Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love The Sweet Treats at Fairfield and Sprinkles…

One of my hotels in downtown Chicago, the Fairfield Inn & Suites (216 East Ontario - 312-787-3777), part of the Marriott chain, celebrates Valentine’s Day in a sweet way.

The hotel offers a $14 gift card for guests to use at my favorite cupcake bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes, located minutes away from the hotel. Did I mention that I can possibly run over there faster than you can read this post? Honestly!

Better yet, with 10 Sprinkles Cupcakes locations across the U.S., you can even use the card even after Valentine’s Day! Is that sweet or what?

What’s best about this newly redesigned hotel besides their VIP service? It’s a short walk away to foodie favorites such as Tru, M Burger, Nomi and Graham Elliot.

Fairfield Inn and Suites

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Game Day

Celebrating Game Day In My Neighborhood...

                                    With Killer Chili

                            Great Pot Stickers Ready To Pop In The Fry Pan

                      Southern Pulled Pork

                      Pear Salad With Salmon

                         Real Bears Fans Filled The Block

                       Cold Temperatures Made For Warm, Friendly Meetings

                                           And Good Champagne... We celebrated the Bears season because it was a great one!
Bon Appetit!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Getting Healthy…Again!

In a matter of months I went from super fit to got-to-lose-a-few. How did this happen so fast? For the first time in 15 years, I have a few pounds to lose. Lucky for me it’s just a few.
About that same time I started over eating, I became bored with my exercise routine. I was changing it up frequently but obviously not often enough.

I caught myself right before the slide and changed my entire program. I signed on to a new gym and a new agenda but more importantly, I am back in the routine. It took me a few weeks to get here but once you are, it’s part of your day…like getting up early or eating breakfast. Having a fitness goal is an inspiring way to jump start the new year. What is yours?

I’ll be the first one to admit, I love to eat. To me, there is nothing better than demolishing an enormous plate of Edzo’s truffle fries and writing a food blog. You have a genuine excuse to pig out.

I have an athletic build and can pack on pounds with one burger and a cheese please… it’s that easy! I can also shed them that fast too just by cutting out sugar, bread and alcohol for a week. There is no center ground for me.

I do believe that your head has to be in it 100% to succeed. But, this is the tough part. I did my math – thanks to the help of a trainer last week- and figure that it will take me 10 months to get back into fighting shape.

Reality Check: For every month you goof off, it’s a two month payback.

Speaking of fighting shape, boxing is part of my new routine. I love to box having taken lessons a while back. My grandfather was a golden gloves boxer so it is in the genes. I also recently saw “The Fighter” and got inspired.

Why do I love boxing? It’s the highest form of self-disciple. You can’t cut corners or skip a workout because it will show. You not only have to be physically well trained but mentally as well. You can have all the support in the world but it’s up to you to fail or succeed.

So…what was my progress today? I gave up a free cupcake at the new Crumb’s Bake Shop at 303 W Monroe.

Crumb’s gave away free cupcakes to the first 1,000 customers who walked in their door. I wasn’t one of them.

Bon Appetit!

Your Mother Was Right – Eat Your Breakfast!

How many times did your mother tell you to eat a good breakfast? All I can say is listen to your mother!
Eating breakfast will jump start your day and make you less likely to over eat when you get to the point of famished because you skipped the most important meal of the day. Give your body and brain the energy they need to function by eating a good breakfast.

One of the resolutions I made for 2011 is to learn to love oatmeal. I made my first attempt this past week and started out by piling on a fair amount of fruit and nuts. I do like Cheerios so there is hope for me.

Don’t forget eggs. It’s not true that eggs are bad for you. Paired with a small slice of Prosciutto and a low fat biscuit, this breakfast packs a lot of flavor and makes a nice Sunday brunch option. I like the fact that in an ounce of prosciutto there is only 71 calories.

And to my favorite all time breakfast, yogurt and berries, I threw in a healthy punch of organic walnuts and was surprised at how much I loved the addition of the crunch.

I’ve always been a big fan of breakfast… so much so I sometimes crave it for dinner.

And the good thing is you don’t need any recipes for the 3 easy breakfast dishes above.

Bon Appetit!

Rustic Tomato Soup

I bought Rustic Tomato Soup at Wisma this past week. It was the most amazing tomato soup I have ever tasted.

At this new concept store from John des Rosiers, chef and owner of Innovasi in Lake Bluff, local organic food is prepared for take home and is so affordable you almost can’t do it at home for less.

I tried to recreate the flavor of this soup by using a lot of the same ingredients and was surprised at how good the taste was.

