Browse Author

MickyN

Cheesy, easy breezy, veggie-loaded sandwich: Be careful with the goat cheese!

Goat cheese has to be one of the priciest ingredients ever – to me, anyway. I used to eat a lot of goat cheese when we lived in Europe, in countries where this type of cheese was produced in large quantities. Since coming to Chicago however, I had to scale down consumption for no other reason than price. I love a good goat cheese-inspired sandwich and miss the old days of indulgence!

With limited market supply and high prices as a result, what is a goat cheese aficionada left to do than to hunt down promotions and to hope for a sale? This is exactly what I have been doing for awhile now. Keep Reading

2017 National Restaurant Association Show review: charcuterie, pickles, truffle zest, amarena cherries – and so much more!

Exciting, thorough, overwhelming – these are just some of the words I would use to describe the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, which takes place in Chicago every May. Starting on a Saturday and ending the following Tuesday, the event draws in tens of thousands of restaurant professionals from around the world, who come to the Windy City to learn to build a successful business from the best restaurateurs, to network their way through the Show and to strike lucrative deals. As a former journalist and current food blogger, I think it is very important that I stay on top of trends and products and that I report them accurately to my readers – and this is why for me the NRA Show is a goldmine. Knowledge is power, right? 🙂

So, what does the salami in the pic above have to do with this Show – and what do we ultimately need to take from it? According to a NRA survey of almost 1,300 professional chefs, house-made charcuterie items are going to feature prominently on restaurant menus this year. Keep Reading

Memorial Day wishes

Wishing you all a safe and peaceful Memorial Day. We’ll spend this day honoring the fallen and counting our blessings in the land of freedom 🙂

Memorial Day sausage sandwich extravaganza: a different kind of pigs in a blanket!

There’s no time like the time you spend with your loved ones 🙂 This weekend my husband is off work, which means we will truly be celebrating Memorial Day together as a family. We went out to eat today, while tomorrow we’ll stay home and dear husband will do some grilling – and when we grill, we don’t hold back! We will for sure make the decadent sandwich below using fresh sausages we got on sale from the local grocery store. I will use a batch of Italian sausages for this purpose, but you can use brats as well (as we did in the past) with similarly spectacular results.

In creating this dish I was inspired by pigs in a blanket, the popular appetizer which involves hot dogs or small sausages wrapped in dough and baked until piping hot. Eating them straight out of the oven, sizzling with luscious juices and covered in buttery pastry, is definitely one of my greatest joys. This dish does resemble pigs in a blanket, but with a twist: the dough is replaced by lots and lots of bacon and pepper jack cheese. The more proteins, the merrier!

Keep Reading

My review of the US World Chocolate Masters competition: Here’s the future, written in chocolate!

It takes a lot to make one quality piece of chocolate. Somewhere far away, most likely in Ghana or the Ivory Coast, farmers labor relentlessly on the cocoa plantations, eyebrows sweating under the asphyxiating heat, machetes in hand to cut and set aside the precious cocoa harvest. Once fermented and dried, the cocoa beans are acquired by intermediaries and are bagged and shipped around the world, in a trade which is as profitable as it is marred by difficulties. What pastry chefs create and what we consume is a labor of love, the work of many hands and minds – all of it for our appreciation and guilt-free delight.

Every two years for the past 10 years, renowned French producer Cacao Barry has organized the World Chocolate Masters competition to highlight the magical world of chocolate and its burgeoning talents. The challenge involves making original chocolate creations on a given theme within a particular time frame. The reward at the end of this grueling competition, with national qualifying rounds held in 20 countries, is the chance to get a spot in the World Final and to be crowned the best chocolate chef in the world. From there, sky is the limit 🙂

The theme tackled by contestants during the 2017-2018 edition of World Chocolate Masters (WCM) is Futropolis: A Quest for Tomorrow’s Chocolate Flavors. I had the opportunity to attend the WCM USA selection, which was held in Chicago recently, and I was in awe of the innovation, attention to detail and utmost dedication to the theme displayed by the finalists.

Keep Reading

My review of Taco Thursday: A night out in the city, munching on tacos? Count me in!

What comes after Taco Tuesday and sounds equally tempting and delicious? Taco Thursday, of course! Since coming to Chicago I’ve had my fair share of tacos, and working my way diligently through taquerias (time permitting) has been one of my most enjoyable missions. Every time I think I’ve seen enough in terms of ingredients and flavor combinations, I come across a new interpretation of this age-old dish that leaves me speechless. Yay for creativity in the kitchen! 🙂

As a fiercely proud Chicagoan, I think it is my duty to gain more knowledge and experience of the tacos that make our city so great. This is why I was very excited to attend the first Time Out Chicago (TOC) Taco Thursday event, which took place at Joe’s on Weed St last week. A night out in the city, munching on tacos? Count me in!

Keep Reading

Mother’s Day mango crêpes: a decadent sweet for the sweetest mom!

I ate these crêpes with mom in the park yesterday, as the warm sunlight was about to wave us goodbye for the day. A decadent sweet was just what my mom needed after the long day she had spent taking care of the little one. It was not Mother’s Day, yet I knew she would love getting out of the house and the daily routine, and celebrating motherhood one day in advance. The park was peaceful and quiet and the crêpes were delicious – so mom simply couldn’t say no 🙂

The idea for this dessert came to me by accident a few months ago, while I was looking for ways to use up a bunch of ataulfo mangoes I had got at a deeply discounted price from the local grocery store. I found several authors who advocated using these mangoes along with sweetened condensed milk, which is a rather popular dessert combination in Mexican and Filipino cuisines. Keep Reading