Monthly Archives: June 2015

Pizza on the Grill

pizza and oberonAs I was thinking about the upcoming holiday weekend, I wanted to share this post from my former Blogger account. Let’s celebrate independence from hot kitchens too! One way to keep the house cool during the summer is to use the outdoor gas grill. We have had good luck using an outdoor gas grill as an oven. Not only have we cooked traditional grilled fare, but we have baked burritos and stuffed jalapeños in it – even muffins.

Bob has developed a fabulous pizza on the grill recipe. Because the recipe makes enough dough for two batches – and it freezes easily – it can be eaten twice as often! The added benefit to keeping the house cooler is that pizza tastes great on the grill. For the pizza you will need the usual ingredients: home-made crust, your favorite pizza sauce, and Michigan toppings and cheeses. The goat cheese from Dancing Goat Creamery is especially good on a grilled pizza.

Bob’s Pizza Crust
1 package yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water (105-115 F)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon cooking oil

1. Dissolve the yeast and honey in ¼ cup warm water.
2. Combine the flour and salt. Then add the oil, yeast mixture, and remaining ¾ cup of water.
3. Knead until elastic and smooth.
4. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.
5. Divided into 4 pieces and shape into balls
6. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 1 hour.
7. Either use immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 24 hours. This dough may also be frozen for later use.

When grilling a pizza you must be prepared to work quickly. Preheat the grill on high. (You may need to experiment with your grill since they vary.) Bob leaves the center burner off, so the temperature is hot yet manageable.

Pizza
1. Pre-cook the toppings. We do this on the side burner of the grill.
2. Roll out the dough balls. The thickness can vary, but he likes to maintain some “breadiness.” A bit thicker dough is also easier to handle. He makes two pizzas at a time.
3. Brush a very generous amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on one side of each crust.
4. Place the oiled side of the crust directly on the grill.
5. Oil the top of the crusts and close the cover.
6. Within a few minutes, the crust will be ready to flip with a spatula. So, be ready. The bottom should be browned but not burned.
7. Flip the crusts and close the grill cover.
8. Remove the crusts when the second side is browned.
9. While off of the grill, layer the sauce on top and then add the prepared toppings and cheese.
10. Place the prepared pizzas back on the grill and close the top. Bake just enough to melt the cheese and warm the toppings. About 2-3 minutes.
11. Serve and Enjoy!

pizza crust2

pizza on the grill

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The Sovengard

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Can you picture a beer garden here? Rick Muschiana can. I met him when he was the assistant general manager at Brewery Vivant. Over the past few years, I’ve watched his career and his family, with wife Kelly, expand. Their current project is especially exciting.

The project: The Sovengard Biergarten and Kitchen. It’s a small restaurant and beer garden to be located in Grand Rapids’ near west side. They’ve selected a space between where New Holland and Harmony will be opening their second brewery locations. One of the main features will be an outdoor biergarten that will utilize repurposed shipping containers.

Muschiana has a rough translation of the name Sovengard, which originates from Danish and Norwegian words. “So” means lake, “ven” means friends and “gard” is a general term for a piece of land = “Land of the Lake Friends.”

Much of the funding is secured, and there was always an intention to include a crowd funding campaign to get the community involved early. View their Indiegogo page to see the cool gifts you can get for lending your support. Hurry! Because, the campaign ends June 30th.

During my visit, we spoke extensively about local food and sustainability. The Sovengard has a progressive company culture that’s a departure from the status quo in the restaurant industry and ties into their sustainability goals.

The menu will feature locally sourced food; they’re starting to talk to farmers and producers. The menu will include a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, since that’s a priority the Muschiana family. It will also include thoughtfully sourced animal products and fish in moderation. “It’s important to research the food source,” said Muschiana; “especially the animal products. Seasonal and humanely raised food are part of our developing sustainability mission.”

The food style will be loosely based on a Scandinavian food theme. The menu will change frequently, featuring everything from small plates to full entrees. The drink menu will largely focus on Michigan produced products. “However, we feel that honoring current producers who’ve been doing things the right way for a long time is also important, and therefore, we will have some high quality continental and European offerings too. Think: new school meets old school,” said Muschiana.

He continued, “Restaurants like Grove, Reserve, Terra GR, and Brewery Vivant cultivated the concept of great cuisine in Grand Rapids in the diner’s minds. We want to build on this and add this new cultural exposure.” Muschiana noted that our seasons here in Michigan are similar to Scandinavia and both areas are surrounded by water.

