Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cookie Sampler

It's not even my birthday and I got this awesome box of cookies today. In an effort not to be a total cookie monster, I cut them into quarters (except the lemon curd thumbprint : ) and made a little cookie sampler. From left to right: peanut butter and jam, chocolate brownie chunk, lemon curd, and classic chocolate chip.

Thankyou Prosecco!


Monday, March 30, 2009

Yellorange Salad

We're off the detox, but trying to keep some of the good habits we've learned. Fusilli made this excellent roasted yellow beet salad. There are orange segments hiding in there, shaved fennel, shallots, sunflower seeds and feta. Excellently delicious.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Is it over yet?

A sneak peek for my pals Broccoli and Fusilli. Lemme know when the detox is over!


Sunday Brunch

After the rain finally stopped Sunday morning it was time to meet Manchego for brunch at the local – Gilead Café. There's nothing like coming off detox with a bowl of poutine and a glass of merlot. More pics after the jump.

Turkey and barley soup.

Pork patty and potatoes.

Tres leches cake.


Sunday Muffins

Sunday, rainy Sunday. The rain outside the window sounds like a sizzling hot deep fryer – I'm serious.

Fusilli took some of the future smoothie bananas, dates and walnuts to make these excellent mini muffins. I also made an almond milk, banana, peach & blueberry smoothie.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Future Smoothies

I'm loving the smoothies, so I'm planning ahead by freezing a bunch of ripe bananas. Next time a get a craving for a Banana Latte, I'm all set.


Detox Breakfast

The best thing about the detox was discovering that some of my favorite meals were on the "list". Par example – smoked arctic char with scrambled eggs and avocado. Fresh squeeze on the side, of course.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Carrot and Ginger Dressing

One of the most interesting recipes on the detox was this salad dressing (full recipe PDF). The combination of shallots and ginger gave it a big kick. Next time I'm going to roast the shallot first to tone it down a bit. Otherwise, it was incredible and highly addictive like hummus.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Serious reading

Check it! I am the proud new owner of The Silver Spoon, THE bible of Italian cookery. (Thank you, thank you, Bo!) Here's a snapshot of page 7 of 1263. The Italians aren't fooling around with their food.


March of the Birthdays

March is the month of my ladies. Four of us celebrate our birthdays this month so we opted for a potluck birthday brunch with a Secret Santa-esque gift exchange. My contrib: Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake with creamcheese icing. This cake is dense, moist, dark and delicious… a perfect chocolate cake. I cut out about a third of the sugar in the cake batter and nobody missed it. The frosting makes up for it.

Here's what else made for a fantastic Sunday brunch: homemade pizza with tomatoes & anchovies, mac & cheese, make-your-own fresh spring rolls, assorted bagels with assorted creamcheeses and something sparkly and bubbly for the festivities: Cava, instead of our usual Prosecco. Happy Birthday, Marchies! (Sorry about the chocolate tempt, Broccoli)

Chocolate Guinness Cake

From Feast by Nigella Lawson (reprinted in the New York Times on 12/8/04)
Yield: One 9-inch cake (12 servings)

For the cake:

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar (I have used regular granulated sugar with no ill effects)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

For the topping: Using a food processor or by hand, mix confectioners' sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.


Coconut Water

Part of the detox included drinking coconut water in the morning, between breakfast and lunch. After drinking it for a few days I've come to enjoy it – despite the funky smell. I did some quick research to see why I was drinking it and I discovered that it might be the magic cure for a hang-over. It's full of electrotlyes (potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous) that can quickly re-hydrate your poor shriveled brain. I haven't had a chance to test my theory, and I'm not planning any benders, so I'll have to follow up on this one later.

Did you know that coconut water can be used in place of saline? Amazing.


Greens & Beans

Fusilli sent me this recipe, which was perfect for the detox. It's simple to make and it gave me a chance to use the beet greens and rapini I had in the fridge. Mine turned out a bit soupy, so I took the left overs and the remaining chicken stock and puréed it to make soup. It was good, but it seems like a side in search of a main. Next time I'll have it with Salmon.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The nice lady at the market gave me these two Kumquats to try. Before I ate them I did a quick poll around the office to confirm that you're supposed to eat the whole thing. I was skeptical about eating the rind but, as it turns out, that's the best part. It's like a reverse orange because the skin is sweet and the middle is sour.


