Monday, March 28, 2011

Asian Pears - From Martini's to Kalabi Beef

I have never enjoyed an Asian Pear until today when I traveled down to the markets on Argyle Street to pick up a few for these recipes.

Asian Pears are generally shaped like apples and have the same crisp crunch as apples when you bite into them. They are so sweet that I was surprised at how much I liked the taste considering that they are really nothing to look at. They look a lot like a green apple – an ugly one. The exterior skin is very tough but inside…sweet obsession.

I used them in the Kalabi Beef recipe that follows and I also found this Asian Pear Martini that was deliciously refreshing with the combination of vanilla, ginger and Prosecco.

Prosecco - one of my favorite base ingredients for spring drinks.

Bon Appetit!

Asian Pear Martini
1 slice of fresh peeled ginger
1 large slice of Asian pear
2 ounces North Shore Tahitian Vanilla Vodka or other vanilla vodka.
Chilled Riondo Prosecco sparkling white wine
6 pieces candied ginger
2 cocktail spears

Muddle the fresh ginger, Asian pear and vanilla vodka together in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker half-full with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into two martini glasses and top with Prosecco. Garnish with 3 pieces of candied ginger on each cocktail spear.

I usually prepare my recipes, grocery list and a loose structure of a post by the middle of the week. Here it was Friday and I had done nothing and didn’t even have a clue what I was going to write about. This was a last minute discussion that stuck.
I am a sucker for Korean short ribs and love the sauces that are used to prepare them for grilling. This recipe combines the basics like soy sauce and ginger with red peppers and an interesting ingredient - citrus soda with an Asian pear.
This recipe is wonderful. I cooked them on my indoor grill after slow cooking them for 3 hours. You can also cook these outside over an open flame or in the oven under the broiler.

Kalabi Beef
Serves 4-6

3 lbs Flanken-style short ribs
1 Asian pear
1/2 a white or yellow onion
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup citrus soda
1 TBS freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
2 TBS sesame seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced green onion

Place ribs in a large casserole dish and fill it with water until the ribs are covered. Let sit in the fridge at least 30 minutes, then pour off water and rinse the ribs and dish.

Return ribs to the casserole dish. Grate the flesh of an Asian pear and half of an onion over the ribs. Add all remaining ingredients to the ribs and use tongs stir marinade and make sure ribs are all soaking. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

Slow cook in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Use tongs to place ribs on the grill and cook for a few minutes on each side. Garnish with additional green onion and sesame seeds.

Serve with kimchee and rice.

Hold The Alcohol

There are so many great drinks out now it’s easy to pass on the alcohol when you are offered a few options. I recently went to a party and found these at the bar, all of which were really good.
Was the non-alcoholic Margarita as good as the real thing?

I can give up a lot but don’t even think about asking me to pass on the Tequila!

Bon Appetit!

Kobe Beef

Kobe beef and Italian peppers on a little, bitty bun.

Great taste and not too many calories.

My new favorite mini-lunch!

Bon Appetit!

Grilled Pork Belly

I saw a recipe for grilled pork belly when I was looking through my Korean cookbook by Yongja Kim. I met her last spring at the restaurant show when I was invited to the Korean Pavilion for a tasting. I modified her recipe and combined it with several other recipes I found and the results were delicious.

I often find that it pays off to really study recipes in depth before you decide to cook a dish. Always go to the source - here my sources were Korean cooks rather than say a food magazine or no name cookbook. I have a large group of ethnic chefs that I email constantly about their native dishes. They are always willing to share.

I went to my butcher shop and although they did not have pork belly, the butcher cut me a thin slice of pork butt which I marinated overnight and grilled the next day. It was really good but I am still bent on trying this recipe with REAL pork belly next time. Stay tuned.

Bon Appetit!

Grilled Pork Belly
Serves 4

2 lbs pork belly, skinned
1 large or 2 small shallots, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 green onion, sliced, include greens
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 red chili, diced
1 tbsp grated lime peel
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice or white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the pork belly into 6-8 pieces.

Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Marinate the pork belly in the marinade overnight in the refrigerator, or for at least 2 hours.

Prepare grill for direct grilling (charcoal or gas).

When the grill is hot, place the pork belly on well-oiled grate.

Grill about 5 minutes per side, brushing on additional marinade as needed, until pork belly is browned and crispy.

Big Jones

This restaurant at 5347 North Clark Street was located right in the middle of one of my favorite neighborhoods – Andersonville. Honestly, I never ever noticed it before today.

This petite space was casual elegance and had much the same feel that you have when you walk into a restaurant such as Galatoire's in New Orleans. Never mind that the food has the same artistic culinary brilliance, I loved the service which was exceptional and a bit time-honored.

If I could choose one place to go to breakfast every Saturday morning this would be it.

I could have devoured all four beignets early on if my breakfast hadn’t arrived early. I was thrilled the minute I saw popovers on the menu and they did not disappoint. My Eggs New Orleans with Jonah crab cakes, popovers, poached farm eggs, béarnaise sauce, and potatoes O'Brien did me in because I couldn’t eat for the rest of the day.

I loved the fact that I knew exactly where my eggs came from - New Century Farm in Schullsburg, WI and they are certified organic. They source local ingredients and you can taste it. I appreciate – and always frequent- a restaurant that buys high-quality, local ingredients.

Next time I’m bringing a crew and trying out these dishes:

Fried Cauliflower
Three Sisters Garden cornmeal breading, pimiento cheese fundido, toasted benne seeds

Gumbo Ya-Ya
House Andouille and Gunthorp Farm chicken in Cajun roux, steamed popcorn rice - What is popcorn rice anyway?

Sally Lunn French Toast
Grilled rabbit giblet sausage, kumquat marmalade, sweet sherry reduction

Creole Rabbit Salad
rabbit confit, crisp bacon, baby lettuce, frisee, sage croutons, poached farm egg, vinaigrette

Yikes – I could get addicted to this place!

Drop by early on a Saturday morning, sit in the big, sunny window in front and ask for Adolfo. Promise you’ll have a hard time making a decision on what to order because everything looks like my favorite.
New Orleans Eggs and Crab

Having breakfast this morning at Big Jones made me realize how simple this delightful dish is. Layer in the order of ingredients listed.
Surprise everyone because this recipe is an easy and elegant dish to have for Easter Brunch.

Bon Appetit!

Popovers (see on recipe page)

Paula Dean's Crab Cake (reference recipe page)

Poached Egg
Fill a medium bowl with iced water; set aside. Fill a large wide saucepan with about 4 inches of water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, so water is barely simmering. Break 1 egg at a time into a small heatproof bowl. Gently tip bowl into water, letting egg slide into the water. Using a spoon, cover yolk with some of the egg white; repeat with remaining 3 eggs. When eggs begin to become opaque, carefully transfer eggs using a slotted spoon to iced water to stop cooking. Trim edges with a small knife or scissors to create a uniform shape.

Bearnaise Sauce
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup very finely chopped shallot
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, more if desired
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon leaf
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1/2-3/4 cup unsalted butter, very soft (I've always used 1 1/2 sticks)
Coarse salt
Pepper, if desired
Lemon juice, if desired

Combine vinegar, wine, shallots, black pepper, and 1 1/2 teaspoons tarragon in a small saucepan.

Cook over medium heat until reduced to 1 tablespoon, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of water to reduced vinegar mixture.

Whisk until thick and pale, about 2 minutes.

Set pan over moderately low heat and continue to whisk at reasonable speed reaching all over bottom and insides of pan, where eggs tend to overcook.

To moderate heat, frequently move pan off burner for a few seconds, then back on.

As they cook, the eggs will become frothy and increase in volume, then thicken.

When the bottom of the pan is visible in the streaks left by the whisk and the eggs are thick and smooth, remove from heat.

