Monday, August 30, 2010

Eating Local in Ann Arbor

Let's continue on our culinary journey through Ann Arbor...The first night back home, Kyle and I had dinner with Susan and Alan, who are the parents of one of my best friends from childhood, Alissa. Alissa and I went to elementary and middle school together and met on the first day of 1st grade, when both of our very attentive and loving mother's approached our teacher asking to bring in goodies for our birthday, which happened to be the same day. Hard to believe that was 20 years ago, come September 6, 2010!

Susan is a huge fan of the famous Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. Kyle, Anna and I went to the market the next day, which you will see on the next post. Below are photos from the fabulous feast Susan prepared that highlighted some of Michigan's finest locally grown produce.

These crostinis were wonderful--crisp arugula, sauteed mushrooms, and cheese...delicious! I am always looking for new appetizer ideas, and this was a wonderful new item to add to my bruschetta/crostini armamentarium.

Susan grilled up flavorful steaks and Michigan vegetables. Look at those bright colors!

This salad was amazing! Fresh corn, avocado, red onion and basil. Under all of this were super sweet tomatoes. Washington has had a bad tomato season because of our cold spring and not-so-hot summer. Michigan on the other hand has had a great tomato season, and we tried to enjoy as much as possible!

A delicious beet salad with goat cheese, arugula and balsamic vinaigrette. Another great highlight of the wonderful produce of Michigan!

Thank you Alan and Susan for a wonderful evening and beautiful meal!

Happy Eating,


Friday, August 27, 2010

Ann Arbor Part 1

I spent most of my childhood growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan where my parents taught at the University of Michigan. I have so many wonderful memories of this amazing college town, and shockingly, many are linked with food! Kyle and I had the opportunity to return to Ann Arbor this summer; we only had a long weekend and somehow managed to jam-pack 48 hours with all of my favorite eats and a brisk walk down memory lane.

My best friend from childhood, Anna, came up from Chicago to join us for my homecoming. We spent 90% of our childhood eating, the other 10% of the time we were plotting ways to meet and eventually marry our teeny-bopper crushes.

Kyle updates and loads photos for me and I am not sure why he put in this photo out of all the photos we took together that weekend! It is outside Best Buy, where we had to get a new memory card after leaving ours at home. It was a test shot. Oh well.

Kyle and I took a red eye flight and got to Detroit at 6:30AM (3:30AM Seattle time!). What do you do when you are exhausted and jet lagged? Go to Ethiopian food! My parents used to take me to The Blue Nile, a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant in Ann Arbor. However, as a kid, I never appreciated or really liked the flavorful food. But as an adult, it was delicious and fun. You eat with your hands and wrap the tender meat and beautifully cooked veggies in injera, a spongy bread that is similar to a tortilla. Above is Kyle's Doro Wat, spicy marinated chicken, with lentils and green cabbage.

Anna got the Yebeg Alecha, marinated lamb slowly cooked in a subtle, savory sauce with onions, garlic, and jalapeno peppers with an herbed butter sauce. YUM!

I got the Zilzil Wat, which was a beef dish. I loved the mixed vegetables I got on the side, they blended perfectly with the rest of the dish and the injera.

After stuffing ourselves, we walked off our meal and toured the University of Michigan campus and the downtown area. It has been a hot summer in the midwest and the humidity drove us into air conditioned stores, like one of my old favorites, Kilwin's Chocolates.

My favorite chocolate is a raspberry french cream, and the best place to get this is at Kilwin's. I have searched the world over for a good competitor; but even my favorite Seattle shop, Oh! Chocolates, does not compete with the Kilwin's super sweet, creamy, raspberry-y goodness.

They also have a great ice cream shop attached to the chocolate shop. We would have stopped in if we didn't have another ice cream shop on the docket....

Ahhh, Washtenaw Dairy. Anna's Dad, Mark, use to bike with Anna and I to this fabulous old-fashioned ice cream shop. We used to think it made it OK to indulge in a double scoop if we biked there. Above is an old favorite, Butter Pecan and Black Cherry. Anna and I were marveling at the fact that you can get a big scoop for only $2!

