Posted: December 30, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

New Orleans, San Francisco, Chicago and New York these are the places away from home I love to visit. My next soiree is to New Orleans.

A bayou boat trip is always interesting and allows one to see exactly how vulnerable the city is to the vicissitudes of Mother Nature. The vegetation and wildlife are nothing like home and are good subjects for your camera. The boat leaves at the Mississippi River foot of Canal Street, said to be the widest street in America.

Meantime, back on terra firma, it is time to be thinking about menu selections. Who better to turn to than Emeril Legasse. The recipe I have selected for you today is not only emblematic of New Orleans but is simple and downright addictive.

Emerils Jambalaya
This serves 4. A day or so ahead, you might like to mix up the seasonings, so that step is finished before you begin the food preparation.

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 ounces chicken, diced
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3/4 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper

In a bowl combine shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well. In a large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.

Emerils ESSENCE Creole    SeasoninG
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Yields 2/3 cup.

Cooking tips: Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from stray candy bubbles. Sugar burns are painful, so take care, especially with children around. (My rule is to keep kids out of the kitchen while this is going on.) Its better to start on a moderate heat setting and raise the temperature slowly than to cook the candy too hot and too fast. If a drop lands on your arm, rinse it off at once and rub the spot with an ice cube to prevent a burn. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature as you cook.

1 1/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups pecan halves
3/4 cup pecan halves
3/4 cup light cream
2  tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 300. Place pecan halves on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast, turning once for 10 minutes.
2. Line two baking sheets with wax paper and set aside. Mix together white and brown sugar with baking soda in a medium sized saucepan.
3. Stir in light cream and place over medium to medium high heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture reaches 235 on a candy thermometer. This will take about 25 minutes.
4. Add the butter and stir until butter is fully melted.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and pecans. Stir until slightly cooled, about a minute or so.
6. Drop quickly on your prepared baking pans and allow to cool completely.
Once cool these can be stored for 3 days in an airtight container. Makes 2 dozen.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He can be reached at

Posted: December 23, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Once the relatives, grandchildren and well-wishers have disappeared, it is a great time to have friends over to celebrate the end of the season. It is time to get out the chafing dish and prepare a time-honored recipe to be enjoyed at the dining room table, on the lap or around the fire place. This will be a simple, but delicious offering your friends will savor. After the muss, rush, and fuss of the holidays, your friends will appreciate an easy afternoon to relax and commiserate.

And this is a good time to talk about what you did and didnt receive for Christmas. This is the brunch to let it all hang out. In general, this is a time to glue together important relationships and laugh and enjoy peoples company the people that are important to you.

And, is there anything more inviting than creamed chicken served over crispy oven-baked puff pastry? The only utensil needed to serve is a fork. A large scale napkin will save your carpeting and flooring, and a large container of sangria will solve the problem of how to stock the bar. Iced tea is always a welcome addition as well. Dont forget the lemon wedges and a small bowl of superfine sugar for those so inclined.

The first rule for a good bar is sparkling glassware. The second is crystal clear ice. And, finally, be sure you know the inclinations of those you invite. If sangria doesnt quite hack it, have something in the wings they will appreciate. A decent white and red wine should do it. This is a brunch, after all, and you need not feel obliged to offer a full service bar. You will know your crowd. You will do what is right.

Serve chicken a la king over baked pastry shells baked right from the freezer, following package directions. The chicken preparation, done before your guests, will be a special treat and is easy as can be.

To go about it, gather the following and have them in small containers and platters on your chafing dish table:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons chopped onion
4 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 boiled egg cut both widthwise
   and lengthwise in an egg slicer
1/4 cup chopped drained pimiento
   (2 ounce jar)
One pastry shell for each person
A suitable and interesting serving
   dish for each person.
A parsley sprig per person is a
   nice touch.

Melt butter in your chafing dish. Cook onion and mushrooms over medium low heat until onion is tender, five minutes. Add flour and salt, stirring until mixture is smooth and the wallpaper paste taste is cooked out. Gradually stir in milk and Worcestershire sauce. Continue cooking and stirring for about 3 minutes or until mixture is thick and begins to bubble; stir in chicken, boiled egg and drained chopped pimiento. Heat through and serve atop shells. Tuck in the parsley sprig and voila!

Crudits on the coffee table are all that is needed to make this luncheon complete.

Chicken a la king recipe serves 4. You can expand this according to the number on your invitation list.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: December 17, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

You have the platter of cookies.

Ideas for a morning brunch are already developed.

But is there something missing?

I think back to holidays in front of our fireplace when there were games and a lot of conversation about what we had done during the year, much of it apocryphal no one was fooled. One thing was certain, the cookies conquered. And that was aided by caldron of the very best steaming hot chocolate envisioned by man or woman this hot chocolate was not made of the powder we often see, but instead was made of stuff we only need to have once a year. After all, its the holiday season.

This hot chocolate is made in a slow cooker and can be kept hot and can be ladled out as desired. A bowl of sweetened whipped cream is nearby to be spooned on the top of each cup of hot chocolate as served.  Candy cane stirrers add to the flavor and the indelible memories you are creating. There will be visions of sugar plums dancing tonight!

Now if the adults desire to have a soupcon of Amoretto to swish in the cup before adding the whipped cream, its OK. Have that available in a discreet pitcher and labeled if your gathering is more than a few persons.

Guard this recipe. Youll come back to it, I assure you.

Holiday Hot Chocolate
2 cups whipping cream
6 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 ounces bagged chocolate kisses a variety works well white chocolate, dark chocolate, candy cane kisses

Whipped cream, sweetened with a touch of vanilla
Candy canes

1.    Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and white chocolate chips in a slow cooker.
2.    Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted. Stir again before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and candy canes, as desired.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: December 10, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Whether for the family or the office or both here are some ideas that brighten my holidays and which I received from cooks I admire.  They are easiy.  One of my friends said, Where do you get the time? 

These take almost no time and are the stuff memories are made of.

(James Beards favorite)
Buttery cookie topped with cinnamon sugar
Makes about 48
1 cup butter or shortening
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoons baking soda
cinnamon and sugar mixed to taste
    (about 1/4 cup sugar to 1/2 tablespoon
    cinnamon is a good mixture)

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix together butter and sugar until smooth, then add eggs, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Stir in flour until well mixed. Roll into balls about 1 in diameter and roll in cinnamon and sugar to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies are done when they are just barely browning.

Peanut Blossoms
(My secretarys favorite)
Peanut butter cookies topped with a Hersheys Kiss. Pure bliss!
Makes about 48
1 bag (8oz) Hersheys Kisses
1 egg
1/2 cup shortening
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
additional granulated sugar
    (red and green is pretty)

Heat oven to 375F. Remove candy wrappers.

