It’s holiday season, so that means another party with yet another cup of eggnog and cocktail franks, right? Wrong. Your holiday celebration doesn’t have to be ho-hum.
When doing a theme party, these types of events need a good foundation that starts with the menu, says Kelli Lewton, chef and owner of 2 Unique Caterers and Event Planners in Royal Oak who has entertained the likes of presidents, athletes, and CEOs. From there you build the other moving parts: beverage pairings, décor, and functionality. “For example, French could feel very fancy and glamorous, or it could be country/peasant style of eating, hence the menu should help conjure where to start with the other aspects,” she says.
Timing and flow are crucial when entertaining a group, Lewton says. “Don’t try to do more than makes sense; it is better to do 4-5 things very well than try to be a superstar and end up with a crash-and-burn situation.
“Have a good plan and stick to it; include purchasing, production time, staging, and unforeseen time for whatever might pop up. More and bigger does not always translate to better.” (For more of Lewton’s tips, see page 6).
With Paul Grosz
In metro Detroit, Paul Grosz is one of the top chefs known for French cuisine. But his culinary career began with humble beginnings: He discovered at age 6 he liked to bake, and at 9 years old, he worked in a neighborhood doughnut shop. However, it was cleaning up not baking.
His creative and contemporary French dishes are informed by his culinary training. He studied under the legendary French chef, Jean Banchet at Le Français in Wheeling, Ill., near Chicago. The menu he shares here is inspired from those days. “Each of these dishes we did at Le Français,” Grosz says.
His culinary career took him to France where he continued learning at Le Cordon Bleu and Paul Bocuse, and cooked under celebrated chefs including Pierre Orsi, Léon de Lyon, and Jacques Maxim.
In 2001, he opened Cuisine in a colorful and cheerful vintage townhouse in New Center. His food has been honored with many awards by local publications and was voted Best Place to Have Dinner Before a Show by Hour Detroit readers. At Cuisine, he recently did away with formal courses, opting for the more casual à la carte style. He recently branched out with The Stand Gastro Bistro in Birmingham, where the food is still rooted in French techniques but more relaxed and modern.
These dishes represent true French cooking, Grosz says, and are good for entertaining because once learned, “they can be simple to do and they look wonderful.”
French 75 (makes 1 drink)
1½ ounces gin
¾ ounce lemon juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 cup ice cubes
2 ounces champagne
Shake all ingredients except champagne and garnish in a shaker and strain into a champagne glass. Top with champagne. Garnish with lemon peel.
Dover sole meunière (sole de douvres meuniere)
Serve with French 75
1 large Dover sole (20-24 ounces) filleted
2 ounces olive oil
4 ounces soft butter
1 ounce chopped garlic (optional)
1 ripe tomato, skinned, deseeded and diced
2 ounces capers
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and white pepper, finely ground
1 ounce chopped fresh chives
Sauté sole filets in olive oil over high heat. Golden brown on one side, turn over, and turn heat off. Let sit in pan until cooked through. Fresh fish doesn’t need flour to brown. Place fish on plate when done. Add butter, turn heat on medium-high. Brown butter until light brown. Add garlic if desired. Add tomatoes, capers, lemon zest, and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over fish. Sprinkle with fresh chopped chives.
Squash soup with lobster (soupe à la courge avec du homard)ï»¿
1 spaghetti squash, peeled, deseeded, and diced in ½-inch cubes
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and diced in ½-inch cubes
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, deseeded, and diced in ½-inch cubes
2 carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 leek, (white part only) sliced thin
4 branches of celery, sliced thin
2 quarts apple cider
1 quart chicken or a good vegetable stock
2 ounces turmeric
2 cups heavy cream (optional)
Salt and white pepper, finely ground
2 ounces chopped chives
1 ripe pear
1 splash of white balsamic vinegar
1½ pound lobster
Place all vegetables and apple in stock pot. Add 1 quart apple cider. Simmer soup until almost dry. Add stock. Simmer 30 minutes. Add turmeric. Blend. Add cream if desired (it helps blend and smooth out all the flavors). Season to taste. Take remaining cider and reduce to ½ cup. Julienne fine pears and mix with vinegar and chives. Season with pinch of salt. Boil lobster for 7 minutes. Deshell and roughly chop. Reheat lobster in soup right before serving. Pour soup in bowls and garnish with a drizzle of cider glaze and a small spoonful of pear salad.
