Culture

Chili-Chocolate Truffles

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Hello again everybody!  Sorry for being out of commission for a little bit, but again I’ve been busy trying to keep busy.  Although today, I’m feeling somewhat under the weather and flu-ey, plus my back hurts.  So you know what that means for me — Cheezits and Rum!  But it also means that I won’t be going to the gym (I’m up to lifting 110,425 lbs. now) so I gots me some time to post some fun stuff for y’all!

This is what I made for a little get-together to help celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  You’ll need some cayenne pepper, which is said to have been used by the Mayans and the Aztecs (cultural nugget — yay!).  It has been some time since I made these and I forgot the heat they impart.  I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but it is definitely noticeable.  It won’t hit you at first, but after the chocolate melts away is when you get that kick from the cayenne.

I rolled some in powdered sugar, and yes, I probably could have shaken more of the excess off.

This recipe came from chatelaine.com, and they in turn adapted it from the book A Matter of Taste by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto.  And if y’all remember my chocolate truffles cake, I prefer a more “natural” truffle — one that actually looks like the truffles you dig out of the ground.  That’s why these chocolates are called truffles after all.  Here’s what you need:

  • 10 oz. (280 g) bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 c. (50 mL) room temperature butter
  • 1/2 c. (125 mL) whipping cream
  • 1 T. (15 mL) liquid honey
  • 1/2 t. (2 mL) cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 c. (50 mL) cocoa powder

1.  Finely chop chocolate.  Place in a large bowl with the butter.  Pour cream into a small saucepan and set over medium heat.

2.  As soon as cream boils, remove it from the heat and then pour it over the chocolate and butter.  Stir until melted and mixture is smooth.  Stir in honey and cayenne.

3.  Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

4.  Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil,  or silpat.  To make truffles, scoop out a small amount of the mixture with a melon baller or a very small ice cream scoop.  Use your hands to shape chocolate into 1-2 inch balls.  Set each ball on a baking sheet.

5.  Place half of cocoa powder in a small bowl.  Place one truffle in the bowl and gently roll to coat with cocoa.  Shake off excess and return to the baking sheet.  Repeat, adding cocoa as needed.  When all are coated, place in a container in single layers separated by wax paper.  Refrigerate.  Will keep for up to 5 days.

Notes — Every time I make truffles I always think that it’s a good idea to always have a bain marie ready.  Most recipes I find involve pouring some scalded cream into some chopped chocolate.  More often than not, the heat from the scalded cream is not enough to melt the chocolate.  That’s where the bain marie comes in to finish the job. . . experiment with different types and amounts of chili and see if there’s anything that you like better. . . Don’t forget to like Jereme’s Kitchen and my bakery Daisy Cakes on Facebook!

Frita Batidos, part 1

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With all the hub-bub over my cookbook giveaway, I thought it might be time for another trip over to Frita Batidos.  Frita’s is owned by Chef Eve Aronoff (who is the author of my cookbook giveaway, if you’ve not heard) and this is her second venture in the Ann Arbor dining scene after her first restaurant eve.  Actually, I believe there is some overlap between the two timelines, if I remember correctly.  But that’s all beside the point — I’m here to eat!!!

Frita Batidos!

She is quick to point out that the food served here is not Cuban food, but rather, it’s what is called “Cuban-inspired” street food.  When describing the basis for this inspiration, Chef Aronoff talks about the times she spent growing up in Miami and being exposed to all the different local cultures.  Of course, this includes the Cuban and Latino communities, but also numerous influences from other migrant populations like Creole and African.  So, Cuban food traditions are just the starting point of where she develops the signature flavors and tastes of Frita Batidos.

Make your selection!

Before we get too far along, let’s look at some of the terminology.  That’s when the menu gets extra handy offering some explanations.  First of all, let’s start with the name of the restaurant.  A frita is a type of Cuban burger which is traditionally made with chorizo, but can be made of fish or black beans.  It’s usually served on top of a soft bun with a side of shoestring fries.  A batido is a tropical milkshake made fresh fruit, crushed ice, and a drop of sweetened milk, with or without rum (yummy Cajeta Batidos!).  But there is a wide selection of other menu items that would be at home in any Cuban restaurant like Cuban sandwiches, plantains, conch fritters, and churros — lovely churros.  Just look at the picture above to see (or go to the website).  What’s also great about the menu is how it’s broken down on the back (it’s also printed on the wall).  There are listings for what’s Vegan and Vegetarian; there are categories for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Garlic-Free items; and there’s a breakdown of flavor profiles.  It’s great for those who may need a little direction and guidance in making their selection.  But then again, I love categorizing and organizing things so it makes perfect sense to me!

