Archive for April, 2012

Soba noodles with Thai curry peanut sauce

Stealing this recipe from my friend, Palita, Thai curry peanut sauce is a quick meal with tons of flavor and spice.
-heat 4T red curry paste in a little oil
-then add 1/2C. unsalted/unsugared organic peanut butter
-add 1 can of low fat, unsweetened coconut milk
-Stir, adjust to taste and serve over noodles and veggies!

Soba with spinach


Basics are tough.

Pan-seared salmon, roasted asparagus, herbed potatoes and curry hollandaise sauce. This is a classic American meal, it should be easy. It was not, proof is in the details.

I prefer steamed fish to pan-seared, but I decided on the pan-seared because I didn’t want to take time to soak the bamboo steamer ahead of time. A minute to seal in the moisture with a brown, carmelized coat failed in my non-stick pan. Even with ample oil olive, the seared layer stuck to the pan instead of my fillet. Only solution I see to this is using a non-stick pan.

Hollandaise sauce: I had some red curry paste in the fridge that I thought would be a nice flavor in the hollandaise sauce. I did not use enough of the paste to convey the flavor I wanted, and I was lazy and didn’t taste the sauce to adjust before eating. ALSO, hollandaise sauce needs its proper ratios. I love lemon juice and so I added too much and my sauce was runny and ‘broke’ into acid and butter on my plate. Recommended ratios are 1 stick melted butter, 2.5 T lemon juice, 3 egg yolks, pinch of cayenne and salt.

The meal was still tasty but not as good as it could have been. Details!

Almost amazing.

Kefir update: smoothie

So plain kefir is a little strange to drink by itself, however, blended with fruit into a smoothie is delicious and healthy. I’ve been using frozen blueberries, banana and honey in kefir as a breakfast starter or post work-out treat.

Don't let simple appearances fool you!

FMIOTW: Rhubarb

I picked up crisp, tart stalks of red rhubarb from Nichol’s stand this past weekend. Not being familiar with its uses beyond strawberry rhubarb pie, I went a simple route and made a rhubarb chutney with apple cider vinegar, curry powder, golden raisins and herbs. The chutney was very good on a goat cheese and strawberry toast, but it would be even better with a meat such as pork.

Trying to keep vertical veggies...vertical.

diced rhubarb, onion, golden raisins prepping for chutney

Strawberry, rhubarb chutney and goat cheese on dark rye bread

Ripasso (my favorite Italian spot in Chicago)

So glad Chef Theo did not leave Chicago when Terragusto closed! The food at Ripasso is just as delicious as it was at Terragusto and the service has improved greatly. They make their bread and pastas daily.

We ordered the 3-course chef’s selection menu and licked each and every plate to completion. Highlights included onion custard with braised mushrooms and all pasta dishes!!! And, the chef was very amenable to a completely vegetarian meal.

Ripasso beats any Italian restaurant in Chicago, including Spiaggia.

Onion custard with braised mushrooms

Wild mushroom risotto

Ravioli with asparagus

Semolina gnocchi with pine nuts and spinach

Kefir – yummy yogurt-like drink

Like yogurt, kefir has active cultures which can benefit your digestive system. In addition, kefir is made from fermented milk and so has calcium and hopefully some added Vitamin D. I purchased the kefir grains from and Marilyn was great with customer service. She had to send the kefir grains twice! because they were sent back the first time.

What are kefir grains? Thanks to a packet that arrived with the grains, I have some explanation that they are micro-organisms such as bacteria. See pic for a listing:

real live kefir grains

bacteria can be good for you!

After letting the grains sit with milk (2% organic) for 24ish-hrs, I strained the kefir and pureed with honey and almonds. The taste was a little sour, slightly alcoholic and milky. I wasn’t thrilled with the taste but I have a lot more experimenting to do with recipes. Off to a start!

Time stamped, I promise.

Strain strain strain.