Roasted duck (canard rôti)
1 Culver duck, about 5 pounds
1 head of garlic, cut in half
2 ounces chopped thyme
2 ounces chopped rosemary
Salt and finely ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub duck with garlic all over. Stuff duck with garlic and herbs. Season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Lower oven temp to 325. Cook until done (about 30 more minutes). Temp with thermometer in the thigh to 125 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes when done. Carve duck and keep carcass for sauce.
1 duck carcass, chopped
½ bottle red wine (heavier wine like carbernet or syrah)
1 quart good chicken stock
1 cup strawberry jam
1 ounce soft butter
1 ounce roux or cornstarch
Reduce wine with the bones until almost dry. Add stock. Add jam. Reduce by half or until good flavor. Season to taste. Whip in butter. Thicken with roux or starch if desired.
Au Gratin potatoes
2 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼-â€Šinch thick
1 leek, white part only, sliced and sautéed
3 ounces heavy cream
Salt and white pepper finely ground
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place potatoes and leeks in a small casserole dish. Mix eggs, cream, and salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes. Cover with cheese. Bake at 325 until golden brown and soft in the center, about 40 minutes.
Red wine-braised strawberries
1 pint of strawberries washed and cut in half, green leaves discarded
2 cups rich red wine
3 ounces sugar
Place all ingredients in a sauce-pot. Simmer for 30 minutes or until jammy.
To plate: Slice duck and place on plate. Add potato, strawberries, and sauce. Add some blanched haricots vert (French green beans) for color and taste.
Grand Marnier soufflé
1 quart milk
1 vanilla bean, split open lengthwise
10 egg yolks
6 ounces sugar
3 ounces cornstarch
10 egg whites
4 ounces sugar
Zest of 1 orange
3 ounces Grand Marnier
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and dust with sugar four 6-ounce soufflé molds. Heat milk in pot with vanilla bean. Mix yolks and 6 ounces of sugar. Just before milk boils, add yolk mixture to milk. Press seed out of bean pod. Slowly stir on low heat; do not scorch. It’s done when it sticks to the spoon. Take half of vanilla sauce out to cool. Add cornstarch to the other half in pot to make pastry cream. Stir on low heat until thick. Cool. Whip whites in mixer. When soft peaks arise, sift in 4 ounces sugar. Whip until stiff. In separate bowl, mix pastry cream, zest, and Grand Marnier. Fold in whites carefully. Fill molds and level off. Bake at 400 degrees and watch them rise; it takes about 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla sauce immediately.
ON THE TABLE: Linen runner, Williams Sonoma, Troy; 248-637-0672 // All other dishware, glasses, and serving pieces, stylist’s own
With Rhoda St. Luce
Rhoda St. Luce’s culinary journey began with a simple get-together featuring vegetarian dishes with her girlfriends at the gym.
One of her friends suggested she start teaching classes, which was a natural fit for St. Luce, who has a teaching background as well as a post-grad secondary education degree from Saginaw Valley State University. She began having classes in her apartment.
These days, she runs The Platinum Chef, a personal chef and catering company that also offers wholesale vegan baked goods; her products can be found at Hiller’s markets, among other local businesses.
She’s working on her first cookbook to be published in the spring; it caters to people who want to become vegan but don’t where to begin, discussing how to incorporate vegetables with grains and meat alternatives.
In creating her vegan menu, St. Luce says her inspiration goes back to her Caribbean roots, and she loves that she can take local dishes and modernize it.
“In the Caribbean culture, we are known for our bold flavors and exotic spices — eating vegan may be bland at times and may be very hard to convince someone that vegan food does not have to be bland,” she says.
