A Kitchen the Size of a Postage Stamp

Seems like there are lots of blogs that pronounce their kitchen as the smallest kitchen out there.

I will throw my hat into the ring and declare the diminutive-ness of my space.  

Thank goodness the four burner stove is gas ... its been almost five years since I lived in a home with gas capabilities.  But, culinary school allowed me to turn up the heat on a regular basis.  Side note: I miss the large flat-tops and their consistent heat.  

The oven holds a quarter sheet pan ... really hope my family doesn't come to Chicago for Thanksgiving and expect a full dinner.

No dishwasher or disposal either.  

Perhaps this will be my chance to be creative and push the limits of how much cooking can take place with almost zero available counter space. 

If anyone has tips on using a small kitchen to the max, please comment.

Terzo Piano: a dream of a three course dinner

(note: photos taken from the Modern Wing opening day in May 2009)

Terzo Piano, the new restaurant in the Art Institute's Modern Wing, offers a three course prix fixe dinner Thursday nights only -- the museum stays open late on this night of the week only.  Make a reservation and just go!

My food & wine choices:

NV Brut Rose, Cesarini Sforza, Trentino, Italy
2006 Whispering Angel Rose, Chateau d'Esclans, France

amuse:
crostini with smokey eggplant puree and goat cheese with herbs

first course:
hand rolled gnocchi with eggplant, summer squash, tomato, herbs, Carr Valley Marisa sheep's milk cheese

second course:
grilled Nettesheim Farms beef short ribs with braised romano beans, tomato, San Giacomo 5 year aged balsamic vinegar

third course:
red plum upside down cake with ginger and chocolate ice cream

mini-chocolate macaroons
cappuccino

Blue Marble Dairy

It took me a about a year of shopping at Green City Market to sample the milk and yogurt from Blue Marble

The thought of buying milk at a market seemed a little strange at first because, after all, doesn't milk come from grocery stores?  Who buys their milk from actual people that raise cows?  And, on top of that, who sells milk in glass bottles these days?

All Blue Marble products are sold in pint, quart, and 1/2 gallon sized glass bottles.  Kind of a throw back to a different time when milk was delivered to the doorsteps of American families.  And, to be honest, the milk tastes much better.  Like milk should taste. 

The first time buyer has to put down a bottle deposit, but if he or she returns the clean bottle for a fresh one the deposit is applied to the future purchase.  For any returned bottles without another purchase, the deposit is refunded.  I think I have probably gone through almost a dozen bottles of milk and don't remember the last time I bought milk from the grocery store.

True, it is a tad more expensive, and the first purchase costs the most due to the deposit, but it is oh-so-worth-it.  There is actual cream at the top of the bottle ... real cream!  Even in the skim milk which doesn't taste watery like you find elsewhere.

This family owned farm in Wisconsin has been in action for over 30 years.  Their products are pasteurized but not homogenized allowing the molecules in the milk to stay put creating a creamy texture and flavor.  

You can find Blue Marle Dairy products at the Green City Market, but also at speciality stores like the Green Grocer Chicago.

(note: I happen to be a big fan of this microdairy and want to support them; no products were given for this recommendation)    

Pizza Bianca with Whole Wheat Crust

I have to admit that I struggle with pizza dough and deciding which of the dozens and dozens of recipes really work.  There are a lot out there that claim to be fast or easy or capable of rising in the frig over night.  

The recipe from Smitten Kitchen could not be simpler to assemble and you don't need multiple bowls or any fancy tools.  I didn't even use a spoon to mix ... just my clean hands!

1 recipe of Smitten Kitchen's easy pizza dough (I substituted 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for the AP flour)

basil, six to eight leaves (get it from the market!)

fresh mozzarella, four to six thin slices (plus a couple more for the cook to snack on; please don't buy the pre-shredded stuff.....)

extra virgin olive oil (I am using a great oil from California now ... look for it a Trader Joe's)

salt & pepper, to taste (I like Kosher or sea salt)

red pepper flakes (optional)
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Preheat oven to 450 degrees (or higher if thats possible & your oven won't explode).

Scatter some cornmeal (or flour) on a pizza stone if you have one (I, unfortunately, do not) or on a baking sheet.

Roll out the pizza dough onto the stone or sheet and layer on the basil and cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.

Bake for 10 minutes .... actually, I would pull it from the oven at 8.5 minutes if you want the cheese a little less melted.

And then let the good eating begin.

Tasting for a Cause

When: Thursday, August 27th
Time: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Where: Artisan Cellar, Merchandise Mart
Why: to benefit the mission & services of Sarah's Circle
How much: $40 in advance or $50 at the door
Eats & Drinks: tasty appetizers with sparkling, white, and red wines (see the anticipated list below)

The Artisan Cellar will provide free Chicago delivery on cases of wine purchased during the event. 

Get your tickets at http://www.sarahs-circle.org

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Anticipated List of wines:

Zucotti Prosecco Italy

Gruve Gruner Veltliner Austria
Nittnaus Sauvignon Blanc Austria
Lehmen Riesling Hochgewachs Germany
Turn Me Red Austria

Casa Patronales Sauvignon Blanc Chile
Chateau Roustan Cotes Du Rhone Blanc France
Baron Tufier Vouvray Loire France
Pannotia Malbec Argentina
El Toqui Syrah Chile

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling South Africa
Castillo de Nava Verdejo Spain
Salmon Run Chardonnay-Riesling Finger Lakes
Rigal Cahors France
Mavrik H Igo Grenache Russsian River California

Can't wait to make these...

Rustic Taza Chocolate Chunk Cookies (taken from tazachocolate.com)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups (14 oz) All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup (3 oz) Fine Yellow or White Corn Flour
1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) Unsalted Butter (well softened to room temp, not melted)
1 2/3 cups (10 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) Light Brown or Granulated Sugar

2 large Eggs, room temperature
2 tsp natural vanilla extract

1 lb to 1 1/4 lb Taza Chocolate (any variety, but 70% Dark Bar works best), roughly chopped.

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions:

1. Mix flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl until combined. Set aside.

2. Using either an electric mixer, hand mixer, or wooden spoon, beat (cream) the softened butter and sugars together, until the mixture is uniform and has lightened in color. It is important that the sugar and butter are well creamed before proceeding; this should take between 5 and 10 minutes.

3. After creaming the butter and sugar together, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until one is incorporated before adding the next. As soon as both eggs are incorporated, add the vanilla, and continue beating until just mixed in.

4. With your mixer on low, carefully incorporate the dry ingredients, until just combined. Do not overmix.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and add the chocolate chunks (a variety of sizes is best). Using a wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate.

6. Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, and up to 72.

7. After allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 f. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

8. Form the dough into large, golf-ball sized balls. Place no more than 8 cookies on a sheet, allowing enough space for the cookies to spread out. The dough should still be cool from the refrigerator.

9. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until just under done. The centers should be barely solid. Remove from oven, and, after a minute, transfer the cookies to cool on a wire rack. Right after transferring them, sprinkle liberally from high above with flaky sea salt (murray river, maldon, kosher) or a flavored salt of your choice (we love vanilla salt or alderwood smoked salt for this).

10. Serve very warm, with milk, ice cream, stout, or bourbon.