Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Donut Haus

Aside from looking at loads of art last weekend, the other priority turned out to be obtaining apple cider, donuts, and apples from Robinette's Apple Haus. (How can you not want to go anywhere with haus in the title?) Some people (i.e. my sister, Erin) had claimed that I had been there before. Um, that must have been your other sister. Who doesn't exist. This was my maiden voyage to the land of manna. Growing up in Michigan you go to apple orchards, like, every other day in autumn, but I had never been to THIS particular orchard.

Bananas. That's what I have to say about them apples. The donuts were so freaking good that I don't know how I could possibly ever eat another donut not from Robinette's. And they're only 65 cents. What else can you buy for less than a dollar? Here's the deal. They have two (very important) flavors: pumpkin spice and cinnamon sugar. I ate one of each trying to figure out which was superior and could have eaten 10 more in my quest for answers. I'm not kidding. THEY ARE SO GOOD. They melt in your mouth. Did I mention that they were warm? Fresh out of the deep fryer? The outside had a slight crunch and the inside a soft, tender crumb. Even my dad's and aunt's apple-orchard-non-traditional chocolate covered cake donuts were ah-mazing.

Robinette's will send gift boxes...of apples (but not to Arizona, sorry). Dear Robinette's: Can you please make a gift box of donuts??? That would be awesome. Sincerely, Tina

Say Yes to Michigan!

I used to be called "The Hub"...back when I actually knew what everyone was up to and no one else did. I think I'm out of the loop now so thank goodness that there's a building that now claims all of my knowledge. (I feel so much less pressure.) Here's a brief rundown (there are over 1200 artists so this is but the tiniest sliver) of the ArtPrize extravaganza that I attended in Grand Rapids, MI last weekend.


A Chihuly sculpture...completely separate from the ArtPrize competition...but still totally rad.

Vessel by Amanda Katz

I'm a sucker for anything typographic.

Conductivity by Julia Rogers


The artists' reception at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. My mom in the foreground right, my sis in the background right. My one-dimensional self in the center background: Tina by Char Anderson.

More of the artists' reception.


Burial Mounds by Flinten Sackett. Read about it here.

More Burial Mounds

Detail of Burial Mounds

Dream Big by Pete Fecteau made of 4242 Rubik's Cubes.

Detail of Dream Big.

Art break: Reserve, the all new GR wine bar/art viewing-pit stop slice of fabulosity, the perfect downtown destination in which to sample over 100 wines by the glass. (Not all at the same time!) While sipping a Cremant D'Alsace I also sampled a Michigan sparkler. Not bad! There are also some tasty prosciutto/jamon/queso/formaggio options (I was so busy eating that I forgot to take photos) as well as other sorted snacks. You really can't go wrong. Wine and cheese is the perfect meal!


Chroma Passage by Janice Arnold

Baby Calder: La Petite Vitesse

Dreamscape by Kathy Stecko


Extremely random ArtPrize festivity: The Shaolin comes to GR. GZA at Intersection. For realz.

GZA up close and personal. I'm pretty sure that he and I were the oldest people there.

The winning ArtPrize entry from last year (Open Water No. 24) gracing the bar at the brand spanking new wine bar/small plate eatery extravagana: Reserve. The end.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Go (mid) West!

So I'm heading off to the fair city of Grand Rapids, MI where I will be visiting the fam as well as looking at a bunch of art and...voting on my mother's entry in ArtPrize! (ATTENTION GReeps: My madre's fabulous painting above is on display at Bethlehem Lutheran Church downtown, mere blocks away from some of the other big art viewing and voting destinations!)

What is ArtPrize you ask? Why it's "a radically open competition. Open to any artist in the world who can find space. Open to anybody in Grand Rapids, Michigan who wants to create a venue. Open to a vote from anyone who attends - Part arts festival, part social experiment--this international contest is decided solely by public vote." (By the way, that orange squiggly thing in the ArtPrize logo is a graphic depiction of the most iconic piece of sculptural art in Grand Rapids by Alexander Calder, just turned on it's side.)

