I wish that I was better at taking good photographs. Because this does not do this delectable piece of meat justice. And that is no joke. It's either orange or washed out. But this was too good to exclude based on the poor photographic quality.
On this plate you see leg of lamb, roasted in the oven with dijon mustard, a few other condiments and tomatoes. The flavors were just subtle enough, with a slight tang to complement the lamb. Tender and delicious: much thanks to Sparrow Market, our trusted meat purveyor.
My mom loves ruffles and lace and all things girly. So when mother's day rolled around I made her a cake that was just that. Laden with ruffles, pearls, and fabric inspired "flowers" you can't get much girlier.
This one was inspired by my favorite Ann Arbor cakery, Sweet Heather Anne. Call me biased? I wouldn't deny it, but they're cakes are the best.
Excuses, excuses, excuses: I have many as to why I've been MIA. You probably don't care. Except, my husband and I bought a house! The process was very time consuming. We close on Friday, move Memorial Day, and then it will be over.
In the meantime I've been meaning to share for a long time our sacred Monday meals. I work weird hours, my husband works weird hours, and most of the time this means that we don't often see each other. Except on Monday.
Monday are the day neither of us works. So it is the day we do our laundry, plan our week, and figure out all those things that must be decided upon together. That doesn't leave a lot of time for fun (especially my husband's definition of fun, which is the absence of activity ;o)).
One thing we always do is make a nice dinner. Most days we don't eat dinner together, so just sitting and eating together is great! Often our Monday night dinners are a little fancier and tend to include meat. Since we're picky about our meat (sustainable, grass-fed, etc.) we can't afford to eat it often. But once or twice a month we splurge and do something special.
One of my favorites is pictured. It is a one pot meal, duck legs with figs and star anise. The duck legs were seared and then braise with winter root vegetables and dried figs. Oh and star anise pod was floating in there too. Really it was delicious, and almost as wonderful as sharing an intimate meal with my husband.
And so, we've decided Monday is new Sunday, at least in our household.
I've been intrigued by this "Valentine's Sweetheart Cake" for awhile. The cake is flourless chocolate and the ganache contains coconut milk, saffron, chile, rosewater, and several other intriguing ingredients.
I don't love chocolate. My valentine on the other hand, does. What a perfect fit! I personally was more excited about my red fondant flower for the top. It measured about six inches in diameter, and was quite stunning.
In flavor, his certainly is a cake for chocolate lovers. It's a big, dense, slap-in-the face of chocolate. Though even non-chocolate lovers (me) can appreciate its bold assertion of that which is chocolate.
I used to make desserts according to my recipe and creativity five days a week. Now I'm using someone else's ideas and recipe at work. And so I have less material for writing.
Or so I thought. My new goal is to write more about all food, this will mean more entries, but less on desserts. And I think that's okay.
My kitchen is still a busy one. Most recently with glazed salmon. My father-in-law gave me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated for my birthday. Talk about a gift that keeps giving. I love it for their pursuit of perfection and constant experimenting (even if the writing is a little flat). My glazed salmon is just one example.
The glaze is pomegranate. I have to say the pomegranate doesn't have a pronounced presence. The balsamic and mustard add such complexity that it gets slightly lost. While the name may be a misnomer, as far as glaze goes it was delicious.
For the salmon It was seared and baked to 125 in a 300 degree oven. It was tender, juicy, and flavorful: i.e. pure deliciousness. I served it with Israeli couscous with dates and pistachios. The flavor--accented with ginger, cardamom, and cilantro--was intriguing. It complimented the fish well.
On the side was a bed of spinach. Because I can't have a meal without vegetables.
I try not to be biased. But I LOVE Zingerman's Deli. I am wide-eyed and salivating every time I go there. And it's not just because my husband works there. It's because it really is an exceptional collection of some of the best foods in the world. It is Disney World for people who love food.
All that quality doesn't come cheap. Once in awhile, though, we use our discount and indulge.
In this case, a sampler of cured meats and cheeses; something we became so accustomed to in Italy and now hardly eat. For two month I had a sheet hanging on our bulletin board so I'd remember the names of what we had. Finally I got rid of it, resigned to the fact I would never write of it.
So, here I am, writing about it months later and can hardly remember a thing except a happy and full belly. One of the cheeses I do remember was St. Nectaire, the one with the gray(ish) rind. That was my least favorite, it had a moldy note that disrupted the flavor for me. My favorite was the hard looking slab on the right. It had crystals, like parmigiano does, and was caramel(ly) and delicious.
But really how can you go wrong with good bread, cheese, and meat?
Thanksgiving, naturally, is my favorite holiday. Because it's all about food.
This year was particularly exciting because we hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the first time. It was an intimate affair, my husband, mother, and grandmother. We had a wonderfully relaxing day at home, decorating for Christmas and of course feasting.
The dinner menu was carefully planned with some of our favorite foods. Our poultry was chicken instead of turkey, since the crowd was small. I did a cranberry chicken, which I brined in a mixture of red wine, cranberry juice and some spices for two days beforehand. The chicken turned a spectacular red color, looking like it came straight out of a magazine.
To accompany the chicken we made mashed potatoes with celery root (I love this combination, the celery root adds such intrigue!), Aunt Donna's cranberry sauce, cranberry pecan stuffing, and brussel sprouts. For dessert we made a brandied chestnut pumpkin pie. I really love chestnut, but found this recipe disappointing. Both the pumpkin and chestnut got lost to each other and neither was as strong as it is on its own.
Thanksgiving was lovely with full tummies and sleepy heads...Grandma really bonded with puppy during her visit, as you can see.