Thursday, July 30, 2009

booze required

I came from work to a husband who is totally annoyed with the pace of our renovations. Our #1 trade is tied up with another job and the floor refinishing dude is on the wrong schedule. That said, hubby wanted to drink tonight; in fact, he actually want to go out for dinner to drink tonight.
However, we've already eaten out twice this week (shawarma on Tuesday and pizza on Wednesday) so I couldn't let it happen. Instead we had homemade pita chips, hummus, a messy-sans basil-Caprese salad, top sirloin kabobs and local green beans. Plus, a bottle of western Australian Shiraz. We needed it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Martha's Vineyard: The Net Result (guest post by David)

Every year my brother-in-law David meets his Uncle Fred, cousin and brother on Martha's Vineyard for a boating trip. I wish we could come along. Hope you enjoy this guest post from David...
We have a tradition of ordering steamed lobsters in advance from the awesome fish store across from the Vineyard Haven marina - The Net Result. They run a terrific business selling fresh seafood as well as take-out prepared foods including sushi, fish and chips and lobster rolls. There are picnic tables outside the store that are always full of customers eating lunch, dinner and whatever in between. We always order the lobsters which come beautifully cooked and stored hot in a paper bag so we can take them across the street to the marina's rooftop patio to enjoy with some nice swordfish that we cook up on the barbeque there. Everything is fresh and caught in local waters nearby. There is some yummy seaweed salad on the side of my plate and a bit of butter to dip with my lobster. The red cup has our traditional beverage for boating: delicious Weiser's Canadian whiskey (now made here in Windsor!) and ginger-ale.

David is a lawyer in Windsor. He enjoys the Grateful Dead, blueberry picking and spending time with his beautiful wife and two lovely daughters. Most importantly, he is a wonderful brother-in-law and friend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

grilled shrimp on salad

Grilled shrimp on Greek-like salad
What to do?
  • Grill shrimp on the barbecue until opaque
  • Toss together salad veggies of your choice
  • If you want, throw on some cheese...I chose feta
  • Chop some fresh herbs from your garden, in this case, parsley and dill. If fresh isn't an option, sprinkle dried herbs of your choice; I do it all the time.
  • Add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Drizzle white vinegar (yes, white vinegar) and extra virgin olive oil
  • Toss salad
  • Top with shrimp
  • Eat...
  • Drink a glass of wine (optional but highly recommended)

Do you have a simple, protein-packed salad that you'd like to share?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

beastie boys and a bbq

The Weather Network predicted thunderstorms for Saturday but the rain held off in Windsor. Our old friends/new neighbours, Noah & Julie joined us for a BBQ.
Green olive bruschetta
~1 cup of green pitted olives mixed with fresh herbs from my garden~
~Recipe in Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners~
Basil, tomato, and pea salad
~slice cherry tomatoes in half, salt and leave in strainer for 20 minutes; toss with fresh peas, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil~
Chicken wing marinade
~thyme, rosemary, parsley, kosher salt, pepper, olive oil~
Grilled chicken wings
~Quadrupled Bittman's recipe; the extra work was worth it~
Local corn on the cob Blueberry crumb bars served with vanilla bean ice cream
~According to Julie, who made this awesome dessert, it took a little bit of time to prepare but wasn't too difficult~ Glenmorangie + Beastie Boys = Dance Party
Nothing like closing the evening with Paul's Boutique.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

better bbq (guest post by terry)

I come from a long line of terrible cooks. My grandmother could make a soft boiled egg and one hell of a chocolate chip cookie but her savvy stopped there. Worse, her daughters weren’t even graced with the egg boiling gene.

As a kid, I chewed for days on breaded, grey leather, fried-in-the-pan-for-nine-hours pork chops. If it wasn’t for the Del Monte Apple Sauce, swallowing would have been an impossible task. Things occasionally got worse. There were the lamb chops. These were cooked exactly like the pork but all we had was Sheriff’s Mint Jelly to wash those suckers down.

I learned to cook in my twenties after getting hired at a first-rate restaurant. Somehow I hosed them into thinking I knew about food.

Another bullshitting waiter was born.

Anyway, here’s what we had last Sunday. I had the day off so I decided to pull out the Weber Kettle Grill and use real hardwood charcoal. My wife thinks it’s excessive but I think it’s wicked fun! Menu:

  • Swiss Chard (from the Garden) and smooth-mashed Chickpea on Bruschetta
  • Baked Goat Cheese Salad, homemade croutons
  • Jerk Seasoned Pork Tenderloin and Rib-eye with Mango Salsa
  • Last-of-the-Rhubarb, Strawberries and Crumble
  • Way too much Wine


  • Heat chickpeas in pan with olive oil and warm. Add some minced fresh hot red pepper and then push through a Ricer or mash anyway you want.
  • Immerse the swiss chard in boiling water for a few minutes, drain, squeeze out water, then sauté in a pan for a couple of minutes with olive oil, a clove or two of minced fresh garlic and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • I cut some Ace Baguette lengthwise in half and in 5-6 inch long pieces, brush with good olive oil and throw it on the grill. If you walk away from the grill I promise you it will burn! (Sourdough and Calabrese bread also work well)
  • When your toasted bread comes off the grill rub it lightly with a clove of raw garlic. This makes all the difference. I like to rub both sides.
  • Spread some warm chickpea mash on the toasts. Then mound the swiss chard on top, a little salt and a drizzle of your best olive oil and another quick squeeze of lemon. EAT.

Goat Cheese Salad: (for 4 people)

  • Cut goat cheese into rounds (two per person) about the thickness of your finger and 3 or 4 inches diameter. But it doesn’t really matter about the size.
  • Marinate, covered, in the fridge for about 4 hours with good olive oil and 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves stripped off their branch.
  • Cut some baguette into ¼ inch slices, (4 per person maybe?). Paint them with melted butter then throw them into a 350F oven for about 5-7 minutes. WATCH THEM! Pull them out and rub lightly with clove of raw garlic.
  • We used red leaf and new spinach and red oak leaf lettuce which was amazingly fresh from our farmer’s market but you can use any mixed greens you want. All I can say is that if you can get fresh greens from the your garden or a farmer’s market it’s way better then any bag of mixed greens from the supermarket…. organic or not.
  • I mixed a dressing of this great Red Wine Vinegar and olive oil. About 4 tablespoons of vinegar and whisk in ½ cup olive oil. If you like more punch or your greens are crap, add more vinegar.
  • Pull the goat cheese from the fridge and coat with bread crumbs.
  • Then warm the goat cheese in a 400F preheated oven for about 6 minutes, give or take.
  • Toss salad with vinaigrette, put the croutons around it and add two rounds of the warmed cheese to the middle of your salad.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Jerk Paste:
I modified Stephen Raichlen’s recipe for Jamaican Jerk Paste from The Barbecue Bible.
Note: 4 chiles are somewhat hot, 15 chiles are crazy hot. I think scotch bonnet are about the hottest fresh chiles out there. If you touch your eyes after handling these peppers, or for the guys, someplace worse, you will freak out. Wear a rubber glove if you have one.

Makes about 2 cups; enough to marinate 4 pounds meat, chicken or seafood. Use the jerk marinade to marinate pork for 6 hours, chicken breasts for 3 hours, and fish fillets or shrimp for 1 hour.


  • 4 to 15 scotch bonnet chiles, seeded (for a hotter marinade, leave the seeds in)
  • 2 bunch scallion, both white and green parts, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, small, quartered
  • 2 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbs ginger, fresh, grated
  • 2 tsp thyme, fresh, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tsp allspice, ground 3 tbs canola oil 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tbs lime juice, fresh, or more to taste
  • 2 tbs brown sugar, dark, firmly packed
  • 1 & 1/2 tbs salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 cup water

Combine the chiles, scallions, shallots, onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, allspice, canola oil, soy sauce, 3 tablespoons lime juice, brown sugar, 1 ½ tablespoon salt, pepper, and water in a blender or better, a food processor. Blend until smooth. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and lime juice as necessary. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 2 cups; enough to marinate 4 pounds meat, chicken, or seafood

Pork Tenderloin and Rib-eye: I barbecued two pork tenderloins and a 2-inch thick rib-eye from our Mennonite butcher. There was more than enough jerk paste.

  • Cut the pork tenderloin lengthwise from end to end but not all the way through. Leave about an inch uncut all the way across. Your pork tenderloin should look like an open book. Sandwich it between two pieces of cling wrap and hammer it down to about 1 inch thick. Use the flat side of a meat hammer or whatever you have handy. Remove cling wrap.
  • I poke a bunch of ¼ inch holes all over the pork and the rib-eye and then rub the paste all over the meat with a spatula.
  • Marinate pork for 6 hours or so, and the beef for considerably less time…maybe 2 hours?
  • I put the rib-eye on the grill first, since it was a full inch thicker than the pork.
  • The pork should cook to 137F and no more. It will climb another 3 degrees after you take it off the grill. It may look a little pink inside but it’s done, trust me.
  • Cook your rib-eye to your liking. I like medium rare.

Try a Celeriac Salad with the jerk to cool things down. Enjoy.

Terry still remembers how good his Nana's cookies were. They almost made up for when she used to call him Kenny.

Terry is an adventurous cook who doesn't flinch at the thought of cleaning a squid or trying a new semi-freddo recipe. He's committed to eating from his garden and doing what he can to support local/seasonal eating. Terry is a professional firefighter. He's married to my one of my best friends and has a cat named Tusker-du. Best of all, he taught the MenuManiac how to cook.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

steak and mustard

Menu: Grilled rib steak, local green beans, sauteed wild mushrooms
My friend Terry, and upcoming guest blogger, will be so pleased to know that I've stopped eating steak with ketchup. You might think it's nasty, but I've always thought it was perfection! Anyway, last weekend in Toronto we had a fabulous dinner at Mishka & Henryk's home. They served steak with Dijon mustard. I'm hooked. Tonight I introduced tarragon mustard. Perfect Parisian meal in honour of my newly engaged friends!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

easy summer salmon

Menu: wild salmon, salad with freshly shucked local peas and local corn on the cob

To make the salmon:

  • In a small bowl, mix 3T of mayo, 1T of tarragon mustard, drizzle of honey and a little lemon juice
  • Rub 1T of the above sauce over two wild salmon fillets, sprinkle kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on the salmon
  • Place fillets skin-side down on a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil, using a second piece of foil create a little package for the salmon
  • Place on a medium grill, with the lid closed, for 15 minutes
To made dipping sauce:
  • Use the reminder of the sauce, add a little kosher salt & pepper and some chopped green onions or chives
Serve with salad, the side of your choice and a bottle of white wine. Easy for a weeknight, right? Do you have a simple salmon recipe that you'd like to share?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Toronto: Bonjour Brioche

According to the experts, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That's why, no matter where you are, finding your own perfect spot is vitally important.

At home, it's in my kitchen. When in Chicago, I start my day at the Bongo Room. In Detroit, Toast is a favourite. And, in Toronto nothing beats Bonjour Brioche.

Bonjour Brioche is where Torontians go for fresh brioche, croissants, baguettes and latte bowls. Besides the continental fare, check out the daily tarts ranging from asparagus & brie to bacon & cheddar to cherry tomatoes & goat cheese. For the past nine years, no other breakfast place has been able to surpass Bonjour Brioche (at least in my mind). Last weekend, we dropped by early for a healthy meal.
Um...that didn't quite work out. Well, it did for hubby...sort of. He ordered a hearty bowl of yogurt with granola, seeds and fresh fruit. Plus a croissant.
Even though I meant to eat yogurt too, I ended up having my favourite pre-noon meal -- a tart (fig, caramelized onion and gorgonzola cheese, in this case), a light salad and the freshest baguette smothered in butter.
Beat that! And, tell me your favourite breakfast spots. If I'm in the city, I'll try it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Toronto: Pizzeria Libretto "The Real Thing"

Last Thursday, I left work and hopped on the highway for a weekend in Toronto. We literally pulled off the Gardiner Expressway and arrived at Pizzeria Libretto around 9:30 p.m. I feel fortunate that we were immediately seated. The joint was packed -- much to the dismay of one of the "locals" sitting next to us. I guess before the reviews starting pouring in, he was able to get a table earlier in the evening. whatever!

Menu choices were really tough because there were only two of us and there were a million menu items calling my name. We took our time and began the evening with a bottle of 13th Street 2008 Cabernet Rose which is absolutely perfect for summer pizza.

Buttermilk Calamari, Romesco (a red pepper almond sauce)
Brushette (three kinds: roasted red pepper with cheese, prosciutto, grilled mushrooms)
Pizza: Sardines, Tomato, Citrus Olives, Herbs, Chili Oil
Pingue Prosciutto, Tomato, Basil, Ontario Fiore Di Latte Mozzarella

Pizzeria Libretto is loyal to real Neapolitan pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven at extremely high heat to achieve a charred, blistered crust (quite honestly, the crust is delightful...I mopped up loads of olive oil with any leftover pieces). They use San Marzano tomatoes and Fiore di Latte Mozzarella, brought in fresh daily. Their pizza dough is made from 100% organic stone ground flour and leavened naturally. Best of all, your pizza bakes in less than 90 seconds in a 900 degrees wood-burning oven, hand built for the restaurant by a 3rd generation pizza oven maker in Naples. In addition, the restaurant is doing their part for mother earth by converting kitchen grease into biodiesel fuel and only serving purified Toronto water and carbonated filtered water.

Sold yet? We will be back! If you're in Toronto this summer, check out the four-course $25 prix fixe menu. It sounds divine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Healthy sesame salmon burgers

It's official -- burgers are a summer staple meal at my house. I recognize that this isn't the most novel discovery, but I honestly don't remember eating burgers as often last year.

Tonight I made Bonnie Stern's sesame salmon burgers topped with cucumber and Thai sweet-chili mayo. To make two large patties: put 1/2 pound of fresh, skinless salmon in your food processor. Pulse. Add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs or panko, 1 egg white, 1 glug of thick teriyaki or hoison sauce. Pulse. Form into burgers and refridgerate for at least 10 minutes. While grilling the salmon patties, brush with a mixture of sesame seeds, a little toasted sesame oil and teriyaki sauce. Top burgers with slices of cucumber and an Asian-style mayo (mayo + Thai sweet-chili sauce, Sriracha or wasabi). For a side dish, try a green salad dressed with ginger dressing. Enjoy.

Detroit, MI: Bourbon Steak

Duck Fat Fries Trio

Some restaurants remain on my "celebrations only" list. Honestly, you shouldn't eat at Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak Detroit on a regular basis. The food is just too rich; in both taste and price. However, it's perfect if you want to do something decadent for a special my mother-in-law's 65th birthday! For me, the best part of Bourbon Steak is not the steak. It's the "amuse bouche". Explain to me why all restaurants don't offer duck fat fries to start a meal?!?! In addition, I absolutely adore the appetizer menu. In fact, next time I would be inclined to order only the little plates.

Romaine hearts with white anchovy and black olive tapenade Lettuce cup with crab and spicy louie sauce Kobe beef tartare
~I didn't think I'd like raw meat but now this is one of my favourite apps~ American Kobe rib-eye Side of "magical" mushrooms
~a throwback to my mother-in-law's earlier years (just kidding!)~ Side of blue cheese potato gratin
Late-breaking news: I just noticed something enticing on Michael Mina's The Eating Sweetie blog. You can now enjoy Bourbon's Burger Bar in Detroit, Miami and Scottsdale. The burger bar is complete with beef, lamb, turkey or falafel burgers and milkshakes (with or without alcohol). Sounds like the perfect reason to head to Bourbon without a momentous occasion in mind.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

festival epicure wrap-up

We finally made it to Festival Epicure, Windsor's local restaurant event alongside the Detroit River (where we had a beautiful view of the "New GM" headquarters...what can I say? I love my job and am excited about our new company!). Festival Epicure takes place every summer but usually we're not in town. So glad we made it this year!
"Lambwich" and gazpacho from Three
~essentially a pulled lamb sandwich with julienned cucumber and garlic sauce~
Pulled pork taco from Tecumseh Roadhouse
~would drive 20 minutes to eat this again~
Jerk chicken from Tiki Catering (Ted, if you're reading this we need to talk about lamb on the spit!)
~quintessential grilled chicken and not too spicy~
Voted best barbecue in Detroit's Metro Times
~Detroiters try coming south of the border for some barbecue~ Smoked chicken wings with homemade chipotle bbq sauce from Smoke N Spice Happy me! If you went to Festival Epicure or have a favourite food festival, tell us about it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Violet: lamb's newest lover

Inspired by MenuManiac, my beautiful friend Violet decided to try lamb burgers. See her post below!

Violet's Open-Faced Lamb Burger

"I made the lamb burgers last night for dinner and they turned out beautifully! I loved how simple they were to prepare (Benn did the grilling), the flavour was outstanding and I love the unique ingredients, especially the pine nuts and the tapenade! The only thing I will do differently next time is use something other than pitas, as they became quite soggy. I must admit, before I tried these I fell into the "might be crazy because I don't like lamb" category, however, I am now a lamb lover and look forward to making these again in the very near future! Thanks JS!"

If you have a MenuManiac recipe photo or story that you'd like to share, please leave a comment on one of my posts. I read all comments! Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

grilled veal + buffala mozzarella brushchetta

Buffala mozzarella bruschetta
Grilled veal with swiss chard
Just finished a lovely dinner with Aunts Susan and Teri. We enjoyed a meal from the River Cafe Cookbook Easy. That's two nights in a row...what simple recipes! I had about 15 minutes before they arrived to get dinner ready. I marinated the veal with garlic, fresh sage, olive oil and lemon juice. While the veal was soaking up all those wonderful flavours, I grilled some Italian bread to make a buffala mozzarella bruschetta with arugula, basil, and some black olives. Unfortunately, our swiss chard side was not a hit. It look really pretty on the plate but no one finished it! Overall, a nice summer meal. I'm thinking that you should pick up this book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

garlic, chili & parsley pasta

One of hubby's clients gave him garden fresh garlic...thank you!

Fireman Terry, my cooking mentor, suggested that I buy Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers' River Cafe Cookbook Easy. Why? Because you can easily make good things to eat. Rose and Ruth own the River Cafe, which apparently is a lovely Italian restaurant in London. I really, really, really want go there. Initially I heard about the ladies through the Jamie Oliver cookbooks; he worked with them in the early days. Needless to say, I'm excited to get started on the recipes.
Tonight's menu:
Spaghetti with Garlic, Chili and Parsley
~Took 15 minutes total to make and was a household hit~
~I use brown rice pasta because it's easier on our digestive systems~
Green salad with cannelini beans and heirloom tomatoes
~Not from the River Cafe Cookbook but cannelini beans are Tuscan so it works~

Have you been to the River Cafe? Do you know someone who's eaten there? Fill me in. If you'd like to try some River Cafe recipes courtesy of The Guardian click here.

P.S. Garden fresh garlic is outstanding. It's easier to take the skin off, it's not quite as pungent and the taste is not lingering in my mouth. Must plant next year.

i like lamb burgers

Lamb burger with roasted red pepper hummus
(Best to use homemade hummus, this got too runny with the heat)

Lamb burgers are a beautiful thing; unfortunately this picture is not. But trust me, you should add lamb to your burger repertoire. Not only do I just generally love lamb but it's also less likely to contain hormones or antibiotics.

What you need to make four burgers:

  1. 1 lb of ground lamb
  2. 1 chopped shallot or half a red onion
  3. Handful of chopped parsley
  4. Small handful of crumbled feta cheese
  5. Small handful of pinenuts
  6. Some breadcrumbs/panko
  7. Some ketchup
  8. Some olive tapenade (optional)
  9. An egg or egg white (optional)
  10. Thickly sliced eggplant
  11. Some hummus
  12. Whole-wheat pita pocket
What to do:
  • Combine the first nine ingredients in a large bowl
  • Form into four patties; smush the middle of the patties to prevent grilled softballs
  • If you have time refrigerate the burgers for 30 minutes, it helps to bind the ingredients
  • Grill burgers and eggplant on medium heat
  • Put the burger in a whole wheat pita pocket, top with eggplant and hummus and maybe some more feta if you're in the mood

Listen if you don't like lamb (which means you might be crazy), feel free to substitute ground beef or turkey. Do you have any burger recipes that you'd like to share?