I'm also planning to check out the über-recently opened restaurant, Reserve, the latest to join the ranks of wine bars serving small plates and locally sourced menu items like
Lake Superior whitefish, smoked steelhead roe, and Evergreen Lane Farm Chevre to name a few (according to the website). The wine list looks pretty straightforward but the draw will be the over 100 wines available by the glass as they have employed ye olde tap...well, more or less. I'm thinking it will be like this but I'll be sure to visit and report back!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut

Now that it's starting to cool off, I'm veering onto the edge of a baking binge. (Friends and coworkers are about to benefit immensely.) Most quick breads are sweet like pumpkin bread, banana bread, cranberry bread...but this savory walnut bread that I found in the Recipes for Health section of the NY Times is a great alternative that can be served toasted at breakfast or topped with a goat cheese, aged cheddar, or triple cream followed by a nice glass of wine. I think it would also be tasty with a chopped herb like thyme or rosemary. But no matter what, you gotta like nuts since this is a super nutty bread. Not feeling nutty? Stick to corn bread...and stay away from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Quick Walnut Bread
(Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman)

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Butter or oil a loaf pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk or yogurt and the oils. Whisk in the flour mixture and fold in the walnuts. Scrape into the prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake the bread on a rack in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes to one hour, until nicely browned and a tester comes out clean. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Then reverse onto a rack and allow to cool. Makes one loaf. The bread will keep for a couple of days wrapped airtight. It also freezes well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Ultimate Swirly

For chocoholics like me, (perfectly made) brownies are the ultimate chocolate treat. And for some people, cheesecake is the ultimate indulgence. And for others...well, who cares? Everyone needs to make this ASAP!

Cheesecake Brownies

For the brownie batter:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the cheesecake batter:
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

2. Make the brownie batter: In a small saucepan over low heat, gently melt the butter. Add the cocoa, whisking until thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until the mixture is well blended and pale yellow in color. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the flour and salt and stir just to combine. Pour the batter into a non-stick 8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.

3. Make the cheesecake batter: Whisk together the 4 cheesecake ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

4. Dollop the cheesecake batter over the brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula. Bake until the center is just set, 30 - 35 minutes. Makes sixteen (2-inch) squares.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Big Bloody Bowl of Bucatini

It's the season finale of True Blood tonight (!!!) and in anticipation I spent the afternoon watching old Buffy reruns...more or less. What? It was raining.

There are so many unanswered questions from the last ep. I'm most concerned about Eric and whether he is now really dead or still just vampire dead. Obvs the peeps at HBO aren't going to let the top hottie leave the show, so I expect a full vampire recovery!

A big bowl of bucatini smothered in tomatoey goodness seemed like the appropriate TB watching meal. And I've been saving a package of bucatini that I found a few months ago at a random little Italian deli that I discovered while on location out of the city. This pasta is not the easiest shape to find so if you don't have a great Italian market near you, just use spaghetti.

Bucatini is the classic shape for this sauce from Amatrice, a town in central Italy. There is some question about whether onion and garlic are classic ingredients, but I like the addition. Also, while guanciale is the preferred unsmoked Italian bacon used in this sauce, it too can be hard to find, so pancetta is a good substitute. Now I'm just going to have to find a good substitute for Sunday nights at 9:00...

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta, sliced 1/4 -inch thick, then cut into 1-inch slivers
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce can) whole peeled (preferably San Marzano) tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup grated aged Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 pound bucatini

1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until transparent. Add guanciale and sauté until barely beginning to brown. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute.

2. Break up the tomatoes and add to the skillet along with the chili flakes. Cook in an uncovered pan at a low simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. (The sauce may have enough saltiness on it's own just from the guanciale.)

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the bucatini and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and transfer to the skillet, along with the cheese, and toss together until the pasta is well-coated. Serve with additional cheese on the side if desired. Serves 4 - 6.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hot Tuna

Tonight is Fashion's Night Out and I can tell you one thing: No one involved is eating pasta. Except for me, I guess. I will actually be attending a few events so carbo-loaded in anticipation. Why? I don't know. I guess that explains why I don't fit into sample sizes. That and genetics. By the way, I'm dying for one of these:

Need to get to the Alexander McQueen store on 14th street before they're gone!!!

