frosting.
From eat'n veg'n

Ginger Cayenne Cupcakes with Pear Cream Cheese Frosting
This one is last because I'm insanely jealous. It has a ton of molasses in the spicy gingerbread cake and the pear cream cheese frosting sounds perfect on top. This is worth making a dairy-free version to try.
from girl farts

The Complete Iron Cupcake Pool
My Cincinnati Chili Cupcake recipe

August 29, 2008

Nutty Bacon Dog Treats

After Abbie's appearance yesterday my husband complained that our dogs Karmal and Roxy are not getting any face time on the blog. Ok, I named it Dog Hill Kitchen but I'm really a cat person. The dogs are my husband's true loves. John whined enough so I figured I'd post a picture of our two dogs to get him off my back. Then I remembered Peanut Butter Boy's dog treat recipe I had seen just days ago. The poo shaped treats which he himself ate (!) cracked me up. We don't eat peanut butter, but I had a fresh jar of Sunbutter for a substitute. It was their new organic unsweetened kind and I wasn't liking it. I love the regular creamy and crunchy Sunbutter but I needed a way to use the unsweetened up.

There was a problem though. Our dogs are spoiled rotten and Roxy in particular is very picky. I cook for them fairly regularly and I've even taken to alternating their meals with raw. I try and give my two kitties a couple of raw meals a week too. I decided to enhance the recipe with a touch of bacon. I also had some soy flour not being used so I swapped that in too. I figured it would add more protein to the recipe.

Just as the oven finished preheating and everything measured out who should arrive but Alex's friends from next door. "Whatca making?" was the first thing out of the little girl from next door's mouth. She and Alex had fun making the soft pretzels last week so I invited them to help. The older boy couldn't be lured away from our Wii but the younger two were all for it. It was a great project for the kids. They took turns adding the premeasured ingredients and mixing each in. Then we all rolled out a piece of dough and cut out shapes. We sent her home with a bag for their dog.

Roxy was suspicious when I offered her a treat but after seeing Karmal gobble her's up she went ahead and ate it. Then they both were clamoring for more. I tasted one and these are most deinitely not for humans. Here's the recipe and pictures of the dogs enjoying their treats.

Nutty Bacon Dog Treats
Makes ~6 dozen 1" diameter treats

Visual ingredient list
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 egg
1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter (or Sunbutter)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (bacon + maple seemed like a good idea)
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup soy flour
1/2 whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat germ

-Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
-Fry the diced bacon until crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the crispy bacon but save the fat. Allow the fat to cool slightly (2-5 minutes)
-Add the egg, peanut butter, maple syrup and water to the bacon fat and mix thoroughly.
-Add in the flours and wheat germ and mix until combined. Stir in the crispy bacon pieces.
-Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick. Cut into desired shapes. I used three different 1" cookie cutters.
-Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes (for 1" diameter shapes) until lightly browned.
-Cool and make them beg for it.

Roxy and Karmal snacking on their treats
Roxy is black and brown and Karmal is golden

They're cute all right but the one on the left, I've caught her eating poo, more than once.
Cats are SO much better.

August 28, 2008

Creamy Tomato Soup with Smoked Paprika

Creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese is a nostalgic meal for me. When I was young my mother and grandmother would serve them together always with pickles on the side. My mom was creative with her variations of cheese and bread. One of my favorite combinations she would make was Swiss cheese with Jewish rye. I'm sorry to say that I haven't really carried on this tradition. Alex can't have dairy and doesn't like tomato soup. I make him grilled Chreese sandwiches but skip the soup. I love tomato soup still but grilled cheese sandwiches just don't feel worth the calories. I'd rather have a cookie with a salad instead.

