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Friday, June 29, 2012

IT'S FRIDAY - LET'S GET TOASTED!!! ALMOND, THAT IS.....

Holy heat wave Batman!!!  Wow.  Officially it reached 99 degrees in Howell yesterday.  My car thermometer read 102.  What's a few degrees among friends right????

I decided to cool down, from the inside out!  Tee hee!!!  I actually heard Mike and Jon of WHMI talking this week about their favorite treats - and they were talking about Good Humor ice cream treats and such and my light went on and my sweet tooth kicked in so today's post is all about my favorite Good Humor Ice Cream treat - Toasted Almond bars!  Yeah, it's what mom and grandma ordered when you were getting your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bar from the ice cream truck.  I have to be honest - the first time I really felt the feeling of  'I am a grown up' was when I was letting my kids get their ice cream and I ordered a Toasted Almond bar.... yeah, Holy Flashbacks Batman!!!

If you are a fan of the Good Humor Toasted Almond bars, you probably already know that they can be really hard to find, only an occasional store will carry them and it always seems like the trucks are sold out.  So - I went on a quest to duplicate that toasty, buttery almond flavor and here's my recipe!

Good Humor Toasted Almond - Foodini Style!
TOASTED ALMOND CRUNCH
(Like Good Humor Toasted Almond!)
1 cup blanched almonds
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons almond extract
Pinch salt
Using food processor or blender, grind almonds until fine but not powdery.  Heat skillet over medium heat and add almonds and butter, continue to toast, stirring constantly until almonds are a light golden brown.  Add sugar and continue to stir until mixed well.  Remove from heat and add almond extract and
salt, stirring well to combine.   Let cool before
using.  Excellent as an ice cream or dessert
topping. 

RECIPE TIP:  This may seem like a LOT of almond extract, but between the almonds and the sugar, and the alcohol cooking off from the heat, I think you'll find that you need it.  If you aren't sure, try starting with one teaspoon, you can adjust taste as you go.
RECIPE TIP:  Store tightly covered for about a month.
So - in this crazy heat wave, stay cool from the inside out with a little Great Foodini Toasted Almond Crunch!
Off and running for the rest of the day today, but stay tuned this week for more posts from my Kids Chef Camps, the Bistro and lots more!










Saturday, June 23, 2012

A BERRY GOOD WEEK!!!

I love weeks where you can bounce from one joy to another, don't you?  Maybe it's the perfect cup of coffee waiting for you when you get up....maybe it's good news from long distance....maybe it's a perfect Michigan day.  Whatever it is, I love anything that turns out well or has a happy moment.  It's just the way I roll.

So - coming off a great Middle School Chef Camp in Brighton (more on this later in the week, but here's a few pics!)






The students earned their Chef Hats and in the photos, you'll see them enjoying their new summer treat, the Watermelon Bombe!

Then some great news regarding the Opera House Pop Up Bistro....you gotta love when an event sells out before it even gets advertised.....still can't figure out how that happened!!!  Check the Upcoming Appearances section for more information on other upcoming events.

Then a lot of cooking going on as I prepare for two graduation parties this year!  One for a dear friend on Saturday, that I will be working with my son - his business is Right Hand Party Man!  He knows so much about the catering and food business that he hires out as the party giver's 'right hand' and takes over the party so they can enjoy their guests.  He is soooooooo good at this.

Then on Sunday I am hosting my niece, Tawni's graduation party here and getting to visit with some friends and family I haven't seen in ages, including Soldier Girl who arrived Friday night from Ft. Drum, NY!  Yeah, it's pretty good around here right now.

So.....insert my usual Foodini Friday morning show with Mike and Jon at WHMI, Livingston County's own 93.5 and we have, dang near, a perfect week!

I've been appearing quite a bit at the Howell Farmer's Market, and one of the questions I get all the time is how to keep fruit and veggies fresh as long as possible.  Because they are perishable - and particularly fruits because of the sugar content - I recommend purchasing a few days at a time on fruits that are ready to eat, and for fruits that need to ripen, like peaches and plums for example, just a few days in advance.  So.....what to do with fruit that is super ripe and you don't want to waste?  Short answer is freeze and put in smoothies.  Favorite answer is make a low sugar fruit jam....ANY fruit (maybe except bananas, lol).

