Posted: January 17, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

This column is a tribute to my former editor at the Washtenaw County Legal News, Frank Weir, who has retired after several years. He brought me onto the Legal News, encouraged me, and often provided feedback on my articles. He has given my law firm embarrassingly extensive coverage. More importantly, he is one of the friendliest and most enthusiastic people I have ever met.

Because he is such a friend, I am allowing him the rare privilege of a guest recipe submission. Before we get to his recipe, I want Frank to know how valuable he has been to our local legal community.

Current Washtenaw County Bar Association (WCBA) President and attorney Peter Falkenstein remembers, Frank gave 100 percent to promoting the Bar and our activities. He put my picture in the paper far more than I deserved.

Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge David S. Swartz notes, Ive always been incredibly impressed and surprised how he manages to be at every Bar related function, smiling and taking pictures. Hes such a pleasant guy to be around.

Career consultant Elizabeth Jolliffe, Your Benchmark Coach, says that Frank is the not-so-secret ingredient of Washtenaws legal community. His boundless enthusiasm, energy and talents have tied us together, and his friendship and laugh are irreplaceable. Joking, she adds, Personally, I dont know what I will do without all of the free press coverage. Im going to go out of business!

Former President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (Washtenaw Region Chapter) and current Washtenaw County Trial Court Judicial Attorney Teresa Killeen recalls fondly:

Frank Weir has been a wonderful friend to WLAM. His support of our mission is genuine, and he made it a priority to attend functions and publicize events. When we revived the Lawyers v Judges game, and had only two spectators, Frank was there taking pictures and taking notes! When our members are being honored, Frank attends the ceremony and features the member in the Legal News.

With no disrespect to our members and leadership, the most significant reason WLAM continues to thrive in Washtenaw County is because Frank Weir made us so visible. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to him, and I hope he will continue to be involved in our activities. It isnt a WLAM event if Frank isnt there!

Finally, Frank has always been fond of a good joke, and he has always graciously consented to participate in the annual WCBA Bar Revue, which raises donations for Legal Services. Co-producer and local prosecutor John Reiser says, Frank would come to our organizational meetings, promote the event in the Legal News, and inevitably would get roped in as a performer. Although reluctant to fill that role, his on-screen performances were often the highlight of that years Bar Revue.

Franks guest submission is below. He reminds us how our favorite recipes are often intertwined with the memories that go with them. Take it away, Frank!

My Favorite Recipe Cream Cheese Party Dip
By Frank Weir

My favorite recipe has to be something that may sound pedestrian and ordinary but its a winner.

Its a favorite from childhood and is a cream cheese based dip.

My mother made it all the time for parties and special occasions and of course I got to lick up the beaters after preparation.

I think I preferred it to the cake frosting beaters.

My brothers and I always anticipated left over dip after my parents parties; I even remember the dip bowl she served it in.

Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it truly works as well with fresh veggies as it does with chips and I always use the lower fat Neufchatel cream cheese.

My mom never remembered where she found the recipe admitting it was not her own invention. But she lives on with this recipe since many of my adult friends with whom we have shared it love it along with my wife and children.

1 package Neufchatel cream cheese.
1 Tablespoon beef bouillon granules.
1 dash Worcestershire Sauce.

Allow cream cheese to soften and place in bowl. Stir with wooden spoon or spatula and then make an indentation in the center.

Place beef bouillon granules in the indentation and add one or two tablespoons of very hot water so as to liquefy the bouillon.

Add a dash of Worcestershire and then use an electric beater to mix thoroughly.

Allow mixture to cool and then move to your serving bowl.

Serve with chips and cut up finger-sized portions of cauliflower, green and red peppers, cucumbers, even asparagus or one of my favorites: broccoli.

Yes, even broccoli works very well with this.

You can vary the bouillon and Worcestershire to suit your taste but be careful with both. They can quickly make the mixture too salty.

Readers, I am writing this article a day after losing a trial. I went out of my comfort zone and tried an injury case, where my client had his ankle broken in a bar by a bouncer. The jury was entitled to think that negligence was not involved. I, on the other hand, have been doing a lot of post-trial second-guessing, soul searching, and of course, drinking.

But the next day, I still have to get up and go to the office. In a similar fashion, while I will greatly miss Frank, I am excited to continue working with my new editor Jo Mathis, another long time friend.