In large bowl, beat shortening and peanut butter until well blended. Add the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and all of the brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in the additional granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately place kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down so cookie cracks around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Toffee Butter Crunch
(My mother always greeted us with this at Christmas)
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 cup coarsely chopped blanched
    almonds, toasted
4 4-1/2-ounce bars milk chocolate, melted
1 cup finely chopped blanched almonds,

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, to hard-crack stage (300 F on your candy thermometer) watch carefully after temperature reaches 280 F. Quickly stir in coarsely chopped nuts; spread in well-greased 13x9 inch pan. Cool thoroughly. Turn out on waxed paper; spread top with half the melted chocolate; sprinkle with half the finely chopped nuts. Cover with waxed paper; invert; spread again with remaining chocolate.

Sprinkle top with remaining nuts. If necessary, chill to firm chocolate. Break into pieces.

Orange Thins

(My wifes favorite)
1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup extra fine sugar
2 tsp orange zest

Preheat an oven to 375F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper

Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt into a medium bowl.

Whisk the beaten eggs, sugar, and orange zest in a bowl until very thick.  We use the whisk attachment on the stand mixer for this.

Add the contents of the medium bowl. Mix together.

Put a small walnut-size ball of batter on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Press until very flat and thin.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just golden.

Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes.

Transfer to racks and let cool completely

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He can be reached at

Posted: November 19, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Heres the rub: fresh truffle. Easier said than done, I know. But, this dish demands the real McCoy. And, fresh truffles are now shipping. You will need only one ounce. As of this writing the ounce is $125. Keep reading. It gets better. I havent even gotten to the edible gold leaf yet.

By this time, it is clear this is not a blue plate special. In fact, it is a luncheon for 4 served for a very (very) special occasion. Either the occasion is an extremely happy one, or you are making up for something terrible you have done. Either way, mission accomplished. This will do it.

Before guests arrive you will need to have a pat on hand. Your own, of course. You will need ramekins, fresh cream, fresh eggs, and, yes, those two items you have thought about hiring security guards to protect: the edible gold foil and the fresh truffle. If you have a truffle slicer handy, how impressive. Otherwise, punt and use a vegetable slicer or a mandolin. Have a pan with edges that will accommodate the ramekins filled with water up to 2/3 the height of the ramekins. Some country bread and softened butter are also mandatory.

Here is how to go about it.

The gold foil and the truffle should be ordered in time for you to have them on hand the day before your event. I will give you a couple of online ordering possibilities. The local Kroger store will not stock these, for sure.

The day or so before your luncheon, prepare the pat. I have a pat I especially like. It is relatively simple to do, lasts a long time, and will have your guests clamoring for the recipe. With the addition of the truffle, it is transformed to the ethereal. Youll see.

A word about the truffle. You can get truffles in a jar. Dont. Its like having canned green beans in lieu of the fresh ones. No real comparison. Besides, this is a big deal lunch.

Poached Eggs Perigourdine
Yield: 4 servings
Grape seed oil
8 Mushrooms, such as chanterelles and black trumpets, cleaned, sliced
2 Shallots, minced
2 sprigs of thyme
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Sea salt
Black pepper
4 Eggs
Liver pate cut into 4 slices
Black truffle, shaved
Country bread slices, toasted

1. In a large pan over high heat, warm the oil. Saut mushrooms and thyme until the mushrooms are cooked through. Let cool. In a separate pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Sweat shallots and garlic in butter for 30 seconds and then add mushrooms. Reduce heat to low; add cream. Simmer until cream is reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Divide the mushroom mixture among 4 ramekins. Crack an egg into the center of each ramekin, then place ramekins on a rimmed pan. Fill pan with water until it covers 1/2 of the sides of the ramekins. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes or until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

3. Top each ramekin with a slice of liver pate and a few shavings of truffle. Top with a leaf of gold. You dont have to be too meticulous about this: it can hang down the sides a bit. Mix extra truffle shavings with a soupcon of butter and spread on the toast. Serve the luncheon dish with the toast alongside.

A simple fresh fruit accompaniment would be perfect. Pick whatever fruit looks freshest and most colorful at your market.

Brandied Chicken Liver Pt
1/2 cup butter, divided
1 lb chicken livers
1 small sprig fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf
5 Tbsp Cognac (or other brandy)
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

1.In a large skillet over high heat, melt 2 Tbsp of butter. Add the chicken livers and herbs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are crisp outside but still a bit pink inside, about 3 minutes.
2.Remove and discard the herbs. Add a splash of brandy to deglaze the pan and transfer the livers and pan juices to the bowl of your food processor.
3.Process until smooth. Add the remaining butter and brandy and process a few seconds longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
4.Scrape into a terrine. Cover with plastic wrap and let it firm up in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Notes: You can make this a day or more ahead of your party. In that case, drizzle a thin layer of melted butter over the surface to keep it fresh. The pt should keep, covered in the refrigerator, up to a week. Allow it to return to room temperature to serve.

And for the wine?

Champagne, of course.

These are links to edible gold leaf and to fresh truffles:

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: November 12, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Dont tell me you dont have an Asphidity bag, or, perhaps, you lost it in some confrontation? Dont fear: I have a prescription for you. And, according to legend, you will be protected from myriad miasmas and humors. Just what every lawyer needs. Also, lawyer-like, I remind you I disavow any particular knowledge that gives me authority to dispense the information I am about to give. You may compose your own Asphidity bag as you prefer mind you, it may be less effective than the remedy I am about to bestow on you. Put this in your recipe box next to the card listing the ingredients for witches brew. They both work approximately the same anyway as far as I can tell.

An Asphidity bag was a folk remedy most commonly found in the Appalachian region in the 18th or 19th century.

Basically, it was a bag of pungent herbs, often including ginseng, pokeweed and yellow root. However, the exact ingredients varied by practitioner. The vapors were supposed to ward off colds or other diseases. It will also ward off enemies and friends alike no amount of Channel No. 5 will cover up its essence. If swarming yellow jackets have haunted you in the past, thats over. They will never come near you again.

The trick is to get the pokeweed just as the sun rises while the plant is covered with dew. The bag you are seeking to fill is made of muslin and, when filled, will be about the size of a silver dollar. When it starts to smell like rotten leaves, garlic, rosemary, onion and mint, you will know you have succeeded. Another sure clue is when people keep their distance.

The smallest pokeweed leaves are the ones you want.

Here is a recipe for Poke Sallit, so spelled because poke is not to be eaten in a fresh salad, but should only be eaten as the result of multiple fresh water boilings, at that time it becomes sallit, or sallet:

Pick and wash big bag of poke pickings.

Bring to a fast boil for 20 minutes.

Drain and rinse with cold water, bring to a boil again starting with clean cold water and boil again for 20 minutes.

For the third time, start again with fresh cold from the well water, and boil again for another 20 minutes.

This boils the evil out of the pokeweed and it will not poison you.

You can add bacon grease to thrice cooked poke, and you can add onions.

Eat with hot cornpone and cold butter.


