Category Archives: Recipes

The Weight of the Nation: Confronting America’s Obesity Epidemic

Yes, you are what you eat.  Lately, I am a whole lot of lettuce, salmon and brown rice. But what are you? HBO in collaboration with the Institute of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Health have produced the four-part documentary series about the severity of the obesity crisis. THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION films are part of an unprecedented public health campaign to raise awareness of this epidemic.

Catch the premiere TONIGHT Monday May 14th (Parts 1 and 2) and Tuesday May 15th (Parts 3 and 4) at 8 pm (PT and ET/ 7pm CENTRAL)

They will also be online for free streaming at

THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION FOR KIDS series will also debut its first episode, THE GREAT CAFETERIA TAKEOVER, on Wednesday May 16th at 7 pm (PT and ET).


Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand 2012

Here are the 2012 Bib Gourmand selections for consistently tasty cuisine at a great value.  These restaurants offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less.  Below you’ll find the 56 restaurants that earned the award…  and on November 15th we’ll find out which restaurants and chefs were awarded 1, 2 or 3 of the coveted Michelin Stars.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Michelin  Guide check out our brief post on its history and our interview with the director.

Ann Sather
Belly Shack
The Bristol
Ceres’ Table
De Cero
Frontera Grill
Gemini Bistro
Gilt Bar
Girl & The Goat
Green Zebra
GT Fish & Oyster
Han 202
Jin Thai
Kabul House
La Creperie
La Petite Folie
Lao Sze Chuan
Los Nopales
Lula Café
M. Henry
Maude’s Liquor Bar
Mixteco Grill
Mundial Cocina Mestiza
Opart Thai House
Owen & Engine
Paramount Room
Perennial Virant
The Publican
The Purple Pig
Raj Darbar
Riccardo Trattoria
Smoque BBQ
Sol de Mexico
Spacca Napoli
Taste of Peru
Thai Village
Twin Anchors
Urban Belly
West Town Tavern
Xni-Pec de Yucatan



Cook County Food Policy Survey

I just wanted to share the information below from the Cook County Food System Survey.  I took the survey(and you should too) because I am personally interested in gardening, composting and how personal gardens may help those families less fortunate put healthy food on their table while also preventing disease.

The Cook County Department of Public Health is proposing the creation of a food policy council for Cook County. The food policy council would be an official committee that explores cross-agency and cross-jurisdictional food issues and makes recommendations to the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

As part of this effort, we are asking people who live or work in Cook County to share their opinions on how government laws, rules, ordinances, regulations and programs affect the way we eat, grow, transport, store, process, distribute, sell, or handle food or food waste.

Who should complete this survey?
If you live or work in Cook County and eat, grow, transport, store, process, distribute, sell, or handle food or food waste, we want to hear from you. The survey will be open until September 29, 2011.

How will the results be used?
The survey results will be used to create recommendations on what issues a proposed Cook County food policy council will focus its efforts.

How can I complete the survey?
You can complete the survey online, or to answer this survey in Spanish, please call 708-633-8314; or email Para contester esta encuesta en espanol, favor de llamar a 708-633-8314; o escriba a

So if you have an interest or suggestion, please take the survey!  Better yet….  Attend the meeting to review the survey results and develop recommendations for what the proposed food policy council will do:

Date: October 6, 2011
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Guest speaker: Mark Winne of the Community Food Security Coalition and author of Closing the Food Gap,Food RebelsGuerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin’ Mamas.

Space is limited. Registration is required; due to building security, walk-ins cannot be accommodated. Lunch will be provided.

If you have additional questions, please contact Lara Jaskiewicz at 312-805-8468 or


What We’ve Been Grilling… Kalamata, Caper and Dill Salmon

Every summer we take our recipes to the grill so we can sit out and enjoy the nice weather. Here is a salmon recipe that allowed us to use our fresh dill from the farm!

Kalamata, Caper and Dill Salmon (and meyer lemons)



Kalamata Olives


Fresh Dill

Olive Oil

Meyer Lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste


1. Place cleaned salmon on aluminum foil, leaving enough room to fully enclose the salmon.

2. Drizzle olive oil over salmon.

3. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper according to your taste.

4. Place a bed of fresh dill from your garden on top of salmon!

5. Next add a few meyer lemon slices, a handful of capers and sliced kalamata olives.

6.  Enclose salmon, dill, meyer lemons, olives and capers in your aluminum packet and place on grill at ~350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  Remember time varies in regards to the thickness of your fish!

