Posted: February 25, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

I have a treat for you today. It is an appetizer I can hardly resist. It contains some of my very favorite things, can be done in advance and makes a splashing display on your appetizer table the colors, the aromas and the presentation all combine to make this one of those perfect offerings when you are called upon to host an event.

The foundation: meatballs made of ham. As the meatballs are baking they are removed from the oven a couple of times and glazed. Near the conclusion of the baking, they are skewered on long sticks which have been soaking in water. Pineapple chunks are added along with squares of bell pepper. They are finally removed to a decorative platter, cooled and then covered to await your guests.

A receptacle to receive the sticks once the appetizer is eaten is all you need, in addition to the obligatory cocktail napkins.

Here is how you go about it.

Pineapple Glazed Meatballs on Skewers

1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, diced.
  1 pound ham, diced.
  1 pound ground pork.
  2 eggs.
  1 cup Panko breadcrumbs you have pulsed in the food processor 4 times.
2 Tbsp brown sugar.
  2 teaspoons Dijon mustard.
  1 teaspoon salt.
  2 Tbsp pineapple juice

  1 cup pineapple juice.
  1/2 cup cider vinegar.
  1/2 cup brown sugar.
  1 Tbsp ketchup.
  2 teaspoons Dijon mustard.
  1/2 teaspoon cayenne, if you like a little heat.
  1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water with your fingers until it is a smooth slurry.

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Put the bacon and ham into a food processor and pulse briefly 3-4 times to chop fine. Do not pure. Place the mixture in a large bowl with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix well to combine. Using your hands, form meatballs anywhere from 1-inch to 2-inches in diameter. The smaller diameter meatballs will make for easier eating if you are making them for an appetizer for a party. Larger meatballs will work well for a main course.

3. Arrange the meatballs in a casserole pan and put in the oven for about 1 hour for 2-inch diameter meatballs, or 30-40 minutes for 1-inch diameter meatballs. These meatballs are pretty forgiving, but look for an internal temperature of about 165 or so.

4. Make the glaze when you put the meatballs in the oven. Mix all the ingredients except the corn starch in a small pot and bring to a boil. Whisk in the corn starch and simmer 1-2 minutes.

5. Baste the meatballs once they have cooked for 20 minutes, then again at 10 minutes and 20 minutes if you are making small meatballs, and then again at 5 minutes before theyre done. At the last baking, place the meatballs on wooden skewers together with a chunk of pineapple and a square of bell pepper and brush those, too, with the glaze. The order: put the pineapple chunk on first, the pepper next and top with the glazed meatball.  Finish baking.

Serve on the kabobs.

Makes 40 large marble sized meatballs (the very biggest marble, half the size of a ping pong ball).

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: February 18, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

There is probably no more comforting dinner or rewarding way to spend an afternoon around the stove than to prepare short ribs of beef. This is one of those dishes that takes patience. And your patience is amply rewarded by taking your mind off that case that is driving you nuts and by hearing the oohs and ahs of those who gather around your dining table. And there is something totally satisfying about being able to fill your living space with delectable aromas. There will be no stragglers at the table tonight.

Your productive endurance through a Michigan wintry day will result in a delightfully pleasant and time-honored supper. This is a rustic and simple dish. But, as is usual among such recipes, there are certain tricks that transform this into an ethereal mouth-watering repast. The tricks are ones I have picked up over time from revered cooks and chefs who have been kind enough to share them with me. I am please to share them with you.

This recipe comes from Charleston, South Carolina. And it is filled with southern accents that work perfectly in a northern kitchen.

Barolo-Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta
This hearty dish comes from Brett McKees Italian-inspired steakhouse menu at Charlestons Oak Steakhouse. The polenta is compliments of Alton Brown of the Food Network. He receives raves for this. Youll see why.

4 servings

Braised Short Ribs:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds flanken-style short ribs
   (Your butcher will know)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper,
    to taste
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Barolo wine
1 cup canned whole tomatoes,
   crushed by hand
1/2 cup veal or beef stock
1/4 bunch thyme
1/4 bunch rosemary
1/4 bunch oregano

To prepare the short ribs, preheat oven to 375F. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. The first tip is to place the ribs, a few at a time in the hot Dutch oven and cook on both sides until deep brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the Dutch oven and set aside. Continue until all ribs are browned. Add carrots, celery, onions, and garlic to the Dutch oven and cook until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine, tomatoes, and stock and stir, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot to pick up any caramelized bits that formed as the ribs were browning. Add the thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Bring the braising liquid to a boil and add the ribs. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven until the ribs are very tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Test the ribs after an hour. It could be they will take another hour. Check them periodically. Ovens vary. Ribs vary. You are looking for ribs that are very tender.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
   for grilling or sauting if desired
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large, oven-safe saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and salt and sweat until the onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saut for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.

Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every10 minutes to prevent lumps. Once the mixture is creamy, remove from the oven and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan.

Serve as is, or pour the polenta into 9 by 13-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Once set, turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and cut into squares, rounds, or triangles. Brush each side with olive oil and saut in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, or grill. My favorite method is to prepare the polenta in advance, cut it in desired shapes and saut just in time to receive the short rib topping.

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

Posted: February 14, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

First things first: How in the world do you pronounce zabaglione? Remember, the g is silent. The easiest way for me to remember is to think of the word baloney with a zah in front of it. The Italians add more pizzazz to the pronunciation, as you can readily imagine, but this is essentially all you need to remember.

This is a simple Italian dessert made of egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine. It is usually served warm, though it can be served cold, or as a sauce, or even frozen.