May 19, 1861, p. 1, There was a time when a person asked, what in heck is asphidity? and this is what she was told:


Gather around my camp fire.... And I will take you back to the old days in West Virginia.... The days when the 8th Virginia Cavalry fought and died and were captured and put in Camp Chase Prison; and the 16th cavalry got all the way to Gettysburg; the 36th under McClausland and the 22nd Infantry under Patton lived and died and froze in the mountains. These are some of the forgotten ones.... The Confederates of Western Virginia.

These are the Home Town Boys. If any of them were still alive today, and you asked them what in gosh blazes is asphidity, they would say, It is that little bag of herbs on a string around my neck that I wear to ward off the colds and the flu.

They would know all about gensing, and yellow root and what was good for this ailment and that ailment.

They would tell you that if all else failed, My ma would put a poltice of onions on my chest and that would loosen up the membranous croop but I never could stand that blaim skunk oil.

They would also say that the best thing was the pure stuff that came from pas still, mixed with rock candy, glycerine, and balm of Gilead. (the buds from tulip poplar trees)

They would also tell you to watch that popskull. Thets thu stuff thet haint aged nuff.

They would also have said, Burn some sulphur; it will drive off the vapors..

Have I helped you all any?

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: November 5, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Ok, so this is not for the kids. In fact, it may not be for just anyone. Besides, these are not even dogs. These are, however, a culinary standout that will impress your guests. But more than that, this is a genuinely delicious preparation you will be glad to keep in your recipe files.

First and foremost there is the shrimp. One of my very favorite ingredients. And if you have a particularly special client, you can use a mixture of shrimp and lobster and scallops. The fooler here is the hot dog bun. It makes the whole thing look quite ordinary it is not, as you will see. It reminds me of the lobster rolls I saw recently in Boston at a McDonalds served on a hot dog bun. I could not grasp that I mean, lobster at McDonalds! but I ordered one anyway and was thoroughly delighted.

The filling for the hot dog bun, of course, is the trick. And do I have a special filling for you today.

I subscribe to the Petrosian newsletter. Petrosian is a purveyor of world famous caviars. I do not have a lot of occasion to order from them, but have from time to time upon a very special event my daughter's wedding, for example. So while caviar is not a staple around our house, it is always out there as a thought when something extraordinary is on the horizon. You may wish to keep it in mind as well.

Shrimp Dogs with Caviar
This is is light and easy to prepare!

Total Time: 30 minutes if you steam your own lobster, shrimp and scallops
Total Time:
5 min if you use precooked seafood
4 starters or light meals

1/2 cup Crme Frache
    (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped scallion greens
    (about 1 scallion)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound cooked lobster meat or cooked
    shrimp & cooked scallops
    (I like the bay scallops for this),
    cut into 1/3-inch pieces
    (about 2 1/2 cups) can be purchased
    already steamed at most markets.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 whole-wheat hot dog buns
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 oz of your favorite caviar
    (Petrosian advises using
     Alverta Caviar for this.)

In a bowl, stir together the Crme Frache, mayonnaise, celery, scallion and lemon juice. Fold in the lobster meat and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to use. Just before serving, open the hot dog buns and brush the inside with olive oil. Heat a grill pan over moderately high heat and grill the bread, cut side down, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Fill each with 3/4 cup of the lobster mixture, top with caviar and serve immediately.

Crme Fraiche
Plan ahead as this will take some time.

Time Required: 8-14 hours

Heres How:
1 cup whipping cream mixed with
    2 tablespoons buttermilk.

Combine well in glass jar and cover.

Let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees F.) for 8 to 24 hours, or until thickened.

Stir well and refrigerate.

Use within 10 days.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: October 29, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

I remember walking down 7th Avenue in Manhattan and seeing for the first time the Lindys cheesecake bakery. I had read about it for a long time and could not believe my eyes when it appeared on a casual walk around Times Square. This New York cheesecake is what all cheesecakes aspire to be.

As for the crust, forget the graham crackers. This is a butter, flour and citrus combination that is the quintessential encasement for its delectable contents. It is not difficult, but it does take a little time. Just plan for that.

As for a topping, one is not necessary. But I happen to know this farmer who grows ever-bearing strawberries the size of your little finger nail. Each berry exudes an intense strawberry flavor that grabs your attention instantly. A little homemade strawberry jam, mixed with a little lemon juice and butter makes the perfect glaze.

I remember being in Nice and walking along the Mediterranean. Our foursome saw this beautiful hotel overlooking the sea and thought we would try their dining room.

Hardly did we know at the time the Hotel Negresco was home to one of the more famous eateries in France. We held our collective breaths after each course. The final course featured tiny wild strawberries that exploded with flavor. These are the strawberries I have found locally that continue to amaze and astonish me.

If you, like me, make a cheesecake once every five years, this is the one. To my notion, it is the perfect cheesecake. Dont even think about caloric content. Take your respirator and nitro glycerin tablets and have at it. (Small portions are very satisfying.)

This recipe is as close to Lindys as you can find.

1 c. sifted flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. fresh grated lemon rind
1/2 c. butter, butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. vanilla

5 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 c. sugar
3 tbsp. flour
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. each orange & lemon rind
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. heavy cream

Butter the bottom and sides of 9 inch spring form pan generously. (This is one of the keys to not ending up with a cheesecake that has a split in the top the other is not to over mix the filling.)

Prepare Crust: Stir together flour, sugar and lemon rind in medium size bowl until well mixed. Make a well in the center; cut up butter into small pieces and add to well with egg yolk and vanilla. Mix with pastry blender. Form dough into ball; cover; chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press 1/3 of the dough into even layer over bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack. Press remaining dough into an even layer over side of pan to a height of 2 inches. Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees.

Prepare Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in eggs and yolks one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Mix in grated orange and lemon rinds, vanilla and heavy cream. Pour into pan. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to very slow 200 degrees; bake 1 hour more. Turn off oven; leave cake in UNOPENED oven for 1 hour. Open oven door; leave cake in oven 30 minutes more. Remove from oven to wire rack; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold.

To serve, remove cake from pan. Wash and hull 1 1/2 pints of strawberries. Arrange strawberries, stem-side down, over top of cake. Using 1/2 cup strawberry jelly, 2 tablespoons of butter and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice for a glaze heat the jelly mixture, stirring constantly, in a small saucepan over low heat, until melted. Brush the glaze over strawberries. If you are fortunate to find the small strawberries, use a small artists brush to coat the strawberries one whose bristles will not come out to nestle on the top of your cheesecake.

Makes 12 generous servings.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: October 22, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Fall presents one of Michigans many opportunities for a glorious setting right in your own dining room. The colors, the bounty of pumpkins, apples, squash and root vegetables come to life on the harvest table a great time to entertain following a sporting event or why not on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. And, you can make perfect use of what Michigans agriculture and orchards plentifully supply. All you need to pull it off are simple recipes and a short list of interesting guests that you may not have seen in a while and want to visit with.

