What I do: Part 1

February 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Posted in What I do: | Leave a comment

My goal for the blog was that it would allow me to cross the gap between work and play.  I illustrate a monthly chalkboard that is right there on the entryway when you walk into the deli.  I’ve done this for just over a year now, and sadly I don’t have pictures of every chalkboard.  However, I have most of them, so enjoy!

March 2009

(To commemorate my friends Jess and Jess leaving the Deli)

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

(To commemorate my friend Laura, the girl on the camel, leaving the deli)

July 2009

To celebrate the release of Ari’s Guide to Better Bacon

August 2009

A shameless plug for a tasting I hosted with Duff

September 2009

My favorite board so far

And then my computer crashed and I lost October, November, and December.  January was erased before I could document it.  Ah, the life of a chalkboard artist.

February 2010

So that’s a good look at one of the things I do at the deli.  March will celebrate our cheeses from Neil’s Yard Dairy in London, which will be shared with you just as soon as the thing gets drawn.


White Chili Recipe

February 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Cooking | Leave a comment

By popular demand, here is the white chili recipe I used for the snow day 101 post.  We couldn’t find Nic’s dad’s recipe, so we improvised using a recipe from our dearly beloved Gourmet Magazine.  It uses a stick of butter, so be forewarned, this isn’t a recipe for the faint of heart. (or weak of heart, literally)


  • 1/2 pound dried navy beans, picked over (or two cans if you want to cheat)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
  • 1T. Salt – or to taste
  • two 4-ounce cans whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped
  • 5 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds), cooked and cut into 1/2-inch pieces ( I used ground)
  • 1 bag of frozen corn (approx. two cups worth).  Or fresh corn, but that begs to ask the question – who makes chili when corn is in season?
  • Good Cheddar for grating on top
  • Accompaniment: Corn Bread or Tortilla Chips, and sliced avocado if you got it.


In a large kettle soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches overnight. Drain beans in a colander and return to kettle with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cook beans at a bare simmer until tender, about 1 hour, and drain in colander.

In a skillet cook onion, garlic, bell pepper, and all of the spices in 2 tablespoons butter over moderate heat until softened.

In a 6- to 8-quart heavy kettle melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Stir in sautéed vegetables and gradually add broth and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened.  Add beans, chilies, chicken, corn, and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Serve atop a wedge of cornbread with grated cheddar, perhaps with a few slices of avocado on top.

Snow Day 101

February 22, 2010 at 9:26 am | Posted in Cooking | Leave a comment

This morning I woke up to find nearly a foot of freshly accumulated white stuff outside my front door.  And since my boy is a teacher, and since I was sent home after a few slow hours at work – it could only mean one thing… SNOW DAY!

On the way home we picked up the ingredients to make white chili.  What with my mom being a proud Texan and all, I grew up with red chili.  But, my boy comes from humble Yankee roots, where the white chili reigns supreme.  At the very least, he grew up with his Dad’s awesome white chili, so we thought it would be a nice recipe to add to the repertoire.

(my mom gave me these beautiful mise en place bowls for Christmas)

We ground the cumin and fennel fresh, and had them ready to do their thing.

*A tip I learned from one of my friends, is to cook chili the same way you would cook a curry.  Cook the spices first!  By sauteeing your spices with the onions and butter you allow the spices to release their delicious oils!

Et voila!  White bean chili!

Once we had a pot happily bubbling on our stove, it was time to move on to the next order of snow day business.

Popcorn and a board game.  I love popcorn popped on the stove, its something my dad used to make on winter days while we watched Harrison Ford action movies.  This popcorn was an idea I stole from my friend Corinna.  It is popcorn with grated Montgomery’s Cheddar, pimenton la vera, and melted butter.  Delicious.

We are pretty big board game nerds.  The game is Agricola, you pretend to be a 17th century Italian farmer.  And for the first time, he didn’t beat me – we TIED!  HA!

And after a good game, pushing my car out of the snow, and a snowball fight – there’s no better way to wind down than with a stiff drink.

In my case:

A hot toddy for my sore throat with knob creek bourbon, meyer lemon, and buckwheat honey.  And for him:

A bottle of our last homebrew: a chocolate porter fermented with Askinoisie Cacao Nibs.  On a side note, a couple weeks ago I gave a bottle to Shawn Askinoisie while he was visiting the Z!  Have a great weekend folks!

Cheers and happy eating!


My favorite meal (when cupboards are bare).

February 19, 2010 at 2:47 am | Posted in Cooking | Leave a comment

Q: Is there anything better than fresh pasta topped with a poached egg, parmigiano reggiano, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil?

A: No.

(although Guanciale  might be a nice addition)

A week in food.

