Chocolate Stout Sourdough with Fresh Cherries and Hazelnuts

I spent most of this past weekend making things to restock our freezer.  We’ll be out of town the next two weekends and I’ll be starting up school again at night in a few weeks so it was a good time to make a few things to have in the freezer for those nights we don’t really feel like cooking.  I made some tasty lasagna with veggies from the farmers market (post next week) in addition to a pan of the cilantro-lime chicken bake (added peppers and onions this time).  But, of course, I had to make some time for bread in there too!

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I found this recipe about two weeks ago on the front page of The Fresh Loaf and it shot to the top of my ‘to make’ list.  I’ve made things with dried cherries before but was intrigued by the idea of using fresh ones, which are of course in no short supply here in Michigan in the summer.  The finished loaf has a great crisp crust and moist crumb with chewy pieces of cherry and crunch hazelnuts inside.

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Photoshop Phriday: Jim Harbaugh

It is a strange thought for me that someone who goes to Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School could play football for U of M literally across the street from where they played in high school.  There aren’t too many people who can say they did that, but Jim Harbaugh can.  Well, sort of.  Jim and his brother John grew up in Ann Arbor while their dad was a defensive backs coach at Michigan.  Jim finished school in Palo Alto when Poppa Harbaugh took a job at Stanford, but he came back to Ann Arbor to play football for U of M in 1983.

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Harbaugh was Michigan’s starting quarterback for three years under Bo Schembechler and played well enough in his senior season to be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy (he would finish 3rd).  For over a decade his career completion percentage would stand as an NCAA record.  After an almost 15 year NFL career he tried his hand at coaching and made the jump to the NFL in 2010 after several years at Stanford (he now seems to be an annual feature in the Michigan coaching rumor mill).  Sources inside the 49ers say Harbaugh is still known to pick up a loaf of his favorite spelt-wheat sourdough and heave it downfield.

Orange Chocolate Milano Cookies

Last week I wrote about my parmesan pepper bread, which is one of those recipes that you want to make all the time but know you shouldn’t.  These milano cookies DEFINITELY fall in that category.  The soft and chewy (but also dense and filling) butter cookies mixed with the melted orange chocolate filling…mmmm.

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The process of piping out the cookies and filling with chocolate can be a bit tedious depending on how many you make, which is just as well since it is probably a deterrent to making these too often.  But seriously, these are amazing.  Good luck having just one once they are ready!

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Photoshop Phriday: Mike Hart

My freshman year at Michigan Mike Hart was one of many standout senior leaders.  Hart made a name for himself by always playing above his size.  He had a knack for dragging defenders a few extra yards on his way down despite being smaller than many college and almost all NFL running backs.  He also cemented his place in Michigan history by making his infamous ‘Little Brother’ comments about Michigan State.

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Hart is Michigan’s all time leading rusher with just over 5,000 career yards.  This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he sat out a significant portion of his sophomore year with injuries.  After a brief stint in the NFL with the Colts Hart returned to the state of Michigan to take a coaching position at Eastern Michigan.  Nowadays he is the running backs coach at Western Michigan, where he reportedly uses loaves of sweet potato sourdough to teach players about proper grip technique.

Parmesan Pepper Sourdough

My wife is not one to eat lots of junk food.  And if she does, her definition of it is different than most.  She won’t wolf down an entire Hersey’s bar or pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  She’s more likely to have a nibble of some dark chocolate bar or try and make her own ice cream.  Given that she is an MPH currently earning her registered dietitian credential, this isn’t exactly surprising.  In two years of living in the residence halls on campus the only thing I ever saw her get from a vending machine was cracked black pepper potato chips.

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Having pepper be a featured ingredient was a new concept to me at the time…and then I had parmesan pepper bread at Zingerman’s.  WOW.  The sharpness of the cheese and pepper are an incredible combination.  Zingerman’s also makes parmesan pepper bagels which are in a tie for my favorite along with the roasted garlic ones.

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Photoshop Phriday: Mary Sue Coleman

Earlier this month with the start of the new fiscal year at U of M Mary Sue Coleman’s tenure as the 13th president formally came to an end with her retirement.  Like any public figure she is not without her opponents, but I have always found there to be on and off campus overwhelming support for the way she ran the university.  After a 7 year stint at the University of Iowa she came to Ann Arbor in 2002 in the midst of the Grutter and Gratz v. Bollinger Supreme Court cases.  She spearheaded ‘The Michigan Difference’ (from which my blog tag line originates) capital campaign which over the course of several years raised over $3 billion (yes, billion with a B).

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Shortly after I came to Ann Arbor in 2007 the economy tanked (those are unrelated events I promise) and appropriations from the state of Michigan suffered (in fact for a few years donations exceeded state funding).  And yet, the university continued to grow.  The endowment doubled and the Residential Life Initiative allowed for renovations to almost every residence hall on campus over the past several years.  She now leaves the school in the seemingly capable hands of Mark Schlissel (friend of the blog), but not before showcasing her favorite bread blog to the university community.

Chocolate Cigars

Sometimes I have a hard time starting posts because I don’t have a story to tell about the recipe.  Normally I might just stumble upon a recipe a thought it looked good or wanted to experiment with a new bread.  Well, that isn’t the case today.  These chocolate cigars were inspired by one of my favorite memories of my Grandpa from when he visited us one summer about 10 years ago.

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After lunch at a deli one day we went over to the dessert/pastry case and my mom let us each eagerly pick out our own sweet treats.  He picked out a chocolate cigar that was far and away the biggest thing in the case (hey, he was on vacation!).  It was this colossal heap of puff pastry, chocolate, nuts, and powdered sugar.  You know, something light to cleanse the palette.

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