Souper

As a kindergarten teacher, I spend the majority of my life living in a sea of germs. Particularly during the winter months, there is always some strain of flu, stomach virus or strep throat circulating. In the past six years, my immunity to illness has become nothing short of stellar. Of course, I wash my hands a minimum of twenty times a day and walk around with a Purell pendant necklace. I keep Zinc lozenges in my pocket and take one every time I sneeze.

Even with these somewhat obsessive precautions, I still find myself under the weather at least once a season. A few weeks ago, I exhibited some cold-like symptoms and decided to test out this pasta e ceci chicken soup recipe I had been meaning to modify once the winter months were upon us. The recipe came from Pinterest and this is how I modified it:

-Instead of a whole onion, I used half of one and added three chopped celery stalks.

-I used store-bought chicken stock plus two chicken bouillon cubes for extra flavor (an old trick from my mom).

-I added two shredded chicken breasts from a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

-Instead of the herbs listed, I bought a soup mix blend of herbs that I tied together and took out of the soup once it was ready to eat. I also squeezed in the juice of one lemon halfway through the cooking process.

-I skipped steps two and three all together and left the chickpeas whole in the soup.

-Instead of dicing fresh tomatoes, I used canned diced tomatoes.

ImageImageThe finished product was excellent, however, it ended up being more of a stew as the chicken absorbed more of the broth than I anticipated. I didn’t mind this unexpected surprise, however, if you want it to be more of a soup, I would suggest adding an extra can of broth.

Stay warm and enjoy!

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Christmas Carb Friday and Oops!

I will be the first to admit that I proofread my blogs very liberally. More often than not, I find an error after I have already hit publish and have to go back and revise. Yesterday I hit an all time low. I received a frantic text from a fellow grammar snob stating that I had made an unthinkable error. This was the error of all errors. The error I constantly point out and chastise until I am blue in the face. Drum roll. I misused their.

Shame on me. I will completely understand if you unfollow my blog after such a mistake. If I were you, I would. Insomnia is getting the best of me. I need to stop writing at 2:00 AM. No. There are no excuses. I will spend the rest of my life trying to redeem myself. Meanwhile, enjoy Christmas Carb Friday, filled with Jewish guilt.

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Loving Lula

If only I could turn back time. I published my top 38 restaurants that I cleverly coined the “I’m Full 38“,  just shy of two months ago . I plagiarized the concept from The Eater. Is that illegal? I’m pretty sure teachers should not be plagiarizing anything. Nonetheless, had I published that list now, Lula Cafe would most definitely be on it.

Lula had been on my ever-growing list of restaurants to try for quite sometime and I am so glad I finally got to it. I had heard mixed reviews and some said it was better for brunch than dinner. I will most certainly be back for brunch, but the dinner was nothing short of outstanding. I think I have reached a point in my life where I no longer go to a dinner with people who do not want to share everything. Ordering your own dish is so 2004. I went with a friend on a Friday night and although we did not have a reservation, we were able to have a drink at the bar and get seated in under 30 minutes. We sat at the counter by the chef window, which I  personally favor with a party of two. Below are the dishes we ordered.

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Island of Rhodes, this Summer
squid braised in its ink, fregola sarda, burnt orange, fennel

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Parsnip and Burrata Cappellacci
licorice root, frisee, lobster butter

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Delicata Squash and Lardo
burnt maple, date and meyer lemon vinaigrette, ricotta salata
*This was a bonus dish. The waiter brought it out for us to try. We liked him very much!

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Slow Cooked Marsala Short Rib
winter carrots and cranberry beans roasted in tallow, red kuri squash, anchovy, raclette

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Caramel Apple Vol Au Vent
apple cider custard and toasted oat ice cream

The vibe at Lula Cafe is pure Logan Square hipster. Bearded men, plaid shirts and plastic glasses are abundant. There is a warm coziness about this place that makes it perfect for a winter dinner, yet it would be equally fun to go in the summer and sit outside. Everything from the presentation, service and quality of ingredients were phenomenal.

Each dish was better than the next, with the cappellacci being a particular favorite. The waiter was knowledgeable and kind. Don’t you love when people are kind? We basically let him take the lead and do our ordering for us. He described the Island of Rhodes as a seafood mac and cheese for foodies and he could not have been more accurate. Unfortunately, I am moving out of the Logan Square area, but I hope to plan a visit for brunch and a repeat dinner very soon. You go, Lula!

Trenchermen Part Deux

I always keep my promises. After my epic (pulling it off, yet)? brunch at Trenchermen a few weeks ago, I vowed to try it for dinner as soon as possible. I had to wait a few weeks to get a decent Saturday night reservation. Even still, the earliest reservation available was 9:00. It was a bit irritating that when we arrived at 9:00, half of the restaurant was empty and we had called to get an earlier reservation that day. My group and I ordered just short of everything on the menu. It would probably be easier to tell you what we didn’t order, but then you might get confused.

Focaccia, Butter, Hot Sauce, Seasonal Jam

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Potato Gnocchi, Huitlacoche, Mushrooms, Pecorino, Brown Butter Soy

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Pickle Tots,  Chicken Breast Bresaola, Red Onion Yogurt, Scallions  

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Kale Salad, Vegetable Escabeche, Bagna Cauda, Avocado, Pumpkin Seed, Manchego  

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Berkshire Pork Belly, Bulgher, Broccoli, Rhubarb Umeboshi, Black Bean

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Fried Chicken, ‘Popcorn’ Grits, Togarashi, Carrots, Soy Jus, Hot Sauce

ImageEggplant, Sesame, Garlic, Bacon, Sweet Chili

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Trenchermen S’mores, Dark Chocolate, Popcorn Ice Cream, House Graham, Smoked Mallow

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Chicory Apple Fritters, Candied Apricot Seeds, Cider Glaze, Chai Ice Cream Image

The highlights of the meal were the pickled tots and the chicory apple fritters. The pickled tots were the perfect size and I loved the crunchy outside paired with the red onion yogurt. The apple fritters were dense and fresh. I don’t know what chicory is, but I could definitely taste it in the fritter, which made it that much better. I tried to resist my instinct to slap others hands when they went for a bite.

Everything else was good, not great. The sauce with the gnocchi was too thin for the pasta, but it worked well to use the focaccia as a dipping device for it. The pork belly was fatty and forgettable and the Trenchermen s’mores were not really s’mores.

I enjoyed the meal, drinks and company but I definitely misjudged my plan to be a regular customer.