Michigan Food Finds

JAMS, JELLIES & PRESERVES

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The charm of living in a large agricultural state like Michigan is the many u-pick produce farms. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries are some of my favorite fruits to pick, eat and preserve. Though, admittedly, I’m often an overzealous picker and end up with excess fruit. Freezing is always the easy route but I adore making jam and canning. Many, many jars of jam later, I realize I can only eat so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Naturally, I thought to bake with the extra homemade fruit jams.

Oatmeal Jam Bars

6 tablespoons butter, softened

½ cup light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

½  teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

¾ cup jam

Preheat oven to 350o. Combine butter and sugar in a mixer and beat until well combined. Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir until incorporated and crumbly. Stir in oats. Place 2/3 of oat mixture on bottom of 8-inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper. Top with jam and spread evenly. Press together the remaining oat mixture with your hands and place chunks of oats on top of jam to mostly cover. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and top is golden.

Cook’s Note: Bake with your favorite flavor of jam or preserves. I used strawberry—made with strawberries from Middleton Berry Farm—and it was delicious. If the fruit is very thick, you can lightly warm in the microwave to be able to spread easily.

Here are some other great ideas for using up homemade fruit preserves, jellies and jams:

In the dessert category, use jam in layer cakes, filling for muffins and donuts, thumbprint cookies, cheesecake topping, ice cream sundae topping or layer into trifle. Kids would love the jam frozen into popsicles.

Beverages also make for great use of jams. You can stir the sweetened fruit into lemonade, ice tea or Italian soda. For the grownups, mixed into cocktails with your favorite spirit is delicious. Also, blend with yogurt or ice cream for a smoothie.

Breakfast is an easy way to use jam swirled into yogurt or oatmeal. It is also a great topping for biscuits, waffles or pancakes. If you are little more adventurous, try making stuffed French toast or crepes.

For the savory route, top baked brie, goat cheese or cream cheese with preserves. Spread in the middle of a stuffed pork loin or chicken breast, pour over a ham as a glaze or stir into barbeque sauce. Sometimes simple is best—just place jam in a small dish on a cheese platter.

Raspberries, peaches, pears, apples and cherries are all waiting to be picked right now at many local u-pick farms. Go to www.upickmichigan.com to find a place near you.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

 

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Michigan Food Finds

HOME GROWN RASPBERRIES

july2016 147I now know why my neighbor kindly offered some of their raspberry plants for my garden. Raspberry plants have a habit of growing abundantly causing the need to share. Fast forward four years later and I now have a bounty of plants to manage all my own. Still not quite enough berries to preserve raspberry jam—though plenty to eat, share and bake.

Even my dogs have gotten into the joy of picking and eating fresh raspberries. They walk right out into the backyard with me patiently waiting for the few overripe, squishy raspberries to be thrown their way.

The raspberries that remain after snacking go right into my bakery items. Raspberry Dutch Baby—courtesy of Cooking Light—is a quick and easy breakfast favorite that can be made with any seasonal fruit. Delicious dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with maple syrup, a Dutch Baby will be your go to family favorite.  My raspberry chocolate chip muffins are also perfect for breakfast but freeze really well and can be eaten anytime. They are particularly good just slightly warm right out of the oven.

I stowed away a small container of fresh raspberries in my freezer for a sweet summer reminder during our extended Michigan winter. When ready to use, toss frozen raspberries lightly in flour and fold right into your baked good. Or use straight from the freezer in a thick and frosty smoothie.

Michigan summer raspberries are available for picking for about 2 to 3 weeks and are a wonderful addition to my home garden.

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Raspberry Dutch Baby, Cooking Light Way to Bake, 2011 

Ingredients

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup 2% reduced-fat milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions

Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in oven; preheat oven to 450o.

While pan heats, combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Add flour and milk to egg mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Melt butter in preheated pan, swirling to coat pan. Add batter; sprinkle with raspberries. Bake for 12 minutes or until puffed and browned.

Dust pancake with powdered sugar and cut into 6 wedges. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.

Cook’s Note: Use whatever milk or milk substitute that is in your refrigerator. I used 1% low-fat milk and the Dutch Baby was still delicious.

 

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Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

½ cup sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

½ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh raspberries

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or ½ cup mini-chocolate chips

Additional sugar for topping

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350o. Coat 18 muffin cups with vegetable cooking spray; set aside.

Whisk together flour, pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Place eggs, sugar and brown sugar in another large bowl; whisk until well combined and light yellow. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla to egg mixture and whisk to incorporate. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Gently fold in raspberries and chocolate chips. Place batter evenly into 18 muffin cups and sprinkle each muffin with sugar.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden on top and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in muffin tin then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 18 muffins.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

 

Farm at the Stadium

Many family vacations with my husband and two sons include visiting a major league baseball stadium. This summer we were lucky enough to be at Fenway Park in Boston. As the oldest stadium in the country with quirky spots like the lone red seat and the green monster, Fenway was a definite must see stadium.

To my surprise and great pleasure in spring of 2015, Fenway Farms—a roof garden planted on the third base side of the ballpark— was planted. Local farms and Green City Growers collaborated to transform an underutilized rubber roof into a fruitful green space. All the fresh vegetables and herbs grown are served in the club restaurant at Fenway.

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Here in Detroit we also have some spectacular urban farming. Keep Growing Detroit, Brother Nature Produce, Earthworks and Michigan Urban Farming Initiative are all organizations who believe in feeding their community with fresh and healthy foods.

Now I wonder if Comerica Park would now be inspired to create some edible green space? Go Tigers!