Sunflower Sprout Salad

Day 3 of the detox – s'alright.

So far the hardest part has been planning snacks and meals in advance. No more eating what you feel like, it's gotta be on the "list". A trip to the market on the weekend with a long list from the "list" has made a big difference.

Tonight I made a salad with baby arugula, sunflower sprouts, a granny smith apple, celery, smoked trout and slivered almonds. It's dressed with an olive oil, lemon, apple cider vinegar and mustard dressing.

Today's detox induced craving: Chocolate, with chocolate on top.


Food Smoothing

So far, the best thing about the detox is discovering new foods. Have you ever tried almond milk? I hadn't, and frankly I was confused. Now that I know how it's made, I'm thinking 'almond juice' is a more appropriate description.

This smoothie has one cup of almond milk, two dates, a scoop of almond butter and a frozen banana. I can honestly say it's better than any milkshake I've ever had. If only I could add a shot of espresso, it would be the best breakfast ever*.

*Clarification: The best breakfast ever would obviously include bacon... on the side.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Detox Salad

Today is the first day of the 12 day detox. We just had an excellent poached chicken, celery, arugula and sunflower seed salad – and now I'm totally starving. What I would really love is a glass of red wine and a piece of flourless chocolate cake. I'm hoping the cravings will pass, or this is going to be a long ride.


Fresh friut and vegetables
Chicken and fish
Nuts and seeds
Whole grains, like oats and quinoa

Meat, dairy and shellfish
Caffeine and alcohol
Refined white flour and sugar
Anything processed



Recently, we were lucky enough to get the recipe for our favorite veggie burger. The restaurant that used to serve it doesn't have it on their menu anymore – sadness.

Our version was close, but not quite as moist as I remember, and a bit too fallaparty. A few practice sessions should work out the kinks.

There's a great recipe on Cook Illustrated that is similar. Full recipe after the link.

Makes 12 4-inch burgers
Canned lentils can be used, though some flavor will be sacrificed. Use a 15 -ounce can, drain the lentils in a mesh strainer, and thoroughly rinse under cold running water before spreading them on paper towels and drying them, as directed in step 1 below. If you cannot find panko, use 1 cup of plain bread crumbs.

3/4 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup bulgur wheat
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine (2 cups)
1 large celery rib, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (2 teaspoons)
1 pound cremini or white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 6 1/2 cups)
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Ground black pepper
12 burger buns for serving

1. Bring 3 cups water, lentils, and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are just beginning to fall apart, about 25 minutes. Drain in fine-mesh strainer. Line baking sheet with triple layer paper towels and spread drained lentils over. Gently pat lentils dry with additional paper towels; cool lentils to room temperature.

2. While lentils simmer, bring 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan. Stir bulgur wheat into boiling water and cover immediately; let stand off heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in fine-mesh strainer; use rubber spatula to press out excess moisture. Transter bulgur to medium bowl and set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, leek, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Spread vegetable mixture on second baking sheet to cool; set aside. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet; heat over high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Spread mushrooms on baking sheet with vegetable mixture; cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

4. Process cashews in food processor until finely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses (do not wash food processor blade or bowl); stir into bowl with bulgur along with cooled lentils, vegetable-mushroom mixture, and mayonnaise. Transfer half of mixture to now-empty food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, fifteen to twenty 1-second pulses; mixture should be cohesive but roughly textured. Transfer processed mixture to large bowl; repeat with remaining unprocessed mixture and combine with first batch. Stir in panko, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Line baking sheet with paper towels. Divide mixture into 12 portions, about 1/2 cup each, shaping each into tightly packed patty, 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick; set patties on baking sheet; paper towels will absorb excess moisture. (Patties can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days.) TO COOK ON THE GRILL: Build medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat gas grill on high. Using tongs, wipe grate with wad of paper towels dipped lightly in vegetable oil. Grill burgers, without moving them, until well browned, about 5 minutes; flip burgers and continue cooking until well browned on second side, about 5 minutes. Serve. TO COOK ON THE STOVETOP: Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering; cook burgers, 4 at a time, until well browned, about 4 minutes per side, lowering heat to medium if browning too quickly. Repeat with additional oil and burgers. Serve. (Cooked burgers can be kept warm in 250-degree oven for up to 30 minutes.)