This winds up being super healthy because you don't need to add much, if any sugar....I add about a tablespoon to a quart/pound of super ripe strawberries.  All you need to do is put your ripe fruit - I even mix fruits sometimes - grapes and blueberries and raspberries is delicious.....rhubarb with just about anything....strawberries with just about anything....and cook it over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until mixture is nice and thick.  This is my strawberry 'jam' and I took it in the station on Great Harvest bread with the Amish homemade butter that Big Will carries at the Howell Farmer's market....

Can you see the big chunks of strawberries?  This is simply very ripe strawberries cooked down with just a bit of sugar...this is, quite simply, a bite of summer - so good, so fresh and so healthy.  It's a great way to reduce the sugar content in what you eat while not wasting food!

RECIPE TIP:  Taste the fruit before cooking down - add sugar sparingly based on sweetness.  You can always taste and add more sugar if necessary as the fruit cooks down.

RECIPE TIP:  Because there are no preservatives in this, you need to freeze what you won't use in the next week or so.

FOOD SCIENCE:  Almost all fruits have a natural pectin that will activate with cooking - the sugar you add helps to draw the moisture out that allows the fruit to cook down and sweeten naturally.


I am off and running on a busy weekend - Soldier Girl and Mr. W are headed up to the Balloonfest for the Veterans Ceremony and I am back to the kitchen!

Have a great weekend and stay tuned next week for more great pics from my chef camps - and maybe even the shenanigans this weekend!!!


Friday, June 15, 2012

STEAK, BACON, GARLIC, CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE - MUST BE FATHER'S DAY WEEKEND!

Great Foodini Tent at the Howell Farmer's Market...
Follow your nose to find me!
We've sure had a beautiful weather week here in Michigan!  Warm, gorgeous days and cool nights - as a matter of fact, my dad would have LOVED what happened one morning - he would have said...."If you don't like the weather in Michigan, just wait five minutes!!"   There was one day that Mr. W and I debated on turning on the air conditioning, but we stuck it out knowing it was going to cool down at night.....then I got up the next morning, some windows were still open, and the HEAT was on!!!  Oops - going to flip that toggle switch!!!

Jon...with a scape!
Buzz....good to see ya!  Good to feed ya!!
Here is something else my dad would have LOVED - all of his favorite things in one fun dish!  Like most guys, especially my guys at WHMI, he loved steak, bacon, garlic, chocolate and coffee and guess what?  I got this!  How about grilling up your favorite steak - your favorite way - with a little Mocha Spice rub, a 'schmear' of garlic scape butter and a crunchy, crispy balsamic bacony garlicky topping?  That's what's on the menu under the Great Foodini tent at the Howell Farmer's Market this coming Sunday, Father's Day, and what was on the menu this morning with Jon King and Buzz Elliot filling in for Mike Marino this morning.  I took this recipe in on some filet and also on my favorite cut of meat, the simple sirloin.   
Listen in to the podcast at






It was a really busy but wonderful week in my world - I taught my Elementary Chef Camp in Brighton, 24 budding chefs over a three day period learning lots about nutrition, food safety, food science, fun foods and unique foods - all the while learning and making kid friendly foods to try over the summer.  I am teaching the Middle School Chef camp next week and will be posting more photos and stories after that.  Some pictures and teasers from this past week's classes are already posted on the Great Foodini Facebook page.

Donna of Michigan Garlic Farm with me at the Howell market
So - how about some recipes to try this weekend or this summer?  Be sure to visit me under the Great Foodini tent at the Howell Farmer's Market from 10-1 this weekend where you can sample these reicpes on sirloin steak from Great Lake's Custom Meats and More - visit them at Great Lakes Custom Meats and also visit the Michigan Garlic Farm tent, Donna and Les are there with their garlic scapes, garlic products and more, and visit their website at Michigan Garlic Farm


GREAT FOODINI MOCHA SPICE RUB
¼ cup finely ground coffee – espresso is delicious
¼ cup cocoa (unsweetened baking)
2 tablespoons sea salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Use as a rub on beef, chicken, pork.  Delicious topped with Scape Compound Butter and Great Foodini Balsamic Caramelized Bacon and Scape Crumbles.

