One night only!! Jason Vincent & Lee Wolen cooking a dinner at BOKA

Jason Vincent & Lee Wolen
via Eater 

For one night only, the former Nightwood chef, Jason Vincent, will be cooking up a storm, with chef Lee Wolen of Boka, on Tuesday, October 21 at Boka. These masterminds are joining forces to highlight local and seasonal vegetable dishes from Genesis Growers. I can't contain my excitement as I adore both these chefs and their wonderfully delicious vegetarian creations. Tickets are $85. To Make reservations, call Boka 312-337-6070

1749 North Halsted Street


Zucchini Noodles aka Zoodles with Slow-Roasted Tomato Marinara

Recent weather here in Chicago has been dreary, so I grabbed the last of my fresh garden tomatoes and basil, and created this colorful and healthy lunch in hopes to fuel up "my happy tank".  Three days filled with cold and non-stop rain brings everyone down.  Argh! What happened to an Indian Summer?

My slow roasted tomatoes will make your kitchen smell like Nonna's house as they roast for several hours. If that smell can't make you feel all warm and happy inside on a dreary day,  I am not sure what will. Food is comfort. 

The zucchini noodles recipe I am sharing with you today is: 
  • paleo
  • gluten-free
  • meatless monday
  • clean eating
  • vegetarian
  • low-calorie 
  • dairy-free 
  • it's just so good for you! 
I swear by my Paderno Tri-Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer. Available at Williams-Sonoma. It is a game-changer when preparing apples, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini! 


Zucchini Spaghetti (Zoodles) 
serves 2


2-3  Zucchini, medium-sized


Zucchini is rather moist, however, so you should rinse them even if you plan to consume the noodles raw. If boiling or sautéing zucchini noodles, you should place the noodles inside a colander tossed with a teaspoon and let the noodles drip dry for 20-30 minutes. When done, rinse the noodles and wrap the noodles in paper towels and squeeze gently to absorb as much excess moisture as possible.


Slice off the ends of each zucchini, set in Paderno vegetable slicer to create noodles. Top with slow-roasted tomatoes or slow-roasted tomato marinara and fresh basil leaves. Season to taste with fresh ground pepper. 


Slice off the ends of each zucchini, set in Paderno vegetable slicer to create noodles. Once the noodles are created, place the noodles inside a colander tossed with a teaspoon of slat and let the noodles drip dry for about 20-30 minutes. When done, rinse the noodles and wrap the noodles in paper towels and squeeze gently to absorb as much excess moisture as possible. 

In this recipe, I sautéed the noodles with some olive oil and minced garlic of one clove. Heat your skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Sauté the noodles and garlic for about 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Top with slow-roasted tomatoes or slow-roasted tomato marinara and fresh basil leaves. Season to taste with fresh ground pepper. Enjoy! 


Blistered Shishito Peppers

An amazing looking bushel of shishito peppers caught my eye this week at the farmers market.  As they are in season, and I haven't cooked with them since last year, I thought I would give them a try (you can also find them at any Asian market like Joong Boo).  Sautéed shishitos (aka blistered shishitos) are absolutely the best thing to nibble on, and they're insanely easy to prepare. I usually serve them as a snack or appetizer, but they are great additions to many dishes as well.  A newly opened restaurant, Dove's Luncheonette, serves them as a hash, with fried potatoes and an aioli, then garnished with charred scallions and queso fresco.  The recipe below, while simple, can make a hero out of any home cook.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

3 cups of shishito peppers
Sea salt 


Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Cook the shishitos by tossing and turning frequently until they blister. It should take up to 10-15 minutes to cook a panful of peppers.  Sprinkle with salt and toss the peppers. Next, slide the peppers onto a plate or bowl and serve immediately. You pick them up by the stem and eat the whole pepper, minus the stem. (Duh!) 


Meatless Monday {Clean Eating} Roasted Beet Carpaccio

As a Polish girl, I was born with a beet in my hand.  We go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Every week, I am sure to buy them at the farmers' market and incorporate them into my (Polish) diet.   Eating whole and clean is very important to me, and it is not as difficult as people make it out to be.  The following recipe is from the book Clean Eats, by Dr. Alejandro Junger, the person I consider to be my clean eating guru.

