Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chili con Carne y Cordero

It is a cold, wet day outside the Cafe, which is perfect weather for a pot of chili. I am making a slight twist. Instead of using 3lbs of ground beef, I am going to use 2lbs of ground beef and 1lb of ground lamb. This recipe I am making will be my first use of the lamb we purchased from Mirror Lake Farm. Full report to follow!

Chili con Carne y Cordero

2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 carrots, sliced
2 lbs boneless beef chuck, ground coarse
1 lb ground lamb
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon crumbled dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot cook the onions in the olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened. Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and carrots, then cook and stir the mixture for 1 minute. Add the beef and cook it over moderate heat, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until the beef is no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and the red pepper flakes, then cook and stir the mixture for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, cider vinegar and bring the mixture to a boil. After the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 50 to 60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serves 6

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pork Chops in White Wine Sauce

I used a couple of the boneless pork chops we got with the 1/2 pig. This recipe was easy and very yummy.
Pork Chops in White Wine Sauce


- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon of dried sage
- 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons of butter
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 4 one-inch thick pork chops
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine and 1/4 cup of dry white wine

Preparation Instructions:

1. Combine the garlic, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper. Press a little of
this mixture firmly into both sides of each of the pork chops.

2. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter and the olive oil. Brown the pork
chops on both sides, using tongs to turn carefully. Remove and pour off
all but a small amount of fat from pan.

3. Add 1/2 cup of the dry white wine and bring to boil. Return the pork
chops to the pan.

4. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the chops are tender when pressed
with tip of knife (about 25-30 minutes).

5. Once ready to serve, remove the pork chops to a heated plate and cover with foil.
Add the remaining 1/4 cup of wine to the skillet and boil down to a syrupy glaze.

6. Pour over the chops and serve.

Cook's Notes: The chops were tender and juicy. The reduction of the white wine took
about 5 minutes. I will definitely make this meal again.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

1/2 a Pig

On Tuesday afternoon following a busy day at GE, I went to the Pinckney Meat Market to pick up our 1/2 of a pig. The meat was frozen and it fit nicely into two coolers for the drive home. I got home about half an hour later and unloaded the pork into our stand up freezer. We are set for beef and pork protein for quite a while. I am really looking forward to experimenting with some cuts of beef and pork that I have not cooked before.

Debrief of Honey Mustard Pork Chops

This meal was nothing short of fantastic. The meal took all of 20 minutes to prepare and cook.

I mixed the mustard and honey, and I sprinkled some salt and pepper on the chops before I put them into the pan. I cooked the chops for 15 minutes and I checked the internal temperature of the meat with an instant read thermometer. The chops were tangy and tender and I will definitely make this dish again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This little piggy went to market

Deirdre writing, Paul cooking ...
The little piggy purchased through a local farmer came home on Tuesday. Paul picked up the pieces on Tuesday night. And he is making the first recipe with bee-u-ti-ful chops in honey mustard sauce. The honey is local too. Even the BEER is local. :) We've gone native and we are loving it.

6 lean cut boneless pork chops
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
low fat cooking spray like Pam

Mix the honey and mustard together
Spray pan with cooking spray
Brush mixture on while cooking pork chops
Cook until fully done

Stand by for cook's notes and pictures. You know, there are ALWAYS pictures. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Flank Steak - UPDATED

Deirdre writing:

I get updates from GE Appliances based on several purchases during our kitchen remodel. I used to just delete them until I discovered their recipe section. These are SERIOUSLY amazing recipes, so fabulous that I actually sent the people who run the recipes an email of gratitude. To my surprise, I received a response! All recipes are thoroughly tested before publication. Now, that's a job I want!

Here is a new recipe for flank steak. Though we haven't made it yet, I suspect that we will replace the sugar with Splenda.

Marinated Flank Steak Recipe
Yield: 4-6 Servings

1 large flank steak
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon salt

1. Slightly score a flank steak diagonally on both sides with the tip of a knife.
2. Mix the other 5 ingredients and let flank steak marinate in remaining ingredients in a zippered bag or large casserole dish for several hours.
3. Grill for several minutes on each side, until desired doneness.
4. Slice in thin slices on the diagonal.

COOK'S NOTES - Paul made this Saturday night and I really wondered about cinnamon and beef. Whoa, it was good but it was missing something. Paul used Splenda instead of sugar and the next time we make it, we will swap out Splenda with brown sugar. I can just tell you that it works and works well.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I made this recipe for dinner last night and it was nothing short of fantastic. We served it with asparagus and a tomato vinaigrette, and washed it down with a bottle of 2005 Lolonis Merlot, conveniently purchased at Art of the Table. This recipe is too good not to share:


• 1 cup good bourbon
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2/3 cup soy sauce
• 1 cup chopped cilantro
• 1/2 cup lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 cup water
• 1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
• 1 beef tenderloin, about 5 pounds, trimmed

