Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ice Cream Cinniminions!

When my husband and I were registering for our wedding, he decided that he wanted an ice cream maker. I found it amusing and went along with it. I mean, how often do people make homemade ice cream? Especially when you can go out to the store and buy some.

I let it sit for a while before attempting to make a Guinness ice cream one Super Bowl. It didn’t turn out how I had hoped (icy and hard) and the ice cream maker sat in our cabinet for another two years. It wasn’t until last Thanksgiving when I had the idea that cinnamon ice cream would go really well with the pie I was making for dessert. And I figured why not test out the old ice cream maker.

This batch was everything that my Guinness batch wasn’t; it was creamy and smooth and delicious. I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon, I loathe Big Red gum and generally avoid adding too much of it to any breakfast dish I make. But this ice cream was different. It had a subtle flavor, more vanilla like, with a hint of the cinnamon; just enough to notice it and make it delicious as its own dish, or bringing out the best flavors in an apple pie.

And since that point I’ve decided to make special ice creams for holidays. Last Easter I made a deconstructed s’mores bar with graham cracker ice cream (I’ll post that at some point too). But for this Thanksgiving I went back to my year old ice cream making roots and alongside my pork fat crusted apple pie (see previous post) , made a delicious batch of cinnamon ice cream. The recipe is really easy and you can get an attachment to your kitchen aide mixer for $80 or buy a standalone (Ice cream makers)

The key to this recipe is grinding the cinnamon yourself. I’ve done it with a zester, with a mortar and pestle or you can do it with a cleaned out (VERY WELL so as to not taint the flavor) coffee/spice grinder. I promise you, it takes time, but it’s worth it. Fresh cinnamon makes 150% of a difference. And make this the night before you serve, it takes time to set.


1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup heavy cream

1 TSP vanilla extract

2 TSP FRESH ground cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the sugar and half-and-half. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and whisk half of the mixture into the eggs. Whisk quickly so that the eggs do not scramble. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir in the heavy cream.

Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside to cool. If you just leave it out on your counter, this takes about 2 hours. I would recommend stirring it every 20 minutes or so. The mixture will continue to thicken.

Pour cooled mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you are using a Kitchen Aide Ice Cream Maker attachment, I recommend keeping it in the freezer for at least 3 days before you make the ice cream. You want the bowl to be absolutely freezing. The recommended 15 hours just isn’t enough.

Also, I should warn. All of the manufacturer’s directions say that the ice cream will actually turn INTO ice cream while you’re mixing it. I have never found that to be the case. It will thicken up, and will look like the consistency of melting ice cream but you will need to put it in an air tight container in the freezer for at least 10 hours before serving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pizza, Pizza!

Being born to two die hard New Yorkers in Brooklyn, and then moving to the suburbs of Philadelphia when I was 8 meant that my parent's spent years, YEARS trying to find good New York style pizza. I grew up loving the huge pies, with paper thin crusts; to me, that is pizza. Seven years ago I moved to Chicago, and while Chicago is known for it's stuffed pizza, it's just not the same. And quite frankly, I don't think as good. I know I've lost some of you there, but I can't lie. I'm not saying stuffed pizza isn't good, I'm just saying there's better out there. There's something very satisfying about picking up a slice of pizza, folding it in half, turned your head to the side and taking a bite. The idea of cutting my pizza into pieces so I can eat it is seemingly sacrilegious.

Growing up, my dad used to make pizza from scratch. I distinctly remember him coming into my first grade class and making french bread pizza. The class and the parent's loved it so much, they asked him where his pizza place was. He informed them he didn't have one, as he was a doctor. No one believed him. I always loved making pizza with him. The anticipation of waiting for the dough to rise, spinning it in the air like a champion pizza maker, the smell of pizza in the oven, it's a reminder of childhood.

So, when I moved to Chicago and couldn't find pizza that I liked, I decided to start making my own. Now I should add, since I've been here I've found some pretty amazing places (Piece, BoilerRoom, Santullos). I have a hard time buying pizza that I know I can make, so these places give me things that I can't, like the BoilerRoom at the BoilerRoom. Meatballs soaked in PBR and a spicy giardiniera. But I digress.

