A Girl & Her Food
                   

6.2.16

Cayman Cookout: Chef Ludo Lefebvre's Chocolate Souffle Demo & Recipe










I LOVE chocolate soufflés, and that says a lot as I don't generally have a sweet tooth.   More and more, however, it seems that this classic dessert is dying.  I disapointedly never see it on menus, and that includes French restaurants. Am I going to have to travel to Paris just to indulge in this delicacy? I wish, but that's not realistic...

Baking is not really my thing.  In honesty, I HATE to bake!  Well, maybe hate is a bit strong, but it is just that I am not very good at it...  And frustrated.  But, 2016 is the year I promised myself to change that statement.  As one of my New Year's resolutions, I promised to bake more, and attempt at mastering the art and science known to be the soufflé.  

Ironically, during the Cayman Cookout, Chef Ludo Lefebvre demoed how to make his chocolate soufflé with bittersweet chocolate sauce.  Obviously, he immediately had my full attention. I thought while watching and listening to Ludo's demo intensively, I could take that knowledge back to the kitchen and make a soufflé easily. 

Oh... how wrong I was.  A soufflé is so temperamental, it felt like the only thing I did was look at it the wrong way.  It was quite the challenge for me. I failed so miserably 2 times, that I had to call my pastry chef and artist friend, Anna Posey, to give me a few words of advice and raise back up my confidence.  I'm not sure that it worked.  Maybe this week I should start my baking hobby with something easier like a sugar cookie.  Hope you have better luck!  As they say, nothing good in life comes easy...











Chocolate Soufflés with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce (adapted from Crave by Chef Ludo Lefebvre)

serves 4

Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Whipped Cream:

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream 
2 teaspoons granulated sugar 

Chocolate Soufflés:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 large egg whites
Powdered Sugar (for sifting) 


For the bittersweet sauce: 

Stir in the cream and chocolate in a heavy small saucepan over medium low heat until melted and smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside. 

For the whipped cream

Whisk the cream and sugar in a large bowl until soft peak form. Cover and refrigerate. 

For the chocolate soufflés: 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a pastry brush to coat the inside of 2-4oz. ramekins or 1-9 oz. ramekin with butter and then coat with the 2 tablespoons sugar. I used my hands to coat the ramekins as Chef Ludo demoed coating in an upward moment (bottom of ramekin to the top). 

In double boiler over a medium heat melt the chocolate, until melted and smooth. 


While the chocolate is melting, beat the egg whites in an electric mixer, over medium speed until a  stiff peaks forms. Beat in the 1/2 cup sugar into the egg whites and beat until blended. Take the melted chocolate and beat it gentle into the egg white-sugar mixture. Give it a few folds to make sure the chocolate is incorporated, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. Fill each ramekin with the mixture. Bake in the oven for 14 minutes. sift with powdered sugar. Serve immediately with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. 

3.2.16

California Dream Eater Day#1: San Diego #DreamEats #VisitSanDiego



Visit California exclusively invited me, A Girl & Her Food, for a five-day individually tailored road trip January 25-29 through San Diego, Temecula and Newport Beach to become fully immersed in “California Restaurant Month”.  I have never travelled to these cities and was truly excited to check them out!

First stop, SAN DIEGO!  

Visit California nailed my car rental... a Ford Mustang from Avis.  It was a beauty, and it was going to eventually take me up the coast to LA.  Nothing like driving in style.


Although I was dying to cruise around, my body was starving.  I immediately drove to the North Park neighborhood to grab a bite at Breakfast Republic.


Breakfast Republic has been raising feathers in North Park, as a top spot to enjoy the most important meal of the day. Serving tasty takes on American classics such as Oreo Pancakes, Chicken Wing Breakfast Bowls and S’mores French Toast, they are an innovative breakfast destination that locals and visitors are flocking to when they’re in search of a fun and unpretentious place to begin the day.   And for me, that meant diving straight into the mushroom 'n pesto benedict.  It jumped straight off the menu and into my belly I think.  Button and oyster mushrooms, red bell peppers, spinach, hollandaise and pesto... and I added on shrimp. What a way to begin my day!