7.  Remove your awesome dish from the packet and enjoy!



Mattar Paneer

A white girl usually can’t throw down in an Indian kitchen, and I’m no exception.  But on occasion, I still like to try… So on our mission to find an awesome paneer recipe we found Manjula’s Kitchen, and decided to mix two recipes to create the perfect dish to satisfy our taste and ended up with a Mattar PaneerMasala of sorts.

We gathered the ingredients and the wide array of spices commonly used in Indian cuisine, but less so here in the US.  Fortunately, G is obsessed with collecting spices so we had most of them on hand.  But for anyone out there looking for asfoetida , whole cumin seed, or garam masala you can find them at Whole Foods or our favorite shop, The Spice House.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time the trek to Devon to find the one ingredient that eluded us,  tejpat “bay leaf”, which doesn’t match my western perception of a bay leaf at all!

Home Made Mattar Paneer

To simplify our after work cooking extravaganza, we purchased paneer from Whole Foods and picked up some naan from our local Indian restaurant, but we hope to try Manjula’s recipes for these soon. We opted for low fat yogurt instead of heavy cream and avoided using butter altogether, creating a much healthier version of the one typically found in Indian restaurants.  After laboring in the kitchen for an hour, we were overwelmingly surprised with the results!  The only downside, was that our clothes and condo smelled like an Indian restaurant for a week, which might explain the strange looks I received when passing our neighbors in the hall.


Thanksgiving Menu 2010

Turkey Rub

Turkey Prep and Random Roasted Pumpkin

I know I promised our interview with Jean-Luc-Naret, but I’ve been seriously distracted with my favorite holiday of the year. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and G has been prepping his menu.  As always this means I’ll be chasing down gizzards inside our organic turkey, mashing potatoes till my arms are sore, and burning my fingers tips, while my husband runs around the kitchen delegating tasks to various family members. Here’s what’s in store:

Indian Spiced Turkey

Fennel, Apple, and Spicy Pork Sausage Stuffing

Cranberry Chutney

Green Apple Chutney

Truffled Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Acorn Squash in Sage Brown Butter

Green Bean Casserole

Homemade Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream with Pumpkin Syrup and Pumpkin Seeds

Homemade Cherry Pie


Kalbi: My Addiction with Sweet Meat

Leaving San Soo Gab San I smell as though I rolled around in a pile of hot coals…  But I don’t mind…  I just spent an hour intensely flipping pieces of marinated beef short rib over a charcoal fire indoors on a hot summer day.  Why?  Because I’m hoping my new grill scent will help me attract a few good men for my single lady friends…. or maybe its because I have an addiction.

It’s an addiction that seems to only get worse with time.  Especially during the summer months, when guests from all over the United States end up in Chicago and at my mere suggestion attempt to share 4-8 short ribs with me.  Korean BBQ, two-three times per week became a perfectly normal occurrence and before I knew it, I was hooked.  My husband decided to place an intervention one night after a grilling binge that resulted in a string of kalbi scented burps.  To decrease my reliance on San Soo Gab San, he was going to create our own Korean BBQ.  But who am I kidding… we have tried many other recipes before, but nothing could stop my trips… well until we stumbled upon Maangchi

Marinated Short Ribs

Marinating Short Ribs

We found the marinade recipe here and used a suggested modification by adding a 1/2 a cup of mirin instead of the water.  This may be a little sweet for some, so you could use a 1/4 cup of mirin and 1/4 cup water if you prefer.  We placed our thinly sliced organic beef short rib in the bag and left it to marinate in the fridge for a few hours and focused our efforts on creating a few banchan, the equally addicting small side dishes that accompany any good Korean barbeque.  We opted to try another of Maangchi’s recipe for marinated tofu, our usual pickled daikon with Korean chili pepper, and pickled okra.

Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ with Banchan

After about three hours we removed our marinated meat from the fridge and headed to the grill where we conducted our own open-air Korean BBQ on our balcony.  While I flipped the meat over and over on the grill I realized now I had control over my addiction.  I can make it everyday! Okay… maybe I’m not clean yet, but I’m gettin’ there. 🙂


What the Heck Am I Going to Do With All This Kale?

Kale scares me.  No, seriously.  There is no other vegetable that frightens me more… except swiss chard.  At first when I removed the kale from our CSA box I quickly hid him away in our vegetable cooler.  But by week two, he was starting to droop and a second box arrived with two more bags of his friends.  We had to do something… and fast.

So… I would like to propose two of George’s recipes for any fellow CSA-er that has found themselves knee high in the crunchy, resilient, beautiful (but sometimes scary) vegetable that is kale.

