graduate Ann Elkina started blogging about food last year because she loves to cook. That passion has earned her the grand prize in Spartan Stores' and Tender Ridge Angus beef's Share and Tell recipe contest, a statewide competition held in February.
Elkina's recipe for Braised Beef in Red Wine won top honors; the dish is slow-cooked, with the beef braised in Spanish red wine.
"Ann's special preparation of top blade steak set her recipe apart as one that I would enjoy making and, hopefully, one that many Michigan families can enjoy eating," said Chad Schafer, Tender Ridge Angus beef chef and recipe contest judge.
"There's nothing like a rich, flavorful dish to remind us of the joy we take in cooking and sharing food," he said.
"It's very flavorful and falling-apart tender," said Elkina, an engineer employed by General Motors. "It's the perfect food you'd want to cook over the weekend for dinner."
A tip from a General Motors manager led to her contest entry. She was surprised at the win, which nets her $2,000 worth of Le Creuset cookware, a $250 Spartan Stores gift card and, of course, bragging rights.
Although she cooks with wine "a lot," she said, Elkina doesn't necessarily document her recipes. "(The contest) was something that forced me to measure what I do," she said.
The Farmington Hills resident said that for as long as she can remember, she has loved to cook. At age 6, she locked her mother out of the kitchen and made creme caramel.
"Mom cooked pretty much every day, and a lot of it is from her," Elkina said of her cooking talent. "A lot is from my grandmother."
Elkina started her food blog, Annabella's Kitchen, last year after realizing that if others could do it, she could, too. She has long been a fan of everything culinary, so writing about and photographing food seemed like a natural next step.
"It's really taken off a lot faster than I thought," she said, adding that she has gained traffic by submitting photographs to websites such as foodgawker.com, tastespotting.com and thehungrydudes.com, a restaurant review website.
Elkina plans to expand and redesign her blog, and the 27-year-old is also working on her master's degree. There may even be a cookbook on her horizon. She said her family has been proud and supportive.
Part of her journey has been learning where she comes from, foodwise; Elkina is of Russian descent. But almost everything about her cooking is either mood-driven or occasion-driven, she said.
"A great cheese, a great salami, a really good baguette and a great glass of wine can be the perfect dinner," she said. "I like food that is very simple and approachable, but high quality."
Want to make Elkina's prize-winning recipe? Visit ShareandTell.com.
Editor's Note: Grad Post is a new Farmington/Farmington Hills Patch feature that follows graduates of Farmington public and private schools who are making their way in the world. Know someone we should profile? Send an email to email@example.com.