Posted: August 28, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

I have made bouillabaisse exactly once, way back when I was in law school. I promised some friends a special meal, and while they were waiting patiently in the dining room, I was working furiously to finish the bouillabaisse. Except I left it in the kitchen, and instead took out two plates each containing a White Castle (still in the box) and a Snickers bar. After a good laugh, I replaced the joke meal with the bouillabaisse a hearty fish and shellfish stew, served in a fragrant broth, in a bowl made of a scooped out sourdough bread loaf.

When you make it for your next special occasion, Im going to give you two options: the lovely scenic route, with Julia Child as your guide; or the fast lane which is also quite delicious.

There are three basic steps. One is to make the broth; another to prepare the seafood; and a third is the crusty bread with a garlicky spread. In Julias version, the orange peel makes the broth.

Julia Childs Bouillabaisse la Marseillaise (serves 6-8)

1/2 cup olive oil.
1 cup each chopped onion and leek.
4-6 cloves mashed garlic.
6-8 tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped.
2 1/2 quarts water.
8 sprigs parsley.
1/2 tsp thyme.
1/4 tsp fennel seeds.
3 big pinches saffron threads.
1/2 tsp dried orange peel.
parsley, fennel fronds and basil (in any combination).
1/2 teaspoon saffron.
EITHER: 2 quarts fish trimmings or shellfish, 2 1/2 quarts water, and 1 TB salt; OR: 1 quart clam juice, 1 1/2 quarts water, and no salt.

Simmer onions and leeks in olive oil 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and garlic, cook 5 minutes more. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Skim and boil slowly, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Strain, pressing juices out of ingredients, correct seasoning, and set aside uncovered. (If not proceeding immediately, when cool, cover and refrigerate.)

4 large cloves peeled garlic.
2 egg yolks.
1 dozen large leaves of fresh basil or 1 Tb dried.
1/4 cup canned red pimientos, drained.
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs.
2-3 Tb hot soup base (the broth you just made).
2/3 to 3/4 cup olivie oil.
drops of hot pepper sauce (Franks, of course).
salt and pepper to taste.

Editorial license here: Julia has you using a mortar, pestle, and whip. Just toss it all in the food processor EXCEPT the oil, which you will add in droplets through the holes in the top of the processor until you have a thick sauce.

6-8 lbs. of the freshest fish you can find; and/or shellfish, such as mussels, shrimp, crabs, lobster, scallops

1. 20 minutes before serving, boil soup base.
2. Add lobsters and crabs and boil 5 minutes.
3. Add remaining fish and shellfish and boil up to 5 more minutes. Fish is done when opaque and springy do not overcook!
4. Arrange fish attractively on a large serving platter. Ladle some broth over it with chopped parsley.
5. Place a soup plate before each guest with two large wedges of toasted French bread; serve the rouille on the side and/or spread some on the bread.
6. Arrange some of the fish into each bowl with a ladle of soup broth.

The Fast Way
1. Go to your local seafood market and buy some pre-made bouillabaisse broth.
2. Use garlic butter with parsley instead of making rouille.
3. Sorry; you still gotta cook the fish.

Serve with boiled parsley-buttered potatoes and a just about any wine you can think of. A light red, rose, or strong white is ideal.

And if this dish is an utter failure, Im sure theres a White Castle nearby.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for Current magazine in Ann Arbor.

Posted: August 19, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

When the hot August sun compels you to host one more get-together, you cant go wrong with a Mexican party, based on lime and salt.

Lime and salt serve as key ingredients for much traditional Mexican fare. Tortillas, fish and seafood, salsas, tequila, inter alia. Today Im going to give you no-fail recipes for guacamole and margaritas. Please dont tell me theyre not authentic. My margarita recipe is so far removed from traditional Mexico as to be laughable. But when you are sipping one of these puppies under the hot August sun, you will surely be shouting Ole!

