An attorney writes about stuff she'd rather be doing: cooking, eating, wining, dining and traveling.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Maple Glazed Salmon with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This was a meal. Mr. Foodie nicknamed it "George Hamilton Salmon."

I got the recipe from my Williams Sonoma Grilling and Roasting Cookbook. It sounded simple enough, so I thought I'd give it a try. It was good. The salmon didn't wow me, but the sweet potatoes were really, really yummy. I'd maybe squeeze some lemon over the salmon after cooking for some additional flavor.

2 servings
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (not too thick)
1 tbsp. melted butter
Fresh ground pepper
A pinch of cinnamon
2 salmon fillets
salt and pepper
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400.

Toss sliced potatoes with butter, pepper and cinnamon.

Place a sheet of foil over a rimmed baking sheet (unless you like cleaning carmelized sugar off of pans). Place potatoes in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring syrup and Worcestershire to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and let it reduce by about half (about 5 minutes).

Crank up the oven to 450.

Turn potato slices over and move closer together. Top with salmon that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Brush with 1/2 the glaze. Roast for 10 minutes.

Take fish out of the oven, baste with the remaining glaze and roast for about 7 more minutes.

DEFINITELY serve with a green salad to break up the monochromatic-ishness of it all. I would squeeze a lemon over the salmon for some extra flavor.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Well-Stocked Pantry

Momma LegalFoodie taught me that a well-stocked pantry is the secret to being a good at-home chef. If you keep these ingredients on hand, with some veggies and cheeses in the fridge and meats and fish in the freezer, you can pull a great weeknight meal practically out of your ass and impress people! Here is what I keep stocked in the pantry:

Canned diced tomatoes in assorted flavors
Tomato sauce and tomato paste
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Mild green chiles
Diced jalapenos
Black beans
Cannellini beans
Chili beans in hot sauce
Great Northern beans
Broths - chicken, beef, veggie
Chicken boullion cubes
Canned artichokes
Water chestnuts
Baby corn
Jarred marinated artichokes
Jarred sundried tomatoes
Jarred roasted red peppers
Rices - brown, white and assorted rice pilaf mixes (I like the Near East brand)
Egg noodles - skinny and wide
Pastas - one long (like linguine), one short (like penne), and one tiny(like orzo)
Panko breadcrumbs
Italian style breadcrumbs
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Thai chili sauce
Asian fish sauce
Rice vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
White wine vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Pear or other fruit vinegar
Olive oil
Peanut oil
Dark sesame oil
Canola or vegetable oil
Pine nuts
Peanut butter
Maple syrup
Dijon mustard
A solid spice rack: fleur de sel, black peppercorns, cayenne, cumin, coriander, thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, dill, herbs de provence, an Italian seasoning blend, poultry seasoning, bay leaves, lemon pepper, seasoned salt, paprika, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, whole nutmeg, saffron, chili powder, vanilla extract

Slow Cooker Chicken Tangine

OK, so pretty much anything you can dump in a crock pot at 5:30 a.m. and just leave all day is awesome in my book. There is something so satisfying about having dinner make itself. I made a chicken tangine today that turned out pretty tasty. I thought I had couscous, but it turned out those boxes were just pesky brown rice pilaf mixes that take 40 minutes to cook so I never make them. I served this over white rice, but I think couscous would have been better.

Moroccan Chicken Tangine for the slow cooker
1 medium white or yellow onion, cut into thick slices
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cumin
1.5 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 14 oz. can chicken broth (low sodium)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 lemons, quartered
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Line bottom of crockpot with thick onion slices to prevent sticking and burning.

OK, when you start this, you can go one of two ways: simple or slightly more complicated:

1. Throw chicken, cumin, cayenne, broth and 1 tbsp. olive oil in crockpot on top of onion slices. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp. of flour.


2. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat. Dredge chicken thighs in flour and quickly brown on each side (about 2 minutes). Remove chicken and place on top of onion slices. Stir spices into the pan with the remaining dredging flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the entire can of broth, scraping up the brown bits. Pour broth mixture into crockpot over chicken.

Now you're at the same spot.

Pour tomatoes with juice over chicken, add the parsley and garlic and tuck the lemon quarters around the chicken. Cook on low heat for 4-8 hours. About an hour before serving, add the chickpeas.

Serve over rice or couscous.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This Week's Menu

So work has been pretty crazy lately - lots of getting home at 8pm and later. If I am home at a reasonable hour to make dinner, that usually means I got to the office at the butt crack of dawn and am too damn tired to make something. Long story short, we've been eating out a ton during the week.

Lawyering is really starting to get in the way of cooking. I feel like I'm losing my edge.