Kale and Pesto Lasagna topped with squash blossom

Kale and Pesto Lasagna


1 bunch of kale

1 bunch of basil (~10 leaves)

8 cloves garlic

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup chives

Fresh lasagna pasta

1/2  cup olive oil

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 cups of skim milk

8oz fontina/asiago/parmesan cheese mixture

8oz mozzarella cheese

Salt/Pepper to taste

1.  Blanch basil for 5 seconds in boiling water then combine with parsley, chives,  garlic, and olive oil in blender until pureed into a pesto

2.  Combine grapeseed oil and flour over medium heat until golden in color

3.  Stir skim milk into flour mixture until thickened over medium heat

4.  Once flour mixture has cooled combine with pesto and parmesan cheese until uniformly mixed

5.  Wash kale thoroughly, remove it from its stem,  and cut into small pieces.  Blanch in boiling water for 10 minutes then strain out excess water

6.  Boil lasagna noodles until cooked al dente

7.  Oil a lasagna pan and spread thin layer of pesto mixture on bottom

8.  Place layer on noodles, followed by thin layer of pesto, then sprinkle with both mozzarella and fontina cheese and finally even distribute 1/3 of kale over this layer

9.  Repeat step 8 with each additional layer of lasagna

10.  Preheat over 375 degrees

11.  Cover pan with aluminum foil then bake for about 40 minutes until cooked through

12.  Remove foil and cook for an additional 5 minutes to make the top layer golden brown

13. Let rest for 5 minutes prior to eating

Kale and Grits

Apple and Kale Sautee with Cheese Grits

2 Golden Delicious Apple

2 Heads of Kale

1 Vidalia Onion

1 head of Garlic

Corn Meal

1/2 cup cheese

1 clove sauteed garlic

1. Roast 1 head of garlic at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

2. Wash kale thoroughly and remove it from its stem;  Cut kale into small pieces and blanch in boiling water for ten minutes;  Remove from water and strain out all excess water

3. Peel, remove seeds and dice apples

4. Peel and dice onion

5. Saute onions and apples over medium heat for about 10 minutes until soften

6. Add kale, and roasted garlic and saute mixture for another 15minutes

7. Add 1/4 tsp on freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

8. Serve over cheese grits


Images from the Green City Market

Green City Market Radish

Genesis Growers Radish, Spinach and Lettuce

I love the farmers market.  There… I’ve said it.  My first memory of a farmers market stems from the small local market in West Allis, Wisconsin.  Although, we had our own cherry trees, raspberry bushes and vegetable garden in our backyard, every summer my mother would take me and my brothers to pick pints of pickles and tomatoes from local farmers, which she would use to can pickles and salsa all summer long.  And even though my most vivid memory of the market is of my brother getting stung by a bee, it was here that I began to realize the importance of the farmers and where our food comes from.

The second farmers market that played a significant role in my life, as well as many other UW-Madison students, was the Dane County Farmers Market.  Every Saturday students from all over campus flocked to the capital for one of the largest farmers market in the country. Going from tent to tent we would select tomatoes, honey or cheese curds from farmers or producers who were passionate about their vegetables, bee hives, or dairy farm.

Tiny Green's Radish and Onion

It was here that a squeaky cheese curd made an impression on me.  Its almost impossible to find a squeaky cheese curd in a big box grocery store, and why is this? Because the squeak is an indicator of freshness that is lost in the time it takes to go from the farm to your grocer’s refrigerator.  This was an epiphany for me, a poor college kid whose only sustenance was the processed foods of her dorm.  I vowed that once I had the money and kitchen to do so, I was going organic, sustainable or the next closest thing.  It took several more years and a bout of professional school until the final realization of my goal.  I shopped predominately at Whole Foods for the past three years. And oh the price I paid for going organic, but I wanted to support a corporation that promoted both farmers and the environment.  But when I moved to Chicago last summer, I found that there were few other places that I would rather be than the Green City Market in Lincoln Park.

Beckerlane Pork

Beckerlane Organic Pork

The 12 year old market is a model for the sustainable food movement where local farmers and artisans share their craft every Wednesday and Saturday from 7 Am to 1 Pm from May to October.  This market is a constant reminder that we as consumers have other options than our big box grocer.  We can go straight to our farmers where their produce will always be ripe, seasonal and maybe even less expensive.  Here all your questions about what is laid before you are easily answered.  Where was this grown?  When was it picked?  What is in season now?  When was this beef slaughtered?  How are the lives of your hens?  Do your pigs live a happy life?  How long are these eggs good for? What is a CSA?  Here you can find the pork they serve at Publican, the beef they serve at The Four Seasons Hotel, or produce used at Frontera Grill. The market operates on the premise that you should, “know your food.  know your farmer”, a motto that challenges Chicago to become more aware of where our food actually comes from.

