Posted: February 24, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

A good writer introduces two disconnected topics, and ties them together in a remarkable denouement. Not me. I simply write about two disconnected topics.

Today its Aloo Gobi, and 1970s music.

It started with cauliflower. One of my favorite winter vegetables. What can I do with this puppy? My mind went to Aloo Gobi, a classic Indian dish. Plus its so fun to say Aloo Gobi. In the movie Bend It Like Beckham, the rebellious daughter Jess does not want to cook Aloo Gobi like a perfect Indian daughter; she wants to play soccer.

She tells her mother, Anyone can cook Aloo Gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?

Well, I cant teach you to bend it like Beckham, but I can give you an Aloo Gobi recipe. All you need are about six ingredients that you probably dont have in the house.

So I took my 15-year-old daughter, home on winter break, to my favorite multi-ethnic produce store, with the dirt lot and the hand lettered sign. Specializing in Mexican, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Southeast Asian food. Turmeric, check. Thai green chilis, of course. Garam masala, duh. Fresh cilantro in February? No problem. The rest I had at home.

Whereupon, as I began preparing my Aloo Gobi, I commenced trying to impress my daughter with 70s music. The great thing about YouTube is that it suggests songs based on the one you last played. Three Dog Nights Pieces of April and Easy to Be Hard led to the Zombies, Tell Her No, Shes Not There, and Time of the Season. Then Buffalo Springfield, Tommy James and the Shondells, Jefferson Airplane, Gordon Lightfoot, Billy Preston, Marshall Tucker . Hey! Where did my daughter go?!

Shes missing out on some damn fine Aloo Gobi.

Adapted from the video
at the end of the film
Bend It Like Beckham

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
   (I used olive)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves,
   roughly chopped
2 small green chilies, diced very fine
   (I used Thai green chilis; or use one
   Serrano chili or one teaspoon chili
   powder). These proportions will
   make it medium spicy/spicy.
1 large cauliflower, leaves removed
   and cut into florets
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into
   even pieces
1 large can diced tomatoes
   (I used San Marzano)
Fresh ginger, size of a thumb,
   peeled and grated or chopped fine
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped fine
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin or cumin seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garam masala

Directions:
1. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan.
2. Add the chopped onion and black mustard seeds and cumin to the oil.
3. Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent.
4. Add chopped cilantro, turmeric, and salt.
5. Add chopped chillis. Stir tomatoes into onion mixture.
6. Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly.
7. Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water (ensuring that the mixture doesnt stick to the saucepan).
8. Ensure that the potatoes and cauliflower are coated with the curry sauce.
9. Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked).
10. Add two teaspoons of Garam Masala and stir.

Mamas and the Papas, Todd Rundgren, Bill Withers

I think they would all love this Aloo Gobi.

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.

Posted: February 20, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

Monday. Defending a deposition. My least favorite part of the job. If you are opposing counsel, read no further.

I amused myself by objecting. As legal readers know, objections in a deposition are much more limited than at trial. For the most part, one may object to form, or foundation, to preserve the objection for the record. Sometimes, when opposing counsel is really reckless, Ill object to both form AND foundation. One time I offered a bit of an explanation since I was repeatedly objecting to the same line of questioning. Opposing counsel interrupted and fixed me a stern look. There will be no speaking objections, counselor.

So I tried to be a good boy. I restricted my further objections to simply objection as to form (and/or foundation). One time, I objected to a seemingly innocent question.

Opposing counsel looked at me incredulously. What was wrong with that one?

I was really mean. I said, Sorry, you said you didnt want speaking objections, and sat back.

Seven hours of deposition later, Im thinking I needed a cheesesteak. (Hows that for a segue, editor?)

I shed that office as quickly as I could. Went to the gym in preparation for the gorging that was to come. Adjacent to the gym, and owned by the same man, is a specialty grocery. (Hows that for cunning marketing?)

Thinly sliced ribeye check. My butcher does it the proper way slightly freezes the meat to get the paper thin slices. Onion, mushrooms. Some provolone slices, mild pepper rings, and McClures pickles. A soft French baguette. A bag of baked potato chips (health conscious, you know.) And just for fun, a wedge of brie.

Philly cheesesteaks are a regional specialty, invented by the Olivieri family in 1930 and rivaled by many; but they must hew to the same formula:

Thinly sliced ribeye, sauted with onions, and topped with melted cheese, on an appropriate hoagie roll. Controversies abound as to cheese (provolone, or honest-to-goodness Cheez Whiz); how much to chop the ribeye; whether to add mushrooms; and the precise nature of the hoagie roll. But dont go all-artisan or anything. That would simply be wrong.

Classic Philly Cheesesteak
(makes four fair sized sandwiches)
Ingredients:
A crusty roll. A long Italian or French baguette with sesame seeds will do nicely.
1 lb. thinly sliced ribeye.
1/4 to 1/2 lb. sliced provolone, Cheez Whiz, Velveeta, or dare I say it brie.
A large sweet yellow onion.
A red/green bell pepper or combination
1 garlic clove (optional)
1/2 to 1 lb. sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/4 lb olive oil.
Mild pepper rings.

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat until it sizzles. Add thinly sliced onions, and, if using, garlic, mushrooms and/or peppers. Saut 3-4 minutes.
Add the ribeye and cook it quickly; do not overcook. Some prefer it in whole slices. Others like to chop it a bit with the spatula.
Season the meat and vegetable mixture with salt and pepper. Push to the side of the pan in a heap. Turn heat down to low.
Top the meat and vegetable mixture with the cheese of your choice; let it get all gooey- melty.
Slice open the baguette and place it in the center of the pan, where it will soak up the juices and get warm and soggy.
Take out the baguette, cut into four equal pieces, and fill with the Philly mixture. Thats it.

