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Cookin’ with Martha!Print

Food & Farming | September 11, 2009 | By Janice Benson

I had the great fortune to attend one of Martha Ryan’s Wednesday night Cook and Dine classes at Martha’s Leelanau Table last week. What a fun, enjoyable evening!

If you haven’t heard of Martha’s before, or haven’t had a chance to visit this Leelanau County gem, you definitely need to make a trip. You might know Martha from one of her past venues, includingStone House Bread Café in Leland. But last year, Martha opened her very own restaurant in Suttons Bay, Martha’s Leelanau Table.The restaurant is located in a house right downtown that was renovated into a charming and inviting gathering place. Martha’s focus is to serve entrees that are always made from scratch with the finest local ingredients.

It has quickly become a favorite Suttons Bay hot spot. My husband and I have enjoyed delicious frittatas with fresh bread and jam for brunch and celebrated our anniversary there with fabulous pasta and wine. Oh, and I can’t forget the hand pies…we split an outstanding rhubarb hand pie that was just divine.

Martha began featuring weekly cooking classes this year, which have become very popular. So when the opportunity arose to attend one of the classes, I was excited!

The theme was Farmers Market Mystery Box Surprise, which seemed like just the right topic for me.  Martha selected a delicious menu based on what she picked up that morning at the farmers market: eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, blackberries, and more. There were five of us in the class that night and we all visited a bit before Martha handed each of us an apron and welcomed us into her kitchen.

She and Chef Ty coached us through the intriguing recipes. I helped prepare End of Summer Spaghetti, while others prepared Corn Bread Panzanella Salad, and Blueberry-Blackberry Crisp. It was so much fun to be right in Martha’s Kitchen, making a mess, but laughing and learning and preparing something that turned out incredibly good!

Once everything was prepared, we all sat down together and enjoyed our creations with wine from Forty Five Northand delightful Sea Salt Fennel Bread from Black Star Farms. We savored the fresh, local fare and a relaxing evening of conversation with Martha and Ty.

It was one of the highlights of late summer for me and I highly recommend these classes as a gift to yourself and your friends. You’ll take home some new recipes, new cooking tips, and likely, some new friends! Click here for more information about Martha’s Leelanau Table and her schedule of upcoming classes.

Janice Benson is the marketing coordinator for the Michigan Land Use Institute’s Taste the Local Difference program. Reach her at Janice@mlui.org.