Friday, June 29, 2012

Un-Recipe Files - Thai Broccoli Slaw Salad


I will be making this salad a lot this summer at the lake.  It is ridiculously simple and it tastes pretty awesome.  It is also easy to have all of the ingredients on hand.
 My mom had this salad at a birthday party and saught out the host to get the recipe.  It could not be easier!  There are just three ingredients:  broccoli slaw, store bought peanut sauce, and honey roasted peanuts.

Just toss the slaw with the desired amount of sauce (I used about ¼ of the jar for one bag of slaw mix) and top it off with chopped honey roasted peanuts.   You could also add chopped cilantro and/or sliced green onions.  Serve the salad right away, because the sauce will pull water out of the slaw and make the dressing a little runny.
You could even make a meal out of this by adding grilled chicken.  Love it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lake House Chef's Challenge 2010 – Appetizer Course

The appetizer course of the First Annual Lake House Chef's Challenge 2010 was full of great dishes.  The kitchen was in a flurry and everyone was excited to get their first taste of competition grub.  The required ingredient for this course was avocado, and all competitors had to use their “secret ingredient” as well in the dish.   Here is what happened….
Jon served Bacon Wrapped Shrimp in Hoisin Sauce, served with Bacon Guacamole (recipe below)
Did I mention that we were judged on presentation as well?  Jon’s presentation was impromptu and amazing.

He even put an eye on the shrimp.

I made Jalapeno Bacon Sliders with an Avocado and Cilantro Slaw (recipe below)

Julie served up a Mango and Coconut Avocado Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette (recipe below)

The Perfect Pairing for the appetizer course was an Oak Run Slinger cocktail.  To earn extra points the competitors could provide a drink pairing for one course.  I was in charge of the appetizer course and came up with the Slinger recipe.  It is a combination of orange juice, lime juice, jalapeno simple syrup and tequila.  It was refreshing and had a little spicy kick.
Be sure to check out these recipes.  They were all fantastic!  Definitely competition material.

Stay tuned for the recap of the next two courses as well as the results.  I know you are all on the edge of your seat.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Corn and Avocado Salsa

Perfect Pairing:  Danza Kuduro- Don Omar and Lucenzo

I absolutely love summer in Chicago.  I want to soak up every minute of it and I always worry that it is going by too fast and I am missing something.  Everything is in bloom, everyone is friendly and in a good mood.  Summer is the time for barbeques and al fresco dining.  I am trying to take full advantage of the weather by having as many get togethers on my patio as possible. 
This salsa is perfect for any summer party.  The ingredients pair really well together and just taste like summer.  It is different from your standard salsa because there are no tomatoes but I like having the bulk of the dip be corn and avocado.  It reminds me of the corn salsa at Chipotle restaurant.  The corn is sweet and crunchy and the avocados are creamy and rich.  It makes a big batch but would be great leftover on some grilled chicken or fish.
The Perfect Pairing for this salsa is Danza Kuduro by Don Omar and Lucenzo.  I first heard this song at a Zumba class and I was obsessed with figuring out what it was so I could download it.  As soon as this song starts playing I feel like dancing and eating salsa.  I may or may not do the Zumba routine in my living room when it comes on.  It is also great on the treadmill when you need a jumpstart. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lake House Chef’s Challenge

Perfect Pairing:  A willing host or hostess
It all started in the Winter of 2010.  Mark, my cousin’s husband, came up with the idea to have a cooking competition at the lake since a lot of people in our family like to cook.  That little seed of an idea blossomed into a major event. 

The basic premise is to have three competitors, three courses, three required ingredients, and each competitor has to come up with their own “secret” ingredient that must be used in all three of their courses.   
The competitors are chosen in advance and the main ingredients are unveiled.  This is serious business!  The first annual Lake House Chef’s Challenge was Labor Day Weekend 2010.  The competitors included myself, my brother, Jon, and my cousin, Julie.  The required ingredients were avocados for the first course, chicken for the second course, and strawberries for the final course.  We each had to choose one ingredient that we would use in all three courses.  I chose sour cream, Julie chose coconut, and Jon chose bacon.  No one was surprised that Jon chose bacon.  We were all a little nervous about how he would incorporate that into his dessert course.