Well, I finally created a tomato soup worth making just to have a good bowl of soup. I was stuck with a bunch of over ripe tomatoes. It's so hard not to buy way too much when everything at the farmer's markets looks so nice. Plus, my own tomato plants are still producing like crazy. The tomatoes were way too soft for a salad so I came up with a quick tomato soup with smoked paprika. It was a great way to use up mushy tomatoes and I loved the smoky taste. I've made it twice more to figure out the ideal amount of paprika. My parents came over to help me finish off the plum dumplings and got a batch with way too much paprika, whoops! I use a little soy milk in the soup but cow's milk would do just fine instead. Today wasn't a great day for photography, hence the limited amount of pictures. It's cloudy and drizzling and perfect for a warm bowl of soup. I made Alex a grilled Chreese and had a slice of crusty bread with marinaded bocconcini on the side for myself. He thinks the soup "tastes too much like tomatoes" (duh) but I got him to try it by telling him it was just like ketchup. Maybe he'll like it after a few more times?

Creamy Tomato Soup with Smoked Paprika
Makes 2 large bowls

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
5 medium over ripe tomatoes, quartered
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (I used Dulce for this)
1/2 cup soy milk* (or cow's milk)
*I suggest Silk Enhanced Omega-3, it's one of the creamiest.

-Add the oil and garlic to a pot. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the garlic is fragrant and starts to sizzle just a little. Don't brown or burn the garlic.
-Add the tomatoes, salt and paprika and cook on medium high for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to tomatoes to break down most of the way.
-Remove from heat and place the soup in a blender.
*If you've never blended hot liquid BEWARE. You need to crack the inner cap a small amount and cover it with a dishtowel. The spinning hot liquid will create a lot of steam and if you don't have a way to release it the top will blow off and cover you in pain. Also do NOT fill the blender more than halfway. If you choose to double the recipe or have a small blender do this step in smaller batches.
-Blend the soup until it reaches an even consistency.
-Add strain to remove the skins and seeds and add the soy milk.
-Add more soy milk and salt to achieve the desired seasoning and consistency. If the soup has cooled too much place it back in the pot and rewarm over medium heat. Optional: If the tomatoes aren't over ripe then you might want a pinch of sugar or a small amount of agave nectar.
-Serve hot with bread or grilled cheese/Chreese.

Abbie came to see what's cooking.

August 26, 2008

Hungarian Plum Dumplings (Szilvas gomboc)

I adore Italian prune plums and have been waiting impatiently for local ones to arrive at the farm stands. Last year I must have eaten a third of my body weight in plums. I micro-stewed them and topped them with a little brown sugar and sour cream and ate them straight up but I neglected to make plum dumplings. This is a favorite family dish that came from my great-grandmother Mary Westermeyer, who is my father's maternal grandmother.

Mary came over from Hungary in April 22nd 1914 when she was 17 years old passing through Ellis Island. There her surname changed from Schorsch to Scharsch. She settled in Cincinnati and a year later married her first husband, Joseph Hoffman. He shortly passed away in the Spanish flu pandemic. In 1921, she married my great-grandfather Anthony Westermeyer. She gave birth to a gaggle of kids, 10 surviving to adulthood. My grandmother Margaret was one of their middle children. They lived in Cincinnati then moved just over the border into Kentucky. My father remembers his parents making these together and I remember him making them with my mother helping. Alex noticed me making these and wanted to help. He cut out the plum pits and took dough and made several dumplings by himself. He also ate quite a few sugar cubes straight up! And the family tradition goes on...

Mary Westermeyer My grandmother Margaret, with a dog on a hill!

The dumpling dough is reminiscent of soft gnocchi dough. The bread crumbs and pan frying give a crispy contrast. Inside the tart plum's juices meld with the cube of sugar to create a delightful sauce that tempers the plum. I prefer to leave taste of the plums alone but try adding spices or liquors to see what suits your taste. I do recommend getting the sugar cubes. It's going to make your life easier since granulated sugar will try and fall out of the plum while you are covering it in dough. Additionally, I think there is some magic in how the cubed sugar dissolves that makes it better. You can use the rest of the sugar cubes to impress your friends when they come over and have a cuppa. Who gets to say these days, "Would you like one lump or two?" I found unrefined sugar cubes that added a molasses flavor that I loved. The recipe has several stages but all the steps are easy. The dough is forgiving and even the few that leak a little when you boil or fry them somehow survive and are still great. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool after you fry them. The hot, syrupy juices inside are like napalm, so watch out!

