Stumbling Toward Dinner

Winner-winner, onion dinner! Recently, The Rogue Estate gang entered a contest offered by search aggregate website StumbleUpon, seeking dinner party concepts built upon themes and recipes found using only their web service. The result? WE WON! My love of onions in all their forms is no secret around the Rogue Estate Kitchens and often the platform for good sarcastic laughs. "One of these days, we should do a dinner of nothing but onions, ha ha ha." And so it was meant to be, another snotty comment turned hair-brained scheme. The challenge - using StumbleUpon's keyword based stumble tool, find recipes to build a menu for a dinner party. The subject - no kidding - Onions. Not merely recipes that just happen to have onions as supporting players, but recipes of which the onions are the stars, supported by the other ingredients. Additionally, I wanted a full cohesive menu instead of a collection of random dishes or appetizers. Lastly - some variety. Rogue Estate is about culinary exploration, not "same old same old". After a few evenings of stumbling and researching recipes, the menu was set. I wrote up our contest entry and submitted it to StumbleUpon. A couple weeks later after the contest had been forgotten, this email arrived: "Thanks so much for applying to the StumbleUpon Dinner Party promotion. We'd love for you to host this awesome "Onion Themed" potluck! We thought that was a funny concept." Onion Chef's Night was a GO! This is the full menu we prepared, with StumbleUpon links to the source recipes: App / Snack Caramelized Onion & Bacon dip with chips Salad Shaved brussels sprouts and onion salad - we added more onion varieties to this, including a fried red onion garnish. Main Red Onions stuffed with pork sausage - fuck martha stewart, but this is a good reference and we used Corridor Sausage to hit this one out of the park. Grilled Onion "Steaks" with honey dijon glaze. Ridiculously simple, and quite satisfying. Sides French onion soup stuffed mushroom caps - fuck yeah. these things were killer. An awesome alternative to the bowl of soup. Will definitely use this concept again somewhere. Sweet & Savory Dessert Cauliflower & Onion Tart - this was a monster, or maybe we were burned out on onions by dessert. Either way we took it over the edge by serving with a dollop of Slow Jams Cranberry & Red Onion Jam. We took a bunch of photos, of course... for the sake of laziness, they're posted to our Facebook Page, of which you are hopefully a fan and if not, show us some thumbs-up love! -///  

Great Plates: Recycled Donuts

A half dozen of Saturday's stale chocolate donuts needn't go to waste: throw in some milk, eggs and assorted nuts & berries and bake at 350 for a decadent Sunday breakfast of bread pudding. -///  

TBIFOM #09: Fizzy Bizness

(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of somewhat regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) Fizzy Bizness I enjoy bubbly wines on occasion. That's the key word, "occasion". It's usually a wedding or a New Years Eve before I'll consider popping and pouring one. It's required if a good friend offers pricy caviar, but sadly that has only happened ONCE. So, on a whim, I decided to dip back into Michigan wines because we have a really good producer here. L. Mawby is recognized as one of the more skilled bubbly makers in the U.S. They focus ONLY on sparkling wines, fermented both methode champenoise (in the bottle) and cuve close (in the tank). The less expensive cuve close wines are marketed under the "M. Lawrence" name. Currently they produce 14 different wines, packed into only 8,000 cases a year. That speaks volumes about craftsmanship and dedication. Their Cremant Classic is definitely in a French style (think crisp Alsace), although made with 100% Vignoles grapes (no Pinots or Chards). And it's delicious. A note about notes: My method for note-taking failed me somewhat on sparklers, for two primary reasons. Swirling does not accentuate bubbly the way it does still wines. And savoring sparkling wine over the course of a few hours can actually degrade it's flavors. Serve very cold, and sip as quickly as is comfortable with friends. L. Mawby NV Brut Cremant Classic (About $23) Learn more about the winery: Learn more about the bottle in front of me: SEE: A rich gold with a light peach tint. Tiny beads form and disappear quickly. SWIRL: Resist the temptation. You'll make a mess. SMELL: Typically yeasty bread notes, but in this case coupled with exotic spice, slate, herbs and white fruit. SIP: To my mind this is much more fruit-forward than a true Brut. Strawberries, nectarines, white peach and Rainier cherries. This is balanced with a slight flinty minerality. SAVOR: A moderately long finish resolves to honey crisp apple and poppy seeds.

Bubbly, sexy, diferent. Why wait?