Combine bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, cilantro, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, water, and thyme. Fold the tail end of the beef back underneath itself so that it is an even thickness. Secure with cooking twine and place in a nonreactive dish or pan. Pour marinade over tenderloin, cover, and refrigerate for 6 to 10 hours. Turn meat from time to time to keep it coated with marinade. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the roast into a cast iron skillet or roasting pan and add enough marinade so that there is 1/2-3/4 inches of the marinade in the skillet/pan. Cook the roast, uncovered, basting occasionally. Cook the roast until an internal thermometer reads 127F for medium rare, 133F for medium and 138F for well done. Once the roast reaches desired temperature, remove from the oven and place on a cutting board and reserve the remaining marinade. Loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

While the roast is resting, heat the skillet/pan over medium high heat. Reduce the liquid until it has the consistency of light syrup. After the reduction is done, slice the roast, serve and spoon the reduction over the meat.

Serves 6-8

Cook’s Notes: The original recipe called for 2 cups of water and did not include the reduction. After I cooked the roast, I realized that I should have put more of the marinade into the skillet (I always cook beef tenderloin in a cast iron skillet), and that I had an opportunity to reduce the remaining liquid. The reduction was fantastic, but I barely had enough. The next time I make this recipe, I will ensure that I have at least 3/4" of marinade in the skillet when I place it in the oven.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shrimp Tacos

I was flying solo Saturday night for dinner. Paul was in GP for a party and I had the night to myself. Given that Paul doesn't eat seafood, I couldn't WAIT to make something good. I found a recipe that was suitable for children (and poor cooks) and I knew that I could handle it. :) From Real Simple Magazine and it is just that.

Shrimp Tacos

* 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 2 tablespoons sour cream
* kosher salt and black pepper
* 1/4 small cabbage (8 ounces), shredded
* 1 cup corn kernels (from 1 to 2 ears, or frozen and thawed)
* 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
* 8 small flour tortillas, warmed

* 1 In a large bowl, whisk the orange and lime juices, sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cabbage, corn, and jalapeƱo and toss to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes.
* 2 Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes.
* 3 Serve the shrimp with the tortillas and the slaw.

**Cook's notes. I made a couple of minor changes, because well Paul will say that I don't follow directions well. I added two jalapeno peppers instead of one and a 1/2 tablespoon of Splenda to give it a little sweetness. Fantastic!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Holiday Beef Tenderloin

I made this recipe last night and it was delicious. We washed it down with a bottle of 2005 Ross Estate Barossa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Yum!

Holiday Beef Tenderloin

1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (5-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the spices. Rub tenderloin with oil; coat with spice mixture. Place in a roasting pan; cover and chill 8 hours.

Bake at 500° 15 minutes or until browned. Lower temperature to 375°; bake for 20 more minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes. Slice; serve with horseradish mayonnaise.

Yield: 8 servings
Cook’s Notes: The roast sat in our fridge all day and I removed it about an hour before I placed it in the oven. I cooked the roast at 500F for 10 minutes, and then reduced the oven temperature to 375F. I removed the roast from the oven when the internal temperature of the roast was 127F. The roast rested for 10 minutes, I then sliced it and served.

This was a delicious recipe and it was east to make. I will make this again, but next time I will not add the salt. There was enough salt in the onion and garlic powder to add flavor to the roast.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hit and Miss

It's no secret that 'we' love to cook. "We" love that Paul loves to cook and frankly, I love to watch. Oh and do the dishes. But another part of our life is exploring Grand Rapids and making sure that we invest in small, local community shops, bakeries and restaurants. Wednesdays are our out-and-about evenings. We try and eat out at one local place on Wednesdays, and if not Wednesdays well, one night a week.

A huge hit with us has been the Winchester. They have amazing beers on tap, cool tables, stools and seating and fab food. In fact, the fish tacos are SO GOOD that I haven't been able to order anything else. It's the one thing I really miss about SoCal. Good fish tacos. And I am so thrilled to have found them here!

The big miss
On the recommendation of friends, we headed to the Electric Cheetah. The restaurant was half full on a Saturday at lunch, yet our drinks were never refreshed and our food, a salad for Paul and a half sandwich and soup took almost 25 minutes. I seldom do this but I sent the food back. The sandwich, a chicken salad sandwich had about three pieces of chicken and soup, which was supposed to be a carrot ginger, tasted like water. Literally. Paul's salad was pedestrian at best. Our waitress offered me other food and she brought out a half bowl (pretty skimpy) of tomato saffron soup. Another broth-based soup that was very watered down. We cook with saffron and I couldn't taste any. I ended up at Subway. So after much anticipation, that place is crossed off our list.

