June 29, 2007

Your Weekly Libation

I’m a proud Chicagoan (okay, okay, former North Shore suburbanite who finds it easier to say Chicagoan), so naturally, this cocktail caught my eye. I’m not usually fan of brandy or bitters, so it’s quite the experiment, but I’ll be giving it a try sometime this weekend. At the very least it gives me an excuse to go to the liquor store.

Chicago Cocktail
2 oz. Brandy
1 dash Bitters
1/4 tsp. Triple Sec

Rub a slice of lemon around the rim of a glass and dip it in powdered sugar. Fill the glass half way with ice. Stir ingredients with ice and strain them into the glass.

Enjoy the drink, folks, and enjoy the weekend. I’ll see you on Monday.

-Jim, wishing we had more cocktail recipes on the site, wink wink nudge nudge

June 28, 2007

I’d like seven more please…

Ok, so I’m a hypocrite. I apologize to Japan, and then I continue on with my global cuisine eating ways. But, I just can’t help it. And worry not, this time I’m not stealing all the “fish in the sea,” if you will, maybe just some lingonberries.

Yes, the dish that I’ve come to profess my love for today is….(drumroll please)


Ah….yes, I had them for dinner last night at Walker Bros. Original Pancake House, and I was in heaven. Sorry America, Swedish pancakes “take the cake” in the pancake contest. I like them better because they have a light, yet crispy crepe-like texture, and they’re served with a perfectly complementary (no, not complimentary) lingonberry jelly.

Here is my step-by-step process to enjoying Swedish pancakes:
1. I cut the pancake into sections
2. Spread a light to medium helping of the lingonberry jam along with freshly whipped butter (that Walker Brothers serves it with) – careful, you don’t want to douse the pancake too much.
3. Roll it up, and indulge!

If anyone can tell me if this is how the pancakes are actually served in Sweden, I would love to know! I’ve never been.

-Hillary, waiting for someone to give her a recipe for Swedish pancakes (hint hint)
Editor, Recipe4Living

June 27, 2007

I have class, I just don’t know where I left it

Maybe it’s ’cause I’m a born-and-bred Midwesterner who, for the longest time, considered a 12-oz. steak a really high-class meal. My tastes are not sophisticated. I’m slowly learning to appreciate the finer things in life, but that growing appreciation has never extended to elaborate wedding cakes.

Yes, they are beautiful. Edible art, in fact! But when I can’t bite into a cake without encountering six-inch layers of frosting and whole soggy strawberries, I’m not enjoying my dessert. And they’re hideously expensive–what is it, like, ten bucks an inch? So while I’m happy as a clam looking at a wedding cake, when the time comes to eat dessert I’d rather have some caramel-swirled triple-chocolate brownies and high-quality vanilla gelato (see? that’s kind of fancy!) than suffer through all the needless frippery inside all that pretty icing.

So what happens when I leave my wild and crazy guy lifestyle behind and settle down with a six-figure wedding bash? I don’t want to spend the dough necessary for a towering monstrosity of fondant and fruit, but ritual demands I smash a piece of one into my new bride’s face (or is it the other way around?). What’s an iconoclast like me to do?

Why, I simply rent a cake, of course! With convenient services like this one, I pay a tiny price for an impressive foam cake covered in real fondant. It even comes with one real slice of cake, so the bride and I can make a good show of consuming the mm-mm-good fancy cake. Then it’s wheeled into the kitchen and the real stuff is brought out a few minutes later, with no one the wiser, except for the folk sober enough to say “hey, this tastes like you bought it at Costco!”

It’s a brave new world.

But I might reconsider my cake policy if I get to eat this one:

Nom nom nom.

-In all probability, Jim may make baklava for his wedding

A New Love Named Sassafras

Don’t tell R, but I fell in love last night. While having dinner at a Louisiana-style Bluegrass restaurant in Highland Park, I met a dish called sassafras. Even the name sounds enchanting, doesn’t it? Say it with me: sassafras. I actually would have completely overlooked the seemingly unremarkable title of “Tilapia Sassafras” on the menu had my mom not mentioned its excellence.

The complete description of the dish was this: “Pecan Coated Tilapia Flash-Fried, Topped with A Wild Mushroom Sassafras Sauce, Grilled Shrimp and served With White Rice And Green Beans.” The dish came on a wide, oval platter featuring pieces of the pecan-coated tilapia crispy and brown from the frying, with a brown sassafras sauce pooling around the edges. On the other side of the plate was a large pile of green beans glistening with butter and garlic, a mound of white rice already soaking up the surrounding sauces and a skewer of Cajun-spiced shrimp.

The dish was phenomenal. The fish was crispy on the outside, but flaky on the inside and the mushroom sassafras sauce was creamy without being too heavy. Its flavor was unlike any mushroom sauce I’d ever tasted where the mushroom flavor was clearly present, but not over-powering. I would have licked the platter had we not been in public.

This mystery ingredient that caused my taste buds to dance? My beloved sassafras. Technically, sassafras is a plant with a capacity for a great many things. Its scent can be used for aromatherapy candles and its oil makes an excellent insect repellent. But when its leaves are dried and ground, it becomes filé powder, a spice commonly used in Cajun cooking. Genius.

When I got home from dinner, I searched anxiously for a recipe, but found none. I would LOVE to recreate this sauce, but would certainly need a recipe. Any southern cooks out there who are willing to share??? Submit them to the site and I promise to make it and share the results!

-Max, already plotting where to find filé powder for other Cajun recipes

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