NIGHTWOOD: Brunch Heaven

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FEB_NIghtwood

http://www.nightwoodrestaurant.com

Nightwood is located at 2119 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608 and way too close to our home.  They make the best donuts on earth and since that’s what I am craving during this pregnancy… guess who gets to eat them?  Pictured here is a cream filled donuts with chocolate glaze and crunchy nibs, oatmeal pancakes with lemon curd and blueberries ( amazing combo), and Swedish meatball omelette with their “tots”.  These tots are shredded potato packed into a ball and then deep fried to perfection.  They always serve their toast from the wood burning oven with homemade jams, Intelligentsia coffees and fabulous house made cocktails.

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Creamy Pecorino Orecchiette with Roast Tomatoes, Basil and Peas

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Nothing is better than an easy delicious pasta recipe on a lazy Sunday.  This recipe has so much flavor, yet was so simple to throw together!  I really enjoyed cooking like this, it amassed a few pots and pans but each item can easily cook in it’s own pot, no stress, and then at the end you mix it all together and it was really all just meant to be.  We tossed the tomatoes in the oven while water came to a boil for the peas and pasta on the stove.  That left time to dice up the bacon and brown it.  Cook the pasta, blanch the peas, thicken the sauce, remove tomatoes, and toss it all together.

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The original recipe was a little heavier on the cheese, heavy cream and bacon fat, so we altered it to be “lighter” although I wouldn’t say this is the healthiest dish to make.  We love the bright peas and basil along with the roasted tomatoes and creamy sauce over those cute Orecchiette noodles ( mini turtle shells!).  Easy, flavorful, veggieful, creamy perfection- enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from What Katie Ate
Serves 6-8

10 ounces cherry tomatoes
Olive oil, for cooking
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Large handful of fresh basil leaves, half roughly torn, half rough chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
16 ounces frozen peas
1.25 pounds orecchiette pasta
5 slices bacon, cut into small chunks
2 cups heavy cream
4 ounces pecorino, grated
1 cup fat free milk

Directions 
Preheat your oven to 400.

On a jelly roll pan lined with parchment toss the tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, 1/2 the basil ( torn) and oregano. Roast for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are blistered.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch the peas for 3-4 minutes. Drain.

Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil, cook your pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

While your pasta is cooking, heat a drizzle of olive oil in dutch oven style pot over medium high heat. Cook the bacon until crispy.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and drain most of the bacon fat out of the pot.  Pour in the cream, milk and bacon and stir to coat. Add the Pecorino Cheese, a little bit of salt and a nice hit of freshly ground black pepper. (Be careful to not over salt) Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10-12 minutes until the sauce is reduced and coated the spoon.

Add Orrechiette and Peas to the sauce.  Add your roasted tomatoes on top, and the remaining basil ( a little more Pecorino grated) Taste to adjust seasoning, add more pepper or salt to taste.

CHICAGO RESTAURANT WEEK: Homstead

FEB_HomesteadRestaurant Week

 

“The annual culinary celebration features special prix fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and $33 and/or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity).

Over 250 restaurants take part so get a taste of the city’s rich, culinary diversity: Italian, French, Spanish, Korean, Thai and more! Between the neighborhood favorites and downtown hotspots, you can feast on delicious multi-course menus all across the city and suburbs.” LINK for 2015

We enjoyed a wonderful meal with our friends Heather and Fernando at Homestead on the Roof

” The impressive roof deck draws crowds in nicer weather, but Homestead now stays open year-round, and their flavorful menu is worth a trudge through the snow. Their Restaurant Week menu features the Loup de Mer I had recently, with perfectly crisped skin and flaky, slightly-sweet flesh flavored perfectly with savory Serrano ham. The dessert menu is a highlight with Chris Teixeira’s ingenious flavor pairings. A tangy buttermilk sherbet is flavored with sweet beets and served alongside deeply rich chocolate flecked with fragrant thyme. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s all on top of a luscious bed of marshmallow. Homestead on the Roof’s restaurant week menu is $33 for 3 courses and $44 for 4 courses for dinner.” — Melissa McEwen

Homestead on the Roof is located at 1924 W. Chicago Ave.

