Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gloriously Gluten Free

I first became acutely aware of the gluten-free lifestyle when a customer (who has now become a dear friend) emailed me and asked if we could somehow work out an arrangement so that she, a passionate foodie with severe celiac disease, could take one of our classes.

In her email she described how she felt like she was sitting on the sidelines, unable to participate in something that once made her very, very happy.We met for coffee and talked about starting to offer some GF classes at Mirepoix. Thus was the beginning of a wonderful friendship, and my crash-course in GF living.

What my newfound friend explained to me was that those who love someone who is on a gluten-free diet do not have to panic about what to prepare for dinner – lots of natural foods are naturally gluten free! Goodbye the fear of flour substitutes, and funky-tasting breads and doughs! This, of course, was music to my ears – natural, good-tasting food is something we could definitely do!

Below is an email that Janet sent to me after her first Gluten Free class at Mirepoix. I hope you enjoy it and find a home at Mirepoix as well!.

"Okay, Stacy, I am actually crying. Not boo-hoo, but grateful tears. Sometimes God sends just what you need when you need it (thus the expression Thank God, probably...).

I am just a total foodie. Inside out. Through and through. I think baby potatoes are cute. I think pepper plants are pretty. I swoon over first tastes. I relish watching talent put a dish together (actually, you've seen me do that!). I read recipes like they're short stories. My Zen place is cooking.

I am in love with my Mirepoix experience. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for it.

Before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it was effortless to follow my foodie heart from one sensuous adventure and partner-in-crime to another. Then I got sick, diagnosed, and introduced to the freakiest diet! No more bread-baking? Christmas cookies? Grama's cavati? Classes? Well, over time, with experience, advances in GF cooking, and availability of GF ingredients, I have learned that I can do everything freewheeling eaters can do, just in my on parallel universe. Good, but sort of alone, really. My local GF friends are fixated on food, but in a deficit mentality, not the passion and love of it, not the shared celebration of it. And it seems like most people don't even want to cook anymore. They just want to eat, mindlessly, without gratitude for the plenty.

Stacy, I knew what I was missing, but I had zero expectation of having a shred of it ever again, that camaraderie, that giddy joy. You and all of the truly good people of Holiday and Mirepoix have reminded me of that togetherness that food is meant to be. I never thought that would really be a shared thing in my life ever again. I thought that having faraway foodie firends was as good as it was going to get. Then, you. I mean, really, Stacy, I can't even tell you the last time someone loaned me a cookbook she loved, much less with post-it notes in it! Song of my heart!

And, then, today Michael just sent me the nicest e-mail reply ever. It made me cry.

Thank you, Stacy. Let us remember when life pulls us here and there, and we have no time to talk or e-mail or even look at each other, and coworkers drive us mad, and we can't even sleep we are so tired, and we forget what it feels like to be well, let us remember what stirs inside of us, what pulls us all together. I meant it when I told you that you are a blessing in my life. I want you to remember that you have already changed a life, and you have barely even begun. And I thank you. Thank you! Thank you!"

- Janet

At Mirepoix, we’re chefs who love food and love people. We’ve taken our experiences and knowledge and put together a class that we feel will suite the tastes of many people who are gluten-free and love someone who is gluten-free. GF Experts, we are not, but we do know good food.

If you’re looking for more information about the GF lifestyle, please consider looking at Carol Fenster’s books & website ( and the hundreds of GF websites online.

Below is a recipe that we are featuring in our Gloriously Gluten Free cooking class at Mirepoix tonight. Enjoy!

Apple Crisp

8 honeycrisp apples, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or vanilla bean paste if the alcohol used in processing is GF)
Pinch of cayenne pepper

2/3 cup GF oat flour
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF Oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup melted butter

Grease a casserole or baking dish heavily with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 375.

Place the apples in a bowl and mix with the cinnamon, salt, vanilla bean paste and maple syrup (taste and adjust seasonings if needed). Add the pinch of cayenne.
Place the apples in the bottom of the baking dish and set aside while you combine the topping.