So, home made pizza! It's not that hard and it tastes so darn good!

If you become committed to the homemade pizza cause, I would recommend going to Bed Bath and Beyond and buying a pizza stone. You can get them for $25 or $30 and they do make a difference. They're also great for baking cookies. If you want to spend a little more money and have a lifetime guarantee, Williams Sonoma has one for $50. We have it and love it.

The important thing here is to have fun with it! Put on as much or as little of every ingredient as you'd like. Add pepperoni, add sausage and peppers, go CRAAAZZY!


3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 packet Quick Rise Yeast
1 TBS Olive Oil

Pinch of Salt
2 Cups Hot water

Quick Sauce
Can of Crushed Tomatos
2 garlic cloves minced
1 pinch of sugar
1 TSP Crushed Red Pepper
1 TBS Italian Seasoning

2 TSP Garlic Powder
2 TBS fresh Basil, chopped

2-4 Cups Shredded Mozerella Cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it)

Crushed Red Pepper
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Powder

You can do this by hand or with a mixer. If you use a mixer, use the dough hook. Combine flour , olive oil and salt in a bowl, mix well and then add yeast. Mix in ONE cup of the hot water. Dough should be soft and smooth, without being sticky and all of the flour is included. If it isn't, add water one teaspoon at a time until it is. Once dough is fully mixed, cover with a dish towel and let sit for 45 minutes.

If you're not in the mood to make a sauce, I recommend getting the Barilla Tomato Sauce. Their Roasted Garlic and Tomato and Basil are actually rather good and it saves you some time.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and heat until warm. See, I told you it was quick!

After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 400. You want it hot so the crust gets crispy.

On a well floured surface, roll out dough. If you want to play pizza maker, throw it in the air (just be aware flour will rain down on you!). Once dough is thin and is laid out and fits to the edges of the pan, stone ect, sprinkle the crust with some olive oil and then seasonings. As much or as little as you like. I like it a little spicy, so I add probably 1TSP of crushed red pepper, but you can just add a pinch. A few shakes of garlic powder, and a few shakes of seasoning.

From there add the sauce. Make sure to cover all of the pie, save the area closest to the edges. You want some crust! Cover with as much cheese as you'd like and then sprinkle some more seasoning on top.

Throw it in the oven for 20 minutes. Keep checking to make sure that the crust isn't burning. After 20 minutes the crust should be a shade of golden brown. If it isn't put it in for another 5. Keep checking until the crust is golden.

Take it out of the oven, let it cook for 5-10 minutes, that cheese is REALLY hot! Slice and enjoy!
I like my pizza really saucy and cheesy....but that's just me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Was Told There Would Be Punch and Pork Lard Crusted Apple Pie at This Event....

Until last year I had never been to an apple orchard before. And since last year was such a terrible growing season for apples, by the time we got to the orchards in late September the apples were off the trees. I was not about to make the same mistake this year. So I spent three hours researching U-Pick Apple Orchards in Illinois (I should admit now, I have an obsession with researching), trying to find the least hokey, best possible orchard that also has cider donuts. I mean, how can you pick apples without getting the amazingness that is a cider donut?!

So we ended up finding Prairie Sky Orchard in Union. Wonderful small orchard, not a tourist trap, just apples and a barn with autumnal delicacies such a cider donuts, cider, pies ect.. I plan on going back again next fall. Anyway, after getting a peck of an awesome hybrid of Jonathan and Golden Delicious called JonaGold apples, (for those of you who were unaware of how many pickled peppers Peter Piper picked, its 10lbs), we had 10lbs of apples.

And what does one do with 10lbs of apples? Well, when there are two people there are only so many apples you can eat. And I can tell you now, if the old adage of “An apple a day…” is true, we’re set for a while. Anyway, we had all of these delicious apples and I figured a pie would be perfect. I’ve made pie crusts in the past, but to be honest, I’m not a huge crust fan. So this time, I wanted to make something really delicious. After much research I came across a recipe from Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate. The pie crusts base is butter and pork lard, instead of the usual butter and Crisco. The lard makes the crust insanely flaky and extremely rich. While I kept the integrity of her crust recipe, I did tweak the insides. What resulted was a delicious, flaky, rich pie that I plan on making again. I served this with some homemade cinnamon ice cream I whipped up (recipe forthcoming). They complement one another really well. To make this crust you will need a kitchen scale, the ingredients are in ounces and pounds.

