Category Archives: what’s for dinner

Jerry Orbach’s Steak

Jerry Orbach's Panfried Steak, Dead Celebrity Cookbook, Jerry Orbach, Law and OrderNaoto and I both love Law & Order. Back in our early dating days, we’d spend hours on the couch watching episode after episode during the marathons on TNT and USA (for the Special Victims Unit version.) We both loved Jerry Orbach’s character, Lenny Briscoe, the best. He was salty and sarcastic and had the best opening one-liners. And, because he was on the show for so long, it really felt like he was a weathered New York detective by the time he retired. Once he left, the show wasn’t the same, though we did continue to watch until the bitter end. When he died, it felt like we lost a member of our neighborhood. I’m so glad he lives on in Law & Order and Murder She Wrotethe Dead Celebrity CookbookI read about The Dead Celebrity Cookbook on Twitter and promptly ordered it from the library. Have you ever read it? It’s so fun! I ordered it for Katherine Hepburn’s famous brownie recipe (which I still haven’t made!) but when I thumbed through the book and found Jerry Orbach’s steak recipe, I knew we had to start there. Jerry Orbach's panfried steak recipe, the dead celebrity cookbookI am usually not a cumin and coriander fan, but everything in this recipe works together perfect to create a perfectly seasoned steak with a tangy, slightly sweet, and very flavorful sauce. We ate it with some sautéed zucchini but I’d like to make it again with some old school steakhouse sides next time.

And…it’s because of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook that I finally learned after all this time that Jerry Orbach played Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! (How did I not know this?!)

I’ll report back if the Katherine Hepburn brownies are amazing…there are also recipes from 3/4 of the Golden Girls, so I think another Golden Girls Gala may be in our future!

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Tomato Time 2018

red tomatoes, plot 6, forest park community garden, big boyThe tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming! So far, we’ve picked Big Boys, Black Krims, a Mortgage Lifer, and tons of Juliets. We’ve been eating plenty of tomato sandwiches, BLTs, and caprese salads and we added this caprese pasta salad into our menu. Our goal for the summer is to try five new tomato recipes, so one down, four to go. Once we get a good harvest of big tomatoes, it will be easier to experiment. Juliets aren’t slicing tomatoes, so right now we’re limited to salads. They are particularly delicious this year, so no complaints! red tomatoes, plot 6, forest park community garden, big boyWe haven’t had any red Brandywines yet, so…I’m waiting patiently. But I have to say, the Mortgage Lifter and Black Krims are really fantastic…we’ll be planting more of those for sure next year!

Anything ripe in your neck of the woods?

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Our Fourth

July 4th dinner, patriotic, independence dayJuly 4th seems like weeks ago. I remember when I was a kid, it felt like July 4th was the end of summer…like it had this power to make the rest of summertime rush by. As an adult, I still kind of believe this, especially since school supplies are already out at Target. (Really…it’s ridiculous.) But really, there’s so much summer left! plot 6, forest park community garden, community gardening, raised bed gardeningIt was soooo hot and humid on the 4th. It rained a teeny bit, but not enough to really impact the garden, or the heat. I gave our plot a good soak during the community garden BBQ. Our tomato jungle is coming along nicely…no tomatoes yet…but our edamame is growing like crazy and the rabbits haven’t eaten it yet! cherry manhattans, vintage glasses, july 4th, hasegawa happy hourNaoto and I had a mini Hasegawa Happy Hour and made Cherry Manhattans (recipe from Leopold Bros.) Cherry Manhattans have become our lazy summer drink.  Despite what this picture shows, we drank them inside because it was too sweaty to be outside. We had Chicago-style hot dogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans for supper. It was the epitome of America. fireworks over 290, circle bridge, forest park fireworksWe ended up watching fireworks from the Circle Bridge over the Eisenhower (Interstate 290 for you non-Chicagoans.) I love fireworks, but I hate crowds, so it was kind of the perfect spot. It was still so hot, but there was a decent breeze (from the traffic?) and the were no mosquitos, plus it was only a few blocks from home. (What can I say? I’m a lazy reveler!) vintage postage, patriotic postage, galaxie safari, red, white, and blue

Oh! And here are those vintage patriotic stamps in action!