Curly scapes - sooo garlicky and good!
GREAT FOODINI GARLIC SCAPE
COMPOUND BUTTER
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/3 cup very thinly sliced scape shoots
½ teaspoon sea salt, finely ground

Mix well and store refrigerated.  Serve over grilled, rubbed meats or brush on bread before grilling.


Steak with garlic scape butter and the caramelized
bacon and scape crumbles...go ahead, dig in, I did!
GREAT FOODINI BALSAMIC CARAMELIZED
BACON AND SCAPE CRUMBLES

1 lb bacon, finely diced
1 cup finely sliced garlic scapes
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle sea salt to finish

Cook bacon in medium skillet until very crispy.  Drain fat, leaving about two teaspoons of fat in the pan.  While over medium heat, add scapes and stir just until fragrant and bright green.  Add balsamic vinegar, reduce heat a bit and stir until bacon is well coated and balsamic vinegar has reduced and become syrupy.  Remove from heat and let stand.  Lightly salt and use as a topping for steak, chicken, and pork or over salads to add a little crunch. 

I love to rub a sirloin steak with the Mocha Spice Rub and grill it, top with a ‘schmear’ of the scape compound butter and a sprinkling of the caramelized bacon and scape crumbles – yum!!!

RECIPE TIP:  Be sure not to melt the butter too much for the compound butter or your texture will be off - just let set at room temperature and mix in the scapes and salt.  Be sure to use sea salt for best flavor in all of these recipes.

FOOD SCIENCE:  Sea salt, depending on the granules and how you use it, isn't technically less salinic than table salt, however, sea salt is processed with the healthy minerals and deposits that take up volume when you are measuring so, measure for measure it is less salinic and as you can see, a favorite of mine in recipes!

Well - I am hoping these recipes sound good to you and I hope that you have a wonderful weekend and to all the dads out there...Happy Father's Day!





Saturday, June 9, 2012

FROM CHIMICHURRI TO MANSIONS...OH WHAT A DAY!

Wow - such a busy week and so much to share!  I am hoping that you will like and use the 'Upcoming Appearances' tab above if you'd like to check out and see what I have going on - I will update that regularly and make note of new additions.  I have been talking with the Novi and Milford Farmer's Market people and am hoping to add more dates to my free appearances very soon!

Me and my Friday Morning buddies!
Now - yesterday was a whirlwind!!!  I started out with Mike & Jon at the WHMI studios with a little 'Foodini Fusion' on the Foodini Friday segment and I got to share what I am going to be demonstrating this Sunday at the Howell Farmer's Market.  Fusion you ask?  Yes!  Fusion - the best of Michigan with a little South American staple.....chimichurri!

Chimichurri is a blend of fresh herbs, mine includes parsley, mint and green onion, with olive oil, garlic and fresh lime.  Finish with a little salt and pepper and voila!  Chimichurri - just try to say that without smiling!!!  It is wonderful on any grilled meat and I will be serving that at this Sunday's Howell Farmer's Market on fresh bratwurst from Great Lakes Custom Meats and my Pan Roasted Garlic and Michigan White Beans which are brought to the market by Dave Turk Farms.  Deeeee-lish if I do say so myself!  If you didn't get to hear the program, click here to listen in - it's always fun with my guys on Friday mornings!!! Foodini Friday on WHMI

Outdoor set - LOVED it!!!



Then on to the Fox2 Detroit Studios in Southfield where I got to promote not only my passion for Farmer's Markets, but some of the fun new recipes I've created using my favorite Michigan Made products.  The recipes were from my Making Magic with Michigan Foods classes.  If you didn't get to see the segment live or on Facebook, check out this link to the Fox2 Detroit webpage Great Foodini on Fox2 Detroit!

You will find the recipes below the video on the Fox2 website - I wonder if Kellogg's or Sander's will get a kick out of my recipes?!?!?!?!



