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If your food has more stamps on it’s passport than you do, you have a problem.

 

Getting into quite a jam

  Slow Jams arrived onto the Eastern Market scene in Detroit last month with an awesome name and a tremendous product line to match. Jams in both traditional and refreshingly new flavors, sure to compliment any application from Sunday morning breakfast to Friday evening's cocktail. Disclaimer: my usual condiment cravings lean towards things based firmly in the tomato paste, fish sauce and chili pepper world, so it is with great delight that I have such high praise to deliver in regards to what I had previously regarded as a category of foods best left to my grandmother. This is a very personal product every step of the way. Made by hand in small batches and sold at markets around the Metro Area by the ladies producing it in their weekly "Jam Sessions", this is as close as one can get to a product without picking the fruit and doing the process themselves. Betsy, Shannon and Christina are creating something that is definitely worth eating. I picked up three  jars during my visit to the Slow Jams Jam Stand on their inaugural Saturday in November  which I felt would represent a good cross section of the product line based on old standards and newer flavors I'd experienced elsewhere as well as something totally new to me in the world of Jam. The goods: Raspberry Basil - I use Raspberry as a barometer for jams and jellies the same way I use Sweet & Sour chicken to judge the caliber of a Chinese take-out joint. If you can't do anything good with Raspberries, you'll be dismissed rather quickly. (Why not grape? While certainly the most common in western culture, I simply don't care for it.) This is indeed a very good Raspberry. The Basil is a supporting player here, subtly rounding out the fruit without every truly making an appearance from the background. It's a good Jam. Lots of chunks of fruit provide texture to go with the beautiful dark red color and no-mistake about it Raspberry flavor. My toast was happy and so was I - they passed the litmus test and I boldly moved on to the next jar, for science!   Sweet Pepper - I've had pepper based jams in the past and while unique, none of them ever had been more than a novelty. Novelty is not a god repeat business strategy. I was very pleased to find a sweet jam base which carried with it a warm savory flavor and ever so slight amount of heat on the edge. There is a great texture here as well as the occasional hint of green from the peppers which tastes like a warm summer day. I'll out myself right now: the Sweet Pepper jam is my favorite. I ate the whole damn jar in two days. On the second day I didn't even have crackers or any other kind of carrier, I ate it with a spoon. It's that good. I ended up buying more the next week. I even went so far as to buy a pepper jam from another local vendor and was disappointed when it paled in comparison to Slow Jam's version. If you only ever muster up the courage to step outside of the traditional Jam box once,  Sweet Pepper is the Jam to do it with.   Tomato & Basil -Never once has anyone uttered the words Tomato, Basil and JAM together in a sentence to me before. It was the double-take moment. Like.. Spaghetti sauce? What the heck is this? A totally new food concept for me, which is immediately followed by acquisition. That's how I roll, gang and I'm rarely disappointed.  Slow Jam's Tomato & Basil jam is no exception. A very good balance of savory and sweet with this jam. Like it's Raspberry inspired cousin above, the basil here is not a prominent player, but stays back to provide a familiar but subtle supporting character. I'll reassure you that there is no essence of spaghetti sauce here. This is tomato in an unfamiliar way - the acidic nature is completely removed. This is Tomato if tomato were every day sweet as watermelon. Like the other two (and I suspect ALL Slow Jams jam) the texture here is every bit as fantastic as the flavor.  

I mentioned using Jam in a cocktail earlier and like any article here on the Rogue Estate, I write from experience. I used a dollop of Raspberry Slow Jams Jam in a concoction involving The Rogue Estate's neighbor Valentine Vodka and club soda. The Jam added flavor and sugar in same way one would with a classic shrub, without the fuss.

Slow Jams maintains tastings at their sales table, with featured jams of the week available for your "try before you buy" enjoyment. Each week you will find special flavors available based on fruits available and other seasonal factors. I've yet to try anything that wasn't top notch delicious. With such a good track record, I may even be persuaded to give that old standard Grape another try. Slow Jams can be found on both Facebook and Blogspot for more information including recipes and purchase locations. -///
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

Event: 2nd Annual Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar 12/9/11

UPDATE: The event was a smashing success Laura and I had a great time meeting everyone and the products were very well received! If you'd like more sauce and BBQ or have a special event you'd like us to cook for, give us a call (248 721 4878) or drop us an email (bbq@rogueestate.com). Thank you everyone for a fantastic retail debut!   The Rogue Estate BBQ will be on hand at the 2nd Annual Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar on Friday, 12/9/2011. For the offering: Hot BBQ pork sandwiches served with your choice of A.P. Lube or Smolder sauce, as well as bottles of the sauces and frozen 1lb vac-pacs of BBQ pork. Rogue Estate BBQ is one of 25 vendors on site for this event selling ready to eat and packaged to share craft food items.

