An attorney writes about stuff she'd rather be doing: cooking, eating, wining, dining and traveling.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Then there is the place down the street that makes a fantastic ramen noodle soup that is packed with veggies and not nearly as salty as cheapo packages. HOWEVER, $9 + tip + 30 minutes delivery = ridiculously overpriced ramen that I can make at home.
I decided to try making my own ramen like the place down the street. You can use whatever veggies you have available - this is a great recipe for when you've got fading veggies and not a whole hell of a lot else.
Serves 2 (plus a little leftover for lunch)
2 packages chicken flavor ramen noodles (discard the flavor packets)
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
A handful of baby carrots, quartered lengthwise
4 white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 c. frozen green peas or edamame
1 egg, beaten
1 can chicken broth
Put a large pot of water on to boil while you prep veggies.
Heat chicken broth in a separate pot.
When water boils, add ramen noodles and veggies, cook until noodles are soft.
Drizzle in beaten egg, cook briefly.
Drain noodles and veggies and place in a large serving bowl. Pour hot chicken broth over.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
2 salmon fillets
3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper
Cedar plank, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
Preheat the grill. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Place the salmon in a shallow baking dish and pour 3/4 of the marinade over the fish, reserving a small amount. Let the fish marinate for about 30 minutes.
Place marinated fish on soaked plank and set the plank on the grill over medium-high heat. Let the fish cook for about 25 minutes, basting every 5 minutes with the reserved marinade.
The plank may burn a little - this is OK. Keep a spray bottle of water nearby in case it really starts to burn. Enjoy!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Fresh mozzarella cheese in water
Fresh ground pepper
Good quality olive oil
If using small balls of mozzarella, leave whole and dice the tomatoes. If using large balls of mozzarella, slice and slice the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop basil and sprinkle over the top. Drizzle with oil.
Some versions of Caprese that I have had in the US have had balsamic vinegar as well. I don't care for it, as it masks the tomatoes. Also, we ate Caprese nearly every day in Italy, and none had vinegar.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
But first, some tips, tricks and tools:
This muffin recipe is a snap if you measure the ingredients ahead of time. Investing in some prep bowls makes it easy to set your mise en place:
And finally, for zesting citrus fruits, see here
Makes 1 dozen large muffins, 1.5 dozen standard muffin tin sized muffins
3 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. minus 1 tsbp. sugar
1.5 c. plain low fat yogurt
Cooking spray OR muffin tin liners (I prefer liners, but either method works fine)
Heat oven to 375.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
Beat in 1/2 of the dry ingredients.
Beat in 1/3 of the yogurt.
Beat in remaining dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the remaining yogurt.
Spray 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with papers. Divide batter into cups. Bake at 375 until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly on wire rack for 5 minutes, remove muffins from tin and cool on racks.
Lemon Blueberry: Add 1 tsp. grated lemon zest to butter-sugar mixture. Fold 1.5 c. fresh blueberries tossed in 1 tbsp. flour into finished batter.
Chocolate Orange: Add 1 tsp. grated orange zest to butter-sugar mixture. Fold 1 c. dark chocolate chips into finished batter.
Lemon Poppyseed: Add 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest to butter-sugar mixture. Add 3 tsbp. poppyseeds to dry ingredients.
Cranberry Orange: Add 1 tsp. grated orange zest to butter-sugar mixture. Fold 1 c. dried cranberries or 1.5 c. chopped fresh cranberries into finished batter.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Trapped on a runway for 4+ hours, seat kicker, multiple screaming children, seatmates with bad B.O., lack of air conditioning, missed connections, two hour layovers stretched into four, having to pay for an empty seat on an earlier flight - and that's just the beginning. AND they wanted me to actually pay $7 for a glass of crap wine to dull the pain? Bitch, please.
I knew exactly what I needed upon my return to sweet home Chicago. The entire cab ride home from the airport I could only think three thoughts: (1) it's a good thing knives aren't allowed on planes; (2) must...shower...now; and (3) Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuushi. Sushi Mura!
We ordered in, but only because I had my fill of people for the week. Normally we go to the restaurant because they permit, nay ENCOURAGE, sake bombing. The chef, Hursan, will even come out, count you down and bomb with you.
The sushi is really good, and really cheap. Sure, this isn't Mirai. It's not Meiji. It's not Kaze. But for good, solid basics and a handful of creative rolls, you can't beat Sushi Mura at the price. Hey, it's way better than the overpriced garbage they call sushi at Japonais. Try the Mura Maki (salmon, hot pepper, zucchini, cream cheese, tempuraed), Crazy Maki (a little bit of everything), Double Decker Spicy Tuna (spicy tuna wrapped in tuna), and anything with unagi in it. Mr. LegalFoodie also enjoys the spider roll, but I'm allergic to shellfish, so I cannot confirm.