For example, the curry Israeli couscous salad has “layers of flavors. You may get crispy in one bite and crunch in the other,” she says, adding, “It makes for an elegant presentation to wow your guest.”
To finish off the meal on a sweet note, the pumpkin spice rum cake is a play off a traditional rum cake popular in the islands. “Around the holidays most people identify with pumpkin and sweet potatoes, which I love to use in my cooking. Taking a traditional cake, making it vegan, and adding pumpkin takes this moist cake to another level.”
Banana rum fizz
8 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces banana Cruzan Rum
3 ounces carbonated water
½ cup ice cubes or crushed ice
Pineapple wheel and banana sliced,
cut ¼- â€Šnch thick, for garnish
Add all the ingredients except garnish in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a large Hurricane glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with pineapple and banana.
Curry Israeli couscous salad with crispy tofu wedges
2 cups Israeli couscous
3½ cups vegetable stock
¼ cup olive oil
â…“ cup red bell peppers, finely chopped
â…“ cup green bell peppers, finely chopped
¼ cup red onions, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro
â…“ cup celery, diced
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1½ teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup spicy pecans (From Trader Joe’s or any brand that you like)
Sea salt to taste
In a medium-size pot on medium-high heat, add dry couscous and slightly toast. When couscous begins to brown, add vegetable stock. Once couscous begins to float and expands, it is almost cooked through. Couscous should be al dente. Drain the excess stock. Transfer couscous to a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Crispy tofu wedges
1 8-ounce package extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Pinch of salt and black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
Drain water from tofu. Cut tofu in half vertically; set aside one half. Slice tofu into 5 quarter-inch thick squares. Cut each square diagonally. Tofu piece should look like wedges. Place each wedge on 2 to 3 layers of white napkins, then cover with 2 to 3 layers of napkins. Place a heavy pot directly on top of tofu for 10 to 15 minutes until excess water has been drained. Season both sides of tofu as desired. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Place tofu in heated oil. Cook tofu 3 minutes on each side or until crispy. Let tofu cool.
Spicy butternut squash and chickpeas chili
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
32 ounces low-sodium vegetable stock
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
3 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
â…› teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 packet Sazon seasoning
1½ cups baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup scallions, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt to taste
In a large pot on medium heat, add canola oil. When oil is hot enough, add mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots) and garlic. Let onion mixture caramelize before adding half of the vegetable stock. When stock begins to boil, add in squash, chickpeas, tomatoes, bay leaves, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and Sazon. Cover pot and cook on medium for 8-10 minutes. Add the rest of the stock as needed. Reduce heat to medium low, then add in portobella mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt to taste.
12 ounces coconut water with pulp
8 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
6 ounces coconut cream
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups jasmine rice
In a large nonstick pot on high heat, add all liquids, oil, and salt. Once water begins to boil, add rice (do not stir). Let rice cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes. As the liquid reduces, reduce heat to medium heat then cover with lid. Let rice cook for 20 minutes or until liquids dry out.
Pumpkin spice rum cake with whipped cream and sweet and spicy pecans
¼ cup Earth Balance margarine, melted
¼ cup sunflower oil or canola oil
1â…“ cups pure raw cane sugar
3 tablespoons Ener-G baking powder
mixed with 6 tablespoons warm water
1 cup canned pumpkin
â…” cup almond milk
â…“ cup dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1¾ cups unbleached pastry flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder,sifted with flour
1 teaspoon baking soda,sifted with flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon coriander
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix margarine, oil, sugar, egg-replacer, pumpkin, almond milk, rum, vanilla, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix sifted flour, baking powder, and soda in separate bowl. Add spices to dry ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients with a wire whisk, and then pour batter into prepared 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Topped with your favorite vegan whipped cream and sweet and spicy pecan pieces.