Note: I'm hoping to give these a try in a smaller batch with a substitute for the egg so that I can make them more often and have a vegan version of the recipe. I'll update the post after I try it.

Hungarian Plum Dumplings (Szilvas gomboc)
Makes ~18 dumplings

1 1/2 - 2 dozen Italian prune plums (this will vary with the size of the plums)
4 or 5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 egg, beaten
4 cups of flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
bread crumbs
butter (I use Earth Balance)
sugar cubes or 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar for each plum
cinnamon, or rum or orange liquor (optional)

-Cook the potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain them well and allow them to give off a lot of steam. Mash potatoes while they are still warm and add the flour and salt. Make a well and add the egg. Mix or knead the dough gently until everything is blended.
-Wash the plums and pit them, cutting on only one side to the pit so that they create something like an open clamshell. Form a circle of dough about 4 inches in diameter, or enough to cover your size of plum. Place a sugar cube (or the spoon of sugar and some cinnamon or liquor, if desired) into the center of a plum and fold the dough around the plum to form dumpling. Make sure to pinch the edges tight to seal. You may think that the dough is sticky enough that it doesn't need to be pinched but those will be the leaky ones. Roll the sealed ball gently in your palms to form a nice sphere.
-Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook a few dumplings at a time for about 10 minutes. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon and drain well but before the surface of the dumplings dries off roll them in breadcrumbs.
-Melt some butter (more is better) in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the dumplings in the skillet and turn them carefully until bread crumbs are brown all over.
-Serve warm, sprinkled with leftover crumbs from skillet.

Cut the plums on only one side so that they create something like an open clamshell.
Place the sugar filled plum on a 4 inch disk of dough.
Cup the dough around the plum and pinch the seam well. Dumplings ready to be boiled
A finished Hungarian Plum Dumpling (Szilvas gomboc)

The Cincinnati Chili cupcakes I made for my dad
Photos of Alex making dumplings
More photos of Mary and my grandma Margaret
Mary's Ellis Island Passenger Records
The Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, the boat Mary came to America on

August 25, 2008

The Vegan's Hundred

I should have seen it coming but we have yet another version of the 100 foods lists. Adding to the Ominvore's 100 and the Vegetarian 100 is Hannah from Bittersweet's Vegan 100.

Just keep in mind that when she names something it's the vegan version. Who even knew there was vegan haggis?! It sounds a lot less intimidating to make than the Scottish original though. The links to recipes are Hannah's work. Thanks Hannah!

Her Rules:
1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen (juice only)
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart (I have had vegan tacos but not from a street cart)
16. Boba Tea (Tapioca's texture and me do not get along, I'm not doing it again)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (I had tried to block the experience from my memory but in addition to other fruit wines I've had tomato wine. It was a night NOT to remember. I also made Ocean Spray cran-raspberry wine in college, it wasn't bad.)
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche (no but I make homemade vegan caramel)
28. Caviar (Click on the link, this isn't a recipe it's a marketed product I want some!)
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam (no but I've made vegan biscuits with EB and jam)
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk (I've had locally made fresh soymilk)
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut (I've made them)
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese (Also Teese and Chreese, we like Chreese for mac n' cheese and Vegan Gourmet Mozarella for pizza)
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake (I don't think I've had vegan versions)
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants (I finally made the Vegan Lunchbox recipe recently)
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate (I want to try Hannah's recipe)
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips (Who wants to sell me some? I'll pay blackmarket prices!)
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

August 24, 2008

Meadowbrook Wine and Food Festival

The Top Chef tour wasn't my only adventure yesterday. Instead of going home to referee Alex and his friends from next door I headed back out to Rochester Hills to the Meadowbrook Wine and Food Festival. About a month ago I saw that Foodbuzz was encouraging featured publishers to become a Foodbuzz Correspondent. I wrote and asked if they'd be interested in having me cover the event. I'm typically only a special occasion wine drinker because John doesn't drink it but I was very excited because I knew that there would be wineries there from the Traverse City area. This is where Dog Hill is located and where we are building our house and moving to this winter (cross your fingers!)

