It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

October 21st, 2009

Last week when I was having dinner with my Chicago food blogging friends, everyone was talking about the great food in their neighborhoods.  I was taking mental notes of places I must go visit but it got me thinking about the great food in my neighborhood… Lakeview. Given that we also talked about the new FTC regulations, a small disclosure: I’m not getting paid for any of these recommendations.

Pastoral: This is my go-to when I’ve had a bad day. I walk in exhausted and grouchy… state my needs to the very able and knowledgeable staff and I walk out with delicious cheese, bread and sometimes a nice bottle of wine…

Bobtail Ice Cream: Delicious, homemade ice cream! Try the hot fudge! :)

Casbah Cafe: This is my favorite restaurant in Chicago. It is very small and intimate. The food is excellent- ask if they have the special and try the hummus! It is BYOB with a corkage fee but there is a liquor store across the street. Also, you won’t get rushed out of there, even if there is line around the building. Perfect for spending hours talking with friends over some good food and wine.

Brendan’s Pub: My neighborhood bar- fun place to meet a friend for a beer and talk.

I made the Pear Butterscotch Pie from the late Gourmet.  When I saw the picture in the magazine, I was excited.  I love pear and butterscotch.  Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by the pie.  It was not butterscotchy at all- still good but not what I expected.  I halved the recipe, baked them in ramekins and topped with a crumb topping. 

It’s going to be a busy one…

October 6th, 2009

But, while I’m busy writing and studying away, I don’t want your life to be devoid of good food to drool over… I made this Pear-Swiss-Thyme Mac and Cheese on a cold raining Chicago day. It was easy and comforting… stay tuned for two more Costa Rica posts plus Ginny and Juan’s latest cooking adventure…

1 cup dry pasta, cooked and drained
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 cup shredded swiss (or more if you like)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small frying pan, sautee the onion until softened. You can use butter to grease the pan but lately in an effort to cut calories, I have been using Pam. Then add the pear until soft- about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper.
2. Over medium heat, in a sauce pan, mix the cooked pasta with the milk and flour. Cook until thickened (you may need to add more flour or milk depending on the thickness you want). Sprinkle with the cheese and mix in the onion/pear mixture.
3. At this point, I baked it for about 20 minutes sprinkled with bread crumbs at 350 but that was unnecessary. Stop at step 2 and eat! Enjoy!

Ginny makes…toast

February 6th, 2008

I have trouble with toast. Toast is very difficult. You have to watch it all the time or it burns up.

-Julia Child

When I was in kindergarten, after school one day, I really wanted toast. My mother, busy with my 3 year old sister and newborn brother, told me to put the bread in the toaster and push down the button. When it popped up, it would be ready. I listened to her instructions but when the bread came up it was not toasted enough for me (I like my bread toasted to the point of almost being burnt). I asked my mom about what to do and she said to change the dial to a higher setting. So I tried again. The next thing I knew, black smoke was billowing out of our house, our neighbor was running across the street wanting to know if he needed to call the fire department, and my poor toast had turned into ashes. I had committed one of my first culinary mistakes by toasting the same bread twice.

Although, I still like my bread toasted to the verge of burnt. I haven’t burnt bread quite that bad since. One of my favorite new sandwiches, Chicken-Thyme-Pear-Brie, I made up one day on a whim because I had some pears about to go bad and some chicken. My roommate keeps asking when I am going to make it again and when it will appear on the blog. So here we go… Although, to be truthful, this one is made with swiss because it is what I have at home. I like it with Brie more but Swiss is a decent substitute.

Chicken-Thyme-Pear-Brie Sandwich

Makes two sandwiches.

4 slices of bread
1 chicken breast
3 tablespoon white worcestershire sauce
1 pear
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoon butter
brie (or swiss), sliced

1. Marinate the chicken in the worcestershire sauce for a least 2 hours and up to a day beforehand.
2. Grill the chicken until cooked through.
3. Slice the pear into strips around the core.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan over medium heat until melted.
5. Cook the pear in the butter until softened and beginning to brown.
6. Sprinkle with thyme and mix to cover. Season with salt and pepper.

In a toaster oven:
7. Place the slices of bread in the toaster oven. Put slices of cheese on two of the slices of bread. Toast the bread to your desired toastedness and the cheese melts.

On the stove:
7. Heat the other tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and tilt the pan to move the butter over the frying pan. Place the bread on the frying pan. Put slices of cheese on two of the slices of bread. Toast the bread to your desired toastedness and the cheese melts.

8. Remove from the toaster oven/frying pan. Place slices of chicken on the bread with the cheese, top with the pears and then cover with the other piece of bread.
9. Slice and eat! yummy!

P.S. Don’t have/like Brie or Swiss? Add any cheese that you like or have around. Play with new combinations and see what you come up with