Saturday, May 22, 2010

working! And I LOVE SATURDAYS!

Working everyday, leaves me brain dead to blog about anything! It also makes the day fly by so when I get home, it's time for dinner- from ichicks ~so many do this routine day in and day out. It's been a long time since I've had to do it. It's been kinda fun each day- a different school, different classrooms, different attitudes- except among those who are suppose to be my peers. I'm treated as a pariah- they stay away from me. And you'd think, after being in one school, for more than 3 days in a row they'd at least be able to mutter: hello....They have a difficult time acknowledging I'm present. It helps if you know someone else on staff- it's like a connection. Being the Mother to 5 sons, it's funny how I usually gravitate to the little boys- but I just love finding moments throughout the day to be in the company of the little girls. So while can complain about being with my peers, it's not for long periods of time.And while the remaining classroom days are now, really numbered I can look forward to doing what I love: party planning! I've got several events on my plate in the next coming weeks! A graduation party,a cocktail party, a dessert party and a picnic! And of course, Memorial Day activities. So today I'm enjoying playing around with menus, creating table settings and as soon as I have them ready to go, I'll post the images.
A few days ago, I did take a day off from work. One of my friends hosted a birthday outing for herself and 18 friends. It was a tour based on the book the Devil in the White City. It was a 2+ mile walking tour through Jackson Park which is on Chicago's near Southside. I haven't walked through there, ever but it was really beautiful

Hopefully in the next few days, I'll be back blogging my menus.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I LOVE THIS CHEESE! Been trying to find it locally, where I live only to find out it's available but not nearby. The other thing about this cheese- it's really delicate and has an extremely short shelf life. BUT! You can make it yourself and when I have lots of time to play with food I'm going to try it. So, here is a recipe I found on Food Buzz for making your own burrata:

• Begin by filling a large pot with an amount of water that is proportionate to the amount of curd with which you are working. Generally, 1 gallon of water per 3 pounds of curd is sufficient. Error on the side of excess. It’s better to have too much water than too little.
• Salt water using approximately 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water – more or less to taste. Heat water over medium high and continue preparation.
• Fill large 3-4” deep water pan or similarly shaped rectangular receptacle approximately half full with cool tap water.
• Set aside a small bowl measuring approximately 2-3 inches in depth and about 3-4 inches in diameter. Also, set aside, cheese cloth (cut into approx. 6″ by 6″ squares,) twist ties and plastic baggies or plastic wrap in which burrata will be housed once they are formed. Large non-zipping sandwich bags or plastic wrap cut into 1′x1′ squares will work. Place baggies in open position so they are ready to place the finished cheese into.
• In a large saute pan, begin heating heavy whipping cream over medium heat. The amount of heavy cream needed will depend on how many and how large a burrata you wish to make. Generally, 1/2 cup of cream per 1/2 # of curd is sufficient to yield 1 burrrata of 8-9 oz.
• The cream must be stirred and temperature monitored while other preparations are being made. Do not scald the cream. If the cream starts to roll to a boil, immediately turn down to a simmer. Intermittently stir the cream gently in a zig-zag fashion being sure to constantly scrape the bottom and edges of the pan to release those wonderful buttery flecks.
• Heavy cream should be reduced by approximately 1/3 to 1/2 its volume. Once it has thickened and obtained an off-white buttery hue, remove from heat and transfer into a small bowl or 2-4 cup glass measuring cup. Set aside.
• Place desired amount of curd onto clean cutting board and dice finely into 1/4” cubes. Dicing does not have to be neat but it must remain fine or the curd will not melt evenly. Squeeze a piece of curd between fingers and note the consistency. It should feel springy almost like a soft piece of rubber. Transfer cut curd into a large bowl and set aside. It’s a good idea to not work with too much curd at once. If working with larger amounts consider working with no more than 2-3 pounds per batch.
• Monitor water temperature throughout process. When water reaches approximately 170 F, turn burner down to low and maintain temperature. Appropriate water temperature will vary slightly depending on size of batch. If temperature is too hot the curd will become too soft and gooey to form a shape; if it’s not hot enough the curd will not melt enough to smoothly shape. Anything over 170 F is hot enough to scald so be careful.
• In a separate bowl (a wide stainless steal one works great) place a handful of diced curd and, with a large pitcher or measuring cup, scoop heated water out of pot and poor over curd in bowl, submerging it. This curd is just for incorporating into the reduced cream, about 1/2 cup per cup of reduced cream; it’s there to give the creamy interior or the burrata a bit more body.
• After a minute or two, dump the water and submerge the curd in a second bath until it has become fully melted and easily forms into once smooth shape. Remove the curd from water and quickly shred or chop into tiny bits adding them to the semi-cooled reduced cream. Stir and set aside.
• In same bowl, now empty, place an amount of curd that comfortably fits between cupped hands (about the size of a baseball.) Unlike mozzarella, with which a large amount of curd can be melted at once and balls quickly rolled, burrata is a little more time consuming so it’s advisable to only work with a single portion at a time, particularly for beginners.
• Briefly stir curd making sure that cubes are not bound together thus allowing the water to evenly heat the curd. Allow curd to bathe for a few minutes until a cube gives under pressure easily like soft putty. The softened of curd should noticeably have begun to cling together more readily as a single mass.
• Drain water from bowl and submerge curd in second bath of hot water. With gentle pressure, run spatula down over curd smoothing it out and working it into one mass. Curd should now be coagulating and becoming extremely soft.
• With hands (utensils can be used but superior control is gained by using hands) start to gather a mass pressing it together, turning it over on itself, until the pieces have completely melted into one shiny smooth mass. The water is hot and this kind of hurts – but the end result is worth it. NOTE: Keep in mind to not over-work the curd. If the curd is over-worked the finished product will lose its wonderful tender consistency.
• Once the curd is ready, remove from water and immediately begin working it into shape.
• Cupping both hands and holding with palms facing up, begin working the curd by gently pressing thumbs and heel of hand down over the top portion, rotating mass counterclockwise, creating a smooth surface, while gently pushing up with other fingers almost as if shaping a mushroom cap. Once a smooth semi-sphere begins to take shape, begin to flatten into a pancake shape, holding vertically between flattened hands and rotating inwards. Once flattened to about 6″ to 8″ in diameter, place smooth side down over top of small bowl, draped with prepared cheese cloth (previously set aside) and allow to droop inwards essentially forming an interior lining on the bowl with a little extra hanging over the sides. You may have to help it into place.
• Stir cream mixture once more and immediately scoop or pour carefully into the pouch. Gently and swiftly lift two opposite sides of the pouch together followed by the other two sides, creating pleats, so all sides of pouch meet and twist and pinch it together.
• Take the bound “beggar’s purse” and tie off with kitchen string. There should be enough at the sealed end to quickly lift the pouch and drop directly into the prepared baggies. Seal tightly with a twist tie. NOTE: If using squares of plastic wrap, you should line the bowl with the plastic before you place the cheese in, thereby allowing you to seal the pouch and wrap in plastic in one step.
• Place the sealed pouches in the pan of cool water and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
• This cheese really should be enjoyed immediately while the interior is still warm and oozy though it can be refrigerated for up to three days. If refrigerated, the interior will firm up a little so place the cheese out at room temperature for an hour or so before serving.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Heart Attack Grill - Extreme Pigouts

These people are nutz....

Sheeps Pig

Slash food blog always comes through when I'm looking for something....different ~
Getting tired of plain ol' bacon? How about trying some tasty sheep pig? Yup, that's right: Sheep pig. It's not actually a cross between a sheep and a pig, but rather a really woolly pig -- imagine a pig with a perm and you get the picture.

The pigs are an ancient rare breed hailing from Hungary. They're called either Mangalica, Mangaliza or Mangalitsa hogs (depends what suburb of Budapest you come from) and their maroon hued meat is very rich and fatty. They fell out of favor because they can't be kept in small pens and the demand for marbled pork fell, but in the last few years the breed has been revived.

In the 1990's, a Spanish jamon company established a breeding program in Hungary and now D'Artagnan (a specialty meat purveyor) distributes the ham throughout the New York region.

I want to share this delicious pate I found on BH&G a few years ago. It's one of my favorites, especially after you let the flavors meld...
Lemongrass Shrimp Pate

1/2 cup water
2 stalks lemongrass, cut up
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1/3 cup snipped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, quartered
1 small fresh red chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups finely chopped, cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp (8 ounces)
Cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp (optional)
Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Assorted crackers
1. Bring water and lemongrass to boiling in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let stand until cool, about 30 to 45 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid; discard lemongrass. (Add water, if necessary, to liquid to equal 1/2 cup.) Return liquid to saucepan. Sprinkle with gelatin; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Cook and stir over low heat just until gelatin dissolves; cool slightly.

2. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, chili pepper, and salt in a food processor bowl or blender container; add gelatin mixture. Cover and process or blend until well-combined. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl; stir in the 1-1/2 cups shrimp.

