Monthly Archives: September 2013

Irish Slow Food Event

This week an event at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago will show that there is much more to Irish food than potatoes.  On Friday, the Galway Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International will celebrate Irish culinary traditions and the Slow Food movement at Taste of Chicago Sister Cities: Slow Food featuring food provided by Irish owned Chicago restaurants and food providers such as the Gage, Farmhouse, Harrington’s Catering and Deli and Galway Bakers.  Non Irish participants include Slow Food advocate Quartino.

The event starts at 6 p.m., Sept. 20 at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Avenue, Chicago. Tickets are $50 and are available for purchase at www.ChicagoSisterCities.com. Proceeds benefit the cultural initiatives of the Galway Committee of CSCI, the Irish American Heritage Center and Slow Food.  Chicago Sister Cities is offering a discount on tickets with the promo code: SLOWFOOD.

The event is part of a series of culinary events sponsored by Chicago Sister Cities International highlighting the ethnic cuisine, dining traditions and modern food interpretations of Chicago’s 28 sister cities, including Galway. It is being held in partnership with the Irish American Heritage Center, Slow Food Chicago,Slow Food Galway,Slow Food City’s Edge, Irish American News, Windy City Chef’s, Food Industry News, The Academy of Irish Music and Top Box Foods.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement that envisions a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, Slow Food strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

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Fried Chicken Worth Celebrating

 

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Honey Butter Fried Chicken, http://honeybutter.com/, the much anticipated restaurant by Sunday Dinner of underground dinner club and Chicago Green City Market fame (their amazing hamburgers are still missed) opens this Saturday, Sept. 14.  The line for chicken was out the door during last night’s soft opening.  The crispy coating on the moist and flavorful chicken has a spicy kick.   The menu includes cornbread and interesting seasonal side dishes like roasted corn and tomato and chinese broccoli with feta. Fried chicken and fizz are a surprising but great match. I was happy to see that the wine list includes Cava because this chicken is certainly worth celebrating.

“Sunday Dinner” brings to mind leisurely Sunday dinners in Ireland — which are eaten in the afternoon.  Sunday dinner typically consists of some kind of roast meat with two kinds of potatoes and vegetables.  In future posts I’ll share my secret for the best ever roast potatoes and other Sunday dinner classics.

Fresh Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

Due to the late summer heat wave we are experiencing in the midwest — 100 degrees fahrenheit heat index today  — I have preempted my planned post to share my signature summer recipe for barbecues and parties.  The citrus-like flavor of the fresh tomatillos is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken and fish. This is very definitely not an Irish dish, but I am frequently asked for the recipe so I am posting it. It is based on a recipe I first came across in “Food and Wine” magazine in the late ’90’s.    It can be prepared in no time and is very flexible.  You can make it your signature recipe too by adjusting the ingredients to your personal taste.  If you like a hotter sauce, include two instead of one jalapeno or use the hotter serrano pepper. If you like a milder sauce, add more lime juice and cilantro   Similarly, if you want to serve it with chips as a lighter version of guacamole, use two avocados.  Taste, taste, taste as you go along and adjust.  Somehow, it tastes a little different every time I make it depending on whether I use organic, farm grown tomatillos (which grow very well in the midwest), or the heat of the pepper. Warning: be very careful handling and cutting hot chili peppers, I usually wear rubber or latex gloves.  The heat of the peppers very easily transfers to your hands — and your eye if you are not very careful.  Trust me, I’ve done it and it is misery.

Fresh Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings if used as a salsa with meat or fish

Fresh Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 8 to 10 tomatillos, husked, washed and chopped coarsely
  • ½ a white onion, coarsely chopped and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 avocado

Instructions

  1. Place garlic clove and salt in a food processor. Pulse until garlic is pureed.
  2. Add tomatillos, onion, cilantro, half the jalapeno and lime juice. It’s impossible to tell how hot the jalapeno is by looking at it so it’s safest to start with half a pepper and add more if you like more heat. Puree.
  3. Taste and add more jalapeno if you like more heat. More cilantro and lime juice will tone the salsa down if it’s too hot.
  4. Add avocado flesh and just pulse. The avocado should still be chunky, not pureed.

Notes

Borrowing a tip from famed Topolobambo/Frontera chef Rick Bayless, I rinse the white onion under cold water before adding it to the other salsa ingredients for a milder onion flavor.

http://40shadesofflavor.com/freshtomatilloavocadosalsa/

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My Favorite Farmers’ Market

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I was very happy to read today that the Daily Meal website named my favorite farmers’ market, Chicago’s Green City Market, number three among its 101 best farmers’ markets in America (http://www.thedailymeal.com/101-best-farmers-markets-in-america.)   I have been volunteering at the Green City Market for five years and many of my recipes are inspired by ingredients I find at the market on Saturday mornings.   It operates year round, outdoors in Lincoln Park near the Farm-in-the-Zoo (at Lincoln and Clark Streets) from May through October, and then moves indoors to the Nature Museum at Fullerton and Cannon Drive for the winter.   It’s a fun place to spend Wednesday or Saturday mornings with a large number and variety of vendors (all organic or sustainable), chefs’ demos, music, great prepared food and activities for kids.   The market also runs the Edible Gardens program at Lincoln Park Zoo to teach children how to grow and eat vegetables. You might even spot a celebrity chef or two.  There is more information about the market on its website: http://www.greencitymarket.org.

What is your favorite farmers’ market?