A few months back, my husband and I hosted a small dinner party.  I was looking to make something, like a gorgeous starter or passed appetizer that would impress my guests.  When I saw the roasted beet carpaccio pictured in his book, I instantly knew this dish would be the one to get everyone at the party talking.  It did not disappoint.  The presentation was colorful and elegant, and most importantly it was delicious.  As most people usually eat a meat or fish carpaccio, a vegetarian option makes for an attractive option.

adapted from Clean Eats  


4 large beets, peeled (use rubber gloves when peeling beets!)
2 handfuls of frisée, spinach or arugula
1 small handful of fresh herbs, such as mint, dill, parsley, ideally some edible flowers
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for beets
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place beets in a baking dish, pour about 1/2 inch of water and then cover the dish with tinfoil. Roast the beets for about 45 minutes or until the beets are fork tender. remove them from the oven, drain the water, and allow the beets to cool. 
Once the beets have cooled, use a mandoline to slice them unto very thin rounds. Be careful as I sliced my finger on my mandoline, if you don't have one use a sharp knife to slice the rounds. 
Arrange the thinly sliced beets  over two serving plates, covering the entire surface of each plate. Drizzle the beets with olive oil and sprinkle them with the  sea salt. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the greens and herbs with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and fresh ground black pepper.  grab a small bundle of greens with your hand and place it in the center of each plate, on top of the beets. Serve immediately and enjoy! 


Umami Burger Wicker Park is now open!

This past Monday night, I was lucky to preview the highly anticipated Umami Burger for dinner, and I loved it! It is located in Wicker Park, and I anticipate that it will KILL IT as there is no substitution (this is their motto).  Umami Burger, with locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York and now Chicago, has a devoted cult following.  Each location is designed to the represent the vibe and history of its neighborhood and inhabitants.  The signature "Wicker Park" burger blew my Chicago taste buds away.  It is packed with many classic Windy City flavors like Calabrese sausage patty, truffle cheese fondue and a Chicago-style gardiniera. Umami's menu is burger-centric, but also offers many options for non-carnivores.  At the preview dinner, everything was extremely tastey, and I had nothing to scoff about.  Umami opens today to the public, and lines will be out the door as Chicagoans seek the Umami craze. 

My friend, Kyle, editor of Chicago Food Magazine tagged along with me. We begin in the Umani ride with a signature cocktails the Nomad.

Nomad: old forester signature, benedictine, ancho reyes chili, pent e mes, xocolatl mole bitteres

Truffled Beet Salad 

Truffled ricotta, smoked almonds, wild baby arugula and truffle dressing. 

Buckle your seat belts and umamify your fries. We opted to truffle 'em. The thin fries were topped with truffle cheese fondue and truffle salt.

The dipping sauce line up comprises of jalapeño ranch, diablo sauce, garlic aioli and Umani ketchup.

 Can you keep a secret???  Umami has "off the menu" tater tots. You MUST order them!

The fried pickles are made from artisan-crafted pickles, breaded with panko and served with jalapeño ranch and shaved parmesan.

Let's bring on the burgers! Kyle and I split the original, the manly burger and the exclusive Calabrese burger.

The Original
Parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and Umami house ketchup.

The Manly
beer-cheddar, bacon padrones, smoked salt onion strings, umami house ketchup, mustard spread

Calabrese Burger

Calabrese sausage parry, truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, Chicago style giardiniera

Oh, Henry  and  South of North 

Coolhaus Ice Cream for dessert

1480 North Milwaukee Ave
Umami Burger on Urbanspoon


Braised Red Cabbage

Cabbage doesn't get enough respect or attention. It's a hardy, leafy vegetable filled with LOTS of vitamins. It is my comfort food and I hope this post will influence my readers to incorporate cabbage in their diet. In this recipe, I use a locally grown red cabbage from the farmers market and serve it as a hearty vegetarian salad or it pairs well with meat like chicken, beef, venison or duck.

Braised Red Cabbage 


1 head of red cabbage
2 Tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 cup of dry red wine
3/4 cup chicken stock 
a pinch or two of ground clove
salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional: fresh parsley, chopped


Core the cabbage and chop roughly. In a dutch oven, heat the tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, place the chopped cabbage in dutch oven and cook until softened. Make sure not to let the cabbage brown. Add the wine, chicken stock, and cloves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. The cabbage should be tender. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.