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Friday, August 24, 2007


If the weather the past week was any indication, the last throes of summer are here. So I am further indulging in my adventures in grilling! Last nights adventure was an appetizer of Roasted Tomatoes stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese with grilled sourdough bread and an entrée of Grilled Octopus with Smoked Paprika, Shrimp Skewer and Green Salad.

Both of these were first attempts and deemed worth repeating and perfecting!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

More Mediterranean

A trip to East Village Cheese 40 3rd Avenue at 9th Street this past weekend left me so excited to keep on with my Côte d'Azure kick! I picked up some fresh Morbier, Bulgarian Feta and other gourmand treats. East Village Cheese has a wide selection of basic imported cheese at inexpensive prices. Though other cheese shops such as the infallible Murray's have a much broader selection of artisanal cheeses, for your basic triple creme brie, this is the place to go! At $10.99 a pound the Morbier is a deal and the fetas are fresh and range from $3.99 to $6.99 a pound.

Grilled Eggplant and Feta Salad

2lbs Slim eggplants sliced pretty thin
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Bunch fresh parsley
1/3 lb fresh feta
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
juice of 1/2 a lemon
plenty of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
slices of crusty bread

Get the gril nice and hot. Brush the eggplant slices with plenty of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill with the cherry tomatoes until soft turning once. I had to do this in shifts since my grill top is pretty small, but this salad is good at room temperature. Once soft and the tomatoes are just bursting, toss with the feta, parsley, pine nuts and extra salt and pepper, drizzle with a little extra oil and the lemon juice. Rub the garlic clove on the slices of bread and brush lightly with oil, put on the still hot grill and toast!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Culinary Chi-town

While I was in Chicago for a gig I did get to have some nostalgic meals and some fresh ones courtesy the cities restaurants and our wonderful host.

The CTA was, as I remembered it, still in shambles. With the Blue Line only running to Western, burdened with all of our gear and tired from a trying flight on American Airlines, we took respite at Lazo's 2009 N. Western Ave. An old haunt of our Logan Square days and the closest all night food establishment, Lazo's has as many memories as it does tasty Mexican food.

We ordered a tasty array of appetizers and margaritas on the rocks. At $4.95 a pop, a substantial bargain. The Tosdada de Ceviche was the best dish. A crisp fried corn tortilla piled high with fresh shrimp ceviche and avocado, put the house salsa on top and it was great. The basic quesedilla was also good mostly because we miss good chihuahua cheese. The avocado torta was the only disappointment. But from past experiences here I can say that the tacos and green mole are out of this world.

Kelly relaxing after kicking back a few margaritas.

We also got to eat out at Butterfly 1156 W. Grand Ave. a Thai and Shushi joint that could be smack on Bedford Ave. Williamsburg giving Planet Thai a run for it's money. With a Euro-disco soundtrack and hip decor, this BYOB establishment delivered generously portioned rolls and some of the biggest hunks of fresh toro that melted right off the rice.

Our host was no chef to be trifled with either. Welcoming us with an amazing sunset drink of Cakebread Pinot Nior on the roof of his West Loop pad, I had forgotten how big the sky really is there. On the day of our show he whipped up a delicious Korean soup in a clam broth with glass noodles, baby bok choy and shrimp that was spicy enough to get our vocal chords in good shape. I will definitely try to replicate that soup. It was hearty but not over filling, the perfect meal to sate us before a performance.

Thanks, Chicago! The gig was a blast, the staff at the Empty Bottle was amazing and of course the food was good too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

August is upon us and that means that the berry season is almost over. Capitalize on the last of the fresh berries with this simple and delicious vinaigrette and salad recipe.

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigette

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons aged Balsamic Vinegar
Juice of a lemon
Sea Salt and Pepper

Combine the strawberries, lemon and vinegar in a blender and blend. Slowly add the oil to the mix until slightly emulsified (It becomes a bit more opaque and will not separate as easy) add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a bit of dried tarragon to this to make a more herbal version. This will keep about one week.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

3 cup fresh baby spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries
handful of chopped and toasted walnuts
shaved hard cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano or Asiago
Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

To toast the walnut bake them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 10min or until slightly brown.
Toss all ingredients with a healthy portion of the vinaigrette and shave cheese on top!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Taste of Green

Cilantro, Coriander, the seeds, the leaves, I love it all. To me it tastes fresh and green. To others it tastes like soap. Here is the recipe for a perennial favorite of all of my friends.

Cilantro Ginger Sauce

1 bunch fresh Cilantro
2 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 extra virgin olive oil

Roughly chop the cilantro, garlic and ginger. Put into a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice and some salt. Blend slowly adding in the olive oil until you achieve a smooth texture. Do not over blend. You don't want to emulsify the oil. Taste and add more salt to taste. This will keep for about a week and is excellent with anything from fish to grilled chicken to eggs.