I’d love to hear about your Fourth/last Wednesday!

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Mango & Black Bean Salsa

mango salsa, mango black bean salsa, mango, black bean, red onion, lime, cilantro, fresh salsaBack when we were dating, Naoto and I had dinner at his coworker’s house. I don’t remember what we ate for dinner. What I do remember is Joyce and her husband, Doug, offered up mango salsa as an appetizer and…it was so good. You know how when you’re at someone’s house–especially someone you don’t know very well–you shouldn’t make a pig of yourself and eat the entire bowl of salsa? I think I broke that rule. I couldn’t stop…it just might be the perfect (non-tomato) salsa. It’s sweet and tangy and the textures of the mango and black beans and onions work together perfectly.

Monday night Naoto made the salsa for the first time in a long time. We have a photocopy of Joyce and Doug’s handwritten recipe in our recipe box…I think it’s the first shared recipe of our relationship. And this is why I love handwritten recipes! Just poking through my recipe box reminds me of Joyce and Doug and the beginning of my relationship with Naoto in a way that no link to an internet recipe ever could.

Anyway, Naoto prepared the salsa to put on fish and I had to restrain myself from eating the whole batch with tortilla chips before he cooked the cod. I think the salsa is really best with chips, but fish is probably healthier…either way, make this salsa!

Mango & Black Bean Salsa

1 1/2 cup black beans (canned, rinsed)

1 mango, finely chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

3 Tbs lime juice

1 Tbs canola oil

2 tsp brown sugar

Mix together; stir thoroughly; chill for 1 hour.

Serve with chips, or on fish if you’re feeling fancy.

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The Godfather

antipasto platter, antipasto, italian meats, italian cheese, the godfather partyMaybe you know this about me…I haven’t seen many movies. In fact, most movies made in this century, I’ve only seen because I’ve been on plenty of long plane rides. When the Oscars come around, most years I haven’t seen any of the nominees. Recently, Ida (Best Foreign Film) is the only one I can remember seeing. the godfather So it should be unsurprising that I’ve never seen The Godfather. The movie turned forty-five this year and TCM brought it back to the big screen on Sunday (and today! Go if you can!) I knew it would be the perfect way to experience this classic for the first time.

I decided to make an event of it and host a Godfather feast after the movie. We drank chianti and enjoyed the fabulous antipasto platter pictured at the top, caprese salad, spaghetti and meatballs, and cannoli while we talked about the movie and how crazy good looking Al Pacino was in the 70s. Al Pacino, The Godfather(Especially in uniform.)

I’ve seen quite a few of the Fandango/TCM Big Screen Classics and they are well-done and not widely attended (at least around my neighborhood.) The TCM people do a little introduction and closing with some history of the movie, which is always fascinating and helps put the classic in context. I’m checking out the rest of this year’s line up to see what other parties we can plan–E.T. is coming and I haven’t seen that since the 80s so it will be like seeing it again for the first time!

Have you seen any good movies lately? (Old or new!)

 

P.S. As usual, not a sponsored post. And pics of The Godfather courtesy of the movie…not my own camera. 🙂

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Tuna & Watercress with Wasabi Ponzu Dressing 

tuna and watercress with wasabi ponzu dressingAs promised, I’m going to share some of the food we made for the hanami party. The first is this spicy salad that we found on Cookpad. (Thanks to Jess for all of the hanami tips!) It is so fresh and delicious and I even think it would be tasty without the fresh fish. The wasabi-ponzu dressing is the highlight.

Tuna & Watercress with Wasabi Ponzu Dressing

Salad:

1 bunch of watercress

3-4 radishes, sliced paper-thin, cut into half-moons (A mandolin is handy here.)

1/4 red onion, sliced paper thin (The mandolin is already out. Use it again.)

6oz fresh sushi grade tuna or salmon, sliced into bite sized pieces (You can also use smoked salmon, but fresh is best!)