Fettuccine with Braised Short Rib Tomato Sauce

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Let’s talk pasta.  Versatile, filling, satisfying- pasta.  But this is not your ordinary pasta dish, this is something special.  It’s so special that I really hope you will make because it’s almost impossible to describe it’s amazingness in this post.  It’s the best meat sauce we have ever had- Bolognese- step aside- a new sauce is in town.  This recipe does take time to cook, but it is so simple to make so do not be intimidated.  Coming from the gal who loves a good marinara with fresh basil and mozzarella, I would trade up for this short rib sauce any day.  Jason’s been on a short rib kick, it’s been great, we’ve made this recipe, and then he ordered a Braised Short Rib Sugo dish at Homestead during restaurant week, and he was so blown away that we decided to try to re-create it at home.  We’re nerds like that.  So happens that Jason found the perfect recipe, from none other than Giada herself.  A few tweaks from our kitchen to make it even easier and we had perfection.  The chocolate shavings on top to finish the dish are imperative, weirdly necessary and so perfect paired with this meal in a bowl or on a plate.  Please make this recipe and be blown away like we were.  Short ribs are super affordable cuts of meat, and when cooked correctly like in this, they are transformed.  Let’s hope this broth based, veggie filled, meat sauce is the trick to kicking this cold I got to enjoy all weekend… I’ll let you know how that goes, in the meantime you go and Enjoy, cook, create, eat and Enjoy!!

0222Adapted from Giada’s Short Ribs with Tagliatelle

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time 3 hours and 30 minutes

Yields 4-6 servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces chopped bacon
2 1/2 pounds short ribs
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley stems and leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups beef  stock, reduced sodium
3/4 cup red wine
1 pound fettuccine pasta
4 to 6 teaspoons shaved bittersweet chocolate

Directions
Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the bacon until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse.

Once the short ribs are browned, carefully add the mixture from the food processor to the pot. Return the bacon to the pot and stir. Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, beef broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 1 hour and 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the bones. Shred the meat and return it to the pot. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta. Transfer to serving bowls, top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.

Oatmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Lemon Maple Compote

2014 Food Blog0201Sunday morning, it’s the best day for breakfast of the week.  Sleeping in and baking hearty pancakes with berry drizzled goodness on top was at the top of our short list of accomplishments today.  I love making healthy pancakes, that don’t taste healthy.  They fill you up, have great texture and flavor and won’t leave you starving an hour later when you are busy accomplishing other tasks for the day.  Our favorite combination over here lately has been lemon and blueberries. I made muffins just yesterday including these two favorites as well.  It’s a fantastic combo that brings a bit of bright fresh summer in these bleak cold winter days.  These pancakes were adapted from The Flour Sack blog, I altered many things to make it perfect for our tastes. Enjoy!

Make 12 pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup Quick Cooking Oats

1/2 cup Orange Juice

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 1/4 cups fat-free milk

1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine oats and orange juice, let sit for 3 minutes.  Meanwhile in another medium bowl sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In your liquid measuring cup, slightly beat the eggs, add to small bowl with oats, stir to combine.  Add melted butter, milk and molasses to the bowl egg/ oat mixture.  Add the wet to the dry mixture, stir together gently until combined, the batter should be slightly thick with air bubbles popping at the surface.

Preheat oven to 250 and place a pie plate in the oven, this will keep your pancakes warm as you continue to cook them all.

Heat a 10″ pan over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed on the pan.  Add a small amount of butter or cooking spray to the pan.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, mound batter in to the pan, 3 should fit nicely at this size.  Let cook for 3-4 minutes until bubbles are forming at the top then flip and cook for 2-3 additional minutes.  Then transfer to the pie plate in the oven and continue to cook the remaining batter.

