Tag Archives: buy local

i8tonite with Traverse City’s amical Chef Dave Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie RecipeTraverse City, Michigan is a special place. Globally known as an incredibly beautiful location, there’s so much more to Traverse City than Sleeping Bear Dunes, named the most beautiful place in America. It seems that everyone here loves food, as you can tell from the array of incredible restaurants, second homes of well-known chefs, and a farm to table movement that has been going on for over a hundred years.

Two of the things I love most about TC are the friendliness and sense community. Whenever I head north from our cottage an hour south, I ask my friend Mike Norton, of Traverse City Tourism, for a recommendation. He’s got the goods, and knows the best in town (including his contributions for my 50 best Midwest Coffee Roasters, but I digress). Mike recommended amical restaurant to me a while back, and I couldn’t wait to share this favorite restaurant with our readers.

Owner and Chef Dave Denison is one of those people you immediately love. He’s funny, creative, and extremely interesting. You’d pick him, if you were going to be stuck on a desert island (hopefully, his chef knife would come with him, because I would be carrying sunscreen). He started by cooking at a young age, and has always worked in restaurants. When he moved out west to California, he thought about getting out of this line of work. Luckily for us, his plan backfired, as he got a job at a growing chain restaurant, and moved up through the ranks and opened up restaurants all over the country for them.

Denison grew up in Southeast Michigan, as well as in Alamaba and Georgia. When he and his family decided to leave California and find a place to start a new restaurant, Traverse City fit the bill. He’s one of Traverse City’s top chefs, with his restaurant amical, which opened in 1994. amical started as a quick service gourmet cafeteria, and has evolved into a European-style bistro.

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Denison remarked that they were fortunate in that through all these changes, their customers supported them and kept coming back.  He noted that “how amical started, to where we are now, is very, very different. We’ve always treated our guests and visitors with respect and knowing that they are the reason we are here.”

I was intrigued by his description of the local food scene. Denison said that “TC has obviously enjoyed national and international recognition over the last 10 years, and it’s well-deserved. It might look like it’s an overnight sensation, but people have worked a long time at their craft here, and many established chefs have been here for a while – in fact, moved to the area with the intention of practicing their craft, using local ingredients. Generations of families have been raising these local ingredients for 100+ years! The farm to table movement was always here, but we were able to utilize it well in our restaurants, and then people ‘discovered’ it. However, it’s always been going on in this area – now just on a bigger scale. This is an agricultural community that has lived for centuries with such natural beauty. We’re surrounded by farmers and people that create a bounty from the land, and we’re happy to be able to be a part of that legacy, and know that this will continue for quite some time.”

amical’s food is local, fresh, creative, and delicious. The staff are incredible – supportive, supported, and intent on creating an excellent dining experience in the community.

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
Cookbook School!

There’s one more thing you’ll love about amical – the annual Cookbook school, held during the winter months. Denison shared, “for those new to the series, this is what we do: once a month, our kitchen staff will create a week-long dinner menu that consists of recipes from a cookbook. You will find a nice blend of cookbooks from the past, previously featured chefs with new publications, and first time cookbooks. Over the past 19 years, the kitchen team has developed menus from over 100 different cookbooks…while preparing almost one thousand recipes. We credit our loyal patrons for their support and our staff for their passionate drive in making this series an incredible success.”

A community treasure, indeed. 

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
The winner of the big game gets milk and cookies! Go (your team here)!

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
“Professionally” since I was 15. My mom was, admittedly, a lousy cook, but for some reason I had an interest at an earlier age. She says it was due to my survival instincts.

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
Amish chicken with ancho chile cream and tomatillo salsa

What is your favorite food to cook?
I like to prepare hearty soups, especially during the winter months. Can you tell I’m from the Midwest?

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Tortillas (corn & flour)… and cheese – usually a St. Andre or a local chevre or Raclette. P’tit Basque, too.

What do you cook at home?
For a quick bite, it would be tacos. Or a stir fry.

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
Cardamom-Nutmeg Custard

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
The fact that they continue to return!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Paranoia. A few people think “we’re out to get them” or treat them differently because they were late, not from around here, etc… and for the record, we are not, unless you are late or from another town. JK on that.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex, then it’s on to ziplocks.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail. Right now its tequila, ginger beer, and lime.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I plagiarize cookbook authors on a frequent basis. Everyone from Mario to Jamie Oliver are represented somewhere on our menus. Right now we are using Pickles, Pigs and Whisky recipes from John Currence. But Yotam Ottolenghi is quickly becoming a new favorite.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A 10” French knife but I like having a good quality mandolin around. A garlic slicer is a neat little gadget to have around, too.