Sushi Mura is at 3647 N. Southport. Get to know Monica, the owner, and offer her boyfriend Hursan a few sake bombs, and they will treat you like old friends every time you come in.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
When it comes to my peach daiquiris, the post title is the straight truth! Whenever I make these for a girls' night or a BBQ, they are GONE.
1 small can of limeade concentrate
4 fresh peaches, pitted
1/2 can of light rum (use the empty limeade can to measure)
Pour the whole lot in a blender and frappe! Taste, throw caution to the wind, and hit that shiz with an extra splash of rum. Remember, the only thing lawyers like more than suing people is getting sloshed.
Pour into margarita or daiquiri glasses and garnish with a lime if you're feeling fancy. Not so much? Pour them bitches into fratty red plastic cups and get after it.
Seriously, these things are the shit.
Double, triple, sextuple this recipe and freeze!
First, riddle me this: how much time do you have?
1 hour or more: 1 14 oz. can of whole tomatoes in juice. I don't think they make these, so get the 28 ouncer and double the recipe!
30 minutes or less: 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
After you've met your tomato/time needs, assemble the following:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced (1 tsp. dried will suffice)
Heat a good amount of olive oil in a medium pan - I don't measure, so if I were a gambling woman, I'd say about 4 tbsp. But I don't gamble. Eyeball it, it's hard to screw this up.
Add the garlic and saute for a quick minute. Don't let it turn dark brown.
Add the onion and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes
Add the carrots and thyme and continue sauteeing for another 2 minutes
Add the tomatoes and the juice from the can. If using whole tomatoes, crush lightly with the back of a fork.
If using whole tomatoes, simmer for an hour or more. If using diced (which I like to do on weeknights), simmer for 15 minutes or more.
Season with black and crushed red pepper. Add a pinch of salt if necessary.
At any rate, all this question-asking and cross-examinationing really works up an appetite. I decided to try a hearty chicken parmesan recipe from Mario Batali. Normally, I am not a fan of anything that pairs chicken and cheese. However, this was really delicious, even if it took awhile. I skipped his sauce recipe and made my own Quick Chunky Veggie Pasta Sauce!
Serves 4 (we heart leftovers!)
4 chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
1 recipe Chunky Veggie Pasta Sauce (see blog entry)
1/4 c. Parmesan, grated
1/4 c. Pecorino Romano, grated
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated (bonus points for fresh mozz, sliced)
Preheat oven to 350.
Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap
Pound to 1/3- 1/2 inch thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin (beat that meat!)
Season chicken breasts LIGHTLY with salt and pepper
Heat small amount of oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet
Dip each chicken breast in egg, then coat in breadcrumbs
Cook 2 chicken breasts in the oil for 2 minutes on each side
Repeat with the remaining two breasts
**NOTE** Chicken will NOT be cooked through. This is OK. I swear I wouldn't give you salmonella, at least not on purpose.
Spread 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a glass 9x13 baking dish. If you're lazy, you could use jarred marinara, but this won't be as good.
Place chicken breasts on top of the sauce
Top with the remaining sauce
Top with the cheeses - mozz first, then pecorino/parm combo
Bake for 20 minutes, make a nice little green salad (pasta would be too much), open that vino, and prepare yourself for the cheesy goodness.
Terragusto? More like Terra-bly disappointing.
Monday, August 4, 2008
It was delicious too! We had three flavors: margarita, white almond-Chambord and dark chocolate-Grand Marnier. Feel free to request her info.
Rome was heavy on the red and cream sauces. Lots of pizza. Fantastic carbonara. And, contrary to what all the travel guides said, better gelato than Florence.
Florence was home of the monster T-bone (bistecca alla Firenze), white beans and minestrone.
And then there was the Cinque Terre, specifically Monterosso al Mare. Aka, LegalFoodie food heaven.
For those of you who have not been fortunate enough to experience the Cinque Terre, allow me to explain. The Cinque Terre is a chain of five towns along the Ligurian coast line. It is situated between La Spezia and Genoa, and it is spectacular. There isn't much to do except drink, eat and hike the five towns. Fine by me. I much prefer experiencing the culture to "seeing shit" anyhow. The five town hike is touted as a tourist event, but don't be fooled: it is physical. The good news is that you will eat like kings and sleep like babies after its completion!
The cuisine of Cinque Terre is, in a nutshell, exactly what I would want to eat if I could only eat one type of food for the rest of my life. Very simple food, clean flavors. Everything is cooked with olive oil, lemon, white wine and simple herbs like fresh basil and parsley.
Regional specialties include:
Pesto: I had the best pesto that I have ever had in my life in Monterosso. The lasagna in Monterosso is vegetarian and includes bechamel and pesto sauces, but never red sauce. You will be hard pressed to find red sauce in the Cinque Terre. Pesto is commonly served with the regional trofiette pasta, which is a dumpling-style noodle similar to the German spaetzle, only thinner.
