I promised Dana that it wouldn’t snow on her wedding day: “It has never snowed in the first week of October…ever!” Well, at least not in our part of the country. Nature had other plans though, and Chicago set a record for the earliest snowfall EVER on her big day. It was only recorded at the airport, we didn’t see any of it in town, but it was still it was a record-setting day.
Dana and John were excited that the date was 10-4 – a term that means “I understand” – because they’ve truly understood each other since day one. To illustrate that, they co-wrote a note to their guests on the back of John’s beautifully designed dinner menu. (The menu was printed on a small baguette bag.) They told the story of their meeting and talking about food…making a food-centric life together…and how a trip to the farmer’s market produced the best nickname ever!
I’m sharing a bit of this with you now because planning the wedding has taken me away from my blog – I refused to do bad posts just to get something out there. For me, blogging takes quite a lot of effort and care: I adapt recipes, or make my own better; I gather props; I try to take beautiful pictures; and then hopefully, I write something worth reading. I just didn’t have it in me to do all that for the past few months. I’m also a very private person, so sharing all of the highs and lows that we went through weekly wasn’t my style.
In the end, we celebrated Dana and John’s deep love for one another – it wasn’t about the weather, or the dress, or the music. It was about them committing their lives to each other…all the rest was just icing on a very pretty cake.
So now I’d like to share with you a few pictures of the journey we’ve been on these last few months.
Can we find a chapel that will resemble the one in our hometown? Yes, St. James Chapel.
What about a venue? A museum? A park? Can we put them together and find a museum in a park? The Chicago History Museum is perfect!
I was honored to go with Dana to pick out her dress. The first one she tried on was perfect, and even though many others auditioned for the role, the first was the winner. Here she is at one of her last fittings, when it was time to pick out her veil.
Should she wear flowers in her hair at the reception?
How fortunate we were to find that the florist Dana’s been following on Instagram is NOT in Brooklyn, but in Logan Square! Isn’t Kelly Marie from Fleur fabulous?
We were so lucky that John is such an amazing graphic artist who designed and printed everything BY HAND, from the invitations to the menus, for an extra magical touch.
This was her father’s proudest day.
The time is finally here for the most important part…the ceremony.
The first dance is so important…especially when John’s brother is a very talented musician and he’s playing your special song. I can’t fail to mention that we really love John and his family and feel so blessed to have them in our lives.
John sweeps Dana off her feet…literally!
The second dance wasn’t too shabby either!
We were so honored that many dear family and friends traveled to join us…thank you! You made the day even more special…. I only wish I could have talked to everyone longer.
It’s a tradition in our family to take special formal portraits for important occasions…Jeff has never taken any that were so special or more important. Pictures have always been how we’ve recorded our lives. Now we look forward to recording our future.
We served a signature cocktail at the reception, fittingly called the 10-4. I’ve adapted it here for all of you to enjoy with your family and friends.
Autumn Apple Bourbon Cocktail Recipe
Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon (or any excellent quality Kentucky bourbon)
3 teaspoons cinnamon simple syrup (recipe below)
3 teaspoons fresh apple cider (I used pasteurized)
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Handful of ice
Slice of fresh apple (for garnish)
Cinnamon Simple Syrup Recipe
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Prepare Cinnamon Simple Syrup.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together water, sugar, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, whisking for about a minute. Take off heat and let cool. Skim the film off of the top. (If stored in your fridge in a glass jar with a lid, this will keep for a month).
Chill stemmed cocktail glass.
Add the bourbon, simple syrup, cider and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake hard for about 10 seconds. Pour in chilled glass.
Garnish with a slice of apple.
Thank you to all of our friends who were ready with their smart phones to help us record this wonderful day. I took very few pictures that day because I wanted to be in the moment, not behind the lens, so most pictures that you see of the wedding and reception were taken by:
Jeff Kauck – Formal Portrait – St. James Chapel – Bouquet and Veil
Gluten-free Raspberry Souffle
Spring, the long anticipated season of rebirth and renewal is finally making a tentative appearance. I can’t remember the last time I was this desperate for it to arrive, can you? As I’m writing this and dreaming about the long awaited Spring, I’m reminded of our recent visit to Cumberland Island last month. The weather was just starting to break from chilly gloom to vibrant blue skies and sunshine. A few early blooms were peeking out of a carpet of brown and most heartening of all was that the resurrection ferns were verdant again.
