Garden Bounty by Julie Szimon

I love vegetable gardening!  Well, let me rephrase that.  I love to get organic plants or seeds and plant them in my garden with organic soil, water them, weed them and see what happens.  I don’t know what the PH level of my soil is.  I don’t use any chemicals to make things grow bigger.  I just plant. 

Growing up in the city, we never had a garden.  We lived in a two-flat on the north side of Chicago.  We did have an apple tree in the back yard that took up most of the space.  Each year I was allowed to climb up the tree and pick the apples on top that no one could reach.  Those apples were then cooked down by my grandmother and made into applesauce.  She would can the applesauce in mason jars so we could enjoy it all winter long. 

When we moved to the suburbs I started a small 4’x8’ vegetable garden.  As time went on, my vegetable garden grew to a 25’x35’ enclosed area with 8 raised beds and an open space for berry bushes.  Each Spring I plan out what worked well last year and I try to add something new.  I love to see how the new plants grow and what culinary creations I can come up with when they are ready for harvest. 

I like to plant peppers and the garden always produces an abundance of them.  Some sweet ones and some hot ones.  I have used them in salsas and salads and I have even pickled them.  Last year I decided to make hot pepper jelly with them.  It was so good!  I made several batches and canned it for myself and gave some as gifts.  My favorite way to enjoy the jelly is on toasted bread or crackers along with some goat cheese.  It’s sweet and hot and delicious! It also came in handy over the winter months when friends dropped in for a glass of holiday cheer. 

This year the peppers are looking good, so another batch of hot pepper jelly will be coming.  The recipe I use is great just the way it is but don’t be afraid to be creative with the pepper mixture.  I added some red peppers for color, cracked black pepper, fresh thyme and some dried lemon peel.

Hot Pepper Jelly
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Ingredients
  1. 12 oz. of jalapeno (or variety of) peppers
  2. 2 cups cider vinegar, divided
  3. 6 cups of sugar
  4. 2 - 3 oz. pouches of liquid pectin
  5. 5 - 8 oz. half pint glass-preserving jars with lids and bands
Instructions
  1. Prepare/sanitize glass jars, lids and bands per manufacturers directions.
  2. Puree peppers in a food processor with 1 cup of cider vinegar until smooth. Do not strain puree.
  3. Combine puree with remaining 1 cup of cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add liquid pectin and continue to boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. Ladle hot pepper jelly into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rim. Secure lid and band. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when pressed in the center.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Food As A Gift by Deb Forkins

After lamenting my less than stellar rhubarb harvest last year, a dear friend brought me over this homemade rhubarb treasure.  She is a fabulous cook, and the pie was delicious….but it was the big D on that pie that was the most delish!  Edible friendship!

One Sunday, I came home from working at Marcel’s to dinner in the oven.  Marc had made his specialty quiche, adding zucchini to my half.  Again, the best part of that dinner was my name on my half of the quiche in zucchini peel.  Edible love.

Sharing the gift of food is a universal gesture of love and friendship, compassion and kindness.  A meal to a family struggling with challenges, chicken soup to a sick friend, cookies to your new neighbor…food has always been a way that we reach out to one another, to connect.  We all know this.  The food itself may or may not be a fabulous culinary creation, but the gesture speaks volumes.

In her cookbook, Food Gift Love, author and chef Maggie Battista shares some tips to make you the quintessential food gifter:

  • Know your recipient. (always best to play to the audience.)
  • Master a signature food gift so you can make it quickly and have the ingredients in your head.
  • Embrace imperfection. (my favorite tip!)
  • Put a label on it. (ingredients and date created)
  • Summer and fall are the best time to make gifts when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and it’s a less hectic time of the year.
  • Reuse old jars, cups and boxes that can be cleaned and repurposed.

At risk of sounding corny, “what the world needs now is love.”  And edible love is just the best. 

(Check out Chef Kelly Sears’ “Pickling and Preserving Workshop” on Sunday, August 27th to learn the tricks of canning and preserving in anticipation of Christmas 2017 Food Gift Giving!)

A Repertoire by Amy Patterson

A peek inside of a recipe collection is revealing. Each recipe a star, a collection that inks out a distinct constellation over time – a personal roadmap of traditions, travels, relationships and memories.
 
