Monday, April 25, 2011

Ravioli Party

Sooooo...... the Tiramisu.... yeah.... I must admit, it did, unfortunately, not go as well as I had hoped :(. Wa wa waahhh....

The flavors were great. If I had blind folded you and fed it to you, you wouldn't have known the difference. Having said that, for some reason the mascarpone espresso cream did not set very well. At first I thought it may have been because I didn't give myself enough time before the party, which is why it didn't get to chill in the fridge for long enough. Now, I am thinking that the lady fingers were soaked just a little too long so it made the whole thing a tad bit too soft and soggy. Maybe I didn't beat the egg yolks long enough. Maybe I put too much rum in it (he he he) or too little mascarpone. Or perhaps it was a combination of all of the above - I can't be quite sure. A bummer? Sure. Most importantly though - I tried! I will make it again, and again, and again and eventually it WILL be perfect. I can assure you - I will NOT rest until I get it right!!!

I can't say I hadn't been warned. SB said it might be a bad idea. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Who's to say. It's a matter of perspective really. The way I feel about the kitchen and life in general is: do your best, give it your all every time, and know that in the end everything happens for a reason. Life isn't about not taking risks, or being perfect, or not making mistakes - it's about learning from your mistakes, enjoying the ride, and after each and every experience, being a better version of yourself. That's what I strive for in life and in the kitchen, too :).

My Tiramisu may not have been a success but the ravioli party sure was. As predicted: the boys were doing all the work in the kitchen and the girls were doing all the drinking and eating. So fun! Thank you Joe & Annie for a great party! Here are some pictures...

Here's a sight I don't very often see: SB in the kitchen, in an apron no less! You go babe! Highlight of my evening :).

Sliced eggplant SB was breading.

Finished product: breaded and friend zucchini and eggplant. I'm so proud of you babe!! YUM!!

Delicious Bruschetta I couldn't keep my hands off of, all night!

Seafood platter by Steve R.

Some ridiculously good, spicy zucchini in marinara parmesan sauce concoction that Chuck made.

Joe & boyz making ravioli.

Here's the finished product after many hours of hard labor. You go boys!

My companion of the evening: Mr. Veuve.

T'was a wondering evening. 'Til next time, happy eating!!


Friday, April 22, 2011

The Tiramisu Experiment

SB and I are going to a Ravioli party tonight. Our new friends here in the Windy City, Joe & Annie, are hosting a homemade Italian food night and were kind enough to include us. From what Annie tells me, what that basically means is, we show up, we get a few pointers on how to make ravioli, we watch, we drink wine (awesome!), the boys will do all the work (even better!) and we eat. I can manage to do that. I can really do that! I'm excited to be at a dinner party where I'm not doing the cooking. What an interesting concept! Nonetheless, being the self-proclaimed foodie that I am, I can hardly show up empty handed. I figured, we're having Italian food, hence the only logical conclusion is: I must bring Italian dessert. Tiramisu it is! What a superb idea! The only problem being, I have NEVER made Tiramisu in my life. There's a first for everything, right? This should be interesting. They will all be my guinea pigs and they won't even know it. Ha, I love it! (FYI - I'd never recommend making something you've never made before, and bringing it to a dinner party. But what choice to I have??). SB, as a matter of fact, tried to persuade me not to make it. He says to me "Babe, you realize they are all Italians, right? (Um, ya, I'm aware of that, Captain Obvious!) Are you sure making Tiramisu for the FIRST TIME EVER today is a good idea?" Thanks for the faith babe! I guess we'll find out if it's a good idea or not!

After doing a little research on different Tiramisu recipes, I've decided on a recipe by Ina Garten from the Foodnetwork. It seemed like the easiest out of all of them and her recipes are usually really reliable.


  • 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature*
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup good dark rum, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups brewed espresso, divided
  • 16 to 17 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 30 Italian ladyfingers, or savoiardi
  • Bittersweet chocolate, shaved or grated
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional)


Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed for about 5 minutes, or until very thick and light yellow.