This soup is only as good as the ingredients you use so be sure to use the best, freshest, high-quality ingredients you can find including the wine. There are so few ingredients in this soup just one that is not top quality will alter the taste.

I like my soup a little on the chunky side so I prepare the tomatoes for those results.

It’s a beautiful soup because there are no other ingredients to throw off the color or the taste such as broth or butter. I let mine simmer on my stove for several hours and added a bit more wine. I also taste the soup frequently during cooking and adjust the wine and spices to my taste.

If you love tomatoes you’ll love this soup.

Bon Appetit!

Rustic Tomato Soup

5 pounds ripe heirloom or Italian tomatoes

1 cup good red wine

Snips of fresh Basil, Marjoram, Thyme, and Oregano

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 finely chopped sweet onion

3 garlic cloves, crushed

Sea salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of sugar to taste

Pour olive oil in the pot and add onions and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes on low.

Remove the skin from tomatoes. I crush the tomatoes by hand but you can use a food processor. Add them to the pot along with snips of the spices. Always do this to taste.

Pour in the wine. I taste the soup while cooking and add wine if I need it.

Add sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a little sugar if you like your soup on the sweet side.

Bring soup to a boil. Cover. Turn to low and simmer at least 45 minutes.

Remember, the longer it simmers, the better it is.

Ice Cream And Blueberries...An Almost Cheat

Two little scoops of homemade ice cream topped with Blueberries – an almost cheat!
This Ice Cream is flavored with the Tahitian vanilla. Tahitian vanilla beans are almost black in color and have complex floral aromas. I have to say, this is the creamiest, most magnificent vanilla ice cream I’ve had in a long time.

It's also made with crème anglaise, the mark of the best French ice creams. And we LOVE everything French!

Bon Appetit!

Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream
From the Food Network

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 3/4 cups scalded milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons Cognac

Seed of Tahitian Vanilla Bean

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs. Pour the custard mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened. The custard will coat the spoon like heavy cream. Don't cook it above 180 degrees or the eggs will scramble!

Pour the sauce through a fine strainer, add the vanilla extract, Cognac, and seeds of the vanilla bean, if using.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions.

Transfer to a plastic container and store in the freezer until ready to serve.

Flour Tortillas

No reason to buy tortillas when you can make them fresh. Nothing tastes better than fresh tortillas hot off the grill. I also like to eat them with eggs for breakfast.

This recipe is easy and if you make a big batch, you can freeze them.

Thaw at room temperature and wrap them in foil. Place them in a 250 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. Don’t think about using the microwave as they will be tough.

You can take shortcuts by buying a tortilla press which eliminates a lot of the work.

Bon Appetit!

Homemade Flour Tortillas

2 cups of white flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vegetable oil

3/4 cup warm water

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine the warm water and oil.

Add the water/oil mixture to the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time and mix the dough with a fork. Once the water is mixed in, add another tablespoon of water and repeat the process until all the water is mixed into the dough. The dough will be sticky.

Lightly flour a wooden cutting board and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into golf-ball-size balls by pinching off the dough with your thumb and fore finger. Form each ball into a nice ball shape.

Place on a flat dish making sure they don't touch each other and cover with the damp cloth. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat a cast iron pan on medium high heat.

Take one of the balls of dough and flatten it out on the cutting board to a 4 inch circle. Rub flour on your rolling pin and roll out the dough. Roll the tortilla until it is 6 or 7 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick or take the easy route and use a tortilla press.

Place it on a preheated skillet and cook for about 30 seconds. Flip it over and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Now You See It...Now You Don't

                                                                                                          Photo ABC News

My friend Kay hooked me into this great article from the NY Times on the ever changing face of the restaurant business. It features John Fraser’s new and doomed spot.

Bon Appetit!

Now You See It...Now You Don't

Kale - The Superstar Of Healthy

Can you believe it? I just discovered Kale about 2 years ago.

Healthy? It’s the superstar according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Kale is the number one vegetable on the all star list.

Here is the link for a great soup – Zuppa Toscano – that features Kale. This is one of my favorite soups.

Zuppa Toscano

I usually serve this with a small piece of homemade bread – mainly to mop up all of the juices left over in the bowl. That is definitely the best part of the soup.

The next time you make a pot of soup, throw in a bunch of kale and get healthy.

Bon Appetit!

Avacado...A Little Slice Of Healthy

I remember when I lived in Mexico and had avocado trees growing in my back yard. I never knew back then what I know now:
Avocados have just 5 grams of fat per serving.

Avocados contain NO cholesterol or sodium.

Avocados are high in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and folate.