I coaxed my sister in law into coming with me and we arrived and received our tasting glasses and drink tickets. We started at the back with my main intent being not to miss any Michigan winery. It soon became clear that food would be a good idea, even though we weren't drinking the whole taste for most of the wines. There was a Whole Foods stand with cheese and cracker plates and we each got one. Oh boy...heels, grass, the heat, the humid weather added to carrying a notepad, pencil, wine glass, drink tickets, camera and a carryout tray of food made for quite a challenge. Somehow I managed, I hope with a touch of grace. We moved along and each tried a different wine from all of the Michigan wineries. The only exception being St. Julian which I've had several times and have never liked. There were several wines that I enjoyed a lot. The one that blew me away with it's fragrance and taste was the Fenn Valley Traminette 2007. They described this semi-dry white as having "spicy, floral and citrus characters". I really enjoyed its intense floral aroma. The other wine I found notable was Spotted Dog Winery's Coco Noir. I found it reminiscent of chocolate-covered cherries and enjoyed it a lot.

I also couldn't help spending time in the tent for the Great Lakes Tea and Spice Company, a company based out of Glen Arbor, MI. They reeled me in by having a Beehouse iced tea pitcher on display I've been eyeing for weeks online. John and I drink a lot of iced tea and iced herb tisanes and I just love the look of this pitcher. I browsed and had a glass of their Mackinaw Breeze iced tea, which is a black tea with juniper berries, berries and berry leaves. The juniper and berry didn't overpower the flavor of the tea but enhanced it wonderfully. I also found that they had Ras al hanout, the Moroccan spice blend I'm missing from my Vegetarian 100 List!! The pitcher, several tins of tea and the Ras al hanout just had to come home with me. I also picked up two bottles of the Fenn Valley Traminette on my way out.

It was a fun outing and a nice change from my typical Lego piece finding afternoons. I already have a pot (half empty) of the Mackinaw Breeze in my new pitcher in the fridge and I can't wait to bring the Traminette along to a special dinner soon. Here is a rundown of the Michigan wineries that were there with a few notes on the wines we tasted as well as links to the Great Lakes Tea and Spice company and more. A link to all of my photos from the festival is at the end.
Look for recipes with Ras al Hanout coming soon.

Wineries at the festival and the wines I tasted:
Black Star Farms
Artisan Red 2006, Sur Lie Chardonnay 2006, Cherry Wine
The Chardonnay I would buy if I was planning on serving something very rich. The Cherry Wine was too sour for my taste. I've purchased their Riesling several times and like it.
Chateau Chantal
NV Celebrate, Naughty Red Dry, Sparkling Cherry
Good but none were favorites.
Fenn Valley
Traminette LMS, Riesling 2007, Sangria
The Traminette was my favorite wine of the day. I liked the Riesling and would buy it. Neither my sister in law nor I liked the Sangria.
Round Barn Winery
Apple Demi Sec
The Apple was good but not terribly memorable. They also have a brewery and a distillery. I'd like to try some of their beers.
Spotted Dog
Coco Noir
This was the one that reminded me of chocolate-covered cherries. I have no idea at all what I would serve with it but wish I would have gotten a bottle.
Warner Vineyards
Peach & Honey, Gewurztraminer
The Peach & Honey had a pleasant peach aroma but was a very sweet dessert wine. The Gewurztraminer was good and was my sister in law's favorite of the day.
Pelee Island Winery
Gewurztraminer 2006
Pelee Island is an island in Lake Erie and is part of Ontario. This wine is easy to find in our area but it's not a favorite of mine.
St. Julian
I didn't taste any wines from St. Julian.
Other booths of interest:
Learn Great Foods Agri-Culinary Tours
Informative tours around Michigan, including ones on the Leelanau Peninsula, to sustainable farms
Great Lakes Tea and Spice Company
A Glen Arbor based tea and spice blender and importer, I purchased my Beehouse iced tea pot from them.
Michigan Hot Glass
Glass blowing classes and studio of Albert Young, pictures of the blown glass and a glassblower in action on the Flickr set.

