Monday, June 25, 2012

Chicago Foodies Run Amok!

foodie (ˈfuːdɪ) : A person having an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food.
I am not sure that is an apt description for the person so enthusiastic about food and its preparation that while they eat, while they cook, while they sleep, they think about the next meal, talk about the next meal, talk about their greatest meal. There needs to be another name to describe the super foodie like mega-lo-mein-iac, giga-gourmet, foodophiliac, a phrase to describe the person who while driving 40 minutes to check out a Japanese market discusses where the next food road trip will be and what to make for the next dinner party will be. A person who belongs to cookbook clubs, not book clubs.

And when you throw a dinner party and let them bring whatever they want things get a little out of hand.

(Shireen) Savory Cannele was the starter served with a glass of chilled white wine. Canneles are the next big thing in food. Move over macarons and pork belly. I had never heard of them 3 months ago. Now I have had them twice in my home and eaten them in two different restaurants in Chicago. I expect to see them showing up at Panera soon! The batter is made a day or two ahead and these little treats are baked for almost an hour until they are carmelized and crusty on the outside and inside hides a custardy silky interior. I have had sweet and savory. I like them all. You just wait. Coming soon to a plate near you.

(Lisa) Cold Pea Soup with crème fraîche - This second course was inspired by a dish I had at Tru, one of the top resturants in Chicago. It amazed me with its simplicity and depth of flavor with simple ingredients. Tru's menu item was "english pea soup, below 0° lavender crème fraîche." My version was a simple pea soup made with frozen peas, vidalia onions and some chicken stock. Pureed in the food processor and strained through a fine strainer, the pea soup became silky and bursting with spring flavors. I wanted a contrast in textures so I bought a handful of fresh peas from the farmer's market, shelled them, and blanched them. To recreate the 0 degree creme fraiche, I made crème fraîche (think french sour cream) from scratch (really easy and much cheaper) and made a crème fraîche sorbet the night before. Earleir in the day of the dinner I scooped out small spoonfulls and froze them individually on a cookie sheet so they would be as icy cold as my freezer could get them. I served the dish by pouring the chilled pea soup into chilled little terrines, sprinkling with the fresh peas and then dropping the dollop of cold crème fraîche sorbet in the middle. The sweetness of the pea soup contrasted with the tart iciness of the sorbet. The crunchy fresh peas were a nice contrast to the unctious creaminess of the sorbet and soup. A total success!

 (Shireen) Vegetable Terine - The third course was a vegetable terrine made with eggs and studded with fresh vegetables, served at room temp. Topped with a room temp garlicky tomato sauce. It should have been a beautiful slice but I manhandled it a little too much, thwacking on it to get it out. Sorry Shireen!

(next course - no pic - oops! forgot - too excited to eat! - picture a small nest of wide hand cut pappardalle with a mound of shredded rabbit ragu on top studded with small bits of carrot, pancetta, celery and onion) (Doris - I am out of pancetta - we need to make more!)

(Lisa) Lemon Sorbet with Rose Consumme. Another Tru inspired dish that came out just the way I wanted it to. I made a simple syrup that I infused with rosebuds and added some rhubarb too (thanks Doris) to get the beautiful color. The sorbet is lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and two kinds of basil. The floral fruity notes of the rose and the tart sweet consomee with hints of rhubarb  contrasted perfect with to the oh so refreshing lemon lime sorbet! a perfect palate cleanser.

(Doris) Smoked Chicken Thighs with Lemon Ginger BBQ Sauce. The recipe called for quarters which in a moment of sanity we decided might be too much after the previous courses so thighs were the substitute. The chicken thighs were rubbed with spices, then smoked on the grill, then mopped with a sauce and grilled directly then basted with a finishing sauce. The result was smoky, sweet, and tanby with citrus and spicy hits of ginger.
(Pam) Arugula Salad with Roasted Grapes and Shaved Parmesan. Nice peppery bite to accompany the chicken.

Did we cry uncle? No more food please! Stop! - Nope - we went for a walk and came back for dessert.

(Doris) Fresh Plum tart - buttery crust with tart plums poking out, glazed with a little jam and sprinkled sugar. Pretty as a piece of jewelry. (For the record, I skipped this but woke up thinkging about it so walked straight into the kitchen and had a piece - perfect breakfast!)

(Doris) Grand Finale - a beautiful Charlotte Russe -  Light and airy, jewel like berries bedded in cream and nestled in a lady fingers coat drizzled with creme anglaise to gilt the lily!

We vowed next time to not make so many courses but don't believe us. We will set the menu and then someone will say "I have been wanting to make ...(insert here some exotic, crazy, super deilicious and scary for a mere foodie to make dish.)" 

But I wouldn't expect any less from a gourmandeer...a hedonistaterian...a gastro-  You get the idea.


  1. I'm going to go grab a slice of that Charlotte Rousse right now....

  2. Holy mother of god. I'm moving to Chicago tomorrow.

  3. Anonymous11:42 PM

    .. thanks for sharing.