Stark, yet comfy. Plus they have their own special blend of coffee!

When you first enter the restaurant, one thing that you’ll probably notice is that it is stark white with various metallic accents from the chairs, menus, lighting, etc.  The storefront is white, the walls are white, the ceiling is white, the floors are white.  The lone pop of color comes from the window-side bar which has a warm wooden tone; there is another bar towards the back.  You’d think all this starkness would lean towards a more sterile, clinical feel, but it really doesn’t.  The exposed brick and wood are among the various textures help add to a feeling of warmth.    Also all the white lets the food really stand out — which is why my everyday plates are simple and all white.  There is an air of informality here, which is helped along by the use of the picnic tables instead of regular tables and chairs.  You could even start up a game of dominoes with your neighbor if you like, which again is a nice touch that is reflective of the Cuban / Latin American cultures.

Nice pop of color from the bar. There's a variety of sauces available, plus there's some dominoes in the bowl that you can play.

Luckily for me, I get there around 11:30 and I beat the lunch rush.  I try to keep things simple and just order a Chorizo Frita (you can get a Frita Loco which includes Muenster cheese, cilantro-lime salsa, tropical coleslaw, and an egg sunny-side-up!).  I also get a Fresh Ginger Lime Juice to accompany it and make myself comfy at the window-side bar so I can look out on this cold, gloomy Michigan day.  Hard to believe it was 85 degrees here a couple of weeks ago!

I told you it was gloomy.

When I get my Ginger-Lime Juice, I was definitely surprised.  This was my first time ordering this and I was taken aback, not just with the flavor but with its presentation.  It was served in a simple plastic baggie with a straw.  This may seem strange to some, but it definitely stays with the street food theme.  If you’ve done any traveling in the Caribbean, or Latin America, or if you’ve watched any travel programs like No Reservations, or even Destination Truth (remember, I’m a nerdy dork) you should be familiar with how this drink is served.  It is very typical of what you can find in markets or being sold by street vendors in that part of the world.  I am very much appreciative of the effort and thought that went into this drink.  The flavor was amazing — just what I needed to brighten this gloomy day!  The flavors of the ginger and lime feel so balanced and refreshing.  I really could drink this all day long!  It reminds me of her Ginger-Lime Martinis, but without the martini part.

Absolutely luv the Fresh Ginger-Lime Juice!

It doesn’t take too long for my Frita to be ready.  Served on a small sheet pan (these would be handy in my bakery), it’s wrapped in paper sitting on top of  a piece of banana leaf.  Again, you have a gamut of textures and flavors here — there’s the soft and creamy brioche, the crispiness of the fries, and the spiciness of the chorizo.  All the different layers all contribute to the really exceptional experience you get when biting into one of these.  The flavors all seem to blend and yet stand out on their own.   The quality of the ingredients is definitely apparent — everything was delicious!

Simple, yet divine!

Unfortunately, I had to cut my lunch date with myself short because the time ran out on my parking meter.  Originally, what I had hoped for was to get a large cohort of folks together so we could all sample a wider array of menu selections and give a better representation of what Frita’s has to offer.  But I guess I’ll just have to make another field trip downtown, by myself or what have you.  It’s not like I need an excuse to eat some great food.  It’s all in the name of research!  And I do have to apologize to the nice folks that sat next to me at the bar.  Sometimes when I have a task on hand (like doing a restaurant review), I have a tendency to be too focused and not be as friendly as I should.  It’s a flaw and I’m working on it 🙂

So, if you ever happen to find yourself in downtown Ann Arbor, stop in to Frita Batidos for a bit.  Have a churro and hang out for a while!  You won’t regret it.

And don’t forget to like me of Facebook (why do I always forget about self-promotion?)

And the winner is. . .