Front entrance of  the Scripps Mansion



Then....onto Lake Orion where I got a private tour of the secluded and private Scripps Mansion (as in the Scripps that founded the Detroit News, WWJ and WDIV) which has been donated and is currently a retreat and treatment center, Guest House, specifically for Catholic Clergy.  I am so happy to be participating in their fundraising efforts to support their mission.  As part of the Annual Golf Classic, I am donating a special dinner for 8 that will be auctioned at the live auction that promises to be very special - I will be personally creating and serving the best that Great Foodini has to offer in the beautiful and historic Scripps Mansion - which happens to be one of only two Michigan places on that National Register of Historic Places!  What an honor and thrill for me to create not only a little Great Foodini magic in their beautiful kitchen and dining area, but an honor to help support their good cause.  For more information and photos on the Scripps Mansion and Estate, please visit Scripps Mansion and Estate


Back patio outside of carriage door - yes, I'll cook here!
The evening will commence with hors d'ouvres on the patio if weather permits,  and will include a personalized tour and history of the mansion.  The architecture, beautiful original ironwork and European paintings, as well as many native Michigan touches, is beyond description.  Then adjourn to the grand dining room for dinner (your choice of several including A Romantic Italian Evening, Flavorful French, For the Love of Chocolate,  Caribbean Getaway) and desserts will be served and if desired - a personalized cooking lesson by yours truly!

If anybody is interested in making a bid on this package, please contact me at reneechod@aol.com and I will put you in touch with the coordinator of this grand event, Maya McElroy for additional information. For more information regarding Guest House, please visit Guest House website.

So - busy....Yes!!  Loving every minute of it?  You bet!!!  I hope everybody is enjoying this beautiful weather and this beautiful weekend!

Here's the recipes from Foodini Friday.....which will also be available this Sunday at the Howell Farmer's Market!


GREAT FOODINI’S CHIMICHURRI
Chimichurri, brats and white kidney bean puree...Foodini style!

½ cup thinly sliced green onion             
½ cup finely chopped parsley                           
¼ cup fresh mint
3 cloves pressed or finely chopped garlic
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients, adjusting salt and pepper to taste.  This is a delicious condiment for beef, chicken, brats, and fish.

 PAN ROAST GARLIC & MICHIGAN DRIED 
 BEAN PUREE

1 lb Michigan dried beans                                
Cold water                  
¼ cup olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
Pinch crushed red pepper
½ to 1 cup chicken or veg. broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Small handful fresh parsley for garnish

Soak beans for about 15 hours in large bowl with about 8 cups cold water, draining and changing water 2 or three times.  This significantly reduces the ‘windy’ properties of the beans.  After soaking, drain and place beans in medium pot with 2 cups of cold water.  Bring to boil and reduce to a low simmer, uncovered for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to see if you need to add more water.  Meanwhile, place olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper in small sauté pan and cook over low heat about 45 minutes to an hour, or until garlic is browning and softening.  Remove from heat. 

When beans are done, add garlic and olive oil mixture, ½ cup broth, salt and pepper and either mash with potato masher or puree with immersion blender until smooth.  Add more water or broth if necessary for desired consistency.  Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.  Serve as a side dish or entrée with fresh vegetables for a vegetarian dish.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

UPCOMING APPEARANCES!!

Well - apparently Hell froze over and I have compiled a list of upcoming Great Foodini appearances!  I know it's been a long time coming so thank you for your patience!!!

Sometimes I even handle sharp objects!!!
If you'll click on the Upcoming Appearances tab above - you will get a list of upcoming appearances now through October - this includes my Foodini Friday spots on WHMI.....any television appearances.....free public events and other events that require registration - I hope that's helpful for you!!!

A few of the notable events are the.....Farm to Table classes at Howell's MainStreet Winery - they fill up fast!  Summer and Fall classes include a Dinner Party Diva class - Traveling your Tastebuds across the continent as well as my new class....Your Michigan Summer Plate and Your Michigan Fall Plate featuring the best of the best that Michigan farmers have to offer.

There's lots more - including my Farmer's Market appearances in Howell and Novi - and as always, if you have questions, feel free to email me at Reneechod@aol.com.....or just stalk me at one of these fun events!!

RED GOLD TOMATOES - APRON GIVEAWAY!

Don't forget about the Red Gold Tomatoes apron giveaway still going on!  They are giving away 1000 of their cute Red Gold aprons each week for a month - you can enter every 7 days!!!  Click here to enter


Send me a picture if you win!!!



