Category Archives: Drinks

Pork & Clams Love This Combination

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I am always looking for ways to expand what Jana will try when it comes to food, and in all honestly she has come a very long way since we met. I have found that the trick is to combine ingredients/dishes that she loves with ingredients/dishes that she might be a little reluctant to try. Steamed Clams is a dish that she really has no desire to eat (a texture thing as it is for most people) So I decided to add some delicious Pork Meatballs to the mix (everyone loves meatballs) and see if this was enough to bribe her to dig into a beautiful bowl of Manilla Clams. Well yes it was enough for her to try but in the end the meatballs and grilled Country Levain disappeared much faster out of her bowl than the clams. I did find myself wondering if this was such a bad thing as I did end up with to large bowls of steamed clams for myself 🙂 (maybe deep down that is what I was hoping for?).

I picked 2 fantastic beers to pair with this dish the 1st beer being Magic Hat #9, I was very excited about this pairing as it is one of my favorite beers and at $3.99 for a 22oz bottle you cant beat it. TRY THIS BEER. For the 2nd beer I picked a beer I had not yet tried The Lost Abbey’s Avant Garde, and this was a perfect match, I found myself wanting more (could have been that it was my second bottle and I was in a very happy place) and at $8.99 for 750ml bottle, worth every penny. Yes Beer & Clams should be a classic combination if it is not considered one yet!! Jana is not much of a beer drinker so I picked up one of her favorite go to sparklings, LaMarca Prosecco D.O.C Prosecco is made from the white grape, Glera. This expressive grape is prized for its delicate flavors and aromatics, and this creates a very nice combination with most shellfish dishes. Sells for $14.99.

Our resident Wine Expert Amy Payne is still in London finishing up her externship at Decanter Magazine but stay tuned for her pairings to return very soon.


2 lbs Clams Soak in Salted Water, Changing the water until there is no more dirt in the bowl
1 Leek White Only, Cleaned and Chopped
1 Fennel Bulb Core Removed and Sliced
2 Shallots Sliced
2 Garlic Cloves Chopped
10pc Fennel Seed
1/4 Cup Magic Hat #9 Beer
1/4 Cup Fresh Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup Chopped Italian Parsley
Fennel Fronds
2 TBSP Butter Cold

Pork Meatballs
1/2 Lb Ground Pork
1 Shallot Fine Diced Shallot
1 TBSP Fine Diced Fennel
1 Garlic Clove Fine Diced
4 Leaves Italian Parsley Chopped
1/2 TSP Chopped Fennel Fronds
Orange Zest (couple scrapes along the microplane)
6 Fennel Seeds Crushed
Salt & Pepper
TSP Grape Seed Oil

Add oil to a saute pan on low to medium heat
Add Shallot, fennel, garlic and fennel seed (constantly stirring) cook for about 2 minutes then cool
In a mixing bowl add ground pork and mix in rest of ingredients (keeping as cold as possible)
Form meatballs about 1 oz in weight.

For the grilled bread I used a Country Levain brushed with olive oil and then finished with a little parsley and Fleur de Sel. grilled on a panini machine my mom and dad gave us for christmas. (best gift by the way) If you have a favorite bread that grills well then use that. (does not need to be fresh bread, a day or two old is just fine)

Putting the dish together

Cook the meatballs in a large pan (something with sides and a lid) with a little oil
Once the meatballs are about 3/4 cooked remove from the pan and put aside.
Using the same pan (you want to keep all the amazing flavor left over from the meatballs) add the leeks, shallot, fennel and fennel seeds.
Cook for about 2 mins on medium heat.
Add Garlic and Clams at the same time and mix
Turn on high heat and add Beer, Juice, Stock and cover
Cook until all the clams have opened.

Remove Clams from pan, leaving the liquid behind.
Add meatballs to liquid and finish with butter, parsley and fennel fronds check for seasoning.

Place clams in bowl with meatballs and cover with liquid
Serve with Grilled Bread and a glass of your favorite wine or beer.

