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!