So, to keep me motivated during the week and to cut down on our spending so we can save for special meals out (i.e. Graham Elliot), I've decided to make a weekly menu and stick to it. I'll post the recipes and feedback that night, as well as the amount of time it took to make it.

Monday: Moroccan chicken tangine (in the slow cooker, yay!) served over quick cooking couscous

Tuesday: Maple glazed salmon and roasted yams. A little green salad on the side.

Wednesday: A little meatloaf that I made ahead of time. Sauteed veggies and a salad for a side.

Thursday: Szechwan tofu with broccoli, carrots and whatever other veggies need to be used up served over brown rice.

Friday: Most likely we will order pizza or sushi. If we stay in, I'll make tapas-style goat cheese in tomato sauce and patatas bravas and maybe some sangria in celebration of Friday.

Some Like It Hot: White Chicken Chili

I made this last week for a football party. It's a good way to use up leftover chicken. If you don't have any leftover chicken, you can buy a salt-free rotisserie chicken at the grocery, remove the skin and shred it for an easy shortcut.

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. pickled jalapenos, chopped (I used LaPreferida's jarred jalapeno nacho slices)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can low sodium chicken broth
2 15 oz. cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
1/2 cup milk or half and half

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, onion, pepper and jalapeno. Saute until just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Saute 1 minute.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer.

Add beans, chicken and milk. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat to medium and simmer. Chili is ready to eat in as little as 5 minutes if you're in a hurry. If not, I like to simmer it for about 30 minutes so the beans start to fall apart a bit.

Top with cheese, sour cream and chopped onions.

Stuff I Like

I will fully admit to being a brand snob about some things, Bloody Mary mixes being top of the list. Some taste like V8 and have no spiciness at all. Others are spicy, but in a liquified salsa sort of way. It's hard to find a great mix that has a good tomato flavor with the right amount of seasonings, Worcestershire and horseradish. I always ask at brunch what brand the restaurant uses so as not to, GASP, consume shitty Mrs. T's.

Behold the most glorious Bloody Mary mix of all time: Zing Zang.


Zing Zang is perfectly spicy without being too hot, and it doesn't taste like salsa. You can see all of the spices that are in it floating around in the bottle. It's really the only acceptable mix that you can buy.

In other news, Harry and David makes this tomato pepper relish that makes an amazing, easy dip.


Simply use a hand mixer to blend a whole jar of the relish with an 8 ounce package of cream cheese. Serve with salty tortilla chips. It's sweet and spicy. It's easy enough to keep the ingredients on hand in case of a party emergency.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Verdict: Southport Grocery

Oh my god. I cannot believe we haven't been there before today.

Well, we've tried to go there, but by the time we get up, get ready, pick up a paper and walk the four blocks, there is always an hour wait. The place is TINY. So, we usually end up going to Julius Meinl, Violet or Deleece, where the wait is minimal or non-existent.

I can see why people will wait, hungover, for more than an hour to eat here.

Southport Grocery may be my new favorite breakfast spot. I had perfectly spicy Bloody Mary (which was NOT made with Mrs. T's, thank god). I had an omelet with rosemary roasted ham, gruyere cheese, mushrooms and leeks. Leeks are one of my favorite things, as are ham-cheese-mushroom omelets, so this was perfection.

Mr. Foodie had the stuffed French toast, which was stuffed with cinnamon apples and cream cheese and topped with a maple glaze and walnuts.

The BEST PART was the red potato mash that accompanied my omelet. Smashed red potatoes with onions, sour cream and some other stuff - best mashed potatoes ever. I would seriously just order the mash. So good.

I would very highly recommend this place. I cannot believe it took us over three years to eat here!

Pimp My Wine Store

I hot pink sparkly puffy heart Que Syrah. They always have samples. They have a $13 and under rack of fool-proof wines. The owners are sweethearts. It's two blocks away from my house.

We rarely buy our wines anywhere else, and we rarely shop anything other than the 13 and under rack. There's really no reason to do so. The owners have a "if we don't like it, we don't sell it" policy, and they just happen to have fabulous taste.

If you work in the restaurant industry, mention that and get a card for 10% off all bar accessories. If you buy a certain amount of wine (I don't remember what it was, but we've far surpassed it), you get a card for 10% off anything in the store FOR LIFE. On top of that, if you buy a case, you get an additional discount. They honor both the case discount AND the card, so that amounts to huge savings and 12 bottles of delicious, solid wine picks.

Que Syrah is on Southport, between Waveland and Grace.

Football Favorites: Pizza Sammies

If you want your husband or boyfriend's friends to idolize you and tell your husband/boyfriend how awesome you are, make these. Pizza deliciousness in the form of a sandwich! Use any pizza topping you like.