Everyone in attendance was a judge and they were encouraged to come up with a culinary-appropriate judge name.  For instance….

The competitors were Ms. Cinco Senses, Julie Child and Sali Vate.  One of the best names of the night, which is not seen here, was Sal Monella.  So clever!
Over the next few weeks I will post about the "thrilling" competition.  Recipes will be provided when possible, some of those original creations can never be repeated.  Of course, the winner will be revealed in the final post! 

The first annual challenge was such a success that there was a challenge in 2011 and there will be a 2012 challenge in July.  All of these events will be fully documented.  We have had so much fun with this every year.  Trash talking starts around Christmas.   

The Perfect Pairing for this challenge is, without a doubt, a willing host or hostess.  Three people cooking three courses in one kitchen can be pretty crazy.  We had SO much fun but man it was a mess.

Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shrimp with Feta and Tomato Sauce

Perfect Pairing:  Crusty bread

I have made it pretty obvious on this blog that the Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite chefs.  Her food is always beautiful and appetizing, without a lot of excess fuss.  She uses great ingredients and classic methods.  You can usually count on her recipes being delicious.
I don’t know what it was that drew me to this recipe in one of her recent cookbooks, but I kept coming back to it.  I finally got an ovenproof pan,so maybe that is why I finally decided to try it!  Whatever the reason, I am so glad I did.  It is absolutely delightful.  The tomato sauce is rich and has a great anise flavor from the fennel and Pernod.  I am sure you could make the sauce without buying the Pernod, but it adds a lot of flavor.  Coincidentally, I am in the market for recipes that use Pernod…..
I made this two times in one week, so that tells you something!  The first time I made it was for a main course and I served it alongside angel hair pasta that had been tossed in a little butter, lemon juice, pepper, and parmesan.  The second time I served it as an appetizer.  The prep is fast and easy, and it is a beautiful presentation.  I kind of like serving it directly out of the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven.
The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is crusty bread.  You are going to want lots of it to soak up the tomato sauce and feta.  You will love this recipe!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Moto Chef for a Day Experience – Part 2

Amy and I were right on time for our reservation and did not eat all day so that we were ravenous for the 15 (yes, 15) course meal we were about to enjoy.
I apologize for the quality of the photos.  I took most of them on my phone in the dining room and did not want to use a flash.  I was lucky enough to snap some shots of a few of the courses in the kitchen during the day.  You won’t have any problem figuring out those shots!
Also, I will try to do my best to remember the components, but I know I am missing some major details.  I wish I had a recording of the waiters giving the descriptions.  They were so descriptive and eloquent.
Moto is known for presenting the menu on an edible piece of paper which is then adhered to something.  The first time we ate there it was on a delicious cracker.  They have since changed things around and now your first course is a visual menu, or a Tasting Menu. Each item on this plate represented one of our courses starting from the far left.  Everything was edible except for the coffee bean sachet.  Amy and I were so proud to see our hard work sitting there on the plate! 

Dim Sum – Included a steamed bun, jicama wrapped bundle, and a spring roll.

Crudité – Beet meringues and a dill flavored twist cracker.  Amy was a little obsessed with the crackers!

Reconstructed Corn – This was one of my favorite courses.  I don’t even know how to explain it! The popsicle looking thing is actually corn ice cream with freeze-dried corn kernels stuck on to look like a corn cob.  Each kernel had to be placed on with tweezers.  Below is a photo of the chefs working on the corn earlier in the day.  Also on the plate is a squash blossom and a corn flan, at least I think it is a corn flan.