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Valentine’s Dinner Ideas

We asked, “What would you like your Valentine to make you for dinner?” and you answered risotto, crepes, something french, a dinner that begins with Champagne and more than a few said reservations. Personally, I’d take the latter as dinner prepared by my beloved family means heaps of dishes and too many questions on where to find things. Jason had a great gig going for the kitchen-impared guy on Valentine’s Day. Those who wanted to impress their significant other with a “home cooked meal” signed up for an afternoon with my brother, who opened the hotel kitchens for a Valentines inspired cooking lesson. Not only would the eager to please men learn how to prepare a three course meal, but they took the entire meal (prepared) home with them to re-heat! Genius.

We’ve included a couple of our greatest hits. If you don’t have time to pull these off tonight, get it together for Friday or Saturday! Add a bouquet of pretty flowers and a bottle of this Cremant de Bourgogne.

CrĂŞpes with Poached Chicken, Herbs and Gruyere Cheese
For the actual crĂŞpes, use the recipe listed below; OMIT the sugar and add 1 tbsp of fresh chopped herbs.
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
milk, enough to cover
italian flat leaf parsley
fresh thyme
fresh tarragon
fennel, sliced thinly (about 1/2 cup)
salt & pepper
deep saute pan with lid

Butterfly the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper. Pour in enough milk to cover the bottom of the pan and put in half of your herbs (no need to chop the herbs up, just the fennel into slices). Place your chicken breasts into the pan and lay the remaining herbs over them. Add enough milk to almost cover the chicken. Cover and simmer at a very low heat; about 15 minutes. Do not boil. Flip once during the cooking time and cook for another 15 mintues. Once the chicken is cooked and tender, remove from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it into thin strips.

In a bowl, add enough of the cheese sauce to coat the chicken. Place desired amount of chicken into each crĂŞpe, roll it up and spoon the cheese sauce over the rolled up crĂŞpe. Garnish with chopped fresh chives. Serve with asparagus.

Gruyere Cheese Sauce
5 tbsp butter
5 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt & pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a very thick sauce. This is called a roux! Add the milk 1 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the stock, whisk well (the stock will thin out the sauce and add flavor). Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cheese in three stages, whisking well. You can make this ahead and re-heat just before serving.

1 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup water
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
small pinch of salt
1/4 cup peanut oil

Combine flour, sugar, salt in a mixing bowl and form a small well. Combine eggs and buttermilk and mix well. Combine Egg mixture to flour mix well. Add the water a little at a time, you are looking for consistency of slightly thickened whole milk (you may not need all the water). Finish batter with melted butter. Warm a small amount of oil on medium heat, making sure the oil is spread throughout the pan. Pour about 1/8 of a cup batter in the center of the pan and tilt the pan in all directions, moving the batter around until it is a very thin layer. You will need to work quickly. The crepe will take about 90 seconds to cook. Flip over and cook for about 30 more seconds. Place on baking paper and let cool.
The crepes can be cooked ahead of time, wrapped and stored in plastic. Cook your crepes in a 8 inch non stick pan (if you are confident you can use a well seasoned stainless steel pan).

350 grams Acquerello rice
300 ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock), needs to be hot
75 ml white wine
1 shallot, finely diced
2 large fennel bulbs, small dice
1 tbsp oil
1 L chicken or vegetable stock, needs to be hot, for use in the second stage of cooking
1/2 c parmesan, freshly grated
acid butter (recipe below)

In a sauce pot, add oil and fennel, cooking on medium heat for about 5 minutes; until fennel is brown. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute, be careful not to burn shallots. Add the rice and toss well with fennel and shallots, cooking for about 1 minute. Season with a pinch of salt and a couple turns of white pepper. Add wine and reduce until dry. Add all of the 300 ml of stock at once and cook until all the stock is reduced. Stir constantly. Once the liquid is reduced dry, remove from heat and spread on a baking sheet and cover tight with plastic wrap. Let is sit on counter until cool. Once the rice is completely cooled, you can store in an airtight container for 1 day.

The key to the best risotto, is to ensure that the stock is boiling when it is added to the rice. You do not want to shock the rice with cold liquid as this will damage the rice grains and start to break them down.

Finishing the Rice
Bring 1 litre of stock to a boil. Place the cooled rice in a sauce pot and turn on the element onto medium-high heat. Add a 1/4 of the liquid and stir. Add more liquid to the rice a little at a time until the kernels are soft but still have a slight bite to them. This should take about 8-10 minutes. To finish the rice, add about 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and a 1/2 cup acid butter; this needs to be added at the very last second, just before serving. Season to taste.