To set the tone, you may wish to have a brimming bowl of warm cider to greet your guests. A small pitcher of dark rum alongside will be greeted with enthusiasm by some of your guests as well. The warm cider as it is mulled on the stove will permeate your house and create a convivial and welcoming atmosphere.

As I pass farm stands this time of year, my focus turns to the array of small pumpkins and apples. The pumpkins make interesting and creative bowls for your first course soup. I like to have the soup warming on the back burner of the stove on very low temperature to be sure it is pleasantly hot when served but yet doesnt scorch or burn.

A luxury of this outstanding fall menu is the risotto.

This is the recipe for today.

It is a luxury because it is not often served because of the time and care it takes to prepare. For this you need an additional pair of hands that will not be permitted to leave the stove. The risotto requires full time attention. This allows you to appoint one of your guests to be the stove guy and depending on the size of your group and the size of your kitchen you may all gather around with cider in hand while the meal is being developed. Youll find your guests will love to be part of the action. An alternative, if you are in a small space or have a bigger crowd, is to get a neighbor or friend not on this particular guest list to assist.

This creamy risotto is worth the effort. Your guests will love it. Guaranteed.

The entre here will be prepared in your oven. The rest of the stove is occupied. And the assurance of a perfect outcome is dependent on your meat thermometer. The roast pork needs to be perfectly done and presented while warm and full of juices.

The warm apple dessert will be devoured with gusto, if your friends are anything like mine and it is the perfect conclusion to a beautiful fall or early winter evening with friends.

This week we will deal solely with this classy version of risotto.

Butternut Squash Risotto with
Wilted Spinach and Toasted Pine Nuts

This will make a lot of risotto. You could probably comfortably serve this to eight people as a side dish.

2 tablespoons plus one tablespoon olive oil
1 butternut squash (medium, about 2 pounds),
   peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved),
   and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, about 3-1/2 cups
   (save the excess)
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
4 ounces baby spinach, stems trimmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small onions , chopped very fine
   (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed
   through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 cups Arborio rice
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1-1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
   (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cup pine nuts , toasted in small, dry skillet
  over medium heat until golden and fragrant,
  about 5 minutes

Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add about 3-1/2 cups squash in even layer and cook without stirring until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer squash to bowl and set aside.

Return skillet to medium heat; add reserved squash fibers and seeds and any excess diced squash. Cook, stirring frequently to break up fibers, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large saucepan and add chicken broth and water; cover saucepan and bring mixture to simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain bare simmer.

While broth mixture is simmering, add 1 teaspoon olive oil to now-empty skillet and swirl to coat. Add 4 ounces baby spinach and cook, covered, over medium heat, until leaves begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until fully wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer spinach to mesh strainer; set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add onions, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain hot broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth hot.

When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth and half of reserved squash to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.

Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, Parmesan, sage, and nutmeg; gently fold in spinach and remaining cooked squash. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto. Top individual servings of risotto with toasted pine nuts; serve immediately.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He can be reached at

Posted: October 15, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

How often have you wished for a fine recipe for delicious crab cakes? I like a recipe that is full of crab and just enough filler to hold them together. When traveling with judicial friends from all over, I have discovered they are very choosey about crab and not reluctant to toss any barbs about crab cakes that do not meet their expectations.

I was more than a little apprehensive to include these on a menu I had planned for a group of these judges for a dinner at our house following a judicial gathering. I decided to move forward in small steps. I made these in appetizer-sized patties and served them on small warmed plates as guests gathered. These were followed by a chilled soup, very easy to do ahead, and a beef burgundy over toast points. A green salad worked nicely with the dinner.

For dessert, I could not resist pate a choux filled with ice cream and topped with Sanders Hot Fudge Sauce. Any time I am in doubt about dessert, I always turn to ice cream. Like Sara Lee, no one doesnt like ice cream. (Know in advance if you have a lactose intolerant guest on your list and make the appropriate substitutions for that guest.)

Heres how to go about making the crab cakes. (This is from a local club book I discovered some years ago in a Maryland bookstore. It will not let you down.)

First, of course, is the crab. If you are lucky enough to live near a fish market, fresh lump crab meat, though expensive, is the best. The frozen crab meat is surprisingly good as well and works perfectly. The lemon mayonnaise really highlights the dish and adds just the right touch.

The bread crumbs. Be finicky about these. The best bread to use is Pepperidge Farm thinly sliced white sandwich bread with crusts removed. The food processor will reduce these to minute crumbs for mixing with the crab cake ingredients.

The order of business is to start with the Lemon Mayonnaise. A simple thing to do. Start with a jar of Hellmanns. Mix 1/2 cup with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (a good use for your microplane;) 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and a pinch of red pepper. Put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

The crab cakes:
2 cups or 2 packages frozen
    and thawed, crabmeat
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Hellmanns mayonnaise
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 minced clove of garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground
    black pepper
Pinch of red pepper and pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

To make the crab cakes:
Flake the crabmeat finely and drain in a sieve, squeezing crabmeat firmly to remove as much liquid as possible.

In a medium bowl, stir together crabmeat, _ cup breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, egg, chives, garlic, lemon zest, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, red pepper, and salt until well combined. The mixture will be moist.

For the mixture into balls the size of large marbles, press with your hands into small patties and then coat on all sides with remaining bread crumbs. Arrange in single layer on a plate and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Fry the crab cakes for 5 minutes turning once. They should be well browned and heated through. Add more vegetable oil as necessary as you continue.

For the plates, I like to warm these in the oven, wrap them in a towel and place in an insulated bag such as sold in the grocery store to keep frozen foods frozen until you get home. This works well to keep warm things warm as well. How does it tell the difference? (Could not resist that old line.)

When topped with the mayonnaise, and served on warm plates with forks and napkins, you will have presented a delightful start to your dinner party. Even the crabbiest of the judges present thought these were outstanding!

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: October 8, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Annually a group of our close friends gathers for dinner. This has been going on for nearly 25 years. This year was our turn to host. We go to one anothers houses on a rotating basis. One of our members is in charge of the bar and the host is in charge of the menu, table decor, and cooking.

We have not had an Asian theme before. This year the menu was called a Taste of the Far East. Kimonos and lampshade-looking hats were in evidence and the full bar featured the Polynesian staple, Navy Grog, as well as the more traditional beverages. Red and white wines were paired with the courses and warm sake was served.

A welcoming table was set up on the patio featuring a Japanese Hot Pot with Tender Spring Vegetables and Sliced Pork Loin with Moo Shu pancakes and Hoisin Sauce. It was a perfect evening and guests enjoyed seeing each other after a time away from one another.

