"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Daulphinoise Potatoes

This was a staple side dish in the Grill Room at the Ritz Carlton.  Around the Holidays it makes a super side dish for roasts, lamb, steaks, etc.  It can be served family style in the dish or you can cut the finished potatoes into shapes.  I have had many friends ask for this recipe, so here it is, Enjoy!

4 medium russet potatoes
2 Tbsp. butter
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Grated nutmeg, to taste
1 C. heavy cream
1 C. whole milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 C. grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with half of the butter.   Sprinkle the garlic evenly into the butter dish.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, cream, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Reserve the mixture (called a Royale) on the side. 

Divide cheese into 2 parts, a one cup measure and a half cup measure. 

Working quickly, so they don’t brown, peel potatoes and slice thinly using a food processor.   Pat slices dry using paper towel.  Line the bottom of the dish with a layer of the potatoes, overlapping the slices.  Using the one cup measure, sprinkle some of the cheese and repeat layering more potatoes and cheese until all of the potatoes has been used.  Pour the cream mixture, gently over the potatoes making sure the liquid has penetrated evenly.  Using your hand, press down on the potato mixture to compact the potatoes and liquid.  Top with the remaining half cup measure of cheese and dot the top with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Place baking dish into hot oven and cook for 50-60 minutes.   Check after 40 minutes, if top is over browning cover loosely with foil and return to the oven to finish.  Remove from oven.  The top of the potatoes should be golden brown and a sharp knife should pass easily through the layers of potato. 

Now, comes a choice, there are a couple of different ways to serve the finished dish.  The first is family style, let the dish rest for 15 minutes and serve.  Easy and definitely a crowd pleaser.   

The second way, if you want to “kick it up a notch” and it’s how we served them in the restaurant; you chill the fully cooked dish completely.  Obviously, this method of serving will require you make this the day before or earlier in the day you want to serve it.  Once fully cooled, run a very sharp knife around the edges of the dish and loosen.  Place a large cutting board on the top of the dish and quickly flip both, so the dish is now upside down on top of the cutting board.   Carefully, using your knife, remove the entire Daulphinoise, in one piece, onto the cutting board.  From here you can cut the potatoes into whatever shape you want (we did diamonds or rounds).   Flip the cut potato shapes so the golden brown cheese side is up.  To reheat, place in 400 degrees F. oven until hot through and through.  Serve and enjoy!

Chickpea Salad with Lebanese Spices

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. honey
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Kosher salt to taste
8 large spring onions, finely sliced
squeeze of lemon juice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (or halved if very small)
(2) 15oz. can chickpeas, devided in half; drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. Lebanese spice mix (recipe follows)
4 oz. soft,  goat cheese 
6 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
leaves of baby gem, romaine or other crunchy lettuce to serve

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, honey, crushed garlic and salt to taste.  Reserve on the side.

Spread one half of the chickpeas on a baking sheet and place into hot oven.  Cook for 20 minutes, shaking tray half way through cooking time.  Remove tray from oven and toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 3 Tbsp. spice mix.  Spread them out again on tray and return to oven for another 10 minutes until browned and crunchy. (These also make a wonderful snack, serve either warm or at room tempurature)

Add the spring onions to a salad bowl and sprinkle with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas (both plain and roasted), goat cheese, cilantro, parsley and dressing to the salad bowl. Toss to mix. Add coarse salt and black pepper to taste.   Scoop spoonfuls of salad onto crunchy lettuce leaves, serve and enjoy!

