Thursday, April 26, 2012

Confessions Of A Foodie...

When I totaled up my foodie moments from this week, I was astonished at just how many I’ve had.

20 to be exact and it’s only Thursday!

Bon Appetit!

Discovered Two New White Wines I Love
I stray from the same- old- same- old and try at least one new wine every week.
Bonus week: Score two!

Lunch at Soulwich in Evanston
It’s been called a bahn mi on steroids but there is massive flavor in this HUGE sandwich which was two meals for me. I did the Pork Indonesian Ginger BBQ with Pear juice, Sesame Oil, Fresh Ginger, Garlic and Soy Sauce. My only complaint? Too many carrots.

Lucky Tab from Heaven on Seven…not to mention a bowl of killer gumbo.
If you don’t walk away from this restaurant loving the Gumbo, you had better at least get a tab like this one. Time to run over to the corner store and play Powerball.

Short Trip to Chocolate Lovers Corner in Chicago.
Chestnut & Pearson. Temptation any which way you turn.

Meringued In Highwood
Tried so many recipes but so much easier just to buy at The Gourmet Frog…a Froggy’s kitchen in Highwood.
Breakfast at Tweet’s... As Seen On My iphone
When asked by NBC News anchor Brian Williams about a camera recommendation, Annie Leibovitz, the famous portrait photographer ,made an unexpected recommendation: the iPhone. I used it in a pinch today because I forget my camera battery.

Bunuelos At Maxwell Street
From the Blue Churro Truck at Maxwell Street Market. A perfect mid-morning treat…with a little sugar on it!

Had a Julia and Jacques Moment
I get lost in this 1999 cookbook where techniques are a long, hard study but so worth the results.

Florentines From Tag’s Bakery
Flawless buttery caramel, almonds and dark, dark chocolate. Hello Indulgence…Goodbye Self Control!

Baked Sue Zemanick’s Cobbler
New Orleans Gautreaus chef Sue Zemanick made this easy cobbler that is deliciously full of fresh fruits. I cooked it just a bit too long so watch your cooking time. It went from almost done to overdone in a matter of minutes.

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 pint blueberries
1 cup sugar – divided
1 tbsp cornstarch
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a bowl combine berries, 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp sugar and cornstarch. Let sit 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a third bowl, stir egg, milk, vanilla and butter. Add dry ingredients. Stir well.

Place six 6-oz ramekins on a baking sheet. Divide fruit evenly and top with a few spoonfuls of batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
A Layer of Olive Relish
My dad loved olive relish.It’s a base for salami and cheese and adds an interesting layer of flavor to ordinary hors d'oeuvres.

30 Minute Lamb Osso Buco
My new pressure cooker by Fagor is the best cooking investment I’ve made all year. I loved this recipe bursting with fresh vegetables and the lamb tastes more like I slow cooked it for hours in the oven.

4 lamb shanks
½ cup flour
1 TBSP olive oil
2 slices bacon, diced
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can tomatoes, diced and drained
3 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp grated orange zest
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 TBSP tomato paste
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 cup beef stock
½ cup red wine

Place flour in large plastic bag. Flour Shanks. Shake off excess.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon and cook 30 seconds. Add lamb shanks and brown. Remove and set aside.

Add onions, fennel, red pepper, carrots, celery and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to pot and place lamb shank on top.

Place lid on cooker and bring to high pressure, then lower heat and cook 30-35 minutes. Release pressure and serve.

Serve over polenta or mashed potatoes.

My Sweet Foodie Moment: An Ice Cream Sundae
Your favorite toffee can make any treat turn into an lasting obsession.

Gardening Class at Williams Sonoma
Confession: I have a brown thumb.
Let’s see if anything from this gardening class sticks. If I have plants popping up in a week or so, I’ll attempt to grow some herbs and vegetables of my own this summer.

Cheese Cake from Patisserie P
Peter Yuen is the upshot from the Four Seasons and Hotel Sofitel Chicago. His Asian & French pastries are on my normal Argyle route when I am shopping for Asian food. Beyond amazing.

Slow Cooked the Perfect Pork Shoulder
To me, Pork shoulder is the perfect cut. I’ve cooked it a hundred ways and this method is by far the easiest and one of the most inviting. Coat with sugar, salt and pepper and pop it in the oven for 6 hours. It will come out perfect every time.

Do not cover as it creates the most sublime outer crust.

3-4 pound pork shoulder
1 Tbsp sugar per pound of pork
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt per pound of pork
a few pinches of ground black pepper

Prepare the pork the night before: rub with sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator over-night.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F - this is a low and slow method of cooking and totally worth it!
Place pork in a roasting pan and put in the oven. Do not cover.
Cook for 6 hours.
When it's finished cooking, let stand for 30 minutes and then pull, or shred, with two forks
Mixed Not One, Not Two But Three New Classic Margaritas
Got to get a jump on summer!

I was told when I made this first recipe to note how the cocktail smells before I shake it. I would learn to make Margaritas by the smell. I thought they were crazy but when I took a whiff, I knew exactly what they were talking about. This had the scent of a great Margarita and it was.

I really like the taste of the simple syrup – which I made myself – and the agave syrup. I used a little less agave syrup in the second recipe and it was perfect.