A cute cast bronze cupcake from the Chateau Chantal booth

Marcona almonds, olives, grapes, Dutch Parrano cheese and crackers
The olives were watery and terrible but the rest was great.

My loot, the book is a collection of Detroit photographs that
was so nice I agreed to buy a subscription to Hour Magazine to get it.

My Flickr Set for the Festival
Michigan has listings for other wine related events in the state.

August 23, 2008

Top Chef: The Tour in Detroit

At long last Bravo's Top Chef: The Tour arrived in Detroit today. Well not exactly Detroit but who can blame them for choosing the brand new Rochester Hills Whole Foods as their home base? The chefs on the Detroit stop of the tour were Andrew Dambrosi and Nikki Cascone.

A ginormous Top Chef decorated trailer awaited fans in the parking lot. The sides were covered with images of the four winners. In the front there was a door to a small store with Top Chef gear (aprons, the cookbook, t-shirts) and another door to the demonstration area. In between the two doors were two bicycles set up to run blenders. Apparently they hold smoothie making events, but I didn't get a chance to see one. We signed in and entered the demonstration room. Inside was a small kitchen and seating for about 30.

After a splash of clips played, Nikki and Andrew entered. They discussed their dish for today: turbot on a quinoa salad with fava beans. Good knives and the nutritious aspects of quinoa were discussed. The cooking began and the floor is open for questions. The audience poses a lot of questions about the other contestants and the experience of being on Top Chef. A sample of the dish is served and the quinoa is excellent though the fava beans are sliced too small, which is possibly due to the fact that they need them evenly distributed in small portions. I've always had a problem with over cooking my quinoa and now I'm eager to give it another try.

The highlights of the conversation were Andrew's story of running past other applicants at his first Top Chef interview and them noticing and calling him first. Nikki was very personable and engaging. She described how quickly the challenges come at them, especially noting the marathon Wedding Wars challenge. Nikki says she regrets not showing as much of her style in the competition. Andrew seemed much more subdued but still had to whip out that "culinary boner" line. I really liked his dishes last season but that 14 year-old boy humor has to go.

We cornered Nikki and got more details on cooking better quinoa so look for my efforts later this week. I have a Joust to enter!

Me with Andrew and Nikki from Top Chef Season 4 Andrew and Nikki describing the dish
Andrew supremeing an orangeAnswering questions and cooking
Nikki cooking the turbot

My autographed Foodbuzz bag Abbie is turning out to be a camera hog. She shows up whenever I'm taking a picture now.

My Flickr Top Chef: The Tour Set
(Thanks to my sister-in-law for coming along and taking a ton of these pictures!)

August 22, 2008

Soft Pretzels (with a touch of whole wheat flour)

Update: Jennie from A Vegan & a Dog Named Keiko made these and used soymilk in place of the egg yolk and they worked for her. Now we have a vegan version of the recipe, thanks Jennie!

Today in an effort to give the neighbor kids and Alex something new to do I made some pretzel dough. The little girl from next door and Alex like to play with clay together and Alex loves to do anything in the kitchen. This turned out to be a good idea but I managed to make a couple of mistakes. The first was to tell the girl from next door that we were going to make pretzels a good 30 minutes before the dough was done rising. "Alex's mom, is it pretzel time yet?" became her mantra, repeated through the screen door at least every minute. Mistake number two, I gave them sidewalk chalk to keep the nagging down. They were already wet from the sprinklers and wet + chalk = indelible chalk paste. I had to hose and scrub them down when the dough was finally ready and one pretzel still had a tinge of blue before it was boiled. They had a good time and I was feeling pretty proud of myself when my husband John walks in and sees the pretzels. This was my final mistake, halving the recipe. After some puppy dog eyes and blatant flattery about how good they were, I made a second batch so John could have some.