Yep - I'm a fan!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A BERRY CLASSY TREAT!

I wish you could smell these too!  Gorgeous and delicious!
What is the only fruit that has seeds on the outside?

Well, that would be your friend and mine.....the strawberry!  Good news - the berries are here!  If you are picturing me doing the dance of joy, then you are spot on my friend!  As a matter of fact, I even had the opportunity to pick berries yesterday at Spicer's Orchards in Hartland with my friend, Barrie (yes, honest, and no pun intended....!)  And pick we did!  I have over 18 pounds or so and am looking forward to making lots of good treats with them.  Mr. W definitely wants some frozen for his smooooooooothies, lol.   He calls them protein shakes and I just go along with it, lol.   But maybe that's why he's single digit body fat and I'm not?????   Okay - make me one too honey!!!

On a nutritional note - berries are one of the best foods on the glycemic index - lots of great vitamins and minimal sugar compared to other fruits.  Perfect!!!  So, allow me to add a little somethin' somethin' to the glorious strawberry......and how about, classing it up a little???

Foodini Readers - meet.....

Tuxedo Strawberries!


All dressed up and nowhere to go?


That's what I'm talking about!  Cute little buggers eh?  Well, maybe not so little - the berries were amazing yesterday at Spicer's - nice and big and flavorful.  Sometimes the bigger strawberries (especially grocery store berries) aren't as flavorful as the smaller ones - but these were great!  Maybe size doesn't matter, snicker, snicker!



This was the treat I took into WHMI this morning for the Foodini Friday morning segment - I am telling you, those boys like their chocolate!!!  We had fun and I even had a couple of confessions to make....I have a very unique approach to picking strawberries.  To Spicer's - no plants were harmed in the picking of these berries!!!





Here's a little pictorial on how to make the Tuxedo Strawberries - be sure to read the recipe tips at the end too!

Start with a room temperature, washed and dried strawberry - I like to make sure they are very fresh so the hull stays firm when you are dipping.  Dip just one side in melted white chocolate and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Just the top side in white....















After it firms up, grasp the berry by the hull or stem, and tip in sideways to melted dark chocolate to form half of a 'V', turn and dip the other half in on an exaggerated angle to form the other side of the 'V' shape, dip the back side just slightly and tap lightly on the side of the bowl to ease off any excess chocolate - this prevents pooling on the waxed paper.  Place on cookie sheet to firm up. 



This is what the first 'V dip' looks like

When chocolate has firmed up - dip the end of a toothpick in the remaining melted chocolate and either tap one button in the middle of the white chocolate, or carefully draw and fill in a bow tie with the melted chocolate and toothpick.  I always laugh when I do this - not a good idea after multiple cups of coffee....steady hands work best!!!




or.....


Channeling my inner Jackson Pollock!


...you can just go all "Jackson Pollock" on them!!!

Either way - a fun and delicious treat.  Not too bad in the health eating department either, considering that dark chocolate is good for you....and that you are eating fresh fruits too!

RECIPE TIP:  When melting chocolate - place in a microwave safe container and microwave no more than a 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring or moving the unmelted chocolate around after each heating period.  Even though the chocolate doesn't look like it's melting, it is heating from the inside out and must be moved around or it may burn. 

RECIPE TIP:  It is important to have the strawberries cleaned, dried and at room temperature.  Chocolate is very temperamental and water, even a tiny bit from condensation, can cause the chocolate to 'seize' or firm up and granulate, rendering it unusable - Gasp!!!  I usually wash them and drain on paper towel and even tap them on a paper towel before dipping.

A quick note - I met with Sandy at the winery and we have a whole host of new and fun classes coming up - watch her website, www.howellsmainstreetwinery.com for details and I will post them here as well.  I am working on a new feature for my website - a tab that will show where my upcoming appearances will be and details.

In the meantime, check out my links to Brighton Community Education and Pinckney Community Education for my chef camps - Brighton's is the week of June 11 for elementary kids and the week of June 18 for middle school chefs.....Pinckney is a little later, the week of July 23 for both - check out their websites for details.

That's it for today!  Lots of great stuff in the works - I will keep you posted here and on Facebook!  I hope your weekend is wonderful and delicious!