By spoonfuls, add soft butter, whisking constantly to incorporate each addition.

As the emulsion forms, add butter in slightly larger amounts, always whisking until fully absorbed.

Continue incorporating butter until sauce has thickened to consistency desired.

Season with salt, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped tarragon and, if desired, pepper.

Add a few droplets of lemon juice if necessary.


Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 dash hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
1/2 cup butter

In the container of a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds.

Place the butter in a glass measuring cup. Heat butter in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until completely melted and hot. Set the blender on high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the blender container in a pan of hot tap water

Beignets and Malasadas

Beignets before breakfast? Only in New Orleans can you exercise this indulgence and at Big Jone’s where I could not resist eating just one more than I should have because I haven’t had them in such a long time.

I love Paula Dean’s recipe and brought an entire batch to my neighbor’s house where her kids gobbled them up and instantly begged me to make more.

Bon Appetit!

New Orleans Beignets

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups bread flour
1/4 cup shortening
Nonstick spray
Oil, for deep-frying
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

When I lived in Honolulu, I was obsessed with Malasadas - Hawaii’s version of the Beignet. Fat Tuesday is Malasada Day in Hawaii.
A malasada is a fried, sugar-coated Portuguese donut and it is meant to use up all the fat and sugar in the house before Lent begins.
Like beignets, they should be eaten while they are still hot.

Hawaiian Malasadas
1 Tbsp Rapid Rise yeast
1 tsp Sugar
¼ cup Warm water
3 cup Flour
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup Melted butter
3 Eggs
½ cup Evaporated milk
½ cup Water
Vegetable oil for frying
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Mix rapid rise yeast with melted butter, condensed milk and water (120 to 130 degrees) 3 beaten eggs at room temperature, half of the flour. Mix well.

Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the flour, mix well.

Let rise for an hour in a warm draft free area or until double in size.

Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees.

Make 2 to 3 inch balls of Malasada dough.

Cook in vegetable oil for about 6 minutes or until golden brown and cook through.

Set on paper towel to cool.

Roll in sugar.

Grilled Cheese and Fried Egg Sandwich

Before I realized that almost every food magazine this month had a sandwich on the cover, I selected this recipe from Bon Appetit made with pancetta and eggs.
Like with every sandwich, it’s about the bread – and the fresh ingredients you pile in between them.

You can change it up a little and add some fresh tomato or avocado.

It’s all in your culinary creativity so have at it and let me know what you come up with.

Bon Appetit!

Grilled Cheese and Fried Egg Sandwich
Makes 4

12 slices of pancetta (Italian bacon)
2 tablespoons butter
4 slices sourdough bread
8 thin slices provolone cheese
4 large eggs
1 small green onion, chopped
Parmesan cheese shavings
12 fresh basil leaves or arugula leaves

Cook pancetta in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels. Reserve skillet with drippings.

Melt butter in extra-large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 bread slices; top each with 2 provolone slices. Sprinkle with black pepper. Cook until cheese melts, 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat skillet with drippings over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet; cook until whites are set but yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Set 6 pancetta slices and 2 eggs atop each of 2 cheese toasts.

Top eggs with onion, Parmesan, and basil, then remaining bread slices, cheese side down. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.

Pasta Soleil

This mix of pasta with grilled asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, parmesan, baby heirloom tomatoes and a splash of vinaigrette was a perfect spring meal all by itself.
Now, if only spring would come!

Bon Appetit!

Pasta Soleil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Stir the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper together in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion, or thickened vinaigrette mixture. Stir in the garlic. Add to the pasta then add the Parmesan cheese just before serving.

Cupcake Poppers

                                                                                      Photo: Betty Crocker

I subscribe to the Betty Crocker website because she taught both my mother and grandmother everything they knew about cooking.

She has some rather stiff competition these days but still puts out amazingly contemporary recipes like this one for her new cupcake poppers.

Bon Appetit!