Soft pretzels and mini pretzel rolls cooling

This was an adaptation of Alton Brown's Good Eats Soft Pretzel recipe. I wanted to add some whole wheat flour and then discovered I was all out of all-purpose so I made up the rest with bread flour. They were chewy with a authentic pretzel taste and the dough was easy to work with. I think the bread flour is unnecessary but I loved the touch of whole wheat. I'd like to try the same dough with cinnamon sugar instead of salt and honey instead of sugar. I'm not sure if I'd boil those or not? Alex loves cinnamon and I think a slight honey flavor would go well with the whole wheat flour. The kids gobbled these up and Abbie even had to check them out (see her in the last shot).

Soft Pretzels
Makes 6 medium pretzels
3/4 c warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
8 oz (~1 3/4 cups) bread flour (or all-purpose)
3 oz (~3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
1 oz (2 tablespoons)Earth Balance Margarine, melted
Other supplies needed:
Neutral vegetable oil
10 cups of water
2/3 cup baking soda
kosher or pretzel salt
1 egg yolk (or substitute soy milk)

-Proof the yeast with the water and sugar for five minutes (or skip it, I rarely proof yeast)
-Add the flour, salt and margarine to the yeast, water and sugar. Mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.
-Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled 50-55 minutes.
-Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Punch down the dough divide into six equal pieces. Oil your hands and a clean surface and roll the dough out into a rope ~16 inches long. Make a U with the rope and then cross the two ends over each other. Or make any shape. We made circles and small rolls and little baguettes and they all were good.
-One at a time gently place the pretzels in the boiling baking soda water for 30 seconds. Remove and place on the lined baking sheet.
-Add a teaspoon of water to the egg yolk and beat it to incorporate the water. Brush the yolk onto the pretzels and sprinkle on a little kosher or pretzel salt.
-Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Abbie the kitten gets her feet in the shot. Then she checks to see if it's edible.

Other pretzel stuff:
I didn't see this recipe until after I made my second batch!! Next time I really want to try the awesomely named Hell Boy Pretzels!

I added this to Yeastspotting. I get Susan's Wild Yeast email feed and I love the end of the week roundup with a ton of new bread ideas.

August 21, 2008

Vegetarian 100

Earlier this week I found and posted the Omnivore's 100. I mentioned in the comments that a vegetarian list was needed as well. Maybelle's Mom stepped up to the plate with her meticulously annotated Vegetarian 100. Stop by feeding maybelle to see her list and leave a comment there if post a copy of the list. How cow was there a lot I haven't tried! I need to go shopping to look for some of this stuff.

General rules:
= have eaten
unhighlighted = haven't eaten
crossed out = won't ever eat
Click on the (?) if you need an example. Maybelle's Mom did a lot of work getting all of those links. I'm in awe.