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
Garlic Shrimp, Potato Shells, Lamb Meatballs, and Mussels in Coconut-Chile Sauce

Your favorite ingredient?
Onions, onions of all kinds. Caramelized onions, grilled onions, roasted onions, onion soubise, fried onions, don’t forget the chives, red onion, Vidalia onion, green onions…

Your least favorite ingredient?
Eggplant. My mom would pan-fry it and pour maple syrup on it. Yikes! Did I mention she was not a very good cook? But I love you, mom!

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Re-make a dish because we made a mistake.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Asian preparations for their versatility, quickness, and healthy attributes. Mexican is a close second.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
C’mon. Pork.

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
Heritage appetizers

Favorite vegetable?
Local asparagus. It’s only around up here for a few weeks in the Spring.

Chef you most admire?
One you would recognize would be Eric Ripert. Locally, it would be Harlan “Pete” Peterson of Tapawingo fame in Ellsworth, Michigan. He is so talented but incredibly humble. He just opened Alliance here in town. Already a favorite of many!

Food you like the most to eat?
Fresh seafood and shellfish. Walleye is a favorite. But put a fried egg on something and I’ll order it.

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
Rice Centennial Farm Ribeye ready for the Carnivore menu.

Food you dislike the most?
I never really acquired a taste for calf’s liver. I’ll get my iron somewhere else, thank you. (<<Look left)

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None so far, but my wife has one. Does that count?

 

Recipe: amical’s Chicken Pot Pie

 

i8tonite with Traverse City’s Amical Chef David J. Denison & Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Servings: 6
Size: 1.5 Cup(s)
Prep. Time: 0:35

Ingredients:
2 c chicken breast, cooked and diced
1/2 c carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 c celery, diced
half a medium onion, peeled and diced
1/2 c frozen peas
1 pound potatoes, peeled, cooked, diced
1 c mushrooms, sliced
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 c whole milk
1 T chervil
1/2 T dried basil
1/4 T salt
1/4 T pepper
2 c chicken stock
4 oz butter
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 T grated parmesan
2 pieces puff pastry dough
1 egg, beaten

Directions
1. Saute vegetables in butter in a small stock pot.
2. When onions are translucent, add flour and mix. Simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add milk, cream, potatoes, stock, spices, and parmesan. Heat until sauce has thickened. Check for seasoning and proper thickness. Add more roux if needed.
4. Place filling in individual oven-proof dishes. Cut out a puff pastry dough lid to fit the top of the dish. Brush with eggwash and bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until pastry is golden brown, and the filling bubbles.

– The End. Go Eat. – 

 

 

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Mama Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jessica Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Jessica Bullock

Imagine your life filled with music – and good food. Doesn’t it sound like the perfect day, home, mealtime? For food and music writer Jessica Bullock, those two subjects go hand in hand. Her website, MamaBullock.com, is one of the most interesting food sites I’ve seen in a long time – not only for the delicious recipes, but the creativity involved with her music pairings. I had a chance to talk with Jessica, and was simultaneously inspired and amazed by the way she lives music and good food.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Banana bread

Jessica notes:
I’m a post-production producer by day and a food & music blogger by night. I live in Chicagoland, and I have a husband and three sons, 6, 4, and 1 month. My blog, mamabullock.com, is where you’ll find inspired food and music, good for the soul. If music is the language of love, food is the manifestation of love. No matter where you come from, food and music remind us that we are universally creative and loving human beings. That’s why I pair a piece of music with every recipe on the site. You can listen while you cook.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Fruit Pizza

Mama Bullock is for foodies who don’t have a lot of time for meal prep but enjoy cooking and listening to great music. As a working mom, I know how difficult (impossible) it is to have delicious and healthy meals ready for the family every night. Mama Bullock is all about creating delicious food without having to make everything from scratch, while avoiding the packaged, full-of-crap meals you find in boxes in the middle of the grocery store.