2730 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92104
www.breakfastrepublicca.com


After breakfast, me and the Mustang headed to Pacific Beach, to check into Tower 23 Hotel, the place I would call home for 1 night (although I wouldn't have mind staying for several nights).  Tower 23 is a modern and chic hotel overlooking the ocean. Each room has it’s own glass paneled balcony or patio with ocean views.  I was greeted with a gift bag, charcuterie and wine! What a treat!!! 


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Tower 23 Hotel 
723 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109
http://www.t23hotel.com


I wanted to hang out beach side and bask in the warm Californian sun all afternoon but had to stick to my #dreameats itinerary.  I quickly freshened up, and headed to PrepKitchen in Little Italy, as it was named one of San Diego’s “Best Restaurants” in 2014 by San Diego Magazine.  In addition, Prepkitchen Little Italy is the largest of the restaurant trio with a full service bar and private dining room. The resteraunt serves artisanal, farm-to-table cuisine and is open for lunch and dinner daily, as well as brunch on the weekend.  The entire menu looked devine, but since being in San Diego I knew I wanted to try the fish tacos.  Prepkitchen has yellowfish tacos, which are locally caught, and served with guacamole, pickled red onions, jalapenos, cabbage, and crème fraiche.  I also ordered a salad of roasted beet and spinach, that was tossed with goat cheese, avocado, almonds, tangerines and balsamic vinaigrette. Everything tasted as good as it looked and as good as it sounded.  Great start to my trip.





PrepKitchen
1660 India St, San Diego, CA 92101


 After lunch, I headed back to Tower 23 Hotel to unwind before dinner, which was to be held at the iconic Coasterra Restaurant. Coasterra is San Diego’s premiere bay front dining destination with delicious Mexican cuisine. 


Outdoor Patio
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 Our night started with an order of table side guacamole of crushed avocado, tomato, red onion, cilantro, cracked black pepper, cotijas, lime and Serrano in a molcajete. 
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We then devoured the ahi tuna tostada (yellow fin tuna glazed in garlic and sesame, soy sauce, avocado, crispy corn tortilla, coleslaw, Spanish peanuts and cilantro), a crowd favorite according to Chef Deborah Scott. 

Ahi Tuna Tostada
via 
 And then finally for the main course, as recommended by Chef, the Mar y Tierra - Cedar River natural beef short rib, Oaxacan mole, lobster risotto cake, grilled asparagus, and lobster claw... and yes it was out of this world.


Coasterra
880 Harbor Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
https://www.cohnrestaurants.com/coasterra


And this is how my first day of excessive eating in San Diego went down! My next stop is Temecula

6.1.16

Becoming a Guest California Dream Eater


Visit California exclusively invited me, A Girl & Her Food, for a five-day individually tailored road trip January 25-29 through San Diego, Temecula and Newport Beach to become fully immersed in “California Restaurant Month” during January 2016.

With so many dream food experiences being offered throughout the month of January, Visit California’s official “California Dream Eater,” Chase Ramsey, needed help in exploring the full bounty available across the Golden State during this period.  


As one of six “Guest California Dream Eaters” my mission was to experience all things culinary. Enjoy cuisine made by innovative chefs using local ingredients, meet the farmers growing this produce and engage with culinary artisans using #dreameats on my Instagram handle @agirlandherfood_ and tagging with @CaliforniaDreamEater.

As an added benefit, @CaliforniaDreamEater hosted a loop giveaway with the six selected "Guest California Dream Eaters" prior to the beginning of California Restaurant Month giving indifivduals a chance to win one of two $500 gift cards. Users just needed to follow @CaliforniaDreamEater and all participating Guest California Dream Eaters to be eligible. 


During the month of January, @CaliforniaDreamEater hosted a second Instagram contest encouraging diners to use #dreameats on their California Restaurant Month food photos for the chance to win one of sixteen $50 gift cards.

I can't wait to share all my adventures with you in an upcoming post!

20.11.15

Chef Jeff Mauro's BBQ Chicken with Cheesy Polenta



Chef Jeff Mauro is opening his first EVER restaurant, Pork & Mindy’s, which is located in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood, this December. I can’t wait, as his delicious eats will be just steps away from my door!!! Therefore, I’ve teamed up with Jeff to make one of his favorite recipes in A Girl and Her Food’s kitchen using Pork & Mindy’s line of sauces. The BBQ chicken with cheesy polenta is quick, easy and a comforting dish for a weeknight dinner or Sunday supper, it may come in handy during this weekend's snow storm! 