What is authentic are these no-fail recipes. Lets start with the guacamole. There are three mandatory ingredients avocados, lime, and salt. There are a few others that are recommended, but optional. And there are a few that should never, ever find their way onto your chip, under penalty of disdain and ridicule. See below.

No-fail Guacamole
3 ripe avocados. You must use California avocados. If you use their larger cousins from Florida for your guac, you will lose all your friends. These Florida cousins are like Randy Quaid in the National Lampoon Vacation series tasteless and pitiful.
1/2 to 1 lime.
Salt to taste.

Mash the avocados with a fork. Do not be tempted to use a food processor; you want your guac to be a little chunkified. Add the juice of a 1/2 lime and salt to taste, and you are done. Viola! You have good basic guacamole. Add a little more lime and salt at your liking.

Here are the optional ingredients. FYI, I use them all. But you can add or subtract to taste:
1 clove garlic.
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro.
1/2 finely minced fresh jalapeno pepper.
1 tablespoon finely minced onion; one diced, ripe tomato with the seeds and pulp removed; and finally, a few drops of Franks Red Hot Sauce (yes, I realize its a Greek ingredient, but we can bend the rules just this once).

And here are the forbidden ingredients, besides the Florida avocados. Do not add sour cream or mayonnaise. They are simply extenders for more expensive avocados, which are already bursting with healthy fats, and dont need help. Likewise, olive oil is a no-no. (OMG, I thought Id never write that sentence in my life.)

Although the guacamole is perfect by itself, its also nice to serve with a good salsa as a foil, on top of your chip and guac. Heres an easy recipe when you have an abundance of fresh garden bounty. Toss some tomatoes in the food processor; if youre motivated, remove the pulp and seeds first. Add an onion, a jalapeno pepper, a garlic clove, a small handful of cilantro, some lime juice, and maybe some Franks. Youll notice its the same ingredients as for the guac, minus the avocado. What youre going for here is a contrast of texture, not taste. If you prefer a good bottled salsa, I like Herdez or La Victoria, neither of which have added sugar.

Now to top it all off, heres the perfect margarita recipe I promised you. Dont laugh its ridiculously easy and delicioso. I wish I could remember who gave me this recipe to thank them. It has gotten me through many a hot day.

No-fail Margaritas
1 12 oz. can of Minute Maid frozen concentrate limeade
Kosher Salt, poured onto a dish
Limes, cut into wedges
Workaday tequila such as Jose Cuevo Gold, and a premium 100% agave tequila
Ice cubes
A blender

1. Open the can of Minute Maid. Empty contents into blender. (Note that you are not making the limeade according to package directions i.e., you are not adding water)
2. Fill can 3/4 full with Cuervo Gold. Empty contents into blender.
3. Fill blender with ice cubes.
4. Puree until you are satisfied with the consistency.
5. Rub rim of margarita glasses with a cut lime. Grind glass into kosher salt until it is rimmed with salt. (If you do not drink margaritas with salt, skip this step; but you are making me profoundly sad.)
6. Fill glass with margarita mix from blender.
7. Float 1/2 shot premium tequila on top.
8. Festoon the glass with a lime wedge.

And there you have your instant Mexican party. Your guests will be so pleased, theyll carry you on your shoulders around the bullfighting ring. Just be sure to hide the empty can of Minute Maid.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for Current magazine in Ann Arbor.

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

This is the time of year when your well-meaning friends give you zucchini, invariably the size of torpedoes. As if the size of the zucchini is an impressive achievement in itself.

Please do not tell them that zucchini are more flavorful and tender if picked sooner, for it will hurt their feelings.

Fortunately there are uses for the abundant green harvest of summer, large or small. Im not here to give you a zucchini bread recipe. No, Im going to fatten you up instead with fried food.

Fried zucchini can be delicious. Its zippy crunch is a perfect foil for the fryer. The key is to not eat too many. A few are fine as an appetizer; a few more and youll feel like that torpedo is lying in your stomach.

The first recipe is a variation of the zucchini fritters you will often see in Greece; it is adapted from Taverna, The Best of Casual Mediterranean Cooking, by Joyce Goldstein.

Zucchini Fritters
1 lb small zucchini, coarsely grated
   (if you use a large one, be sure to scoop
     out the large seeds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of Aleppo or cayenne pepper
1/2 lb feta cheese, or equal parts feta and
   kasseri, a hard Greek cheese
   (I used feta and Parmesan Reggiano)
6 green (spring) onions, minced
1 small red pepper, diced fine
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2-3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all purpose flour
Peanut oil for frying

Place the zucchini in a sieve or colander, salt it lightly and toss to mix. Let stand for 30 minutes to draw out the excess moisture. (A few runs in a salad spinner will help as well. It is important to have the zucchini as dry as possible.) Using a kitchen towel, squeeze the zucchini dry and place it in a bowl. Crumble the cheese over the zucchini and add the green onions, dill, mint, parsley, eggs, flour and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well. You should have a sticky mound that holds together well.

In a deep frying pan over medium high heat, pour in the oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. When the oil is hot, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry, turning when the edges turn brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the fritters to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with tzatziki, Greek yogurt sauce.

Tzatziki Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce
4 cups Greek style yogurt (I use Fage)
2 small regular cucumbers, peeled,
   seeded and coarsely grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
Fresh lemon juice to taste
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or equal
  amounts chopped
fresh mint and flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

Place grated cucumber in a sieve or colander, salt it lightly and toss to mix. Let stand for 30 minutes to draw out the excess moisture.

In a bowl, combine the drained yogurt, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil and stir to mix well. Using a kitchen towel, squeeze the cucumber dry. Fold the cucumber into the yogurt mixture and then stir in the mint or the mint and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Lazy MAns Fried Zucchini Frisbees
1 torpedo sized zucchini, sliced into 1/4 disks
1 egg
1 tsp Franks Hot Sauce (ancient Greek recipe)
1 cup flour
1 tbs Slap Yo Mama Cajun white pepper blend (another ancient Greek recipe), or seasoning salt with a pinch of cayenne
Peanut oil for frying

Break an egg into a bowl with the Franks and mix. Coat a zucchini disk. Place the flour and Slap Yo Mama into a baggie with the zucchini disk and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Fry that Frisbee til golden brown on both sides. Serve with a squeeze of lemon, tzatziki, ranch dressing, ketchup, and/or Franks. Replenish the egg mixture and flour mixture as needed, until your stomach begs you to stop.

On second thought, maybe you should make some zucchini bread with the leftovers. Swimsuit seasons almost over, anyway.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard and Walker, P.C. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for Current magazine.

Posted: August 9, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! promises to be an entertaining and informative PBS television special hosted by local husband and wife legacy expert attorneys Danielle and Andrew Mayoras.

Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! is based on the Mayorases 2009 book Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! which focuses on high-profile celebrity cases to highlight the importance of proper estate planning.

After introductions were made between PBS and the Mayorases, things moved rather quickly resulting in the decision to do a special based on their book.

That was the easy part, Danielle said. From there it took a lot of time to hone the script its a lot different sharing things through the TV medium than it is through a book.

Even though the Mayorases have appeared on several different TV shows discussing Trials & Heirs,including The Rachel Ray Show, Forbes, ABCs Live Well Network, NBC Chicago, WGN-TV, and Fox 2 Detroitdoing an entire special was a first for them.

By examining high-profile celebrity cases, the Mayorases hope to teach everyday people how to protect their estates, no matter how big or small they may be.

Estate planning is an uncomfortable topic for a lot of people, Andy said. The celebrity stories are a means to an end to get people motivated and informed about estate planning and understanding Whats a will?....Whats a trust?, but in a non-threatening, easy to understand, entertaining way. Thats always been our goal and thats what we try to do in the special.