Best of all, Avocados contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas. That is a fact that I didn’t know until recently and here I've been eating all these bananas.

Do you recall trying to grow an avocado tree way back when? Remember pushing three toothpicks into the thickest width of avocado, suspending it over water and putting it in a sunny window.

Mine actually got quite large but it never bore fruit. What I didn’t know is that it takes 3-4 years and even then it is hit or miss. It also helps to have several avocado trees growing together to aid in pollination.

I love this particular recipe because it is so straightforward. I found an avocado on the “slightly” ripe side because I prefer them firm instead of soft.

Bon Appetit to the simple and delicious!

Avocado and Lime

Halve an avocado and remove the pit.

Take 1 teaspoon of high-quality olive oil and drizzle over avocado.

Sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh pepper .

Squeeze on a fresh lime

Spicy Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Cauliflower has to be one of my favorite vegetables. It’s not only low in fat but also high in fiber, folate, vitamin C and vitamin B6.

When I was young, the only way I could eat it was raw with a little ketchup and mayo. Now, I adore it cooked.

I also love it’s colors - green, orange, and purple – and have created a lot of appetizing recipes using these varieties.

The Spicy Cauliflower recipe below has a little kick to it with the red chilies. The combination of the cumin, mustard seeds and ginger really gave it a superb taste.

I also used cauliflower this week to make a healthy pizza. I piled on a mix of cauliflower, red peppers, celery, capers, golden raisins, olives, garlic, and parsley. I added a little bit of orange juice and olive oil to the mix and put it on the pizza crust with roma tomatoes and parmesan about 5 minutes before it was due to come out of a really hot oven.

Bon Appetit!

Spicy Cauliflower

3 tablespoons oil

3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds

1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

1/4 cup finely shredded peeled ginger

5 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into large florets

3/4 cup water

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1-2 small red chilies, thinly sliced, seeds removed for less heat

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add spices and cook until fragrant and golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the onion, 3 tablespoons ginger, 3 tablespoons garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until onions are tender and golden at the edges, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Wash and dry pan and return to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; heat until shimmering. Add half the cauliflower and brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and repeat with remaining oil, cauliflower, ginger, and garlic.

Combine batches of cauliflower in pan. Stir in chickpeas and chilies; cook uncovered until chickpeas are heated through and liquid is gone, about 3 minutes.

Stir in onions and serve.

With the leftover chickpeas, you can make a crunchy, low calorie snack

Spicy Toasted Chickpeas

One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground hot paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chickpeas with oil and spices until evenly coated.

Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, shaking pan occasionally, until chickpeas are golden and crunchy, about 30 minutes.

Let cool completely.

Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Salmon: Two Great Ways To Get Your Omega 3’s

I am cooking healthy now and cannot afford a weekend cheat until I lose the weight I gained over Christmas.

Tonight, I had a slice of salmon – exactly 3 ounces – and cooked it on my indoor grill. What would I do without it as it is one of the healthiest methods of cooking? I put a little black bean sauce on it for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Paired with a small steamed potato – topped with a tiny bit of blue cheese for flavor – and a bowl of slightly steamed spinach with a touch of vinegar, this meal reminded me why I eat this way to begin with. Not only did I feel healthy when I finished it but the flavors were actually delicious.

I will eat salmon at least once a week because of the omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies need but cannot generate. In fact, one of my resolutions this year is to eat more fish. I say it every year but this year I am actually going to try to do it and so far so good.

Salmon is also great with a little olive oil and stone ground mustard drizzled over it when it comes off the grill. I also love the recipe below, which can be changed up depending on what you have in your refrigerator.

Bon Appetit!

I cook it on the grill – inside or out – as it is one of the easiest and healthiest ways of preparing it. If you broil it, keep it about 4 inches from flame.

Depending on how thick it is cook -

1/2 to 3/4 inch thick for 5 to 8 minutes

1 to 1 1/2 inches thick for 8 to 12 minutes

You’ll train your eye to tell when it’s done by the color. In the mean time cheat and use a fork.

King (aka chinook), sockeye (aka red), and coho (aka silver) are the most enjoyable types of salmon.

Grilled Salmon with Spicy Honey Sauce

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red chile or 1 medium jalapeno, chopped

4 skinless salmon fillets, 4 ounces each

1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup watercress leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and ground white pepper, to taste

Place pine nuts, honey, lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, and chile in a blender and process until the mixture is pureed. Spoon the sauce over the salmon, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours, turning twice.

Place bell peppers and watercress in a bowl. Toss with vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover and refrigerate while the salmon cooks.

Oil the grill rack and preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the salmon from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides.