BBQ Chicken with Cheesy Polenta

Ingredients

4 bone-in chicken thigh and leg or chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 thick cut slices pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped 1 ½ cup Pork & Mindy’s sweet sauce
2 ½ cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups milk
  1 cup quick cooking polenta
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  Chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish


preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and Italian seasoning.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet and brown the chicken a few minutes on each side to put some of its flavor and drippings into the pan, then transfer to oven and roast 15 minutes more or until juices run clear. Meanwhile, add 1 more tablespoon olive oil to the pan and cook pancetta or bacon, if using, until crisp.
Add onions, cook 5 minutes then add the Pork & Mindy’s sweet sauce and ½ cup chicken stock, reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer 5 minutes more. Bring remaining 1½  cups stock and milk to a boil, whisk in polenta and season with salt and pepper. Whisk polenta 2 to 3 minutes until it thickens, stir in butter and cheese, and remove from heat.

Remove chicken from oven and turn in barbecue sauce. Fill shallow bowls with polenta Top with chicken, spoon extra sauce over chicken and garnish with some chopped basil leaves. Enjoy! 

25.10.15

Grilled Spicy Maple Sriracha Lime Chicken Wings






One of my first food loves I can remember is the great American classic 
“buffalo wing”.  Generally prepared fried, with crispy delicious, skin, and all, then immediately tossed and served in some spectacular buffalo sauce and served with some celery and ranch or blue cheese, depending on my mood.  Some of my favorites of all time include Buffalo Joes in Evanston, Wings and Curls in Ocala, Florida, and the original Vine in Iowa City.

But the truth is, you can make great chicken wings on the grill at home.  Its healthy, a fraction of the mess, no clean up, and doesn’t require a fryer, which most people don’t generally have or aren’t comfortable using.  The preparation for the chicken wing is exactly the same every time, and then you can change up the sauce you are tossing it in, to create completely different and unique tasting wings.  I urge you to explore outside of just “buffalo style”.

You are going to need some chicken wings.  You can find them at pretty much all grocery stores, but, as always, if you can afford it I recommend buying some high quality wings from your local butcher.  Marianos, Whole Foods, and other mass merchant grocers also offer an organic high quality wing too, if you ask for it.  The difference in quality as compared to a cheap chicken farm wing is tremendous.  Not only will the meat be so much more ample and succulent, but it will be void of all the tendons and grossness you will find from cheap poultry farm chicken.  I like to buy the 3 piece wing, with wing tip still in tact.  It makes them easier to grill and handle, and I enjoy tearing the pieces apart as I’m eating.   I think each part has different delicacies to enjoy.  But this is complete personal preference, and you can ask the butcher to cut the wings at the joints when you buy them, or just to remove the wing tips, or whatever you want. 


However you get them, you are going to want to rinse them down with water, pat them completely dry, and then generously toss in coarse salt, pepper, and olive oil.  That’s it!  Make sure the wings have had a chance to come down to room temperature (or close to it) before throwing them on the grill.  The key is to make sure the grill is super hot (450+ degrees).  The hotter the better.  Put the wings on the grill, and close the lid.  Keep closed and hot.  You can check on them every few minutes to make sure you aren’t flaming up too bad anywhere.  You are going to want to leave them without turning for around 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes with lid closed.  Again, check on them every few to make sure you don’t have too much fire.  If you know certain parts of your grill are hotter than others, you may want to rotate the wings around a little bit.  After about 20 minutes of grilling, check to see how they look.  The skin should be good and charred and crispy.  Its almost impossible to overcook wings.  Cooking time will vary 20 -30 minutes depending on heat.  Once they look delicious, you can pull them off, and eat them “as is” or…. Toss them in your favorite sauce and Enjoy!  You will be thanking me….

Spicy maple sriracha chicken wings are the perfect balance of sweet and spicy! Prepare on the grill for a delicious twist on the traditional Summer favorites or bake on game day for the perfect game watching snack.