Chives Radishes and Rhubarb

King's Hill Farm Radish, Chive and Rhubarb

The market’s influences can be seen all over the faces of the patrons roaming through the grass, passing and stopping at each tent.  We want to know our food!  We want to know our farmer!  We are here because sustainable practices and preservation of the environment are important to us, and we know what we do here has an impact elsewhere.  With a look of content I wander the market knowing that my tiny purchases here show my support of local farmers, my daily attempt to save the earth, and my appreciation for farms that truly do have happy cows, pigs and chickens. After perusing around the market we found ourselves with bags full of spring garlic, micro greens, potatoes, Berkshire pork, goat cheese, a fig tree, and a few too many plants.  When we went home, I put on my green gardening gloves, pulled out some potting soil and began to plant the lavender, chives, fig tree, sage, and grape tomato from the market.  You see I have my own makeshift farm on my balcony. Hungry from all the planting, I went inside to see G had created a Green City Omelette.

Green City Omelette

Our Homage to the Green City Market

Our omelette consisted of sauteed spring garlic, Fromage a Trois goat cheese from Capriole, inc. topped with onion micro greens from Tiny Greens and  green garlic.  And the eggs we used were from TJ’s Free Range Poultry.  We liked it so much, we decided to make another!


Oh the Things a KitchenAid Can Do…

Shopping for kitchen appliances for us is kind of like shopping for a new car.  We have those mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement that race through our mind…should we…do we really need it…. only its a mixer not a car.   We know the basics of what we’re looking for i.e. a KitchenAid Mixer, have read all the reviews, and even have a general color in mind.  The next step is simply making the trip to William Sonoma.  As we approach the store for the first time we peruse the shelves taking note of each make and model available.  Before an employee has a chance to pounce on our sale, we escape to review the information we have collected and compare with other KitchenAid dealers in the general area.  Then we form our consensus and decide to return to William Sonoma.  We select our model and color and check to see if we need any upgrades…  sausage stuffer, food grinder, citrus juicer?  We decide on a pasta roller set, complete our purchase and return home with the image of homemade pasta floating in our heads.

Pasta Dough

Pasta Beginnings

Now since we purchased a KitchenAid MIXER, one might think that you would want to use it to mix your dough.  However, George being the purist that he is insisted we make pasta the natural way by creating well inside 3.5 cups of flour and adding 4 eggs, a pinch of salt and some garlic powder.  The basic premise is that you use a fork and gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs forming a homogenous dough.  It seems easy enough, but required a bit more patience then George had expected.  Maybe it was because we did not use Semolina flour, but there appeared to be a moisture imbalance that made it quite difficult to roll into flat sheets.  We added a tablespoon of water which seemed to help.

We eventually incorporated all of the eggs into the dough and prepared our KitchenAid pasta roller attachment so that we could turn our dough into flat sheets of pasta similar to those used for lasagna.  We ran one sheet through each setting, until we reached the the correct width of pasta we desired.

Pasta Dough

Homemade Pasta Dough

With a long flat piece of dough resting over my arm we switched attachments to the spaghetti cutter and preceded to run the thin dough through the blades creating our very first homemade pasta.  Honestly, I was surprised at how easy it was to make pasta dough.  Sure it was a little messy with the flour well and eggs, but it took only about 20 minutes to prepare this dough and run it through the attachment.  The only difficulty for me was that I didn’t prepare a place to cut the long sheets of dough into smaller sheets.  Thus, when it was time to change the attachment to cut the pasta into spaghetti.  I was running around with a pasta dough sheet the length of a towel on my arm until G was able of change the attachment for me.

Our next step was putting the pasta to use in a Frutti Di Mare.

Kitchen AId Spaghetti Attachment in use

Flat Pasta Sheet into Spaghetti

We dropped the pasta into boiling water and checked a few noodles every couple of minutes until they reached al dente.  Fresh pasta cooks much faster then dry, and if you’re not careful you’ll end up with a pot full of mushy noodles.  We sweated some onions and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes and added shrimp, mussels, clams and squid a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.  After about 10 minutes as the clams began to open we added our pasta. Tossed everything together and a minute later filled our bowls and began to eat.

Note:  If you’re cooking for two, cut recipe in half as the amount of pasta we made would have fed four people!

Seafood Pasta

Frutti di Mare