Cupcake Popper

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on cake mix box
1/4 teaspoon each gel or liquid food colors (neon pink, neon purple, neon orange, neon green, classic blue)

1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Gel or liquid food colors (neon pink, neon purple, neon orange, neon green, classic blue)

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 60 mini muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box. Divide batter among 5 small bowls, about 3/4 cup each. Make 5 different colors of batter by adding 1/4 teaspoon food color to each bowl; blend well.

Fill each muffin cup with 1 level measuring tablespoon batter, making 12 cupcakes of each color.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely, about 10 minute.

In large bowl, beat marshmallow creme and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Beat in powdered sugar until fluffy. Divide frosting among 5 small bowls, about 1/3 cup each. Using the same 5 food colors, lightly tint frosting in each bowl to match the cupcake colors.

Assemble each popper using 2 mini cupcakes. Cut tops off each cupcake horizontally (save bottoms for another use). Spread or pipe about 1 tablespoon frosting on cut side of 1 cupcake top. Form a sandwich by placing cut side of second cupcake top on frosting; press lightly. Repeat with remaining cupcake tops. Store loosely covered.

Skillet Aspargus

Who would have thought to cook asparagus on top of the stove? This recipe from Saveur Magazine shows us that cooking asparagus in a skillet concentrates its flavor rather than diluting it like steaming does.

This is a quick and easy recipe that takes just minutes. Pair it with grilled beef, a green salad and a good glass of French wine and enjoy an impressive dinner in under 30 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

Skillet Aspargus

2 lbs. asparagus

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse asparagus in cold water and trim off tough ends of stalks. Put butter in a heavy skillet with a tight-fitting lid and heat until butter is foaming. Lay asparagus in the pan and shake from side to side to coat asparagus gently with melted butter; cover tightly and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Check asparagus and turn as needed to make sure the stalks cook evenly and don't burn.

Continue cooking 5 minutes longer, or until asparagus is tender but still crisp and bright green.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Top Ten Breafast Trends

The Food Channel named the Top Ten Breakfast Trends in 2011 and I happen to agree with most of them.

Besides the fact that breakfast is my favorite meal, I am always searching for a new recipe I can also enjoy at dinner. I am one of those people who appreciates breakfast any time of the day and sometimes have a real taste for something as simple as bacon and eggs.

Bon Appetit!

1.Oatmeal in Overdrive—oatmeal is becoming a real mainstream staple.

I’ve got to admit that I HATE OATMEAL but I LOVE this recipe. Why is it a winner? It has the texture of bread pudding which is my favorite dessert! Honestly, it tastes just like it bread pudding and nothing like oatmeal. In fact, I had my choice of a lot of things to snack on today and I chose this and threw a few mixed nuts on top.

This recipe comes from my sister Krissy and it has become one of my favorites.

I halved the recipe and then baked it in a little loaf pan and it came out perfect after 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Baked Oatmeal

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

2. Chocolate for Breakfast—with its healthful benefits, chocolate is being promoted as a breakfast product.

Me – I could eat chocolate morning, noon and night so this was no new revelation.

This is a favorite of mine – just like a grilled cheese sandwich except with chocolate instead of the cheese. I happen to prefer it with the strawberries.

Chocolate Breakfast Sandwich

Italian baguette
Unsalted butter, softened
Thin chocolate squares
Sliced banana or strawberries or blackberries

Heat a griddle or a small skillet over medium heat.

Slice the bread into 1/4-inch thick slices. Take 2 slices and butter 1 side of each slice. Put the bread, buttered side down, onto the griddle. Place a square of chocolate on top of 1 slice and top it with some sliced fruit. Cover with the other slice of bread, buttered side up, and grill on both sides until the chocolate is melted.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

3. Fast Foods Battle Over Breakfast—the breakfast menu has become the key battleground in the quick service restaurant category

When you find a healthy one that’s really good, let me know. I don’t think that any of the fast food chains have it right yet so I’m sticking with my mainstay – yogurt, blueberries and my homemade granola.