For the Crust (this will make enough dough for two stuffed pies ie top and bottom crust, and one bottom crust)

7 ounces cold cubed butter

3 1/2 ounces frozen cubed pork fat ( I bought this from The Butcher and Larder, but you can probably get from any butcher shop in the area)

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch of salt

1 pound, 2 ounces all purpose flour

1/2 cup ice water (more or less)

1 egg

Place butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment. On low speed, start mixing. About halfway into mixing, add frozen pork fat and mix until the fat resembles small peas. Then add the beaten egg with a tablespoon of iced water. Work with mixer for one second then take off stand and mix dough with hand to feel moisture. You may need to add more water if you are unable to incorporate all of the flour mixture. I added another 2 TBS of water to get everything. From there, wrap dough in plastic and put in the fridge. Let it sit at least 4 hours, preferably over night.

For the Filling

5 JonaGold Apples (or another sweet baking apple like Honey Crisp)

2 Granny Smith Apples

2 cups Apple Nectar (you can get this at any organic food store)

Kosher salt

Pinch of black pepper

4 tbs natural cane sugar

1tsp AllSpice

1tsp Cinnimon

1/4 cup corn starch

Egg white (for top of pie)

Peel and quarter apples, cleaning out the core. On a mandolin or with a sharp knife, slice the apples paper-thin and place in a bowl with all other ingredients other than egg white and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and cut off roughly 1/3 of the dough. Cover the remaining dough and place back in refrigerator. From the dough you’ve cut, cut that in half and place ½ on a well floured space. Roll out flat and place in the bottom on a pie dish, make sure the edges are overhanging by at least an inch. Take apple mixture, drain the liquid (but keep it! You’ll need it) and place on top of dough. Take one cup of the liquid and place it in the mixture.

Roll out another circle of pie dough, but only the circumference of the pie tin. Cut four small slits in the middle so that the liquid and steam can release. Place dough on top of apples and roll the overhang dough around so that it curls. Refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, brush pie with egg white and sprinkle with sugar; I like more sugar, others like less. Bake for about 1 hour. If top of crust starts to get too brown, turn down the oven.

Take the pie out, let it rest and serve!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

B-B-B-Bird is the Word!

I grew up in a house where we didn't eat a lot of roasted chicken, in part because my mom is deathly afraid of birds and also my dad has a thing about salmonella to the point that I had no idea that chicken could be juicy until I was in my mid-twenties (We won’t even talk about the family practice of microwaving chicken breast for a minute after it was grilled). So when we did eat chicken, it was cut up into things like tacos, grilled along burgers or breaded and placed inside parmesan.

So it took me years and years and years to finally decide to roast my own chicken. I wasn't sure what to do, I wasn't sure how long it was really supposed to cook and I wasn’t sure how I knew I wasn't going to get salmonella (it’s challenging to microwave a whole bird!). My first attempt wasn't nearly as bad as I thought, and each time I roasted a bird, it got easier and easier. And now I can proudly say that after living on my own for 10 years, I've finally broken the Jones Family Fear of Chicken.

With that in mind, after shopping this past weekend I decided that the chicken roasting season had begun. So I purchased a bird, a bunch of root vegetables and a lemon and got to work.

I have to say, last night’s chicken was probably the best I’ve ever made. In part it’s because I deglazed the pan after I cooked it. And I roasted the vegetables in another pan, rather than along with the bird, which is what I had been doing in the past. But I think a lot of what worked this time was the seasoning. The chicken turned out beautiful, golden and really pretty awesome. (Hey, I’m the only one on here, so I've got to toot my own horn!) And of course the vegetables alongside it were pretty delicious too.