1. Edamame (?)
2. Cha Soba (?)
3. Arame (?)
4. Earth Balance Buttercream
5. "Homemade" sprouts (homegrown, I assume?)
6. Green Bamboo Rice (?)
7. Absinthe
8. Eat at a raw restaurant
9. Fresh (real) wasabi
10. Deep fried pickle
11. Fiddleheads (?)
12. Garlic stuffed olives
13. Smen (?)
14. Goji Berries (?)
15. Shiso or Perilla (?)
16. Amaranth (?)
17. Pomegranate molasses (?)
18. Water convulvulus (Water Spinach) (?)
19. Pea eggplant, Thai eggplant, green eggplant, Japanese eggplant, Indian eggplant, Sicilian eggplant...
20. A Zen Buddhist Vegan Meal (?)
21. Kohya Dofu (?)
22. Wild Asparagus (?) (I've had wild foraged asparagus though)
23. Elderberry (?)
24. Candlenuts (kemiri) (?)
25. Salsify (?) (I even grew it)
26. Nutritional Yeast (?)
27. Pandan (?)
28. Roman cauliflower (?) (I tried to grow it)
29. Anything with acorn flour (?)
30. Poi (?)
31. Chaya (tree spinach) (?)
32. Pitahaya (dragon fruit) (?) (Lotta seeds)
33. Asafoetida (?)
34. Fried plantains
35. Basil seeds (?)
36. Cardoon (?)
37. Durian (?)
38. Ground Cherry or cape gooseberry (?)
39. Fresh waterchestnut (?)
40. Cashewnut cheese
41. Nettles (?)
42. Fake duck from a can, tofurky, or any prepared vegetarian product to resemble meat
43. Kimchi (?)
44. Masala Dosa (?)
45. Lotus Seed (?)
46. Matcha (?)
47. Loubie Bzeit (?)
48. Quince (?) (I can hardly wait for the quince ot ripen, I love them!)
49. Blue Potatoes (?)
50. Injera (?)
51. Nasturtium (?)
52. Turkish Delight or Lokum (?)
53. Spruce tips (?)
54. Breadfruit (?)
55. Mangosteen (?) (juice only)
56. Swede or Rutabaga (?)
57. Garlic Scapes (?)
58. Lavash (?)
59. Candied Angelica (?)
60. Rambutan (?)
61. Sambal (?)
62. Bhutanes Red Rice (?)
63. Candy-cane or Chioggia beets (?)
64. Mango
65. Ras el Hanout (?)
66. Vegan marshmallow (?) (I've had Ricemellow)
67. Umeboshi (?)
68. Red Currants (?)
69. Puy or French lentils (?)
70. Millet (?)
71. Fresh Bamboo shoot (?)
72. Jerusalem artichoke (?)
73. Wild strawberry (?)
74. Jambool (?)
75. Po cha or Yak butter Tea (?)
76. Adzuki beans (?)
77. Shirataki (?)
78. Manioc, yuca, cassava (?)
79. Quinoa (?)
80. Ramps (?)
81. Chufa (?)
82. Purslane (?)
83. Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) (?)
84. Sorrel (?)
85. Sumac (?)
86. Vegan cupcake
87. Montreal bagel (?)
88. Peri-peri (?)
89. Syllabub (?)
90. Chartreuse (?)
91. Kamut berries (?) (I've only had the flour)
92. Kalamansi Lime (?)
93. Aloe (?)
94. Morels (?)
95. Raw “bread” (I've had raw crackers)
96. Dandelion wine
97. Rosti (?)
98. Loomi (?)
99. Stinky tofu (?)
100. Something grown by you~

August 20, 2008

Cherry Tomato and Mint Salad on Lamb Steaks

There needs to be a saying for vegetable gardens along the lines of "a watched pot never boils." A watched plant never produces. A watched plant never grows. The watched tomato never ripens. Never turn your back on a zucchini plant. Ok, it needs some work.

We've been scouting the cherry tomato plants every day for the one or two ripe tomatoes to fight over and then I turn my back and BOOM! I have a load of cherry tomatoes needing to be picked. Ripe tomatoes are falling off of the vine and I'm feeling guilty. Looking around, I see that the mint has begun to flower and needs to trimmed as well. I know I have a lamb steak waiting in the fridge. Thus was this salad and my lunch born.

Cherry Tomato and Mint Salad
Makes enough for 2

3 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of fresh mint chiffonade
1/2 small red chili, chopped into fine dice
salt and pepper

-Slice tomatoes in half (quarter any large ones). Place in a bowl.
-Add chopped mint, lemon juice, olive oil and chili (or sub 1/8 t cayenne pepper). Add small amount of salt and pepper, toss together gently and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and/or lemon juice as needed.
-Serve with lamb steaks or good bread.

This little yellow pear tomato was almost too cute to eat.

I'm sending this post Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen to help everyone explore new uses for herbs.

This week's host is Srivalli from Cooking 4 All Seasons. Visit her site at the beginning of next week to see the other herb-inspired recipes.