Lebanese Spice Mix:

Blk Pepper

Buy the ingredients in powder form (or make into powder using pestel and mortar). Mix together equal quantities of all the above. Once complete, keep in a sealed jar or container and it will last for at least six months

Weekly Menu- Dec. 31st - Jan. 6th

Saturday- New Year's Eve Appetizer Party at Martha's
Indian Spiced Red Lentil Dip with Naan and Fresh Vegetables
Warm Flat bread with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, Fig Jam and Arugula
Lamb "Lollipops" with a Roasted Shallot Reduction
Fingerling Potatoes with Lemon Zest and Thyme
Stuffed Mushrooms
Potato Latke's with Spiced Applesauce

Butternut Squash Soup with Garlic Croutons
Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Root Vegetables
Baby Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Bleu Cheese, Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini with Chicken and Dill
Chickpea Salad with Lebanese Spices
Brown Jasmine Rice with Sliced Almonds

Mahi-Mahi Burgers with Smoked Bacon and Caramelized Onions
Curried-Carrot Slaw
Fresh Cut French Fries with Sea Salt

Vegetable, Bean, and Turkey Burritos
Garden Fresh Salsa

Brown Rice Vegetable Pasta
Eggplant Ragu

Friday-"Smorgasbord Night" (clean out the Frig, make room for Sat.'s shop)

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Root Vegetables

2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 C. Dijon mustard
1 (3#) boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied
3 small fennel bulbs, tops removed
8 carrots, peeled, and thickly sliced diagonally
10 small potatoes (red or white-skinned), cut in quarters
2 yellow onions, thickly sliced
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a food processor, grind together the garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and thyme leaves.  Using a rubber spatula, transfer to a mixing bowl and add the mustard.  Spread the mixture over the loin of pork and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the fennel bulbs in thick wedges, cutting through the core. Toss the fennel, carrots, potatoes, and onions in a bowl with the olive oil, melted butter, salt, and pepper to taste.

Place the pork loin in a large roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes, carefully remove pan from oven and add all the vegetables around the loin.  Place pan back in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the pork reads 140 degrees.  Remove loin from the pan and loosely cover with foil, reserve warm.  At a minimum the roast needs to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.  A fork should easily pierce the potatoes and the vegetables should be tender but not over cooked.  If any of the mixture needs to be cooked longer, return vegetable mixture to oven and continue to cook until desired doneness.  

Remove the strings from the meat and slice it thickly. Arrange the meat and vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seafood Mofongo

Viva Puerto Rico!  We are just back from an absolutely fabulous trip to this beautiful island paradise.  While staying in the Porta Del Sol region (the north-western side) I had some of the best Mofongo and decided to make a version.  This is a staple food using plantains and can be made to complement a wide variety of meats, seafood, or vegetables.

1/2 C. vegetable oil
1# Mahi-Mahi (Called Dorado on the island)
1# mixed seafood (shrimp, calamari, scallops, octopus)
flour for dredging
1/4# thick cut bacon
3 plantains, peeled and sliced into 1" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh cilantro,  to taste- chopped
fresh flat leaf parsley, to taste- chopped
1/2 C.+ hot chicken stock or broth
1 lime, juiced
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl combine fish and other seafood, add all but 2 Tbsp of lime juice and coat thoroughly.  Reserve cold.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan.  Once hot, fry bacon until golden brown.  Remove and reserve warm.  Add vegetable oil to pan and heat.  Once hot, fry the plantains in batches until tender and golden brown.  Place cooked plantains on paper towel to drain some of the oil.  Reserve pan with oil to the side.

Move all the cooked plantains to a fresh, large mixing bowl.  Add bacon, remaining lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and parsley.  Mash using the hot stock to form the consistency of thick potatoes.  (Traditionally, the plantains and other ingredients are smashed using a pestel and mortar.)  Season with salt and pepper, reserve warm.

Bring pan with the oil used to fry the bacon and plantains back to the heat.  Drain the fish and seafood, season with salt and pepper and dredge with flour.  Shake well to remove all excess flour and then flash fry, Mahi first in batches in the hot oil.  Once fish is golden in color remove from oil and place on baking dish.  Place in the oven and finish cooking.  Now flash fry the assorted seafood in batches and finish in the hot oven.  Do not overcook the fish, everything should be cooked through but moist.

