brunch

All systems were a go for brunch on Sunday. I got out of work early on Saturday and had enough time to peruse the most recent New Yorker, which has a worthwhile fiction story, The Great Experiment, by Jeffery Eugenides, who probably doesn’t need another plug from a 25 year old with a literary bent, but for real, this story is amazing. Go out an buy the magazine immediately.

Once my afternoon sojurn finished, I bussed my way over to Dominick’s at Elston and Fullerton. I know just an entry ago I was singing the praises of local groceries, but unfortunately, this time convenience trumped morals. Plus, I got 56 eggs for $15. That’s like $.25 an egg, which I can’t decide is good or bad. Is that good or bad? Normally a dozen costs like $3.00, which is like $.40 and egg. So at least it seems like I’m saving scratch for buying my grandparents dinner in 3 weeks. Input is appreciated. Amanda picked me up from the grocery, so I was saved from all kinds of embarassment on the bus ridbe back to my house.

I prepared 3 kinds of strada:
1. cheddar, gimme lean sausage, onions, & salsa
2. mozzarella, tomato, artichoke, and garlic
3. goat cheese, asparagus, dill, and mustard

and 2 kinds of french toast
1. strawberry and lavendar
2. orange marmalade and vanilla

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There they are in the fridge, marinating. Like Outkast would say. Strada and Baked French Toast are super simple to make.

Ingredients:
12 eggs
Spices
1/2 cup cream
1 loaf french bread
Cheese
Veggie
Meat/Faux Meat of you feel the need for extra protein.

Here’s what you do:
1. Get a 9″x13″ pan, butter the sides and bottom, tear up the bread and put it in the pan
2. Beat the eggs so the yolks are broken
3. Add the spices
4. Add the cream
5. Grate the cheese and mix it with the bread
6. Prepare your veggies as you like and mix the veggies/ and or meat with the bread and cheese
7. Pour the egg, cream, spice mixture over the bread, cheese, veggie/and or meat mixture.
8. Cover pan and let it sit over night.
9. Preheat oven to 350.
10. Pop the pans in the oven and pull them out in an hour. Serve and enjoy! Delicious!

(For the French Toast variation: Prepare bread the same way, prepare the eggs the same way except with 1 cup cream instead, your spices should be vanilla, nutmeg, sugar and yummy sweet things like that (I like using marmalade), add fruit if you like, let it sit overnight, and follow the same baking instructions. A little sweet for your savory.)

I made them on Saturday night before Gerard, Frank, and Kent’s band, Woolen, made its debut at the most lovely smelling bar. The band was good, atmospheric, and moody. It will be interesting to see what happens when the sun is out and we’re not all in grey moods 60% of the time. As a side note, why don’t bands do like a modern Vivaldi type thing? I’d be into that.

Unfortunately, brunch was too fun for me to waste time taking pictures, but I will take ones at the next one. Everyone brought delicious treats that complimented the main dishes well and we went through a serious amount of champagne.

Next up, sticky date pudding and tofu scramble.

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persimmon murder

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The other day, Gerard and I did all of our grocery shopping in our general neighborhood. My friend Sarah has written well about the glories of small, local non-corporate groceries, so I won’t expand too much, but I will second and applaud paying a fraction of what one pays at Whole Foods or (gasp) Trader Joe’s to get better, cheaper, and more authentic ingredients; while at the same time participating in a worthwhile local economy.

The plan was to go to Kurowski’s Sausage Shop at Milwaukee and Kimball and the Chicago Food Corp at Kimball and Belmont. On the walk up there, we discovered an awesome Hispanic market, whose name I can’t recall. It was on Milwaukee between Kimball and Central Park and had amazing produce (normal sized, not huge) organic greens (!!!) and a wide selection of other goods. We picked up some pipian, a couple of delicious lemons, and some sardines which we’ll eventually use for savory fritters.
When we got to Kurowski’s, Gerard was impressed (or grossed out) by the vast selection of goods including sausages and many root vegetables. Among other things we got beets, sauerkraut, horseradish, my favorite Amish Butter, and a pound of Polish rye bread. I also bought two sausages which I am eager to try. Our bag was starting to get heavy, but at this point we had only spent about twenty dollars. This is fantastic seeing as when I go to Whole Foods, it’s depressing to find both my pocketbook and grocery bag lighter than I’d like.

After our adventure in Poland we walked over to Kimball and Belmont. On our way we discovered a mystical sandwich shop/ bar that apparently stays open until 4am. Some hot night in the summer, it might warrant a date post midnight, provided that said sandwich shop has air conditioning. We arrived at the Chicago Food mart with a mission- we were making curried squid over coconut rice for a late lunch (unfortunately, I did not have my camera that day). We got all the necessities for that culinary adventure (who knew that the butchers at the Chicago Food Mart spoke Spanish? Not me!) While there, I spotted two things I knew I needed to have: Kewpie Mayonnaise (which we will find our more about later- I know it’s been featured in a lot of popular food press for the past few months, but my curiosity has been piqued and I’m jumping on the bandwagon) and Persimmons.

Persimmons are that weird looking orange tomato-ish thing that you’ve probably seen a few times and wondered or worried about.
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I get a lot of flack for growing up in the “land that time forgot,” ahem. But the food in Indiana is good. Persimmons became popular in Indiana for some reason. I do believe one of Indiana’s founding fathers had a penchant for all things Asian, specifically Japanese, because the state tree is a ginkgo and the state flower is a peony, go figure. Persimmons are also Japanese. I imagine his wife making persimmon pudding for the first time back in 1818, when Indiana was a young state. This is probably entirely false, but it sounds cool. Anyway, my friend’s mothers were not pioneer women, but they could make food that stuck to your ribs. My parents are not native Hoosiers. Seeing as my parents were foreigners in a strange land and their only daughter was really skinny, I was always fed by people who take skinniness as a personal affront, which most people in Indiana seem to.

Persimmons might be an acquired taste, but it is one worth getting. The fruit is sweet and when ripe the taste is not unlike that of a plum with a more drippy texture. On the package, persimmons are called “Nature’s Candy”. On another rocking Friday night with the most happening young woman in all of Chicagoland, I decided to make some persimmmon pudding in honor of my Hoosier roots, thorugh truth be told I was born a southern bell in Charlottesville, Virginia. Whatevs, Indiana is a state of mind.

I based my recipe on one I found in the “Joy of Cooking” except that I halved it and tweaked the ingredients.
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I used:

1 cup persimmons, skin removed

2 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup cream

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and took the persimmons out of their skins
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Then I mixed the ingredients
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Then I put it in a casserole dish
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Next I placed it in the oven
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In 45 minutes I had a a delicious persimmon pudding!
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It was pretty tasty, and everyone who had a piece confirmed it.

Next up, party, which I am getting ready for momentarily!

brunch

Ideas for the upcoming brunch include: 3 kinds of strada of course with spring ingredients, 2 kinds of baked french toast, a snap pea and radish salad, mimosas, bloody mary bar, massive amounts of coffee, secret ingredients, delicious treats from friends.

this afternoon i was reminded of a promise i made on tuesday evening to update my blog daily. no excuses. blog challenge 2008. (once a nerd, always a nerd)

overhaul

be prepared to be wowed over the next few weeks as my blog will be overhauled. it will have focus and be fantastic. the goal is to update 3x a week. one time about food. one time about something to read. one time random. we will see how this works out. i am in the mood for a spring cleaning.