ON THE TABLE: Ceramic mixing bowls, $45-$60, Nora, Detroit; 313-831-4845 // Bamboo spoon, stylist’s own // Abigail Murray ceramic dinner plates ($40/ea.) and cups ($22/ea.), Willys Detroit; 313-285-1880 // Ultima Thule goblets, $65/ea., Hugh, Detroit; 313-831-4844 // Mixed glazed ceramic bowls, $20/ea., Cherie Lucas Ceramics; 313-820-6400 // Wooden bird stirrer, $18/set of 4, Willys, Detroit; 313-285-1880 // Metal serving bowl, $50, Williams-Sonoma, Troy; 248-637-0672 // Ceramic ice cream and cereal bowls, $26/ea., Nora, Detroit; 313-831-4845 // Jenny Pennywood checked linens, $32/pair, Nora, Detroit // Wooden silverware, $5/set, Fleur Detroit, Bloomfield Hills; 248-953-3840 // Horn spoon and square ceramic platter, stylist’s own // Soup: Kizara wooden plates, $18/set of 8, Nora, 313-831-4845 // Recreation Center bowl, $30/ea., Willys, Detroit; 313-285-1880 // Cake: Square ceramic tray, $30, Cherie Lucas Ceramics, 313-820-6400 // Small ceramic dipping bowl, $4, Williams-Sonoma, Troy; 248-637-0672
With Kate Williams
What would you serve in a castle?
Kate Williams asked herself that when she first came to the Grand Army of the Republic building, where she is opening two highly anticipated restaurants: Parks & Rec and Republic.
“When I first came to the building three years ago, I thought, you know what would be bad ass? How did kings and queens and nobles eat? Everything came from the pasture outside, like the goat was just slaughtered, beans were just harvested; whatever you ate came from 20 feet away,” she says.
Both restaurants in the castle-shaped building will feature primarily Michigan grown and produced food.
Parks & Rec will be more like “chef’s day off,” a diner serving home-cooked-style dishes with a culinary twist. Republic Tavern is “kind of like old European” and will employ old preservation methods and serve small and large plates, with a third of the menu featuring seasonal specials based on what farmers bring in, Williams says.
Gearing up for an opening by the end of the year, Williams says with the exception of grains and citrus, a majority of the products at both restaurants will be local. Among the Michigan food producers she will source from include Brother Nature, Otto’s Chicken from Grand Rapids (Williams is obsessed with the chicken skin, which is like “a chicken chip”), Acre Farms in southwest Detroit, Food Field, Guernsey Dairy, Recovery Pork Farms, and Ernst Farm.
“It’s really exciting how many people are doing such great products really close by,” Williams says.
Cooking seasonally is another inspiration for her; vegetables such as pumpkins and squash, herbs such as rosemary and her favorite, thyme, and slow-cooking methods like braising signal fall, Williams’ favorite season.
Sparkling apple spritzer
1 lady apple, half juiced, half sliced for garnish
4 ounces whiskey
1 ounce dry vermouth
2 dashes bitters
1 cup sparkling apple cider
Fill a large cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add fresh apple juice, whiskey, vermouth, bitters, and apple cider. Shake. Strain into two glasses. Garnish each with an apple half or slice.
Roasted pumpkin bisque with lakefish croquette, toasted walnuts, and candied beet oil
1 medium sugar pumpkin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 whole stems thyme, plus
1 tablespoon picked thyme leaves
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only,
quartered lengthwise, and finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
1 small yellow onion, finely sliced (about ¾ cup)
1 quart homemade chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Split pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Season with salt, pepper, and oil and place cut-side-down on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Scatter whole thyme stems on top. Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours total. Remove from oven and cool. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leeks and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add stock, bay leaves, and brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Scoop out flesh of pumpkin and add to pot. Let simmer for 15 minutes longer, then remove bay leaves and discard. Puree soup in a blender in batches until completely smooth, straining through a fine-mesh strainer to catch any particles or fibers. Add lemon juice and season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2-4 more
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 garlic clove
2-4 tablespoons of your favorite fresh herb
2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2-3 filets of smoked whitefish,
boned, skinned, and torn into small chunks
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 beaten egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs (thinned in a food processor)
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy bottomed saucepan till just simmering. Add chopped onion and cook for 1 minute. Turn heat to medium-low and add garlic, fresh herbs, and flour. Immediately remove from heat. Stir to combine. Return to heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes (be careful not to burn bottom of pan!). Whisk in milk until smooth and then bring to a soft boil. Add whitefish chunks and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Let set until firm. Form croquettes into small balls or logs and in three steps, bread in flour, beaten egg, and finally breadcrumb. Pan sear in another 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil until golden brown on each side.