Place the salmon on the grill rack and grill until opaque throughout. Brush occasionally with the marinade.

Garnish with pepper and watercress mixture before serving

Edible Gold Lollipops

Edible gold cheesecake lollipops. My new favorite indulgence that will have to be put on hold for about 10 months.

I had never seen edible Gold Dust before.

You can occasionally get these golden treats at Foodstuffs in Lake Forest. How intermittently – I’ve seen them once in the last year so perhaps I have lucked out.

Bon Appetit!

Chinese Noodle Soup

This easy recipe is made with ground turkey and is a nice variation from the same old standard - chicken.

Use really fresh bok choy and slice it thin. I started out today and at my usual market where the Bok Choy looked lifeless. I moved on to Fresh Market and found some exquisite Bok Choy that looked like it just came out of a summer garden. Don’t settle for produce that isn’t the freshest.

Even my Chinese neighbor loved the taste of this soup but also talked to me about a half a dozen vegetables I could throw in to improve the flavor. I love good cooking advice and am so open to trying anything that will improve the taste of a recipe.

This is another one of those recipes you can toss just about anything in to use up your leftovers.

Bon Appetit!

2 TBSP Sesame Oil (divided)

1 pound 93% lean ground turkey

1 bunch scallions, sliced and divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBSP minced fresh ginger

4 Cups reduced sodium chicken broth

¾ Cup water

3 Cups thinly sliced bok choy

8 Ounces Chinese Noodles

3 TBSP Soy Sauce

1 TBSP Rice Vinegar

Heat 1 TBSP oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add ground turkey, all but 2 TBSP of the scallions, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring and breaking up the turkey until it is no longer pink. Transfer to a plate.

Add broth, water,bok choy, noodles, soy sauce, vinegar and the remaining oil to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until noodles are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Return the turkey mixture to the pan and stir to combine. Serve garnished with the reserved scallions.

Comfort Food: Pass The Pesole

I had forgotten just how good Pesole is. I use to eat it often when I lived in Mexico. The woman who lived beneath me made a huge pot of it a couple times a week and brought up bowls of soup for dinner.

Bless you Maria for pushing me through my introduction to Mexican food. I was young and was not likely to try anything different until you brought me a bowl of your Pesole.

It was Maria who taught me to appreciate a dish for what I could change. I never did, however, make a Pesole better than hers but this recipe is easy and really good.

I didn’t have hominy so I used white beans and it was still delicious.

I think a lot of the flavor (and artistry) comes from what you top the soup off with. I always say the higher the pile the better. You can really turn soup into a work of art just by accruing a lot of gorgeous, inventive toppings.

I will add this recipe to the growing number of soups that fuel me during the frigid Chicago winters. It’s minus 20 today and I can’t think of eating anything today but a hot bowl of fresh, homemade soup…especially when it’s Pesole!

Bon Appetit!

Chicken Pesole

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

8 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup tomato paste

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

4 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth

4 cans (15 ounces each) white hominy, drained

6 3/4 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey meat (2 pounds)

Coarse salt and ground pepper

Assorted garnishes, such as diced avocado, thinly sliced radishes, tortilla chips and cilantro.

Heat oil in a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, until evenly distributed.

Add 4 cups water, broth, and hominy. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until fragrant, about 30 minutes. Stir in chicken; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until heated through. (When freezing, cool completely before transferring to airtight containers.)

To serve, divide among bowls, and garnish as desired.

McCormick vs Weber

For as long as I can remember, I have been using McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning on grilled steaks. In fact, I’ve used it on other grilled meats and love how it brings out the flavor of the meat.
My neighbor recently challenged me to try the Weber Chicago Steak Seasoning and wanted to see how it compares to McCormick’s.

Weber is a Chicago based company and Weber Grill restaurants are popular here in the city as well so in Chicago, steaks and Weber grills are taken in the same breath.

Both jars listed few hints in their ingredient list other than salt and spices. McCormick gave a little more adding dill, coriander seed and extractives of dill and paprika. Weber mentioned red pepper. Fact of the matter is, neither company was giving away any trade secrets.

I bought a great quality strip steak from my local butcher and cut it in half. I sprinkled on a generous amount of each seasoning and tossed it on the grill.

So which seasoning was the better one? No question, hands down, the McCormick seasoning was better for both flavor and taste.

The aftermath: The Weber seasoning stuck to my grill and left a huge mess to clean up.

Bon Appetit!

Flemings - Tulsa, OK

Flemings, at 1976 Utica Square, has the PERFECT veal chop (I love veal chops and this was the best I’ve ever had – it even beat out Ruth Chris’s) and steak…along with the Mac and Cheese and Fleming specialty potatoes.