Makes 6 sandwiches, and can easily be adapted to make more or less
3 or 4 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed. I sometimes trick Mr. Foodie and use turkey sausage.
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small white onion, diced
1 small package white button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
Mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
Your favorite pizza sauce
Italian seasoning or oregano, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste
6 french rolls
Aluminum foil

Brown sausage and set aside to drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add small amount of olive oil to a large skillet set on medium-high heat. Let heat, then add onion and green pepper.
Saute for 3 minutes, until veggies start to soften.
Add mushrooms and cook until mushroom just start to soften.
Turn heat to low and add sausage.
Add pizza sauce - enough to hold the ingredients together, but not so much that it is runny.
Add seasonings, to taste.
Add a handful of shredded cheese and mix well.

Split French rolls if they are not already split. Wrap aluminum foil around each roll to create a boat.
Stuff rolls with pizza mixture.
Top with additional cheese.
Bake at 400 until heated through and cheese is melty and browned.

These can be assembled ahead of time for a party. Simply take them out of the fridge when company arrives, let them come up to room temp and throw them in the oven at the start of the second quarter - they should be warm and toasty and delicious by halftime.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Verdict: Graham Elliot

Mr. Foodie and I went to Graham Elliot this past weekend for dinner. No special occasion, mostly lamenting the fact that all of our good friends are moving away and we are effing losers. So hell, we're not dropping Hamiltons at the bar with the crew on a Saturday night, might as well drop a couple Benjis on dinner, right?

Graham Elliot's schtick is comfort food, deconstructed, made really fancy and super expensive. My kind of place. We were early for our reservation, so we had a cocktail at the bar. Mr. Foodie had a beer that I cannot pronounce or spell, I had a delicious variation on a Pimm's Cup called the London Calling.

Instead of bread, GE serves POPCORN! Holy shit, I was in heaven. That day's flavor was sour cream and chive. It was fresh, oil-popped deliciousness with fresh chives. As Alanis Morissette once sang, "you've already won me overrrrrrrrrrr."

We started with Chef Elliot's "foielipops," initially made famous at the now-shuttered Avenues. It is a perfect little circle of foie gras on a stick and coated with strawberry Pop Rocks. It is fantastic!

For our first course, I had the aged cheddar risotto with julienned Granny Smith apples, pancetta, PBR-glazed onions and...CHEEZ-ITS! It's like they knew I was coming. I am ashamed of myself for spending $13 on an appetizer containing Cheez-Its, but it was delicious.

Mr. Foodie had the buffalo chicken, which was essentially the most expensive, hard to eat chicken wing he'd ever had. But again, it was fantastic. The small piece of chicken was accompanied by a fabulous house-made hot sauce, creamy blue cheese, and a celeriac slaw. Oh yeah, and Budweiser foam.

For the main course, I had the salmon "BLT." It was a perfectly grilled piece of salmon atop a huge pile of heirloom tomatoes (yummmmmmmm) and frisee. The whole thing rested on a small piece of white bread "brioche" and was doused in a tasty bacon vinaigrette.

Mr. Foodie had the short rib strognanoff. I thought it was only OK, but he's never met a stroganoff he didn't like. I think the version at Red Rooster is far superior. The short ribs were yummy though.

Then there was dessert. I am not a huge dessert fan, but it was heavenly. The peanut butter cream sandwiched between two slices of warm, dark chocolate brownie topped with a bruleed banana and crushed malted milk balls was awesome. I didn't care for the peanut butter ice cream that came on the side, but I don't like peanut butter in ice cream in general, so that's just me.

All in all, a fantastic, unique dining experience. I would highly recommend it. I don't think we'd go back, but only because it was expensive ($215 for all of the above, plus wine, tax, tip) and we have a really long list of places we still have yet to try. I don't think we've ever spent $150+ in the same place more than once.

Artichoke-Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Yummy AND healthy! What could be better?

Serves 4. Cut in half for 2 servings.

2.5 tbsp. breadcrumbs (not panko)
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 3 ounce log of herbed goat cheese (don't use the plain)
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
Press 1/4 of the cheese mixture onto a chicken breast. Roll up, jelly roll style and secure with 2-3 wooden toothpicks.

Heat an ovenproof nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat.

Brown chicken 2 minutes on each side, 4 minutes total. (They actually will NOT fall apart like you think they would).

Finish chicken in the oven for about 15 minutes. If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, transfer chicken breasts to a baking sheet. Enjoy!

**Roasted red potatoes quartered, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, black pepper and fresh rosemary make a great side.