Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Purple Pig (Part Two)

I rarely post about the same restaurant more than once, but recently I had the opportunity to return to The Purple Pig and I just had to share the experience. This time I went with Michelle from Taste As You Go who is just as lovely in person as online and we had a great time sampling the menu and gossiping over wine.

Once again we started with the pork fried almonds. They may have been even better this time around though instead of pork bits, there were roasted garlic cloves in the bowl. I won't bore you with another picture of them. We shared the eggplant caponata with goat cheese ($11). A sweet and savory caponata balances the thickly smeared, tart goat cheese on rustic bread.

Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese

Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese

The dish that I was most excited to try was just as good as I had hoped it would be. Pig's ear with crispy kale, pickled peppers and a fried egg ($8). The pig's ear is thinly sliced and fried to a crisp. The yolk from the egg gives the dish a silky feel to balance the crunch and the peppers spice it up a bit.

Pig's Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers and a Fried Egg

The panini with taleggio and fig jam ($10) added a bit of substance to the meal and once again provided us with that perfect balance of salty and sweet.

Panini with Taleggio and Fig Jam

The broccoli with roasted garlic and anchovy vinaigrette ($7) is fresh with a dressing reminiscent of a Caesar salad dressing. The breadcrumbs add a bit of a crunchy texture.

Broccoli with Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Vinaigrette

We could not resist dessert and the Sicilian Iris ($7) did not disappoint. It's a brioche filled with ricotta and chocolate chips and fried. It's topped with powdered sugar and tastes like the best filled doughnut ever.

Sicilian Iris

Clearly The Purple Pig is consistent in its excellence and I am looking forward to more return visits.

The Purple Pig
500 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 464-1PIG (744)

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Warm Shrimp Salad with Kamut, Red Chile, and Tarragon

Warm Shrimp Salad with Kamut, Red Chile, and Tarragon

Recently, one of my friends pinned a link to Food & Wine magazine of meals with 600 calories or less...including wine. I immediately bookmarked this recipe and set out to make it as soon as possible. I had never even heard of kamut, but I'm newly obsessed. It's similar to wheatberries and has firm texture, but still tender and a slight buttery flavor. I was able to find kamut in the bulk bins at Whole Foods,  but wheatberries, spelt berries, or even farro would be excellent replacements. Unfortunately, kamut takes a long time to cook, but you can prep the rest of the ingredients while that is happening and pour yourself a glass of wine to enjoy with the salad. This salad has so many flavors and textures from the crunch of the haricot vert to the spice from the chile, sweet anise from the tarragon, and brightness from a squeeze of lemon before serving. As you can see from the photo, I enjoyed this salad with a lovely glass of rose which made this the perfect spring time meal.

This recipe is from Food & Wine, October 2011. The only change I made was cutting out the butter. You can find the original recipe here.

One year ago: Sausage Pizza with Crispy Kale
Two years ago: Sauteed Spicy Green Beans and Tomatoes
Three years ago: Asparagus, Poached Egg, Prosciutto, and Fontina Cheese Sandwich
Four years ago: Analletti with Sausage and Greens

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brunch at Bongo Room

On weekends in Chicago, it seems like every restaurant is full with a line going outside and halfway down the block. There are so many places to get a good plate of eggs and it seems that no one wants to make them at home. The Bongo Room is very popular for brunch, but I was able to go on a weekday and not have to stand in a long line and suffer.

No brunch is complete without some form of alcohol. Our favorite of the moment is a mimosa with grapefruit juice instead of orange. At Mercantile in Los Angeles, this is called a Lilosa. At most restaurants here, it's just called a mimosa with grapefruit juice ($8). Regardless, it's delicious and not as sweet as a regular mimosa.

Mimosa with Grapefruit Juice

I also pretty much require eggs at brunch so it was a natural choice for me to go with the croissant sandwich ($9.50). The buttery croissant is filled with melted muenster, bacon, and one egg any style (I chose over easy). It comes with a very large serving of the oddly addictive house potatoes.