Life doesnt stop, it just changes. Have some cream cheese party dip, and keep on movin.

Happy retirement and thanks, Frank!

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: January 10, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

There are two things that Cincinnati is known for. One is Graeters Ice Cream, and the other is Cincinnati chili. Oh, and ex-President Taft went to high school there. Can we go back to the chili?

My best friend in college was from the Queen City. Every time I visit there I had to make the pilgrimage to Skyline Chili, preferably at the intersection of Clifton and Ludlow.

Its gotten to the point where I hope I get appealed to the 6th Circuit, just so I can go back to Cincy.

Skyline is my favorite example of what is known as Cincinnati chili, a thin and vaguely Greek-flavored concoction that is a cousin to the Detroit Coney style. It is traditionally served over thin spaghetti, a two way, that is made into a three way with finely shredded cheddar, a four way with onions, and a five way with kidney beans (never cooked with the chili). This masterpiece is topped with oyster crackers and hot sauce and best eaten cut into wedges, and hefted with a fork.
Coneys are also available. My go-to meal is a small four-way with a Coney, followed by a scoop of Graeters. Then a nap, followed by fervently renewed New Years resolutions.

Cincinnati chili parlors are all about steamed windows and a heady aromatic essence, redolent of cinnamon and cumin. They are populated at all hours by business people, families, students, and the bar crowd, and even the unemployed who only need a few bucks for a satisfying meal. This is a synergy that cannot be transplanted.

We once had Skyline Chili in Monroe and Lansing, and they were pale shadows of the real thing. Might as well buy a can of Skyline at Hillers and microwave it. Whoop-de-do.

Every chili parlor has its own recipe. The original, Empress, was created by its Macedonian owners in 1922. Skyline came along in 1949, and Gold Star in 1965, which is now the biggest chain. Independents also thrive; Camp Washington Chili was once named by CBS Morning News as the best chili in the nation.

So as you might guess, I go there whenever I can. My Cincinnati friend, in the meantime, has lost his way. He has turned vegetarian. Desperately, he still goes to Skyline with me when I visit, either having kidney beans on a hot dog bun with cheese and onions (pathetic) or, more conventionally, choosing a black bean burrito from Skylines ever-burgeoning menu.

Feeling sorry for him, I developed a vegetarian version of the chili. My omnivorous friends actually prefer it to a meat chili. Like any good confluence of spices, let the flavors get to know each other a day or two before serving. You will find versions featuring cloves and even chocolate and honey. This ones a little easier to make, and after I had a local store make me a proprietary spice blend, its a cinch.

Cincinnati Chili
Adaptable for meat, vegetarian, or vegan

2 tbs butter or Earth Balance
2 tbs olive oil
2 lbs equivalent ground beef/ground beef
    substitute (I use Morningstar Farms vegan
    crumbles or Quorn, which has a better taste
    and texture, but does include egg white. If using
    the fake stuff, one 12 oz. bag is equivalent to a
    lb. ground beef)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 bay leaves
2 tbs ground chil, hot or mild or a combination
    of both (not commercial chili powder, which is
    a mix of spices; use pure ground chil)
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp Franks ancient Greek recipe hot sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
4 cups water

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter and heat oil. Add meat/substitute and cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. Remove to a food processor and whir into fine granules. Return to saucepan and add onion and garlic for a minute or two, stirring until sizzling nicely, then add remaining ingredients. Stir and taste. If mixture is too sweet, add a dash of vinegar or Franks; if too mild, add more chil or red pepper.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, about two hours. Add more water as necessary to get the right consistency (you are shooting for something a little thinner than regular chili, suitable for pouring over spaghetti or hot dogs). Remove bay leaves and serve.

Remember your ways (above). I like to have on hand a pot of cooked spaghetti, chopped raw onion, heated kidney beans, regular hot dogs and those unfortunate things called tofu pups, hot dog buns, and plenty of finely shredded cheddar. Also make sure to have oyster crackers, Franks, and yellow mustard (for the dogs).

Serve this up at your Super Bowl party. Who knows, the game could feature the Lions against the Cincinnati Bengals. Not sure about the best football team, but Id definitely bet on the Cincinnati chili over the Detroit Coney dogs.

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.