My file after 20 years in my own kitchen is scattered amidst pages of heavily annotated cookbooks, dog-eared pages of Fine Cooking, vintage cards in my grandma’s ornate script and a healthy pinch of recipes gathered online. Of the thousands of recipes that could be unearthed in my home, there are a handful that reappear time and again – a motley mix that is a representation of my family’s tastes and sensibilities.  Years of experimentation have mined out our shining stars: an endlessly adaptable loaf of peasant bread, a dead-simple before school pancake recipe, an aromatic chipotle and cumin burger…  
 
Eggplant Dip is my favored appetizer for a party. Every time I whip this up, I am reminded of my Aunt Lois, who clipped this from the Chicago Tribune in the early 90’s. Or if there is a chill in the air, I’ll appear with a retro batch of Hanky Pankies ready to slide into the oven – a dish that could only be reproduced by someone time traveling from an early 80’s avocado-green kitchen in Minnesota. It invariably requires a dash to the supermarket in a clandestine search of Velveeta. (Not an ingredient that Daniel sources at Marché…)
 
Nothing makes me happier than sipping a glass of wine, tending a dish braising on the stovetop and daydreaming of the French countryside. Thus a Sunday dinner chez nous is likely Beef Bourguignon with mashed potatoes or a velvety celery root purée (a relatively recent addition to our repertoire).  Another (Italian) candidate would be a long-simmered Bolognese with fresh ribbons of fettuccine helped along by my daughter Lily.
 
A frenzied weekday often culminates with Salsa Chicken. Chicken thighs, 2 bottles of salsa – one red, one green. Gloriously simple and requested often; so little effort for a tasty taco. The award for most requested weeknight dinner is tied between my “signature” Sausage Pasta or Lily’s favorite – Korean Bulgogi Steak with Coconut Jasmine Rice.
 
Almond Cake from my battered and beloved copy of Cooking for Mr. Latte is my go-to dessert. This most delicious of cakes can be topped with seasonally appropriate fruit that improves with a leisurely nap on the countertop. If it is up to Gage, he will request Kahlua Vodka Cake, a nice slice of boozy and boxed Americana from my old colleague’s mother out East.
 
Open my fridge in the summer and you will find a pitcher or two of my Gazpacho – a vibrant melange of fresh vegetables lightly tempered by the addition of country bread and fruity olive oil. This never fails to transport me back to Southern Spain and is perfect for al fresco entertaining on the patio. As we are heading into summer, this is the recipe from my collection that I would love to share with you below.
 
Next week, we are moving to Idaho. As I pack up our home, I am paying extra care to my cookbooks and recipes. I’ve found several snippets from Marcel’s and I know that many of these recipes will slip into my time-honed repertoire and forever remind me of my connection with this magical and delicious little place.  These are the things that I will hold onto.
 
Editor’s Note: All of us at Marcel’s and Marché are going to miss Amy and her charming family in our midst.  Amy has been with us since the doors opened and her passion for food and eye for the creative have contributed so much. A bientôt, Patterson family!
 
Gazpacho
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups day-old country bread, torn into pieces
  2. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  3. pinch of cumin (or more to taste)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  5. 3 pounds ripe in-season tomatoes
  6. 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  7. 1 red pepper, chopped
  8. 2 tablespoons red onion
  9. 1/4 cup mild extra virgin olive oil
  10. 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  11. 1/4 pound ham (or pancetta), cubed
  12. 1 thick slice of country-style bread, little cubes for croutons
Instructions
  1. Place the bread in a bowl, add cold water to cover, and let soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out excess liquid.
  2. Place garlic, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them to a paste.
  3. Place the tomatoes (lightly sprinkled with kosher salt), cucumber, red pepper, red onion, soaked bread and cumin/garlic/salt paste in a large bowl. Toss to mix and massage everything together. Let stand for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Add to blender (it may need to be in 2 batches) along with olive oil. Purée until smooth.
  5. Transfer soup to a large bowl and season with sherry vinegar and salt to taste.
  6. Refrigerate the gazpacho, covered, until chilled. At least 2 hours.
  7. Heat a small skillet to medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and cubed ham and fry until crisp. Remove to bowl leaving olive oil behind. Add cubed bread and fry until browned. (No need for oil with pancetta)
  8. Garnish soup with cubes of ham, croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons Lemaster Family Kitchen TOSA seasoning mix*
  3. 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  4. 1 medium onion
  5. 1 zucchini
  6. 1 red pepper
Instructions
  1. Whisk together oil and seasoning mix. Add chicken cut into chunks. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Heat grill to medium high heat.
  3. Cut vegetables into chunks and toss with some more olive oil and TOSA mix to coat. Thread chicken and vegetables on skewers. Grill until chicken is cooked and vegetables are crisp tender.
  4. Serve with saffron rice.
  5. *Lemaster Family Kitchen TOSA seasoning blend available at Marcels
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/
 

This Week at Marcel’s: August 14th – 20th

SUN, AUG 20th 4 – 6 PM: MEET ME AT MARCEL’S PRESENTS “COCOA” CHANEL’S BIRTHDAY SOIRÉE

Plans are shaping up for our special event with Glen Ellyn’s Enchantments celebrating the fashion and style icon, Coco Chanel. Enchantments will host a vintage Chanel jewelry trunk show here at Marcel’s, where each piece is unique and one of a kind… just like Coco herself! Marcel’s will feature treats and goodies that celebrate “Cocoa”, with a little special something for each guest. Click here or stop into the store to register for this exciting event.

