29 August 2010

Possibilities of Duck Fat

I'm using this space as a way to work through the possibilities swimming in my brain. I bought a ball of duck fat today...for $3. I am too excited about using it tomorrow. What to make first?

Every time I went into a store in Paris in April, I was so irritated that I couldn't buy duck fat in a can to bring home (pesky customs and all that) so you can imagine my pleasure in finding this "ball o' fat"!

I'm off to soak in the tub and peruse cookbooks...will let you know how it all works out! I also purchased a plethora (do you not LOVE that word!) of other meats, one unidentifiable, so will be burning up blogspot with some new recipes this week!!!

26 August 2010

Salad tonight...

It was a long day. I had to cook. I grilled peaches and made my favorite salad for supper. It was e-a-s-y, just what I needed. Still warm peaches, cool zesty blue cheese and nutty, barely sweet-sorta-tart dressing.


1 Red Haven peach, cut in half
1 head Romaine Lettuce, chopped
1/4 pound Good quality blue cheese (I used Oregon River Blue from Rogue Creamery)
A few very thin slices of Red Onion

1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Hazelnut Oil
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey OR Maple Syrup (the real thing)
Salt & Pepper to taste

On a hot grill, place peaches cut side down on highest rack above burner. Grill for about 6 minutes until softened. Remove and slice.

I just placed lettuce in a large bowl, topped with sliced peaches and sprinkled with the blue cheese. Drizzle with dressing and ENJOY!

24 August 2010


I have been having Le Creuset envy for years. I am rarely envious of other peoples stuff, lives etc. but the Flame Le Creuset dutch oven brought out the green eyed monster in me like nothing else!

I could imagine myself happily braising any number of meats in bright green olive oil, sprinkling herbs and sniffing the steam on a cool autumn evening. I admit, I just didn't want to spend so much money on a pan, no matter how much I coveted it! This is where my most fabulous husband walks in....John bought it for me!!! (I think he was seriously embarrassed by my drooling every time I walked into a shop that stocks them. Really, he is just always thinking of me and being generous and kind. I am a lucky woman.)

My pan ownership up till now has been a Farberware set given to me as a wedding gift from my Grandmother(previously mentioned Frances Prochaska). I love them. I will never part with them. She has bought the same shower and wedding gift for every woman in our immediate family! I believe each of us still has them, how is that for tradition and longevity?

So...here was my first creation. It's summer, so I wanted to keep stovetop/oven use to a minimum, yet really get the feel for my new precious pot! I had half of a bottle of less-good-than-expected Zinfandel and a couple ideas.

6 Lamb chops
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Black or Green Olives, finely chopped (I used green, no black olives in fridge!)
2 Tablespoons Orange Zest
2 Tablespoons Fresh Sage, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Red Wine
1 Cup Beef or Lamb Stock

Mix all ingredients except wine and stock and marinate lamb chops 6 hours or overnight.

I actually drained the marinade into my dutch oven and over high heat seared my lamb chops until just browned on each side. Reduce heat and add wine to deglaze pan and then add cup of stock. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer, covered about 40 minutes.

I needed a bit of "sauce" with this, wanted something fresh tasting so here's what I came up with:

1/2 Fennel Bulb, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Balck or Green Olives, chopped
1 Orange, peeled and finely chopped (I used the inside of the afore mentioned zested orange)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Drizzle of EVOO

In a saute pan over medium high heat, drizzle with EVOO and add fennel. Cook until the fennel just begins to lose it's crunch, add remaining ingredients and saute about 4 minutes or until orange pieces have slightly carmelized. Garnish each lamb chop with a spoonful of sauce.

You could totally throw some red pepper flakes in this for a bit of heat if you'd like!

17 August 2010

Dessert...add your own fruit!

My grandmother, Frances Prochaska, was an amazing woman. I grew up on the farm across the road and we visited every day. She was an important example of the woman I wanted to become and I can only hope I am a quarter of what she was. Baking was something we did together often. Grandma was not a fussy baker with frostings and such but made simple, farm style, comfort desserts usually with her own fruits!

