When experimenting with ingredients in recipes sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Okay, let’s be honest, most of the time you come out with something fine, but that you probably wouldn’t make again. Those rare times when you do hit on real success are all the more satisfying for that very reason. Read more
Most women I know rate chocolate desserts and cheesecake at the top of the list for things that satisfy their sweet tooth. Read more
I celebrated another birthday yesterday. I won’t tell you which one… which means I’m definitely getting older. Over the weekend my husband, Josh took me to The Whitney, a gorgeous restored mansion-turned-restaurant, in Detroit and The Common Grill in Chelsea for two delicious dinners. To keep the ‘The… [Restaurant Name]” theme going, for my actually birthday dinner yesterday I thought it would be fun to try The Sardine Room in Plymouth, which I hadn’t been to yet.
They don’t normally take reservations for small parties early in the evenings, but when Josh called on Saturday they were kind enough to accommodate us with a 6:15 Monday reservation. It was lively when we walked in, but not completely full. It’s long and narrow with sleek high-top tables backlit by a contemporary lighted wall. We were lucky enough to be seated in a booth in the back that had a view of the kitchen.
The Sardine room focuses mainly on small plate style dishes with a few snack items and larger entrees and also some soups and salads on the menu. We went with the intention of sharing several dishes so we narrowed down our choices and decided on this selection: fried green tomatoes, a cheese board, pan seared sea scallops (for Josh), and fish tacos (for me). We also chose a larger fried chicken dinner to split that was on special. It came with a choice of two sides so we went with the mac and cheese with button mushrooms and grilled corn on the cob.
The cheese board came out first and included a cheddar with Cajun spices (my favorite), a double cream cheese and a humbolt fog goat cheese with a layer of ash, all accompanied by truffle honey a few baguettes slices and something called pear mostarda. The honey was fabulous drizzled on all the cheeses. I had never considered doing that before, but definitely will going forward! The pear mostrada was a sweet fruity condiment with a hint of mustard seed; also very good. I would have loved a few more slices of bread, but I was happy enough eating the remaining cheese straight from the board with my fork and a little honey on top.
Next came the fried green tomatoes dusted in cornmeal and topped with a smoked corn relish, chile remoulade, and scallions. They were tasty, but we vacationed in Charleston, SC a few weeks ago, so we were a bit spoiled by the amazing Southern version we had down there and this didn’t quite stack up for me.
Josh loved the pan seared scallops with pork belly confit, house bbq, hollandaise, pickled onion. I’ll have to take him at his word since I’m very allergic. It’s one of his favorite foods so he has high standards, which these apparently met.
My fish tacos were made with grilled red snapper with thyme scented cabbage, corn salsa, jalapeno slaw, tequila lime crème and served in soft corn tortillas. The tacos were tied with the cheese board as my favorite dish of the night. It was my first time eating snapper, which I thought was deliciously moist and tender. The slaw and lime crème gave a nice bright note of freshness.
Our last savory item of the night was the fried chicken dinner special. This was probably my least favorite part of the meal, although Josh really enjoyed it. I thought the skin was crisped nicely, but lacked seasoning. The mac and cheese was on the liquid side, almost like processed cheese, and I prefer a firmer style, although the breadcrumbs were good. The grilled corn on the cob was nicely seasoned, simple, but tasty.
Even with all that food I couldn’t pass up dessert on my birthday so I had the strawberry rhubarb shortcake. It took a little while to come out, but was worth the wait in my opinion. I loved that they used a pâte à choux style dough instead of the traditional biscuit or pound cake. It was light and airy with a nice buttery flavor that complimented the perfectly sweetened pieces of fruit.
They also have extensive cocktail, beer and wine lists. I was considering something called the hemingway – el dorado 3 year white rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, luxardo maraschino – but decided to keep it simple and stick with non-alcoholic iced tea instead.
Our server was great too. Very friendly, he made a point to ask if we had been there before and if we enjoyed our visit enough to return again, which we told him we definitely did.
I have a fabulous co-worker who used to live in Belgium and when she came to town once brought waffles coated in Belgian chocolate as gifts. They were sugary, crunchy and the chocolate was unbeatable (this coming from non-chocoholic). I’ve been in search of something similar locally ever since. I’ve been a fan of this place called Taste of Belgium at the North Market in Columbus, OH where they make both delicious crepes and waffles, but I wanted something here in Michigan.
