Bet on hearts — Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and the good people at the MGM Grand Detroit have you covered. This year two of their restaurants are offering special menus. The newly opened Wolfgang Puck Steak will be treating patrons to a two-course meal for $65, with the main course being your choice of grilled Atlantic salmon or rib-eye steak. For dessert, warm chocolate truffle cake will be served. Reserve your spot at 313-465-1644. If you want to celebrate the big day at their all-you-can-eat Palette Dining Studio, it’s $32, and you can expect to fill up on prime rib and shrimp. For $17 more you can spring for their heart-shaped boxes of chocolate-dipped strawberries. To learn more, see mgmgranddetroit.com.
Pan-global coney dogs? — Stow away your unsightly chili-stained T-shirts, weenie lovers — coney dogs are going chic. Nonprofit Detroit Harmonie introduces the Top Chef Detroit Challenge at the third annual International Experience March 23. The competition issues this challenge to our talented local chefs: Redesign the classic coney with ingredients and flavors from around the world in celebration of cultural diversity. The prize? Bragging rights, of course, as well as $10,000 to help further a chef’s career or strengthen Detroit’s food culture. Applications can be submitted at detroitharmonie.com/ie2013/apply until Feb. 8.
The test of time — If we enjoy anything more than seeing a new restaurant, it’s seeing an established restaurant stay open. That means they have maintained the quality of their kitchen so well that regular customers keep coming back for more of the same. And that’s the case with Ellie’s Grill, where hardworking owners Jonce and Elica Ilievski, originally from Macedonia, do all the cooking. This week, the small but cheerful neighborhood establishment marks 10 years serving burgers, sandwiches, and Hungarian, Polish and Macedonian specialties. Help the Ilievskis celebrate Ellie’s 10th anniversary by dropping in between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the big day, Jan. 29, at 2033 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley; 248-691-4441.
Wine on Woodward — Looking for a way to wind down downtown this week? Stop in at MotorCity Wine, the best wine shop downtown, for a wine tasting in their shop above the Grand Trunk Pub. MotorCity’s stock emphasizes wines that have flavor and character, not expensive price tags, so you could find yourself restocking your cellar after the holidays — without breaking the bank. The pouring starts at 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25, 608 Woodward Ave, Second Floor, Detroit; 313-483-7283.
Big top pop-up — For those seeking a dining experience that’s out of the ordinary, pop-up restaurant Chartreuse will offer a unique dining evening at Detroit Flyhouse Circus School. Dinner will feature four courses of fresh vegan food (including espresso tuile and chocolate tarts) and performances by “beatboxer extraordinaire” Stevie Soul and singer Omar Aragones. Helmed by certified vegan chef Corinne Rice, Chartreuse uses food that is seasonal, organic, local and gluten-free, made to please even the staunchest of food purists. The meal will start at 7 p.m. Feb. 2; tickets are $50 each and available until Jan. 27 at chartreusedetroit.com.
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Comfort Food Fix:
Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy
by Ellie Krieger
John Wiley and Sons, $29.99
Comfort and joy — The mere mention of comfort food conjures images of rich, creamy, saucy foods like mac and cheese, lasagna, braised brisket, crispy fried chicken and pecan pie. Ellie Krieger, host of Cooking Channel’s Healthy Eating, has created recipes that fight obesity while delivering the flavor that is mostly the result of butter and cream and deep-fat frying. How does she do it? By substituting with low-fat milk, whole grains and reduced quantities of butter, and by recommending smaller portions. The nutritional analyses that accompany the recipes show the savings in calories, fat and cholesterol. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Cookies enabled Cookies are good all year, but there’s a better chance that we’ll be baking them in the winter, to ward off the cold in a warm kitchen. Always on the lookout for convenience, we found these CHEFS Soft Grip Portion and Cookie Scoops that produce uniform dough balls for cookies or batter for muffins and cupcakes. Squeeze the soft, ergonomic handle to activate the blade that scoops out the contents without getting it stuck to your hands (although sucking it off your fingers ain’t all bad). Use them for meatballs, ice cream, melon balls or for composed plate portions of rice or mac and cheese. They’re about $20 at chefscatalog.com.