Blueberry Lemon Maple Compote

Ingredients

1 cup frozen blueberries, divided

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup water

1 lemon, juiced and zest

Directions

In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup blueberries, syrup, water, lemon juice and zest.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, to thicken.

Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a small mesh strainer over a liquid measuring cup.  Press and mash berries into the strainer to extract all the juices.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup berries to the syrup to combine.  Serve over pancakes.

 

Budget Meal: Brown Rice and Black Bean Pilaf with Chicken

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Today is an easy budget friendly super healthy meal that is bursting with flavor and texture and leaves you full and happy.  Getting tons of protein and whole grain staying power to fill you and warm you up is important with this cold weather.  We had rice and black beans at home so I quickly just googled to see if there was anything different I could do with them.  Of course I gravitated towards an Ellie Krieger recipe- especially because we had every single ingredient on hand.  I added in chicken and extra carrots and it turned out perfect.  I timed everything so while the rice cooked we chopped and cooked the veggies, set it aside.  Seasoned then cooked the chicken,  set it aside.  A little clean up and the rice was complete, so everything got mixed together to eat!  Leaving the kitchen clean, plates full and we were ready to go.  That’s how you do a weeknight meal my friends.

Rice and Black Bean Pilaf adapted from Ellie Krieger

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 (15.5 ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves

Directions
Place rice and chicken broth in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook rice, covered, until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes.

While the rice cooks, prep your veggies, then heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, celery, carrot, cumin and chili flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not mushy, about 6 minutes. Stir in black beans and parsley then cook until just warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.

Remove rice from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.

Combine hot rice into the pan with the onion-black bean mixture and stir to combine.  Serve with chicken if desired ( below).

Quick Chicken Breast Recipe:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half to make 4 thin ( 1/4″ thick) cutlets or pounded so all one thickness, place in pie plate drizzle with olive oil and season with a little of sprinkle of each based on your taste preferences: cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano.  Heat a large pan over med/ high heat, add chicken when it’s hot, cook for 2-3 minutes per side until no longer pink at the thickest spot.  Remove from heat and let rest until you are ready to serve.

Creamy Peanut Butter Hummus

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My sister always makes this delicious hummus for parties and gatherings.  Until now when we wanted to have a healthy dip, we just bought it from the store and let the tub sit in the fridge until it expired forgetting about it- because the store bought ones are very forgettable.  I recently shared this recipe and it was before Super Bowl, and I couldn’t think of a better time to make it.  This was officially the first time we attempted it in our kitchen- crazy.  We were gifted an amazing food processor ( thank you Tom and Eva!) from our wedding and I love any excuse to use it.  It blended down this hummus in about 15 seconds and I let it continue because it’s just so pretty to watch.  Before we had a tiny blender attachment one that got us by, until the motor went- over use maybe?  Anyhow, this can be made with a potato masher or fork if you have the energy for it ( the onions would need to be chopped finer in this application)- or you can toss it in a blender or food processor to whirl it in to creamy submission.   The best part about homemade, is the texture-  so thick but creamy and served right away- warm!  We served this with warm Naan bread and cut up veggies after half time.  My sister uses  “Lick the Bowl Clean Hummus” recipe but subs in peanut butter for Tahini ( because really- who ever has tahini on hand?)  It’s the perfect combination.  I also am updating the recipe to include cooking the garlic as well, originally it calls for 4 cloves raw, and this made a very potent garlic dragon after taste.  I think reducing to 1-2 cloves, and cooking them with the onion in the last 2-3 minutes would make this perfection.

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Recipe adapted from Lick-the-Bowl-Clean Hummus Recipe

Serves 10, about 2.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  •  1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  •  1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  •  1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  •  1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, saute onions in 1/4 cup oil until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Transfer to a food processor; add the beans, lemon juice, peanut butter, salt, pepper and remaining oil. Cover and process for 30 seconds or until smooth.
  3. Serve with your favorite veggies, Naan bread or pita chips