The Wafel Shop is another in a series of new restaurants to open in downtown Ann Arbor in the last several months. Josh and I stopped in to The Wafel Shop for a light breakfast this past weekend, the first weekend they were open. Their standard waffles come with butter and powdered sugar, additional toppings are extra. I went with the Liege style waffle because it sounded very similar to what I had been looking for, sugary and crisp with the same dense texture. I added Biscoff spread and fresh raspberries. Josh chose the Brussles Wafel and added peanut butter and banana. To drink I had a caramel latte and Josh had a hot chocolate.
The food and drinks came up quickly, everything seemed well organized and they had the right amount of staff while we were there for the early morning rush. My latte was decent, not as good as some coffee shops in the area, but definitely serviceable. Josh really enjoyed the hot chocolate, and he’s pickier about that type of drink than most.
I loved my waffle. It was thick, crispy on the edges and I could taste the sugar pearls that were inside that give it a real distinction from the typical American waffle. The Biscoff spread was sweet and had that sugar cookie goodness. I was glad I added raspberries because their acidity and tartness were perfect for cutting through the sweetness of the spread so it wasn’t too much. Next time I would leave the butter off, it didn’t add much with the other toppings already adding a richness. I tried a bite of Josh’s waffle and it was tasty too, although not as much flavor in the waffle itself it did have a nice light airy texture. It was good Elvis style with the banana and PB combo.
I would definitely go back, but I think I’d prefer it for a snack or dessert to breakfast. I like more food in the morning and while I commend them for not trying to overreach and do too much, their menu is simple – waffles and drinks. The toppings aren’t enough to fill me up. I think they should continue to keep it simple though. They certainly seem to have mastered these Belgian style waffles and I don’t want to see that change. Dessert is just fine with me!
They also had chocolate covered waffles in a case, why I didn’t get one on the way out is beyond me, especially because it may have been very close to the original Belgian treat my co-worker gave me! Next time for sure.
I had a yammerin’ to bake a fruit dessert this weekend (yeah, that’s right, a yammerin’). Most women think first of chocolate for dessert, I am one of the rare few that would pick fruit-based desserts over chocolate almost any day of the week.
I ruffled through Pinterest, one of my newer online addictions, for some enticing photos of various fruit galettes. A galette is a simpler, more rustic version of a pie that doesn’t include the fuss of a pie plate or nicely crimped crust so it’s perfect for a day when you’d like to put together an easy dessert.
I came across this recipe for a Honey Pear Galette which sounded right up my alley. I liked that it had a slight twist of adding a cinnamon vanilla pastry cream to the base of the crust. Other fruit galettes I’ve made before where simply fruit, sugar and the crust, this added a more elevated appeal that didn’t add too much effort.
I opted for using store-bought refrigerated pie dough (baking blasphemy, I know!), because again, my original intent was to make this an easy dessert. I’ve also had good success with the Pilsbury pre-made pie crusts in the past. I chose some lovely red Anjou pears for this treat, which I hadn’t tried before. They were perfectly sweet, but still firm. I followed the original recipe note to sprinkle some flour over the top of the fruit after it was layered on the pastry cream, but before baking. I think next time I would toss the pear slices with the flour and salt before layering the slices for a prettier presentation. As you may see in the photo, even after baking, not all of the flour absorbed into the pears.
The smell that permeated the kitchen while this baked was intoxicating. The crust was colored a lovely golden brown after baking from the egg wash brushed on just before it went in the oven. The pears were the perfect tenderness and had a touch of added sweetness from the drizzle of honey added while the galette was still warm. The pasty cream added a lusciousness beyond the basic fruit version, just as I had hoped. What a tasty winter treat!
What are some of your favorite fruit desserts?
Honey Pear Galette with Pastry Cream
adapted from kokocooks
Print Friendly Version
- 1 c whole milk
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
- 4 Tbs sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Pilsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust – one round layer
- 3 ripe red Anjoy pears or another variety, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs all purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbs honey
For the pastry cream: Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix together cornstarch, sugar, salt, and egg in a small bowl. When milk starts to boil, remove from heat. Slowly pour 1/3 c of the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the hot mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk, whisk to combine. Place saucepan over medium heat until the mixture thickens, whisking constantly (about 2 minutes.) Pour pastry cream into a small bowl and chill for 20 minutes.