This "cobbler" recipe was her favorite and now my favorite! It is great with absolutely any fruit, takes pantry ingredients, is delicious and SIMPLE, taking only minutes to put together! I tend to put this together with supper and bake it while we are eating, then serve piping hot with a scoop of ice cream!

I had blackberries on hand, but use any fruit or combination of fruit. Peach/blueberry is classic, but peach/raspberry is yummy. You can add additional spices or a glug of brandy or liquor. I LOVE to use salted butter! Because the butter is a main component and flavor, use something of really good quality and I like the barely salty-sweet combination that salted butter provides.

1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup all purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar, divided into 3/4 of a cup and 1/4 of a cup
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Cup Milk
1 Pound Fruit, cleaned, pitted, sliced (whatever you need to do to it!)

Place stick of butter in a casserole dish (I use a 5X7) and place in oven to melt while oven is preheating to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar and baking powder until throughly blended. Add milk and whisk until just smooth.
Pour batter on top of melted butter-DO NOT MIX- and top with fruit-DO NOT MIX-sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar on top-DO NOT MIX and bake for 40-50 minutes until a lovely dark golden brown.

Rich, buttery, crispy, sweet & salty....easy. You can even use canned fruit if you're in a pinch. Praise and thanks can go to Frances Prochaska.

16 August 2010

bountiful...Cherry Tomato Tart

It was a day! 80 degrees without a hint of humidity, nothing but blue sky and nothing on the to-do list! Rare day indeed! I so enjoyed working in the gardens and washing the car, taking a short siesta at 3pm and watching the curtains blowing in the breeze.

I do have a vegetable garden even though my brother, Mike, is the owner of Prochaska Farms vegetables. MY tomatoes, basil, fennel, peppers and haricot verts taste better than his. I think it's the "sweat and blood" factor as well as the plucking from the vines. It just doesn't seem as sweet if you haven't invested yourself.

So on the menu is a Cherry Tomato Tart! I have made several tomato tarts in the past and they all seemed a bit too "wet", so we are taking the best from the rest and creating our own! Simple, simple and simple is the word of this recipe. You can use large, heirloom tomatoes as well, but choosing a less juicy tomato is the trick to making these tarts.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 1/2 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 Tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt, add butter and combine with a pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add ice water and using a fork, stir until dough just begins to come together. Do not over process...this leads to tough dough and applies to all pastry dough. Form dough into a ball and put in fridge for about 30 minutes.

On a floured surface roll out dough until about 2 inches larger than pan. Place dough in pan and press into bottom and edges. Cut excess dough from edge of pan and bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

REDUCE OVEN TO 350 DEGREES after baking shell!

1 lb. or so of different colored cherry tomatoes cut in half
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons good quality Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard (I used Maille)
6 ounces Fresh Chevre (goat cheese...of course I used Four Corners Creamery!)
1 egg
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
Optional: a few chopped black olives and a Tablespoon of Pine Nuts (toasted)

In a saute pan over medium heat, heat olive oil and cook cherry tomatoes about 2 minutes. Add garlic and sugar, stir to coat evenly and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together egg and goat cheese until smooth and add fresh herbs, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spread mustard on bottom of tart crust and top with cheese mixture. Arrange tomatoes on top and bake for 30 minutes. Garnish with olives and pine nuts before serving. Serve hot or room temperature.

We went all European and served with an incredible pork pate made in Detroit (I'm going to have this at The Boulevard Market before long, as I am officially addicted!) and barely scrambled eggs fresh from the Main Street Farmers Market and ate fresh peaches with juice running down our chins! A beautiful summer meal with the family.

12 August 2010

Books, coffee....Culinary Book Club anyone?