Our reason for writing the book was really to get the conversation started, Danielle said. So its really exciting for us at this point to translate that into a different medium the TV which will hopefully get more conversations started, help more people and really reduce the conflict that is around all the time in the probate court and the family fighting.

We made the book easy to digest for readers but I think that the show will be even easier to digest.

The special, taped at Detroit Public TVs studio in Wixom before a live studio audience, features a never-before-seen interview with celebrity heir Ray Charles Jr. who not only shared memories of his famous father but the pain that his fathers estate has caused his family.

Having those stories behind the public records was really, really different than the book, Danielle said. And to hear it in their voices its one thing to talk about celebrities, its another to have a celebrity heir come forward and say, This is the pain Ive been through and this is what was like. Ive never told my story before and here it is.

Its amazing to us because whether its a multi-billion dollar estate, its the same exact same issues I deal with in my probate litigation practice. Its only the dollar figures that are changed, Andy points out. Thats the beauty of these stories. They can teach everyone what to do and what not to do.

Trial & Heirs: Protect Your Family Fortune! airs Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 8 p.m. on Detroit Public TV (WTVS Channel 56). To view the PBS special as it premiers in Detroit from anywhere in the world, visit on Aug. 9th. The special can be seen nationwide in December. Check for listings in other areas.

With different pledge amounts, viewers can receive a DVD of the show as well as bonus features from the Mayorases as well as their full interview with Ray Charles Jr.; a copy of their book Trial & Heirs; and their exclusive Estate Planning Organizer.

The Mayorases are with the law firm of Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras P.C. in Troy. For more information about Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and its authors, visit; like them on Facebook at!/trialandheirs; or follow Andy and Danielle on Twitter at @TrialAndHeirs.

By Christine L. Mobley

Posted: August 9, 2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Pesto is a beautiful thing. Nothing says summer quite like the fragrance of fresh basil. Plus, its quick, easy and delicious. Any fledgling cook can easily put this in the ol arsenal and be seen as a genius.

Pesto is three basic ingredients basil, garlic, and olive oil, whirled together in the food processor. Poof! Pesto presto. Variations add toasted nuts, grated hard cheese, a dash of salt, and perhaps a hint of lemon. An alarming trend, spawned by the growing trend to waste no part of any food product, is to use things like carrot tops or anything else green to provide nutrients to the pesto. Reject this as heresy. Basil is as essential in pesto as beer to a frat party.

A batch of pesto is also versatile. It can be spread on toasted bread for instant bruschetta (which is pronounced brew-sketta but you will sound weird unless you say brew-shetta). It can be tossed on pasta, or a handy coating for grilled chicken or vegetables.

A beautiful complement to pesto are diced, fresh summer tomatoes. Basil and tomatoes are truly soulmates (unlike, for example, J-Lo and Marc Antony). Tomatoes not only add a flavor and texture complement, but dazzling color. You will want to take a picture of your finished product with your cell phone, and post it to Facebook so your 642 friends can see what a good cook you are.

Heres a great go-to pesto recipe:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, de-stemmed, washed and dried (I use a salad spinner)
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup nut meats (pine nuts are traditional but more expensive than gasoline; walnuts are a good substitute)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano (optional)
pinch salt

Toast the nuts for just a minute or two on baking pan at 350 or over low heat in a saut pan.

Add the nuts and garlic to a food processor. Chop finely. Add the basil and continue chopping, salt, and cheese, if using. Then pour the oil in a slow stream through those handy little holes in the lid of your food processor.

Dude, thats it.

A favorite quick appetizer is to cut small slices of ciabatta bread or a baguette, brush on both sides with olive oil, and broil or grill until lightly golden brown. Spread pesto on top, diced fresh tomatoes, and serve to your admiring guests. Dont forget to take that photo with your cell phone before they dig in!

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard and Walker, P.C., a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for Current magazine.