Sunday, October 17, 2010

Drop me off in New Orleans for the food!

I spent about a week in New Orleans earlier this month, so I thought I'd post some food photos from that trip. Enjoy!

Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde.

Amberjack (fish) with butter caper sauce at Adolfo's on Frenchmen St.

A fresh praline and Abita Amber beer at the New Orleans School of Cooking.

Grilled scallops with wild purple rice at Bayona.

Smoked duck, peanut-cashew butter and grilled onions with pepper in a puff pastry at Bayona.

Mac n cheese at The Praline Connection.

Fried softshell crawfish and dill pickles at The Praline Connection.

The making of Café Brûlot - boozy orange on fire at Arnaud's.

Fries with roast beef debris at Mahony's PO Boy Shop on Magazine St.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday lunch - heirloom tomatoes and fancy feta

Here's what I had for lunch today - 2 ingredients.

Yarra Valley Persian Fetta from Pastoral; heirloom tomatoes from the Daley Plaza Thursday farmers market.

First, I sliced up the 3 tomatoes.
Then I poured some of the herbed cheese and olive mixture on top.

Proof that something so very simple can also be so very delicious.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Thoughts on Hot Doug's

If you couldn't tell by the line wrapped around the building, even on days when the weather may not be cooperating, Doug is on fire...not just hot. What took us about two years to finally try out turned out to be well worth the wait. We stood outside for an hour or so, listening to the others around us talk about their favorites and look at a website printout to study the specials of the week. When we finally made our way to Doug, we had a laugh with him about waiting in line and then promptly began to order our feast (see pictures in post below).

Marsala and Roasted Garlic Wild Boar Sausage with Anchovy-Parsley Goat Butter and Black Pepper Affinois Cheese

Veal and Pork Weisswurst with Chili-Garlic Mustard and Goat Cheese

Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel

Chardonnay and Jalapeno Rattlesnake Sausage with Sweet Curry Mustard and Hickory-Smoked Sweet Swiss Cheese

The Dog
Chicago-Style Hot Dog with all the trimmings: 'nuff said.

Duck Fat Fries

Ok, so we can all agree that you aren't coming to this place for health reasons. Hell, I hope that Doug himself doesn't eat too much of his own food. Would hate to see Hot Doug become cold cardiac arrested Doug. Anyway, it is hard to really think about all the different things going on here. We sat and went around bite by bite trying something new until we worked our way back and each bite was followed by a "oh man...or mmmm". It got to the point that his plain dog, which was our last item to try, couldn't compete with the blast of flavors we just put our taste buds through. We had to concede that his regular hot dog (which we had grilled and fried for good measure), is probably quite good by itself. I finished it off later that day to prove that point.

Because we had so much, in a short period of time, it is difficult for me to remember particulars about each. Here is what I recall:

The fois gras with a duck sausage was delicious, if you enjoy fois gras. This being my second time having it and generally being a fan of liver, I enjoyed its rich, earthy, and livery sort of flavors.

The Rattlesnake dog was quite nice. The cheese and sweetness of the curry mustard helped to balance the flavors of the rattlesnake sausage. A person in line in front of us thought that it was too sweet, but I found it to be just right (and I'm usually not a fan of mixing sweet/savory)

The veal/pork with chili-garlic mustard and goat cheese was my least favorite, for no other reason than the chili-garlic mustard was quite strong, spicy and overpowering. I really didn't get a mustard flavor. To me, it tasted like the spicy nacho cheese that you microwave and dip chips into. With globs of goat cheese on top, I think the meat got a little lost in the background, and that is a shame when you have a tasty veal and pork sausage.

Lastly, the wild boar was great. The flavor of the sausage was fantastic, juicy, and the butter/cheese complemented it well. For people who want to try something new and don't want to get too crazy, this is a solid upgrade from a regular hot dog/brat/sausage.

Oh, and those duck fat fries? You get a slight hint of a flavor difference versus regular fries, but not as much as I would have hoped for. Given the choice, I'd go with the duck fat, but wouldn't be upset if I came midweek when they don't have them available.