For the galette: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Roll pastry pie crust into a 12-inch circle on parchement paper. Transfer crust on the parchment to a baking sheet. Spread pastry cream in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Toss pear slices with the flour and salt in a small bowl. Arrange the pear slices on top of the pastry cream. Fold edges of the crust over the pears. Brush the crust with a small amount of the egg wash. Bake until the crust is golden, about 35 minutes. While the galette is still warm drizzle exposed pears with honey transfer to a wire rack to cool.
I promised my husband that I would publicly credit him with find of this new restaurant in Ypsilanti, the Blue Wolf Grill, so here it is Josh (if you’re reading this). Granted, I had not heard that it was coming and I’m usually the first to know when a restaurant will be opening within a 20 mile radius of where we live, let alone right in our own town. However, I haven’t driven down that area of Washtenaw in a while and he was picking up dinner the other night and happened to drive by this new find. Lucky for me (and him) he mentioned his sighting of this new restaurant that had opened just this past Friday near the corner of Hewitt and Washtenaw in what was the old Cosmic Garden years ago (oh, how I miss their sweet potato fries to this day!) and more recently was a Middle Eastern spot. I was thrilled to hear that it was no longer empty and even happier when I looked up their website and found an interesting, well-priced, local ingredient based menu.
We stopped in for lunch today and were not disappointed. They had a soft opening for friends and family earlier last week, but just opened to the public as of Friday. We were the only diners around 3 p.m. on a Sunday, but our waitress was friendly and quick and the food was delicious.
The tables are dressed with real cloth tablecloths and cute little mission style candle holders. My husband hopes they upgrade the black plastic chairs at some point, but I didn’t mind because they were still comfortable which was what was important to me (and my behind).
The menu has a nice mix of soups, salads sandwiches, pastas and entrees with a nice little twist to each. The prices range from $6-$10 for salads and sandwiches to $12-$18 for the nicer dinners, which include a side, a salad and a roll. It would be easy to find something to please a wide range of palates and pocketbooks at the Blue Wolf.
I have been eating a lot more meatless meals lately and was happy to find several vegetarian options that appeared to be well thought out, not just your typical black bean burger or pasta with sauce here. I considered one of the interesting salads, butternut squash ravioli with roasted apples and curry cream sauce, but decided on the Grilled Veggie Panini.
The sandwich came on fresh herb focaccia with mozzarella and had a nice assortment of vegetables, including portobellos, yellow squash, roasted red pepper, red onion, fresh spinach as well as a hummus spread. This was not your standard veggie sandwich that is slapped on the menu to appeal to a few vegetarians. The vegetables were nicely grilled and well seasoned, the bread was herby and fresh. The flavors of this sandwich came together nicely. It also came with a pickle some tasty ruffled chips, although you can upgrade to the house fries for another dollar.
Josh opted for the Wolf Sliders, four sliders with your choice of pulled pork or chuck burgers, or a mix of both. He went for two of each. The sauce on the pulled pork is on the sweeter side which is right up his alley. I had a bite and thought it was pretty good too. He really enjoyed the burger sliders which had a slight char to the outside of the meat, but not too much. The fries came with his
We saved room to try one of their three desserts. We had a choice between the whipped chocolate ganache with berries, a croissant bread pudding with creme anglaise or a chocolate Michigan apple cake with vanilla sauce. Our waitress sold us on the bread pudding saying she had it earlier that day and it was her absolute favorite.
The bread pudding was fantastic as promised. The croissant pudding was studded with dried fruits throughout, a touch of chocolate chips on top and served with a delectable vanilla sauce that wasn’t overly sweet. Fresh berries that surrounded the dish were a perfect accompaniment for their acidity. I cannot believe all their desserts are less than five bucks. If I hadn’t been so full I think we would have tried more than one!
I love that another restaurant that has put some thought into their menu, considers local ingredients and something other than just the ordinary has given Ypsilanti a chance for their success. They follow in the footsteps of Beezy’s Cafe, Red Rock, Wurst Bar and Bona Sera. It’s so nice to see something aside from fast food chains becoming a part of the Ypsilanti community. I believe the that the Ypsi folk are welcoming to these types of establishments and they will see strong support. We’ll be back here for sure!