For the topping, simply mix all of the ingredients together and crumble over the top of the apples. Bake at 375 for approximately 30 minutes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Good Friends & Garlic Dip

Tonight, a dear friend of mine came to our Middle Eastern Fare class to interview our students, staff, and take a few minutes of video. Have you ever heard of the Detroit Regional News Hub? If not, you should definitely check it out (you can “like” it on the ubiquitous Facebook, or you can check them out online at

The Hub features stories relevant to anyone wanting to know more about our region’s growth, quality of life, education, economic development and government.

We will post a link to their site when the Mirepoix story is finished, but in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe for some really fantastic garlic dip that Chef Julie’s group made in our cooking class this evening.

Garlic Dip
10-15 cloves garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup pure olive oil
1 tsp seasoning ( more or less to taste)
2 tsp. lemon juice
Dash Cayenne pepper

In a food processor, add the garlic, salt, lemon, and cayenne. Chop - but it doesn't have to be fine.

After the garlic mixture is chopped, begin to add the oil VERY SLOWLY, while processing, a little at a time until you use it all. The mixture should be thick like mayonnaise. Adjust the seasonings. If you find the taste of fresh garlic to be too harsh, you can always substitute roasted garlic instead.

Serve with warm, lightly seasoned grilled pitas.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Pirate's Life for Me

As I sit at my desk, preparing for tonight's Famous Local Restaurants class at Mirepoix, I run through all of the recipes I want to feature in our recipe packet. When I reflect on my time at The Golden Mushroom, I can't help but smile when I reminisce about the completely unreasonable state of the kitchens, the hilarious and varied cast of characters, the everyday stresses of working in a professional kitchen(which were exponentially increased by the spontaneous and unexplainable defrosting of our walk-in freezer) or the time I got so stressed out, I broke out in hives and had to run out to the drug store in the middle of my shift(funny - now the former site of the Golden Mushroom is a CVS). Good times. Really.

Though I have a true fondness for restaurants and their never-ending outrageous pace, many people ask me if I want to own my own restaurant, and my answer has always been (without hesitation) "NO!". My little nook in the food industry here at Mirepoix is my dream; I'm doing what I always wanted to do but could never quantify until I got here. Still, sometimes, I miss the frenzy, chaos, mayhem, and pirate ship mentality of a working kitchen.

Restaurant life is not for everyone. My father owned a Ram’s Horn restaurant in the 70’s and hated “the business” so much, he sold his interest to his partner for a dollar. He went on to pursue other opportunities and refers to the two happiest days of his life as, “the day he bought the restaurant and the day he sold it” (I’m sure his marriage to my mother and the birth of each of his children, are implied, though not enumerated).

Just over 20 years later, I announced that I would be attending culinary school and quitting the family business. My parents, certain that I would never actually quit, my ignored my formal and written resignation, and after I finished my 2 week’s notice, everyone was amazed when I really did stop coming into work.

Culinary school was a revelation. After graduation, my career in “the business” began. 5 Lake Grill, Café Bon Homme, Gravity Bar & Grill, and The Golden Mushroom were all ports on my tour of duty. Each place had its special little brand of "crazy".

Sadly, after the 90’s drew to a close, and “The Big 3” and other major players (advertising execs, law firms, etc.) put the crack-down on expense accounts, fine dining (what little of it we actually had) in Metro Detroit took a major, and unfortunately, almost fatal hit.

Famous Local Restaurants is our way of acknowledging and paying tribute to the places where many Metro-Detroiters celebrated life’s accomplishments, anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions. It’s our way of celebrating the chefs who taught us so much, such as Brian Polcyn, and of course, “The Godfather”, Milos Cihelka (just to name a couple). Real chefs, real trend-setters, and most importantly, real mentors.

We offer this class a couple of times a year. Should you ever decide to take it, I hope you enjoy it as much we enjoyed working in 100 degree kitchens at a break-neck pace with the chef breathing down our necks, loud cursing in the background and no end in sight; you have my word we won’t yell at you and it's significantly cooler in our kitchen.

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