Once inside, we sat to a table lined with orchids, votives in ancient Chinese-ware and glasses to accommodate each of the wines being offered. The most spectacular course was the first one. One of our guests is an expert craftsman and to mirror the idea of a Bento Box filled with delicious treats prepared a Chinese Pagoda from balsa and paper. This took untold hours and was spectacular. The three floors of the pagoda were filled, in order, with miniature spring rolls, crab Rangoon, and tiny barbequed spareribs. Sauces alongside were hot mustard and spicy chili sauce. This was a knockout course.

The rest of the menu unfolded as follows:
Handmade Pot stickers served with dipping sauces
Wok Seared Lettuce with Szechwan-style Shrimp
Ponzu Braised Duck Leg garnished with won ton crisps and scallions
Soup of duck egg threads with baby pea shoots
Steamed citrus salmon atop spinach Goma-Ae with radish chive salad
Tea smoked sirloin with spicy shitake mushrooms
Green tea ice cream and ginger lemongrass custard with fortune cookie

The fortune cookies at the conclusion of the dinner were a big hit. Each fortune was prepared to match some idiosyncrasy of a particular guest. They were on the dessert plates in random order and guests were instructed not to open them until the desserts were finished and then to wait until it was their turn. One at a time the fortunes were opened and read guests had to guess which fortune belonged to which guest. There was much screaming and no ambivalence about which fortune belonged to which person.

We then repaired to the Chinese lantern-draped lawn to have a cup of tea and to reminisce about our years of friendship. It was very pleasant, indeed.

How To Make Your Own Fortune Cookies
This fortune cookie recipe makes about 10 cookies.
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons water

1. Write fortunes on pieces of paper that are 3 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 9-X-13 inch baking sheets.

2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg white, vanilla extract, almond extract and vegetable oil until frothy, but not stiff.

3. Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar into a separate bowl. Stir the water into the flour mixture.

4. Add the flour into the egg white mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter. The batter should not be runny, but should drop easily off a wooden spoon.

5. Place level tablespoons of batter onto the cookie sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart.

6. Bake until the outer 1/2-inch of each cookie turns golden brown and they are easy to remove from the baking sheet with a spatula (14 - 15 minutes).

7. Working quickly, remove the cookie with a spatula and flip it over in your hand. Place a fortune in the middle of a cookie. To form the fortune cookie shape, fold the cookie in half, then gently pull the edges downward over the edge of a muffin tin. Place the finished cookie in the cup of the muffin tin so that it keeps its shape. Continue with the rest of the cookies.

These will keep, once cooled, in an airtight container for days.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He can be reached at

Posted: October 1, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

There is something about fire! It fascinates and mesmerizes.

Back when I was living at home in a very small town, when a siren was heard everyone I knew would rush to the telephone to call central to find out where the fire was.

And many would go to the site to see what was happening. My dad, a volunteer firefighter, was not entirely pleased with the phenomenon. It tended to impede the work of the firefighters but certainly there was nothing malicious intended. It was just that the fire itself caused people to stare in wonder or to gawk, as he would say. But there were benefits. If a house or barn were destroyed neighbors and fire watchers were quick to assist.

I am reminded of all this as I ignite Cherries Jubilee at the dining room table. It causes the same sense of wonder and awe. But, unlike small town fires, at the conclusion, if done properly, there is no damage with the possible exception to your diet.

But there are secrets to success. At first, you may not feel inclined to perform in front of your guests. However, the showmanship is very much a part of a flaming dessert.

And it is a part of the dessert your guests will enjoy most of all. A fiery pan and a chef spooning flames over a chilled dessert will cause oohs and aahs from all but the most jaded of guests. Use a serving dish that can tolerate the flames.

I like to have a tableside stand on which to place the heat source. You want something that can heat up what is in your pan. There are very clever sterno type devices available with adjustable flames.

Years ago, when I was teaching at a cooking school in Ann Arbor, I purchased a French copper rechaud. Its heat source is denatured alcohol. I bought it for a price I thought was crazy at the time, some $150 at the discount I was given. Just for kicks, I looked it up as I was writing this. It is now $500.

However, a presentable pan and an intense, adjustable heat source are all you need to make this a beautiful presentation.

Most recipes will call for brandy. You need something in addition to that.

Standing in front of a dining room of expectant guests with the lights dimmed - waiting for a wonderful flame can be embarrassing if nothing happens. The trick here is to use 151 proof rum, poured from a small pitcher and not from the bottle to avoid the Molotov cocktail effect. About half a cup is plenty. It is your fire insurance! Watch your eyebrows and the dining room curtains! This baby will flame. I like to keep a dampened towel in a plastic bag and a fire extinguisher within reach and out of sight. I have never been called upon to use them but stranger things have happened.

1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 pound Bing or other dark,
   sweet cherries, rinsed and pitted
   (or use frozen pitted cherries)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon cherry extract
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup 151 proof rum
3 cups vanilla ice cream, slightly
   softened, in fireproof bowls

Advance preparation:

Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a wide saucepan. Stir in the water and orange juice; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking until thickened. Stir in the cherries and orange zest, return to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the cherries from the heat. Reserve cherries at room temperature until time to prepare the dessert at the table. Place rum, brandy and cherry extract in a small pitcher and put at the tableside stand.

At the table:
Place the Cherries Jubilee mixture over the flame source. When it bubbles, stir in the cherry extract,brandy and rum, wait a moment and ignite with a long lighter. It is likely you will not even need the lighter. Tilting the pan toward the flame will usually result in instant combustion.

After a minute or so, scoop the cherries, blue flame and all, over ice cream.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: September 24, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

It may be time to put some oomph in your tailgate party. Fiery Oomph!

Many tailgaters are restricted in their ingenuity by their lack of the right stuff stuff, in this case, is a portable, inexpensive butane stovetop burner and a wok. The very thought of this at a tailgate immediately raises issues of safety. You will not actually want to put this on your vehicles tailgate unless you wish to create an explosion.

Besides, you dont have enough insurance.

What you want in addition to the burner (you can get one of these for under $20 at is a sturdy table, an area where people wont be brushing by, and a fire extinguisher (always when there is fire involved in cooking) and a good recipe. You can get the burner, the table, the fire extinguisher and the location Ill provide the recipe.

On a brisk fall day, something toasty has glamour and strong appeal. In this case, we are combining Asian, Greek and Italian influences to come up with a delectable appetizer your guests will love and remember. Cleanup is a cinch as well so you can get to the stadium in time to see the bands pre-game show.

And if this is one of those nonpareil tailgate parties, an advance arrangement with the bandmaster to make a contribution to the band scholarship fund will often be enough for him to send some outstanding band members to entertain your guests with the fight song! Be prepared for the other tailgaters to gather around and have sufficient guards around your fiery table so there are no mishaps.

Wok-Fried Mozzarella Sticks With Dipping Sauce

For the Sauce:
1 pound ripe tomatoes,
   seeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
1 leafy sprig basil

For the Mozzarella:
1 pound cheese curd
   (available at many cheese shops
     and Italian specialty stores)
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 cups oil for frying,
   including about 1/2 cup olive oil.