Dressing:

1 tablespoon ponzu sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons wasabi paste

Whisk the ponzu, oil, and wasabi together until smooth. Toss the vegetables, fish, and dressing together. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, if needed. Serve immediately. Feel the burn.

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Ringing in 2016 

Golden Steer, Forest Park, new years eve We spent yet another New Year’s Eve at the Golden Steer with our friends. It’s become a tradition that I start looking forward to as soon as I turn the calendar to December. Naoto and I talk about the French Onion soup and the steaks we will order all month. New year's Eve preparationsAfter dinner, everyone came back to our apartment for drinks, snacks, and dessert. It’s always nice to ring in the new year in the comforts of home and with the laughter of friends. I made a simple cover for our island with the leftover wrapping paper from Phantom Flight Night™. I taped on some glittery dots that I punched out of gold glitter paper from my stash. It was simple and sparkly. Trader Joe's float, Rose Bowl Parade 2016New Year’s Day was lazy! We watched part of the Rose Bowl Parade–I only watch for the Trader Joe’s float, pictured above. It’s always fantastic. toshikoshi soba, New Years 2016For supper we ate (our version of) toshikoshi soba. In Japan, toshikoshi soba is eaten as the last part of the meal on New Year’s Eve, but since we had dinner plans already*, we decided to eat it on New Year’s Day. We topped our noodles with roasted chicken, scallions, and cabbage, but this recipe has more traditional ideas. And I picked up some special New Year chopsticks last time we were in Japan so it was fun to actually find them in time to use them for New Year’s dinner!

How did you spend your New Year’s Eve?

 

*I think next year we should serve the noodles as a close-to midnight snack!

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Maisen

Maisen Tonkatsu MealOne of my favorite meals of our trip was the tonkatsu at Maisen. Maisen is an old and famous restaurant in Omotesando, the same part of Tokyo as the Bunbougu Cafe is in. Naoto’s sister, Hisae, took us there a few years ago and I’ve been dreaming of going back ever since. This time we made it happen.

Tonkatsu is a fried pork cutlet (we had it at home for Christmas dinner once) with a delicious crust of panko breadcrumbs. At Maisen, it is served with miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables, and as much shredded cabbage as you can eat. (There are servers who walk around with giant baskets of cabbage, offering up refills throughout your meal.) I love that the tonkatsu is served on a little metal rack so the cutlet stays crisp until the very last bite. Maisen Tonkatsu SauceAnd the sauce!! The Maisen tonkatsu sauce is like a tangy barbecue sauce and it’s delicious on the pork AND on the cabbage. It’s similar to Bulldog Sauce (which is what we use on tonkatsu at home) but it’s richer and thicker.

The main part of the restaurant is a former bath house dressing room (you can see pictures here) but there are also several other rooms and counters for dining. The first time we ate here, we ate in the main room, which feels very spacious and light with its high ceilings and sky lights. This time, the hostess said something about English speakers and stuck us in what I assume is the part of the restaurant where the servers speak English. (There were other families in the room with English speakers, so I can only assume that’s why we were all sitting together?) The big room had better atmosphere but the food was just as delicious!

Oh, and my favorite silly part of Maisen is…they have a parking lot. It holds two cars. And there is a parking lot attendant. He’s not guarding the cars…Omotesando is a very nice neighborhood.  He just stands there and bows to you as you walk by. Oh, Japan.

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Spicy Jicama, Pineapple & Cucumber Snack

spicy jicama, pineapple and cucumber street snackLast month, Naoto and I lived out his dream of eating at Frontera Grill, Rick Bayless’s hard-to-get-into restaurant in Chicago. We made the reservations back in January so by the time March 14th rolled around, I wasn’t the least bit interested in going, especially considering it was St. Patrick’s Parade Day in the city and drunk people were stumbling about. But, we went anyway and didn’t regret it. The food was amazing, the cocktails blew my mind, and the service was impeccable. chips and guac, street food, frontera grillMy favorite dish was this Mexican street snack of jicama, cucumber, and pineapple. It’s shown above on the right, along with my tasty Meyer Lemon Margarita and our guacamole. The street snack was so fresh and crisp and juicy…I really could have just eaten a whole meal of it alone. It seemed easy enough to make at home, so on Easter, we tried it out as an appetizer for Easter dinner at Karen’s. spicy jicama, pineapple and cucumber street snack

