Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lincoln Park: Breakfast, Lunch and Home By Dinner

Breakfast: Toast
With just 12 tables, this tiny spot at 746 West Webster is cozy, has great service and cooks up the best Steak Eggs Benedict ever.

The steak was so perfectly cooked and tender I almost forgot that I was having breakfast.

Lunch: Simply It

At 2269 North Lincoln Avenue, I knew I was in the right place – even thought the name is misleading- because most of the customers were Asian.

The chicken soup: Full of flavor…unusual flavor that would be impossible to recreate without a recipe. Although it’s tempting, I’m not even going to punish myself and try.

Egg Rolls: I love Vietnamese egg rolls and use to travel to Minneapolis often just to eat them at Que Viet Vietnamese Restaurant.

Well travel no more because these were just as good and the perfect little mini size.
The wrappers are superbly crunchy and the dipping sauce is classic and light. Yes, we’re all talking light for the new years.

Let’s see if I learn any kitchen confidentials on making Nuoc Cham when I am in Vietnam this year.

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (preferably nuoc mam)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 garlic clove, forced through a garlic press
2 small thin fresh red or green Asian chilies (1 to 2 inches long) or serrano chilies, seeded and chopped fine (wear rubber gloves)

Mix in a small bowl.

Main Dish: Vietnamese Pork Chops

This recipe tastes just like the pork chops I ate at the restaurant. It is also from the January/February edition of Saveur which I think is one of their best issues ever. Every recipe I have cooked so far has been textbook.

The restaurant used honey in theit marinate. This one calls for caramelizing the sugar which is the way I have always done Vietnamese recipes.

½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
cup thinly sliced shallots
¼ cup thinly sliced lemongrass
2 tbsp. peanut oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1½ tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. ¼″-thick pork blade chops, pounded thin
Cooked white rice and nuoc cham (Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce), for serving
Heat ½ cup of sugar in a 1-qt. heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling pan often, until sugar dissolves and turns to liquid caramel. Remove from heat; add ¼ cup boiling water. Return pan to heat; cook, swirling pan gently, until caramel dissolves in water. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a food processor along with remaining sugar, shallots, lemongrass, oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, pepper, and garlic; purée until smooth. Place pork chops in a 9″ × 13″ baking dish and pour over purée; cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Heat a 12″ cast-iron grill pan over high heat. Working in batches, add chops; cook, turning once, until charred in spots and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with rice and chili-garlic sauce.