 

Here’s what’s happening in our kitchen this week:

Thursday, August 17th 6:30 – 9 pm Hands On How to Throw a Parillada with Chef Julie Szimon $85 Seats Available
 
Sunday, August 20th 4 – 6 pm Open House Meet Me at Marcel’s: “Cocoa” Chanel Soirée $10 
 
Call us at 630-790-8500 to get on the Waiting List for these Sold Out classes:
 
Monday & Tuesday, August 14th & 15th 11 am – 12:30 pm Hands On Little Kids: Two Day Camp: Around the World Street Food with Chef Jamie Bordoshuk $75 for both days
 
Thursday & Friday, August 17th & 18th 11 am – 1:00 pm Hands On Big Kids: Pie Like a Pro with Chef Kelly Sears $90 for both days
 
Friday, August 18th 6:30 – 9:00 pm Hands On Wines of Summer with Chef Kiley Fields $90
 
Come Cook Create and Celebrate at Marcel’s!

Roasted Plum-Apricot Ice Cream

Roasted Plum-Apricot Ice Cream
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Ingredients
  1. 4 plums
  2. 2 apricots
  3. ¾ cup sugar, divided
  4. 1/3 cup heavy cream
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 3 drops almond extract
Instructions
  1. Halve the fruit and pull out stones. Set in a small baking dish, cut sides up. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sugar. Roast in a 350 degree F. oven until fruit has collapsed, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Scrape fruit and juices into a food processor along with the remaining ½ cup sugar, cream and extracts; swirl until smooth. Press through a medium mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Chill.
  3. Place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer instructions, approximately 25 minuntes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound green beans
  2. 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  3. 1 can cannellini or navy beans, drained
  4. 1 large shallot
  5. 3 T. red wine vinegar
  6. salt
  7. freshly ground pepper
  8. ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  9. basil or other herb, optional
Instructions
  1. Trim green beans and parboil them in salted water until tender. Drain and immediately spread them to cool. Cut tomatoes in half. These steps can be done in advance.
  2. For the vinaigrette, peel and dice the shallot finely and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or salt, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the vinaigrette; this can sit awhile.
  3. Do not add green beans or cannellini beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette. Garnish with basil or another herb.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Herb Garden Harvest by Robin Nathan

I live in Roscoe Village, a great neighborhood in the city, a little west of Wrigley Field, in a house that was built in 1904. While many houses in my neighborhood are either new construction or gut rehabs, our house has only been updated over the past 116 years.  By city standards, we have a very large backyard – one of the biggest on the block, and the only one with the original trees. The oak tree is as old as the house, with an enormous trunk and towering branches. Our maple tree is a baby – a mere 60 years old. These trees provide lovely shade – but there is one downfall. Not enough sun for a true garden.

HerbPotsInstead, every spring, I line the stone fence surrounding the trees with pots of herbs.  They get enough sun to keep going through the summer months. There’s always basil, cilantro, and mint, sometimes rosemary, and this year there is also lavender and oregano. These herbs form the basis of many a weeknight dinner. Sometimes I’ll grab three and puree them with a little white wine vinegar and olive oil to drizzle over quickly grilled chicken, fish, or steak. Or I’ll throw in pine nuts or pistachios and make a quick pesto. Often I don’t even bother with the pureeing and just mince two or three herbs with a little arugula to toss into a quick summer sauté of grape tomatoes, sweet onions and bi-color corn. The fresh taste and color are welcome and delicious, and give new life to old weeknight standbys. You really can’t miss when you combine fresh herbs – just go a little easy on the mint so you don’t end up feeling like you’re eating toothpaste. Have fun and go a little herb crazy! In a few months, this freshness will be a only a memory.