I realize that you might be thinking this post spans the course of several days, but this is actually the last stop on our first day in Ann Arbor. It doesn't even include the fabulous meal we had with my wonderful friends, Alan and Susan, which will post later this week. So after a couple of drinks out on the town, we had to make one last stop for a late night meal at Fleetwood Diner.

My family and I used to go here when we wanted a greasy, belly-filling, artery-clogging burger and fries. Unfortunately, the health department must have got to this burger joint, because the burger wasn't dripping with grease and seemed to have about 2000 less calories than what I remember. But it was still a great treat and way to end our 28 hour day! Kyle got the Hippie Hash, which is a massive pile of eggs, veggies, meat and other food that I'm assuming would be delicious after a Woodstock concert.

To be continued....

Happy Eating,


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Drum roll please...The New Kitchen!

For all you avid Emi and Kyle Heart Food bloggers out there (and there are SO many of you out there!) who have been on the edge of your seats waiting for updated posts, I apologize! We have been complete slackers. I have a semi-decent excuse: we got our kitchen remodeled! It is hard to believe that we lived with the old kitchen for so long...but as they say, ignorance is bliss, and I don't think we fully knew what we were missing out on: clean, new countertops, a functional refrigerator and (gasp!) a dishwasher that cleans our dishes.

Here she is, our tired old lady of a kitchen:

You couldn't tell how large the kitchen and dining area is with the old set up. All you were drawn to were the dirt encrusted white linoleum floors.

The above counter and double ovens blocked the kitchen area off from the dining area which made a spacious room seem cramped and turned the kitchen into a galley kitchen.

We salvaged some of the old cabinets which are solid wood and in decent shape. My wonderful father in law helped us install them in our laundry room.

So after three short weeks, we found ourselves moving back into our brand new kitchen! There is a Zappos commercial that features a woman calling the Zappos call center. She tells the operator that she ordered a dress the night before and it arrived the next day. The operator asks what is wrong and she says, "I'm not emotionally ready for the dress." I felt this way about our kitchen. After several years of dreaming, fantasizing and have it there in living color was overwhelming. But, you get over it, move in and LOVE it!

Before we get to the photos of the new space, I have to give my Oscar speech and thank my amazing contractor, Bob McEwen and McEwen's Cabinet Refacing. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this man and his work. The attention to detail, his workers' timeliness, his follow up and flexibility were impeccable. I highly recommend him for any of your future bath or kitchen remodels. And when I say he took 3 weeks...I actually mean he took 2 1/2 weeks; I actually slowed us down because the dishwasher I ordered took longer to ship to our house than it took for them to demo our kitchen, build and install the cabinets and put in new flooring, lighting, plumbing, gas, and granite countertops! Phew. I get tired just saying all that.

Here she is--the beautiful new kitchen:

This used to be a desk area. Who needs to study? Bring on the booze! So we turned it into a bar area.

The previous owners left us their kitchen table, which was solid wood. I sanded it down and painted it black and now it feels like a brand new table! We are in the process of mounting a TV on the back wall and putting a lounge/chaise by the window.

Check out that counter space! We used to have pullout cutting boards in our cabinets that we could use for extra space--no need now!

The finished product!

To finish my Oscar speech, I need to also thank our amazing parents who helped in many ways: housing us for 3 weeks while the project was going on, painting when it was completed, installing our old cabinets, and many many more things. We will pay you back over the years in meals and parties at our place!

Happy Eating,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Corn with Honey-Ancho Chile Butter

Emi has been a little behind on some of her posts, so thought I would do this week's recipe of the week. Also we haven't done one in awhile, so we're due. This week's recipe is straight out of the July issue of bon appetit.

Since Emi was out of town this weekend, I decided to plan a "Man Night" dinner for my friends. I went to the Edmonds Farmers Market with Pert to load up for that night's meal and dinner for Emi on Sunday night.

It's a good thing I went to the bank the day before to pull out some cash. I should have limited the amount of cash I brought to limit my spending because it was starting to turn into Monopoly money! However it's always good to buy local and the taste of fresh produce is worth the cost. Also most of the stuff is about as cheap as the grocery store if not less.

