Friday, December 31, 2010

So Long 2010

Happy New Year! May 2011 be filled with more joy and happiness than ever before!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dumpling Smack Down

Dinner at Our Place.

Yesterday, I prepped like a mad woman, filled the quirky cool vase my mom gave me for Christmas with some lilies, and proceeded to throw down for some serious foodies!
The Menu

A Little Amuse
Homemade Parmesan and Rosemary Shortbread Round
with Feta, Honey Roasted Tomato Duo, Kalamata Olive, and Rosemary

Thai Dumpling Smack Down
Bangkok Street Vendor Style Dumplings
with Chicken and Shrimp Sweet and Spicy Sauce, Golden Garlic, and Pea Shoots

An Ode to In Re Burgers
BBQ Mopped Grass Fed Beef Burger on Scratch Made Roll
with Aged White Cheddar, Maple Bacon Shingle, and Spinach

At the Request of the Guests
Fried Chicken and Ancho Pumpkin Molé
with Cilantro, Scallion, Queso Fresco, and Pepita

Fish and and Mistreated Vegetables
Smoked Paprika Dusted Sea Bass
with Fried Brussels Sprouts, Walnuts, Capers, Anchovies, and Honey

Is it Breakfast Time Yet?
Savory Wild Mushroom Pancakes
with Goat Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato, Chives, and Vanilla Balsamic Syrup

I used this dinner as a chance to revisit some of my favorite dishes of 2010 and while everyone had their favorites nothing on the menu was weak. Sure, the burger got lost in the shuffle a bit and I forgot the lime with the molé (I blame the wine), but by and large this was a really good meal. And we shared it in really good company. Thanks for joining us for dinner, providing the perfect wines, offering up spirited conversation, and for letting me cook with passion!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buddha's Hand

This wacky looking fruit is a Buddha's Hand and it is among the oldest members of the citrus family. It is all zest and smells divine! I like to gnaw on the fingers, but I've read that you can saute them up, too. I bet they'd be delicious with some roasted chicken! Look for them at fine markets now.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Happenings: THE Christmas Dinner

Cheeses, pink bubbles, and even Scotch Eggs awaited us when we arrived at the Pfour's house for our annual Christmas feast! Throughout the year we have many gatherings we anticipate greatly, but this dinner would have to be at the top of my list! We take turns cooking gorgeous food without any fear of failure and the kids love the long breaks between courses as much as the grown-ups do!
I started things off with my Savory Pancakes and Syrup (micro pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream for the kids), before Ang plated up her Creamy Polenta with Three Cheeses and Shiitake Mushrooms.

Ang swung through with Kari's Salmon Smash and it was one of my favorite dishes of the night. It doesn't seem all of these elements should go together, but they sure did. this was a total home run and the secret to the success of the dish is the addition of the tomatoes.

I followed with my Ode to India. I am not really sure what came over me, but I kind of went all out on this dish. The Cardamom Yogurt Braised Lamb Shanks, Jasmine Rice, Saag, Red Dal, Raita, Hot Lime Pickle, and Naan even allowed me to put a retro gift from Ang's parents to good use! All around, I say it was pretty darn good.

And just when we thought it couldn't get any better, Ang brought out her dessert.
Um...yeah...she made it...from scratch.
It is called a Zuccotta and the ganache covered bomb is filled with whipped cream, raspberries, hazelnuts and toffee. This dessert was totally worth the obvious effort Ang put into it!
There isn't a year that comes to a close that we don't count our longstanding friendship with Pettit Family among a greatest and most obvious blessings of the year. We have a great life and they are big reason why. Thanks for sharing the holidays with us! Our lives wouldn't be the same without you!

Holiday Happenings: Christmas morning




Lots of Christmas wishes came true at our house this year!
Hope the same was true for you.

Holiday Happenings: Christmas Eve Dinner

Once again, we spent a lovely veg-head Christmas eve with Emma's bestie, Jb Cool Cat, and her family this year. We enjoyed a warming lasagna dinner and chatted the evening away by the cozy glow of their colorful Christmas tree before heading home through the wintry snow. We couldn't have asked for a more perfectly relaxing holiday treat. Thanks for hosting.

Holiday Happenings: family brunch

Each year, my mom and dad host a special Christmas brunch and gift opening. My mom concentrates on providing all our favorites and as a result of her efforts you can choose to have shrimp, bacon, berries, and Swedish meatballs on the same plate! YUM.


We always look forward to heading to Lake Geneva to share time with my family and Leif's mom. Having little ones around the tree makes for an extra merry holiday and Charlie and Henry are too cute for words!