Final impression: A beautiful cold sipper on its own. More approachable than most Champagnes in this price range. Pair with: Tends to dominate most flavors. Try with the classic pairings of buttered popcorn, fish roes, or shellfish. Might actually be a nice foil for Oysters Rockefeller or Clams Casino. Actually probably best in an ice bucket on a bedside table with that sexy someone.

What Happens When a Couple of Foodies Marry?

You end up with and edible bouquet and boutineer! The bouquet is made from kale, amaranth, cayenne peppers, cilantro flowers, chive blossoms, ramps, purple onions, flowering broccoli, and rosemary.  It made for a tasty salad later on!Meg's Bouquet The boutineer was made from a radish, a kale leaf, 2 leaves of amaranth, and a flowering pea tip.  Jason got a little hungry, and thought it'd be a good snack.

Almost all of the items came from Detroit's Eastern Market, radishes came from Royal Oak Farmer's Market, and the cilantro and chive blooms came from our own garden.  Considering how much of a roll fresh, local food plays in our lives (and how much I'm really allergic to pollen!), it only made sense to incorporate it into the wedding somehow.

Bob’s Bacon Saganaki Recipe

The Rogue Estate's BBQ Bob and Street Eatzz's Chef Tom presented a cooking demo at the first Baconfest Michigan in the Royal Oak Farmer's Market on June 2, 2012. This is one of the dishes they prepared for the crowd. It started innocently enough - What can we do with our sponsor's product - Bakon Vodka - that hasn't already been done before? Every variation of savory cocktail is pretty much covered on their website and we're cooks, not bartenders. "Let's torch something... flambe' style." The answer became obvious - Detroit has a large Greek population and our exposure to their culinary culture over the decades has led to a local love with the customary flaming cheese dish: Saganaki. At GreekTown restaurants and late night coneys scattered around the Metro Detroit area the familiar shout of "OPA!" and the woosh of alcohol fueled flames have delighted diners for generations. So how to take this classic and make it our own? The traditional Saganaki uses the Greek cheese Kasseri, which is a semi soft cheese of sheep's milk. We had trouble finding a decent Kasseri that didn't disintegrate during the cooking process, so we switched to a semi soft Mexican Queso which fried up much nicer and maintained a rich, creamy consistency over it's crispy when fried skin, with the added benefits of tasting better, being easier to find and costing much less than the Kasseri. Frankly, Saganaki isn't a high art - any rich, semi-soft melting cheese will do. A word of caution: This dish does require open flame. As such, prepare it outside if at all possible. If you must cook it indoors, do so only with a very small amount of alcohol, preferably in a kitchen with very high ceilings. The Software: 1 round of Greek style (fluffy) Pita Bread 2 tblsp Bacon Jam* 4 strips of smoked bacon 2-4oz of Queso or other Semi-soft cheese 2 oz Bakon Vodka or other savory, flammable booze. 1 lemon, halved and seeded 1 tsp minced fresh chives Special Hardware: Cast Iron Skillet, fry pan or sizzler platter Long Reach grill lighter or fireplace match Procedure: Preheat Oven or Toaster Oven to 200F. Halve the lemon and pick out all the visible seeds. Heat up your cast iron and fry the bacon as desired. The point here is to render the bacon grease out to fry the cheese in. When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pan to a paper towel and snack as desired. Slice your cheese as thick as you wish. We find 1/2 inch thick slabs to be the perfect balance of decadent and manageable as far as cook time is concerned. Place the cheese slabs into the cast iron on medium low heat until the bottom begins to brown and the top begins to melt. Remove the cast iron from the heat source and place in an area free from flammable overhead objects. Pour Bakon Vodka over the cheese, stand back and light the sizzling and highly flammable steam with your grill lighter or long fireplace match. Yell "OPA!" when the fireball erupts. Squeeze the lemon halves over the diminishing flames and melty cheese. Remove the pita from the oven and using a spatula, place the melty fried cheese on top of the Bacon Jam Pita. Sprinkle with minced chives and additional lemon juice as desired and eat immediately. *Slow Jams Jam developed our Bacon Jam for us. In time we hope it will be a regular part of their product line up. Meanwhile, their Cranberry Red Onion or Sweet Pepper Jams mixed with some fried and finely minced bacon would also be fantastic. Did you get to see our cooking demo and try this awesome dish at Baconfest Michigan? How'd you like it? Let us know in the comments.