The Sovengard is scheduled to open later this year and will be designed to include greenspace, which the owners feel is an important element in the center of the city. For now, visit their social media pages:
Facebook
Indiegogo
Instagram
Twitter

The Hive Update

I have an update from the fine folks at Wild Mitten Honey Co-op. They’ve been rescuing bee colonies around West Michigan this spring. Spring is when bees tend to swarm; a new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. Joshua at Wild Mitten is contacted when bees are in an inappropriate space – like a child’s bedroom. Here’s their video of the rescues.

They’ve recently rescued six colonies that are in need of homes, so they are ready to fill up the Lavender Hive that I wrote about earlier. LOOK here for their GoFundME site. The money will be used to purchase the hive equipment to get these bees settled into a new home. Plus, you get some fresh, local, raw honey to eat!

A Gathering at Ganders

IMG_1543When you think of local food in Grand Rapids, which areas do you think you will find it? Uptown and Downtown? Well, yes BUT, take a look at the new Ganders Restaurant (named for Michigander!) in the DoubleTree hotel near the airport. They have a great Michigan menu filled with Michigan seasonal produce, dairy, beans, and meats, along with beer, wine, and spirits.

Hours:

Monday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. (Kitchen is open until 11:00 p.m.)
Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. (Kitchen is open until 11:00 p.m.)
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

They also have private and semi-private spaces for groups. They recently hosted the West MI area bloggers for a complimentary dinner event. It was great to learn about other blogs over such delicious, locally sourced food. Give them a try!

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Although my dinner was provided by the restaurant, these opinions are my own.

Strawberry Shortcake Time

The beacon of summer – quarts of strawberries – are showing up at Michigan Farmers Markets, Farm Stands, and Grocery stores. And, you know those spongy plastic-like cakes that are used for shortcake right? I try to avoid that kind of stuff, so when I saw this shortcake recipe full of healthy ingredients – I gave it a try right away. It’s been my Dreaming of Summer Dessert this winter using strawberries that I froze last summer.

For the shortcake: (This makes about 4)

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup water
Put everything except the water into a food processor, fitted with the ‘s’ blade. Pulse until crumbled. Add the water and blend on high until a dough begins to form.
Using your hands, roll dough into 4 palm-sized balls. Using hands, flatten each ball into small cakes about 5 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick.

For the whipped cream:
1 cup organic raw cashews soaked for 2 hours (if you don’t have a high-speed blender soak for 4 hours)
¼ to 1/2 cup filtered water depending on desired thickness
1 or 2 Tbsp maple syrup, to taste
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
a pinch of sea salt
Put everything into the blender and puree until thick and creamy.
It is a good idea to start with ¼ cup of water, and then gradually thin it out in order to achieve the desired thickness.

For the fruit:
1/2 to 1 pound strawberries, depending how many you like.
De-stem, chop, and mash them to make a chunky sauce.

Assemble. You can make either a double-decker shortcake, which serves 2, or a single layer to make 4 desserts. Using a spatula, place a shortcake on the bottom of a dessert plate. Top with strawberries, then whipped cream. If going double-decker, add the second shortcake, more strawberries, then more whipped cream.

Devour! And, know that you ate something much healthier than you might otherwise have eaten.

Raw Strawberry Shortcake

This raw food shortcake recipe had been bouncing around the internet. I saw it through Sista in the Raw on Facebook and they got it from Well and awake. The whipped cream recipe is from Healthy Blender Recipes.

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BBQ Tofu

If you’ve spent much time in Grand Rapids, you know about – and probably frequented – Gaia Cafe. It closed in 2014. But, I still have their BBQ tofu recipe! It was the best. The recipe was published in Grand Rapids Magazine in 2012, and I recently came across it in a folder. It has a few steps, so you have to get started a day or so ahead of when you will serve it.

First, freeze up a package or two of water packed extra firm tofu at least over night. Thaw it, slice into 3/4 inch slices, and squeeze the water out of the tofu until it’s fairly dry.

marinaded BBQ TofuMake a batter of a mixture of natural peanut butter combined with a bit of coconut milk (I used the full fat coconut milk in the can) and a generous pour of naturally fermented soy sauce – so it has the consistency of thin pancake batter. Adjust the flavors to your taste.

Dip each tofu slice into the batter, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, and bake in 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes until slightly dry.

Remove from oven and cool.

finished BBQ tofuLine the bottom of a small cake pan with your favorite barbecue sauce and layer in the tofu slices, adding barbecue sauce to cover each layer.

Bake 35 more minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool. When ready to serve, cook in a frying pan to heat through.

The instructions are as casual as the restaurant. But, it’s very easy to make and tastes delicious. I served it with MI asparagus, cornbread made from MI corn from Hampshire Organic Farms, and a side of my own home canned MI applesauce.

Now, if only I could get my hands on the recipe of the famous Gaia cookie!

BBQ tofu with corn bread

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