4. Haute Coffee Comes Home—to save money, caffeine-seekers are opting to brew their own coffee at home

What? I don’t know anyone that brews gourmet coffee at home except on the weekends. Starbucks will always have regulars because people just don’t have time to sit around in the morning and drink coffee.

5. Ethnic Invasion—global influences start to creep into the morning meal.

I’ll eat anything at any time if I am hungry for it. Like the other day when I had Chicken Gumbo and cornbread for breakfast.

One of my favorite ethnic breakfast recipes happens to be Huevos Rancheros. This recipe is not as hot as the stuff I use to eat in Guadalajara so make sure you have a bottle of hot sauce at the table if you’re missing it.

The recipe is so simple and great for feeding a multitude of people. You can make basted or scrambled eggs. I always change it up by putting different ingredients on the top.

Huevos Rancheros

4 (8-inch) flour tortillas (homemade if you are feeling ambitious)
3 tablespoons canola oil
10 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Sauce Rancheros (see recipe below)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Diced avocado, sour cream, green onions, and chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush tortillas on both sides with 2 tablespoons canola oil; lay on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and brown around edges, 7 to 10 minutes.

Cook eggs. Place tortillas on plates; top with eggs, sauce rancheros, and Monterey Jack. Garnish with avocado, sour cream, green onions and cilantro.

Sauce Rancheros

1 can whole tomatoes with juice
1 chopped jalapeno chile, (seeds and ribs removed for less heat)
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon canola oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a blender, puree tomatoes with juice, jalapeno, onion, and garlic.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add puree; cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Beverage Choice Choke—breakfast drink menus keep expanding beyond plain coffee and O.J.

One of my favorite places in the world is the Café La Parroquia on the Malecon at Valentin Gomez Farias 34 in Veracruz, Mexico.

The Café con Leche made a believer out of me that I actually do love coffee…with lots of hot, steamed milk.

With the sound of the Marimba bands in the background, Veracruz’s Café con Leche has a rhythm all its own.

Cafe con Leche

Warm 1 cup of cold press coffee on stove top till hot but do not boil. Place in cup.

Put 1 cup of milk (preferably whole milk) on stove top and stir constantly until warm and almost boiling. (If you have a cappuccino maker or steam wand, use that instead).

Mix equal parts coffee and milk together and serve immediately. Add sugar if desired.

I sometimes add a little piece of dark chocolate for a treat.

7. Hot Pizza in the A.M.—pizza is predicted to be one of the hottest menu items for breakfast.

I loved this Potato and Egg pizza I had at Davanti Enoteco in Little Italy. I think about eating pizza for breakfast all the time now.

Here is a basic recipe that you can build on and I really liked this with fresh, mixed herbs, ricotta and eggs.

Don’t forget to make your own crust - it is totally worth it.

Breakfast Pizza

Thin homemade pizza crust
White pizza sauce (see recipe below)
4-ounces of whole milk ricotta
Several handfuls of herbs (fresh herbs – makes all the difference between a good pizza and a GREAT one!)
1-2-3 eggs per pizza depending on the size and appetite.
Salt and pepper
Any other toppings you would like

Make the dough and separate into individual balls. Mist with spray oil, cover, and leave overnight. If you're going to cook it the next morning there is no need to refrigerate.

Heat the oven as high as it will go - hopefully at least 500°. Shake out each ball of dough and lay it on a sheet of parchment. Top with everything except the eggs. Put in the oven for 4-5 minutes or until it just begins to brown.

Crack the eggs into a cup and slip them onto the pizza. Shake on a little salt and pepper and put back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the yolk is just set and golden.

White Parsley Pizza Sauce
makes 3/4 cup, enough for 3 10" pizzas

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup cream or half and half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Whisk the ricotta and cream together until blended. Fry the minced garlic in a little olive oil until golden, then add the parsley and cook just until wilted and soft. Add to ricotta and season with salt and pepper.