Don’t forget to order the lava cake when you walk in the door because it takes an hour to make but the hour was worth the wait. I’ve had a lot of lava cakes and this one was one was also one of my favorites.

One of my top 10 restaurants in 2010 and best part… the company.

Does food taste better when you eat with family?

I’m certain of it!

Bon Appetit!

I'll Never Eat Squash...Think Again!

I will admit that I’ve always hated squash. In fact, orange vegetables were my least favorite when I was growing up and I would always find an excuse not to eat them. Now, all of a sudden, I cannot get enough of them. Bring on the pumpkin and the squash.

I actually liked this version of squash soup from Alton Brown and I topped it off with fresh bacon bits.

Aren’t you glad you give the dishes you didn’t like a second taste?

Bon Appetit!

6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks butternut squash

Melted butter, for brushing

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

4 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon minced ginger

4 ounces heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper. On a sheet pan lay the squash flesh side up. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.

Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg

Top off with fresh bacon bits.

Living La Vida Loca

I happen to love Las Vegas…in very small doses. Small doses meaning 3 days not 3 weeks. It's the ultimate La Vida Loca.
                             Waiting To Hear Who Won The I Pad

I was there for a convention last week and here are some of the interesting things I found on and off the convention floor.
                               The Latest In Promotional Products

                                             The Bar At The New Cosmopolitan...Beautiful

            Celebrating Wamer Than Chicago!

                                 Vegas Shopping

                                                     MGM Rules!

Why is the buffet at the Paris Hotel the best?

                      The Meat Course at the Paris Including Prime Rib and Duck

A departure from the traditional Las Vegas-style buffet, this amazing dining experience takes dining to an lofty level by featuring live-action stations, the freshest ingredients and food cooked to order. If you are going to pig out anywhere in Vegas make it Paris.

Speaking of restaurants, I’ve eaten at a lot of great restaurants and this time around I found a hidden gem -The Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar at 3900 Paradise Road. My boss has been going there for years. Small plates and so appealing I could have eaten there every night.

John Simmons opened Firefly restaurant and it was tough going for the first year. In fact, he needed the tip money just to stay open. Now, the restaurant – his first and just off the Strip - is a Las Vegas institution. Every night it is jam packed with tourists and locals, the young and old, 20 to 60 somethings and everyone else who has a great taste for outstanding food. This was one of the things I liked best about this place - it was such a mix of people.

We split the small plates listed below and washed them down with wine, rum and the house mojitos. I’m sure the mix of the drinks, food and company was the magic.

                                               Desserts at the Paris

It was a Vegas indulgence that was followed by a week of Slim Fast but it was so worth it.

Bon Appetit!

Firefly*fries - with parmesan, herbs, aioli

Lamb skewers - marinated leg of lamb, tomato, red wine sauce]

Filet mignon sliders - mini burgers w/Serrano ham, cabrales cheese, caramelized onions

Crispy duck rolls in cherry hoisin sauce]

Camarones a la diabla - shrimp, spicy chile sauce, grilled bread

Camarones al ajillo - shrimp in lemon-garlic butter sauce

Petite filet - mini filet mignon, herb cheese, roast potato, mushrooms, red wine sauce

Ham and cheese croquetas - Serrano ham, Manchego cheese

The favorite: The hot and ever so spicy Camarones a la diabla. I’m going to try and recreate this recipe in the coming months.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cold Chicken Noodle Salad

I happen to think that Asians know more about flavors and how to combine them than just about anyone. There are not too many Asian dishes that I don’t love.

This is a delicious salad and the combination of the sesame oil, lime juice and rice vinegar is the secret to its great taste. I made a big bowl and will take it to work for lunch. Packing your lunch is the easiest way to control your calories so I will be into brown bagging it for awhile.

Instead of the rotisserie chicken, I used chicken slices and cooked them on my indoor grill. You can use any meat or seafood including leftovers.

You can also add a variety of vegetables to this recipe. In this case, I topped mine with some scallions and bean sprouts.

I used Asian Wide Lo Mein Noodles made from wheat flour because I had them on hand.

That’s what I love about this recipe – you can put just about anything in it and it will taste great!

Bon Appetit!

Cold Chicken Noodle Salad

Serves 4

Coarse salt and ground pepper

8 ounces soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges, for serving

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced

1 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until al dente; drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together oils, lime juice, and vinegar; season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

Add bell peppers, basil, cucumber, chicken, and noodles to bowl; toss with dressing. Serve noodle salad with lime wedges.