1 whole roasting chicken

4 cloves of garlic, peeled whole

1 lemon (zested, and quartered)

¼ cup Italian seasoning

4 tbs olive oil

3 tbs whole peppercorns

3 yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 onion, chopped

15 Brussels sprouts, cut in half

2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 turnips, peeled and chopped

2 cups of whole baby carrots

3 tbs white wine.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a shallow pan, put 2tbs of olive oil and add ½ of the onion, all of the parsnips, sprouts, turnips, carrots and 1 garlic clove salt and pepper to taste. Cover pan with tin foil and place in a high rack in the oven.

In a large round pan (I have around Le Creuset), place remaining olive oil and onions. Cover chicken with lemon zest. Make sure to work it into the skin. Once chicken is covered with lemon, insert lemon quarters, remaining garlic and peppercorns inside the carcass of the bird. Finally take the Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper and cover the bird. You can see from my picture that it’s got a good coating on it. Make sure the chicken goes into the oven breast side down.

Put the bird in the oven for 25 minutes. At this same time, take the foil off of the vegetables, stir them around and place back in the oven uncovered. Once you have finished the vegetables, take out the chicken, flip it and put it in for another 35-40 minutes (or 165 degrees). At this same time, take the foil off of the vegetables, stir them around and place back in the oven uncovered. Remove the chicken from the oven, let it sit for 5 minutes in a separate pan.

While the chicken is resting, place the pot and the juices and whatever onions or garlic has fallen out of the chicken, on the stove on medium heat. Add the wine and 3 tbs of cold water and wisk. Let the broth come to a boil.

Carve the chicken, spoon the broth over it and serve alongside the vegetables!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Put a little Alsace in your Lorraine!

Okay, so maybe this isn’t quite a post about Alsacian foods. However I did make a pretty awesome combination of French and German last night. I went to The Butcher and Larder on Saturday http://thebutcherandlarder.com (seriously, a must go!) to purchase some pork lard, for a pie crust I’m making tonight, (posts to follow) and I saw some delicious fresh made sausage. I ended up purchasing two of the Atomic Hot Links and four SaucisseToulouse. For those of you who haven’t frequented butcher shops or Hot Doug’s, Saucisse Toulouse is a French style pork sausage traditionally featured in cassoulet. It’s a mild sausage, but pairs really well with strong flavors.

Anyway, I picked up the four Toulouse’s, but not having the time or materials to make a cassoulet, I thought I would just grill them up and put them on some crispy French bread. I made a quick moutarde violette and German Potato salad from a recipe I found in Ferran Adria’s new cookbook (a must buy!) The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria http://www.amazon.com/Family-Meal-Cooking-Ferran-Adria/dp/0714862533

So I should say here that per my previous post "All Hail the Mustard King" I saidhow I used to dislike mustard, and I placed it slightly above Mayonnaise in world of condiments. I think it's important to note (more for my husband than anyone else) that this recipe involves not only copious amounts of mustard, but also... MAYONNAISE (gasp!).

To be honest, I wasn't totally sold on the potato salad, but my husband seemed a little enamored by it, so I thought I would just do it. To my surprise, it was delicious and something I would make and eat again. I know I should have already learned the lesson that recipes from certain chef's are always going to be delicious...but like a child who's told not to touch the hot stove and does, I have to learn for myself. Every.Single.Time.

So here you are. Mayo, Mustard and Sausage. A meal that is quick, easy to make, delicious and gourmet!


Crispy French bread, cut into pieces slightly smaller than the sausage excess center bread removed (in order to get the full sausage taste)


¼ cup of stone ground Dijon Mustard

2 tbs grape jam

4 large yellow potatoes

4 tbs low fat mayonnaise

3 tbs Dijon mustard

3tbs heavy cream

5 medium size gherkin pickles

2 tsp minced chives

2 scallions (bulbs only) minced

4 tsp pickled capers (juice removed)

For the Sausage:

Heat grill on high, cook until thorough about 10 minutes

For the quick moutarde violette:

Combine Stone Ground Dijon and Grape Jam together, blend until there are no remnants of jam and the mixture is a violet color. Should taste on the sweetish side, but still have the kick of the Dijon

For the German Potato Salad:

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add potatoes whole, cook until soft. Remove potatoes from water and cover with tin foil until you complete the rest of the recipe. In a separate bowl combine mustard, cream and mayo, wisk until fully blended.