Serve family style; put the Mofongo on the bottom of a large warm serving bowl and top with the mixture of fish and seafood, top dish with some fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, serve and enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thyme and Cheese Strata

A Christmas morning staple.  This can be made with the addition of just about anything you'd make an omelette with.  This is a basic version, but I really like to add a good pork sausage or smoked bacon to the mix.  I cook the meat first and cool, then add it to the mixture.  I make the night before and just pop it into the oven while presents are being opened.  When everyone is ready for some breakfast, voila!

2 Tbsp softened butter
8 eggs
2 C. whole milk
1 1/2 C. shredded cheese (I use a Mexican blend, but experiment, have fun with it)
fresh thyme, to taste
3 C. fresh French bread, cut into 2" chunks
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a glass baking dish with the butter.  Add the bread pieces and sprinkle half the cheese over.  In a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs and whisk together with the milk.  Add thyme to your taste and the salt and pepper.  Pour mixture over the bread and top with remainder of cheese.

Place dish in the hot oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Once done, remove and let sit for 5-10 minutes, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekly Menu Dec. 24th- Dec. 30th

Dinner out; Chinese Food.  It's a tradition in both our families for Christmas Eve.  Go to the family Christmas Services at Orchard Lake and then Hong Hua in Farmington Hills for the some of the best Cantonese food in the area, yum!

Sunday-Christmas Dinner
Poached Jumbo Shrimp with Spicy Horseradish Sauce
Smoked Salmon served on Rye Toast with a Dill Cream
Standing Rib Roast of Beef with a Shallot-Cabernet Reduction
Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes with Sea Salt and Thyme
Baby Arugula Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Cranberries, and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette
Homemade Tiramisu with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

"Remembering Puerto Rico Night"
Seafood Mofongo
Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables

Vegetables, Rice, and Beans Casserole
Chopped Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Red Lentil and Vegetable Stew
Warm Naan with Coriander Butter

Grilled Salmon with Mint Pesto
Quinoa Pilaf
Sauteed Spinach

Dinner out with Friends

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Restaurant Ideas in and around Detroit

Recently I was asked by a friend who lives in California to recommend a couple of places here in town.  He is giving his brother, who lives  in Michigan, a Christmas gift  and wanted to know where to send him and his wife.  I sent him the following list and though I'd share it.

Ok, now there's a ton of dynamite places round town.  Here is a list of our favorites with links.  Check them out, if you have questions or need anything just let me know.  I tried to give you a good mix of cuisines and price ranges, but let me know.

The Root Restaurant- our new favorite.  Everything is locally sourced.  Very creative menu, not too pricy, staff is excellent. 


Bacco Ristaurante- Probably the best Italian food in the area, northern Italian cuisine.  Exceptional in all areas, entrees range $20-$45. 


Andiamo's (West Bloomfield)- Another superb Italian restaurant, they have multiple locations around town.  Not too crazy pricing, but excellent. 


Jeremy- The chef's a CIA grad and used to work at Tribute (was one of the best restaurant's in the US).  Very inventive.  Great place, great food. 


Toast- In Birmingham (very upscale- great for window shopping before or after dinner).  Very reasonable, great food and service. 


Hung Hua- If Chinese is what they like, this is a gem.  Always packed, very good service and great food. 


El Barzon- This one is downtown, but awesome.  The chef's of Mexican descent, but worked for 10 years at a very upscale Italian restaurant prior to opening his own joint.  So, it's a Mexican-Italian menu (two menus) everything is great.  Very reasonably priced.

Michael Symon's Roast-  For my money, this is the best steakhouse in town.  Very cool spot at the Book-Cadillac Hotel downtown.  Pricy, but worth every penny.  Not for a vegetarian, as you can tell from the name, meat is the star of the show here! 

The Lark-  No list would be complete without the best restaurant in the region.  Set in a European style country inn, this is four star personified.  You pay for it, but it will not disappoint!