When we were there last December they were brown, withered and looking lifeless, but with a deep soaking rain the fronds unfurl and then once again adorn the trunks and limbs of the trees that host them. They rise again, letting us know that we can soon look forward to the long awaited season of renewal. It is said that these ferns can go as long as 100 years without water, just waiting for the chance to flourish again.
What’s inspiring me in the kitchen now is light, airy and Spring-like…I’m thinking souffle. Souffles make me smile and I love the sense of anticipation. This one will not disappoint. It is light, but with an intense raspberry glow thanks to the addition of the Chambord in the souffle and in the sauce. This is not an easy recipe, but the results and “oohs” and “aahs” of your family and friends will make the effort worthwhile for your next Sunday Supper.
Now, let’s get to work.
First, you need to make the raspberry puree. Combine the ingredients listed and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Place in blender and puree for a few minutes. Place a large strainer over a larger bowl, as shown. Pour in the raspberry puree. Using a large wooden spoon stir and press the puree into the bowl leaving the seeds behind. What you will get is fresh, raspberry puree. You will use 1/2 cup of this for the souffle and 1 cup for the sauce.
For the sauce you will whisk 1 cup of the puree, Chambord, butter, fresh lemon juice and cornstarch in a small saucepan, stir occasionally until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
I like to use 8 – 3 oz. (3 inch) ramekins for this recipe. Butter and dust them with granulated sugar. Important, clean off the rim, or the souffle will not rise properly.
Next, the custard.
In order for this recipe to be gluten-free you need to make sure that your cornstarch is gluten-free. I’ve researched and found that Argo cornstarch is processed correctly.
Whisk together the granulated sugar and cornstarch in large saucepan. Whisk in milk, eggs and Chambord. Over low heat, whisk mixture until it forms the consistency of custard. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and butter.
Now, the fun part.
In a large bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat until eggs form stiff peaks.
Gently, fold in the custard mixture and fill ramekins to right underneath where you cleaned the collar.
Place ramekins on a baking tray and immediately place in oven.
Your oven needs to be 400 degrees…no cheating and popping these in at 375 if you forgot to preheat the oven, or you will be sadly disappointed. Bake until slightly golden on top, about 10 to 12 minutes. Do not open and close oven door to check.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with a few raspberries and serve immediately with sauce.
Gluten- Free Raspberry Souffle Recipe
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Light, airy and intensely fruity dessert, perfect for Spring.
For the Puree:
4 - 6 oz. containers of fresh raspberries (remove 16 for garnish)
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon water
For the Sauce:
1 Cup raspberry puree
1/2 Cup Chambord (a raspberry liqueur)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 Teaspoon cornstarch
For the Custard:
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup raspberry puree
1/2 cup Chambord
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Egg White Mixture:
5 egg whites
1/8 Teaspoon (pinch) of cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Separate the eggs.
Butter the individual ramekins. Dust with granulated sugar. Be sure to wipe off the collar of the dish (as shown).
For the Puree:
Remove 16 raspberries (for garnish). In a large saucepan, add remaining berries, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes till fruit is very soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour raspberries into a blender and blend at the puree setting for about 2 minutes. Place a large strainer over an even larger bowl (as shown). Press the raspberries through the stainer with a wooden spoon. You will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups of raspberry puree.
For the Sauce:
In a small saucepan on medium heat, stir in the raspberry puree, Chambord, butter, fresh lemon juice and cornstarch till sauce starts to bubble slightly. Turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes till sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.
For the Custard:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk, egg yolks, raspberry puree and Chambord. On medium heat, stir constantly until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla.
For the Egg Mixture:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they form soft peaks (as shown).