Spicy Jicama, Cucumber and Pineapple Snack 

(inspired by Frontera Grill’s Jicama Street Snack, which was inspired by Mexican street snacks)

1 English cucumber

1 jicama (ours was the size of a softball)

1 fresh pineapple

4 limes

chili powder (or Tajín, for more flavor)

sea salt

Cut the cucumber, jicama, and pineapple into sticks (like french fries). Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the juice of the four limes. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with chili powder and sea salt and toss again. (Be gentle, the pineapple is fragile!) Serve, standing up in a few glasses. (Old fashioned glasses work nice for sharing, or you could do individual servings in tiny juice glasses.) There should be some leftover juice on the tray. Drizzle it over the prepared servings and sprinkle with a little extra chili powder or Tajín and salt. Serve immediately. spicy jicama, pineapple and cucumber street snackThe jicama and the pineapple were by far the most popular, but I think the cucumber adds a savory touch. Plus, all three textures work really well together to make a perfect appetizer or snack. I do believe this is going to make it into the next Hasegawa Happy Hour menu!

P.S. Thanks to Naoto for modeling!

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Naoberly’s Noodle Tour: Oiistar

Oiistar Ramen oiimen ramenI’m behind in my ramen reporting! We tried Oiistar back in February, before we went to Furious Spoon. Oiistar gets really good reviews from food writers in Chicago and it’s made it on several “best ramen in Chicago” lists. It was the first ramen shop in the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood. It definitely has a “hipster feel” to it, for better or for worse. It’s casual and there are individual tables, a counter, and communal seating to choose from. The owner describes his menu as having French and Italian influences, and you can definitely see that in the menu along with some Chinese and Korean. Oiistar RamenThere are old black & white Looney Tunes cartoons projected onto the wall and the music is old school and loud (but not too loud.) It was freezing and snowy the night we went, so we were both in the mood for a hot bowl of noodles. We started with drinks and I will just say this: my review of this restaurant may be unfairly colored by what you are about to seeOiistar Ramen embarrassing mason jar glassMy drink, the house-made sangria, was served in a mason jar glued to a candlestick. This thing was enormous and clunky and just plain embarrassing. It was so top-heavy that I kept thinking it was going to fall over and spill everywhere. And it stood up so high on the table that it almost blocked my view of Naoto! Everything else in the restaurant was normal…I just have to wonder what in the world the restauranteur was thinking when he chose to serve his (perfectly delicious) sangria in this monstrosity. Oiistar Ramen, baoOkay…back to the food. We ordered buns as appetizers. They arrived at our table with our ramen, which was a huge bummer because it was impossible to enjoy both at the same time, as ramen noodles are best when eaten right away. Pictured above is the Tempura Shrimp bun, which is a fried shrimp with chili mayonnaise, fennel slaw, and sesame seeds on a Chinese-style bao bun. It was delicious and something I would order again if we venture back here.

For ramen, I got the oiimen (pictured at the top) with pork belly, egg, scallion, mushrooms, spicy oil, and garlic. Naoto got the kimchee ramen. The ramen was solid, but the texture of the noodles didn’t wow me. They are made in-house, which is supposed to be a huge plus. All of the other ramen places we had tried until that point have them shipped in from Sun Noodle. (In the meantime, Furious Spoon opened with their own homemade noodles and, after eating Furious Spoon’s noodles, I think Furious’s noodles are better.) But the flavors and the pork and the soft boiled egg in Oiistar’s ramen were delicious.

I would love to go back and try some of their salads and snacks. They offer a bruschetta topped with pickled shrimp, fennel, balsamic and olives that sounds intriguing enough for a repeat visit. I just won’t be ordering another ridiculous sangria.

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