1 small red beet
¾ cup olive oil, plus some for rubbing
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the beet and cut off the ends. Rub it with olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Wrap it in aluminum foil and roast it in the oven for about an hour, until tender. Scrub the skin off. Puree the beet with the extra virgin olive oil and sugar. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
1 cup raw walnuts
Toast walnuts on dry sheet pan at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until you can slightly smell their aroma.
To assemble: Spoon soup into shallow soup bowls. Drizzle with beet oil and top with croquettes and walnuts to finish.
Caramelized carrots and turnips with radicchio and chèvre dressing
1 pound small-medium size carrots
1 pound small turnips
½ cup maple syrup
Salt and pepper
1 head radicchio, cleaned and sliced or wedged
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean, peel, and slice carrots and turnips. Toss with maple syrup, oil, salt, and pepper.Bake on sheet pan until golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Serve over radicchio and drizzle with chèvre dressing.
1 small garlic clove, smashed
3 ounces creamy fresh goat cheese (chèvre), at room temperature, mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons water
Mince garlic clove until smooth. Place in bowl with salt, chèvre, vinegar, and water. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Ernst Farm pork and navy bean tagine with almond crumb and apple and pickled shishito slaw
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 pounds pork meat (shoulder, bacon, jowls, etc.),
cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 1½ cups chicken stock or water
1-2 cups cooked white beans
1 cup fresh sliced Michigan grapes
or ½ cup golden raisins
Toast coriander and cumin in dry pan until white smoke appears. Remove from heat and pulse in coffee or spice grinder. Toss pork with flour, cumin, coriander, paprika, and ginger in medium bowl; set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Heat oil in tagine or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until starting to caramelize. Add pork and garlic; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until pork is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Add ¾ cup chicken stock or water, white beans (see directions below), and grapes (or raisins), and season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered with tagine top, for 45 minutes to an hour until pork is cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally.
2 pounds dried Michigan navy beans
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
One 6-inch sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh savory (optional)
1 medium dried bay leaf
1 small dried red chili, such as
Chile de árbol, or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Soak the beans overnight in cold water (soaking is optional, but makes the texture creamier and the cooking time shorter). Drain, rinse again, and put in a large saucepan or 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch (more, if you didn’t soak them). Add the onion, thyme, rosemary, savory (if using), bay leaf, chili, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, adjusting the heat as needed to achieve a gentle bubbling. Cover partially and simmer until the beans are tender but still hold their shape. Depending on the variety and freshness of your beans, this could take from 30 minutes to 2 hours, so check frequently, adding more water if the beans get dry. Remove from the heat and let cool in the liquid.
Apple and pickled shishito slaw
2 Granny Smith apples, cut julienne or grated with a cheese grater
½ cup pickled shishito (or pimento peppers), sliced thin
Juice of two lemons
2 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and season to taste.
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons Michigan maple syrup
1 cup chopped raw almonds
Salt to taste
Combine butter and maple syrup in large bowl. Toast almonds in sauté pan with no oil until slightly aromatic. Immediately pour into bowl with butter and maple syrup. Stir constantly to combine and coat all almonds. Sprinkle with salt.
