Sunday, October 25, 2009

One word to describe this weekend: food

I can't believe it's Monday night; we have survived the weekend! Openlands had a great fundraiser lunch Friday, complete with talks by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra and a wonderfully inspiring talk by Rick Bayless. As Rick said, buy local (food); be happy! We had about 700 guests, which was extremely satisfying, given our economy.

On to the weekend...Friday night, after taking Advil for my aching legs (running in heels all day), I started pulling out my party plates and purple napkins. Our good friends Emily and Steve came in late that night and after Northwestern's Homecoming football game Saturday, we hosted a pre-reunion party at our condo that included grilled lemon chicken skewers, Emily's homemade beef wontons, hummus with fresh vegetables, brie en croute - here's one variation - Emily's included fig jam, walnuts and dried cranberries, garlic and cheese crostini and pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin bread
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
¾ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup applesauce
4 eggs
3½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups white sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup chopped nuts

Blend eggs and sugar. Blend in pumpkin, vegetable oil and applesauce. Sift together dry ingredients (including spices). Combine the two mixtures, blending thoroughly. Stir in nuts. Pour into 2 greased 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pans and bake at 300 degrees F for 1 hour. After removing from the oven, let the breads rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

Sunday night, we went to Bon Soiree in Logan Square. It. was. wonderful. It has changed the way I look at food. The ingredients were seasonal and so fresh - the combinations were eye-opening and intriguing. Jeremy emailed the chef this morning, and he sent Jeremy back a kind note and a list of everything we tasted:
  • Salad of shaved cucumbers, sorrel, kombu-tangerine vinaigrette, roasted peach, heirloom tomato
  • Rabbit & duck confit motoyaki, torched ponzu aioli
  • Kabocha squash soup with tart apples and yuzu citrus, white chocolate and bacon
  • Lobster Sous Vide in wasabi duck fat with five styles of eggplant
  • Braised Veal Cheek, Duck Breast, Chipotle Jus, Parsnip Potato pure with fines herbs, honey mushrooms and brussel sprouts
  • Humboldt Fog, Pomegranate gelee, Thai basil tea puff, malted milk crisps
  • Pear Gallette, housemade butterscotch ice cream
It was expensive but they are BYOB (and are committed to elevating the BYOB experience), which helped. I highly recommend! The chef is incredibly accommodating and invited us into his kitchen when we come back, which we surely will.

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