Saturday, April 17, 2010

What does Sangamon mean?

Many people ask what Sangamon means? When we started this blog we brainstormed for days on what to name it. We live on Sangamon street in the west loop and the word Sangamon comes from a Pottawatomie word Sain-guee-mon (pronounced "sang gä mun") meaning "where there is plenty to eat." And Chris comes from Sangamon County, so it seemed to fit.

cabbage, beets and pork

Sometimes the best meals are the simplest. When I am cooking, I like to use the vegetable and meat to its full potential, meaning I don't like adding a ton of ingredients to it. So many vegetables and meat are good on there own, they just need proper seasoning. Chris and I bought the cookbook Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller. It is a great cookbook, the layout is really cool and the recipes are wonderful. It is packed with so many different things to make. The cabbage and pork brine are based on recipes from this book.

Recipe - pork brine
Makes enough for 4 chops or butterfly.
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon thyme
5 garlic cloves, crushed
teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup salt
4 cups water

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil. Boil for about a minute. Then take off heat and cool it completely, I put it in the fridge to speed up the process. When it is cool, place the pork into the brine. You can brine for at max 3 days. When I made this meal, I let the pork brine for about 2 hours. When ready to cook the meat. Heat olive oil in a pan. Dry the chops with a paper towel. Place in the hot pan. Cook for about 4 minutes a side. When cooking meat, try not to move it when it's cooking. Place in pan and let is cook until it's time to flip, this will help you get the nice crisp, browned outside and you will still have a nice moist inside. Chris jokes that I am the best at cooking meat in a pan. I think it is my years of practice in college, I think I ate a chicken breast every night for many many years. I use an Anolon titanium pan, it is great, because it is non-stick, but you will not get scratching or peeling. But don't worry, when I was in college, I am sure I had some craptastic pan and my chicken would turn out fabulous.

Recipe- beets
olive oil

This is a simple recipe. People think it is difficult to cook beets, but it is so easy. First you want to chop the greens off. Then head to the sink and start scrubbing. Don't be afraid of the dirt, it will clean up real fast. This time I used golden beets, but you can use this same method for any variety. It is really nice to cook a bunch of beets and then you have them in the fridge and can add to any meal.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. When you are done cleaning them, they will look so pretty! chop off the tops and the tails. Wrap them in tinfoil. Pour a little olive oil into the tinfoil and sprinkle a little salt. Place in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes. Cooking time will vary due to the size of your beets. When you take them out of the oven, it is easiest to get the skins off when they are hot. Peel the tin foil off and use a paper towel to pull the skins off.

When ready to serve cut them in slices. I eat them plain or I sprinkle a little olive oil, balsamic and parmesan. You can try many different things with beets.

Recipe- Cabbage
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 head red cabbage
olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Who knew you could cook cabbage, I usually just see it in coleslaw. This recipe is great because the cabbage gets this great nutty flavor from the pistachios.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the nuts on the baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. Half way through toss them around a bit, to makes sure they are browning on all sides. When done, set aside. The pistachios that I bought were sort of large, so I chopped them up, you can do this or leave them as is.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the cabbage. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, tossing it frequently.

Add the shallots and chicken stock. Bring this to a simmer. Keep tossing the cabbage. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the stock has evaporated. You want the cabbage to be tender, not mushy! Combine the nuts with the cabbage and you are ready to serve. This recipe is great for leftovers. We had a bunch of leftovers, so for a week I just added a little cabbage to my meal, so tasty!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


This is one of my favorite (I need dinner now) dishes. It is a nice, warm delicious meal that only requires 1 pan, well maybe 2, cause you gotta poach the eggs. I can't believe that we have had this blog for over a year and haven't posted Kedgeree. There are many different variations to Kedgeree. But this is our take on it. Actually Chris taught me how to make this. It is so easy and I feel like it doesn't require any fancy ingredients.

1 cup rice- basmati, jasmine or whatever you prefer.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup onion / scallions
1 cup frozen spinach or fresh
lemon juice- about half of a lemon
3 eggs
Smoked salmon 4-6ozs
seasoning - salt pepper to taste

We use a rice cooker, but you could easily do this in a pot. If you don't have a rice cooker, I would definitely think about getting one. I don't own many appliances, but this one is great and they are relatively cheap.

Put the rice in the cooker with the correct amount of water. Usually it is 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. add the butter, capers, onions, spinach- if using frozen. Let this cook until the rice cooker is done.

When the rice has about 10 minutes left you can start to poach the eggs. I have an egg poacher, so it makes it a little easier, but you could easily to this the old fashioned way. You want the eggs to be cooked on the outside but runny on the inside.

Once the eggs are done, hopefully the rice will be done as well.

add the eggs to the rice.

add the salmon, I use a kitchen scissors and cut it into pieces right into the pot. Pour the lemon juice on top and stir it all together. If using fresh spinach you can add it now. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You won't need much salt because you get a nice salty taste from the capers and the salmon.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chicken Cobbler

I never really think of pot pie as something that sounds delicious. The only thing that comes to mind are those gross frozen things that come in a tin. One night I wasn't feeling inspired to cook, until I saw an article from Mark Bittman on The New York Times and it was about chicken cobbler. I thought, that sounds good. I jumped off the couch and started cooking and to my surprise it was really good and it had that pot pie flavor, and it was a delicious one!