Lower the speed to medium and add 1/4 cup rum, 1/4 cup espresso, and the mascarpone. Whisk until smooth.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup rum and 1 1/4 cups espresso in a shallow bowl. Dip 1 side of each ladyfinger in the espresso/rum mixture and line the bottom of a 9 by 12 by 2-inch dish. Pour half the espresso cream mixture evenly on top. Dip 1 side of the remaining ladyfingers in the espresso/rum mixture and place them in a second layer in the dish. Pour the rest of the espresso cream over the top. Smooth the top and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle the top with shaved chocolate and dust lightly with confectioners' sugar, if desired.


Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Notes: To make espresso for this recipe in your electric drip coffee maker, use enough water for 4 cups of coffee plus 1/3 cup of ground espresso.

You can find savoiardi and mascarpone in an Italian specialty store. (Or Whole Foods, that's where I found it)

It is completed and it is now sitting in my fridge. I packed up some confectioner sugar and bittersweet chocolate and I'm bringing it with me. I'm going to dust it on, right before I serve it. Well - I hope it came out ok. Keep your fingers crosse for me. The pressure is on...

Happy eating!!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


SB's parents just sent us a basket of these cookies (Thank you MK & JCB!!). They were just too cute not to show you guys. How cute are these!! They are delicious too! They came in an assortment of different brownies and cookies. Absolutely adorable. And what a great gift idea too!

You can get these from and here's a 20% off code that I got: YUMMY20 (ends 5.25.11). A great idea for a Mother's Day gift too - if your mom is more of a cookie kind of a gal ;).

Happy eating!!



SB came back from his business trip today. Normally, I would plan a dinner, go to the store, and execute my plan accordingly. Well, this time around things didn't work out quite the same. I didn't get the chance to go to the grocery store because he had the car. When we were living in NYC that wouldn't be a big deal because I could walk to Whole Foods down the street from us. There of course I could get great quality produce, meat or anything my little foodie-heart desired. Now that we live in Chicago it's a little different. The grocery stores that I prefer are just a little too far to walk to. Of course I can't let a little hurdle hold me back from cooking my man a nice meal. Therefore, I'm left with no other choice to make do with what I already have. Make-whatever-you-have-in-the-fridge/freezer-dinner are sometimes my favorite! It's a way to be creative and come up with new delicious dinners that maybe you would have normally not thought of. Well, sometimes they can also be disastrous. But let's not talk about those right now :)

Upon examining my kitchen I find:

In the fridge:
Orange bell pepper
Jalapeno peppers
Worcestershire sauce

In the freezer:
Beef Chuck meat

In the cabinetry:
Brown rice
Beef bouillon
Veggie bouillon
1/3 of a btl of red wine

After assessing my options I decide on the following menu:

Slow cooked Chuck meat in my crock pot with 1 onion (quartered), 4 whole cloves of garlic, 1 jalapeno (halfed and seeded), 3-4 tbl spoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup red wine, 2 beef bouillons (because I don't have beef stock), and about 1/3 of a gallon of water. Pinch of salt and pepper. I throw it all in there and let it cook on low for 6 hours.

I am so happy with the way this came out. I don't think this could have been better if I had planned the meal. Normally when I do meat in the slow cooker I put cans of diced tomatoes in it. This time around, because I simply didn't have any, I didn't and the flavors were amazing! It was a much cleaner, crispier flavor. The tomatoes normally make the sauce a little thicker. In this case it was more like a really tasty, clear broth. I really enjoyed the change of texture in the sauce. And of course the beef was awesome! I love it when it's fork tender and it just comes apart. This recipe is DEFINITELY a keeper!!