To freeze: For each burger to be frozen, add 1 tsp panko or 1/2 tsp plain bread crumbs to the mixture before shaping. Thaw frozen patties overnight in the fridge on a triple layer of paper towels covered loosely with plastic wrap. Before cooking, pat the patties dry with paper towels and reshape to make sure they are tightly packed and cohesive


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sneezing Soup

The cooties got me bad. I knew I was done for on Sunday when the triple sneezing fits started and I quickly blew through two boxes of kleenex™. Fusilli took pity on me, and made the legendary chicken pot pie soup. Today I added broccoli for an extra cootie fighting boost.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Birthday Cookies

My brother was born on St. Patrick's Day, 30-something years ago today. Happy Birthday Brat! Since I'm currently unemployed and couldn't afford the big bag of cash he asked for, I sent him a homemade gift instead. I made bite-sized-ish Peanut Butter Blossoms from this recipe. My oven is a bit wonky, it tends to heat up extremely fast and stay H-O-T so I blackened the first cookies that were in the oven. The recipe called for 10 - 12 minutes of baking time in a normal oven, but mine, after a few rounds of trial and error in the oven, needed only 6 minutes and 30 seconds until they were done. It made for an entertaining evening.  I had so many Hershey Kisses left over and Jif Creamy Peanut Butter from making my brother's cookies that I made another batch of cookies and gave some to my doorman, to one of my clients (got me 2 more projects by stopping by their offices with cookies) and brought the rest to the girls of the wedding dress weekend.  They went over very well...everyone loves surprise cookies.


Monday, March 16, 2009

A Domestic Goddess Lives in Seattle: A Day of Dresses in Chicago

The Domestic Goddess of Seattle (Christy) flew into Chicago this past weekend to try on wedding dresses for her 2010 spring wedding. It was a Day of Dresses with three of her best Chicago girl friends, 1 Mom, 5 cameras and a multitude of chocolate Hershey's kisses and champagne. If you have not shared in a wedding dress day with someone, I highly recommend it. It may have been our great friendships, how happy we are for Christy & Ryan or what great genes she has to look amazing in EVERY dress she tried on...but it was a wonderful experience even for those of us not getting married anytime soon. 

We had lunch/brunch at Tilli's in Lincoln Park on Halsted. Delicious! They have a great menu with something for everyone from breakfast wraps to nicoise salads to sandwiches all with $2 mimosas on the weekends during brunch hours and they are also blessed with a large open space to dine in. We tried to avoid any bars with O' names and any Irish sounding eateries. Though we've all lived in Chicago for sometime, we forgot that the weekend preceding St. Patrick's Day in Chicago is the ACTUAL weekend St. Patrick's Day is celebrated...yikes. We ended the long and exhausting day with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, pizza, chocolate and lots of girl talk...really, how else do you end a day of wedding dress shopping? Christy of course being the Bride-to-be drank from the Crate and Barrel heart shaped champagne flute...why not?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cupcake on Elizabites

Check out my guest blog post today on writer/editor extraordinaire & fellow foodie, Liz Grossman's delicious Chicago-based blog Elizabites


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


That's the name of the farm that this delectable organic chicken came from- Hallelujah Farms. The name kinda cracks me up because back in my youth group days in Edmonton, I knew a girl whose parents owned a dental lab called Hallelujah Dental Laboratory, so when I saw this chicken, it made me think that this is a farm that could have been owned by them… But I digress.

I made this roast chicken dinner for C because I'd lost a best of three game of Memory and we agreed that the winner would decide what dinner they wanted and the loser would have to prepare it. And what a chicken it was… tender, sweet, juicy meat… I hadn't made or eaten a roast chicken in awhile but this one was a damn good one. And on the side? Braised red cabbage & apple and a potato + kale purée. To drink- an inexpensive Sangiovese- the blood of Jove. I should also mention that C made an artichoke parmigiano dip that we had with spelt flatbread, while the chicken was resting. And even though there were traces of mayonnaise in it, it was savoury and delicious and difficult to stop eating.

Next time, I hope I win the best of three Memory challenge, because I've got a hankering for osso buco with polenta!