5 Herb Purée
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  2. ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  3. ½ cup packed fresh arugula leaves
  4. 2 T. packed fresh mint leaves
  5. 1 T. packed fresh oregano leaves
  6. 2 T. white wine vinegar
  7. 1/3 cup olive oil
  8. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop all the herbs. Place in a blender or coffee grinder (my favorite, because it really pulverizes the herbs) with the vinegar and oil. Process until completely smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt.
Notes
  1. To turn it into a pesto, add a couple tablespoons of a nut and some Parmesan cheese.
  2. Serving Ideas: Drizzle on freshly grilled chicken, steak, fish, or pork. Stir into ratatouille or any other fresh veggie sauté. Drizzle over veggie crepes or breakfast eggs. Drizzle over goat cheese and serve with crackers.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Grilled Flatbreads

Grilled Flatbreads
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Ingredients
  1. 2 t. dry yeast
  2. ½ cup lukewarm water
  3. ¼ cup white flour
  4. ¼ cup rye or whole wheat flour
  5. 3 ¼ cup flour
  6. 1 t. salt
  7. ¾ cup cold water
  8. ¼ cup olive oil
Topping ideas
  1. Pesto and Parmesan or Ricotta
  2. Za’atar
  3. Onion and sage
  4. Rosemary and thyme
  5. Tomato
  6. Various cheeses
  7. or serve with hummus or other dips
Instructions
  1. Stir together the yeast and lukewarm water.
  2. Add the ¼ cups of white and rye (or whole wheat) flours and mix well. Allow this mixture to sit until bubbly.
  3. Mix the 3½ cup flour and 1 t. salt together in another bowl. Stir this into the yeast and flour mixture with ¾ cup cold water and ¼ cup olive oil. Mix together thoroughly and knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is soft and elastic (5 minutes). Add more water or flour as needed.
  4. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (1-2 hours). Or refrigerate overnight, then remove from refrigerator 2 hours before shaping.
  5. Heat grill until hot.
  6. Divide dough into 8-10 pieces. Roll each piece into 1/8” thick round or oval. Lightly brush with olive oil and place the rounds directly on the grill grates, oil side down.
  7. Grill the flatbread until golden brown, flip, add oil (and toppings, if desired) and grill other side. About 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and add salt and pepper or additional toppings.
Notes
  1. Makes 8 - 10 flatbreads or 2 10-inch pizzas
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

For the Love of Tomatoes by Heidi Kise

My love for tomatoes developed at a young age. Undoubtedly our family garden had a little something do with it. We had an enormous garden every year that was home to everything from radishes to potatoes and always a plethora of tomatoes. My Dad was the main caretaker for this masterpiece. He was meticulous about the layout, spacing and weeding. He carefully and masterfully nurtured our garden all summer long. All of us kids begrudgingly helped out here and there. Enjoying the harvest as a family was the part we all loved. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of enjoying my Dad’s harvest of tomatoes will concur that his tomatoes are a little slice of heaven. I still savor each and every tomato that he gives me, often eating it with just a little sea salt. When I think back to those harvest days, I think of dinner on the patio that includes of my mom’s cucumber salad, BLTs, and cantaloupe. Still a favorite summertime meal of mine.

HeidiTomatoes1Having my own real garden for the very first time this summer has been a fun and interesting experience for my family. Everyone had a chance to choose a few items to plant…cucumbers for Katie, beans for Leo, zucchini for Ken and tomatoes for everyone! The kids, my Dad, my neighbors and the internet have helped plant our garden and we have watched plants grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Tonight the kids ate freshly plucked organic beans from the garden, raw. They were over the moon excited and my daughter asked if she could take them to school in her lunch. In addition to the beans, ironically, my Dad was here today to see the very first ripe tomato plucked from our garden! Thanks to my Dad, I know what ripe tastes like. And thanks to my Dad, my kids will also know where their food comes from and know what a real tomato tastes like.

Produce like this, eaten at its prime, needs little to dress it up. One of my favorite things to make is a batch of basil oil to enhance mayo for a BLT or to drizzle over either prosciutto and melon or tomato caprese. Take 10 minutes to make a batch and let me know how you like to use it!

Basil Oil
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  2. ½ cup grapeseed oil
  3. 1/8 t. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, add a cup of ice and fill with cold water.
  2. Drop basil leaves in small pot of boiling water and turn off heat.
  3. Immediately remove basil from hot water, strain and plunge into the prepared ice bath.
  4. After a few minutes, strain basil and squeeze dry between two dinner plates.
  5. Add basil, oil and salt to your blender. Blend until smooth.
Notes
  1. I like to use this flavorful oil as is unless I’m catering a fancy party, then I strain the beautiful, bright green oil through a cheese cloth.
  2. Store in refrigerator in a mason jar for up to 3 days.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/