– 3 Cucumbers 1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
– 1/3 cup Mint, chopped3 Scallions, chopped
– 1 pint Buttermilk
– 6 oz strained Greek Yogurt
– Juice from 1 Lemon
– Salt & Pepper to taste
– 2-3 oz crumbled Feta Cheese (optional)
Peel cucumbers. Slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 30 minutes (this helps remove some of their water). Coarsely chop. In a food processor or blender, combine cucumber, mint, parsley, scallions, buttermilk and yogurt. Blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper (I used a food processor, so there was still some texture to the soup, but you can always strain through a sieve if you’d like). Chill in the fridge until… chilled. Serve garnished with about an ounce of feta crumbled on top.
I just returned from Chicago on Monday (pictures to come) and am entering the final month of the busy event season. I have 6 more events that I’m planning/managing before the end of June (3 Bat Mitzvah celebrations, 3 weddings!), so the long weekend was a nice refresh before a lot of intense focus.
I’ve said this before, but the adventures I take are almost necessary in inspiring me when I feel like I’m in a cooking slump. New York is an incredible city for food, but sometimes it takes being out of your routine to realize that there are still worlds of ingredients to experiment with. Thank you to everyone who gave me advice on where to eat in Chicago! I didn’t make it to all of them, but I had some incredible food during my trip. The best meal I had came from a restaurant I went to a few years back during my first trip there. Anyone else as in love with Lula Cafe as I am? We had a six course vegetarian tasting menu that was amazing… creative, beautiful and delicious! We managed to snag seats at the chef’s counter, so we got a nice view into the kitchen where all the magic happens. If you haven’t been there, I can’t recommend it enough!
Whole Wheat Pasta with Toasted Garlic and Ricotta Salata in a Cinnamon Brown Butter Sauce
This was inspired by a dish I had in 2008 at Lula Cafe, a seasonal restaurant in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.
2 servings Whole Wheat Pasta (I used rigatoni)2 1/2 Tbsp Salted Butter3 cloves Garlic, slivered1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon2 Tsp Sugar1/8 cup Ricotta Salata, crumbled 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil Salt
Bring water to a boil in a large pot with a bit of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente, drain and set aside. In a pan, heat a bit of olive oil and brown slivered garlic slightly, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and set aside. In a medium-sized saute pan, melt butter with 1 Tbsp of olive oil over low heat. Stir the mixture until it begins to brown. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta and garlic and toss to coat well. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle slowly over pasta and toss until coated. Transfer to dishes and top with crumble ricotta salata. Serve hot.
Speaking of that trip to Chicago, I snapped this picture in the park, still love it.
Every once in a while, when dining at a restaurant, I’ll pull out a pen and paper (oh fine, I pull out my iPhone) and jot down the ingredients of whatever delicious thing I’m eating so that I can recreate it at home. I’ve done this twice in the last couple of weeks – once at Rick Bayless’(!) Frontera Grill in Chicago, and then again at Back Forty in the East Village. My homemade version is usually not exact, but I like getting inspired by other people’s food.
I hadn’t had a Sunday night dinner in a while, so I invited over Kasey, Noel, Mads and Bjorn tonight to help me test these recipes out. Then we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and tried not to fall into a food coma. Success!
Jicama Salad (inspired by Frontera Grill)Jicama is insanely difficult to find in New York. I looked at three grocery stores before giving up and going to the Whole Foods. Bjorn was able to find one at C-town, so now I have enough Jicama to last me through the summer. Or at least the next two weeks.
1 Jicama rootJuice of 2-3 limes (I used a lemon too, cause my limes weren’t being as juicy as I wanted.)chopped cilantrosalt to taste
Peel the Jicama and julienne. Toss with lime juice, cilanto and salt.
Homemade Foccacia CroutonsFoccacia bread, cubed (I bought a small chunk from Whole Foods for less than $2)2 tbls buttergarlic salt
Melt butter in a saute pan and add bread, tossing to coat. Let bread begin to brown and crisp, and sprinkle with garlic salt.
Chilled Pea Soup (inspired by Back Forty)The soup I had at Back Forty was mind-blowingly good and I must accept the fact that I will never be able to recreate it.
