Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just called my cousin to ask what I should bring for Thanksgiving dinner.  I asked what he was doing and he said he's making chicken stock.  Two days before Thanksgiving and Jung's making chicken stock from scratch.  omg, he's crazier than I am!

He really outdoes himself every year!  I can't wait for turkey day.  I hope everyone has a "Jung" in their family who will stuff them silly with amazing food.  Have a safe and happy thanksgiving everyone.  I'll try to post pics of our meal after I get back.  It's going to be sooo good.  :)

Chizakaya - Chicago, IL

You would never know it but San Diego has a huge Japanese community and as a result there are some great Japanese eateries there.  I've had amazing sushi, yakitori and ramen there, among other delicious things.  One of my favorite places to go was Yakitori Yakyudori.  Yakitori means "grilled bird" in Japanese and it refers to skewers of meat that they barbeque over a charcoal grill.  The selection of meats, ranging from chicken hearts to squid tentacles, is endless.  

Izakaya's are Japanese drinking establishments or pubs that sell small plates or snacks to accompany the beers and sake.  Ever since I moved to Chicago, I've been on the look out for one here, but there haven't been any contenders, until now.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It's hard to believe it's almost been a month since Halloween, but if you recall, we carved a couple pumpkins this year.  I've always wanted to try roasting pumpkin seeds so I made the kiddies save the pumpkin seeds so soomeenshee emo could use them later.  I found similar recipes online.  I happen to have Lawry's seasoned salt on hand so I used that, but you can use any seasoning that you like.      

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lillie's Q - Chicago, IL

When I heard that a Southern BBQ restaurant was opening in our neighborhood, I was uber excited.  My roommate and I actually tried coming here once for dinner, but we were quoted a 45 minute wait, so we went elsewhere.  My friends and I came back on a weeknight and had no problems getting a table.  

We went when it was relatively nice out so their windows were wide open and a nice warm breeze circled around us all night.  It definitely had that southern bbq joint feel to it.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Robert's Absolute Best Brownies

I have a weakness for brownies: fudgy, chewy brownies to be precise.  I've tried making brownies from scratch before, but often times they end up worst than those boxed brownie mixes.  I was about to throw my hands up in surrender and stock emergency boxes of Ghiradelli brownie mixes, until I saw this post on Leite's Culinaria's blog for these brownies.  This recipe is from David Lebovitz's book, Ready for Dessert.  Apparently the late Robert Steinberg, who cofounded Scharffen Berger chocolate, created this recipe.  You have to believe the founder of Scharffen Berger chocolate must have a good brownie recipe or two.  

I have to admit, I didn't even use good quality chocolate in my batch, I used a standard bag of semisweet chocolate chips and these were divine and surprisingly simple to make.  Not to mention, you'll get a good arm workout as well (you will soon see why).  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arami - Chicago, IL

Arami is a new sushi restaurant that opened in Ukrainian Village in August.  My friends went for dinner one night in September, so this post is clearly overdue.  I can't really remember all the details, but we had a lovely meal and hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves.  

Arami is owned by Troy and Ty Fujimora, who also own Small Bar and the Exchange, and BK Park, former chef of Mirai.  Their menu is composed of hot and cold appetizers, noodles, donburi and sushi.  I had heard great things about Mirai so I knew the sushi would be great but I was so excited that they would be serving ramen.  You all know how I feel about ramen.  It's also BYOB, but they have Noble Grape's menu on hand so you can order and they will deliver bottles for you as you eat.    

We started off with some cold appetizers to share.  Here is the Togarashi Seared Tuna, topped with a creamy meyer lemon dressing.  Underneath it was a seaweed salad and kelp noodle.  I loved the textures and the juxtaposition of flavors, in particular the togarashi spices with the lemon dressing.  Oddly enough, it works!  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gastro-Wagon - Chicago, IL

In cities like LA and NYC, food trucks are all the rage, but in Chicago, there's a law prohibiting food trucks to cook on the road.  Trucks are only permitted to sell prepackaged foods.  The city is considering legislation to change all of this, but for now, some food trucks like Gastro-Wagon or various cupcake perveyors have been driving around town selling their premade goodies to the hungry masses.

I've heard about Gastro-Wagon but wasn't really motivated to chase them down, but one of my coworkers alerted me to their ascendance in the Loop for lunch one day so we decided to check it out.  We headed out around 12:15 and there was already a long line of people waiting.  Because all of the sandwiches, soups and desserts are already prepared and packaged, the line moves pretty fast.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lentil Soup with Winter Vegetables

I'm addicted to Mezza's Turkish Lentil soup.  I could eat this everyday for lunch.  It's a creamy and luscious soup with tons of great flavor.  I have yet to figure out what goes into this dish but when one of my friends lost her appetite and had strong aversions to certain foods, I thought this would be the perfect soup to make for her.  I found this recipe on Ms. Martha's website and thought it might be good to try.  Here are the veggies I used.  The recipe calls for celeriac, which is also known as celery root, but I couldn't find it readily so I just omitted it.  I used celery, carrots, onions and leeks.  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lemon-Glazed Madeleines

In Marcel Proust's novel, In Search of Lost Time, the narrator describes his encounter with short, plump little cakes, otherwise known as madeleines, in this way:  

"... a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…"

I had a similar experience with my first madeleine cookie in high school.  My aunt had a coffee shop back in the day and she would always bring back leftover cakes, cookies and croissants for us.  Needless to say, our kitchen was always stocked with baked goods (this probably explains my sweet tooth) and I would always eat them as snacks while doing my homework.  One day, these unassuming plump little cakes must have been accidentally placed in the bag of leftovers and made their way to our house.  The scalloped edges should have clued me in, but those details were lost on me back then.  Upon my first bite, time seemed to stand still and the geometric equations that I tried so hard to ingrain in my head dissipated as quickly as the buttery crumbs dissolved on my tongue.  Madeleine cookies are one of life's great pleasures or in my case, the best distractions from geometry equations.  Proust and I are definitely in agreement there.  

Most people start their baking collection with a cookie sheet or cake pans.  My first purchase was a madeleine pan.  Believe me, if I could line my walls with these shell-shaped madeleine pans I would.  I've tried various recipes in the past, but I took a brief hiatus from baking and I lost track of the recipes I had used.  So this time around, I decided to try a different one all together.  I am a fan of David Lebovitz, and he lives in France, so I thought he would surely lead me in the right direction.  

I have to say, these were more labor intensive than I remembered making in the past, but they produce beautiful madeleine cookies and they were well worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

German Apple Pancake

So a few weeks ago, Susan went apple picking with her nieces and nephews and brought back bags of delicious apples.  Even though we were eating apples morning, noon and night, it was hard to eat them all so I was inspired to cook or bake with it and made some German Apple Pancakes.  

Cho Sun Oak - Chicago, IL

One of the great joys of living with Susan is that we can go eat Korean food at random hours of the day.  One of my favorite places to eat Korean BBQ in Chicago is Cho Sun Oak.  I don't even know what kind of meat they have, all I know is that we always get cha dol bae gi, which is thinly sliced brisket.  As you can see, there's a lot of fat on this, but that is also what makes it very tender.  The plate below shows two orders of cha dol bae gi, so they definitely don't skimp on the meat.