Gently, fold the custard into the egg mixture. Do this step as quickly and gently as possible.
Fill the ramekins to right below the collar of the dish. Place all of the ramekins on a baking tray. Pop tray into the oven for about 10 - 12 minutes till the tops are slightly golden.
Remove from oven, dust with confectioner's sugar and top with 2 raspberries per serving.
Serve immediately accompanied by a container of the sauce.
One Irish dish that’s familiar to almost everyone is corned beef and cabbage. But, did you know that boiled bacon and cabbage is a a popular, traditional Irish dish as well? Actually, the most important meat in Ireland is pork, not beef, corned or otherwise.
Irish recipes are usually based around a few fresh, local ingredients: potatoes, cabbage, oatmeal, dairy, fish, fowl, lamb and pork. For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day supper, I’ve chosen to use a combination of a few classic ingredients with a contemporary food lovers twist.
I’ve taken the dish forward to something most food lovers adore right now…crispy pork belly, and paired it with potatoes, carrots and cabbage. The vegetables are all sauteed in Irish butter till they reach a lovely brown.
If you’ve never prepared pork belly before, it’s actually quite simple. The hardest part might be finding somewhere that sells it in your area. I’d start by calling local butchers and if that doesn’t work, try Whole Foods (which is where I buy mine) or you can find it online. I like to buy pork belly without the tough outer skin. I also look for a piece that has a nice ratio of fat to lean.
Once you’ve found your beautiful piece of pork belly it’s easy to prepare. I recommend that you place it on a rack in a roasting pan, if you don’t have a roasting pan that has its own rack, use a cooling rack placed in your roaster, or even wadded up aluminum foil…you basically need to elevate the meat so that the fat can drain, you don’t want the pork belly to stew in its own juices. Also, it needs to be cooked slowly so that the outside is crisp and the inside is tender.
I like to serve pork belly cut into slices and served over a bed of sauteed cabbage topped with a layer of golden brown potatoes and carrots.
Crispy Pork Belly and Cabbage Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
An easy, delicious alternative to corned beef.
2 lb. pork belly (have butcher remove the tough outer skin)
1 tablespoon salt
1 small head of cabbage, cored and sliced into thin strips
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (as shown)
4 tablespoons Irish butter, divided in half (I used Kerry Gold, but feel free to use any good quality butter)
Salt and pepper
Important: For this recipe you want to use the lowest rack in your oven so that fat does not splash on the heating element.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place pork belly on rack in roasting pan skin side up and sprinkle with salt.
Place pork belly in the oven and roast for 10 minutes, IMMEDIATELY turn oven down to 325 degrees. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the outside is crisp and the inside is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes then slice into pieces (as shown).
In 2 separate large skillets, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. In one skillet add the cabbage, in the other skillet add the potatoes and carrots. Stir occasionally till all the vegetables are golden (about 15 - 20 minutes).
Salt and pepper, to taste
To serve: Arrange the cabbage on a plate, top with carrots and potatoes and sliced pork belly.
Wishing you and your family and friends a very happy St. Patrick’s Day…enjoy!
Temptation. It happened after about a week of my detox diet to help cure my bout with ciguatera. I had been craving something spicy to make up for all of the foods that I recently had given up…and then I started craving cheese. This was interesting because cheese is not my go to, have to have, can’t live without food. But cheese was the first “forbidden food” I added back into my diet. It was logical (at least to me) because it would go well with my spicy craving. Since I didn’t feel so hot and didn’t really want to cook, this recipe came together by default. It’s super easy, fast and spicy. I like the fact that you use just one of everything which makes it a breeze to remember. It’s a bit lazy too…some days are like that. You grab for a prepackaged spice instead of mixing your own. You reach for cans instead of cooking from scratch. It’s OK…another day, when you feel energetic, you can soak and cook the beans and chop fresh tomatoes…but I just wanted to grab items from the pantry. I believe that your family and friends will enjoy this dish either way. If you are cooking for hearty eaters, you may want to double the recipe.