We have lots of other places to explore in this wonderful town! So stay tuned for updates. Happy eating.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Deb's Birthday Dinner: Chicken Curry

Our good friend Deb celebrated her "39th" birthday with us last night. We had Deb over for dinner a few weeks ago and I asked her what she wanted me to make her for her birthday. I suggested that to her that I make Chicken Curry with Apple Curried Cous Cous. Much to my surprise, I had never made this dish for her. Here is the recipe for Chicken Curry:

Chicken Curry
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 pounds chicken breast filets, cut into strips
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ cup chicken stock (or broth)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
1. Heat butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until the foam from the butter subsides. Add the chicken and cook until browned, 5-7 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
2. Lower heat to medium-low, simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream and simmer (do not let the mixture come to a boil) for 3-4 minutes.
3. Transfer chicken and the sauce to a serving plate and serve immediately.
Cook’s Notes: Be careful not to let the sauce boil after you add the heavy cream. If you are looking for the “Curry Powder,” it is the mix of cumin, coriander and ginger. Finally, the more red pepper flakes you add, the spicier you meal will be. Enjoy this meal with rice or cous cous.

And now for the cous cous:

Curried Apple Cous Cous
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium apples, cored and chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger
- 3 green onions, washed and chopped
- 1 box Near East Cous Cous
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup pine nuts
- small handful of mint
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of the butter, cumin, coriander and ginger and cook for a few minutes until the spices are fragrant. Stir in the chopped apples and cook for 3-4 minutes, enough time for the apples to soften up and absorb some of the spices. Scoop the apples from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
In the same pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir in the green onions and cook them until they are soft. Add the water and bring to a boil, then stir in the cous cous. Cover and remove from the heat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then use a fork to fluff up the cous cous. Stir in the apples, pine nuts and chopped mint.
Serves 6

The meal was an unqualified success. Adult beverages were enjoyed prior to, during and after the meal. and for dessert we each enjoyed a slice of watermelon.

Life is good here at the Cafe.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Filet Mignons With Balsamic Pan Sauce and Truffle Oil Recipe

I made this dish in the Cafe a few days ago and it was yummy!

Filet Mignons With Balsamic Pan Sauce and Truffle Oil Recipe

• filet mignon steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick (one per person)
• salt, to taste
• fresh ground black pepper, to taste
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• truffle oil, for drizzling

1. Sprinkle steaks generously with salt and pepper.
2. Pre-heat your oven to 275F. Take the filet/steak out of its
wrapper, and pat dry with a paper towel and then liberally apply salt
and pepper to the meat. Place the meat onto a roasting pan, and put
the pan into the oven. Cook the meat for 20-25 minutes, or until the
internal temperature of the meat is 90-95F.
3. Once the meat is between 90-95F, remove the pan from the
oven. Coat the bottom of a large, heavy frying pan with olive oil
and heat over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook to the
desired doneness (130F for medium rare), 2-3 minutes on each side.
4. Transfer to a platter and let rest, tented loosely with
aluminum foil, while you make the sauce.
5. In the same pan over medium-high heat, add the vinegar
and deglaze by scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Cook
until slightly reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter to form a smooth
7. To serve, transfer the steaks to individual plates, top
with the sauce, and drizzle with a small amount of truffle oil.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Roast Tenderloin of Beef Mustard Sauce

Last night was a special night here at the Cafe. We were having our friend Deb over for dinner, following a morning of painting our closets in preparation for the new closet inserts which will be installed on Thursday. I mulled over a couple of dinner menus and decided to defrost a beef tenderloin which had been sitting, oh so quietly, frozen in our freezer the past few weeks. I thought about making Tenderloin DeLuxe, a dish that Deirdre really likes, but then I thought I should try to expand my recipe base a little. After a few minutes of searching, I found the recipe listed below.

I am happy to report that this recipe was easy to make and was nothing short of outstanding. I removed the tenderloin precisely when the internal temperature of the roast was 124F and the meat perfectly pink inside. The "mustard sauce" is a bit of a misnomer as the shallots and garlic add more flavor to the sauce than mustard. Regardless of the name, the meal was fantastic. In addition to the beef, I made some long grain & wild rice, a tossed salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, and steamed asparagus. Thanks to our friends at Art of the Table, we washed the roast down with a bottle of 2000 Vina Alberdi Rioja, a Spanish red that stood up to the meal.

We also wanted to have a hearty meal in preparation for what was an excellent Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Final score: Red Wings 5, Penguins 0. Life agrees with us here in the Cafe.



2 tsp. soy sauce
2 1/2 lbs. beef tenderloin
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 med. garlic clove, minced
3 med. shallots, minced
1/3 c. dry red wine
1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup (8 oz.) canned low-sodium beef broth
1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1. Rub the soy sauce all over the beef and let sit for 30 minutes. Season with the pepper.

2. 350 degrees. In a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the tenderloin for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the internal temperature reads 125F degrees on a meat thermometer for rare. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes.

4. Pour off any fat from the skillet. Add the garlic and shallots and cook over low heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, increase the heat to high and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the mustard, broth and cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer until the sauce has reduced to 1 cup and is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the butter until incorporated.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut the meat into 12 slices. Arrange the meat on plates or a platter, spoon the mustard sauce on top and serve.