In advance:
1. Pass tomatoes through the grater disc of a food processor. Stir in salt, olive oil, black pepper and basil. Set aside.
2. Cut cheese curd into very small pieces and place in shallow, wide heatproof dish a couple inches deep, like a roasting pan.
3. In large pot over high heat, bring 2 quarts water to 185 to 190 degrees. Stir in kosher salt, then pour over curds. Let curds sit, undisturbed, for a full minute.
4. Press curds into corner of the pan with spoon or spatula and gently pack together. In three to four minutes, they will form a mass. The moment that happens, pour water from pan and knead cheese like bread dough until smooth and lump-free. (At this point, if not continuing with recipe, the cheese can be twisted into balls, plunged into cold water or milk to set the shape, and eaten as fresh mozzarella.)
5. Press cheese into a loaf pan and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, to set it. Meanwhile, set up station to bread the mozzarella: a shallow dish of flour, a shallow dish of beaten eggs and a shallow dish of bread crumbs.
6. Move mozzarella to cutting board and trim into batons about 3 inches long and an inch thick. Roll in flour and then egg, flour and then egg again, and heap on the bread crumbs. Refrigerate.

At the tailgate party:
7. Heat oil in a wok on stove over high heat. At 375 degrees, use a slotted spoon to lower mozzarella sticks into oil one at a time. Fry for a minute or less just until golden brown. Drain on rack; blot dry. Serve mozzarella sticks with sauce on the side.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: September 17, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

As a kid, Sunday at Grandmothers was always something to look forward to. The biggest treat was to get there before the chicken was killed. Watching her wring its head off and hang it from the clothesline to flap and bleed was something to put Vincent Price in a trance. We loved it.


When Grandmother traveled, she always brought things home for her yard. Things that caused my mothers eyes to roll. Gazing balls, fascinating windmills that caused the mechanical man to chop wood, and various bird baths and other paraphernalia.

Sunday dinner was always the same. That was not a bad thing. In fact, it was a very good thing. She made fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and green beans.

There was always apple pie with homemade vanilla ice cream. And, after dinner, my brother and I always got a haircut. We had to pay her with a kiss (which we hated.)

There were two horseshoe pits. My dad and Uncle Vernon would pitch horseshoes. The kids were admonished not to come near. Good thing. These guys were not what you might call dead eyes.

In the midst of all this there were the deviled eggs. I loved those almost as much as the chicken.

I was recently reading how to properly serve deviled eggs. Place them on a circular plate and in the center place condiments in silver bowls with tiny silver spoons. For the condiments choose caviar, finely diced red onion and capers. My grandmother would have choked. Deviled eggs are deviled eggs. Forget the nonsense.

Here was her favorite recipe, although I never saw her actually follow it.

Deviled Eggs
1 dozen large eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Sweet paprika for garnish

1.    In a medium saucepan, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a rolling boil. Cover, remove from the heat and let stand for 12 minutes.
2.    Immediately drain the eggs and gently shake the pan to lightly crack the shells. Fill the pan with cold water and shake lightly to loosen the eggshells. Let stand until the eggs are cool.
3.    Drain and peel the eggs; pat dry. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully transfer the yolks to a mini processor. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon and yellow mustards and Worcestershire sauce and pulse until smooth and creamy; season with salt.
4.    Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (not my grandmother) or a teaspoon fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture. Arrange the eggs on a platter, sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Make ahead.

The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

The kids will love you!

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: September 10, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Every once in a while I get a deep yearning for things from the sea. I don't quite know how I developed this trait, coming from central Indiana, but, nevertheless, I have it.

And this offering is one of most satisfying I know. It takes a little time. The stock is the key. The time you spend with this ingredient is time well spent. It makes all the difference.

Prepare the stock the day before you plan to serve the soup. Refrigerate it, covered. Bring to room temperature and thoroughly cook it before you proceed with the recipe.

There will be fewer frayed nerves and you will need to use much less Fabreze around the house before your guests arrive. Candles, too, help.

This recipe, I must say, will start your dinner with flair and if you have some flat bread to accompany it together with an herb butter, it will ensure your dinner is a standout.

Mediterranean Seafood Bisque
3 slices of bacon, roughly chopped (can substitute olive oil or butter, 3 tbsp)
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
Zest of 1 orange
A pinch of cayenne
A large pinch of saffron
1 quart of shellfish stock (Keep in mind - the quality of the stock is the key to the quality of your soup. Do this well and your bisque will be superb.)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste

1. Cook the bacon on medium heat in a 6 to 8 quart pot until it is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon. Set aside on a paper towel to use for garnish later.

2. Increase the heat to medium high and add the onions, celery and carrot. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are translucent. Do not brown. Sprinkle some salt over everything as it cooks.

3. Add the tomatoes and the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

4. Add the orange zest, cayenne and saffron, then pour in the shellfish stock or whatever stock you are using. In a pinch you could even use chicken or vegetable stock, but the flavor of the soup will be different. Simmer this gently - do not let it get to a rolling boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Get another pot ready. Fill a blender half-way with the soup and blend it on high for 1 minute, or until it is well pured. Work in batches to pure the rest of the soup.

Pour the pured soup into the clean pot.

6. Put the soup on medium-low heat and add the cream. Stir well and taste for salt, adding if needed. Do not let this boil! Or it might break.

Serve garnished with bacon bits or dill fronds, and alongside your flat bread. A dry rose or red wine would go well with this; I'd suggest a Beaujolais or a pinot noir.
Serves 4-6.

Shellfish Stock
1 pound each crab, shrimp and crawfish shells (Your fish market is the best source for these and they are inexpensive.)
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves
4 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
6 whole black peppercorns
1 lemon, sliced
1 gallon cold water
3 cups dry white wine or French vermouth

Ask your seafood supplier to reserve 3 pounds of shellfish shells.

Combine all ingredients in a 2-gallon stockpot.

Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook 45 minutes.

During the cooking process, skim off all impurities that rise to surface. Add water if necessary to retain volume. Strain stock through cheesecloth or a fine sieve. (I use a chinoise, one of my favorite kitchen utensils) Return stock to simmer and reduce to 2 quarts. Freeze what you do not use for the soup. Better too much than not enough.

This sounds like a lot to go through. It is, actually. Your guests will detect the care and time you have put into this because the taste justifies what you have done. Like downtown. It is truly wonderful.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He can be reached at

Posted: September 3, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Scampi is the base for this sumptuous and unusual dinner party entree. In Italy, the word scampi is used to refer to a specific kind of seafood known elsewhere as the langoustine. A scampi or a langoustine is a rather large crustacean that resembles a small lobster. In America, scampi often refers to a style of cooking that uses garlic and white wine. Just about anything you can think of that would taste good with garlic and white wine can be made in the scampi style, although usually when you see the term on a menu it means that a shrimp scampi recipe is what is in mind. When you are preparing your shrimp scampi, use the largest shrimp you can find. They may be expensive, but since this, after all, is a shrimp scampi recipe you will not regret using the largest shrimp around. The freezer section of the supermarket is not the best place to search. The largest shrimp there are generally not large enough. Your fish market is the place to turn for these.