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Alright, so I have been really busy lately, not that I have anything to show for it.  So that explains why I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging responsibilities.  The truth is that (like an idiot) I have started working out again.  Well, since I am apparently unemployable, might as well be constructive with my time.  But I am remembering how much working out takes out of me — time-wise (takes me about 2 1/2 hrs. each time), recovery-wise (I’m not in undergrad anymore and all that extra work hurts!), plus all the extra shower and laundry time!

Here is "The Bowl of Choosing". Very scientific methodology!

But I digress. . . I’m here to announce my first blogiversary giveaway winner.  And the winner is. . . Sarah at The Cook’s Life!!!  Congrats to Sarah!!!  And check out her blog where she shares her thoughts on cooking, family, and all adventures in between!

Here's what she wins -- Look! It's Michigan!

 

And here's the cookbook

So I will try to catch up with some posts.  I have several in the pipeline, including a couple focusing on Chef Eve Aronoff, who was the big subject of my giveaway!

What a great day to repeal Prohibition!. . . and have a Ginger Lime Martini

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On this day (April 10th) way back in 1933, the great state of Michigan became the first state in the union to repeal prohibition — huzzah!  Yup, Michigan became the first state to ratify the 21st amendment, which overturned the 18th amendment — that’s the one that made booze illegal.  In your face Wisconsin!!!  They were the second state to do it, but there’s still a little bad blood over here for them trying to call themselves the “Mitten State” a few months back.  At least both travel boards worked together to use the controversy to help a good cause.

But I digress. . . back to the end of prohibition.  Historians estimate that about 75% of alcohol consumed in the States during prohibition came through Detroit.  Right across the border, Ontario went dry but Canada didn’t ban the manufacture of alcohol for export.  Put that all together, and you can see how Michigan became Booze Central for the country.

Ginger Lime Martini yumminess

I, for one, love the end of prohibition.  If you’re a regular reader, it should come to no surprise.  But here is how I intend to celebrate — with a Ginger Lime Martini!  Sure it’s 10 o’clock in the morning, but what else am I going to do today?

This is taken from Eve Aronoff’s book which was part of my blogiversary give-away (I did pick the winner BTW).  Consider this a preview for those who didn’t win the book.  Maybe you’ll see it a bookstore near you; hopefully you’ll pick it up!  Now I absolutely love these, and I may have had more than my fair share at that wedding reception I was talking about a couple of posts ago 🙂  I just can’t say stop when there’s ginger and lime involved. . . and vodka, don’t forget the vodka.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 t. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 T, plus 1 t simple syrup
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 T chopped crystallized ginger

1.  Combine the lime juice and the ginger and let sit for at least an hour.

2.  In a cocktail shaker combine lime juice, ginger, simple syrup, and vodka with ice and shake vigorously.

3.  Pour into a martini glass and garnish with the crystallized ginger (I was fresh out so I didn’t add that last bit)

Thought I'd try to get some of the garden in the picture. Pics don't always work out the well I planned. At least the foot of the glass looks clean here 🙂

Notes — The color may be a little off from what y’all get.  The vodka that I use has some Bison Grass in it and the grass gives it a greenish hue.

March Foodie Holidays

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Here's Daisy and Cooper with this month's holiday announcements!

Happy March everybody!  It’s another big month for foodie holidays — including my 1st blogiversary (can’t believe that it’s been a year already, not that that’s a foodie holiday).  I was thinking about having an anniversary giveaway but I’m not sure yet.  Maybe I’ll post something on Facebook (11 likes so far!  check out the bottom of the side menu)!  More on that later, but check me out on Facebook anyway.  Anyhoo, here’s what we have in store for this month (check out some of these links):   Celery Month, Flour Month, Frozen Food Month, Noodle Month, Nutrition Month, Peanut Month, and Sauce Month.  Now here are some of the special days that we can celebrate in March:

Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, Fruit Compote Day

2  Banana Cream Pie Day

3  Cold Cuts Day, Mulled Wine Day

Poundcake Day

Cheese Doodle Day

6  Frozen Food Day, White Chocolate Cheesecake Day

Crown Roast of Pork Day, Cereal Day

8  Peanut Cluster Day, Agriculture Day

Crabmeat Day

10  Blueberry Popover Day

11  Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day

12  Baked Scallops Day

13  Coconut Torte Day

14  Potato Chip Day

15  Peanut Lovers’ Day, Pears Helene Day

16  Artichoke Heart Day

18  Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day

19  Poultry Day, Chocolate Caramel Day

20  Ravioli Day

21  French Bread Day

23  Chip and Dip Day, Melba Toast Day

24  Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

25  Lobster Newburg Day

26  Waffle Day (in Sweden), Nougat Day

27  Spanish Paella Day

28  Black Forest Cake Day1st Blogiversary!

29  Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

30  Turkey Neck Soup Day

31  Clams-on-the-Half-Shell Day

I have no idea how these two ended up hugging like this. I could just barf it's so cute.

Trusting your food

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I saw this today on Pinterest and it made me laugh ’til I peed, because it’s so true for me!  And given the week I’m having, I needed a good guffaw!  What do y’all think?

I don't like raisins. Really, they're gross.

I luv all kinds of dried fruit, but raisins?   Maybe it’s just psychological, especially when you get raisins as a gift from your piano teacher when you’re a kid.  Who gives a kid raisins?  I’d rather have nothing!  But raisins really are gross.  Use currants instead (real currants, not those tiny raisins)!

And don’t forget to visit me on Facebook!  And oops! — I just realized that I haven’t posted an actual recipe for some time.  So tune in tomorrow!

Paczkis Galore!

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Today is Paczki Day!  While other folks may be celebrating Mardi Gras or Carnivale, here in the Midwest we have Paczki Day.  Well, it might not be particular to the Midwest, because if you live anywhere with a large Polish population, you probably know about Paczkis.  But here in SE Michigan, we can’t get enough.  According to AnnArbor.com, we here are crazy about paczkis and lead the nation in Google searches about Paczki Day.  Personally, I never even heard of a paczki until I started living in Michigan.  And thanks to the large Polish population in Hamtramck, MI (which is a city within Detroit), I am hooked!

What's in the box?

But, let me back up a little bit.  Some of y’all might not know what a Paczki is.  First of all, it’s pronounced POONCH-key or PUNCH-key.  These are Polish jelly-filled donuts which are traditionally served the day before Lent, which is the 40 days of sacrifice and penance before Easter.  They came about as a way to use up all the lard, butter, sugar, and eggs in the pantry, because if you do celebrate Lent, you won’t be using any of those ingredients for the next 5 1/2 weeks.  So, much like Mardi Gras, paczkis are one last indulgence before 40 days of fasting.

Surprise! It's Paczkis!

In the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area, probably all over Michigan, you can find local big box grocery stores stocked with them.  I even found them as early as the first week of February.  At places like these, you can find fillings like strawberry, lemon, or custard, but you probably won’t find the traditional flavors like prune or rosehip.  Prune you’re more likely to find, but you have to work to find rosehip.  Again, if you don’t know, rosehips are the fruit of the rose.   When you leave the rose on the bush (particularly Rugosa roses) and allow it to wither, what eventually develops is a rosehip.  They kinda look like those tiny tomatoes you find at the grocery, but on a rose bush.  And in case you were wondering, they are very, very, very high in vitamin C.

Paczkis!!!

There are several places around here where you can find some paczkis.  All the big grocery stores have them — Kroger, Meijer, and Busch’s — and some other specialty establishments like Plum Market and the renowned Zingerman’s.  Normally, I go to Copernicus Deli (where you can find some rosehip), but this year I got my first sampling of the goods from Ypsilanti’s Dom Bakeries.  They were already my favorite donut shop in town (their apple fritters are ridiculously good!), but I never thought to stop in for some paczkis.  But I’ll be heading to Copernicus this morning anyway to get some rose ones due to a special request from a Michigan ex-pat down in Key West.

Strawberry filling for days

So, if you have a Polish neighborhood in town, be sure to go on a hunt for paczkis today.  Better yet, make a trip down to Hamtramck, MI and participate in the festivities throughout the day (I really should work for the Michigan tourist board).  Don’t deprive yourself of this yearly event of sweet, deep-fried culture.  And be sure to visit me on Facebook — I’m up to 7 likes now!

That's like a bushel of apples in there