Flavored brown rice. I diced half an onion and sauteed it in a little olive oil and 1 tbl spoon of butter with 2 cloves of mined garlic, 1/2 of a diced orange bell pepper, 1 diced jalapeno pepper (seeded) and 1 veggie bouillon. When the onions were translucent I added 1 1/2 cups of brown rice. Sauteed everything together for a minute and then added 3 cups of water, and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then cover and let simmer until the rice is cooked all the way through.

I really love the way this brown rice came out. It's definitely got plenty of flavor. Some people love brown rice. I actually think that plain brown rice has tons of texture and I love the way it tastes. But SB hasn't been a huge fan of the whole grain family in the past. In my quest to keep our diets fairly healthy, I try to keep things interesting for SB. I think this also is a great way to introduce your kids to brown rice, because it's just not as boring. I could eat bowls of this, just like that.

Oven roasted asparagus. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Wash, trim and dry the asparagus. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil over asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in oven (middle rack) for 15 minutes. Turn them after 8 min.

This is my absolute favorite way to make asparagus. First of all it super easy to make and second, it is soooo delish! The ends get really crispy and taste like they are fried. They also get beautifully caramelized on the outside. Lip-smackingly good! SB's mom always asks me what I put on them, I always tell her it's just olive oil, salt and pepper. She swears I'm keeping a secret from her and omitting some sort of essential ingredient. Then she proceeds to accuse me of lacing it with crack. Haha! I'm telling you - it's that good. You MUST make it!

Happy eating!!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Life is short, life is beautiful

Today is one of those lazy Sundays. It's a crisp 49 degrees out but it's sunny, the birds are chirping, and the first bit of greenery is finally sprouting. I can feel and smell spring. It's in the air. What a beautiful day. SB is going away tonight for business for a few days. We decide to stroll to the coffee shop down the street from us, and make every minute of this splendid day count. At the coffee shop I find this:

What meaningful little messages on a little gift card. Life is beautiful and it is the small things that make it so. I hope today you will take a moment to smell the flowers, your coffee, or whatever makes you happy :).

Have a wonderful day and happy eating!!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

A table in Heaven...

Leaving NYC was sort of a big deal. A big deal in my small world, in so many different ways. I have spent almost 10 years of my life in NYC, longer than any other city in my life. I feel that it was in NYC that I grew into my grown-up shoes, where the training wheels came off - the place where I came into my own. They call the first few years of your life the formative years, but they don't tell you that it takes so much longer to figure out who you are and where you will be heading in life; what makes you happy and what makes you not - and that sometimes, along the way, it hurts to figure these things out. I can't say I have figured everything out completely, but I can say that I have a much better idea than the wide-eyed, green-behind-the-ears, little girl, that moved to New York City 9 and some years ago. I have spent some amazingly happy times in NYC and some not so delightful ones. I have put some meaning and experiences behind the words "happiness comes within" and "it doesn't matter where you are or what you have but who you are with." I have met some of the most interesting, crazy, outrageous people. I have formed some incredible friendships I know will last for a lifetime and spent time with others I was lucky to share part of a journey with, theirs and mine. But most importantly, it was there that I met my very best friend, lover, and soulmate. Since SB came into my life, so many things have changed, in all the right ways. I admit all this may sound a bit cliche, but I can't help it :). Who knew that one day I would turn into this cliche of a woman, and who knew it felt so good! I'm ok with it. More than ok.

When the news came that SB got a promotion and that it would be taking us away from NYC to Chicago, we were beyond excited. Excited to uncover a new city, find a new home, see new places, eat at new restaurants, meet different people and fill our journey with new experiences together. Having said that, we both knew that we would be leaving NYC with nostalgia in our hearts. How could we not? It was the end of an era and the beginning of another. The weeks leading up to the move were filled with organizing, packing, tying up loose ends, me trying not to go crazy but most importantly, frantically trying to eat at as many restaurants possible. Restaurants that we either loved, or have been wanting to try. Naturally, we were not able to go back to all of our favorites, because we ran out of time and frankly, clothing that we could fit in. However, we were able to make it to Do Hwa for the egg battered cod, to Otto for the truffle pizza, to Freeman's for the artichoke dip, just to mention a few. YUM!!!! My mouth watered just typing that. However, to top it all off, to celebrate SB's huge accomplishment, reminisce our times in NYC, and cheers our impending move, we went to no other place but the culinary dynasty: Le Cirque. What a truly special experience that was. The food was spectacular! However, part of the experience is the history of the restaurant.