Frothy only b/c I blended with honey and almonds

Farmers market inspiration

-Spinach omelette
-Asparagus soup -also onions, potato, white wine, oregano, and herbs de provence (yogurt at finish)
-Radish and goat cheese sandwich -also brown butter sauteed green garlic and crushed almonds

Farmers’ market ingredients:
-green garlic
-goat cheese
-Russian rye bread

All fresh and tasty.

FMIOTW: asparagus

Local produce cycles back into season!

Loving instagram... 🙂

North Pond chef demo: Asparagus goat cheese strudel

Eduardo’s Enoteca

Simple food and great value in a cute, casual wine bar. Nestled in a neighborhood known for its aging frat boy bars, this was a welcomed find for an early Saturday night dinner. The argula avocado salad was refreshing and seasoned well. The potato-gorgonzola cheese pizza was light and flavorful. All plates are reasonably priced and the atmosphere is fitting for a first date, a weeknight regular, or a group of friends.

Pork and Sauerkraut, a family tradition

My Pennsylvania dutch grandmother chuckled at me when I mentioned that I was going to ferment cabbage and make sauerkraut. She exclaimed, “Why I never heard of such a thing. I always use that canned sauerkraut and it tasted good!” So, the canned version gets Grammy’s stamp of approval but that doesn’t mean I can’t give fermented cabbage a try. Also, Katz in Wild Fermentation suggests this task for beginning fermenters and laid out easy steps for preparation. I previously described the flavor of the kraut at Day 10, on Day 25 it wore its familiar cloak of sour taste and crispy texture. Good raw as well as cooked.

Pork and Sauerkraut
-2lbs pork shoulder (boneless) -purchased at my farmer’s market from Mint Creek Farms (IL)
-small golden potatoes (maybe 15)
-4 C. of sauerkraut (combo of red and green cabbage)
-1 onion
-1 celery stalk
-1 pear
-1 22oz beer
-caraway seeds
-juniper berries
-dill seed and celery seed were also recommended but I didn’t use

-1 C. salt to 2 quarts water
-1/4C. juniper berries
-4T. caraway seeds
-2T. peppercorns
-2T. herbs de provence
-boil these all together and then cool liquid before submerging pork and leaving for 8-12hrs. in fridge

Mashed potatoes
-Boiled potatoes (also potatoes from slow cooker)
-olive oil
-caraway seeds

Pork prep:
-I made the brine one day prior and let the pork soak in it overnight.
-In late morning of dinner day, I dried off pork and seared the outside to keep juices inside while cooking.

Slow Cooker prep:
-In the bottom of the slow cooker, I placed the sliced onion, chopped celery and sliced pear.
-Then I added juniper berries, caraway seeds, and peppercorns (in reasonable amounts?…)
-I placed as many potatoes as I could fit around the edge of the pot (I had to boil all the others before making the mashed potatoes)
-I added some sauerkraut on top and then placed the pork roast on that
-I tucked sauerkraut all around the pork and on top and poured 1/2C. of the fermentation saltwater over it
-Lastly I poured in one 22oz beer which brought liquid level almost to top and then sealed the pot
-Cooked for 3 hrs on high and 3 hrs on low, the pork was well above the 160F internal cooked temp when finished

Mashed potatoes finishing
-My roommate, Meghan, skillfully mashed the boiled and slow cooked potatoes.
-In a small frying pan, I combined 3T. olive oil with 3T. butter and 1T caraway seeds and 1 garlic clove sliced thinly. Let simmer until garlic started to brown and the smell of caraway seeds filled the air.
-Added hot oil/garlic mix to the mashed potatoes, 3T. mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Easy and yummy, no milk version.

At the end, some Russian’s best bread from a local bakery, beer (a la Jenny) and organic apple sauce from Trader Joe’s rounded out a very hardy meal.

Nestled for its slow cook.

Potatoes should take up half the plate, right?