Variations: I did not use bell peppers or garlic. I liked it with the brie and some potato chips right on the sandwich, and just a few chopped peppers. I also tried it with a chopped cherry pepper mix called hoagie topping. Hot or sweet peppers, or pickles, would also be good.

Id even recommend tempting your favorite vegetarian with a veggie-steak product instead of the ribeye but I wouldnt try making this sandwich for vegans. It is a cheesesteak, after all. After all my experimenting, I concluded that you cant really go wrong all the combinations were good.

I just couldnt bring myself to buy Cheese Whiz, however thus the brie.

Objection as to form, I know.


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: February 12, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

When youre out to eat, what do you order? Whatever you want.

What if its your first date? What if its Valentines Day? You cant order what you want. Oh, no. Its not that simple.

Youve got to look good while eating it. That rules out pasta, nachos, chicken wings, asparagus, and crab Rangoon. 

Or anything that requires a bib I dont care how much you love that lobster.

(Then again, Jennifer Beals comes to mind, eating lobster in Flashdance. Still, unless youre her, sorry NO LOBSTER!)

How about something that is low maintenance on the plate? Yeah, a piece of fish! That means you can eat it with a fork, no knife, and it wont drip.

But then, you will smell like fish. And unless you are Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City, thats probably not a good idea.

Anything that causes bad breath, on Valentines Day, rules out a lot of dishes. Like all Greek food. Which is why they dont celebrate Valentines Day in Greece.

So what CAN you eat? Good question. So I ran this past my experts, and heres what I came up with ....

Red wine and chocolate.

Seriously, there is nothing like the image of two lovebirds, stemware in hand, making goo goo eyes at each other, like in a magazine ad, shy yet flirtatious. With a chocolate dessert between them, just waiting to be nipped into.

Thats Valentines Day. Thats what you should have for dinner. Your favorite red wine, and this:

Molten Chocolate Cakes With Raspberries and Cream

- Emeril

Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, plus 1/4 pound (1 stick).
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons.
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped.
2 tablespoons cold heavy cream.
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar.
2 large eggs.
2 large egg yolks.
1/4 cup sugar.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Pinch salt.
1/2 cup cold heavy cream.
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar.
1 tablespoon nut-flavored liqueur.
1/2 pint fresh raspberries.
4 sprigs mint.
Sweetened cocoa, as garnish.

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease and flour 4 (6-ounce) ramekins or baking dishes with the 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of flour in each, tapping out the excess flour. Set on a baking sheet.
2. In a double boiler, or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the remaining 1/4 pound of butter with the chocolate, cream, and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt until thick ribbons form, about 3 minutes. Sift 2 tablespoons flour into the egg mixture and fold together. Fold the chocolate into the egg mixture. Divide among the prepared dishes and bake until the sides of the cake are set and the tops are puffed but still soft, about 12 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the ramekins for 2 minutes, then unmold onto dessert plates.
5. Meanwhile, in a bowl whip the cream until beginning to form soft peaks. Add the sugar and nut liqueur and beat until stiff peaks start to form. Spoon a dollop of the whipped cream on each unmolded cake, and garnish each plate with raspberries and a sprig of mint. Sprinkle cocoa over the cakes, and serve.

And if youre still hungry after all that ... dang. Order some pizza. Just skip the anchovies.

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: February 7, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
Category: Food Court

I rarely bake. But for my birthday, fifteen years ago, I wanted sour cream coffee cake. Like Zingermans, with walnuts. But I wanted to bake my own, so I did. Then my wife and I went out to dinner.

My mom and dad were watching our infant daughter. The sour cream coffee cake was hot out of the oven, resting on the counter, waiting for me when I got home.

All I could think about on the ride home was that sour cream coffee cake, fresh and still warm. We came in the house and I went to the counter. My heart stopped.

Wheres my sour cream coffee cake? I asked.

My mother saw my wild eyes and got defensive. I put it in the refrigerator.

YOU PUT IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR? was all I could say. YOU PUT IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR?! I repeated, this time with an exclamation point after the question mark. I stared at my mother, quivering.

My poor mother. All this sainted woman did was give birth to me, raise me, and love me unconditionally. One time I came home from Ann Arbor to Pittsburgh to surprise her on Mothers Day. I walked in the back door just as the family was sitting down to breakfast. Just as my brother-in-law was about to take his first bite, my mother snatched his plate. Here, Nick, have some breakfast.

My mother, who taught me my love for cooking. One day she was sick, in bed. My father gathered me and my sisters and said, I guess we dont eat dinner tonight, kids.

He was not joking. My mother heard this, and could not bear it. She dragged herself out of bed and made dinner.

My mother, who put my sour cream coffee cake in the refrigerator! How could she do this to her only son? But, how could I be angry at my own mother? So I just kept repeating the same rhetorical question, incredulously, like a windup doll. You put it in the refrigerator? Shed never seen me angry at her before. She laughed nervously.

Finally, I took it out and ate a piece. It was still delicious. Im sorry, Mom. I dont know why I got so upset. We sat down and ate together. She smiled. Happy birthday, Nick. I love you.

Oh, Mom. I love you too.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Batter:
1 C. unsalted butter
2 C. white sugar
2 eggs
1 C. sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 C. flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Streusel:
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 C. walnuts
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350
Grease and flour a bundt pan
Cream together the butter and white sugar until fluffy
Add eggs one at a time, blending well
Add sour cream and vanilla and mix
Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt)
Fold dry ingredients with the creamed mixture, mixing until just blended
Mix the streusel ingredients together
Pour half the batter into the bundt pan
Sprinkle 1/2 streusel over batter
Top with rest of batter
Top with remaining streusel
Bake about 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
Then refrigerate. No really, its OK. I wont get angry. I promise.

Miss you, Mom.

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.