Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Plum Walnut Tart

What a delightful surprise! Biking to Chicago Botanic Gardens along the Green Bay Road path, or rather, traversing to this path, brings you right through Winnetka's charming farmers market. And while their goods were looking warn by 11:30 on that dreary Saturday morning, plums were just the pick me up I needed to get me the remaining 15 miles or so.

But what to do with those darling plums not needed for nourishment along the weary way?

Plum Walnut Tart

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Blend 2c white flour
1c finely chopped walnuts
3/4c brown sugar
piece in 1 1/2 sticks of butter (actually I used margarine and it worked!!)
until you have a nice meal of sorts
Add 1 egg

Press into the bottom of a well greased pie pan (if you want thickly crusted tart) or tart or spring form pan.

Slice about 3 cups of plum onto the top of the crust, making sure the entire top is covered.

Bake for 40 minutes

PS. the varietals make for a really lovely looking tart

Monday, August 17, 2009


With firm white parasols over one's head and fabulous magenta holed chairs under one's bum, Tocco is the spot for a ladies dinner out on the patio. I'm not talking, "this is it where I'll find the most charming, Big 10 frat boy I've ever known" no no no. I'm talking, 'I feel like I'm eating in the MCA's newest exibit "Pink is the new black"' only I'm sipping on lightly chilled Valpolicella and muching on their white gorgonzola cremini pizza and catching up with an old friend where conversation is easy and stress levels run negative. Also am feeling uber-hipster since the waitress complimented us on being the only women in the place NOT wearing black, I must have subliminally gotten the message prior to arrival.

Please, test it for yourself. Just lookout ladies for the black-decked, heavy eye-linered Italian cougars at the bar. They're ready to pounce on the one piece of eye candy sitting at the table next to you. Grrawrrrrrr...

Tocco on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Steak Sandwiches with Corn Aioli

Inspired by Bristol's Moscow, we thought we'd attempt to replicate... and while many more experimentation is to be had, the trick is LOTS of ginger and LOTS of mint. Anyone know where I can find ginger beer???

Delicious steak sandwiches in this month's Bon Appetit. We roasted 2 poblanos from Three Sister's Garden as nice spicy addition. The corn mayo is honestly to die for.

Serve with chips and guac and lots of moscow mules.

Green City Market

Purple potatoes and corn from Three Sister's Garden; red peppers, garlic and red onion from Green Acres

Eggs from Meadow Haven Meats

It sometimes feels too good to be true to have all this produce 2 blocks away. How can I not spend 2 hours on Saturday morning hunting and gathering...and then feasting??


Bristol sets out to be accessible and fresh and succeeds splendidly. The staff really knows their (fill in the blank). While waiting at the bar, the bartender knew every person who walked in--they'd describe a certain feeling that they were vaguely looking for from a drink and be presented with something that seemed to perfectly satisfy. Their Sazerac was by far the best that I've had in this city yet. A Moscow Mule housed in a little copper cup was biting fresh. And twice throughout the evening, we wanted some sort of clean, well-matched beer with the courses (admitting that my limited scope was not match for their awesomely vast beer list) and left it to our waitress' more than capable hands.

Post Alaska adventure, I have been looking for a match for the Glacier Brewhouse Ale Cheddar Pot. And so, I absolutely fell over myself flagging our waitress as quickly as I could, and yet. Yet. Starting with the Half Acre Beercheese just felt like a stretch. Three bites in and and only after a detailed explanation from our sparkly-eyed waitress did I begin to understand what all was going on. The blue cheese, cheddar cheese and half acre seemed to fight against each other and unfortunately the saltines and slaw couldn't help to pacify the situation. But please let's move on to bigger and better things. Scottish olives? Fabulous- lemon creme fresh balanced perfectly against the salty tang of lightly breaded green olives. Bone Marrow spread? Rivaled that of St. John (the king of 'Nose to Tail charcuterie") according he who was there last April. And Halibut? As one who fished her own halibut in Alaska, it was fresh, perfectly sauteed in lardon on a bed of french green and wax beans. Delightful.

The end of the meal brought what felt like the end of a perfect 7th grade school lunch: chocolate pudding and nutter butters-- grown up style. Pudding drizzled with sharp olive oil and grey sea salt, lightly sprinkled. Nutter butters with just enough salt to crunch through the rich, syrupy pudding. Nice work Bristol.
Bristol on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 6, 2009

For the Love of Julia

What a lovely pair??



a movie

I finally saw J/J this week and am absolutely in love. True I haven't read the book, and I can see that Amy Adams has sweetened Julie's more coarse, honest New Yorker personality but it was absolutely wonderful. Meryl Streep is charming, and I find her Julia just as charming as Julie does. If at all you want to be inspired to cook well, set off on a new challenge and embrace those around you that you find dear, see it. Just see it.

Tis the season for a tea party

Inspired by a tea at the Drake for a friend’s darling bridal shower last May (at which my lovely brim-filled photo was taken), I decided to experiment with tea-type foods. Findings below:

A take on Bon Appetit’s Blueberry Crumb Bars

Whisk together
2 c flour
1 c oats
1 c golden brown sugar
½ t salt
½ t cinnamon
Add 1 c chilled unsalted butter and meld together with your fingers making a nice crumb. Separate out 2 cups of the flour mixture and add ½ cup chopped almonds.
With your remaining crumbs, press into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 375 for 17 minutes.

While this is baking, gently stir together:
3 cups of fresh blueberries
1 cup of like preserves (could be blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry)
1 T flour
1 T lemon zest

Allow crust to cool for 7 minutes and top with your berry blend. Then top with almond-crumb topping and bake for another 40 minutes.

**I think this would work well with practically any berry/jam combination, just be cautious about the colors you’re mixing. I’m interested in trying: fresh raspberries/raspberry jam with chopped fresh mint…

Mini Quiche

Preheat oven to 350

¾ c diced red onion
¾ c shredded parmesan cheese
6 eggs
1 ½ c milk
2 T fresh thyme
3 pieces of sliced bread (whole wheat or white)
salt & pepper to taste

Remove crusts from bread and cut into quarters. Spray a cupcake pan well with cooking spray and press quartered bread slices into the bottom of each cup. Sauté red onion in a little olive oil until golden. While sautéing, Whisk together cheese, eggs, milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Spoon about 1 t of sautéed onions in each cup atop pressed bread and top with ½ c of the egg mixture. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.