Fresh seafood: Because the Cinque Terre follows the Ligurian Sea coast line, the nightly specials at the restaurants are whatever comes out of the sea that day. Case in point: most restaurants have two seafood options (among others): mixed grill and mixed fry. What ends up on your plate is entirely dependent on the day's catch. My husband ordered the mixed grill and got a HUGE plate of calamari, prawns (which are the size of American lobsters), swordfish, sea bass, scampi, mussels and clams.
And speaking of mussels, I had the most ridiculous mussels EVER at the L'Alta Marea restaurant. Perfectly steamed in white wine and lemon juice with just enough seasoning, we were absolutely sopping up the liquid with our bread.
Lemons/limoncino: They were growing EVERYWHERE. It was amazing to see the lemons go from grove to display to limoncello, or "limoncino" as it is called in the CT. Limoncello/limoncino is a sweet, lemon liqueur that is consumed after dinner.
White wine: We had a bottle of red. Just the one. Cinque Terre serves up an amazing white wine that goes perfectly with the light, fresh seafood cuisine of the region. It is cheaper than water, and we drank a ton of it. We loved it so much we had a case sent home.
Sciacchetra: Pronounced shock-AH-tra. The meaning of the word sciacchetra in Italian is "rare, delicious dessert wine." I totally made that up. But, with its sweet notes and smooth yet boozy finish, sciacchetra is the perfect pair for a Monterosso lemon tart or tiramisu. It is really, really hard to find outside the Cinque Terre, so we are conserving our two smuggled bottles for special occasions.
Grappa: Not necessarily native to the Cinque Terre, but I thought I'd include it. My husband and I had our first grappa experience in Monterosso. Our waiter asked us if we would like "smooth grappa" or "strong grappa." My husband initially said "strong," but seeing as we had demolished 2 bottles of wine with our amazing dinner, I said, "let's go smooth." Holy shit. I believe Mr. LegalFoodie compared grappa to being kicked in the face.
If you are ever headed to Cinque Terre, you must (a) pack me in your suitcase; and (b) stay in Monterosso. The other four towns simply do not compare. In addition, eating at ANY of the following establishments will be Euro well spent:
- Belvidere (great view)
- Ristorante Miky (Monterosso lemon tart dessert is to die for)
- Ciak (pronounced "Chuck"; do NOT pass up the spaghetti with clams and mussels)
- L'Alta Marea (do NOT pass up the steamed mussels)
- Via Venti (the highlight of our stay)
- "Yellow Top" - unfortunately I cannot remember the real name, but it's in the Old Town at the top of the hill halfway to the Hotel Porta Roca (not hard to find, town is small), big yellow awning, fantastic view and lunch
- Bar Davy (pre-dinner drinks and great free snacks)
All roses are not created equal. All white zins are roses. HOW. EV. ER. All roses are NOT white zin! Say it with me people: trendy, not trashy!
Like easygoing jersey dresses and gladiator sandals, roses are big for summer. Here's why: roses are a bit sweet, a bit spicy and compliment a LOT of "summer" foods like grilled meats and stuff slathered in BBQ sauce. They are really easy to drink as well. It is as easy to drink a big glass of rose as it is to throw on your fave jersey dress and flat sandals.
A favorite summer rose is Borsao, a Spanish rose. Light and crisp with just enough sweetness, this wine tastes like strawberries in a more-mature-than-Boone's-Farm sort of way. It's got a nice little bit of spice to it as well. We just killed a bottle with grilled pork chops with a spicy rub - YUM.
Get yourself some Borsao at Que Syrah on Southport for about $12.
Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs, from The Best Recipe
Place eggs in a deep pot and add water - enough that the eggs are covered by one inch.
Bring to a boil.
Cover, turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
Prepare ice bath - fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water.
Remove eggs from hot water and immerse in the ice bath for 5 minutes.
The cooking, peeling and cooling of potatoes takes the longest. Allow 2-3 hours for this part. The rest is a snap.
This recipe has been in my family for generations. Don't eff it up, or I'll get Grandma Walsdorf on yo ass.
German Potato Salad (makes enough for a party)
5 lbs. red potatoes
8 oz. bacon, diced
4-5 green onions, chopped
2-3 hard cooked eggs, chopped*
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. white vinegar (the kind our cleaning lady uses to wash our floors, very versatile!)
1 cube chicken boullion, dissolved in 1/2 c. hot water
salt and pepper to taste (though I find the salt unnecessary)
Boil potatoes in salted water for 30-40 minutes until knife tender.
Drain and allow to cool until cool enough to handle.
Peel potatoes while still slightly warm.
Set aside to cool completely, and slice when cool.
Place in a LARGE bowl.