Chop pickles and combine with scallions, capers and chives in a bow.

Remove potatoes from foil, take off skin and cut the potatoes into chunks.

Add potatoes and pickle mixture together.

Finally, fold in mustard mixture until everything is covered.

Season with salt and pepper to taste

When serving the sausage, we found it best to cut the bread and then butterfly the sausage. Add the moutarde violette to the inside of the butterflied sausage and then again to the bread.

And enjoy!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Aviary

Chefs Grant Achatz and Craig Schoettler looking at In The Rocks

I admit it; I’m a sucker for a good drink. More importantly, I’m a sucker for a good drink in an awesome atmosphere. And having lived in Chicago for as many years as I have, I can say that we’ve come across some pretty amazing watering holes in our day.

Every person who lives in a city has their favorites list. Favorite dive bar, favorite mixed drink place, favorite best kept secret (and I promise, I will have an entire post on Chicago’s best kept secret Watershed). But what most people who live in cities don’t have is Grant Achatz, a 3 star Michelin chef opening a lounge.

The Aviary is doing things with cocktails that no one else has ever imagined. To start, they have an ice chef, someone who dedicates their entire job to making the 32 (that is not a type-o) different types of ice, that the restaurant has. My husband and I were fortunate enough to get invited down to meet the ice chef in his kitchen. You would imagine that working with ice all day and night, the space would be cold? You would imagine wrong. It’s hot as hell in a tiny room that is about 10 feet long and 5 feet wide. In this space he makes everything from the ice cylinders for the In The Rocks (made from freezing water inside balloons and then using a syringe to take out the water inside and inject the drink….see photo below), to the tiny balls of celery ice that are found in the deconstructed Bloody Mary.

Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, “Other than the ‘Wow’ factor, the ice just sits there. So what?” And I’ll tell you what! The chefs (they are not bartenders, they are not mixologists, and they are chefs) said that their biggest complaint while drinking is that the ice actually dilutes the drink. If you sit and speak with friends, your drink gets watered down and doesn’t taste good. So their idea? Have drinks that grow and change with time. The ice enhances the drinks because they impart different types of flavor. The vanilla ice slowly melts in the Cream Soda (photograph below) and as your drink, the taste if vanilla grows stronger.

So not only are they doing awesome things with ice, but they’re also doing great things with flavor. The Cider is inside a beautiful glass sphere. It comes out looking like a work of art, and as the drink sits, the flavors of apples, and cinnamon and cloves grow more intense. The transformation from your first sip to your last is unbelievable.

And any good lounge would serve up bites. The bites at Aviary are impeccable. Whenever we have gone, we’ve asked our waiter or waitress to have the chefs pair whatever bites they think will go best with our drinks, and we’ve never been sad. From the world’s best tater tot to waygu, the bites are out of this world.

The Aviary isn’t a bar you just go to in order to grab a quick drink, although we have seen people come in for only one drink and leave. There can be a line, however they do take reservations. I however recommend committing an evening there. Sit in the comfy chairs, enjoy the atmosphere, drink some amazing drinks and eat some fabulous bites. And if you’re lucky, the manager will walk over to your table and say “Hey, I have a great idea….” and all of a sudden, you find yourself whisked downstairs to the invite only Speakeasy known as The Office…

The Bloody Mary

In the Rocks, creation

The Cream Soda with Stout Bites

The Cider with Waygu Bites

Oooooh Spicy Meatball!

Okay, so many not so much a spicy meatball, but an Italian Wedding Meatball?

As fall has kicked into high gear, my soup and stew making has as well. I’ve always been a huge fan of Italian Wedding Soup; I can’t get enough of it. And I know for some people, spending all of the time making the tiny little meatballs is exhausting. The first time I made the soup, I spent a good hour rolling teeny tiny little meatballs out. It was exhausting. And honestly, had it not been for sheer laziness, I don’t think I would have stumbled upon the greatest realization in Italian Wedding Soup history….bigger in this case IS better!

So with the recipe below that I borrowed and tweaked from Ina Garten (it’s turkey meat, so it’s even healthier!) you can use a teaspoon as your meatball making gage. It’s quicker, easier and makes some delicious bites!

I should warn, I like my soup with lots of spinach and not a ton of pasta, but if you feel differently, go ahead and change it up.


7-8 links of sweet Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings

1 lb of ground turkey

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup good grated parmesan cheese (I prefer Locatelli)

1 cup of plain bread crumbs

A handful of flat leaf parsley (I just get a bunch from the store and rip a handful from the top) chopped

1 tbs milk

Salter and Pepper to taste


1 onion, chopped

1 bag of baby carrots, cut into rounds

15 cups of low sodium chicken broth

1 cup of pastina (or any small pasta)

2 bags of spinach

Preheat oven to 400, line two baking pans with tin foil

In a bowl combine all of the meatball materials. Take a teaspoon and fill roughly 1/3 of the spoon with the meat mixer, and lay on the foil lined trays. Meatballs should be about 1.5 inches in diameter, however if they’re smaller or larger, it doesn’t really matter. Fill both lined trays with meatballs and put in oven for about 15 minutes, or until meat is starting to brown.

While meat is cooling, place carrots and onion in a large stock pot over medium with olive oil and a pinch of salt and sweat them. You want the carrots to soften, but you don’t want any of the ingredients to brown. Once the carrot mixture is softened, about 10 minutes, add the broth.

When meatballs are finished, add them to the broth mixture and cook together for an additional 15-20 minutes over low heat.

At this point, add the pasta and let cook for an additional 15 minutes. Then quickly add in the spinach and stir. Let the soup cook with all of the ingredients for an additional 5 minutes before serving.

Grate parmesan cheese on top of bowl and a pinch of pepper and serve!

A little Thomas Keller in the Kitchen

Many many years ago my husband and I went to see the Pixar film Ratatouille and not only fell in love with the character, but with the food as well. I mean, if digital food looked that amazing, why can’t the real life stuff look that way too? We did some research and found out that Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame, was a consultant on the movie. Furthermore, we learned that the recipe that they used in the end of the film was based off of his own Confit Byaldi. So my husband found Thomas Keller’s recipe waaaay back in 2007 and it has sat in my inbox since then.

However, this past Saturday, after spending way too many evenings eating out, I was inspired to put in about 4 hours of work (yes my friends, this isn’t a quick throw together type of meal) and finally make it. It was more of a challenge to myself than anything else, but really it wasn't that hard, just a whole lot of mise en place. I upped the veggies count in a lot of places and tweaked a few other things, but in general this is pretty close to Chef Kellers recipe.

Other than looking at the beautiful finished product and feeling extremely proud, it tasted pretty delicious as well. So enjoy!

Confit Byaldi or Ratatouille Top of FormBottom of Form


1 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed

1 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed

1 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion

4 tomatoes (quickly blanch so you can peel seed and finely dice, juices reserved)

2 sprig thyme

1 sprig flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt


2 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds

2 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

2 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons olive oil

2 springs of thym (remove leaves from the spring)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)


Have an oval pan, about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Add a pinch or two of salt to each layer. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My promise to you

I’ve been doing a fair amount of recipe writing recently, but have lacked on the “other stuff” category. Well, my plan is to make up for that.

Tonight we’re going out for a night on the town; hitting up a few of our favorite restaurants and bars. I promise to take pictures and my next post will be explaining where we are, what we’re eating/drinking and why you need to go to these places.

I mean, I didn’t get fat accidently….

Monday, September 19, 2011

All Hail the Mustard King!