Have on hand mussels, lump crab meat, clams and lobster claw meat in the goblets on which your shrimp is decoratively displayed. Use your butter warmers to prepare the dipping sauce and some cocktail forks to serve. Keep extra sauce warm to refill the butter warmers as needed. If you have small tongs at each place setting to retrieve the clams to add to the butter sauce, so much the better. This is perfect for a sit down dinner and will bring rave reviews. Plenty of napkins is the rule. Rice is a natural accompaniment and tiny new peas are very welcome here. I like an artichoke salad with this and cherry pie for the conclusion is just the right touch.

Shrimp Scampi Recipe
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 of a red onion, diced finely
6 cloves of garlic minced or passed through your garlic press
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
20 of the largest shrimp you can find, cleaned and deveined 2 clams per person
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of dry white wine
Juice of a large lemon
1/2 a bunch of parsley chopped fine

1. Using a large skillet over medium heat, melt half the butter with half the oil.
2. Saut the onions and red pepper flakes until the onions become translucent.
3.Add the garlic and saut until it becomes fragrant.
4.Salt and pepper the shrimp and add them to the pan.
5.Saut the shrimp for two minutes then remove them from the pan.
6.Place them on a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.
7.Add the wine and lemon juice and bring the liquid to a boil.
8.Add the rest of the butter and oil.
9.Once the butter has melted, put the shrimp back into the pan with the clams.
10.Add the parsley.
11.Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if needed.
12.Place the shrimp on the rim of your largest goblets filled with the remainder of the shellfish. Add the clams to the goblet when they open.
13.Fill the butter warmers with the butter mixture and light the candles beneath the warmers.
14.Have some fresh Italian bread with a slab of butter alongside. If you prefer, you could use an olive oil dipping sauce instead of the butter.

Insalata Di Carciofi (Artichoke Salad)
Clean the artichokes, removing all outer leaves until you have only the tender hearts. Put these in water with fresh lemon juice so the leaves do not turn brown.

In a bowl, toss a handful of baby lettuce with salt and pepper and lemon dressing (recipe below). Arrange the lettuce on the center of salad plate.

Slice the artichoke hearts julienne style (very thin). Toss the artichoke pieces, arugula and Parmigiano cheese shavings with lemon dressing, salt and pepper. Put this on top of the baby lettuce and top off with a few more Parmigiano cheese shavings. Your vegetable peeler works nicely for this task.

Lemon dressing
Ingredients: (multiply by number of guests this serves one person)
3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 tsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper
Preparation: Combine all ingredients. Mix well.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He can be reached at

Posted: August 30, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Ready for a sumptuous brunch?

This delicious preparation includes sausage but depending on your crowd you could easily use lump crab meat instead. It looks spectacular on the plate and the Gruyere cheese adds a richness and depth of flavor your guests will love. The hot buttered biscuits alongside are irresistible fresh fruit is all you need to go along with this. 

Well, maybe a little local honey to add to the buttery biscuits why not?

First make the bchamel. Next convert the bchamel to a Mornay sauce. Then proceed to the baked omelet. I give you the omelet instructions first.

Serves 4.
1 tablespoon olive oil to brush on
  the jelly roll pan you have selected
1 cup milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  (spooned and leveled)
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Coarse salt (if you can find the flaky Maldon
  salt mined in England, you wont be sorry)
  and freshly ground pepper
2 packages frozen chopped spinach,
  thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (6 ounces)
1 small can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  thoroughly, patted dry and sprinkled very,
  very lightly with salt and pepper
1 package sausage, cooked through, drained
  and patted dry with paper toweling    

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet or jelly-roll pan with oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the two shorter sides. Brush parchment with oil.

In a bowl, whisk together milk and flour. Add eggs, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper; whisk to combine. Pour into pan. Sprinkle spinach over top in an even layer.

Bake until edges of omelet are set, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with Gruyere cheese, tomatoes and sausage; bake until cheese has melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Beginning at one shorter end, lift parchment, and roll up omelet tightly, peeling back parchment as you go. Slice and serve. Top slices with Mornay sauce. Serve with biscuits and butter.

Bchamel Sauce
5 cups whole milk
6 Tbsp clarified butter (or 3/4 stick
  unsalted butter)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 onion, peeled
1 whole clove
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let it boil. Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the clarified butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy. Dont let it turn brown, though thatll affect the flavor.

With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-colored paste. This paste is the roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.

Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure its free of lumps.

Now stick the pointed end of the clove into the onion and drop into the sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20 percent, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesnt scorch at the bottom of the pan.

The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If its too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until its just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and discard it now. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.

Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Be particularly careful with the white pepper and the nutmeg, if youre using it. A little bit goes a long way!

Keep the bchamel covered until youre ready to use it.

Makes about 1 quart of bchamel sauce.

Mornay Sauce
The Mornay Sauce is a classic cheese sauce made by enriching a standard Bchamel sauce with Gruyere and Parmesan cheese.

1 quart Bchamel sauce
4 oz. grated Gruyre cheese
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup whole milk, hot

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Bchamel to a simmer.

Add the Gruyre and Parmesan cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted.

Remove from heat, stir in the butter and adjust consistency with the hot milk if necessary. Serve right away.

Judge John Kirkendall can be reached at

Posted: August 20, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Are you in the mood for a terrific New York Strip Stea?. Im not talking about a slender slice of beef here. Were looking at a very thick steak that will be started on the stove and end up in the oven and will come out just the way you want it: juicy, medium rare and full of flavor. And, what makes it particularly appealing is the coffee coating. Believe it or not!

And what better accompaniment to the steak than our summery tomato, avocado and onion salad. You have a winner here!

Throw in freshly harvested sweet corn on the cob and you have a feast.

As for the coffee, select a medium roast. Anything finer will likely burn and anything coarser may be a little crunchy. The original recipe from Guy Fieri from whom I have freely borrowed this recipe calls for Italian Roast.

I noticed the version he prepared on television differed from his written version as well. On TV he added honey to the stout sauce instead of brown sugar. If you would like to add honey to the stout instead of the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, have at it. I prefer the molasses influence of the brown sugar myself.

Coffee Coated Strip Steaks
1/2 cup medium grind Italian Roast coffee
1/2 cup black peppercorns, freshly cracked
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated garlic
11/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
11/2 tablespoons paprika
4 (1 1/2 to 2-inch) thick New York strip steaks
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 ounces stout
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine coffee, peppercorns, 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, garlic, cayenne pepper and paprika in a small bowl. Press firmly onto steaks. Let steaks rest, covered, for 30 minutes at room temperature.

To cook, heat oil in a large saut pan over medium heat until hot. Add steaks and sear 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan. Use 2 pans if needed.

