Foodies: Culinary Fun in Southwestern Michigan

Southwestern Michigan is one of the few places in the United States where food and fun come together with delightful splendor. Lake Michigan tempers our climate so we harvest a bountiful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our communities seasonally showcase this deliciousness in local farmers' markets, roadside markets and u-pick farms. Such goodness also attracts talented chefs, winemakers, microbrew and spirits masters, cheese makers, bakers, food crafters and innovative inventors of world-class kitchen appliances (we're home to Whirlpool Corporation, including its KitchenAid® brand) and that makes us a foodies' paradise!

To celebrate our region we're gathering recipes that feature locally grown foods. Please submit your recipes (our staff will review each before posting) and check here often for new favorites to add to your culinary collection.

Submit recipe here.

Appetizers

Smoked Whitefish Spread and Tart Cherry Jam

Round Barn Public House

Smoked Whitefish and tart cherries pair wonderfully for a refreshing summer appetizer. Serve whitefish spread on warm crusty bread or crackers then top with tart cherry jam and scallions.

Whitefish Spread:

  • 1# smoked whitefish, skinned, deboned, and flaked
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 scallion, Sliced thinly on bias
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Tart cherry jam (recipe follows)

In a medium mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery, scallion, and salt & pepper. Mix well and gently fold in smoked whitefish to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tart Cherry Jam:

  • 1# pitted tart cherries, fresh or frozen
  • ½# sugar

In a large stainless steel saucepan, add the cherries and sugar. Stir to combine well. Place saucepan over medium low heat and watch until mixture starts to release its juices and sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to medium high and cook, watching closely and stirring with a heatproof spatula. The cherries will tend to foam high in the pan so be careful of boiling over. If this happens, turn the heat down slightly to avoid. Maintain a steady boil until jam is slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: This is a no pectin jam so it needs to reduce by half to thicken properly. Towards the end you will have to stir frequently to avoid scorching. Can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Guacamole

Contessa Wine Cellars

  • 4 soft avocados
  • 1 small ripe tomato finely chopped
  • 1 small onion finely chopped. More if desired.
  • 1 small clove garlic crushed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of jalapeno juice (from jalapeno jar)
  • Plus about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the jalapenos finely chopped
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice squeezed (plastic lemon juice isn't the same)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (to taste)

Directions – Cayenne powder to taste. Depends how much of a bite you want. (1/4 teaspoon) Large bunch of cilantro finely chopped. About 1/2 cup total. More or less according to your taste. Salt to taste. Don't skimp on the salt. It should be relatively salty. Start out with 1 teaspoon. Mix well!!! Don't use mixer. Use fork and smash avocados as you blend. Use a little extra lemon juice if needed. Serve with Nacho chips or on bed of lettuce leaves. Wine: Serve with Bianco Bello, a semi sweet white balanced blend of French American grapes. Just enough sweetness.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms with Merlot

Contessa Wine Cellars

  • 1 lb large regular mushrooms or baby portabellas (fills 16-20 large mushrooms)
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1/2 small onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs finely crushed
  • 1 cup Italian cheeses finely grated (parmesan, Asiago, Romano)
  • 3 tablespoons Contessa Wine Cellar's Merlot

Directions – In frying pan, sauté onion and Italian sausage until sausage is done. Drain excess fat. Melt butter in sauce pan and set aside. Combine bread crumbs with onion and sausage and pour butter over and mix well. Add cheeses and mix again. Place in washed and dried mushroom caps arranged on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 until cheese is browned and melted.

Wine: Serve with Merlot, a soft pleasurable compliment to this appetizer.