Thursday, September 6, 2012

hot dougs

(chicago dog)

Fun fact: I did not like hot dogs until I was in college.

I don't know how a person all of a sudden develops a liking for hot dogs. Moreover, I don't why a person doesn't like hot dogs to begin with. But that's me. I can be strange.

The hot dog is a point of contention in the Chicago area. There is an absolutely clear recipe for the Chicago dog, but no one can quite agree on who does it best. And then there's the gourmet dogs.

(spicy chicken sausage with duck cracklings and seaweed salad)

Hot Dougs has it all. All the traditional dogs at amazing prices ($3 and under) and then a long list of gourmet options. I had severe FOMO the entire time I deliberated over what to order. What if I made the wrong decision?

Ultimately, Josh and I agreed on the traditional Chicago dog, a spicy chicken dog with duck cracklings and seaweed salad, and the foie gras and sauternes duck sausage. They were all unbelievable.

(foie gras and sauternes duck sausage with truffle aioli and foie gras mousse)

The spicy chicken dog was my personal favorite because of the play on textures from the juicy chicken sausage and the crunchy duck cracklings. The foie gras sausage was unbelievably decadent and was an incredibly close second.

I'm dying to go back to try the "taco pork sausage with green chili mustard, elote relish, and queso asadero" or the "bruschetta, mushroom, and beer chicken sausage with pesto aioli, roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

the lakefront punch

I have discovered my absolute new favorite way of serving cocktails for a party. It's so simple. I've seen the Barefoot Contessa do it umpteen times, but it didn't click. Until now.

So you have your beer and your wine. And a carafe of water.

And then...drumroll add a pitcher of a signature cocktail.

Genius. Pure genius.

Dream up a cocktail that most people will like (or just use our successful little recipe below) and then set out a pitcher and some pretty glasses. It's a serve-your-own type of situation.

It looks great on your table and all the work is done before your guests even arrive.

My sort of party.

The Lakefront Punch
makes 24 drinks

1 750 ml bottle of Rye Whiskey
4 oz Maraschino
15 oz lemon juice
Peel of 8 lemons
25-30 mint leaves
20 dashes Angostura bitters
10 dashes Peychaud bitters
2 cups of frozen mixed berries
1 375 ml bottle of sparkling wine

Puree the frozen mixed berries with the lemon juice. Place blended mixture through a sieve to remove all large pieces.

Muddle lemon peels with the Maraschino, mint leaves, and bitters. Mix in Whiskey and blended fruit mixture. Top with sparkling wine.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

panzanella salad

I refuse to believe Summer is over.

I'm not above sitting cross-legged on the ground, pounding my fists, and throwing a little girl tantrum. I'm just simply not ready for Fall.

Fall means a chilly breeze and the supposed exile of all my white clothing. Fall means I'm getting that much closer to my first Midwest winter (eek!). 

So in honor of refusing the acceptance of Fall, I've prepared one last easy breezy summer salad for all of you lovely people out there.

There's a little of this, a little of that. Think of my recipe as more of a guideline. Have some extra bell peppers? Throw them in. Want some protein? Chickpeas or chicken would be divine. 

Summer salads mean stress-free cooking. So just got with it.

This salad is considered a panzanella, or bread salad. A mixture of fresh veggies, a light vinaigrette, and rustic croutons.

Panzanella Salad
makes 2 entree portions (with a bit of leftovers)

2 cups torn bread cubes (such as ciabatta, baguette, boule)
2 tomatoes-on-the-vine
1 container yellow grape tomatoes
1 hothouse cucumber
1 red onion
2 T capers
12 basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T dijon mustard
3 T red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place torn bread cubes onto a sheet pan and place in oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Remove and let cool.

Dice the tomatoes-on-the-vine and cucumber into bite-sized pieces. Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Slice the red onion into thin ribbons. Mix all prepared vegetables with the capers.

Whisk together olive oil, dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar. Tear basil leaves into dressing and gently mix in. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss vegetable mixture with dressing. Toss in croutons approximately 5 minutes before serving.