Verdict? Well, I told Doug himself that I "was pickin' up what he was puttin down' ". He got a laugh out of that and thanked us. While delicious, an hour or so wait outside is tough for a mostly impatient individual like myself. However, when you do get inside and order, the food comes quickly and they bring it out to your table for you. Despite the crowd outside, they've worked out a system such that everyone can get a table to eat at. I did have a smile and odd sense of accomplishment when we finally made it to our table and the food came. And with all that said, I would love to go back, probably midweek though to avoid the weekend rush.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hot Doug's

The line at Hot Dog's on a Saturday at 1pm.
Today's specials. We got the Weisswurst, foie gras, & rattlesnake.
And the wild boar.
And the duck fat fries.
That's hot Doug, himself.
The dining area
Our lunch (...and dinner, it turns out).
Clockwise from top left: foie gras, rattlesnake, duck fat fries, weisswurst,wild boar, beef.

Marsala and Roasted Garlic Wild Boar Sausage with Anchovy-Parsley Goat Butter and Black Pepper Affinois CheeseChardonnay and Jalapeno Rattlesnake Sausage with Sweet Curry Mustard and Hickory-Smoked Sweet Swiss CheeseDuck fat fries
Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel (I could eat one of these every single day).Beef Chicago dog - fried and grilled
Veal and Pork Weisswurst with Chili-Garlic Mustard and Goat Cheese
Hot Doug's is located in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood. Here's the website:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oktoberfest dinner at Heritage Prairie Farm

For Matt's and my wedding anniversary this year, my parents, knowing that we like fresh food and farms, invited us to attend a farm dinner with them at Heritage Prairie Farm, way the heck west of the city in La Fox, Illinois.

The furthest I've ever been on the Metra - Zone I - La Fox is far.
Matt picked up the parents and me at the station, where we discovered what rush hour looks like in farmland...After the group of about 40 diners grabbed some appetizers and pre-dinner drinks in the barn, one of the farm's owners, Bronwyn, took us on a mini-tour of the farm.

Here we are in one of the greenhouses, which is currently growing microgreens, requested by some of the farm's chef clients in the city.
Cute little microgreens
Brownwyn shows us how they make little soil squares in which to plant seeds in the off season.
Next we headed to the fields. Here is a field of kale, ready to be eaten. In the background you can see a couple of the farm's mobile greenhouses, which enable them to extend the growing season. They start harvesting tomatoes in June!
Peppers and some lovely shades of chard, with more farm in the background.
Bronwyn talks about the farm, and her true love - beekeeping. The sun begins to set...
The sunset casts a beautiful glow upon the farm.
The sunset glowing off the silo, as we head back for dinner.
Getting seated for dinner.
Clockwise from bottom left: Red cabbage, German potato salad, carrot salad, heirloom tomato.
Spaetzel and chicken schnitzel
It wouldn't be Oktoberfest without a huge plate of sausages!
We each got a mini jar of Bron's honey to take home (you can buy your own from their online store, as well as a variety of markets and stores around the Chicagoland area). And last but not least, apple dumplings with ice cream, drizzled with Bron's honey!
Heritage Prairie Farm is located in La Fox, IL - There are two more farm dinners this year, which you can register for on their website.

You can find the farm's produce at their on-site market, the Geneva Green Market, Chicago's Green City Market, and you can purchase Bron's Bee Company honey online.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our late summer garden

Serrano peppers, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, Roma tomatoes

An abundance of tomatoes


Our first red serrano
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spanish-style Octopus

Ever since we returned from Barcelona in June, I've been wanting to try and cook an octopus (pulpo). A friend recommended a fishmonger at the French Market at the Ogilvie Metra station, so I picked up a one-pound octopus on the way home from work today.

Got home and had no idea how to prep and cook an octopus, so I did a little internet research and learned you have to boil the sucker for an hour! But I had a fresh octopus in hand; no turning back now!

I put a pot of water on the stove to boil, with about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. After rinsing the sea creature under cold water, I proceeded to dispatch the rest of it. First I cut off its head (channeling the Queen of Hearts). I cut the head in half, and removed the yucky bits (some crunchy and gooey bits). Then I cut through the webbing between each leg, up to the center of the body, and cut off each leg, discarding the remainder of the body. Once the water came to a boil, I tossed the pieces in, put the heat on low, covered the pot, and let it boil for 45 minutes.

Since I'd originally been inspired by Spain, I decided to prepare it tapas style (thank you to Mark Bittman), with olive oil, paprika, and potatoes. After 45 minutes, I added a medium Yukon gold potato cut into large chunks, 3/4 tablespoon of smoked paprika, and 1/4 tablespoon of hot Hungarian paprika (because I like it hot). I let that boil for 15 minutes until both the octopus and potatoes were easy to pierce with the tip of a knife.

To serve, I placed the potatoes on a plate, put the octopus on top, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled a little more smoked paprika on top.

¡Buen provecho!