3. Line a 7x3-1/2x3-inch loaf pan or a 3-1/2- to 4-cup bowl or mold with plastic wrap. Spread shrimp mixture evenly in container. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. Unmold onto a serving platter; remove plastic wrap. If desired, garnish with additional cooked shrimp and fresh cilantro sprigs. Serve with assorted crackers. Makes 12 servings.

nutrition facts
Calories 138, Total Fat (g) 11, Saturated Fat (g) 7, Cholesterol (mg) 70, Sodium (mg) 145, Carbohydrate (g) 2, Fiber (g) 0, Protein (g) 8, Vitamin A (DV%) 0, Vitamin C (DV%) 3, Calcium (DV%) 5, Iron (DV%) 5, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Scorzonera- a new kind of root vegetable
The name comes from the Italian "scorza" meaning bark and "nera" meaning black. It's a dark-skinned root vegetable that's similar to salsify -- called the oyster plant as it allegedly tastes like oysters.
It can be blanched or boiled. The black skin will stain any cloth permanently.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm going to make desserts!

A Dessert Party!
I'm so excited- I have started giving it some thought though it is 3 months away. It's going to be glorious! I can just picture the tables, the music, the ambience!
Dessert Shooters! Petite cakes;cookies/bars; fresh fruit with this and with that;truffles; floats? Ice Cream bar? Chocolate dipped this and that! I just hope I have time to take pics!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's lovely to be loved

My husband- I feel he never gets enough credit for all he does. It is the night before Mother's Day and he has given me so much love and shown so much appreciation and over the last 35 yrs, his love has not diminished.
He respects me, he thinks I'm still the best ( for him, I'm sure), he give me my space ( it took awhile to get him out of the library and into an off site office) and he is the easiest person to live with- he eats everything I make! Finally, two weeks ago he made one tiny comment about our dinner -and I'm glad he cared ( maybe I've pressured him into thinking he doesn't care what he eats!)
He always seems to have an extra bit of cash in his wallet and he always makes sure I have something in my wallet when I go out with friends. He doesn't complain that I can't fit, no, that I can't look as good as I used to in my bikini, he doesn't side with me when I might be wrong, instead he hugs me so I don't cry too much.
We dropped our son off at O'Hare and while I cried all the way home, he remained silent and just let me tuck his hand under my neck.
He remembers everything I can't remember. If I want to eat out ( which I never do anymore) that is fine with him. But lately, he is the one who says, I think we should go eat out. And I always say, 'no'.
He knows I struggle with my daily substitute teaching job and he leaves me notes every morning. He knows I love making videos and he lets me do it- but I do get annoyed when he would come home and say 'on the computer again'. One who does not make videos has no idea the minute details one takes to make a video perfect.

Our Korean Spice bush is on it's last leg. After helping me vacuum, and clean bathroom toilets and clean vents today, he picked the last of the blooming blossoms on our Korean Spice bush.

My husband is a gem. I don't think he'll visit my blog anytime soon- so this is just to let all you who stop by to know, I have a wonderful husband who has made me a very proud wife and Mother.
Thank you to you my wonderful husband, my M!

Monday, May 3, 2010


My son organized and rooftop party for the Cubs game last Saturday and we had several out of town guests stay the night, in addition to our 5 sons. So I made them this baked potato. I like to make these in the oven so the skin is nice and crispy but we didn't have much time to eat so I microwaved the 11 potatoes ( I have two microwaves), and then baked the potatoes in my ovens for about 15 minutes @ 400. I thought it was fairly easy to see what they were made out of but this is what I used:
1 baking potato
1 extra large egg
1/2 strip of baked bacon
Most of the boys ( men) had a beer breakfast- but one had a glass of wine!
Bake potatoes till soft. Scoop out a little from center and save for another use. Season potato with some salt and add a little butter. Crack egg into opening and bake for about 15 minutes @ 400. Sprinkle with bacon and ground pepper.

Korean BBQ

'Hey Mickey, they liked it!'
We had a going away family party for one of our sons yesterday and for one of the first times, in many years, we had great weather!
I was surprised how many dishes I made were on the sweet side. I really picked and chose what to serve because I know this food can be adventurous but I stayed away from Kimchi and included some of our son's favorite side dishes.


Rice Sticks with Korean Hot Sauce













On the bar I also served a Koran juice- SO DELICIOUS though the color reminded some of us of something else. But the taste was out of this world.