Location, Location, Location!

Raw ingredients for the soup. In the case of the cheeses, raw milk cheeses to be exact...

At the same Chef's Night that yielded the previous two recipes posted below, my offering was this Cheddar/Ale soup made almost entirely from ingredients that are made within an hours drive from where we cooked. The focus of the evening was warming winter foods with an extra emphasis on locally made ingredients. We tend to look for local whenever possible to begin with, but this night the focus on Michigan bounty was even more intense than usual. There was a professional photographer and fellow food blogger/obsessive present, Joe Hakim of The Hungry Dudes, so we had to bring the A game and swing for the bleachers. I think we accomplished our goal. Links to the photo galleries and printed article spawned from this evenings culinary melee at the end. Recipe for Michigan Cheddar/Ale soup: Ingredients for 4 servings: 1/2 medium size yellow onion diced 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced 2 large jalapenos seeded and diced 1 Tablespoons fresh garlic, peeled and crushed 2 bottles Mad Hatter IPA (New Holland Brewing Company) 1 pint chicken stock 1 pint Guernsey Farms heavy whipping cream 1/2 pound bacon diced (home made by a friend of the Estate, so local as well) 1/2 pound Rosewood Products raw milk cheddar shredded 1/4 pound or 2 oz. Rosewood Products raw milk goat cheddar shredded 1/4 pound or 2 oz. Oliver Farms sharp cheddar curds 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup flour 1 Tablespoon Chicken Soup base ("Better Than Bouillon" brand paste) Fresh ground black pepper to taste Zingermans pretzel bread made into croutons, or crushed pretzels Procedure:

Don't stop stirring! Burnt cheese does not taste good! Well... at least not in this case.

Mince the diced onion and peppers in a food processor until almost a paste. Brown the diced bacon in a pot over medium heat and add the minced veggies. Cook slowly for 25 minutes, or until most of the moisture is gone. At the same time melt the butter in a small pan and add the flour, cook for 15-20 minutes on low heat, stirring continuously, and refrigerate. Turn the heat on the soup pot up to high and add the garlic. Stir continuously until the garlic smell is very strong, 30 seconds or so. Add 1.5 bottles of Mad Hatter, and boil until only 1/3 of the volume is left. Add the chicken stock and cream and bring back to a simmer. Once back to a simmer add the cheeses and stir constantly until dissolved over medium heat. Or add bit by bit until it's all been incorporated, but the central theme here is do NOT stop stirring until all the cheese is melted! If you stop stirring during this part of the process, the cheese will just sink to the bottom and burn. Once dissolved, and back to a simmer, add the last half bottle of Mad Hatter and the chilled butter and flour mixture a little at a time until the soup is thickened to your liking. Stir in the chicken soup base a little at a time, tasting between each addition to make sure you don't over salt, and add as much fresh ground black pepper as you wish to your own tastes. Taste for seasoning, and bowl, using the pretzel croutons for garnish and a few turns on the pepper mill for added contrast and aroma.

Warming, cheesy, peppery, pretzelly goodness! Perfect for a midwest winter night!

I tried to go as simply as possible with this recipe, as there was a chance it would be published in a local magazine, so I wanted it to be accessible to the home cook. It's come to my attention that I'm not always very good at that though. I guess 20 years cooking professionally has somewhat disconnected me from what the term “home cook” implies. That aside, this recipe is very adaptable, you can substitute any local or even non-local variant of any ingredient included and still have one hell of a soup at the end of it.   Live well, and eat better!   -Jack Gallery from Joe Hakim of The Hungry Dudes blog Rogue Estate Facebook Gallery Real Detroit Weekly's article on the meal in question