Ocean View – Soft shell crab on a bed of sea beans, and oysters prepared two ways.  Are those some good looking sea beans or what?!? 

Zen Garden – I am so glad that I got a shot of this course earlier in the kitchen.  The “rocks” are camembert cheese rolled in cocoa powder.  Everything is edible, including the crumbs that looked just like sand and the peach rocks.

Kentucky Fried Pasta – Oh buddy, was this good.  The pasta tasted just like fried chicken and it was served with potatoes and a little biscuit.

Forest Foraging – Again, so glad I was able to take a picture of this in the kitchen.  Morel mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns were served on a beautiful piece of wood with a dusting of spring pea dust.

Cassoulet – Inside the bone was a bone marrow butter that you spread on the toast.  Wow.

Spring Lamb - I wish I could tell you more about this dish.  I blame the amnesia on the wine.  I remember it being delicious.  The amazing presentation definitely left an impression on me!

At this point Amy and I were congratulating ourselves on a job well done!

Coffee Service – This was our first dessert course.  You have to love multiple dessert courses.  This looked just like coffee, milk and sugar cubes, but it was actually a coffee gelee over some other delicious goodness.  You may remember this course was represented by our coffee sachet on the first course.  We felt a special bond with course 11.

Bourbon Barrel and Cocktails – Amazing.  Four mini desserts that all had something to do with bourbon, all served on an actual slab from a bourbon barrel.  The waiter poured our bourbon cocktail at the table from those flasks I so lovingly filled.

Egg Drop Soup – This looked JUST like a raw egg but it was actually a mango concoction over a sweet soup with what tasted like marcona almonds.  It was delicious.

Smell the Glove – For the record, I am not making up these titles, they are the official course titles from Moto.  I don’t even know where to start with this course.  They brought out a glass orb that had a black leather glove inside that was encircled by a weather system of smoke and steam.  You could really smell the leather.  Then they serve a chocolate hand over a scrumptious crumble.

After Dinner Menu – Our adorable waiter, Zane, prepared the final course tableside.  It was the menu written out on a marshmallow slab that was then somehow combined with dry ice.  There was lots of smoke.

We were happy diners!

After dinner Zane brought us back downstairs to the kitchen.  We had a nice chat with Richie and told him how absolutely amazing the meal was.   I could not imagine how tired that staff must be after a dinner service!

We had an amazing day and night at Moto!  The food was out of this world.  It was unlike anything you have ever tasted in your life.  Everyone that worked at Moto was extremely professional and friendly.  Their skills were beyond reproach and Amy and I were in awe.  If you happen to be in Chicago you should add Moto to your bucket list.  Tell them chef Lindsay sent you.* 
*They will have no idea what you are talking about.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day

I already wrote a post about my magnificent mother, but I am the luckiest girl in the world because I also have the world’s best dad! 

He is without a doubt the kindest, hardest working, salt of the earth guy you will ever have the pleasure of knowing.  My brothers and I were so fortunate to be raised by this man. 

Both of my brothers are now dads and it is clear to see they learned from the best, because they are also amazing fathers.  It is so wonderful to see them with their children.

Not only is my father a great dad, he is pretty much the best grandpa in the world!

I can’t wait to spend this Father’s Day weekend with my dad, and my brother Jay and his family.  The only thing that would improve the weekend would be to have my other brother and his family with us!  No doubt there will be some yummy meals served.  Below are some manly recipes for the dads in your life.

Buffalo Chicken Dip – The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is boys, so you know dad will love it!

Onion Jam – The manliest jam on earth.  It even includes bacon!  Serve this jam with crackers or over flank steak for a great main dish.
Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs – You can start this meal in the slow cooker in the morning and have fun all day long while it cooks.
Not Your Standard Potato Salad – Bacon + cheese + spicy potatoes = Happy dad.
Blueberry Crisp – I suppose this is not particularly manly, but it is really good.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in my life!  Love you!
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