Edamame and Grilled Corn Salad

>> Sunday, June 18, 2017

Edamame and Grilled Corn Salad

This quick salad is fresh and full of healthy ingredients. It's perfect with Veracruz-style Tilapia grilled in foil packets - one of our favorite ways to cook fish.

We like to use the edamame without pods in the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store. I made the vinaigrette with a Mexican lime-infused olive oil that my sister gave me for Christmas. Beth and my mom visited the Queen Creek Olive Mill in Phoenix, AZ in December, and also brought me feta-stuffed green olives. I think I'm going to raid the olive jar when I'm done with this post!

If you don't have any Mexican lime-infused olive oil handy, try 1 tbsp of lime juice and plain olive oil - or mix in whatever flavor you do have. This salad recipe is very flexible.


3 ears corn
12 oz. frozen edamame
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup red bell pepper

For the Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lime olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp salt


Heat the grill to medium. Shuck the corn and brush with a little oil. Grill on all sides, turning frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the corn is barely cooked and lightly browned. Allow to cool, then cut the kernels from the cob.

Steam the edamame in the microwave or on the stove until tender, about 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water to chill, then let it drain thoroughly. Stir in the corn, pepper, and onion. Shake together the vinagrette ingredients and pour over the salad. Let it chill for at least an hour before serving so that the flavors blend together well.

Serves 4-6.


Braised Fava Beans with Pancetta (Stufato di Fave, Stufato di Baccelli)

>> Sunday, June 4, 2017

Braised Fava Beans with Pancetta (Stufato di Fave, Stufato di Baccelli)

If we were in Italy right now, chances are we'd find a dish of fresh young fava beans braised with pancetta, broth, and tomato on our dinner table. This is a classic early summer dish that's just popping with flavor. It also works well with butter beans or limas.

For a few weeks now, I have been seeing fresh fava beans in the pod at our local grocery store but didn't have a craving or a specific recipe in mind. Then the other day, I saw a large heel of cured pancetta (half a pound!) in the reduced section of our deli. The price was irresistible, and I began thinking of braised fava beans.

But when I went back to the store with the beans, not a single fresh fava was found. I bought a frozen package, finally, since I wasn't going to give up my stewed bean craving that easily. The shelled frozen beans tend to be more mature, so I blanched them and slipped them out of their skins so they'd be tender. Fantastic.


1 pound fresh shelled fava beans, or 20 oz. frozen favas
1 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
ground pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water


If using frozen fava beans, boil a small pot of water. When it reaches a boil, put in the beans and cook for 1 minute. Soak the beans in ice water for one minute, then peel off the outer skins. I found it easiest to pull off the dark stripe at the top; the rest of the skin comes right off with that strip.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan, then cook the pancetta and onion until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main meal.


Blanquette de Veau (French veal stew with white sauce)

>> Sunday, May 28, 2017

We first had this classic French veal stew at Froggy’s CafĂ© – you know, that French place we rhapsodize about. We consulted with Julia Child on the recipe and experimented a little on our own to come up with the recipe here.

While this is technically a basic stew, it's upscale enough for a fancy dinner party. The lovely creamy sauce and tender, buttery veal are a treat for special friends. 

We’ve noticed that some classic French recipes can be rather one-note. For example, the original recipe called for cooking the veal with a carrot, celery stalk and onion, but then discarding everything. The result is the stew contains just meat, mushrooms, and the very flavorful gravy. We switched it up a bit so that we keep all the vegetables in the stew. You might want to play around with this too – but perhaps experiment on something cheaper than veal!


For the Bouquet Garni (Herb bundle)
3” cheesecloth square
Kitchen Twine
1 tbsp parsley leaves
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme
6 black peppercorns

For the Stew
2 lbs. boneless veal shoulder, cut into 1″ chunks
2 stalks of celery cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup pearl onions
1.5 cups baby carrots cut in half
10 oz. of mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, white, crimini, and oyster, sliced
¼ cup sherry
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 12 tbsp. flour
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
Parsley leaves, to garnish


Wrap the herbs in the cheese cloth and tie with the twine. In a large pot, place the veal, onions, carrot, celery, broth and enough water to partially cover the food. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, and simmer one hour. Skim off the scum as it forms. Be careful not to overcook the veal as it will turn to mush!

Add the mushrooms and sherry and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove the meat and vegetables to a platter and keep warm; return the broth to the pot.

 In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and stir in one cup of the veal broth, stirring until smooth. Slowly stir the white sauce into the large pot, add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer gently until it is thickened. Stir in the cream. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley after plating.

Serve over white rice, noodles, or alone with crusty bread.

Serves 4.


Bulerias Tapas Restaurant, Chicago

>> Monday, May 15, 2017

We've been to Bulerias twice, once for a birthday celebration and once for Mother's Day lunch. I really want to love this place - it has so much going for it - but I'm not in love.

First, it's hard to tell online whether the dancing shows are ticketed/paid or free. Luckily for us, the first time we reserved the downstairs area and got to see the show, which is really spectacular. Unluckily, we were so close to the stage that the dancer's fringed costume swept through my food a couple of times. Blech.

