I am no longer a rockstar. I used to cook in uniform until 11:00pm making challah bread, ropa vieja, and guacamole mousse. I am now asleep on the couch by 9:30pm. I guess I have slipped into my old routine of couch snoozing. I have to tell you that I lied about cooking every night this week. Brian had to make dinner Wednesday night. I came home late and stuffed. I had a big day at the Chefs Collaborative. The food at this event was just unbelievable. Maybe that’s why I was asleep by 9:30pm…I was in a food meditation.
I was invited to volunteer with the Chefs Collaborative on Wednesday afternoon. This organization has a mission to advocate for sustainability in the food community and connect chefs with food producers. The group was hosting their national summit and it culminated with a lunch at Café Brauer in Lincoln Park. I was there to help set up, break down, and serve the food of course. It was like I had a backstage pass to the culinary all-star game. I was hanging in the kitchen with Paul Kahan, Carrie Nahabedian, Andrew Zimmerman, and Rick Bayless among others. This may mean something to you, it may not, but for me it was awesome.
I served dish after dish, hearing the guests rave about the food, talk about the tacos being “f-ing spicy,” and going nuts over the fresh peaches. Luckily it was noisy in dining room because my stomach was hungry and doing a lot of talking of its own. After the guests had mounds of food on their plates, a makeshift buffet was set up in the kitchen for the staff and volunteers. I grabbed a plate and surveyed the unbeatable lineup. I kept thinking, what would a meal like this cost if I went to each restaurant individually? I thought about how the chefs were so calm while they were prepping. I thought…no…I stopped thinking and just sat down to eat. Yes, the taco was “f-ing spicy,” but in a really good way; I missed out on the goat cheese cake (sad); was pleasantly surprised by the charcuterie; and loved the marinated kale with peaches.
We almost missed dessert, but just as we were clearing the chairs, someone made an announcement that the cookies and crustadas were outside. I tried my hardest to be a good volunteer and not run out to be the first in line. So I continued to man my post and break down chairs. But as soon as it was somewhat appropriate, I grabbed my friend and slyly walked out to the patio. Two new favorite desserts…thanks Mindy Segal.
At home, Brian made a brat and mac and cheese for dinner. I skipped the brat and had the smallest bowl of mac and cheese. It was about all I could manage after my luncheon feast. Did I mention I was encouraged to bring some of the desserts home? I took a handful without hesitation. So just before I fell asleep it was one more crostata (maybe I am rockstar after all) and then it was lights out for me.
For recipes sake, here is what I made earlier in the week. Enjoy.
Two Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from: Fanny at Chez Panisse
4 cups chicken stock
1 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 small onion – medium dice
1 cup arborio rice
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme sprig
s and p
truffle oil to taste
parmesan cheese to taste
Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat a large heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. Then add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the rice, thyme and bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Use a large ladle to add the stock. Add just enough so that the rice is covered. Continue to stir until the stock is absorbed. Repeat this process continually until the rice is tender and all of the stock is used. This should take 15 – 20 minutes. Add some parmesan cheese and truffle oil to taste.
1 TBS olive oil
1 small onion – small dice
8 shiitake mushrooms tops – julienne cut
s and p
In a small fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Hit with a splash of sherry vinegar (to taste) to finish.