Saturday, August 25, 2012


Zingermann's Deli in Ann Arbor is legendary. They used to only be a deli, but now the Zingermann's brand has expanded to include a mail order empire, a Bakeshop, a Creamery, a Coffeeshop, and a Roadhouse.  Zingermann's prides itself on quality customer service and they really do deliver on their promise.  The last time I went to the Roadhouse I was given a super-charred rack of ribs and they went right away to the kitchen and replaced them with ones that were better prepared.

What I love most about Zingermann's is that the owner, Ari, is ALWAYS at one of the restaurants.  He takes so much pride in his work.  And he doesn't just schedule reservations - he goes from table to table, filling water glasses and chatting up customers.  It reminds me of a lot of the local Richmond restaurants (Perly's, for example).

Zingermann's sammies are highly touted and normally, I don't buy into the hype. They search the world for their ingredients and find unique foods and things, but they also charge you an arm and a leg. Their sandwiches will run you about $15 each.  They ARE good, though.  The sandwich featured about was the Zingermann's Reuben.  They make the saurkraut fresh and the pastrami too, I'm assuming.  Or they got it from some place really special.  I actually had a gift card so I didn't feel bad at all for purchasing this $17 whopper of a sandwich.  I split it with my best friend, Alyssa when we went to blueberry picking.

The mac and cheese is also fantastic.  I actually think it's the best I've ever had at a restaurant.  They put Greyere and a couple other Mountain cheeses in it. I once emailed them to ask which ones, but I've since deleted the email when I changed addresses.  Note to self.  Email Zingermann's...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Persian in Chicago

I wanted to just give a recap of our summer Chicago trip.  I realize it was months ago, but there was a wonderful restaurant we went to and I think it's worth a post sharing it's locations.

First, above you will find a sandwich my mom made which was so delicious I think Panera should pay her some royalties and snag the recipe! She used their Asiago Foccacia and layer in turkey, spicy lettuce, tomato slices, and pepper-jack cheese.  Slather on a thin coating of mayo and you've got yourself something delish for any car ride.

The following pictures are from one of our favorite restaurants, Reza's.  It's the place to go if you're in Chicago and you're Persian.  We always start out with an appetizer of eggplant spread with kefir (Kashkeh Bodemjan). They always start you with a little paneer and curly parsley with radish salad.  You also get a yummy Persian tomato lentil soup.

We like to get the Kabob Sultani (filet mignon and ground beef kabob) and the Juje Kabob (chicken thighs).  Both come with your choice of plain saffron rice or dill rice.  I personally like the plain and even though I'm not a rice-lover, this is one plate I make an exception for.  They always serve grilled onions and tomatoes on the side, a typical Persian side.

Sorry the pictures aren't very good.  It was dark and my iPhone doesn't have a flash.  But you can visit any Reza location and enjoy the food in person!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Baked Alaska

For my early birthday party, my mom and I decided to try our hands at making Baked Alaska.  You know, the cake/ice cream/meringue concoction.  It actually wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be - you just have to stay organized in the kitchen and plan your steps well.

First, we took a container (quart sized) of vanilla (or any other kind you like) ice cream and set it out to thaw.

Then we made a homemade brownie base.  Any recipe will do, but I recommend making your brownies from scratch because they will be more dense than a store bought mix and you need something strong to hold up the ice cream layer that will be going on top of it.  We used a triple chocolate brownie recipe - I think from Alton Brown. We were going to use a Pyrex but decided against it because it wasn't tall enough to build the other layers over top. Instead, we found a rectangular cheesecake mold which was about 4 inches tall.  Since it was spring-form, it was also easy to pop the cake out when we were done.

Get 2 or 3 containers of raspberries (or cut strawberries) and sprinkle them over the brownie, once it has cooled.

Take your semi-thawed ice cream (it should just be soft enough to cut with a knife).  Cut it into 1 inch thick slices and layer completely over the fruit and brownies.  You want them completely covered with ice cream so the meringue has something to adhere to.

Freeze this for 1-2 hours until it is solid.  Make the meringue (we used this recipe).  Fill a piping bag with the meringue and pipe it over the cake.  My mom wanted to spread it out, but it would also be quite dramatic to pipe a ton of little spikes over the top.

We used a broiler to get the browned top on this, but I think a brulee torch might have been more effective because the broiler also melted the ice cream so the bottom of the serving dish was sitting in ice cream soup.

The taste of this cake was spectacular.  Especially when served at the right temperature.  It fed a LOT of people, so if you have leftovers, cut pieces before freezing so you can just take them out individually, thaw, and serve.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to Bloggin' It

Okay...I think "I'm sorry" won't cut it this time: if you follow my blog then you'll have noticed it's been a while since I last posted. I was so busy enjoying the summer sun and seeing family and friends again that blogging slipped away.  I wanted to post when I had a new recipe or a new experience to share and - since my time in MI is mostly about doing the things I've done before - I didn't have many new things to post.  

I'm back in RVA now, and after discovering that Blackfinn has closed (boo) and a new oyster bar is on the way (where Louisiana Flair used to be), I felt inspired to get back in the kitchen and start creating again.  After a food filled summer and a sporadic workout schedule, I've been motivated to eat really clean and get back to the shape I was in before the summer began.  I think this is something we all have to accept: our bodies tell us what they need and mine is screaming for healthy food packed with vitamins.  I've decided to go low carb and low fat for a while.  Low carb, mind you, not no carb.  If I eat a piece of bread I'm not going to lose it.  But I think it's a good idea to be conscious of what's going in and for me, it works to just aim to cut certain things out rather than taper down their intake. I tend to work well with extremes...hey, that's just how I roll.

To kick-start my clean diet, I wanted to recreate a salad I made over the summer for my mom and sibs.  It features some delicious summertime ingredients: basil, corn, and tomatoes.  Yumm-Y!

What You Need:

4 fresh tomatoes, heirloom or regular
5 stalks corn, boiled or roasted on the grill
2 avocados, cubed
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh basil, torn
Salt and pepper to taste

What You Do:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Slice the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds.  Arrange them cut side up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for about 40 minutes, until the water has evaporated.  This allows the sugars to caramelize and adds an amazing depth to the salad.

Cut the corn off the cobs, add this to the tomatoes, then throw in the black beans and the avocado. 

Make a vinaigrette by mixing the lime juice and oil until they are well combined.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour over the salad and toss to coat.  Let marinate for about 20 minutes.

Before eating, tear the basil leaves into pieces being careful not to bruise them. No one likes basil mush.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

*Special note: This recipe will be featured in our school publication, The Probe! I was asked if I'd like to write a recurring column focusing on dental-friendly foods and recipes.  I am so excited to have this opportunity to play in the kitchen and make healthy eating do-able and tasty.

And finally...dun da-da-da!!! I have some VERY happy news: I PASSED PART ONE OF MY DENTAL BOARD EXAM!!!! Such an accomplishment :)