My final tally included chantrelles, homemade duck ravioli, peaches, cherries, Walla Walla sweet onions, zucchini, strawberries, blackberries, flowers, and some awesome sweet Yakima corn.

I ended up making the ricotta with sea salt and thyme spread which I served with a garlic toast. We also snacked on some of the fruit from the Farmers Market and I made a caprese salad to start off the meal. I grilled some BBQ chicken utilizing a great rub Emi's parents brought back from Austin for me. I also threw some some steaks on the grill, zucchini, and Walla Walla sweet onions for the side. To try something new I grilled the corn, but made the Honey-Ancho Chile Butter to serve it with.

On to the recipe.

What you'll need:
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1 T ancho chile powder (substituted some chile powder Emi's parent's brought back from New Mexico)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 T honey
  • 1/2 t dried oregano (didn't have any, but tasted great without it)
  • 1/2 t coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t onion powder
  • 8 ears of corn

Melt 2 T butter in small skillet over medium-low heat. Add chile powder and cumin; stir 10 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in honey and cool.

Add oregano, coarse salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and 6 T butter to butter mixture. Mix until smooth.

You can make this in advance and store in the fridge, just bring to room temperature before using.

Grill corn until charred in spots, turning often, about 13 minutes. Serve with honey-ancho butter.

Emi loves using different types of seasoning on her corn, so this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. The chile powder adds a nice subtle kick, while the honey and butter add a nice rich, creamy, sweetness to the already sweet corn. This is an easy add on to make and a great way to try something new. Make sure to take advantage of the summer corn and weather to BBQ up this recipe.

- Kyle

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Wedding in Paradise

You may remember an earlier blog post from last October that talked about my friend's engagement party that had the best BBQ and celebrated the engagement of one of my best friends, Amy and her fiance, Aaron. How quickly 10 months fly by, and here I am back in Seattle with a fading tan, remembering an amazing trip and a beautiful wedding in paradise.

Kyle posted some pics of our culinary adventures in the kitchen. Here are some photos and stories behind our adventures out and about in Maui!

Amy and Aaron planned a fun snorkeling trip for our group the day before their wedding. We went out to Molokini and another beach that has a lot of turtles. It was so fun to spend a day out on the water and to top it all off, we were able to catch a 20lb Ono! Aaron reeled that bad boy in; I thought he was going to get a hernia from the effort! Those deep sea fish are no river trouts. Unfortunately, Captain gets to keep the fish, so we did not feast on fresh ono at the wedding!

Aaron's parents hosted a fabulous rehearsal dinner for all of us at the Pineapple Grill.

The spread was incredible!

This Hawaiian style bruschetta was one of my favorites. The fish was fresh and the tobiko (fish eggs) on top added a fun crunch.

Smoked salmon and asparagus crostinis

Yummy Hawaiian calamari

One of my favorites...spring rolls!

Carmen's favorite...bacon wrapped scallops. She loves anything with bacon, but this was really good!

Delicious salmon

Amy and Aaron got married at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, which is located in our favorite part of Maui. It was supposed to rain that day, but stayed bright and beautiful all day for the happy couple.

Check out this amazing buffet menu! Kyle and I were too much of pigs to take photos of the food; we just dove right into the buffet and didn't come up for air until everything was gone. The caprese salad and prime rib were my personal favorites.

I truly believe there is no better wedding food than the wedding food you can get in Hawaii. It is probably a combination of great chefs and also great local ingredients and flavors to work with.

Amy's parents hosted a brunch the next day that was just as fabulous as the dinner we enjoyed at the reception. Sadly, Kyle and I broke our beloved camera on this trip and have no photos of that wonderful meal and the last leg of our Hawaiian adventure. I guess the memories and extra 5 lbs I gained will have to be my lasting impression of this amazing trip and occasion!

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Turner! May you have many years of happiness, love, health and fabulous meals!