Here are a few fact about the restaurant: Le Cirque is a French restaurant, founded by and Italian man by the name of Sirio Maccioni
in 1974 and is now run by his sons. As far as I know, it is the only restaurant of its caliber that is family operated. In fact it is so special of a place that it was the subject of a documentary film named, Le Cirque: A table in Heaven. You may also previously have eaten inventions of Sirio's without even knowing it! Does "Pasta Primavera" ring a bell? But without further ado I want to share with you what we ate that night.

We started our tasting menu with beet soup, with horseradish creme. I LOVED it. It was salty, sweet, creamy and the little bit of dill gave it a fresh finish.

This escargot beignet was served with the beet soup. I never thought I would rave about escargot anything, but I am about to. THIS was simply scrumptious. It was crunchy and soft at the same time, with a hint of sesame flavor. And surprisingly, it didn't very much taste like escargot at all! Maybe that's why I liked it.

Next up was the Foie Gras, Rabbit & Bacon Terrine with Granny Smith gelee and Kabocha squash. What was great about this dish is that it had all the texture and flavor contrast that I love. The Foie Gras, Rabbit and & Bacon Terrine was salty with a bite, the Granny Smith gelee was cold and soft, the squash was hot, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. It was hot and cold, salty and sweet, soft and crunchy. YUM!!

This was the Australian King Prawn with spaghetti squash, curry, lime and ginger. This was one of my favorite parts of the meal. It was just fantastic and I wish I had 10 of these on my plate. The flavors of this dish very much reminded me of Thai food but maybe just a little more refined. It was just a cloud of Thai deliciousness. It was salty, creamy, and the curry was mild and not at all overbearing, as it can be at times, I find. I wanted to lick my plate. Seriously. SB said "simply awesome."

This was the Wild Burgundy Escargot, Gruyere Gnocchi and pickled Chanterelles. This was probably my least favorite dish out of all of them. It was a very fragrant dish and smelled fantastic. The flavors were great, I just could not get over the texture of the escargot. I just couldn't get it out of my head. I had one and let SB finish the rest. He was happy about that - he loved them.

Roasted Lamb Chop. Now, normally when I go to a restaurant, lamb isn't necessarily the first thing I pick out. For SB it often is. He loves lamb! In fact, he might have a canvas bag, at out apartment, that reads "I heart lamb" (just kidding - sort of). Anyway, according to SB, this was some of the best lamb he has EVER had. It was tender and roasted to perfection. This was without a doubt his favorite part of the meal.

Now, to my favorite part of the meal: Paupiette of Black Cod, leeks, crispy potatoes, rocca di frassinello sauce. This was simply heaven. I actually might not have the words to describe this. The fish was soft and flaky, the potatoes on the outside salty and crispy, and the sauce was beyond words. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life. In fact, I might have to kidnap the chef and chain him my kitchen. It is that amazing!

Last but not least: the desserts. The pictures are pretty enough to speak for themselves!

Chocolate soufflé

Lime Parfait meringue and winter citrus fruit

Crème Brûlée "le cirque" - Originated from the Spanish dessert Crema Catalana and means "burnt cream." According to the Maccioni's the sugar on top has to be brown sugar and must be caramelized under the broiler. As you eat this scrumptiously, finger-lickingly yummy dessert, you will uncover the recipe at the bottom of the dish. Very cute :)!

What a beautiful meal it was to conclude a beautiful journey...

Happy eating!!


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