Some women have a weakness for shoes, handbags, earrings...my weakness is books. I cannot NOT look and purchase! Cookbooks are my favorite genre (big surprise)mainly because I feel they hold so much promise. Rarely am I disappointed in a cookbook. Cookbooks can be entertaining in a "food porn" sort of way and interactive when you want them to be. They are not like the internet that gives me 2,333,497 choices when I am looking for a recipe and I only buy cookbooks that have fabulous photos (ok, I do have several beloved cookbooks that have no photos, but they are special) and a little fun do-dad paragraph to read. Cookbooks do not make me feel guilty for spending time with them instead of vacuuming the floor, because they are "work" related.

I read lots of other fictional and non-fictional books as well and try to finish most. I have a few authors that I buy their hardcovers and Borders makes is super easy by sending me these totally targeted emails to my inbox! It's quite obnoxious in a thrilling sort of way! I think the IT folks are super clever and want to know all their secrets! We tend to go to the Borders on Lohr Rd. in Ann Arbor, because it's closest to our home and so not snobby or pretentious. Regardless of how big Borders becomes, it is a Michigan company and we can always use more of those! borders also carries a fantastic line of stationery that we will have to discuss another time!

I also cannot resist the cafe located inside. Really, I love when someone else makes my latte. Always espresso, foamy, creamy steamed milk and sometimes a shot of a delish syrup. It is my small luxury to myself. I love throwing my purchases into my shoulder bag and sipping my special beverage as I leave, knowing a new reading experience awaits me! Even the dead of this hot and humid summer does not deter me from enjoying a hot latte (medium, please)!

I sometimes wish I could be a girl that enjoys the movies and serials on TV...but the remote control has progressed to the point of utter confusion for me, so I grab another book. I am starting a new one this evening...we'll see if it makes my list of favorites!

What do we think of starting a culinary book club? Everyone meets and eats? Discuss the book over your favorite recipe from the book? It could be fictional...functional...FUN?!?!!? Let me know YOUR thoughts! Feel free to comment, email erika@boulevardmarket.com or respond on Facebook to The Boulevard Market page!

10 August 2010

Late Summer Corn Chowder

Pisum sativum; Sweet Corn

Born and raised in a farming family, there are 2 types of sweet corn; "not enough" and "too much"! Every year, we wait for the first glossy kernels to ripen and explode in your mouth with the first bite! We are impatient and eat them a bit too young, but it matters not, because they are so delicious! At the end of the season, we are taking those golden stalks for granted and we're PICKY! "This is overripe", "this is too chewy", "are we having sweet corn again?!", "not as sweet as last weeks'" and on it goes. We are cutting the stuff off of the cobs like no tomorrow and running out of ziploc bags and vacuum sealer bags. The counters are sticky, and you can't seem to get every little cut kernel swept off the floor. However, those fat little bags of steamy corn will remind us of summer come January...and you can't just throw it away!

With a rain storm brewing last evening, I made my favorite corn chowder. Rich, thick, packed with flavor and garnished with cheese! It was a masterpiece that I'd like to share with you! I actually saved about 3 days worth of leftover sweet corn just for the soup, so no waste! I hope you enjoy as much as we did! I served my soup with toasted bagels layered with a bit of cream cheese and a thick slice of fresh tomato! Late Summer....

10 ears of sweet corn blanched and cut from cob
1 1/2 medium sweet white onions, chopped
1 pound baby red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 pound of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
8 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon fresh snipped chives
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, snipped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, snipped
1/2 pound of good quality cheddar cheese

In a large dutch oven, brown bacon in olive oil until crispy. Remove bacon and add fresh onions and saute over medium heat until translucent and soft. Add flour and butter and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock and potatoes and let cook about 15 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Add sweet corn, herbs and heavy cream and reduce heat to simmer about 10 minutes or until soup has thickened. Garnish with shredded Irish cheddar cheese from The Boulevard Market and bacon.

This is a rather large batch, but you can share with a friend or have leftovers! I have also thrown in a small container of leftover cooked rice and that was fabulous! All of my produce is compliments of Prochaska Farms...we trade cheese and labor for vegetables and pick up truck usage!