2 bags of frozen peas4 cups of vegetable stock2 1/2 cups of plain yogurt1/2 cup scallions, choppedolive oilsalt and pepper to tastewhite truffle oil (just a drizzle!)In a large saute pan, combine peas and stock and heat on medium. In a small pan, saute scallions in olive oil until soft. Transfer peas, stock and scallions to a food processor, add yogurt and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. I garnished with the croutons and mache lettuce, which I bought on a whim today.
Spaghetti with Artichokes, Lemon and Ricotta (via Paris and Back)
1 lemon, halved 1 can or jar of artichoke hearts 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, chopped salt and pepper to taste 1/2 pound of spaghetti (I used whole wheat) 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley1 cup ricotta cheese (homemade perhaps?) 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Bring pasta to a boil
Place the oil and garlic in a large skillet. Drain artichokes and pat dry. Add to pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the artichokes begin to crisp and lightly brown. About half way through, add the juice from both lemon halves over the browning artichokes. Before draining your cooked pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in case you need a little moisture later. Drain the pasta when it reaches al dente, but do not rinse. Once the artichokes are browned, season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the pasta with the artichokes and parsley, adding the reserved pasta water as needed. Serve immediately with a heaping spoonful of the ricotta on top or other grated cheese as you like.
(I only loosely followed this recipe.)
Kasey made a watermelon and feta salad that was super delicious, which I failed to photograph. So refreshing!
For the last two years, I’ve spent Memorial Day weekend with my friends Melissa and Sean in Chicago. They both appreciate eating as much as I do (Mel and I discovered our mutual gluttony in college) so I told them we had to make a special post while I was here. We settled on a traditional deep dish pizza (which, according to wikipedia, was created in 1943 at Pizzeria Uno.)
To be completely honest, we weren’t crazy about the dough recipe we used – it kept its structure pretty well, but wasn’t as flavorful/flaky/deep dishy as we’d hoped (EDIT: dough was much better when reheated for lunch the next day!)… plus it took FOREVER to make! Three hours from start to finish! We ate at 10pm (and then promptly fell asleep on the couch in the 80 degree weather.)
Deep Dish Pizza Dough Recipe (via Cooks Illustrated)
3 1/4 cups (16 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour 1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt 2 teaspoons sugar 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast 1 1/4 cups water (10 ounces), room temperature 3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 tablespoons, softened 1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons olive oilInstructions (THIS IS INTENSE!!)
Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. (Dough will only pull away from sides while mixer is on. When mixer is off, dough will fall back to sides.)
Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.
TO LAMINATE THE DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to lower position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into 15- by 12-inch rec-tangle. Using offset spatula, spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2-inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 18- by 4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with 1 half, fold into thirds like business letter; pinch seams together to form ball. Repeat with remaining half. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.
Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling into pan. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.
(see what I mean? Where’s a Bobeli when you need one?!)
The dough is enough for two pizzas, so we made one more traditional and one non.
Toppings for Pizza #11 can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I buy these tomatoes all the time and use them for pasta, pizza.. everything. Super tasty.)2 cups sauteed spinach5 cloves roasted garlic3 cups of grated Mozzarella 3/4 grated Pecorino cheese Toppings for Pizza #21 cup of sliced and roasted baby red potatoes2 cups Mozzarella (1 cup regular, one cup smoked)3/4 cup Pecorino cheese1/2 cup caramelized onions5 cloves roasted garlic2 tbls rosemary
(Traditionally, most of the cheese goes on the bottom, with the other ingredients piled on top of that, but we sort of forgot that rule, as you can tell by the pictures.)
Bake pizzas at 425 degrees until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Poorly sliced for your enjoyment:
What an epic preparation! We were so full from snacking while we cooked that we barely touched the pizzas (but will be eating the leftovers for lunch.) I’m not sure how soon I’ll be making pizza again, but I’m glad we had this adventure. I’m sad to be leaving Chicago today, especially with Melissa and Sean moving back to Seattle this summer. I’ll no doubt want to return again next year, but I won’t have my lovely hosts to show me around! I’ll especially miss this one: