Yeah I did it.
I had a long cooking hiatus. Moving and the running-around nature of summertime put a serious dent in my cooking mojo, but I believe now that I’m settled, it’s back! I’m planning on making these things in the near future: crockpot buffalo chicken, many many tacos with homemade tortillas, carrot ginger salad dressing, finally the 40 clove garlic chicken that’s been dancing around my dreams for years, and vanilla bean ice cubes for coffee.
This particular recipe isn’t cooking, it’s a bunch of chopping and throwing into blender or Cuisinart. But salads in the summer are appropriate, and making your own dressing so that on these 100+ degree days you don’t have to go walk somewhere to get it is pretty great. I picked up 3 cucumbers for $1 at the farmers market this weekend, then kind of realized I do not like cucumbers enough to use them. But I came across this recipe which was perfect timing.
I was afraid this would taste a bit watery, a bland ranch with a cucumber water taste, but it really doesn’t. It has a bit of a kick that I can’t explain, maybe just because I used more pepper than the recipe called for. And twice the garlic. I always double the garlic but especially when a recipe only calls for one clove. Anyone who tells me to put 1 clove of garlic in something, I’m going to be asking them what they’re smoking.
Cucumber Ranch Salad Dressing recipe:
(adapted from here)
- 1/2 cup skim or 2% milk
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
- 1 cucumber, peeled and seeds removed (scraped out w/ spoon)
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup scallions
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
Blend all in a blender or food processor.
Crispy Fish tacos with tempura, smoked cabbage, scallions and Sriracha Tartar Sauce, Antique Taco, Chicago.
I’ve had tacos on the brain all summer long. No, all year. It started out when I discovered this past winter that Taco Joint, which is in my neighborhood, is amazing. Just as good as Big Star, if not better. There is never a time I don’t want tacos, and it’s now a mission of mine to try all the city has to offer.
So Antique Taco opened up about a month ago in Wicker Park, and despite the cutesy name and decor, which usually are a red flag that the focus on food isn’t quite where it should be, it held up to the TimeOut Chicago claim that it can compete with Big Star.
The tacos are large, it’s not a menu where you’ll likely want to order 3 or 4 of them, especially if you get a side like guacamole or the habanero popcorn (must try that next time). The crispy fish ones were pretty great, what I remember most from them is the smoked cabbage and tartar sauce combination though. Was the fish part better than average? I have no idea, because in addition to making them beautiful, those toppings provided a nice, crunchy, tart flavor combo.
We also tried their sweet & spicy chicken ones with cucumber, jalapeno pickle, honey yogurt and purple onion. These were OK but I think I would have liked them to have a bit more spice in them. My advice is to go with the crispy fish and try another set like the carnitas.
The two things about this place that I wouldn’t say are wholly positive are the ordering setup and the menu flexibility, or lack thereof. This is counter service where you order at the front and wait for a table, but I think because they were new they just didn’t have it running smoothly. There was also a bunch of space in the back that seemed like it could hold tables, but it was empty. In terms of the menu, you have to order 2 of 1 kind of taco, you can’t just order 1 of each if that’s what you want. Now I didn’t ask to do it, so who knows, maybe if you push they’ll allow it. But that’s how I always want to order my tacos, I want to try them all!
I’ll be back here to try the other tacos and that habanero popcorn and pop over to Emporium to play old school arcade games next door.
Benedict with French garlic sausage, brioche croutons, poached eggs, shaved bacon and tomato butter sauce, Bangers & Lace, Chicago.
Best brunch I’ve had in months. This dish took savory to a level I haven’t encountered without immediately feeling ill from the fat content. That butter cream sauce? The MEAT in this thing. Bangers & Lace specializes in meats, mostly sausages, and it shows in their brunch dishes. This was juicy, perfectly portioned and I need to immediately figure out where I can buy garlic sausage that comes anywhere close to this stuff.
Quatro staggioni pizza with prosciutto, artichoke, mushroom, black olives and an egg, Francesca’s, Bolingbrook.
I got to eat this and go to IKEA on the same night soI’m not sure how much better it gets, because this pizza was amazing (and only $8.99). The server smeared the raw egg all over it at the table, and I can only imagine the look on my face was like a 5 year old on Christmas. It was perfect, meaty, with thin crust but still with enough bite, tasted fresh, I could go on but I won’t, I just know I need it again.
Sidenote: prosciutto will always make me think of one time I was coming out of a train stop and a girl was standing at the top of an escalator yelling at people and handing out flyers about being vegan and how they’re being awful if they’re not, and I hit her with the bag of prosciutto I was carrying while walking by, because she needed to be whacked with a bag of meat.
Anyway, even their simple house salad was good? The dressing was exceptional and I have no idea why, it was a simple oil and vinegar one, but I think it could just be good ingredients, proving that matters.
I’m seriously Scott Harris-ing it up this week, as I’m going to Davanti Enoteca on Saturday to celebrate my birthday by eating everything they’ve got on their rooftop. Cannot wait.
Blueberry french toast and Nutella gelato, Black Dog Gelato, Roscoe Village, Chicago.
This new, more convenient location for me meant I finally tried this.
Nutella flavor? Standardly good. The blueberry french toast? Actually tasted like french toast, I’m talking bread and egg flavor included, it was SO good.
I will be back for you this Friday, Black Dog, to celebrate my birthday. And you better have your Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel flavor I’ve heard so much about.
Another weekend full of awesome food.
Crispy fish tacos at Antique Taco - very good, big tacos. They had tempura, smoked cabbage, scallions and Sriracha tartar sauce on them. The cabbage and flavored tartar made these. There was a long wait since it’s counter service and very new, but I’d return here.
Cheeseburger from Sunday Dinner Burgers at Green City Market - This stand at the farmers market entices me every Saturday, but I never go for it with the burger before noon. This time since I went later I had to do it. The burger has horseradish cheddar, green garlic mayo and arugula on it. It was amazing, juicy and unlike any other burger I’ve had. Now I know it’s never too early for a burger.
Sausage, green pepper and onion pizza with caramelized crust from Pequod’s - This was the only deep-dish-like pizza I want again. It’s not really deep dish because it’s not deep and filled with sauce and cheese, it’s deep and filled with the toppings, and has a thick crust. Their crust is famous for being caramelized, and it definitely added a nice flavor to this pie.
Old Fashioned from me - made these for some friends who had never had one before. Even a non-whiskey fan liked it!