Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

We'll catch up this next week...promise.

Lots to share from New York and home.

Bon Appetit and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Holidays 2012

I am on vacation 12/15 - 12/25 but noteworthy NYC posts to follow.
When you’re in the greatest food city in the world, you may find it difficult to narrow down an itinerary. I will resort to heads or tails to set me off in the right direction. Can you think of a better system?

What are we planning to do?
Who knows better than Zagat’s New York City Food Lover’s Guide and Michelin to give you at least a thousand choices only to conclude that you are coming back next year for at least two weeks instead of one. NYC has far too much to offer- especially in the way of food - to cut it short.
And, as a food lover, there is only one thing to say…
New Year’s resolutions to follow. NYC bring it on!
Bon Appetit and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday at Maxwell Street

More this week on our cold but always delightful breakfast at Mawell Street Market.

Fresh cooked to order.

Bon Appetit!

Mercadito: The Perfect Saturday Brunch

Brunch on Saturday proved to be the perfect flavors that reminded me that I don’t have to be in Mexico to get great Mexican food. A year later, this is still one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago.

Huevos Ahogados: poached eggs, crispy corn bread, chipotle-hollandaise sauce.

The best dessert I’ve had in a long time and my new challenge to create?

Torrejas de Bolillo. A creme anglaise soaked mexican bread,ice cream and a light covering of cajeta sauce.

At 108 W Kinzie, it’s the perfect spot to stop at after a morning of mega-shopping.

Bon Appetit!

Bibimbap...A Signature Korean Dish

Bibimbap has a history. Scholars support that Bibimbap started from the ancestral ritual of mixing food offerings in a big bowl before partaking in it. Does this make eating Bibimbop a spiritual experience? I like to think so as I savor every bite of this signature Korean dish. It’s one of my favorite dishes.

It is not only beautiful to look at but it can easily be adjusted for different tastes and seasoning levels.
Honestly, this recipe is pretty tough to screw up. On a scale of 1 – 10, I would say that this is an easy 4.
Anyone, including my 12 year old neighbor can make it. I put her to the test this past weekend.
Whatever the experience is for you, it is sure to challenge you to perfect this recipe and it can be perfected.
I have made it with scallions and peanuts with great results. In fact, whatever I put in this recipe worked.
Bibimbop is a also a great way to use leftovers. Other than the red pepper paste and rice, everything else can be switched up.

I’ve tried it with both pork and chicken but this mixture was just made for beef.
Bon Appetit!
Prep Method:

Add 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and cooked sticky rice and cook the rice for several minutes until the rice sizzles. Place a serving of rice in a big bowl.
Here is where you can show your food styling skills. Arrange a small amount of each prepared vegetable including bean sprouts and beef over the rice. Drizzle with a little sesame oil. Top the dish with an egg fried sunny-side up with toasted, sesame seed. Serve with red pepper paste sauce…any one you happen to love!
Preparing The Vegetables and Meat:
Julienne the carrots into match sticks. Sauté in a lightly oiled skillet for 1 - 2 minutes over medium high heat, sprinkling salt and pepper to taste.
Generously sprinkle salt over sliced cucumbers and set aside for 10 - 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid. Toss with 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1 clove garlic minced, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds.
Blanch the spinach in salted boiling water only until wilted, 30 - 40 seconds. Drain quickly and shock in cold water. Squeeze out water. Cut into 3-inch lengths. Toss with 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1 clove garlic minced, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Cut into tiny pieces. Mix in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of rice wine (optional), 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 2 cloves garlic minced, and a pinch of pepper. Marinate for 20 minutes.
Sauté in a skillet for 2 - 3 minutes over high heat.

Three Ingredient Ice Cream

Three ingredients and like magic, I had a bowl of the creamiest, lemon ice cream.

Was this one of the best ice creams ever? You have a YES from the self-anointed ice cream expert.

Amazing to me: I made this ice cream last weekend and the consistency is still creamy a week later. No ice crystals formed…not a one.

You know this ice cream is good when you eat it right out of the container and can’t even get it into the bowl. Best thing yet – you don’t need an ice cream maker to create it.

You can test a new flavor simply by changing up the lemon curd.

Bon Appetit!

Ice Cream with Lemon Curd

2/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 can (4 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon curd

Whip the cream.

Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and lemon curd.

Pour the mixture into the container, cover and freeze.

Pickled Green Beans

My brother-in-law Dan makes really good pickled green beans… but it is a process.

This is a quick refrigerator version and makes a delicious addition to spicy Bloody Mary’s during the holiday season.

Bon Appetit!

Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

12 oz haricot verts (in eason) or green beans.

2 1/2 C white vinegar

3 C water

1/4 C salt

3 T sugar

3-4 cloves garlic

2 t dill seeds

2 t caraway seeds

4-6 bat leaves

Divide the green beans among the two jars. You don’t need to cook them–just trim them and wash them.

I added two bay leaves to each jar, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and divided the seeds between the jars.

Bring the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a boil. Once the sugar and salt has dissolved, pour the liquid over the beans–easier to divide if you use equally sized jars. Top off with boiling water until you reach the top of the jar.

Cap the jars and refrigerate.