In the 16th century, where this dessert got its beginning, Italy was governed by a series of city states. One of those was Florence, and while not the largest by far, it was not without its glory. It is here the Medici family held forth. And, it is in the Court of the Medici where the origins of this famous dessert have been traced.

The Medici Bank was one of the most prosperous and most respected institutions in Europe. There are some estimates that the Medici family was the wealthiest family in Europe for a period of time. From this base, they acquired political power initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. For those of you, like me, who find accounting a more dismal subject than economics, you have the Medici to thank. An irreversible contribution to the profession of accounting was the introduction of the general ledger system through the development of the double-entry bookkeeping system for tracking credits and debits. This system was first used by accountants working for the Medici family in Florence.

Here is what you need

6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup marsala wine
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Ground cinnamon or freshly
   grated nutmeg
Vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Strawberries, raspberries,
   lady fingers or biscotti

How to make it
Place egg yolks, and sugar in a large, round-bottomed stainless steel bowl.

(Some years ago I was given a wooden handled, unlined copper zabaglione pan. I really like this I spotted one recently for just under $100. But it is totally unnecessary for this preparation. The reason for the copper is to increase the volume of the egg yolks. Youll do just fine with stainless steel following these directions.)

Add grated lemon peel and a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract to the yolk mixture.

Pour in the Marsala wine. (You can use sweet Vermouth as a substitute for the Marsala.)

Half-fill a pot with water, bring the water to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.

Set the pan or bowl containing the custard mixture over the water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.

Whisk the custard mixture, making sure that the water does not boil. This ensures that a gentle, even heat thickens the mixture without curdling it. Whisking traps air in the yolks for a light, fluffy mixture.

Continue whisking for about 10 minutes, until the mixture triples in volume, froths up and becomes pale.

When it reaches the desired consistency, take the container of custard out of the pot.

Slightly thickened, the custard can be used as a sauce.

Longer cooking will thicken the custard further, giving it the texture of mousse.

Continue whisking for a minute or two to prevent the custard from sticking to its container.

Serve the custard while still warm, or, if you want to serve it cool, set it aside for about 15 minutes.

Whisk heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.

Add the whipped cream to the cooled custard and use a whisk to gently fold them together.

Reserve some of the whipped cream to serve on top.

Ladle the zabaglione into individual serving pieces. If you have brandy snifters, martini glasses or other interesting stemware, it is very attractive to line them with lady fingers or almond biscotti, fill with zabaglione and top with very fresh raspberries.

Serve with a spoonful of the hand whipped sweetened cream.

Serves 6

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. He can be reached at

Posted: February 4, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

What better way to arm yourself for a New Orleans adventure. Augment your cooking acumen and tease your palate by immersing yourself in some Cajun cookery. Once you ultimately breeze into town, you will be fully prepared for the culinary excitement that follows. And it is truly excitement!

I think a focus of initial attention could not be better placed than with the Brennan family. The history of restaurants in New Orleans could not be written without reference to the Brennans.

The dishes developed by chefs at the Brennan restaurants in New Orleans have become synonymous with what we have come to expect from a breakfast, lunch or dinner in New Orleans. In fact, the book Breakfast at Brennans captures some of the excitement of these dishes. In addition, a surprising number of cooking channel chefs have obtained training there.

The recipe I would like to share with you today is one I have enjoyed in New Orleans and which is a close relative of Eggs Benedict composed of poached eggs one of the ubiquitous foods found throughout the city.

Eggs Hussarde
2 tablespoons butter
8 slices Canadian bacon (or ham)
8 Holland rusks
2 cups Marchand de Vin sauce
   (recipe below)
8 poached eggs (recipe below)
2 cups Hollandaise sauce (recipe below)

Melt butter in a large saut pan and warm the Canadian bacon over low heat.

Place 2 Holland rusks on each plate and cover with slices of warm Canadian bacon. Spoon Marchand de Vin sauce over the meat, then set a poached egg on each slice.

Ladle Hollandaise sauce over the eggs; serve.

Marchand de vin Sauce
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1/2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup boiled ham, finely chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and saut the onion, garlic, scallions and ham for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium and cook for for 2 minutes. Blend in the flour and cook, stirring for 4 minutes, then add the Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, wine, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Before serving, remove the bay leaf and add the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yields three cups

Poached Eggs
1 1/2 quarts water
2 cups vinegar
8 large eggs

Bring the water and vinegar to a boil in a large saucepan. Crack the eggs one at a time and drop them gently into the boiling water, being careful not to break the yolks. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, moving the eggs several times with a spoon to cook them evenly. When firm, remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place in a pan filled with cold water until serving. When ready to serve, place in slightly simmering water until heated through. Dry on toweling. 4 servings

Hollandaise Sauce
1 pound butter
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon water

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, skim and discard the milk solids from the top of the butter. Hold the clarified butter over very low heat while preparing egg yolks.

Place the egg yolks, vinegar, cayenne and salt in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk briefly. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven large enough to accommodate the bowl with about 1 inch of water. Heat the water to just below the boiling point. set the bowl in the pan over the water; do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.

Whisk the egg yolk mixture until slightly thickened, then drizzle the clarified butter into the yolks, whisking constantly. If the bottom of the bowl becomes hotter than warm to the touch, remove the bowl from the pan of water for a few seconds and let cool. When all of the butter is incorporated and the sauce is thick, beat in the water.

Serve the Hollandaise immediately or keep in a warm place at room temperature until use.

Yields 2 cups.

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