On our recent visit, our group of seven made reservations ahead of time and then confirmed it in a later phone call, but they didn't have our reservation. They sat us anyway, though, so it's all good.I would note though that the tables are small and close together; if our server hadn't been on top of our used plates, we would have had trouble!

The food is wonderful. My favorites are the bacon-wrapped dates, mild grilled octopus, and flank steak on crostini with blue cheese. Oh, and the potatoes alli olio! Good sized portions, well-prepared, and all the tapas came quickly after we ordered. They have a nice wine list and good sangria. One of our guests is on a restrictive no-cholesterol diet, and while he wasn't able to share some of the tapas us fat-lovin' people ate, he found some satisfying items to order.

We spent a long time at lunch and it would have been much more enjoyable if we could hear each other talk. We really wanted to catch up with each other but it was difficult. We were in an alcove and the music was extremely loud; even the waiter had trouble hearing us and made some ordering mistakes because of it. We asked him to turn down the noise but he said he couldn't do anything about it. That seemed strange, since he said he could turn the TV to any game we wanted...but couldn't adjust the volume of the music.

There are many tapas places in Chicago so once they have the food nailed down, it's the extra touches of service and atmosphere that determine where people will dine. Bulerias has some problems that could easily be fixed.  I hope they get on it!

Bulerias Tapas Bar is at 3656 N Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL 60613 


Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Rollups

>> Sunday, April 30, 2017

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Rollups

My bio-dad, Rick, was an avid fisherman in Southwestern Michigan. His first fishing boat, the Cricket, was a little four-seater that he took out on the small sleepy lakes that speckled our county. On foggy early mornings, a thermos of coffee for him, hot chocolate for me, our gear and a good book, we were off into the lilypads and quiet inlets of Little Paw Paw Lake.

I don't remember whether I actually caught any fish, and I have a hunch than my dad might have allowed me to claim that the fish I'm holding in the picture were ones that I bagged. I didn't like the whole fishing process - I felt sorry for the worm, sorry for the fish, and grossed out by touching the bait. But I did love to drowse in the sun with a good book and hang out with him. He was not very talkative on the boat but could tell a good story.

Later on, he traded up into a bigger boat, the SherAn (a combo name of his daughters Sheryl and Angela). I can't tell you anything about boats or sizes but the engine was bigger, there was storage under the seats instead of lake water, and there was a glass windshield. There was also a Fish Lo-K-Tor and downriggers that Rick hand-machined and lovingly attached. He was taking this one out on the big lake.

Rick caught steelhead trout, coho salomn and sturgeon on Lake Michigan, and went smelting in the spring off the St. Joseph piers. One of the most scary and exhilarating sights was to head off from a storm barrelling across the lake, when there was only the boat, the gray water, the rain, and the sky. The horizon was a seamless blend of lake and air. Seems like we always came home ravenous.

One year he bought a four-shelf smoker about three feet tall, and began smoking the fish for a change of taste. His smoked coho salmon was brown-fleshed, rather than the bright color of ocean salmon, but densely flavored and tender.

Recently, a friend gave me a gift of home-smoked salmon, and it brought back all kinds of memories of boats and reading Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Native American legends and steaming rich plastic cups of cocoa, and my dad telling me pay attention, I had a bite.

Fishing season has begun on Lake Michigan, though I no longer have a boat. If you have avid fishing friends with access to a fish smoker, they might offer you a few pieces of fresh-smoked coho or steelhead. I made these smoked salmon rollups with my friend's fish, and each morsel was a taste of the past.


1/2 cup chives, chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
4 oz smoked salmon
1 small cucumber
12 spikes of green onions
8-10 flour tortillas


Mix well the chives, dill, lemon zest, and cream cheese. Slice the salmon as thinly as possible. If you have a kitchen mandolin, this might help. My salmon had been frozen and was rather crumbly when I defrosted it, so I shredded it instead.

Thinly slice the cucumber lengthwise. I bet a kitchen mandolin would work well for this too, but I don't have one so I used a vegetable peeler.

Bend the package of tortillas back and forth a couple of times to prevent them from sticking together. Microwave the package for about 30 seconds until they are pilable. Usually I would heat tortillas on a dry griddle, but this recipe needs soft, moist flour tortillas.

Spread about 1 1/2 tbsp of the cream cheese mixture on each tortilla, making sure you spread it clear to the ends of each one. Place the salmon, cucumber, and green onions lengthwise in the center half of the tortilla. I added a little more dill because I love it fresh. Starting at the left side, tightly roll up the tortilla to the other side, stuffing in the ingredients if they start to roll out. Seal the seam with the cream cheese on the other side of the wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

Slice each roll into 1-inch pieces. I cut off the misshapen ends where there were few ingredients and Joe and I quality-checked those. It was good. We served them on their sides so you could see the spiral design of the salmon rollups. Yum!

Makes approximately 60 little rolls.

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