Croissant Sandwich

As kind of a dessert for our meal, we ordered the Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Flapjacks. A stack of flapjacks is usually $9.95, but you can order a single one to share. Unfortunately this was a bit of a miss for us as the chocolate chips overpowered the pumpkin flavor and I think we waited a bit too long to eat it so the pancake was soggy. The pancake flavors change by the season and they have some new berry cakes on the menu that sound really great.

Pumpkin Spice and Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Flapjacks

The service at the Wicker Park location was a bit sullen, but they do a swift business. There are now three locations of Bongo Room so hopefully that wait in line will be just a little bit easier.

Bongo Room
1470 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 489-0690

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nutella Pop Tarts and a Blogiversary

Nutella Pop Tarts

Four years! It feels like the time is going by faster and faster and it's hard to believe that this blog is four years old. A celebration calls for a sweet treat. Since my first anniversary of baking a teeny cake, I have opted for simpler fare the last two years. This year is no exception. With all of my kitchen supplies residing in storage, I needed a something simple that could be done with limited supplies. Homemade pop tarts have been all over the blogosphere for a long time. I've even made them before. To make my life as easy as possible, I went with store bought pie dough, but I encourage you to use homemade if you have the time. A sprinkle of sea salt on the inside of the tarts balance out the sweetness of the Nutella and sprinkle of sugar on top. Cheers to another year of food blogging. I am looking forward to more fun to come.

Cut dough into rectangles, fill with Nutella, sprinkle with sea salt
Cut the dough into rectangles, fill with Nutella and sprinkle with sea salt

Seal the edges, brush the tops with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar
Seal the edges, brush the tops with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar

Fresh from the oven
Fresh from the oven

Nutella Pop Tarts

Nutella Pop Tarts
(From all over the web really, but these are based on a previous recipe from a few years ago)

Makes 6 3-inch pop tarts

*Note: I had a lot of pie dough scraps left over. Use them up by making cinnamon sugar cigars!

2 9-inch pie crusts
1/4 cup Nutella (or more as necessary)
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
1 egg lightly beaten for egg wash
Sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unroll the dough and cut into 12 3-inch by 2-inch rectangles. Place 1 teaspoon of Nutella in the center of 6 of the rectangles. Sprinkle the each Nutella-filled rectangle with a bit of sea salt.

Dab a bit of the egg wash around the edges of each Nutella-filled rectangles and cover with an unfilled rectangles. Use a fork to seal the edges and also to poke holes in the top of the pastry for steam to escape.

Brush the tops of each pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the sugar has caramelized a bit.

While the pop tarts are cooling, heat the remaining Nutella in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it has a liquid consistency. Use a fork or spoon to drizzle the warmed Nutella over the pastries. Serve slightly warm.

Printable Recipe

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Sesame Roasted Snap Peas

Sesame Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

Whenever spring rolls around, I grab pound after pound of snap peas. Normally, I snack on them raw, or quickly cook them in a stir fry, but I came across this roasting recipe on the recipe on The Kitchn and my curiosity got the better of me. The natural sweetness of the peas is deepened in the roasting process. The toasted sesame oil makes these a natural pairing with Asian dishes...if you can wait long enough for the main course to be ready.

More roasted snap pea recipes from around the web:
Simply Roasted Snap Peas from Eat Drink Better
Soy Orange Roasted Sugar Snap Peas from Just Sweet Enough
Roasted Sugar Snap Pea and Quinoa Salad from Voracious Vander

Sesame Roasted Snap Peas
(Adapted lightly from The Kitchn)

Makes 2-3 appetizer-sized servings

10 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Sea salt to taste
Toasted sesame seeds for serving.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Toss the snap peas with the oil and season lightly with salt. Spread the snap peas in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 10-15 minutes until the peas are lightly brown and tender, turning once about halfway through.

Sprinkle the snap peas lightly with toasted sesame seeds and serve warm.

Printable Recipe

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