I could go on and on, but these eight are a good start.  By the way, if he loves Barbecue, we have one of the best places in the country in downtown.  It's called Slow's and it's off the hook.  http://www.slowsbarbq.com/

Monday, December 12, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

3 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded
·        2 tablespoons butter
·        1 medium onion, sliced
·        1 leek, sliced
·        2 cloves garlic, sliced
·        2 Qts. chicken broth
·        2 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
·        1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·        1 teaspoon ground allspice
·        1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
·        1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste
·        salt and pepper to taste
          1/2 cup sherry wine
·        1 cup half-and-half cream
 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Pour a thin layer of water in a baking dish, or a cookie sheet with sides. Place the squash halves cut side down on the dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the flesh. Cool slightly, then remove the peel. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leek and garlic, and saute for a few minutes, until tender. Pour the chicken broth into the pot. Add the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft. Add the squash, and mash with the potatoes until chunks are small. Use an immersible hand blender to puree the soup, or transfer to a blender or food processor in batches, and puree until smooth. Return to the pot.

Season the soup with cayenne pepper, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, salt and pepper, then stir in the sherry and half-and-half cream. Heat through, but do not boil. Ladle into bowls, and top with some of the chiffonade of green onion.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crab Stuffed Deviled Eggs

8 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce
8 ounces crabmeat

Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)

Cut eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop out yolks. Place yolks from 4 eggs in medium bowl (reserve remaining yolks for another use). Mash yolks with fork.

Mix in mayonnaise, chopped tarragon, minced shallot, lemon juice, cayenne, and hot pepper sauce. Mix in crab. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mound crab mixture in cavity of each egg-white half (about 1 heaping tablespoon for each). (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Place crab-stuffed deviled eggs on platter. Garnish each with small tarragon sprig, if desired, and serve.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Berry Trifle

Every year I cook an appreciation lunch for our agency's staff.  This is one of the Holiday desserts I am preparing.  Jeanne's mom used to make this at the Holidays and I think it is one of those quintessential desserts for this time of year.  It makes a beautiful presentation and tastes fabulous.  You can either make the pound cake yourself or buy it, either way this is a keeper.  Enjoy!!

1 Plain Pound Cake, recipe follows
1 cup good raspberry jam
2 half-pints fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh strawberries

Cognac Cream, recipe follows
2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Cut the pound cake into 9 (3/4-inch) slices and spread each slice on 1 side with raspberry jam, using all the jam. Set aside.
Place a layer of cake, jam side up, in the bottom of a 2 ½-to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit. Sprinkle with Framboise. Top with a layer of raspberries and strawberries and Cognac Cream. Repeat the layers of cake sprinkled with Framboise, raspberries, strawberries and Cognac Cream, ending with a third layer of cake jam side down and raspberries and strawberries.
Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Decorate the trifle with whipped cream. The trifle can sit for a while at room temperature

Cognac Cream:
3 cups milk
10 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons sifted cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Heat the milk in a medium stainless-steel saucepan over medium heat and bring almost to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, sprinkle on the cornstarch. Beat on medium-low speed until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. (Pay attention because it will thicken and then quickly become scrambled eggs!)
Immediately, pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Plain Pound Cake

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans, place them on a baking rack and allow them to cool completely. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weekly Menu Dec. 3rd - Dec.9th

Elizabeth's Birthday Party (30 kids for bowling party)

Butternut Puree with Toasted Pine nuts
Oven Roasted Herb Chicken
Green Beans with Sauteed Shallots
Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes with Sea salt and Thyme

Bean and Barley Soup with Turkey and Red Mole Sausage
Chopped Salad with Oranges and Walnuts

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Romaine Salad with Creamy Onion Dressing
Garlic Bread

Chimichurri Rice with Shrimp
Sweet Peas and Pearl Onions

Smorgasbord Night

Dinner Out