Saturday, February 25, 2012

Restaurant reviews - La Casa De Isaac - Highland Park, IL and Frost - Highland Park, IL

We went to La Casa De Issac with friends the other night, but we almost had a problem.  I had made a reservation through Open Table (I use this website often - even have an app for it on my phone), but when we got there for our 6p reservation, they told me I had made a reservation for their other restaurant location and not the one we were at.  Luckily, they opened at 6p (right when we got there), so there were tables for 4 available.  Very lucky indeed, because the restaurant was full within the next 20 minutes, which wasn't that hard because it is a very small place.  This size can cause an issue.  Tables were very close together and it got quite loud in there, but we were having so much fun together, everything else drowned out.

There were chips and salsa already at the table and it was delicious!  The salsa was not too spicy, not too onoin-y, not too cilantro-y....just right (said Goldilocks).  We ordered guacamole and a pitcher their premium margarita.  Both were fantastic. The guac was somewhat chunky - which was great.  The flavor was spot on.  And the margarita....smooth and easy.  Need I say more!?!?
Here's my smooth margarita....I asked for extra salt - and they delivered.  Mucho bueno!!
This was a special dish they had.  It is call a Molkajete.  It comes in a heated lava rock bowl.  I don't know if you can tell, but this is boiling at the table and remained bubbling for quite awhile.  It was made of black bean, cheese, onion, chorizo, and grilled cactus (see it hanging off of the side near the top of the photo?).  They serve it with tortillas, your choice - soft corn or soft flour.  This could have easily been shared. 
Here is what I had made.  I love grilled cactus.  Don't hesitate eating has a slighty sweet, yet tangy flavor to it with a texture that has a bite to it...kind of al dente.
These were ahi tuna tacos with red cabbage slaw and mango salsa.  It was served on homemade purple tortillas - I agree - they looked green to me too!  This was delicious - nice and light dish. Sweet, crunchy....all great flavors.  A nice compliment to the heavier Molkajete.
Here is the dessert we got at Frost.  This is a new gelato place  place that opened up in downtown Highland Park.  SOOOO delicious and a great way to end our great dinner.  I had a banana and dark chocolate cup. The banana had a full on banana flavor and the dark chocolate was not too sweet (in typical dark chocolate fashion) with bits of dark chocolate chips in it.  The perfect yin-yang dessert!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dinner - Salmon and curried cauliflower

I made a grilled salmon that I had made before and a curried cauliflower recipe I saw on the Today show.

The grilled salmon I have made before, but this is the first time I have put the recipe here.  I bought 2 pieces of salmon.  For this, I put 1/4 cups of low sodium soy sauce, 2 T honey and 1/4 inch of wasabi paste.  I mush those all together in a large plastic bag so they are all incorporated together.  Add the salmon and let it marinade for about 6 hours in the fridge.  I have marinaded it up to 9 hours.  I take it out of the fridge about half an hour before I grill it to get the temperature throughout the fish as even as possible. When I grill it, I put the grill up as high as possible.  I spray the skin side with Pam and put the piece skin side down first.  After about 5 minutes, I spray the meat side with Pam and turn it over onto the heat. I cook it another 8 minutes or so.  The times really depend on the thickness of the meat.  You want it to be able to pull away from itself, but not break away (too dry/well done)...and not rip away (too moist/rare).  I know....fine line here, but you will get it once you have cooked salmon.

Here is the cauliflower recipe I used....

Recipe: Curried cauliflower "En Papillote"

  • 1 head white cauliflower, leaves removed and stem trimmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon madras curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt
  • White pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Take a large piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper 24" x 24".  Place the head of cauliflower on 1 half of the foil or paper. Season the cauliflower with salt and pepper and sprinkle the curry powder evenly over the cauliflower. Next, spread the butter evenly over the top of cauliflower. Fold the other half of the foil or paper over the cauliflower. Starting from a corner of the folded half, begin to fold the edges of the foil or paper in order to "seal" the cauliflower inside. Before making the final fold, pour the water inside the foil or paper and complete the last fold. Place the cauliflower onto a baking tray and roast for 30-40 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork tender. Remove from the foil and serve warm.

Once the curry, salt, pepper and butter have been put on the head, fold the foil around it.  Don't forget to add the water right before it is all sealed.
Here's where I had a problem.  The foil kept ripping and I had to wrap it a few times until I finally had one that didn't rip - and I was using "heavy duty" foil. I think parchment paper would have been better.
Done.  I didn't use the full amount of curry powder.  I thought it would have been too much....wrong.  Next time, I will use the full amount recommended in the recipe.  Otherwise, tasty and healthy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Restaurant review - Inspiration Kitchen - Chicago, IL

What a special brunch we had a Inspiration Kitchen. Here is there mission statement:
Inspiration Corporation provides essential social services to Chicagoans hardest hit by homelessness and poverty, and we inspire our participants to take action to improve their own lives. Here at Inspiration Kitchens, we help individuals gain valuable skills and experience that lead to employment in the food service industry. Thank you for dining with us and changing lives!
I picked this restaurant from looking on Yelp.  I was looking for a place in the city to go for brunch.  This "Inspiration Kitchen" had good reviews on their food.  Good enough for me.  Off we went with GPS leading the way.  We didn't know what a special place we were going into and what life lessons our kids would learn that meal.  Once we got there, I read different articles that were on the wall and realized what a special place we had gone into.  I asked the hostess to explain the kids what was going on there and she graciously and eloquently, in her own words - explained the mission (I copied their statement from their website and put up there).  Our kids were amazed.  "You mean homeless people made this food?"  And then it lead to a conversation on about how with some understanding and training, people can change their lives.  WOW....and all because we wanted to try a new place for brunch.  Who knew?!?!?

Ok....let's talk food...I mean...this is why I picked this place to go eat at...right?  Some would say yes....some would say we were "meant" to go here and learn more.  Anyways.....
Here is the hot chocolate our daughter ordered.  If you have read my blog for awhile, you now know our daughter fancies herself a hot chocolate conniseur.  Here was her cup of hot chocolate.  She rated it a 5 out of 10....good...not great.  But don't get me wrong...she finished every last drop of it.  And it sure looks great!!
I ordered biscuits and gravy.  It is homemade biscuits, corned beef hash, scrambled eggs, and sausage gravy.  Boy was this good!!!  I have never had biscuits and gravy with corned beef hash...and what a great combo. Some potato and onion with bits of corned beef.  The biscuits were so fresh they stuck together.  Perfection!  See the parsley on the was wilted and totally not necessary.  I would tell them don't waste the money on it.  Let the food do it's own talking - and talks very well!!!
Here is the outside.  It is a very small place though there was never much of a wait. What I don't have is a picture of the french toast. - deemed by our kids as some of the best french toast they have ever had.  Our son declared "I think there is some cinnamon in here".  Our little foodie....we are SO proud!!

Across from the restaurant is a community and outreach center. There were gorgeous mosaics on their walls.  Various words were in the artwork...peace, respect, restore...just to name a few.  Go there and see the wonderful art for yourself and go eat some wonderful, heartful food.

Monday, February 20, 2012

100th post!!

This is my 100th post!!!  Amazing!!

Thank you to all that have been reading my blog!! I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it. I feel truly honored that you spend some of your day looking into my day.

Don't forget to....
Cherish every day
Say thank you to those you love...and those you don't know
Eat healthy
Eat with your family whenever you can
Keep reading my blog (ok, I couldn't resist adding this one!)