Wait a week but if you break into a jar early...enjoy! They will still taste great!

The Ultimate Indulgence: French Fries

To burn off a French extravagance, you have to dance for about an hour.

I can so do that for an hour or two or three.

Make mine a double!

Bon Appetit!

Homemade Greek Yogurt

My friend Mary, who is 100% Greek, gave me a tub of Greek yogurt from the Monastery in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Honestly, this is the BEST yogurt I’ve ever tasted.

OK – I’ll admit that I have never been a huge fan of Greek Yogurt but this tasted different.

I mixed mine with a little lemon curd and dressed it up with some homemade granola.

Hard to decide which one is my favorite.

I am now inspired to try a batch of homemade yogurt because there is such an enormous difference in taste.

Bon Appetit!

Lemon Curd, Yogurt and Granola

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons lemon curd

1 teaspoon granola

Layer the yogurt and lemon curd, scatter with the granola.
Lemon Yogurt with Pomegranate

Lemon Yogurt

Pomegranate Seeds


Spoon in yogurt and top with Pomegranate and granola.

Another Round of Wedge...and Other December Shorts

Another variation of the Wedge and the homemade dressing literally made this salad.

Bon Appetit and where’s my steak to go with it?

For the Bleu Cheese Dressing:
1/3 cups mayonnaise
3 tablespoons cup vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup dairy sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup smoked blue cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, sour cream, milk and garlic until smooth. For a thicker dressing, omit the milk. Stir in the blue cheese crumbles. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

For the Salad:
1 head Iceberg lettuce, well cleaned
Diced tomatoes
Chopped scallions
Candied Pecan Pieces
Bacon, crumbled
Cubed Avocado

Make sure your lettuce is very cold. Pull it from the fridge just before serving and work quickly to get it on the table still cold.

Remove the root end from the bottom of the head of lettuce. Slice the lettuce half, then into 4-6 wedges (depending on your preferred size).

Top with your favorite toppings and drizzle with homemade Smoky Bleu Cheese Dressing.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcake

You can make your cupcakes unique just by using a few signature extras.

This recipe originated in 1855 and was popular back in the 60’s.

It is still one of my all time favorites even though I never had a taste for it growing up.

Chocolate Covered Wafers

Here is a link to the highest ranked page of this blog with over 100,000 hits.

We love these cookies and remember you can do them with chocolate wafers too.

Chocolate Covered Oreos

A Petite Carafe

Petite carafes are great for serving individual portions of wine and look beautiful on the dinner table.

I’ve looked for the perfect one for well over a year. Ended up that my local restaurant had one all along and sold it to me last week. Just goes to prove that the neighborhood you live in offers the simplest of solutions. Just ask your local chef.

Now…back to the hunt for my next kitchen got-to-have!

Looking A Lot Like Christmas

Frozen Pizza

Wisma worked for over a year to perfect this pizza recipe. It’s a lot like a flatbread and in this case with a little tomato sauce and mozzarella. All ingredients are locally sourced.

Love it? You be the judge. I'm a huge fan of the white pizza/

Emile Henry

Speaking of pizza, I bought a new pizza stone. Did I need one? No. This was definitely a splurge…but worth it I might add.

I was convinced that I needed one after I had two pizza’s cooked on the stone at my neighbors and then went home and cooked one on my old pizza stone. The difference in taste was astonishing.

French brand Emile Henry is made of Burgundy clay which evenly and slowly distributes cooking heat to the center of the stone. The pizza is cooked evenly and not even the edges were overdone.

Best $49 I’ve spent lately …less my 10% cooking class discount and $25 gift certificate, I was out of pocket $19.

Makes a great gift for anyone that is a pizza lover like me.

Creative Photos

Photo Sculptures are a fun way to display your best-loved photos - especially in the kitchen.

I look at this one every day of my son when he was young. It never fails to make me laugh and feel like he is ready to jump out and give me a mega-hug when my recipes turn out less than perfect the first time around.

He’s been doing a lot of hugging lately.

When I write about products, it’s on my own dime. I either like them or I don’t and no one can pay me to think otherwise.

Centuries of trend-setting designs has put Pillivuyt porcelains in my kitchen.

Try it just once and you’ll be convinced that with great results in baking, this is the only dish to use in the oven.

Goose Island Vanilla Cream

          Getting the best out of the vanilla bean? I LOVED this soda….and I NEVER drink soda!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’ve tried at least a half a dozen recipes and not one was even close to Gerhard's version.
I know...lot's of whipped cream and light on the pumpkin.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Maybe it’s the Mexican in my soul but tucked away in a tiny corner of my kitchen, I have a little altar to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I’m convinced she puts the magic in my cooking. In fact, since I put this little altar in my kitchen, I am fearless. I will try anything.

I have a friend who talks to Annapurna, Hindu Goddess of Food and Cooking almost daily. Crazy? Seems his cooking has improved immensely since he started up these conversations with her over two years ago.

Whoever you get your cooking inspiration from, celebrate them. Make a permanent place for them in your kitchen.

I know these oils have magical power every time I use them… or maybe it’s the thought that inspires me to cook much-loved dishes that even I can’t explain.

Bon Appetit!