Adapted from Mark Bittman's Chicken Cobbler
1 leek- chop and only use white and light green parts
1 shallot
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons thyme- fresh is best, but dry will work
2 carrots chopped
3 chicken thighs diced- you can use breasts as well
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup buttermilk- if you don't have any you can substitute milk with a little lemon juice added or even plain yogurt. I didn't have any so I did the lemon milk option and it turned out great.
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees. I used my dutch oven so it was a 1 pot meal. If you don't have one, just use a high walled pan that is oven proof. Heat oil in the pan over medium heat, when the oil is hot add the leaks and shallots.

Leeks can burn pretty easily, so make sure your pan isn't too hot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until every thing is soft about 5 minutes.

Now you can add the chicken stock and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and add chicken and carrots. Cook for about 8 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Add peas and corn, cook for about 1 minute or until all the veggies are nice and bright.

Now it is time to make a slurry, this is something that makes soups and stews thick. Get out a small bowl and spoon about 1 cup of broth from the pot into the bowl. Now add the cornstarch to this bowl. Mix this up really well. Use a small whisk or a fork. You want to make sure you get most of the lumps out. When creamy add it to the pot, stir it in really well. You will notice that everything gets nice and thick.

In a new bowl mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Cut up the butter into thin slices and place in the bowl. Use your hands to work it all together. It should resemble crumbles when you are done. Some people use a food processor, but it's not necessary. Once crumbly add in the buttermilk and egg. Mix very well. It will be very sticky and wet.

Take this mixture and drop it on top of the vegetables and chicken. With a spatula smooth it all over. It is alright to leave a little room around the edges.

Place in the over for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

A few months ago we discovered Kristoffer's Bakery in Pilsen. They have the most delicious Tres Leches cake ever. Well, actually it was the first time I have ever had the cake, but it is delicious. Jen, Stacie and I are obsessed. For Jen's Birthday, I knew that I needed to make a Tres Leches cake. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it was so fabulous. If you have never had Tres Leches cake before, it is the most moist, soft and creamy cake ever!

1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
5 whole eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cups milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cups heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I wanted to make a round cake, but you can use a 9 x 13 pan as well. Make sure to liberally rub some butter all around the pan.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Now comes the fun part, separating the eggs. Get out 2 bowls, one for the whites and one for the yolks. I will show you how I do this.

Crack the egg in half and the pour the yolk back and forth between the 2 egg shells, keep doing this until all the egg whites are out of the shell. Simply pour the yolk into a separate bowl. Now you should have 1 bowl with the whites and another bowl with the yolks.

Beat the yolks with 3/4 cups sugar, until it is nice and creamy. Add in the milk and vanilla. Mix the egg yolk mixture with the flour mixture. Stir gently until combined.

Now it is time to beat the egg white. Beat them on high speed until they start to form soft peaks. Once you have soft peaks, add in 1/4 cup sugar and continue to mix until combined.

Now you are going to combine the egg whites with the other mixture. Fold the egg whites gently. You don't want them to lose their fluffiness.

Once it is all combined pour into your pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Mine only took 30 minutes. So check at 30, you want a knife to come out clean.

Let it cool and then flip onto a plate that has a lip.

In a small pitcher combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream.

Use a fork to put holes all around the cake. Now you can pour the milk slowly all over the cake. You will need to do this in batches. Let the milk soak in between pours.

Once you have all the milk poured in, let it sit for at least 30 minutes. You will see all of the milk get soaked up from the ridge of the plate. I let it sit over night in the fridge and then frosted it in the morning.

Now the best part, making the frosting.

1 pint heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Pour the cream into a bowl, it helps to keep the cream cold right up till you are going to use it. I also run the bowl under cold water as well. Pour the cream into the bowl and mix on high for about 8 minutes. Add in the sugar and vanilla. Continue to mix until combined. You want the frosting to be really fluffy. Taste it and see if you need to add more sugar or vanilla.

Plop the frosting on and spread it around with a spatula.

The cake looked a little bare all white, so I added some cocoa powder to the white frosting and put some lettering on the cake. Not the most professional job, but I think Jen liked it!

Here is the birthday girl blowing out the candles. We went to Three Floyds Brewery, it was a lot of fun.

and of course you gotta see the inside...mmm it was so delicious!

Brussels Sprouts Salad

The other weekend we were running errands downtown and our stomachs were grumbling, so we popped into The Purple Pig, it is a new restaurant on Michigan ave. It was very warm and cozy. We had a beet salad, Brussels sprout salad and grilled cheese. and of course some wine. The restaurant had a great atmosphere and the food was delish! We especially liked the Brussels sprout salad, so of course we re created a version at home. I usually cook Brussels sprouts, so it was a nice option to cut them up for a salad.

8 Brussels sprouts
1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

Chop the Brussels sprouts into thin slices.

Grate up some cheese, my favorite tool for doing this is a Microplane. If I lived in Portland, I would only buy my cheese from Cheese Bar, but I don' sad.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with lemon, olive oil and cheese. Enjoy!