Vendors at this event: MeMe Design + Events, Brys & Edgewood, Stuffed, Nest, City Bird, Handmade Detroit, DJ Amy Dreamcatcher, Leopold's Books, Love's Custard Pie, Drought Juice, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Miette, Pete's Chocolate Co., El Azteco, RG Distribution, Hugh, The Rogue Estate, Perkins Pickles, Beau Bien Fine Foods, Native Kitchen, Al Meida, Marvin Shaouni Photography, Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, McClure's Pickles, Simply Suzanne, Suddenly Sauer, Corridor Sausage Co., Gang of Pour, Porktown Sausage, Gourmet Underground Detroit

Many vendors accept cash only, though a few (like R.E.) can process cards. A dining area is available and music will be provided by local DJs. Find that perfect gift from us on Friday 12/9 from 5:00 until 11:00PM.

The bazaar is located at:

2448 Market Street Detroit, MI 48207-4516 (in Eastern Mkt, above Cost Plus Wines).

Enter through Cost Plus wines and head up to the third floor. See you there!

-///

A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

Sunday Morning Breakfast: Pretzel Bread French Toast

This one is worth getting out of bed for: chewy, salty pretzel bread meets the cream & cinnamony egg wash of french toast with a quick dip of sweet maple syrup an that awesome bit of salt for a killer quick and impressive breakfast to ward off any hangover. The software:
  • 2 small pretzel bread baguettes
  • 1 chicken egg
  • 1 duck egg (or a second chicken egg)
  • 2 tbls buttermilk (plain milk works fine here, too.)
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of cardamom
  • pinch of sea salt
  • butter
  • 3 tbls real maple syrup
  • pretzel salt (optional)
The method: The pretzel bread I buy from Zingerman's is about 7" long, 2-2.5 inches wide on average. The recipe scales up or down easily - add 1 pretzel bread per additional mouth and increment the rest of the ingredients accordingly.  As for the egg portion - I use duck eggs whenever and where-ever possible. They taste better and they are just fantastic in anything even slightly resembling pastry. That said, if you can't find duck eggs, chicken eggs work fine. Organic and free range farm fresh being the preferred choice in any situation. First order of business here is to grab that pretzel bread you picked up a couple days ago and forgot to eat and slice it into 1/4 inch thick medallions and set them aside. Put your griddle or fry pan to the fire. Your heat target is the high side of medium, enough to get a sizzle from an egg without scorching your cooking fat. In an appropriately sized mixing bowl, use a whisk to combine the eggs, buttermilk, flour, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Whisk it for at least a minute while your pan warms up to get everything distributed and get some air in there, too. When the pan is ready, lube it up with some butter, dredge your pretzel medallions, shaking off excess egg and place in the pan.  If you have any soft pretzel salt, sprinkle 2 or 4 grains onto each while the sticky uncooked side is still up. Like any other french toast variety, we're going for a just browning stage before turning, same on the other side and remove to a plate. This will go pretty fast, so don't get distracted or the smoke detector will wake everyone up. If you have a large quantity, put the oven on warm when you begin and keep the finished piles of pretzel french toasts in there until service time. Use real maple syrup if you can get it - it is SUCH A better flavor than the bizarre space aged chemical "maple syrup flavor" found in things like Mrs Butterworth. Pour syrup into a small bowl for dipping and warm it up in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Arrange everything and serve immediately. Hooray, you are now the champion of breakfast. -///
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.

Quick Shot – Oliver Farm’s Chicken Bratwurst

New for Autumn 2011 from our friends at Oliver Farms, of Fostoria, Michigan: 100% organic chicken bratwurst!  What could inspire me to write about chicken anything? Read on! I received a pack of the brats for review, slow cooked 'em sealed in the vac-bag sous-vide method for 45 minutes, then brought them out to brown & finish in the cast iron. The result: a straight up honest chicken sausage. Oliver Farms uses a light hand on the herbs and seasoning which compliments the meat without overpowering the delicious subtleties of meat which came from real chickens, not battery birds homogenized into briny oblivion. The texture is fantastic. No gristle and chew, nor finely ground mush like mass produced products, but a real pleasant "hey this is real meat" mouth-feel and a satisfactory snap from the casing. As this is a chicken product, the bratwurst can be used as a lighter protein addition in any number of dishes that call for sausage or related forcemeats and will play well with most seasonings and sauces. This and other Oliver Farms high quality organic products can be ordered from their website and picked up at Farm markets located around southeast lower michigan, including Detroit's Eastern Market. See the Oliver Farms website for more information. -///
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.