For years I avoided mustard. On the grand scale of condiments, I found it to be slightly above mayonnaise, which is pretty much one of the few items on my inedible list (I regularly enjoy offal, so that has to say something). However, as I grow older and my taste buds evolve, I have found that I do enjoy certain kinds of mustard and Dijon is my mustard King. I have a recipe where I slather a rack of lamb in Dijon, panko and rosemary (to be posted at a later date) and another that pairs it with pork. I enjoy it on a roast beef sandwich and I’m always happy when I go to restaurants and order cheese plates and I find a delicious mustard and jam paired with my cheese; which is why this recipe got me very excited. A combination of both Dijon and Jam?! Is this condiment heaven?!

I give Tasting Table credit for sending me this amazing recipe. More importantly, it’s creator Marianne Sundquist at Andersonville's In Fine Spirits.

1¼ pounds green seedless grapes

1¼ pounds red seedless grapes

2½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2½ tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

1¼ cups pecans, chopped

1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves

¼ cup bourbon

½ cup Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black

In a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together the green and red grapes, sugar, lemon juice and mustard seeds. Similar to making your own Cranberry Sauce, cook over medium-high heat until the grapes burst and the juices begin to gel, about 1½ hours.

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Stir in the pecans, tarragon, marjoram, bourbon and Dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper.

Let it rest for at least half an hour before serving. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

I’m always amazed at how many different flavors can come from the same vegetable. And I find that roasting them always brings out the most delicious taste. We’re having a birthday gathering this weekend, it appears that turning 30 warrants a party (not that I’m complaining) and I think I’m going to make one of my all-time favorite appetizers, Roasted  Pepper Salad.

It’s fairly easy, and short of the time it takes to roast, it’s quick. It’s also one of those recipes that is best made the night before so the salad can sit in its juices and marinate.

(serving 4-6)
6-7 Bell Large Peppers, the more colors the better
1 bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade 
6 cloves of garlic, minced
5 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Baguette cut into thin slices

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Add peppers and let cook until skin shrivels (it will be black in some areas, that's okay) and the peppers fall into themselves. Remove and cool until you feel comfortable touching them (warmer is better, since the flavors blend better).

Peel skin off peppers and cut into  strips.

In a bowl, mix basil, peppers, ½ of the garlic, 3 Tbs olive oil and vinegar, then mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are serving immediately, enjoy, if you’re waiting for later, place in the refrigerator in a sealed bowl and remove 30 minutes before serving.

15 minutes before serving:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the bread, olive oil and garlic in a zip lock back and shake until bread is covered with garlic and olive oil. Place slices of bread on a cookie sheet and bake until crisp (but not golden).


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tomatoes and Basil and Scallops, OH MY!

I've been inspired by a co-workers' blog to get back on my horse and try again.

As summer is winding down, I not only have started pining for the lost days of warmth and sun (Chicago winters start unseasonably early) but also the soon to be lack of delicious summer veggies. While fall has its own set of deliciousness, summer reminds me of tomatoes and basil and happiness.

And so, I’ve decided to share with you all my new favorite summer recipe, Scallop Caprese. The substitution of scallops for the buffalo mozzarella is fabulous and the heirloom tomatoes add a pop of beautiful color.

I recently served this as a side dish for a dinner and it was a total smash. I should warn you in advance though; this is not a cheap dish, especially if you make as much as I did.


1 lb, roughly 8, fresh (never frozen) Diver Scallops (I was generous and had two per person)

1.5 lb heirloom tomatoes, the more colors, the better

1 cup of fresh basil, chiffonade (stack the leaves on top of one another and roll them up, take your knife and cut across the leave, creating long, thin ribbons)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 lemon

Balsamic Vinegar to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Tbs butter

2 Tbs vegetable oil

Slice the tomatoes, I like to vary the size and shapes to make things different, but you can cut them however you’d like. Mix the tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil together. Add a small dash of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange on a long serving plate.

Pat the scallops dry and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a frying pan add oil and place the flame on high. Wait until the pot is screaming hot and add the butter. Wait until the butter has melted, but not browned and then drop the scallops in. The scallops should cook for roughly 2 minutes on each side. They should have a crispy brown coating on both sides and be opaque in the center.

Remove the scallops from the heat and place them on the bed of tomatoes. Cut the lemon in half and lightly squeeze the juice over the dish (should be between ¼ and ½ of a teaspoon, depending on your preference).

Serve immediately!