8. Breakfast Ingredients All Day Long—breakfast ingredients work their way into other parts of the daily menu

Sometimes don’t you just crave bacon and eggs for dinner? I can eat them anytime.

Here is a celebrated recipe if you want breakfast for dinner courtesy of Pastis restaurant in New York City. It was published in Martha Stewart and I loved the range of textures in this dish. It was delicious!

Frisee Salad with Poached Egg
Serves 4

4 heads frisee, inner white part only, washed well and spun dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
8-ounce slab of bacon, cut into 1/2-by-1-inch pieces
3 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 large eggs

Place frisee in a large bowl. Set aside. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon and set aside in a small bowl. Add shallots to skillet, reduce heat to medium, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar. Raise heat, and simmer for 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining tablespoon oil, and swirl to combine. Set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Break one egg at a time into water. Poach for about two minutes for a runny yolk or longer if desired.

While the eggs are poaching, pour warm dressing over frisee. Sprinkle with parsley and reserved bacon. Toss to combine. Divide frisee evenly among 4 plates. With a slotted spoon, one at a time, remove eggs from water. Pat dry on a clean kitchen towel. Top each plate of frisee with an egg. Serve immediately.

9. The Breakfast Two-Step—a pattern of people fueling up with caffeine and protein in a two-stage process

Here is the Eggs Beneficial Breakfast Sandwich which was published in Men’s Health and contains 5 of the Power Foods you should eat every day.

Eggs Beneficial Breakfast Sandwich

1 large whole egg
3 large egg whites
1 tsp ground flaxseed
2 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted
1 slice Canadian bacon
1 tomato, sliced, or 1 green bell pepper, sliced

Scramble the whole egg and egg whites in a bowl.

Add the flaxseed to the mixture.

Fry it in a nonstick skillet treated with vegetable-oil spray and dump it onto the toast.

Add the bacon and tomato, pepper, or other vegetables of your choice.

Makes 1 serving.

Also recommended to wash it all down with orange juice, and make it the high-pulp, high fiber kind.

10. Eggs Crack the Top Ten—eggs to hatch a big comeback this year

…and I say – about time!

Bon Appetit!

Brazilian Feijoada

Feijoada is a Brazilian dish of pork and black beans that's by tradition served over rice and served with fresh oranges.

This recipe, from the March, 2011 issue of Cooking Light, is now on my all time favorite recipe list. The combination of short ribs, pork butt and ham hock was amazing. The meat was so tender it instantly fell off the bones when I took it out of the pot after nine hours of cooking.

I’ve got to use that slow cooker more often because this is the way to cook. It took just a half hour to get everything in the pot and then I was done until serving.

This hearty recipe will feed a crowd. I cooked mine for nine hours and it could have easily gone ten or more.

Bon Appetit!

Brazilian Feijoada
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups bean mixture and 1 orange wedge)

2 cups dried black beans

4 slices applewood-smoked bacon

1 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

¾ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

3 bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed (about 2 pounds)

3 cups finely chopped onion (about 2 medium)

1 ¼ cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 (9-ounce) smoked ham hock

1 tablespoon white vinegar

8 orange wedges

Place beans in a small saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Sprinkle pork evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Add pork to drippings in skillet; sauté 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Sprinkle ribs evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add ribs to skillet; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place ribs in slow cooker. Add drained beans, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, onion, and next 3 ingredients (through ham hock) to slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or until beans and meat are tender.

Remove ribs from slow cooker; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred meat with 2 forks. Discard bones. Discard ham hock. Return beef to slow cooker. Stir in vinegar and crumbled bacon. Serve with orange wedges.

Fresh Fruit and Panna Cotta

Giada De Laurentiis has me hooked on her Panna Cotta recipe. This dish is very light and a perfect pairing with fruit and chocolate.

This recipe will be magnificent in the summer when fruits like peaches and nectarines are in season.

Bon Appetit!