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—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Michigan Food Finds

DETROIT DOES DONUTS

I’m taking off my dietitian hat for a moment and eating a donut. I often sample all types of foods as an advocate for the local food scene. Though, in this case, this is where I repeat the mantra—everything in moderation. So, I’m sampling donuts at Dilla’s Delights with complete joy and no regrets. Once you taste these delicious creations, you will understand.

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Dilla’s Delights is a specialty donut business in the Ashley Building in downtown Detroit. Founder and operator, Herman Hayes, named this donut shop in honor of his nephew James Dewitt Yancey (J. Dilla) who was a musician and producer with passion for donuts, Detroit and music. Right when you walk in the door, it’s easy to recognize that donuts and music are the central theme.

Like most delicious treats, it’s hard to have just one. Therefore, I recommend sharing a variety of donuts. The chocolate cake glazed and the mixed berry fritter was a nice combination. Produced with 100% organic flour and fried in rice bran oil, Dilla’s Donuts are a step above in quality and taste. Uncle Herman makes donuts all night long in Avalon International Bread’s commercial kitchen to be open at 5 in the morning for his customers.

With my dietitian hat back on, my recommendation is a little exercise post-donut consumption. Comerica Park is only a 5 minute walk from Dilla’s Delights and would make the perfect snack right before an afternoon ballgame.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Made in Michigan Meat & Cheese Board

Last weekend I took a break from dinner duty. Forgoing the challenge of cooking a meal that tries to please everyone is a welcome change. Although we still are required to eat something and take-out food is underwhelming, I took the opportunity to prepare what my family calls “the meat and cheese board.” What this usually involves is a hard salami, smoked meat or sausage along with a variety of hard and soft cheeses. The add-ons depend on what is available and looks tasty. I use fruit spreads, crackers, olives, nuts or hummus.

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I took great pleasure in making this particular platter because I used only products that were grown or produced in Michigan. Our great state is an agricultural goldmine and it is quite easy to find just what I needed. My Michigan smorgasbord contained three cheeses, two bratwursts, a fig spread, fruit and multigrain bread.

I shopped for all of these products at Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor. Argus Farm Stop is a direct-to-consumer market for local producers of vegetables, fruits, meats, baked goods, dairy and artisans. Open since August of 2014, this seemingly small market sells over 100 products from local farms and producers year round. These are all the wonderful products I brought home for dinner:

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As the weather gets warmers and the days get longer, linger on the deck or porch with a glass of wine, good company and your artisan platter. It is a perfect no-cook dinner, yet still a filling, satisfying and local meal.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Michigan Food Finds

cutchivesCHIVE BLOSSOMS

While patiently waiting to plant vegetables in my outdoor garden, the returning perennial herbs having kept me busy. Fresh thyme and chives have returned bountifully and can be found in many of the foods I prepare. Recently, the tops of the mild oniony fresh chive have a beautiful blossom. I have found a great use for these purple beauties that highlight the onion flavor along with the lovely color—chive blossom vinegar.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

2 to 2 ½ cups chive blossoms

1 clean pint jar with screw top lid

1 ½ cups white distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

Parchment paper or wax paper

Decorative bottle to store flavored vinegar

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Fresh chives and blossoms

 

Place chive blossoms in a bowl of water and stir gently to remove dirt. Remove blossoms with a slotted spoon and place in a colander to drain; shaking gently to remove excess water. Pack blossoms into a clean pint jar; set aside. Heat vinegar in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling. Pour warm vinegar into pint jar filled with chive blossoms. Press blossoms down with a spoon to immerse in vinegar; cool slightly. Top jar with parchment paper and screw on metal top. Place in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks then strain vinegar into a decorative bottle. Store in a cool, dark place and use within 6 months.

 

 

 

 

Cooking Note: Use the chive blossom vinegar to make vinaigrette with additional chopped chives from your garden.                                                                                        —Pam Aughe, R.D.

 

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Chive Blossom Vinegar

Fresh & Casual

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Chickpea Kitchen Bowl

Local and seasonal eating has finally hit the mainstream public interest and is taking a hold of the food industry. The expectation for wholesome, fresher fare is being embraced even by national chains like Chipotle and Panera. These fresh casual chains are serving customized, nutritious, high quality ingredients in more of an upscale environment. Being in charge of creating your own meals has spread to our local restaurants as well. Two fresh casual chains in southeast Michigan are Estia Greek Street Food in Troy and Chickpea Kitchen in Sterling Heights.

Estia Greek Street Food is a Greek inspired build-your-own pita, bowl or salad. I chose to build a bowl with a base of Estia’s Greek quinoa then added char-grilled chicken, oregano broth, hummus, spinach, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and a house made purple cabbage salad. Being able to pile on the veggies makes this super healthy as well as delicious. Estia also makes all their pita and rolls in house so they are warm and fresh. As with many locally inspired food joints, the décor is made from repurposed and reclaimed brick and wood from the southeast Michigan region. If you are in downtown Detroit, check out their new midtown location in the food court at the DMC.

Chickpea Kitchen in Sterling Heights is a fast and fresh Middle Eastern spot where you can create your own bowl or shawarma with your favorite toppings. Again, I made a bowl with a base of cracked wheat topped with marinated chicken, spinach, chickpeas, pickles, torshi (pickled turnips and cabbage) and garlic sauce. I love that they offer a whole grain choice along with the white rice pilaf. They also serve a house made unsweetened mint tea next to the fountain sodas.

 

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Estia Greek Bowl

I’m so pleased that there are local businesses serving high quality food with fewer processed ingredients. Share with me your favorite local, healthy eatery.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.