Thanks for another wonderful holiday memory Mom and Dad!
xo

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Greetings:

xo

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Taylor Ave Aglow

Our dear neighbors light up both sides of our street with glowing luminarias every year in the nights leading up to Christmas. They have never missed a year, but for some reason this annual sight always takes me by surprise. Tonight was no exception and I think it looks beautiful.

First Attempt.

I think I am becoming a bread baker.
I've always dabbled with making rolls for little burgers or sandwiches, but my recent obsession with perfecting challah bread has morphed into attempting to make French Bread.
I was throwing ice cubes into my oven like a mad woman to get a lovely crust on my first loaves! I have to say my shaping needs work (they were a little lopsided), but overall they were pretty amazing! Nice chew on the outside and very tender on the the inside. I think I may be onto something here!

Not to be out done...

Following Finn's lead, Emma visited the salon to get some sassy layers for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Elves

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finn and friend.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Arun's and Violet Hour

Arun's Thai
4156 N Kedzie
Chicago, IL 60618
12 course chef designed degustationThere was no printed menu and I opted to enjoy the wine pairings with this meal. You'll note the dish descriptions get progressively shorter, but the fact I was able to decipher this much of Arun's complicated menu was a total shock to me!
  • Bite sized salad of Betel Nut leaf, ginger, shallot, lime, peanuts, toasted coconut, red chilies, and coconut tamarind sauce
  • Traditional Thai spring roll, Dungeness crab, tofu, cucumber, bean sprout, shiso, and hot mustard
  • Steamed rice dumpling, minced chicken, shrimp, jicama, with sweet and sour tomato vinaigrette.
  • Pork Larb with Chaing Mai spices, roasted red poblano, cucumber, and cilantro
  • Rice noodle fried shrimp, pink vermicelli, tofu, cucumber, bean sprouts, egg crepe, lemon, chives
  • Spicy Rice noodle soup with essences of anise, pork belly, smoked egg, and tofu.
  • Crispy fried snapper with sweet and spicy sauce and carved carrot fish
  • Sea Scallop with kabocha chili sauce and asparagus plank
  • Panang curry beef with coconut milk and fresh herbs
  • Spicy Chicken with holy basil and zucchini
  • Sweet sticky rice phyllo package with banana and hard candy
  • Okra Blossom and Lychee Sorbet with ginger baked pear
Leif's experience with Leadership Greater Chicago has been incredibly rewarding already and now that the group has bonded they have started to arrange gatherings outside of regular LGC events and that means I get to go along! Last night the "dining club" came together to enjoy dinner at Arun's Thai. Talk about a simple statement that can ratchet up diners' expectations into the stratosphere...Arun's is listed among the 1000 places to see (eat) before you die. Did it live up to the hype?
I would have to say yes.
After considering the heavy handed compliments that have been paid to this establishment over the years, I tamped down my expectations slightly and reminded myself that consistency should be celebrated. Each and every dish we enjoyed was solidly grounded in near flawless technique. The company and the carved carrot fish were both first rate! The betel nut leaf appetizer, noodle soup, shrimp, and sweet sticky rice were all exceptional, but and couple of the appetizers and the family style entrees seemed to fall just a little flat. The wine pairings were thoughtful and effective, and while at times a little rushed, the staff was knowledgeable and kind. We were, after all, a party of nearly 20 and considering that yields 240 artfully presented portions over a three hour dinner, I'd say both the kitchen and front of the house staff held it together quite well. I've never had Thai cuisine elevated to that level in my life and that simple fact cemented Arun's solidly on my long list of most memorable meals.

Following our dinner we all headed over to the East Village home of another LGC fellow and his wife. They won a private party on Facebook sponsored by Ketel One vodka. The event included the services of a mixologist from The Violet Hour, a security guard, catering, and free transportation for all guests within 25 miles. It was just insane. I had some yummy grapefruit tequila elderflower thing and a ride home in the Ketel One Car!
What an incredible evening!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thanks Peas for Dinner!

When I saw the popular Korean dish Bibimbap highlighted on Peas for Dinner yesterday, I just knew we'd be eating it for dinner today! The dish looked colorful, fresh, and rich and I just couldn't resist giving it a whirl myself. I followed the recipe exactly and added some shiitake mushrooms, scallions, and pea shoots to the garnishes. We passed a lot of Sriracha at the table, too. This was a huge hit with everyone at our family table and a perfect week-night meal!.Thanks Peas for Dinner!

Holiday Color.


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