Acid Butter
1 small onion, sliced thin
250 g salted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
150 ml white wine vinegar
200 ml white wine

In a sauce pot add onion, vinegar and white wine all at once and reduce until completely dry; this is very important – there needs to be no liquid left in the pot, but do not brown the onions. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter a little at a time; this will create an emulsion. Keep whisking until you will have a creamy emulsion. Strain through a very fine sieve. Place in the refrigerator with a thin layer of plastic wrap, but do not cover air tight as you need to leave room for steam to escape. Once this is cool, the butter will solidify. Now cover it with airtight lid. This can be done the day before.

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Tarte Flambée

Just to be clear this is not actually a pizza ;-), but a very classic dish from Alsace, France. I have had guest very upset saying I miss lead them with the name, asking why I just don’t call it a pizza, I have also had a couple of guests shocked that it was not a dessert when delivered to their table. (there is a sweet variant with crème fraĂ®che, sliced apples, sugar and cinnamon) Classic recipe calls for fromage blanc, lardons, thinly sliced onions and was square in shape not round. The dish was actually created to test the temperature of the wood fire ovens used for baking bread. I could eat this dish for breakfast,(Crack an egg on this dish about 3 minutes before finished cooking and you have Brunch) lunch, dinner, midnight snack.
To me this dish is a great example of how something so simple can be so amazing, I have adapted the recipe a little but staying in line with the classic flavors. I started with a simple pizza dough recipe, covered in crème fraiche, bacon, red onion and topped it all off with a cheese from Carr Valley in Wisconsin called Mellage You want to find a cheese with some sharpness, to compliment the richness of this dish, something along the lines of a gruyère would give you a great starting point when speaking with your cheesemongor.
I also decided to serve an Arugula salad, one of my favorite lettuces, and it goes extremely well with a rich dish like the Tarte flambĂ©e. When ever creating a dish always remember to think about layers of flavor and textures and this will really help in putting together a balanced dish. The salad consisted of apricots, fennel, hazelnuts and a spanish sheep’s milk cheese Cana de Oveja. To be honest if I were to serve this salad with the Tarte again I would not add cheese as it ended up being to much cheese.
Hope you enjoy.

Amy’s Picks
Top pick: Champagne or sparkling wine. It is a match made in heaven for the same reason as pizza and beer. The bubbles cleanse the palate of any residual grease from the bacon and cheese.
Every day: Barth Sekt, Rheingau, Germany
Premium: Ayala, Brut Majeur, Champagne, France
Splurge: Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier, Premier Cru Brut, Champagne, France

Playing it safe: Alsace Riesling. Tarte flambé can be salty because of the bacon. Riesling contrasts and balances the dish with its residual sweetness. Because of its higher acidity, it pairs with (almost) everything. Many people think that all Riesling is uber sweet, but there are plenty of dry styles on the market. Alsace Rieslings tend to be dry because of the rain shadow effect. Try to look for any of the 51 Grand Cru vineyards.
Recommended producers (pricing will vary depending on the vineyard that you select): F. E. Trimbach, Hugel and Marcel Deiss
Off the beaten track: Rosé. Try a dry, crisp and aromatic style. It will complement the dish, not contrast. So this is for people who love salt and want it to be accentuated in the dish.
Every day: Korta Katarina, Plavac Mali, Zinfandel, Croatia
Premium: Château d’Esclans, Whispering Angel, Provence, France
Splurge: Chateau Vannieres, La Cadiere d’Azur, Bandol, Var, Cote d’Azur, France
Amy Payne

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Eating & Moving

Thanks to Jay for keeping A Michelin and A Mom going the last two weeks. The lamb and summer squash looks divine. We sold our house at the end of May, leaving us only six weeks to pack up, clean and move up to our cabin for the summer. For the next two months, I’ll be working out of a small, primitive kitchen with a stove that runs on propane. Our lakeside cabin is surrounded by impressive snow capped mountains – it’s a truly Canadian experience. The lake is stocked with trout (I’m hoping to find the magic lure to land us a keeper this weekend). There are bears, coyotes, loons, an heron, eagles and yes – beavers. Between sorting the boxes and packing up the kids and dogs, I’ve had little if no time to cook or even photograph the meals kind friends and family have been feeding us. One of our last meals in civilization, courtesy of my sister-in-law, included thick cut steaks, twice baked potatoes and this gorgeous salad served with fresh peaches.