In addition to creating recipes, the site is also about sharing products, ideas, and healthy eating tips. One of my most important goals is to educate as many people as possible about how both food and music can be used as medicine. I cook. I eat. I listen. I share.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Tangy arugula with crispy lemon chicken

See? She’s amazing! I asked Jessica about how she decided to pair music with food. Her answer was longer – and more interesting – than I expected. Are you surprised to discover that music is a big part of her life? She grew up exposed to a variety of music, from church to jug bands. What? I know! I listened carefully as she said that her parents had a jug band for years – and that her dad can play the 1812 overture on his jug (and he was named best jug player in the world)! She loved going to blues clubs, and then started in orchestra, playing the viola.

As you can imagine, when Jessica said that music has been the common thread throughout her life, I nodded. I could see this even more so when she talked about her kids and gave tips on how to get kids to love music. Her husband was a professional DJ (see where I’m going with this?), and they always have music in their house, from playing the piano to a variety of music to listen and dance to. Perhaps the best part was when she said her 6 year old’s favorite composer is John Williams, because of all his incredible superhero movie soundtracks (genius kid!). Talking with Jessica has inspired me to incorporate more music into our lives – and my teen is one happy listener! She’s now the house DJ, following in Jessica’s footsteps, pairing music with our meals.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Glazed carrots

And on to the food that Jessica shares on Mama Bullock. She noted that buying good food is really important – and advises people to look for locally grown, sustainable food. But there’s not just great recipes (and great music) on her site. She also includes gourmet hacks, such as making things from scratch easily. Through her work, she tries to educate about the health benefits of certain foods, and help others. For, as she says, “not only is food medicine (there’s evidence of preventive health care and reversing ailments through food), but musical therapy can also help people. Music therapy (music as medicine) is helping people with Alzheimer’s and stroke patients, as well as people in nursing homes. Life gets better when you have music. Music should be important to our whole life – and it’s good for our health!

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
One-pot meals of any kind.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Forgotten celery. Wine. Lemon juice. Did I mention wine?

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – the everything cookie.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Witty banter.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Criticism.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Vermonter sandwich

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail-y wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Lidia Bastianich or Spike Mendelsohn. I like laid back, gracious writing and simple food made delicious.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A good sound system.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean for its simplicity and use of fresh herbs.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Depends. What are we drinking?

Favorite vegetable?
Avocado

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Detox Smoothie

Chef you most admire?
All of them. It’s a tough gig. My hometown favorite is Rick Bayless. The food is inspired, delicious, and healthy.

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything made with tender loving care is usually wonderful.

Food you dislike the most?
I really hate boiled zucchini.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Walk in the woods and be musical.

Who do you most admire in food?
People who are taking the time to feed and educate lower-income communities with urban gardens. Also doctors who are committed to the proliferation of using food as medicine.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At my dining table with friends and family.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Crispy Peaches

What is your favorite restaurant?
I pretty much stick to the West Loop in Chicago. I really like La Serina Clandestina mostly because I can’t get enough of Chef John Manion’s kale salad and daily empanada creation, but also it’s just a cool place with a cool vibe and great cocktails. I also love a place called La Luce. It’s super yummy Italian with a great staff. It’s the kind of place you take your grandparents to and visit for hours.

Do you have any tattoos?
No, I’m not that cool.

 

Recipe: Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

6 oz cherry tomatoes
6 oz sweet corn
6 oz cooked black beans
1 palmfull chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp course sea salt
1/2 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp lime juice

Wash and cut cherry tomatoes in half, length-wise. Combine tomatoes, corn and beans into a large bowl. Add 1/2 the cilantro, salt, agave syrup and lime juice. Mix well. Garnish with remaining cilantro. Serve chilled as a salad or with chips as a salsa. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Music Pairing:

This recipe lets the vegetables speak for themselves. The only thing added is salt, lime, cilantro, and syrup. Today’s music pairing is a duo who lets the music speak for itself. No frills. Just two guitars. These two are from Mexico City but got their start in Dublin, Ireland during an eight-year stint playing pubs. They’re what I’d call “flamenco rock.” Both on acoustic guitar, they grew up with flamenco, jazz, and rock – but also love heavy metal, which comes through in their sound. They’ve been performing together since 1999, and have released five studio albums together. They’ve collaborated on movie soundtracks, performed at the White House, and continue to tour around the world. They’re also vegan, so I thought it a good pairing for today’s recipe, which is clearly Mexican-inspired, like the music. Please enjoy Rodrigo y Gabriela, performing live at the 2014 Montreux Jazz Festival.

HAPPY EATING + HAPPY LISTENING!

 

Note: All the gorgeous food photos? Discover the recipes on her site!

The End. Go Eat.