Sunday, July 28, 2013

Searing on Salt

That pink slab on my grill may look like a piece of marble or granite but it is actually SALT!
Yep!  A thick hunk of Himalayan Pink Salt.  When heated, this brick of salt will "grill" food. The salt is slowly heated on the stove top, in the oven or on a grill.  
When the correct temperature was reached, I moved the salt block to the picnic table.  Be is EXTREMELY HOT! 
 I had shrimp, scallops, calamari steaks and some thinly sliced vegetables to grill.  No need to season the raw food, the salt block will do that for you.  The raw food sizzles and sears on the hot salt and is fully cooked in a matter of minutes.
Our first attempt at cooking on a salt block was a success.  We stayed with seafood and veggies.  The food was seasoned perfectly by the salt block and a squirt of lime added just enough fresh zest.  This is a really fun way to cook and would be a perfect way to involve guests at a party.  Have them select and cook their own appetizers.  
When the cooking was completed, the salt block retained some food residuals.  I dampened a Scotch-Brite green cleaner pad and scrubbed the surface.  Allow the salt block to dry for at least 24 hours before reusing.  Do not submerge the salt block in water!  

I'm planning my next salt block meal of thin beef strips and asparagus.  What would you try?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Made In Detroit

The Sunday NY Times Style section featured an article about Shinola, a new Detroit design company opening a flagship store in the TriBeCa area of New York City this week.  The name Shinola comes from a American shoe polish company but the current designs from Shinola are watches, bicycles, leather goods and journals.

I didn't have to travel to NY City to visit Shinola.  Saturday, hubby and I drove into Detroit (about 30 minutes away) and visited the Shinola showroom there.
The collection was artfully displayed.
The back wall of the showroom has a display of bike parts in various colors.  Bikes are custom made in the shop.
The watches have achieved a cult status and the demand has made supply very limited.
The watches are assembled in Detroit.
Our day in Detroit included a visit to the Corktown section of the city and lunch at Slows Bar BQ.  
I've heard about Slows many times and the accolades it receives are well deserved.  The smoked meats were tender, flavorful and smokey good.  Generous portions and great side dishes.
The meats are smoked with dry rubs and you have your choice of sauces, ranging from sweet to hot.  My favorite was the pulled pork with the NC sauce, a vinegary sauce favored in North Carolina bar bq.  The seasonal flavor was pineapple-habanero.  
Just a few doors away from Slows is Astro Coffee.  A great cup of coffee in an eclectic, fun, neighborhood coffee shop.  They have a small selection of baked goods and lunch menu. The cafe features a great communal table for eating, surfing the web or hanging out with friends.

With all the bad news about Detroit last week, it is nice to know that there are a few bright spots in such a troubled city.  Best wishes Detroit!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Baked Oatmeal with Berries

Baked Oatmeal with Berries image by me
I love breakfast and I'm always looking for a new way to use oats.  I found this baked oatmeal recipe on Molly's blog, Orangette.  Molly adapted the recipe from Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes From My Natural Foods Kitchen  by Heidi Swanson.  

I eat oats about 4 times a week and I am now obsessed with this addition to the repertoire.  This oatmeal recipe includes milk and an egg along with baking powder but no flour or other grain.  The result is a puffy, custard type of dish.  It is sweetened with maple syrup but not too sweet.  There are nuts and berries and you can certainly choose which of those additions you'd like to use.  I used a combination of blueberries and raspberries along with walnuts.  Pecans would be wonderful and I think adding some coconut would make this heaven.  Blackberries?  Why not.  So you do have to plan ahead a bit as this takes about 35 minutes to bake.  Pop it in the oven, take your shower and get dressed and then sit down to this warm, baked, deliciousness.  If you want a really decadent breakfast, top with a bit of cream.  Did I tell you that leftovers are just fine the next day after a trip to the microwave?

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2 cups old fashioned, rolled oats
1/2 cup walnut halves (or nuts of your choice, toasted or not)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 - 1 1/2 cups blueberries (or combo of berries)
2 cups milk (whole is best, I used 2%)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In an 8-inch square baking dish, mix together the oats, the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. (This part can be done the night before, if you like, to make things easier in the morning.) Scatter the berries evenly over the oat mixture. 

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, about half of the butter, and vanilla. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple of thwacks on the countertop to make sure the liquid moves down through the oats. 

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes. If the remaining butter has solidified, rewarm it slightly; then drizzle it over the top of the oatmeal. Serve.

Yield: about 6 servings

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Things That Make Me Happy

Strawberry Fool made with crushed strawberries and whipped cream couldn't be an easier dessert.  It is an added bonus to be able to eat outside again as the weather is about perfect here in Michigan.
Shortcake biscuits
Hubby got his favorite strawberry shortcake for Father's Day. 
Homemade apricot jam.  I can't get enough of the stuff.  
The first lettuce and spinach from my garden.  
These little kale plants will need to be thinned and the tiny, tender leaves will make a great salad.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Best Pizza Dough Recipe: Mario Batali

I've been making homemade pizza for over 25 years.  It used to be a Sunday night ritual.  
My new favorite dough recipe is from Mario Batali, found in Food & Wine magazine.  The secret is the 1/4 cup of wine used to make the dough.  I use unbleached all-purpose flour but the recipe calls for double zero flour mixed with all purpose flour.  Double zero means that the flour is very finely ground; powder-like.  Regardless, this dough feels like silk after proper kneading and rising.  I love the texture.  I use half the dough to make two pizzas and freeze the remaining dough for another day.  
I bake pizza at 475 degrees F on a pizza stone which give the pizza a chewy texture with a crusty bottom.  Our favorite topping combo is caramelized onion, sauteed mushroom, sausage and Gruyere cheese.  
Here's the recipe for Mario's basic dough recipe

  1. 1/4 cup light red wine or white wine
  2. 3/4 cup warm water
  3. 1 1/2 ounces yeast
  4. 1 tablespoon honey
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  7. 2 1/2 cups double zero flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted together
  1. Combine the wine, water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the honey, salt and olive oil and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
  2. Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have a smooth, firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
  3. Cut the risen dough into 4 equal pieces and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the pizzas: Dust a clean work surface lightly with flour. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use your fingers and palms to flatten the dough into a 10- to 12-inch round, each about 1/8-inch thick.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Stripes

Miss Dondola swing chair
Summer is meant for relaxing and wouldn't it be sweet to swing in this chair, sipping iced tea and reading a good book?

Eat your ice cream with a striped spoon.  It may not make it taste better but they sure are cute.
Candy Stripes napkins Karaweaves
Pure cotton napkins/hand towels for al fresco meals.
Rectangular lacquer trays West Elm
Carry it outdoors with a pretty lacquer tray.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm Back and Relaxed

I recently spent a week at my Bahamas house.  Just what I needed to relax and re-energize.
The weather was perfect.
The ocean delightful.
This huge "star" was baking on the sand so I returned him to the sea.  What a beauty!
Delicious fresh fish.  I like mine blackened.
A roadside market just down the street.
Mojitos and guacamole at 5pm.
The new Hummingbird Cottage Art Center in Hope Town
The art center has a beautiful ocean side venue for weddings and other special events.
And I love this idea for hanging an air plant, just thread it through a sea urchin shell and hang it up.     


Blog Widget by LinkWithin