The third recipe came about when I was out of limes and the combination of the one lime I had along with a lemon and a little orange liqueur resulted in my new favorite summer drink.

You don’t need Triple Sec for a perfect Margarita.
Ok – I said it!

The New Classic Margarita
1 1/2 oz Tequila
1 1/2 oz fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup (equal parts of sugar and water microwaved for 15 seconds)
3 dashes Orange Bitters
Kosher salt or sea salt for the rim

Rub the rim of an old fashioned glass with an edge of a lime slice and kosher or sea salt to salt the rim. Add one or two large cubes into the glass.
Combine tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters in an ice filled shaker.

Shake vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain into the salted glass.
Agave Margarita
Kosher Salt
2 lime slices
¼ cup tequila
2 TBSP. agave syrup (I used half because I like my Margaritas on the sour side)
2 TBSP fresh lime juice

Salt rim of glass.

Combine tequila, agave syrup and juice in a cocktail shaker (I actually use a small Mason Jar). Fill with ice and shake well.

Tequila Salud
¼ cup tequila
1 tbsp agave syrup
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
Splash of Patron orange liqueur

Put all in a shaker jar with ice. Shake and pour in a salted glass.

Simmered Pho Broth
This is a work in progress. I’m trying to achieve the same depth and rich flavor of Inovasi’s… which is this week’s favorite addiction.

-I use beef bones
-I brown the bones in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes
-I pack the bones in the stockpot and cover with cold water.
-Bring the stock to a simmer and cook for about 24 hours.
-About 15-30 minutes before the stock is ready to serve, I add a handful of shallots that have been peeled roasted until completely black and 6" of peeled, ginger that has also been roasted on the gas burner until black
-4-6 star anise, 3 cardamom, 4 clove, 12 peppercorns
-About 5 minutes before the soup is done I add fish sauce  to taste

Made a Lemon-Yogurt Icebox Tart With Cream Cheese Crust
I loved when my mom made her famous Lemon Ice Box pie. This variation was really wonderful with the greek yogurt, lemon curd and cream cheese crust.

2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional, leave out if making a savory pie)
8 ounces cold cream cheese
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2-4 teaspoons cold water

Makes 2 crusts

Pour the flour, salt, and sugar (if using) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Cut the cold cream cheese and cold butter into large pieces and sprinkle them over the flour. Toss a bit with your fingers to coat the pieces with flour.

Give the flour, butter, and cream cheese 10-12 one-second pulses. The result should look like large shaggy crumbs.

Remove the lid and sprinkle the vinegar and two teaspoons of the cold water over the dough. Replace the lid and process continuously for 3-5 seconds until you see the dough just starting to come together. It should still look a bit crumbly with visible flour and visible streaks of fat. When you pinch some in your fist, it should easily hold together. If it doesn't, sprinkle another two teaspoons of water over the top and process again.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide it into two equal parts. Gather each mound of dough and press it into a flat 1-inch thick disk or square, depending on the shape of the pan you will be using. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Tear off two large pieces of wax paper. Unwrap one of the pieces of dough and set it in the center of a piece of wax paper. Lay the other piece on top. Working from the middle of the dough out, begin rolling the dough into a thin crust. The dough will be tough to roll at first but then will gradually become more malleable as it becomes thinner. Rotate the dough and flip it to the other side a few times as you roll. Peel back the wax paper occasionally and sprinkle the dough with a little flour to make sure it doesn't start to stick.
When the crust is 1/8-1/4 inch thick, it is ready. Peel back the top layer of wax paper and gently invert the crust over your pan. Peel off the second piece of wax paper. If the crust cracks, overlap the two pieces slightly and pinch them together.

It's fine to bake the pie right away, but if you have time, chill it in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes before putting it in the oven. This chilling time helps the dough keep its shape better in the oven and tends to make a flakier crust.

I cook this at 375-degrees for about 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden.
Lemon-Yogurt Icebox Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart

1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Crust
2 cups Greek yogurt
2/3 cup lemon curd
2 tablespoons honey (or more, depending on tartness of curd)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons water
Whipped cream
Citrus slices or berries (optional, for garnish)

About two hours before assembling tart, roll or press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan and fully bake according to recipe instructions. Let cool on a cooling rack for at least one hour, until room temperature.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon curd, honey and vanilla. Taste and add more honey, if needed. Put the water and gelatin in a small microwave-safe measuring cup and let sit for 5 minutes. Microwave for 10-15 seconds, stirring once or twice, until the gelatin is dissolved. Thoroughly whisk dissolved gelatin into the yogurt mixture and pour into the tart shell.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight. Garnish with fresh whipped cream and sliced citrus or berries before serving.

Bought A Cow
I debated for a long time and finally hauled him home this week. Sometimes, foodies just need to indulge and this was a total splurge moment for me. I haven’t splurged for 20 months or more…the sum total of my foodie experiences this week so I figured it was time.

Oh, sorry…My cow is the painting that is now a textbook fit over my chef’s table in my kitchen. If I don’t give him a name soon, I can’t look him straight in the eye when I make Boeuf Bourguignon. Stay Tuned!