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin

3 cups whipping cream

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch salt

2 cups assorted fresh berries

Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Pour milk mixture into a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes. Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Pour into 6 glasses or bowls so that they are half full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours.

Spoon the berries atop the panna cotta with a piece of dark chocolate and serve.

St. Patrick’s Day at Tommy Nevins

It was a St Patty’s lunch at Tommy Nevins at 1450-1458 Sherman Ave in Evanston. The 17th of March and we were dining a la fresco. Spring at last…well almost a 70!
Although the fireplace was lit and it was overcast, it was comfortable on the patio and I was absolutely amazed that the food was this good! I expected BAR FOOD.

Bon Appetit!

The Bento Box

I love all things Bento Box and traveled down to the city on Saturday to check out this interesting, little six table restaurant at 2246 West Armitage in Bucktown.
Chef Rick Spiros did not disappoint with miniature portions of Korean Beef Bulgogi, a salad of sliver thin vegetables topped off with hot sauce, homemade kimchi, rice and a spicy potato salad - the sum of which were filling and full of vast, Asian flavors.

Just when I thought that I would not love it because it was hot, I took another bite and continued to savor the taste which I will admit developed with each bite.

That’s what I like about Korean food – it’s way hot but not so fiery that you need a gallon of water to get through your meal.

I got there early and was the first one at the table so I got my pick. If you are a foodie, this is the route to go. Chef Spiros chatted casually from the back of the kitchen.

The ingredients were fresh, the meal had just the right amount of spice and there was a friendly staff of two – Chef Spiros and Adrian Stewart who was also welcoming and delighted that the restaurant has a huge run of positive press.

In one uncomplicated summary…it kind of reminded me of sitting down in a friends kitchen and enjoying a home cooked meal.

I tried this recipe, adapted by Serious Eats and posted by Nick Kindelsperger, a freelance writer in Chicago. This was good for my first time out.

Bon Appetit!

Korean BBQ Beef Bulgogi

For the marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon mirin

1/2 medium onion, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ginger, grated

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the bulgogi:

1 pound rib eye, thinly sliced

Lettuce, romaine or bibb

1 cup cooked white rice

1/2 cup kimchi

4 teaspoons hot bean past

Add the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, mirin, onion, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and black pepper to a large bowl. Whisk until combined. Toss in the meat, cover, and set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat a grill pan or a large iron skillet to high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade, and then toss in the pan. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until nicely browned.

Serve the beef with lettuce, white rice, kimchi, and hot bean paste.

Evanston Central Street

One of my favorite places to hang out on a Saturday morning is Central Street in Evanston. There are so many individually owned businesses here and that’s one of the many reasons I like to support the shops on Central Street.
Here are a few of my favorites:


At 2106 Central Street, this gourmet food store changes up their menu all the time so you have to stop in frequently to enjoy all the new dishes – like this spicy, skirt steak.

They have several other locations in Chicago, including Lake Forest, but I love the Evanston store because of the variety and the charm of the space.


You can get lost in the beautiful mix of unusual flowers and gifts. I saw at least 20 things I wanted to cart home.

At 1943 Central Street, I believed that this shop got a lot of their business because they open at 9 AM – an hour before the popular Spice Shop next door. I am convinced now, after exploring the shop today, that it survives all on its own merit. The merchandise is simply beautiful.

The Spice House

At 1941 Central Street, this specialty store has one mission – to make you the freshest product by small, weekly batch grinding to ensure you the highest quality spices.

Forget that they import spices from countries of origin and have the highest recommendations for premium quality. Every one of their staff is totally educated and that is the reason I buy all my spices there.

They will take you by surprise because they are turning out new spice blends every week. They even have a line of blends named after each one of Chicago’s ethnic districts.

Tag’s Bakery

Wander down the block and you will find Tag’s at 2010 Central Street. Tag’s has been around since 1937 and has great pastries like the Kolache’s that my Czechoslovakian great - grandmother use to make along with almond covered Swedish Pretzels.