Chef’s Night Recipe: Shrimp Au Gratin

Shrimp and cheese? You bet. The cheese in this is an amazing mild Dutch ("Dorothea Potato Chip Goat cheese") that incorporates potato, onion and herbs into the finished product. We found it at Westborn Market in Berkley, and it's worth searching for. We prepared this as one of the Winter Comfort Foods for a recent Chef's Night menu and it's been featured in a photo gallery by The Hungry Dude's Joe Hakim, a Photo Gallery on the Rogue Estate Facebook and an article in Real Detroit Weekly. Enjoy! Shrimp Gratin Appetizer (Yields 4 small 4 oz. ramekins) 2 tbsp flour 2 tbsp butter 1.5 - 2 cups half & half, heated 6 oz. grated Dorothea Potato Chip Goat cheese 24 (31-45 count) raw shrimp peeled and deveined, thawed, tails removed 3 scallions finely sliced 2 cloves garlic minced dash white pepper dash nutmeg dash salt 2-3 oz. grated Raclette cheese 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs 1.5 tbsp Virgin Olive Oil pinch paprika pinch dried thyme pinch of salt Flat-leaf parsley (for garnish) 1) Make Mornay (cheese sauce) Combine flour and butter over medium heat, simmer while stirring until raw flour smell goes away (10 minutes). Add 1.5 cups half & half and stir until thickened, lower heat (if too thick, add more half & half). Add grated Goat cheese, stir to combine. 2) Assemble Add shrimp to cheese sauce, and simmer on lowest heat for only 1-2 minutes. Spoon into mixing bowl; add scallions, garlic, pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste, stir. Spoon gratin into into 4 small ramekins, making sure each contains 6 shrimp. Make crumb topping: stir together Panko, oil, paprika, thyme, and salt. Top each ramekin with 1/4 of the Raclette and crumb topping. 3) Bake Bake ramekins at 350°F for 10 minutes until golden on top. Remove, let cool slightly, garnish with parsley. Pairs very well with a chilled Alsatian or Oregon Pinot Gris.

Chef’s Night Recipe: Beef Burgundy

[When Bob isn't wandering the markets in search of new products and exotic produce, he's back in the kitchen cooking.] It's winter and that means it's time for braising and pot roasting. This recipe works fine by either method, or a combination of the two. The most important thing this dish needs is time - so plan ahead to give it plenty. It only gets better the longer it cooks. We prepared this as one of the Winter Comfort Foods for a recent Chef's Night menu and it's been featured in a photo gallery by The Hungry Dude's Joe Hakim, a Photo Gallery on the Rogue Estate Facebook and an article in Real Detroit Weekly. Enjoy! Beef Burgundy to serve a table of 4 This is a very flexible and forgiving dish that is perfect for the beginner. Ingredients are inexpensive and short of full out neglect,  it's tough to actually mess up. Like most soups; leftovers taste even better the following day. The software: 3lbs Beef Short Ribs or Flatiron Steaks, roughly chopped 2 Tablespoons peanut oil, vegetable shortening or bacon fat 2 cups diced yellow onion 2 tablespoons crushed garlic (more if desired) 3 cups diced carrot 1 cup finely diced celery 2 cups full bodied red wine - I used Chateau de la Taille Bordeaux 2 cups beef stock 2 tablespoons butter juice of 1/2 lemon 1 star anise Salt Black Pepper 3 hours of time from prep to serve The hardware: A Large (12"+) pan or dutch oven, preferably cast iron. Large (2+ Qt) saucepan optional. The Method: Prep all ingredients before starting - this will make things go much smoother during assembly and cooking. For the wine - use something you'll enjoy drinking, since there will likely be some leftover. If it tastes good in a glass, it'll taste good in a recipe. When chopping beef & veg, smaller pieces mean less cook time. This recipe was timed with beef cut to roughly 1 1/2" cubes. 1/4" dice on the onions and 1/4" slice on the carrots & celery. With everything cleaned, sliced, diced and ready, add the oil or fat to the pan and heat it on med-hi until nearly wisps of smoke appear. Salt the beef and add to the pan carefully (It will spit a little). Don't over crowd the pan - brown in batches. Brown on all sides. When a good color & crust is on the beef, remove to a bowl. A good set of tongs is the best tool for this job. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Cook the onions and garlic down until they're translucent. Crank the heat up to high and add the wine to the pan to deglaze. Use the tongs or a spatula to scrape all the stuff off the bottom of the pan and mix it around with the onions and wine. As the Wine begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low. (If using a sauce pan, transfer everything over to it at this time.) Return the beef to the pan, add the carrots, celery, beef stock and star anise. Give everything a stir and let it simmer for at least 2 hours. Reduce the heat as needed. Things should be bubbly but NOT boiling. Time is your most important ingredient here. Don't fuss over the pan. Check every 30 minutes, give it a stir, add beef stock and/or wine as needed to keep everything 1/2 submerged. As the beef and carrots become tender enough to mash with a fork around the 90 minute mark, allow liquid to reduce and thicken. After 2 hours, everything should be tender and the liquid should be thick, similar to gravy. If not, cook a little longer. Fish out the star anise, add the butter and lemon juice, stirring everything to combine. Taste the liquid and add salt & pepper as desired, serve immediately. Not surprisingly, this dish will pair perfectly with the wine you used to cook with. Goes great with some fresh, hot bread of any type on the side for scooping, or even just as a carrier for butter. ;) We look forward to your questions and success stories in the comments below or on our Facebook! -///    

TBIFOM #05: Que Syrah, Syrah…

(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) Que Syrah, Syrah... Lost Canyon Syrah had such promise. I recall several years ago when Syrah came to the attention of Cab drinkers as both an exotic being heavily marketed by Australia (AKA Shiraz) and as a funky Californian upstart (Syrah). It's always been a capable blending grape, good for adding some ripe dark fruit and syrupy mouthfeel to its sometimes more austere vinifera cousins. On its own, it yields a relatively simple but potentially very deep crowd-pleaser. The battle continues, Cali VS Aussie, MegaCorp VS rebel producer, to this day. I have few preconceived notions about the grape, or the wine it gives up. In my experience it's good with meat, sweet, and smoke. BBQ AKA the barbie. But I was sad to hear that we lost Lost Canyon (in its original incarnation) as a contender. 2007 Lost Canyon Russian River Syrah (About $15) Learn more about the winery: http://www.princeofpinot.com/winery/205/ Learn more about the bottle in front of me: http://buyingguide.winemag.com/catalog/lost-canyon-2007-trenton-station-vineyard-syrah-russian-river-valley SEE: Dark, deep brilliant red through and through SWIRL: A nice heavy coating of the glass, with quick, striking legs SMELL: Rich blackberry and black cherry fruit, leaves, leather, vanilla, plums, and even smoked bacon, heat from the alcohol. SIP: Tart and tannic, black fruits, and vanilla from fairly new oak SAVOR: Chewy/meaty but not as syrupy as more common new world versions Final impression: All The classic brambly fruit notes, a bit tight, rough and young. Yet it's as good as any Syrah I've had at the price and a nicer alternative to cheap Aussie Shiraz. Next week I plan to test a comparable Barossa Valley Shiraz to compare. Pair with: BBQ with sauce, or any meats with grilled onions.

Brining for you

Bob likes to explore local markets and buy things he's never tasted or even heard of, all in the name of science. It's been a banner season for exciting new vendors to Detroit's Eastern Market: The Brinery from Ann Arbor is as much to the sour end of the scale as Slow Jams is to sweet. Brine-master Dave has honed naturally fermented pickle perfection from an alluring array of Michigan-centric ingredients that are sure to please many a mouth. (Aside: I should get an award for that awesome alliteration.) The first thing most eaters know of fermented foodstuffs, even if they don't realize it is Kimchi. Surprise, gang - Kimchi is rotted cabbage, hot peppers and when you're eating the hard core authentic stuff, anchovies or oysters.  The Brinery currently offers two varieties of Kimchi, one with the fish and one without, however the 'with' is being phased out, since the fermented fish is a difficult ingredient to source as locally grown/produced. I've been cleaning a jar of 'with' since I met Dave a few weeks ago. The Kimchi is tart, with the right heat level to warm the mouth without an obnoxious after-burn. (I'm not a hot head, despite my collection of chile pepper based sauces and ingredients) The texture an ideal ratio of crunch to squish and as you can see in the photo, the color is a beautiful fiery orange that can really play a great contrast to many dishes for you plate artists.   Full disclosure: my grandparents tell me I've more polish heritage than anything else. To that end, I've been eating and enjoying sauerkraut my whole life. I approached Storm Cloud Zapper with the highest scrutiny. As with all of The Brinery's products, this european take on rotted cabbage is naturally fermented and naturally colored with all Michigan sourced ingredients. (Dave takes "Made in Michigan" VERY seriously.) This kraut lives up to it's label. It's bright, tart flavors, excellent texture and the striking purple made this my immediate go-to kraut for any meal. This is how kraut should be. If you've traditionally disliked the stuff, swing by The Brinery booth and give it another try, because this is the one that can sway you.     Last on this week's review is a jar of pickles. Detroit, the McClure brothers didn't invent pickling. It's time you knew. In this particular jar The Brinery saw fit to naturally ferment Michigan carrots, garlic and hot peppers. The result: WOW. A full on frontal assault against the ho-hum of the average dill pickle. The pleasing snap and subtle sweetness of a good winter carrot coupled with an undeniable tang of fermentation, matched with a garlic and pepper heat that will definitely put a little sweat on the brows of milder mouths while keeping the hot heads happy as well. This jar was the first to empty. Like all of The Brinery's products, the presentation worthiness of this pickle is top shelf. The three beauties pictured in this article are indicative of Dave's entire product line: everything looks as good as it tastes and tastes as good as it looks. Find The Brinery products at Detroit's Eastern Market, Ann Arbor Farmer's Market and various groceries in Ann Arbor and beyond. See their Web and Facebook pages for more info. -///