Maple Garlic Pepper Rub

Maple Garlic Pepper Rub for Chicken and Pork #spicerubs

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of judging a Cooking with Maple Syrup contest at the Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY. The winning entry was a maple glazed chicken recipe that I’ll share at a future date. Today, though is all about one of the ingredients in the recipe. The recipe for the chicken called for a maple garlic black pepper rub that was bought from a farm stand. Try as I might, I couldn’t get my hands on this rub and it wasn’t available for mail order, so that left me with the option I often like to take anyway: Make It Myself. It was pretty easy, the name of the rub specified all of the ingredients so it was just a matter of sussing out ratios. I’m awfully glad I did it, because this stuff is beyond delicious on chicken and pork whether pan-fried, roasted, broiled, or grilled. There's something so perfect about the sweet and salty, peppery, garlicky rub. It delivers just enough of each of the components without being too much of any of its parts. Speaking of its parts, though, we need to talk maple sugar for a minute. It's crucial here. Have you ever had maple sugar? Maple isn't just for pancakes, friends. Maple sugar is pure maple sap that's boiled down even further than maple syrup or maple taffy and to the point where almost all of the water is evaporated from it leaving a solid sugar. Since childhood, pressed maple sugar candies have been my favourite candy in the entire world. Ah, the beauty of having grown up in maple … {Read on...}

Greek Salad Gyro Plate {restaurant diy}

Greek Gyro Salad Plate like your favourite restaurant but at home. #restaurantDIY #mediterraneanfood

Earlier last week I talked about my deep and abiding love for the gyro plate I had when I went out to lunch with my mom and sisters. You HAD to know that this was coming, right? That meal was pure perfection to my brain. It was a salad, and we ALL know how I feel about those. (See here and here for examples, if it slips your mind.) But it wasn't just a salad... it was a plate of salad bigger than my head and it was topped with fresh tomatoes, thick cucumber slices, kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a gigantic pile of crisp gyro meat and a little ramekin of Greek Dressing on the side. I was over the moon. And even though I didn't get an item that my vegetarian lunch companions wanted to sample, they were kind enough to share a couple of their dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) with me.  SCORE! Those grape leaves belonged on that salad, I tell you. So when I decided to recreate the plate at home, I knew the dolmades would be on my version. I did not make them myself, owing largely to a total lack of available ingredients and the unwillingness to source them when the nearest Wegman's sells fantastic ones from their Mediterranean Bar (read: olives and salad goodies) quite inexpensively. If you are fortunate enough to have a grandmother who makes them FOR you, or you have all the requisite items needed to make them yourself, go for it! Also, I'd like to give you my address so you and/or your grandmother can ship some to me. Thankyouverymuch. Now here's the deal. If … {Read on...}

Honey Cardamom Poached Pears

Honey Cardamom Poached Pears on Mascarpone #dessert #healthydessert

This is a reprint of my March 6th column that ran in the Traverse City Record-Eagle because this recipe was too good not to share here. I’m a little romantic about food. I’m sure that comes as a not-surprise-at-all to many of you who have been reading me for years. Food is how I show people I care. For instance, I am not now and have never been a fan of spaghetti with meat sauce. It’s just not my thang. So, when snowed in for Valentine’s Day, from the myriad options my well stocked pantry and freezer offered me –Salmon? Shrimp? Various delicious chicken, beef, or pork dishes? Check, check, check.- I opted to make a giant bubbling pot of meat sauce and an even more huge pot of spaghetti because it is one of my husband’s favourite dishes. The poor guy doesn’t get to eat it often, both because of the variety of foods I make to fulfill my duties as a recipe developer and because it is one of the few foods that makes me wrinkle my nose, but I made it exactly as he loved it that day. Loads of ground beef were browned up with garlic, onion, and various herbs and spices. Into the pot over the ground beef went a jar of the spaghetti sauce I had made from the summer’s bountiful tomatoes. Slow-simmering took place and all of this equaled one very happy husband and five very happy boys. The dish is still not my thing, but I was happy, too, because of the beaming faces at the table. Thankfully, not all of my husband’s favourite dishes are a point of divergence for us. One dish that … {Read on...}

Greek Salad Dressing

Greek Salad Dressing from #Lemon #Garlic #Oregano #OliveOil

You should know that I am incapable of resisting a salad.  This is almost entirely due to my dear, sweet mother's BIG GREEN SALAD habit. I know a lot of women blanch at the thought of becoming their mother, but this is not a concern for me. My mom is a saint. She's a nurse who cares for developmentally disabled adults and helps them find jobs. She's the most generous person I've ever met, bar none. She's hilarious. She makes great homemade pizza and lumpia and hot chocolate. She has a wicked sense of humour. She climbs trees with her grand kids. She's a phenomenal pianist. She's a writer. Oh, and she's pretty easy on the eyes, too. Well, okay. There's just this one thing... My mom wears patchouli and a lot of it. I'll give it to mom, she's consistent. She's worn it for years. In fact, I remember walking into a bank in our town and having a teller sniff a piece of currency as she lifted it from the drawer. "Oh! This one came from your mom!" she said as she handed it to me..  The town was small, but it wasn't THAT small, friends. And me? Well, let's just say it's not my favourite scent. This is one path where my mom and I will always diverge. I prefer edible scents... the ones that make you want to take a bite of something. NOW. ...Like this salad dressing. Oh MAMA, does it smell good. It ought to, though, because it's the classic Greek Salad topper combo of pure, fresh lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and olive oil with just a touch of Dijon mustard to keep it all … {Read on...}

Homemade Gyro Meat and Gyros

Homemade Gyro Meat and Gyros: just like take-out. Make a big batch and freeze it for gyros whenever you want. #greekfood #restaurantdiy

You know when you get stuck thinking about a certain food and that's all you can think about eating? For example, take gyros. I drove to the city and went out for lunch at a Mediterranean eatery with my mom, one of my sisters, and my sister-in-law a couple weeks ago. I ordered a lamb and beef gyro platter. My vegetarian mom and sister joked that I chose that so I wouldn't have to share with them, and it turned out that my meat-eating sister-in-law had given up meat for Lent, so there I sat in front of a salad the size of my torso. It was brimming with an enormous quantity of thin strips of crisped gyro meat. For one brief moment, I thought, "I will never be able to eat all of this." Then I took a bite. At that moment, gyro meat became my new obsession. I had NO problems at all finishing off the whole salad and generous portion of gyro meat. It was  crisp on the outside and full of garlic and herbs. I couldn't get it out of my head the rest of that day or any other day afterward. I kept talking about it to anyone who would listen. I mentioned it far too frequently to my husband. I certainly couldn't and wouldn't drive to the city every time I wanted one. That was out of the question. The only solution was to make it at home and make it in vast enough quantities that I could convince myself I wouldn't have to go without it ever again. The process of creating a restaurant worthy home version of this classic presented a couple of hurdles. I wanted to get that super fine, … {Read on...}