Honestly, I was not ready to love the Swedish Pretzels as much as I did. Somehow, I felt a little less guilty about them than I do Almond Croissants... and the crunch factor won me over instantly.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The International Home and Housewares Show

This was my very first International Home and Housewares Show and quite frankly I never knew that so many chefs had their own line of cookware and kitchen accessories. What do I know? I buy everything at William Sonoma.
I must admit that Rachel Ray blew me away with the sheer size of both her booth and her brand.

With 60,000 people from over 100 countries and 2,000 exhibitors I got happily lost in the mix. Did I get a chance to visit every booth in 2 days? Not even close. I had on a good pair of running shoes and breezed by most of them. You need all 3 days just to scratch the surface of this show.

The show itself was magnificently done and was on spot with both the Social Media booth which had special #FNichats from 3-4 PM and included celebrity chef Rick Bayless and the Pantone color match exhibit. If you wanted to get a clue as to which colors are in, all you had to do is hang out there and ask a million questions.
Chefs from the Food Network and Bravo TV showcased their culinary skills in the Cooking Theater and the lineup of celebrity chefs was non-stop.
One of the most popular by far was Paula Dean. She drew a huge crowd and chatted with the audience while husband Michael did the cooking. I was surprised to see how beautiful and charming she is in person. I changed my mind. In my next life, I am coming back as a Southerner.

Another immovable force was Guy Fieri whose brand is so strong even Santoku can’t cut through it.

I do not endorse products but here are some of the gadgets I found at the show that I would buy myself:

Healthy Steps

Healthy Steps makes a line of cooking tools for a healthy lifestyle including this infuser that you fill with fruit and drop into a jar of water. Instead of buying flavored water you can make your own and you know exactly what’s going in it.

I also loved their Protein Server. Use the spatula head as a guide for the proper portion size.

Healthy Steps is all about portion control.


You can turn thin potato slices into chips without the fat and salt in a matter of minutes in your microwave. Then season them with a little olive oil and herbs and you have the perfect healthy snack. Did I tell you that I couldn’t eat just one?


Brasa makes a line of ventless fireplaces – both large and small – and can be moved to any room in the house. I loved this tabletop centerpiece that is only $185. All of them were surrounded by glass panels that made for a rather striking embellishment.

NexTrend Products

I was fascinated by this GarlicTwist which is the straightforward answer to chopping garlic and ginger. I use enough of both to fork over a small amount of cash for this find. No wonder the GarlicTwist has won an unprecedented six industry awards.

Fusion Brands

I listed the food pod last year as a must buy gift for your favorite foodie for Christmas. This entire line is amazing and offers such fun products as the CrackPot and the PoachPod. Why didn’t I think of these?

Definitely on my short list of things to buy this year and the price point is right in line with a really tight budget. Most under $12.


My first pasta maker came from this brand name based in Italy. It’s a classic brand and I’m sure will be around forever. Never buy it when you can make it this fresh so easily.

Wine Monkey

Part of any kids childhood past, slip a Wine Monkey onto a bottle of red or white and you‘re covered. Guarantee that he will be the talk of the party.

Jamie Oliver

One of my favorite chefs has his own brand like every other chef. I really love the line – especially the denim placemats.

It’s so JO and perfectly paired with many of the recipes from my favorite cookbook Jamie’s America.

iD Cook

The Cookup200 solar grill from the French company iD Cook is a portable solar cooker meant to be taken out on the road. It can be assembled in minutes and folds up into a handy little carrying case.


When you pick up the ViCera ceramic knife, you are holding the perfect balance of new technology and old-world craftsmanship. These beautiful ceramic knives are made in Japan of an advanced, high-tech ceramic called zirconium oxide and is extremely hard and wear resistant, rating 8.5 on the Mohs scale - surpassing stainless steel (5-6 Mohs) and approaching the hardness of diamond (10 Mohs).

Don’t miss the 2012 show March 11th -13th at McCormick place.