About Me

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Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Le Chat Gourmet- Croissant Workshop

As I write this I am laying in bed, covered up by my most festive bright red down comforter, sipping coffee laced with my most-anticipated holiday treat- Peppermint Mocha Coffeemate.

Every year, the weekend after Thanksgiving, I buy the biggest bottle I can find. I go hog wild with the stuff until the end of the year. If there's anything remaining in the bottle at midnight on New Year's Eve, it gets dumped. But man oh man, that's a glorious month.

Back to it. A few Saturdays ago, my most cookingest girlfriend and I finally padded our stomachs with scrambled eggs and fruit and headed into Eaton Rapids, a town south of Lansing where, frankly, not much exists. But what DOES exist in Eaton Rapids is Le Chat Gourmet, a cooking school which owner Denene Vincent has built in her home. The kitchen is drop-dead gorgeous and Chef Vincent's skills make you forget that you're in Eaton Rapids.

I wrote about Le Chat Gourmet here, a few years ago. (It was before the boyfriend made his debut. No guys stood a chance of getting my email address this time around.)

At 10am that Saturday we arrived and started our six-hour submersion into all things butter, flour, and French. That's right, a Croissant Workshop.

We rolled.

How weird is this creepy video?
 We pinched, we prodded, and most of all, we waited. 

We banged on a sheet of butter with a rolling pin.

Croissants take a few days to come together. The flakiness comes from multiple rollings of the dough, and after each roll, the dough has to rest. At one point, the dough has to rest overnight. Chef Vincent had prepared dough beforehand that rested overnight, so we cheated a bit and used that to make our final products. We did, however, double back and make the dough from the start, so I'm sure some other, later eaters enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

Finally, we had baking trays full of plain croissants, pain au chocolat (my favorite), and almond croissants.

We baked them, and I'd never felt more French in my life. Even when I lived in St. Amand-Montrond in a French boarding school and spoke French for the majority of every day. I still wore my Americanism like a hot pink scarf.

Stacey gazed upon the pastries and thought about the meaning of life.

Finally, we feasted.

Mon dieu.

If I'm being honest, I will probably never make croissants unless my French friends or my British friends come to visit. They are all better cooks than I am and could lend needed assistance. Otherwise, I'm not sure these beautiful babies will ever emerge from my kitchen. They were delicious, oui. But a girl's gotta work, you know?

Bien sur, if any of you want to come over and make a day (and slumber party) of it, I will reconsider. These would certainly make for a memorable Christmas morning, non?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

October Bon Appetit- Chicken Andouille Gumbo

A week or so before Halloween, I came up with my meal plan. I would make Chicken-Andouille Gumbo from October's Bon Appetit, a perfect use for the chicken I got from Ham Sweet Farm's meat CSA last month. I would poach the chicken in the early morning, post-workout and pre-meetings, and I would finish the gumbo later in the day so the handsome hunk and I could enjoy steaming hot bowls of it while handing out candy.

Our new house! Complete with jack o lanterns.
Lo and behold, my plan worked. By 8am I'd poached an entire chicken and made the world's best stock. I'd made my second batch of Queen Ina's peanut butter and jelly bars in a week, which I would later divide into two batches- one for the neighborhood party and the other for the party we would have later in the night with close friends. I'd made the batter for Ina's outrageous brownies and the pan was ready, waiting for the vacant oven.

Both of those baked goods, by the way, are my new favorites. The brownies are SO rich and decadent and pair so well with morning coffee. Or a glass of milk. Or a salad.

I used both chicken and pork andouille sausage in the gumbo, and I was surprised at how much the sausage fought being sliced. Is this typical of andouille? I was practically yanking it apart.

The sausage was SPICY as heck. The method for poaching the chicken was foolproof, the meat was literally falling off the bone and it made shredding the chicken a snap. We needed a little more salt, but we definitely didn't need more hot sauce. Those Southerners must like things a little bit hot.



  • 1 3½–4-lb. chicken
  • 1 large onion, peeled, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano


  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced ¼” thick
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce
  • Cooked white rice and sliced scallions (for serving)


  • Bring chicken, onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, basil, oregano, and 12 cups water to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer, skimming surface as needed, until meat is falling off the bone, about 1 hour.
  • Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Let cool slightly, then remove meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bones.
  • Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot (or airtight container if not using right away); discard solids. You should have about 12 cups.
  • DO AHEAD: Stock can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool, then cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months. Let meat cool; tightly wrap and chill.


  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate.
  • Whisk flour into oil in pot and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is the color of a brown paper bag and smells nutty, about 4 minutes.
  • Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to roux; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add stock, chicken, sausage, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is slightly thickened and vegetables are soft, about 1 hour.
  • Add hot sauce to gumbo, season with salt and pepper, and simmer 30 minutes to let flavors meld; discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
  • Serve gumbo over rice topped with scallions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

September Bon Appetit- Chestnut Coffee Cake

I've noticed that Americans don't eat a lot of chestnuts. That's fine, I guess, because I don't have strong feelings either way. Frankly, I never gave the chestnut a thought until I decided that I was going to make this recipe for a chestnut coffee cake from September's Bon Appetit.

It was ok. It was moist, but not Ina's sour cream coffee cake moist. I didn't love it, but since I'm a human being I cut myself a big wedge and had it with breakfast.

I took the rest of it to work, and as I started apologizing for the fact that it wasn't my best effort, I shut up. It's a complementary baked good. It's good enough. 

Does anyone have a better idea for what to do with chestnuts? I know nobody has a better coffee cake recipe than Ina's. It is a longtime favorite and is positively one of the most delicious, most cinnamony and strusely cakes I've ever had. Because, of course, Ina is the one true queen.

And her beef bourguignone is what you should eat for dinner tonight.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Strange Matter Coffee

Every Friday, I get a latte. I start the morning with a 5am iPhone alarm and head to a 6am class at FLEXCity Fitness, bleary-eyed. By the end of the 56-minute class, I'm starving and dripping sweat. As quickly as humanly possible, I put my lawyer clothes on and rush across town to get my weekly treat, which of late has been coming from Strange Matter Coffee Co, just down the street from The Green Door.

It's been a rough few months since Artie's Filling Station closed, and Strange Matter more than fills the void. The cinnamon and honey latte is transcendent. I try to sip slowly, but more frequently than not I find myself slurping. It's too delicious.

Strange Matter also offers baked goods from Whipped bakery, and I can confirm that the pumpkin muffins are a perfect compliment to your latte.

Friday, November 7, 2014

August Bon Appetit- Rosa's Biscuits

If there is something more delicious than a buttermilk biscuit, clue me in. They're a vehicle for delicious things- butter, honey, jam, apple butter, eggs- and alone, they're still a knockout.

A few months ago, I made these little biscuits.

We ate them with How Sweet Eats' chicken meatball soup, and the next morning I ate them with American Spoon Sour Cherry Spoon Fruit, alongside my coffee. That spoon fruit is a delicious, tart treat. It's made in Michigan and would be an excellent stocking stuffer for me anyone who loves delicious treat.


  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces; plus 6 Tbsp. (¾ stick), melted
  • ¾ cup chilled buttermilk   
Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Add chilled butter and toss to coat. Work butter into flour mixture with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with several pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
Using a fork, gently mix in buttermilk, then gently knead just until dough comes together (do not overmix).
Pinch off pieces of dough and gently roll into 1” balls; place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart (you should have about 24). If butter softens too much while you are working, chill dough until firm before baking, 15–20 minutes.
Bake biscuits until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more salt. Serve warm.