28 April 2008


Sh-h-h... everyone is sleeping except for Marielle. It's 10 pm! How life changes once the kiddies have kiddies and come for a visit.

A house full of family! How fun. Two little girls--one almost three and one just 3-1/2 months. So many giggles and so much love!

Racing cars and Play Dough and hopscotch and t-ball and soccer balls and books and stuffed toys and so may fun things.

And then there is the food! Lots of snacks and drinks and meals to plan and prepare. Check out the recipe for Chicken Tequila Fettuccine in the original California Pizza Kitchen cookbook. Even the three year old can't resist!

The original! Spinach fettuccine with chicken; red, green, and yellow peppers; red onions and fresh cilantro in a tequila-lime and jalapeno cream sauce.

In the meantime everyone has jetlag--in the recovery phase, but bedtime comes early and naps are scattered throughout the day.

Tomorrow will be Starbucks and horses and daffodils along the roadside. Our village has "The Daffodil Project" and they are peak. The shrubs and trees are beginning to bloom and today we had big wet snowflakes and almost freezing temperatures. Springtime in the midwest continues.

18 April 2008


Two-thirds of the way through the biscotti bakeoff experiment. The first batch was my original recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit December 1992 issue--Orange, Chocolate and Hazelnut Mandelbrot: substituted almonds and added finely chopped dried cherries. The directions tell you to shape the [very sticky] dough into a loaf for the first baking. It ALWAYS spreads out too much, so I used a 12" loaf pan. You don't get the nice dome on top... As you can see, there was too much dough for a 12" pan so I got super-sized biscotti [on right]. Yummy!

The second go-round [on left], I made 1/2 the recipe in a 10" loaf pan and substituted finely chopped pecans and coconut and diced dried pineapple. Lovely.

The third version will be peanutbutter, pecans, and chocolate chips...

17 April 2008


Still looking for the voice and consistent themes for this food/travel/thoughts blog. Stay tuned...

I am experimenting with biscotti recipes and will share recipes and photos very soon. The base recipe is actually for mandelbrot [mondel bread] the Jewish version of Italian biscotti that was published in the December 1992 issue of Bon Appetit--Orange, Chocolate and Hazelnut Mandelbrot.

There used to be a fantastic store on West Grand in Chicago--Anna, Ida and Me--my introduction to mondel bread and the delirious revelation that biscotti can be full-bodied and flavorful and not just dry and airy.

14 April 2008


Cream of carrot soup with a sprinkle of herbs perfectly bridges the realities of Spring in the Midwest. The best part of this recipe is that the creamy part comes from rice pureed with the carrot mixture and then just a touch of half and half to add a bit of complexity and smooth out the veggie taste. You can convince yourself that this is a healthy dish.

Serve alongside a thick slice of multi-grain bread or buttery biscuits

1 C Sliced carrots
1 med Onion, roughly chopped
1 stalk Celery, roughly chopped
1-1/2 C Chicken stock
1/2 tsp Salt
1 pinch* Cayenne pepper
1/2 C Cooked rice
3/4 C Half and half [or milk]

1. Simmer vegetables in chicken stock until carrots are very tender
2. Cook rice in a separate pan
3. Add rice to soup mixture and puree with a hand-held blender or in a food processor
4. Stir in half and half [or low fat milk]; heat through
5. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper, or black pepper
and a bit of dill weed*

09 April 2008


A low key and beautiful day wandering about Chicago! Lunch with friends at Bittersweet and then a leisurely stroll through Garfield Park Conservatory. The hydrangeas are unbelievable--three or four shades of pink and six of blue! All for free!

A quick stop at Ricci's on Superior for their wonderful nuts roasted on the premises. The family has been at this location for 90 years--a funny little storefront in the middle of the gallery district. You cannot beat the quality or the price, and they will ship UPS if you just give them a call. My favorites include walnut and pecan pieces for baking and salads, pine nuts, and anything coated in chocolate!