Up at the cabin, we’ve fired up the grill a few times already, cooking spring salmon with lemon and fresh herbs. Our first night here we ate bison burgers. I like to make my own burgers, but also to keep it simple. To the ground meat I usually add an egg, a handful of breadcrumbs, a little Montreal Steak Spice and about a ¼ of a red onion finely chopped. Remember to make your patties larger than the bun size to accommodate shrinkage during the cooking process. We switched to bison/buffalo for our burgers a couple of years ago after a visit to a working buffalo ranch run by a Swiss couple.

With seven kids to feed this week, my truly awesome neighbor whipped up fresh pizza dough for “individual pizzas”….a huge hit. Despite being in the woods, we still had prosciutto and olives for the grown ups. I love the fact that I’ve landed neighbours who enjoy cooking and eating great food (and drinking wine on our decks). After another long day of hiking and swimming, my kids and my niece devoured their bowls of mixed bean and beer chili with homemade bread tonight.

This view makes everything look and taste better!

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Welcome Amy Payne

We are very excited to introduce Amy Payne to A Michelin and A Mom. Amy will be our resident sommelier, here to answer any questions you have about wine and offer up amazing wine pairings to go along with the recipes we create. Send us your wine questions to keep Amy busy! You can also find Amy on Twitter @amypayne858 and at her own blog sommelierdiaries.

Amy is a native to sunny San Diego and is currently enrolled in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. She comes from a background of fine dining and is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommelier program. Although Amy has always had a passion for writing, she found her passion of wine while studying abroad in Paris, France. She recently placed as a bronze medalist in the TOP|SOMM competition in April 2010, won an educational enrichment program to Bordeaux in August 2010, passed service and tasting of the Advanced Level Exam in October 2010 and was most recently the Wine Director at L2O, a 3 Michelin Star awarded restaurant. Her goal is to work for a wine trade magazine and develop an educational documentary series on wine. When she is not working, Amy enjoys running, yoga, cooking, guitar, reading, travel and ridiculously good wine with great company.

Amy’s wine philosophy:
More often than not, people are intimidated by wine. In reality, the only thing you need to know is what you like. The days of the old stiff sommelier are over and the generation of young wine enthusiasts, such as myself, are fighting the battle to make wine more approachable. My goal is to open your eyes to wine that you may have otherwise overlooked and defeat misperceptions. My only request is that you give every wine an honest chance. For example, Riesling isn’t always sweet and despite what Miles on Sideways says, Merlot fetches the highest prices among wine collectors. For the record, his most prized wine was the 1961 Château Cheval Blanc, a Merlot based blend. My philosophy on pairing wine with food is pretty similar – you don’t always have to drink white wine with fish and red wine with beef. I look forward to a joint effort of pairing wines with Chef McLeod and Karlin’s artful creations. Stay tuned!

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Summer Refreshment

Last August my daughter opted for dinner and shopping in the city instead of a birthday party; smart kid. The restaurant was pretty, low lit, had banquet seating and attentive staff. The kids started with a modern version of the “mocktails” we used to drink; think Shirley Temple in our day but without the ghastly amounts of sugar and colour. My daughter’s was so good I recreated a version of it at home. You can use this base to mix with club soda, ginger ale, San Pelligrino or for the adults, add it to your G&T. At a recent camp out for my best friend’s birthday, I brought this for our late afternoon cocktails by the lake. It was a posh drink in a plastic cup and it was a huge success! Below are very simple instructions – you can add more or less of whichever ingredient you like best. Enjoy your summer sipping!

Lime, Ginger, Mint Fizzy Drink
1 handful fresh, washed mint
1 3” piece of fresh ginger
6 limes
Chop the mint into ribbons and the ginger into small pieces. Zest two of the limes and juice all six. Mix all of these ingredients together and add a pinch of sugar. Leave this mixture to “marinate” in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (or longer). Using a piece of cheesecloth, strain the liquid into another container; this liquid should be a lovely pale green colour! Use this with club soda, ginger ale or San Pelligrino. Also delicious with a gin & tonic – serve with lots of ice.

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