Acorn cake with buttermilk ice cream
½ cup acorn or chestnut flour
½ cup cake flour or all-purpose wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
½ cup oil
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
¼ cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Butter for greasing pans
Grease a 9-inch springform pan or 12 ramekins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the acorn flour, wheat flour, baking soda and powder, and salt in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in another large bowl, beat the egg yolks, oil, maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of sugar together until it looks like caramel. Mix in the dry ingredients. In another bowl, add the egg whites and just a pinch of salt and beat into soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and beat a bit more, so the whites reach firm peak stage. Fold this into the dough a little at a time gently. Pour, or gently place, the dough into the ramekins (remember they will rise!) or the springform pan. Using a rubber spatula, flatten out the top, and place in the oven as fast as you can. Bake for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, watch for burning, as acorn flour browns faster than chestnut flour. Remove from the oven, let rest 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. When they have cooled for a good 15-20 minutes or so, dust with the confectioner’s sugar. Serve with buttermilk ice cream and chopped hazelnuts or pepitas.
Buttermilk ice cream
Adapted from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern
2 cups heavy cream
1¼ cup sugar
12 large egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of salt
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining ¼ câ€Šup of sugar. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions.
ON THE TABLE: Glazed soup bowl, $30, Cherie Lucas Ceramics; 313-820-6400 // Ceramic Tagine, $60, Flax Napkin, $10, Stone Handle Serving Pieces, $40, and Amber Goblet, $13, all at Williams-Sonoma, Troy; 248-637-0672 // Mixed Ceramic Pieces, $25/EA., Cherie Lucas Ceramics; 313-820-6400 // Stone platter, copper teakettle, and black ceramic plate, stylist’s own
with Komodo Kitchen
â€‹Komodo Kitchen is one of the area’s most popular pop-up concepts, evident by the consistent selling out of their events; a dinner at MOCAD sold out in mere minutes.
Gina Onyx, one of Komodo Kitchen’s owners and chefs, attributes their success in a relative short amount of time (they started holding dinners in 2011 with an event at Pinwheel Bakery/Red Hook coffee shop in Ferndale) to timing.
About 20 years ago, it was time to explore Thai in metro Detroit, Onyx says, then 10 years ago it was Vietnamese. Now it’s time for Indonesian, which is hard to find in the area.
When it comes to planning the menu, Onyx thinks about using national dishes and street foods: “I prioritize those types of dishes first before fusing it with American, European, more modern tastes foodies would expect,” she says.
Popular dishes include ketoprak, Batavian noodles with tofu and vegetables, and rendang, a beef curry braised for several hours.
But the most important element of an Indonesian-inspired dinner is the décor. The food is important of course, but the décor is the key. Onyx, along with her partners, greet and serve diners clad in authentic Indonesian clothing and pay attention to every detail, including fresh flowers such as orchids, candles, and authentic music.
“When you come into our pop-up restaurant, you right away can use all your senses,” Onyx says. “You smell it, you hear it, you see it. We convert the space [we are popping up in] like you are in Bali, or you’re in Java, or you’re in Borneo, depending on the theme … so you forget you’re in Ferndale or Hamtramck.”
Tempeh Satay with Piquant Peanut Sauce
1 package organic tempeh
1 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Marinate tempeh overnight with sweet soy and lime juice. The next day cut into cubes and skewer 3 cubes for each satay. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve with peanut sauce and garnish with fried shallots.
3 garlic cloves
1 bird’s-eye chili pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 whole kaffir lime leaf
1 cup roasted ground peanuts
½ cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce
Lime zest and juice from 1 lime
½ cup hot water
Mix garlic, shallots, and chili in a blender with a tablespoon of oil. Sauté mixture in a hot pan with the kaffir lime leaf. Add ground peanuts, sweet soy sauce, zest, lime juice, and hot water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least an hour, stirring often to prevent burning at the bottom.
2-4 bags high quality jasmine tea, depending on how strong you want the tea
1 package frozen pandan leaves
4 cups of water
1 disk palm sugar
Brew jasmine tea with half of the pandan leaves. Bring to room temperature. Boil the water with the rest of the pandan leaves and palm sugar to make simple syrup (cook until sugar is dissolved). Serve tea with ice and pandan palm syrup.
Balinese chicken with carrot acar
2-4 rotisserie chicken breasts, depending on size, shredded
1 stalk fresh lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon galangal powder
1 cup of sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)
1 cup of crushed tomato, canned or fresh
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cutcherry powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup oil
Salt to taste
Bruise the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal powder. Add to the rest of the ingredients and saute until aromatic. Add shredded chicken breast. Serve with rice and carrot acar.