If you've made it this far, the rest is easy.
Fry bacon slowly until crisp.
Pour off the fat - NOT down your drain, dummy, unless you have a hot plumber. Then, by all means, clog that bad boy up and get Hottie McPlunger on the horn. If your plumber is a fat, balding dude with his buttcrack hanging out, use an old can or a bowl lined with tin foil. Discard when hardened.
Add the oil and vinegar to the bacon pan and cook over medium heat, scraping up all those delicious little bacon crusties stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Pour the hot vinaigrette over the potatoes.
Add green onions, white onion and eggs. Mix well.
Heat the chopped bacon and bouillion in the bacon pan until the bacon is softened and the bouillion is hot.
Pour over potatoes.
Mix well and season.
* See post: "Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs"
This should be served at room temperature for optimal deliciousness. Excellent as an accompaniement to anything off the grill.
3 hot Italian sausage links (I've used turkey sausage, works fine)
1 tsp. oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package plain cream cheese (don't use light or fat-free - too runny)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 egg yolk
2 small packages of white mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned
Small amount of dry white wine
Preheat oven to 400.
Remove sausages from casings, crumble and brown over medium heat.
Add oregano and garlic.
Mix cream cheese, egg and 1/2 c. parmesan in a bowl.
Add the sausage mixture and mix well.
Arrange mushroom caps in a baking dish and brush insides lightly with wine.
Stuff mushrooms with a scant 1 tbsp. of cheese-sausage mixture.
Sprinkle remaining parmesan over the top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until brown.**
**Note: The mushrooms seem to release a LOT of liquid while they bake. Using a slotted spatula to remove them from the dish and placing them on a cooling rack set over paper towels to cool for a couple minutes helps them to set up.
Another suggestion I recently received was to bake the mushrooms on the cooling rack, set over a baking sheet, and reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes. I have yet to try this method, but it sounds promising. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Makes 3 stuffed peppers
3 green bell peppers, tops cut off, seeded and wrapped in foil
2 servings cooked brown rice (I use Minute Rice - 1 c. rice to 1 c. water)
1/2 lb. ground turkey breast
Pinch onion powder
Large pinch chili powder
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, very finely minced*
One big spoonful of the adobo sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese
* They sell tiny cans of chipotles in adobo sauce in nearly every supermarket near the Mexican/Hispanic foods. The smallest cans (about two inches high) contain about 4 peppers and 2 tbsp. sauce. Reserve the remaining two peppers and sauce and make my chipotle lime vinaigrette (recipe to follow).
Prep green peppers and cook rice. Put rice in a large bowl.
Spray skillet with Pam and brown ground turkey. When browned, add spices.
Add turkey to rice and mix.
Spray skillet again and saute veggies until just soft.
Add cooked veggies to the turkey and rice.
Drain tomatoes and simmer with the minced chipotles and adobo sauce for 5-10 minutes.
Pour tomato sauce over rice mixture.
Add a small handful of cheese to the rice mixture and mix well.
Stuff into green peppers.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
Top each pepper with a bit of cheese and bake for 5 minutes longer.
Bear Down Buffalo Chicken Dip
3 chicken breasts
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (light works just fine)
About 1/2 bottle of Frank Red Hot Sauce
2 tsbp. butter
About 1/4 c. blue cheese dressing (must use refrigerated stuff - none of that bottled crap!)
Preheat oven to 400.
Poach chicken breasts:
* Place in a pot and cover with enough water to cover by 1 inch
* Bring to a boil
* Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Allow chicken to cool and mince in a food processor. If you aren't bad ass enough to have a Cuisinart, shred the chicken with a fork or chop finely with a knife.
Place shredded chicken in the pot (emptied of the water, obvs), add hot sauce and butter. Simmer for about 10 minutes. If the chicken looks a bit dry, add a little more hot sauce.
Meanwhile, spread the cream cheese in the bottom of an 8x8 pan.
Top with chicken/sauce mixture.
Spread blue cheese over the top.
Bake the whole mess at 400 for 10-15 minutes, until heated through. Serve with Fritos Scoops and celery and carrots if there are dieting bitches coming over. Tortilla chips would probably work as well.
These things are amazingly simply, and amazingly potent. Awesome for a party, as it takes approximately three minutes to make a pitcher and get back to the party! No one likes manning a blender at a BBQ. Remember as you are putting them down that they are 50% booze. Eh...eff it. Let's be honest - the only thing lawyers like more than suing people is getting sloshed. Enjoy!
1 12 oz. can limeade
12 oz. water (booooo...but necessary)
12 oz. tequila (yaaaaaaay!)
12 oz. beer (use Lite)
Dump limeade into a pitcher. Use the empty can to measure water and tequila. Pour bottle or can of beer into the mix. Stir briefly, and serve over ice. Repeat. Stand up slowly.