Sunday, March 30, 2008

The garden in spring

Has spring sprung yet? I just wanted to remember what was sprouting in the garden. Old hyacinths, planted when we first moved here...irises planted very late last the barrel, there is some alium and around it, some pulmonaria. Yesterday it looked like spring, but today, it is back to gray winter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

For my favorite Sister In Law

Roasted Cauliflower
1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Trim outer leaves of cauliflower and cut stem flush with bottom. Cut head into 8 equal wedges so that core and florets remain intact. This means the whole head - don't cut it into florets. Place wedges cut side down on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. You can use foil, but make sure that it is heavy duty. Mine wasn't today, and so it easily got holes in it. Life is too short to buy cheap aluminum foil!

Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; gently rub to evenly distribute oil and seasonings. Gently flip cauliflower and season other cut side with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, salt, and pepper.

2. Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until bottoms of cauliflower pieces are golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and, using spatula, carefully flip wedges. Return sheet to oven and continue to roast until cauliflower is golden all over, 8 to 12 minutes longer. You can drizzle it with more olive oil and salt and pepper - I didn't today, but you could and it would be great.

Friday, March 21, 2008

10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn't Miss in Ann Arbor

We're having a snowstorm tonight - on the first day of spring, no less. And it is Good Friday! So far, 5 inches of snow has fallen on Ann Arbor. It's a good night to read blogs....Thanks to the Farmer's Marketer, I was inspired to compile my own list of 10 things to taste in Ann Arbor. Here they are, not in any particular order:

1. The beef brisket at Zingerman's Roadhouse. I'm not a huge fan of the Roadhouse, but their BBQ beef brisket is wonderful. I can pick up a pound of the brisket for $14, and it will feed my family of 4 on some cheap hamburger buns, which is the best way to eat it.

2. The goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves and soaked in bourbon at Morgan and York. This stuff is great - get some. It tastes nutty and rich and is wonderful for a picnic. Also, I love shopping at this store. Everyone is so friendly and knowledgeable.

3. The hot and sour soup at Kosmo's in Kerrytown. It isn't the typical hot and sour soup - it may not be on the chalkboard menu anymore but ask for it, they will have it. I asked the AA News to get the recipe, but they failed. Don (the owner) was kind enough to give me some suggestions. Here's my approximation of their terrific soup.

4. Apple cider and donuts from the Dexter Cider Mill. I only wish they'd start brewing some hard cider...

5. Deep fried pickles at the Sidetrack in Ypsi. I think Ypsi is the new Ann Arbor, don't you??? While we're at it, let's not forget...

6. Aubree's Pizza. They make the best "regular" pizza around - no organic potato and blue cheese kind of thing going on here, but that's okay. They make great pizza, period. Their feta bread is outstanding, too, and they make their own salad dressing for their antipasto salad. And they deliver to the...

7. Corner Brewery, where it is fun to sit in the biergarten and quaff some good brew and play board games. They don't serve much food, but many places deliver from Depot Town.

8. Dark chocolate Sea Foam candy at Kilwin's. I love Sea Foam, thanks to my sorority sister Eugene who was a huge fan. It's an old fashioned candy that's very hard to find, but Kilwin's has it in Ann Arbor.

9. Day old Zingerman's Bread. You can get it at the deli just inside the door to your left. Such a deal! Buy some of your favorite chacuterie there as well and make your own Z sandwich for half the price.

10. The Inspired Nachos at eve: the restaurant. Okay, anything at eve: the restaurant is good, but the nachos are always on the menu. Try them!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pop Art Cuisine

In 1962, Andy Warhol created a painting of 32 Campbell's soup cans. It marked the West Coast debut of Pop Art. So, why do I have trouble admitting that I like a recipe with soup in it. There, I said it! I came's true, I make a recipe with condensed soup. Sure, I could make this casserole with bechamel sauce. But it's a casserole, for goodness sake! There are times when I come home from work late and I have chicken breasts thawed and no energy to do much more than this with them. Full disclosure: I also like the green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup in it.

Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream soup (any kind - I like mushroom)
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups frozen vegetables, any kind
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Stir the soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper and vegetables in an 11 x 8-inch (2-quart) shallow baking dish. Top with the chicken. Season the chicken with paprika, salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil tightly. Bake at 375°F. for 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Top with cheese. Let casserole stand for 10 minutes. Stir rice before serving.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Seafood packets

I got this recipe originally from Everyday Food, but I modified it a bit. This is a terrific easy dinner item - in fact, you can make them the night before and put the packets in the fridge and throw them on the grill when you get home.

Serves 4.
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons dried dill - if it is summer and you have some, fresh dill is nice
4 small garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 ounces red new potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 pound skinless fish fillet, cut into four equal pieces (cod is good, tonight I am using sole)
8 ounces frozen uncooked medium shrimp (peeled and deveined), thawed
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Heat grill to medium. Fold four 14-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil in half, forming 4 rectangles. Assemble packets: On one half of each of four folded pieces of heavy-duty foil, dividing ingredients evenly, arrange potatoes in a single layer; top with cod, then shrimp. If it is summer and you have some around, you could throw in a couple of 1 inch pieces of corn on the cob on the side. Add a dollop of the butter, sprinkle with garlic, dill, salt and pepper and two lemon slices. Fold foil over ingredients, and crimp edges tightly to seal.

Place packets on grill, with potato layer on the bottom. Cook, rotating the packets around on the grill (don't flip them) occasionally, until fish is just cooked through and potatoes are tender, 12 to 14 minutes.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

For the birds

I finally was able to get out and buy some more bird seed. I like to shop at the Dexter Mill for my bird seed - they have a lot of variety. I bought the "Cardinal Mix" this time. The deer love to eat my bird food, so I bought them a deer block and put it on the far edge of our property - in the woods. Hopefully, they will like the block better than my seeds. This year, I moved the bird feeder so I can see it from the kitchen table.
I can't identify too many birds, (yes, I know this is a cardinal) so someone recommended Birds of Michigan to help me. It's a great book - I checked it out of the library and I can't wait to buy it used somewhere. It's small, and it is organized by color, and lets me know what season to expect the bird. I usually get lots of juncos at the feeder this time of year. Who knew they wintered here in balmy Ann Arbor!
Today, the Junior Girl Scout troop my daughter belongs to had a sledding party on our neighborhood sledding hill. It is known as Cardiac Hill, because riders almost have a heart attack because of sled speed or the fear of being deposited in the creek on the more southerly face. It is cold and windy today, and the promised snowfall turned out to be a "weathergasm". Still, the girls had a nice time.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Snow Day and Cabin Fever

Just for the record, today was a snow day. I'd say Ann Arbor got about 5 inches of snow, but downriver got much more - like 10 inches. I have horrible cabin fever and can't stop thinking about gardening. I am hoping the good people at arborseeds, a local group I belong to, will have a plant exchange again this spring. My daughter's Girl Scout troop is having a sledding party this weekend. I never thought I would say this, given my many years in the U.P., but will the winter NEVER END????