Spicy Maple Sriracha Chicken Wings 
recipe from Pure Canadian Maple Syrup






ingredients
2 lbs chicken wings, halved ( I used wings from Whole Foods
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil 
3 tablespoons of  Pure Canadian Maple Syrup 
2 tablespoons of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Sauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons of Sir Kensington's Ketchup
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest

To Bake:

In a larger bowl combine wings, salt, coriander, cinnamon, cumin and olive oil. Stir until well blended. Chill 1-4 hours. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl combine maple syrup, sriracha sauce, butter, ketchup, lime juice and zest; set aside. Bake 30 minutes until cooked through and crispy. Remove from the pan and toss in maple mixture. Return to baking sheet. Spoon any extra sauce onto the wings. Bake 20 minutes, until crispy and sauce is set. 

To Grill: 

However you get them, you are going to want to rinse them down with water, pat them completely dry, and then generously toss in coarse salt, coriander, cinnamon,cumin and olive oil.  In another bowl combine maple syrup, sriracha sauce, butter, ketchup, lime juice and zest; set aside. Make sure the wings have had a chance to come down to room temperature (or close to it) before throwing them on the grill.  The key is to make sure the grill is super hot (450+ degrees).  The hotter the better.  Put the wings on the grill, and close the lid.  Keep closed and hot.  You can check on them every few minutes to make sure you aren’t flaming up too bad anywhere.  You are going to want to leave them without turning for around 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes with lid closed.  Again, check on them every few to make sure you don’t have too much fire.  If you know certain parts of your grill are hotter than others, you may want to rotate the wings around a little bit.  After about 20 minutes of grilling, check to see how they look.  The skin should be good and charred and crispy.  Its almost impossible to overcook wings.  Cooking time will vary 20 -30 minutes depending on heat.  Toss them in your maple syrup sauce and Enjoy!  You will be thanking me….




23.10.15

Chef Rick Bayless Fall Cooking Demo & Book Signing at Macy's 10/29







Join me at Macy's Culinary Council with Rick Bayless for a special Fall cooking demonstration and book signing on Thursday, October 29th, 7th Floor Kitchen, at 12pm. 

Impress your family & friends with tips and tricks from Chef Rick Bayless. 
Learn from the master chef as he shares tips on how to prepare some of his favorite award-winning dishes! 

The best part? 

There will be plenty of scrumptious samples to enjoy!

After the Chef Rick's cooking demonstration, you can head to the lower level and explore and stock up on the latest in cookware and kitchen gadgets. 

Plus, with any purchase of $35* or more in the Macy's home department, receive a $10 Macy's gift card and a copy of Frontera,** which Chef Bayless will sign directly after the event.

Macy’s on State Street
Thursday, October 29, 2015 – 12PM
Culinary Studio, 7th Floor

***Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis. 

To RSVP, please call: 1-800-329-8667

Learn more about the council by logging on to macys.com/culinarycouncil 
or follow on twitter @CulinaryCouncil

Event subject to cancellation or change. Seating is first come, first served. *Purchase must be made at Macy's on State Street on Oct 29, 2015 **Gift card valid 10/29/15-11/5/15 only. **One per qualifying purchase, while supplies last, while time permits. Gift card and books distributed on Oct 29th. 

"I'm a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.“

15.10.15

Charity Ride At Soul Cycle Benefitting Common Threads & Ext.54


Many of you know I LOVE Soul Cycle and supporting my favorite Chicago Charities, like Common Threads

I hope you’ll join me at SoulCycle for a Common Threads Charity Ride to help this amazing non-profit organization reach their goal, by providing funds to help maintain the Common Threads Garden in Hyde Park. 

Common Threads is an organization dedicated to teaching kids, families and communities to cook for a healthier life. With programming in 6 cities nationwide, they served over 48k students this past school year and summer, reaching over 16k students just in Chicago.

This coming year they are trying to double their impact, ultimately getting a million kids cooking for life by 2020.

The ride will take place October 17th at 1:30pm at SoulCycle Loop (111 W Wacker), the fabulous friend and soul sister Aya. 





Tickets are $75 (all proceeds go to Common Threads) and include bike, shoes, water, super fun gift bag and raffle prizes. (Invite below). 
Tickets and seat assignments can be made here: