Archive for February, 2010

Viva Citra Wines!

First of all, I don’t work for Citra Wines (chee-tra).   However, over the years I have been serving them at all my cooking classes.   Many years ago I discovered the secret to successful cooking classes………..serve lots of wine!  So,  how do you serve decent regional Italian wines and not break the  food budget ?………….simple, serve these wonderful Citra Wines.  I first encountered these wines on a trip to Pescara, Italy  (on the Adriatic coast of the Abruzzo region)  This forgotten area of Italy boasts not only fabulous mountains, pristine beaches and friendly people,  but some truly great wines.  We especially enjoy their Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo (not to be confused with the town of Montepulciano, south of Siena) where the Montepulciano grapes are barrique-aged and  harvested from the lush vineyards of Pagliata and Polltri.  The 7000 local wine growers blend their grapes to create a well balanced, full bodied red with nice acid balance and loads of berry fruit.  Citra also offers several white wines………our favorite is their Tribiano.  The tribiano is 100% tribiano grapes (the grape used to produce balsamic vinegar) and is very clean,  bright, with citric notes and very little oak.   The perfect wine paired with seafood, pastas and light dinners in the warmer months.  The owner of the Village Market, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan (Mark Garmo)  is always happy after my cooking classes are over because he knows he will acquire new loyal Citra customers for life.  Now, heres the best part of this wine story.  Not only does Citra draw praise and awards from many discerning wine pundants, including Wine Spectator,  but the price will surely win you over. In our market 1.5 liter bottles of Citra wines go for under $10!  Not too bad for wines that have been served to Britain’s Prince Charles.  Viva il vino……….Viva Citra Wines

New System Launches to Increase Revenues for Local Retailers and Restaurants and Keep Dollars in Michigan

Detroit group launches new system designed to help local merchants compete with big box stores and national chains and put more revenue back into the Michigan economy.

ORANGE COUNTY CA, Feb 24, 2010- The PointsTrax™ business building system is now available throughout Michigan. Business Builder Alliance, Inc. (BBA) is pleased to announce a new marketing team based in Detroit, led by two local business professionals. Chris Timco, a lifetime resident of Detroit has worked with area merchants for over thirty years in the cash register industry. Mr. Timco said, “The timing of our partnership with PointsTrax™ is ideal because we are delivering a much needed business solution for Detroit merchants looking to strengthen their relationship with their customers and increase profits – particularly in this down economy.” Doug Cordier, a high profile celebrity chef, is widely respected in the dining and food service industries. He is wellknown for “Cooking with Cordier” and his many television appearances. Mr.Cordier says, “PointsTrax™ can provide Detroit’s smaller restaurants and retailers with a competitive advantage over big box stores and national chains. Plus, local businesses give more back to the Michigan economy.”

Statistics support Mr. Cordier. Retail experts estimate there is three times as much local economic activity for every dollar locally owned businesses bring in as compared to chain stores. Small businesses put money back into the community by hiring local staff and buying supplies from area vendors, while chains often spend dollars elsewhere. Mr. Cordier went on to say, “We give Michigan’s consumers a great reason to support local businesses.” PointsTrax™ is a fully integrated points, rewards and communications system designed specifically for local retailers
and neighborhood restaurants. New member sign-up takes only seconds. No member card is required to collect rewards. All communications and rewards are handled electronically, which makes PointsTrax™ a low-cost solution. The system is branded exclusively for the retailer or restaurant.

Local retailers and restaurants interested in PointsTrax™, may contact Doug Cordier at 313-881-6699 or Chris Timco
at 313-377-2527.

About BBA: Established in Rancho Santa Margarita, California in 2008 – BBA is focused on helping Main Street
merchants and restaurants succeed. Using innovative technology, BBA’s PointsTrax™ system builds a bond between
a local business and its customers – which provides an edge over larger retail competitors.

Media Contact:
Walter Dubowec, CMO
Business Builder Alliance Inc.
E: P: 905-829-9750

How to make killer gumbo for 150 people.

This years Gumbopalooza was the best ever. We raised almost 10K! Proceeds from our fundraiser will go to purchase building supplies for re-habilitating homes in New Orleans and Haiti. This annual event is sponsored by the Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church and is a real labor of love. Every year we roast a pig and prepare the gumbo for the hungry hoard. Although I am the head chef in the well equipped kitchen, we have a whole crew of very talented dedicated foodies. First there’s our pig roasters, Art and Fred Van de Putte, and Mike Haas. Then in the kitchen, Tamara Baubie, Don and Laurie Stowell and finally my trusty sous chef, Ed Glotfelty and his wife Jolene. Ed runs the School of Culinary Arts in Oscoda, Michigan and is a wealth of culinary info and techniques. Jolene is a talented pastry chef and creator of some amazing tortes for our famous dessert auctions. We also have help with authentic ingredients from the Village Food Market. Owner Mark Garmo, and his very experienced butcher Franko smoke the andouillie sausage especially for our gumbo.

So, how do you make gumbo for 150? …the answer is very carefully with a great deal of patience and love. First of all, we start by frying up all the sausage in big old iron skillets. Then we cut the chicken breasts into three long pieces. These are sprinkled with creole spices and dusted with seasoned flour then fried in the sausage grease. “Pork fat rules!” When all the veggies are chopped, we start to make the roux. The roux is what makes a gumbo………it adds that characteristic velvety texture to the sauce. We use two parts flour to one part oil. A roux has to be cooked in iron skillets and stirred constantly for a long time until it becomes the color of chocolate. It’s called a “burnt roux” but if one roasts it just a second too long it will actually burn….and you have to start all over again. Believe me, I speak from experience. Ed and I stand next to each other at the stove both concentrating as we chat about foodie stuff and slowly stir the roux as it gradually turns to light chocolate…..” how ya doin’ , boy they’re gittin dark” …..” “should we quit now?…..let’s get’m a little darker” Then it’s OFF HEAT…and cross your fingers that the residual heat doesn’t take your roux over the edge to charville. After the roux is complete, it’s divided between two huge pots. Next the veggies are sauteed in the roux, stock is added, then finally the chicken, sausages, rice and okra. One of the last ingredients is the file powder…….which is also known as sassafras. This powered spice is essential for an authentic gumbo. Now our gumbo is almost complete, it will still need a while to simmer so all the ingredients will “get friendly with each other” before we serve it to the hoard.

25 Andouille sausage (cut into 1/2 ” slices)
25 Keilbasa sausage (cut into 1/2 ” slices)
6 Bratwurst (cut into 1/2 ” slices)
10 large full chicken breasts (cut into three long pieces)
25 cups celery (4 large bunches) 1/2 ” chop
25 cups vadalia onions (10) 1/2 ” chop
6 cup fresh okra (1/2 ” chop)
12 cups cooked rice
25 toes fresh garlic (minced)
1 bottle file powdew (sasafras)
9 quarts brodo (broth)
7 serrano, 7 jalapenos, 7 anahiem peppers (1/4 ” chop)
2 quarts or more water to thin
1/2 – Creole seasoning
cayenne pepper for heat
Sea salt & pepper to taste
Roux = 4 cups oil/8 cups flour

1. Brown sausage in large iron skillets
2. Sprinkle chicken pieces with creole seasoning & dust with flour
3. Fry chicken in sausage grease and extra oil
4. Clean iron skillets and make roux
5. Transfer roux to two jumbo pots, heat pots
6. Add all veggies except okra, and saute for 5-10 minutes
7. Add brodo stock, cook 5 minutes, add rice
8. Cut chicken into 1 ” chunks, add to pot with cut sausage
9. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour or so, turn off heat, let set 2 hrs
10 Before serving, raise to simmer, add okra, file powder, thin with H20
Start your own Gumbopalooza