8-10 carrots, shaved or cut into ribbons
2 cups hot water
4 cups vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
4 inches fresh ginger
A couple of bird’s-eye chilies
Handful Thai basil
4 cloves garlic
4 shallots, peeled
Marinate carrot ribbons/shaved carrots in hot water, vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, bird’s-eye chili, Thai basil, garlic, and shallots overnight. Drain the next day.
Java lava/arenga panna cotta with arenga palm sauce and rendang candied cashews
½ cup whole milk
1½ teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1½ cups heavy cream
3 heaping teaspoons instant espresso powder
¼ cup sugar
Place the milk in a heavy, small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves, but the milk does not boil, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, espresso powder, sugar, and salt. Stir over low heat, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Pour the cream mixture into 2 martini glasses, dividing equally. Cover and refrigerate, stirring every 20 minutes during the first hour. Chill until set, at least 6 hours and up to 2 days. Serve with cashews.
Rendang candy cashews
1 pound roasted salted cashews
1 tablespoons rendang spice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup melted arenga palm sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cashews, rendang spice, cayenne pepper, and sugar in a big bowl to coat. Pour mixture on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes for even baking. Cool completely and crumble for topping.
1 disk of arenga palm sugar
1-2 cups water
Melt sugar in water in a saucepan. Add pandan leaves to infuse the syrup. Cook over low heat and keep whisking until the sugar is dissolved, about a half-hour.
ON THE TABLE: Wooden “Scoop, Stab & Spread” servers, $45/set, walnut tray with red trim, $49, and shallow walnut bowl, $125, all at Nora, Detroit; 313-831-4845 // Orange “Cantine” dinner plate, $30, Williams-Sonoma, Troy; 248-637-0672 // Red antique serving tray, $495, Fleur Detroit, Bloomfield Hills; 248-953-3840
Kelli Lewton, chef and owner of 2 Unique Caterers & Event Planners, offers the following tips for a successful soirée:
Décor: “You can find just about anything online these days and depending on what your theme might be, you and or friends could have props that could be incorporated into your look,” Lewton says. For example, she catered a party over the summer with a midsummer theme, and the client borrowed globe-style candles from everyone she knew. Stores like Target or Michaels might be good for some knickknacks. Linens are always a great base and a good way to start with tablescaping. She recommends Fabulous Events in West Bloomfield and Chair Covers & Linens in Warren; for larger rental props the Display Group in Detroit is the best, she says. Tablescaping is an art no matter what you’re serving, Lewton says. Remember to build a stage for your food, and include some risers, fun linen, maybe even some cool signage, accent linen over risers perhaps, greenery tucked in, etc. For the French theme, she suggests a cool poster or small framed piece of art.
Menu planning: If you are going to cook yourself, do the research and have a good plan for production, Lewton says. Your big night is not the time to experiment with a new recipe. Plan and select a menu that works for prepping ahead; “you should not be making items that will need a ton of finish work at the last minute,” she says. Create a plan that includes:
Shopping: dry goods, fresh foods, décor, beverage items, paper goods, rentals, etc.
Prep list starting 3-4 days out to include: The bulk of raw prep, things you can do ahead: dicing, cleaning, peeling, and sauces. Try to do anything that you can do long before and freeze, such as pastries. For example, a fall theme menu might have more platter-style food so it would be easier to serve without a lot of continual prep throughout the evening. Think roasted vegetable platter or autumn pork loin platter with apple cherry relish.
Cocktails: Less is more: Have one or two specialty cocktails in a fun glass that matches the food theme and then wine and/or beer and wine. Lewton says ditch the pop and try a fun sparkling flavored water or flavored still water like cucumber and citrus that you can make yourself and serve in pretty glass jars. For example, this month might call for: a caramel appletini, cider sparkling water with fruit garnishes, or cocoa with orange liqueur, she says, as well as harvest beers and fun wines