August 19, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I just finished celebrating my dad's birthday (see the post on Cincinnati Chili cupcakes). Coincidentally the next day I came across The Omnivore's Hundred on wine me, dine me, a Cincinnati blog. This list of a hundred foods every omnivore should try comes from Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste. My father is always looking for new foods to try and I'm sure he has me beat on this list. We've been talking about trying to find a durian to share lately and he and my mom used to talk about making bagna cauda.

If you'd like to play along, here are the rules:
1. Copy the list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4. Optional extra: post a comment on Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

Those I've eaten are in bold.
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I've had alligator.)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (I miss the Ann Arbor hot dog carts something awful.)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly (This does mean jello shots?)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (Do gnats between your teeth while bike riding count?)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (Homemade ones are better)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear (The fruit and pickled leaves)
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (As food? Or accidentally eating face masks?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (I love funnel cakes!)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette (I've smelled them being soaked, that was close enough for now)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (Haven't had the really good stuff though)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (I have to find some now)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I think there are some foraged foods that should have made it:
-bread made with acorn flour

August 17, 2008

Cincinnati Chili Cupcakes for Iron Cupcake Earth

For my father's birthday this week I asked him what he'd like me to make, expecting him to pick his favorite carrot cake. Then I remembered that I had my Iron Cupcake Earth cupcakes to make and so I gave him the option of a chili pepper cupcake. I hadn't decided exactly what to make yet and his mind immediately sprang to one of his favorite dishes, Cincinnati Chili. The spices that accompany the chile powder in this regional favorite are cinnamon, allspice and CHOCOLATE. Perfect flavors for a cupcake! Since a good cupcake is only as good as it looks I also thought about the iconic look of Cincinnati chili. A bowl of Cincinnati style chili is topped with copious amounts of spaghetti and cheese. I knew I could pipe vanilla icing and grate orange-colored white chocolate for a whimsical "spaghetti and cheese" decoration.

We ate the cupcakes today and they were wonderful. The spices in the cake reminded me of rich, chocolaty gingerbread. The sweet frosting brought out the chocolate taste even more and I loved the way the cupcakes looked. Alex had fun helping me pipe on the "spaghetti" and grate the "cheese". It was a fun project, a successful cupcake experiment and I think my dad really liked them.
A bowl of real Cincinnati Chili
Thanks to Laughing Squid for the photo!

This is my Iron Cupcake Earth: Chili Powder entry. You can vote for the best cupcake on Sunday, August 31st at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKEIN A CORNER. Voting ends Thursday, September 4 at 12 noon. This month's prizes are a one-of-a-kind piece of original Cakespy art by ETSY artist Jessie Oleson; a luxury hostess apron from Jessie Steele; the next generation of the Cupcake Courier; and a new publication from the library of Taste of Home Books.

Cincinnati Chili Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder*
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chocolate chips
5 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider or white)
1 cup cold water
*Be sure to check for other ingredients in spice jars labelled "chili powder". You want to buy pure chile powder and not anything with cumin, onion, garlic, etc added.

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake pan with papers.
-Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt and spices to a large bowl. Stir with a wire whisk until full incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir to distribute.
-Mix together the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water in a small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fill the cupcake papers three quarters full.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few crumbs clinging.
-Cool for 5-10 minutes and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
-Frost and decorate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-Beat the margarine and shortening until smooth.
-Slowly sift in the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
-Add the vanilla extract and beat until mixed in.
-Fill a piping bag with a #4 Wilton tip or snip a very small opening to create the "spaghetti".

To Decorate:
I made the orange "cheese" with orange colored white chocolate. I get dairy-free white chocolate from Chocolate Emporium. I melted the chocolate chips carefully in the microwave and then added both Wilton Lemon Yellow and Orange icing colors to get the ideal orange shade. I chilled the colored block of chocolate in the freezer. When I was ready to decorate, I microwaved the block of chocolate in 5 second increments to get it just warm and pliable enough to grate.

More Cincinnati Chili stuff:
The History of Cincinnati Chili
Not in Ohio? Get Cincinnati Chili in Chicago
Like Geocaching? My father's Chili Magnet Travel Bug