Happy Eating,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eating with the Suzukis: Maui Trip

Emi and I to a fault at times, eat what we like. This can mean when we go on vacation to Maui or Kona, we will cook for ourselves rather than risk the disappointment of a bland, overpriced "touristy" meal. We love to eat when we travel, but always find ourselves cooking for ourselves whenever we hop on an inter-island flight off of Oahu.

We were recently in Maui for a wedding and went with a group of ten of our friends. We had a blast. Maui has a lot of great things - amazing beaches, snorkeling, warm tropical weather, a fun night life, but unfortunately the food leaves you wanting more.

For a number of reasons, we've discovered that food in any Hawaiian island location that caters strictly to tourists isn't going to be very good. What about Oahu or Hilo you might be saying? Well those areas are made up of locals and they know how to eat, that's why their food is good.

Even though we cook for ourselves we always incorporate as many things the islands have to offer into our meals. For example, you can't get amazingly sweet, juicy mangos in Seattle like you can in Maui. Here's a few examples of simple, yet great meals to enjoy if you decide to cook for yourself in Hawaii.

Our first night we went back to the tried and true; steak. We brought some Hawaiian Ono seasoning salt with us. This stuff is great and they sell it at Longs Drugs and makes a great present to bring back home to the fam. It's basically seasonings and Hawaiian sea salt. This stuff packs a punch and goes a long way so don't over salt anything. I like to put it on everything from eggs to my meat before grilling.

We also enjoyed the best poke I've ever had. If you go to Hawaii, buy some poke, not from anywhere, but from Safeway. Sounds funny, but they have the best poke and each deli supposedly has their own special recipes. The one we went to had about five different kinds and it was only like $6-$8 a pound. I went to this crappy touristy fish place and they were selling it for $19 a pound and it looked watered down and horrible. The poke I settled on had the fresh tuna, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and avocado; delicious!

Our friends picked up a wasabi poke that was great too. Not too spicy, but with just enough of a kick. I highly recommend getting some Safeway poke when you're in Hawaii. They'll let you sample it and it's actually pretty affordable.

Emi's specialty and my breakfast favorite is her Hawaiian Sweetbread French Toast. She buy's the King's Hawaiian Sweetbread which you can actually buy in most grocery stores in Seattle and makes french toast out of it. Not sure why, but eating it with an ocean view and glass of POG seems to make it taste better, than a cold, drizzly morning in Seattle. We also always buy some Portuguese sausage - spicy is better, but Mollie was being a baby and wanted mild. To finish it all off a nice sweet papaya. Love papaya, I would eat it every morning if it didn't cost $5 a piece, but in Hawaii you can afford to eat it every morning.

Jeremy was our breakfast chef for the trip and actually was a breakfast cook for Emi at her sorority back in the day. I guess I can attribute Emi's love for big weekend breakfasts to Jeremy's cooking.

As you can see he throws everything from the fridge into these eggs and they were delicious. The perfect way to wake up and get ready to hit the beach.

I took this photo to highlight the amazing Hawaiian fruit. We had the best papaya, mango, and pineapple. Make sure to pick some up for yourself next time you go out to Hawaii. Also they make a great any time snack. Their fruit is better than dessert.

We had these really good furikake, garlic fries. Garlic fries usually end me for days, but these were great. They had the garlic taste, without the flaming dragon's breath afterwards. Also the sesame seeds and dried seaweed were an awesome addition to the fries. One of my favorite snacks on the trip. I think we had these at the Aloha Grill in Lahaina.

What Hawaiian or in general tropical vacation isn't complete without a sweet, tropical drink. I say the only time it's OK to have an umbrella in your drink and your pinky up in the air, OK well maybe not the pinky, but a nice refreshing pina colada or Lava Flow (pina colada with strawberry puree) is when you are on a tropical vacation. However disregard in the photo how I have a pina colada and the other girls have beer.

Great trip with great food. We didn't cook for ourselves every day, but it was nice to have a few nice healthy meals every so often. Emi made salad every night and we utilized the BBQ's at our place. We also saved a lot of money and energy because we didn't have to go out to eat every meal. Something to keep in mind for your next trip out to Hawaii.