Spiced lentil tacos

A couple of weeks ago, Broccoli sent me a link to this spiced lentil taco recipe… and it was seriously fantastic! I think I could go for meatless tacos all the time. We skipped the cheese, but had lettuce, avocado, orange pepper and sour cream to top these babies off. Oh, and I picked up the real corn tortillas from a little Latin grocery store in Kensington Market. I'd recommend that instead of using packaged taco seasoning, just making your own with chili powder, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes. A squeeze of lime over the lentils before taking the first taco bite adds that extra zing. The next day, I had a bowl of the leftover lentils and they were great alone too. I *love* lentils!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Recession? What recession?

I think Chicagoans didn't get the memo about a little something called…the recession. Every restaurant we went to from Friday - Sunday had an average of a TWO HOUR wait. People here aren't staying at home eating boiled potatoes and cabbage. They're all out stuffing their faces with delicious food and drink and making this tourist go hungry! We'd trek to one place after another and the same thing… 2 - 2.5 hr wait time. In fact, the only time we didn't have to wait was lunch with Cupcake at Farmerie 58. But I was told that's because it's lunch. Dinner is a different story. Apparently brunch falls into this category as well.

We only had to stand huddling around the doorway for just over 1 hour at Southport Grocery and Café on our last day in the windy city and it was well worth the (relatively short) wait. It's a charming little gourmet grocery store with a glass case at the front cash that displays beautiful, big cupcakes- vanilla and chocolate only. And don't worry, this little story ends with the vanilla, topped off with gorgeous white frosting. But it began with a nice strong coffee, followed by the sweet and savoury French toast and an intermission of a couple of bites of bread pudding pancakes, which I am totally having the next time I go back! But it'll have to be during much warmer weather because standing by the door when you're hungry is one thing, but *freezing cold* and hungry? That's my definition of hell on earth.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Windy City Weekend

Last weekend, we hopped a plane (Porter) to Chicago to see some family, friends, and of course, eat some *food*. Tempted by this post over on Elizabites, Cupcake and I decided to meet up for lunch to sample the nest of truffle oil french fries at Farmerie 58 for ourselves. We both had the two course lunch, but opted for the half sandwich option, of which I got the arugula salad and the burger. Did you know that a burger is considered a sandwich?? Nice and juicy, served on a ciabatta bun. And the fries! I had to control myself from scooping the entire pile into my face. Crispy, salty little matchsticks that are like Hickory Sticks but waaaaaay better. I'm proud to say I finished every single one and it's a good thing that Cupcake took us on a digestive walking architetural tour afterward because there was more eating to be had in this city… coming soon.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Think Spring

I have been holding onto a punch card worth a free espresso drink at Sarah's Candies and Pastries from my working days and I thought with the snow on the ground in Chicago I deserve a *FREE* medium latte. So, in the blowing lake effect snow, I walked past Anthropologie with their Spring window display and headed towards Sarah's. Sarah's always smells like fresh coffee and sugar. Today their display case had St. Patrick's Day cookies and a few Spring themed cookies for sale. I bought the pink flower sugar cookie above which they packaged up for me with bow and all. So cute! I mean, free coffee means money for a cookie, right? I also dropped my business card in their raffle jar to win a dozen cupcakes...might as well use those business cards for something!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Domestic Goddess Lives in Seattle: The Birthday Cake

The Domestic Goddess that Lives in Seattle is back again. This time with a birthday cake made for Abby. How lucky is she?! Personally I think her serious face in the picture above is just from the shock of how gorgeous the birthday cake is. Christy found the recipe, Golden Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting in The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl. I mean really, golden cake with chocolate sour cream? How could you not want to make that or eat it? Christy baked the cake portion of the recipe in 2, 9" round pans and split the layers all by herself. Only an architect like Christy or a surgeon with a steady hand could make those layers that perfect. I hear the frosting was rich, but they still ate it all anyway. I'm just wondering who in the family got to lick the bowl, the beaters and the spatula??? I'm still waiting for my cake slice in the mail. But if the cake is as good as it looks I'm sure it got lost in the mail or lost on its way to the post office!

Stay tuned:  The Domestic Goddess that Lives in Seattle will be making an appearance in Chicago! She's flying in this month so that her Chicago girl friends can celebrate her engagement with her! We'll have a weekend of eats and cocktails to share with you!