Remove steaks to a baking dish, or just place your ovenproof skillet in the oven and finish cooking until desired doneness. The pros test for doneness by pressing the meat for resilience. You may wish to use a meat thermometer until you get the hang of that. Medium rare 130 F core temperature the steak will have a fully red, warm center. This is the standard degree of cooking at most steakhouses, Remove to a cutting board or platter and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, bring stout to a simmer in a small saucepan and reduce by about 1/3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. After steaks have rested, pour any juices from the cutting board into the sauce, and serve with steaks.

Tomato, Onion, Avocado Salad
4 fresh large tomatoes, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, so you can read a newspaper through the slices, if anyone takes a newspaper any more
2 avocados, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Red wine vinegar (a good, strong red wine vinegar)
Extra virgin olive oil (the best quality)
    Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place a layer of sliced tomatoes on a large serving platter. Arrange the slices of red onions and the chunks of avocado over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with parsley, garlic, and oregano. Drizzle red wine vinegar and olive oil over the platter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Do not refrigerate. This is a last minute preparation so prepare just before you plan to serve. Luckily it is simple to do. Just have all the components at hand and you can put it together in a flash while the steak is resting. Not all kitchen preparations are do-ahead. This is one of those. Your guests will appreciate the freshness and what a wonderful use of the seasons tomatoes!

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He can be reached at

Posted: August 13, 2010 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Summer is time to refashion our notion of how to serve soup. In spite of all the patio ware, I still prefer to use glass goblets outside. There is just something about them that seems, well, classy, to me, at least. And the ones I use for soups are the dollar variety stemware that can handle being frosted in the freezer after running them under cold water for a couple of seconds. Once you bring them from the freezer they develop a pleasing frostiness and if carefully handled by the stem you will not leave fingerprints. Just scoop in your soup and serve.

A delicious wintertime soup is the Greek offering, Avgolemono. It is easily transformed into a summer specialty by   simply cooling and refrigerating. Your blender or food processor will make sure it is a good consistency for consuming without a spoon and it is wonderfully delicious for patio dining in the summer. And for the kids at the party, frost up some ceramic mugs that will be easier for them to deal with. A snip of fresh dill on the top is all it takes.

Chilled and Dilled Avgolemono Soup

Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active time: 45 min
Total time: 1 1/4 hr
In the Greek soup known as avgolemono (ahv-go-LEH-mo-no) humble ingredients-chicken broth, lemon juice, eggs, a small amount of rice are all there is to it.

4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup medium-or long-grain
   white rice
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 scallion green, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped dill

Simmer stock and rice in a heavy medium saucepan, covered, until rice is very tender, about 30 minutes. Pure mixture in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids). Whisk eggs together in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot stock mixture. Return to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until soup registers 170F on an instant-read thermometer.

Strain soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in lemon juice, then quick-chill in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until cold. Stir in scallion, dill, and salt and pepper to taste.

This soup can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.

Julia Childs potato and leek soup Vichyssoise

Yield: 6-8 servings, about 2 1/2 quarts
Here is the mother of the family in all her simplicity. Youll note theres no chicken stock here, just water, leeks, potatoes, and salt in the soup base. However, you may include chicken stock if you wish, and you may certainly include milk. A bit of cream at the end is a nourishing touch, but by no means necessary. Julia Child from The Way to Cook , Alfred A. Knopf.

Note: If you are not pureing the soup, cut the vegetables rather neatly.

4 cups sliced leeks, white part only
4 cups diced potatoes, old or
   baking potatoes recommended
6 to 7 cups water
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/2 cup or more sour cream, heavy
   cream, or crme frache, optional
1 Tablespoon fresh chives or parsley,
Special Equipment Suggested: A heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan with cover

Simmering the soup. Bring the leeks, potatoes and water to the boil in the saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Pure the soup if you wish. Taste, and correct seasoning. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. Taste carefully again, and correct the seasoning. Top each serving with a sprinkle of chives or parsley.

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at

Posted: August 6, 2010 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Summertime is the perfect time to see friends in an environment you and your friends will both enjoy the waters edge the perfect setting. Whether by a pool, a lake or river, Michigan waters somehow go with summer. And the appetizers I will give you go with water, summer and relaxation. The buttery puff pastry gives the healthy spinach a great spin and the venerable radish presentation is a perfect accompaniment to summertime drinks. And I could not resist giving you this seafood mold it always brings raves. And it is a do-ahead recipe.


Spinach and Cheese in Puff Pastry
1 sheet of puff pastry (You can find these in the freezer section of the market.)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese
   or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 green onion, chopped
   (about 2 tablespoons)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 package (about 10 ounces)
   frozen chopped spinach, thawed
   and well drained

Heat the oven to 400F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.

Stir the Muenster cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic powder in a medium bowl.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture. Top with the cheese mixture and spinach. Starting with a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into 20 (1/2-inch) slices. Place the slices, cut-side down, onto baking sheets. Brush the slices with the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Tip: Make sure to remove as much liquid as you can from the spinach before adding it to the pastry. If its too wet, it may make the pastry soggy.

Radish Circles
This is a favorite appetizer that has appeared on European menus for decades. Four ordinary ingredients bread, butter, salt, and radishes become a gourmet delight when they are eaten together. This is quite possibly the perfect reward, along with a glass of wine, for yourself and guests.

This sounds too simple to be worthwhile. Trust me. It has withstood generations of waters edge enthusiasts and it has risen to the top of the list of favorites. And, as the host, you will love its simplicity (and the compliments to follow!).

This will take approximately a dozen small, firm, fresh, local radishes
8 slices best-quality dark or white
   bread, crusts removed and cut into
   circles the size of the radish slices.
1/2 cup unsalted butter,
   room temperature

Fleur de sel, coarse salt, gray salt or sea salt
(Makes 32 appetizers)

Spread the bread circles generously with softened butter. Top with thin slices of radish. Sprinkle with salt. Thats all there is to it. This is a European favorite and no wonder!

Seafood Mold
1 pound of mixed seafood:
   crab, shrimp and lobster pieces
1 pkg. cream cheese
1 can tomato soup
1 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. water
1 bunch green onion
1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
Garlic powder and cayenne pepper to
   taste (I like to use 1/8 teaspoon
   of each.)
1 flexible mold (These relatively new
   style molds are perfect for this
  appetizer. A traditional bundt mold is
  more difficult to work with.)

Melt cream cheese and tomato soup together in a saucepan. Food process green onion or chop finely.

Dry seafood well.

Mix water and gelatin together. Combine all ingredients.

Put in a flexible mold and refrigerate overnight. To remove mixture from mold, dip into a little hot water.

Place the seafood presentation on a platter surrounded with an assortment of sturdy crackers. And remember the knife to spread the seafood mixture on the crackers.
Arm yourself for the compliments!

Judge John Kirkendall is a retired Washtenaw County Probate judge. He can be reached at

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