February 19, 2010 at 2:31 am | Posted in Cooking | Leave a comment

Well, this week started with Valentine’s day, so naturally, it makes a good segway into the first thing I made.

Traditionally girls get these:

but what do you get for a guy that is the sign of romance and affection?


Why yes, that is a bouquet of bacon roses.  I rolled strips of long-pepper-bacon into florets and tied them with cooking twine, then left them under the broiler till they “bloomed”.  Next step, an aluminum foil cone stuffed with paper towels made up the base of the bouquet.  I think he liked it, it was gone in five minutes.

On Tuesday I went to the ZcoB winter huddle, which always gives me the shot in the arm I need to go back to work and do great things.  I heard my friend Sarah give a wonderful presentation on her recent trip to Tunisia, and her food finds there.  (Read her blog)

On Wednesday, I made donuts with my friend Mike.  To be specific, I made meyer lemon creme fraiche donuts with my friend Mike, and we made three dozen of them.

The seasonality of citrus is one of the highlights of winter in gray Michigan.  However, it makes me wish I could have a meyer lemon tree in my backyard.

Kendall Farms Creme Fraiche is the best of the best of the best.

The batter sat for an hour to let the gluten set.  And then we got to the frying!

Mike was nice enough to come over to help, even though his fondue tasting was later that night.  But I think for most of us, cooking is a stress relief.  So we had fun.

Fried rather rustic-ally, a la caste iron skillet.  We had a really hard time maintaining a constaint oil temperature.  So the donuts were extra crispy.  Once cooled, we dipped them in a glaze made of meyer lemon zest and juice.

I wish I had a finished image of the donuts.  But at that point we were too busy eating to have time for photography.  We brought the donuts, still warm,  to our weekly finance meeting (huddle) where they were devoured on-site.

And it was good.

Hope you all have great week!

Cheers and happy eating,


So Anyways

Sitting, drinking coffee, at Intelligentsia.

February 12, 2010 at 1:16 am | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment

This morning I drove down to Chicago to visit my friends Jess and Caroline.  Caroline and I shared potstickers and thai coconut curry soup with vermicelli.  And now I’m sitting at Intelligentsia, people watching and sipping clover brewed Rwandan natural process coffee (that was gifted to me after I mentioned where I work).

I’m having one of those life lovin’ moments.

Pictures and life updates to come!

Fried Chicken

February 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Posted in Cooking | 1 Comment

Three guesses as to what I made last night!

Well, I guess the title gave it away 🙂

Growing up in a health conscious house, we never fried chicken.  Fried chicken was saved for the Colonel himself, when we were completely out of groceries.  But its one of those recipes I’ve been dying to try at least once, and so the other night… I did.

The chicken was given a 48 hour bath in buttermilk, followed by a dusting of paprika, cayenne, and sea salt, a dredge in flour, and a much hotter bath in frying oil.  The other day, Lynn Rosetto Casper told me that if you live north of the Mason Dixon, you live in “hard-flour country,” which means that your A.P. flour has less gluten, which means that its less likely to stick to the chicken once you pull it out of the fryer.

Fortunately, you can enforce the clinging power of the crispy skin (which we all know is the best part) by adding a teaspoon of corn starch to your dredging flour.

Ah, just looking at that is enough to make your heart stop.  By the way, the above picture also shows how Alton Brown wants you to drain fat off of foods – that goes for bacon, chicken, and deep fried candy bars.  The upside down cookie sheet keeps your food from resting in its own fat, resulting in a crisper end product.

When the potatoes were mashed, and the kale was braised, we sat down to eat.  And as we ate, the only audible sound was the crunch of chicken skin, because, it was just too good to waste time talking about it.

On a side note, the dark beer on the table was our second batch of home-brew.  We call it Brewgeois Cacao Porter, it’s a classic porter left to ferment with a pound of Askinoisie Cacao nibs, and one bourbon vanilla bean.

On the off-chance that any of you dear readers are running home to fry a chicken, here is the recipe that I used.

Fried Chicken

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown


  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 cups low fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Flour, for dredging
  • Vegetable shortening, for frying


Place chicken pieces into a plastic container and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Melt enough shortening (over low heat) to come just 1/8-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325 degrees F. Do not allow oil to go over 325 degrees F.

Drain chicken in a colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Put thighs in the center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan. Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 to 12 minutes per side. More importantly, the internal temperature should be right around 180 degrees. (Be careful to monitor shortening temperature every few minutes.)

Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan. Don’t drain by setting chicken directly on paper towels or brown paper bags. If you need to hold the chicken before serving, cover loosely with foil but avoid holding in a warm oven, especially if it’s a gas oven.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.