I know that some of you might be abstaining from dairy or maybe lacto ovo vegetarian and don’t want to add any cheese, but I wanted gooey, tangy, melting cheese piled high on a steamy bowl of spicy. If you have to eliminate the cheese, I’ll understand. You can also add a pop of guacamole if you’d like. Double decadence for me is cheese AND guacamole.
Thankfully, after about four weeks my crazy ciguatera symptoms started to subside and I’m now back to my more indulgent ways, but I have a new outlook regarding detox diets and a new appreciation for vegan and vegetarian dishes. Many of my new habits are going to stay with me, such as more vegetables and less meat. This dish fits that goal perfectly.
I’m truly grateful that I recovered fairly quickly and I don’t seem to have any lingering symptoms. Once again, I’d like to tell you how much your kind thoughts and words meant to me.
Easy Vegetarian Chili Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
A quick, easy, spicy vegetarian chili perfect for Sunday supper.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 can (15 oz.) organic black or pinto beans
1 can (15 oz.) organic chopped or crushed tomatoes
1 package (1 oz.) vegetarian chili spice
1 cup sharp cheddar, colby and Monterey jack cheese, shredded (optional)
1 cup guacamole (optional)
Cilantro for garnish
In a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, onion and green pepper. Stir and cook till onions are translucent. Add the carrot, black beans (including liquid) and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the vegetarian chili spice. Stir till spice is incorporated into mixture. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Sprinkle with cheese (optional) and/or guacamole, garnish with cilantro.
Dear friends, I have been so touched by your concern, good thoughts and well wishes…thank you! This has been quite a journey, but I’m feeling better every day. This illness (Ciguatera) has taken me down some roads that I don’t usually travel, with some interesting results. However, I did use it as a springboard to better health which led me to this week’s post.
I’ve been listening to my body and I eliminated a lot of what I normally eat. I went from eating everything to eating a small number of options. Quite honestly, this was hard…very, very hard. Most of you know I don’t shy away from sugar, caffeine…and of course, my beloved butter. You probably also have figured out that I’m not vegetarian, let alone vegan, but, to start this journey I eliminated EVERYTHING…sugar, caffeine, processed foods, dairy, white flour, alcohol, meat and fish (since it could trigger a relapse). What that left me with was a vegan diet, and a very healthy vegan diet at that. So for the first week, this is a recipe that I devised and want to share with you because a tasty meatless recipe is always good to have on hand for our vegetarian and vegan friends and family. Bonus: this one is also gluten free.
Quinoa is an ancient grain and a great protein that is a “go to” for vegetarians and vegans alike. For this recipe, I used an organic, heirloom variety. It’s easy to prepare, but rather bland, and I craved more flavor. I found that when I added it to the kale sauteed with garlic and olive oil, the garlic and olive oil coated the grain and gave it depth. I roasted the the beets in this recipe which gave them a lovely, earthy sweetness. If you have time, I would suggest toasting the walnuts as well. The bright, crisp taste of pomegranate adds a fresh finish.
We really enjoy this meatless main dish. If you are trying to decrease meat or gluten in your diet, or perhaps are cooking for folks who don’t eat meat at all, I invite you try this recipe for your next Sunday Supper.
P.S. Are you looking for a special sweet for Valentine’s Day? If so, please check out my Pavlova Hearts with Chantilly Cream from the Sunday Supper archives.
Quinoa with Sauteed Kale, Roasted Beets, Walnuts and Pomegranate
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
A quick, easy, tasty vegan and gluten free main dish.
1 cup quinoa prepared according to package directions (makes approximatley 2 cups cooked quinoa)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Lacinato kale
4 small beets, roasted and cut into pieces
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds (arils) removed
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Wash kale and remove center stem. Tear into small pieces.
In large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil and minced garlic, stir making sure that garlic does not burn.
Add kale and stir to coat with the oil and garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
Add the quinoa and stir.
Finally, stir in roasted beets and walnuts till warmed through (about 30 seconds).
Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Divide onto 4 dinner plates.
Sprinkle with pomegranate.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.