Since I've allowed my kitchen pantry stash to dwindle as a result of vacationing, beaching it, and general malaise, I've had to make do with some bare essentials. Canned tuna is something that I always have in my cabinet, and it's not just for sandwiches. The thought of hot tuna probably makes most people gag, with the exception of those who enjoy a good diner style tuna melt (mmm...hot tuna and cheese!) or good old fashion tuna fish casserole (mmm...creamy hot tuna!), but it is possible to make quite a tasty little dish with ye olde can of tuna. Garlic makes everything taste better and salt doesn't hurt either, so the addition of olives and capers helps to elevate an otherwise mundane pantry meal.
A little protein, a few carbs...who's ready to shop?!?

Pantry Pasta

6 ounces spaghetti
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 (5-ounce) can tuna (packed in water or oil), drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Zest of one lemon

1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the olives, capers, tuna, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring to combine, to heat through, about 2 minutes.

2. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and add to the skillet with the tuna. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon zest and toss. Add the reserved pasta water if necessary to keep pasta from sticking. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serves 2.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's the End of the World as We Know It

And I feel fine. Earl is approaching and it's the last weekend of summer. Some people are behaving like it is the end of the world. Really, it's just going to rain a lot this afternoon and tonight, be super windy, and then be a gorgeously sunny weekend in the mid 70s. I'm not mad at that.

Since we'll only be able to get summer time produce for a tiny bit longer, I thought I'd include a few recipes that you might make for this coming weekend of grillin' and chillin'. With all of the basil that I bought last weekend, I made some pesto and then tossed it with some pasta and veggies for a cold pasta salad. Ordinarily I can't stand pasta salad, but anything coated with pesto is an exception. Because I said so. Use a bit more pesto and salt (use 12 ounces pasta rather than 16 ounces) than you would if you were serving the pasta hot. Flavors tend to diminish when food is cold, so this helps to keep it vibrant. And don't serve the pasta salad super cold right out of the fridge. Let it sit out for about 15 minutes and give it a stir just to make sure to redistribute any pesto that may have accumulated in the bottom of the bowl.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Make the pesto. Meanwhile, cook 12 ounces of pasta according to package directions. During the last minute of cook time, add 1 medium zucchini (that has been cut into matchsticks) to the cooking pasta. Drain and rinse briefly under cool water. Add the drained pasta and zucchini to a large bowl along with the pesto, 1 pint of halved cherry or grape tomatoes, and 1 cup of perlini or bocconcini mozzarella (small mozzarella balls). Stir to thoroughly combine. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Serves 4 to 6.

I came across this recipe in The New York Times last week. I loved the idea of grating a tomato to make the vinaigrette. I ended up using quinoa because when I first made the recipe using brown rice, my rice was way too sticky to be worthy of being called a salad. It was more of a cold risotto...not a very desirable texture. I also decided that with the flavors of the vinaigrette, it would work really well as a Greek Grain Salad, for lack of a better name, so I added the feta and olives to round out the salad.

Greek Grain Salad with Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette
(Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman)

1 medium to large ripe, locally grown tomato
1 garlic clove, green shoot removed, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups cooked (and cooled) grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, medium or large bulgur, or a combination
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts for garnish

1. Cut the tomato in half along the equator (see tomato photo above), and grate the cut side on the large holes of a box grater into a wide bowl. Discard the skins. Stir in the garlic, salt and pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients, toss together and serve. Serves four to six.

Last but not least, let's not forget about corn on the cob. First, yum! And second, can I please say that it is a major pet peeve of mine when people boil the hell out of their corn on the cob. You don't need to boil corn for 20 minutes. It's not a potato, people! You can eat it fresh. I usually just boil it for about 5 minutes (just to warm through), top with salt, maybe a touch of butter, and eat. You can also make this fabulous fresh corn salad.

Have an amazing weekend!