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A Perfect Night Out At Paris Club.

I had the perfect night out with the girls this past Friday night. We went to Paris Club (www.parisclubchicago.com) in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and had lots of laughs, lots of wine and lots of great food! The menu at Paris Club has a variety of dishes, but we focused in on their small plates selection so we could sample more of the delicious cuisine. Below are our choices from our night out.

Escargot Bourguignonne – Puff Pastry, each $1.95. This escargot was the best way to start off our meal! The escargot is cooked in garlic, butter and herbs and then topped with puff pastry. Conveniently, the little pot matched my manicure perfectly!

Small Pot of Mussels – Coconut Curry, $10.95. These are the best mussels that I’ve had in a long time. They are cooked in a light coconut curry broth that also features bright, zesty citrus. The balance between the curry and the citrus is perfect. Dipping the crusty bread in the broth was the best part!

Smoked Salmon and Avocado – Brioche, $9.95. This dish is beautifully plated and made with simple and fresh ingredients. The creamy avocado compliments the salty, smokiness of the salmon perfectly.

Tuna Tartare Française – Lemon, Mint, $10.95. This tuna tartare dish is fresh and light. It was bursting with bright, tart flavors. The tuna and lemon are a perfect pair.

Macaroni Gratinée – French Ham, $6.95. This was by far the richest dish that we ordered. The creamy macaroni and ham, topped with crispy Gruyère cheese, was the perfect combination of decadence.

Lamb Meatballs – Harissa Tomato Sauce, $8.95. These meatballs are perfectly cooked in a spicy and smoky tomato sauce and are full of bold flavors and spices. The fresh basil and olives are a great finishing touch that brightens up the dish.

Tarte Flambée – Bacon, Caramelized Onion, $9.95. This tarte is similar to a very thin-crust pizza. The smoky bacon and the sweet caramelized onions are perfect together. I mean, bacon on pizza? Yes, please!

Croque Monsieur Fingers – Dip Madame, $5.95. This dish is a great play on a croque monsieur. Made with ham and Gruyère cheese, you eat the finger by dipping it in the pot which holds a perfectly poached egg. It’s a brilliant idea and is so delicious!



Basil & Beef Tenderloin Fettucine.

Fettucine with Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce Topped With Beef Tenderloin

This pasta dish is amazing. It’s on the decadent side, using beef tenderloin, but the sauce is made with mostly low-fat ingredients and tastes sinfully delicious! It’s creamy, cheesy and zesty.

Serves 3-5.

Ingredients:

  • beef tenderloin (trimmed, lean cut, ~1 lb)
  • 8 oz spinach fettucine (or any type of pasta you’d like)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, puréed
  • 2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper

Begin by cooking the beef tenderloin. Generously sprinkle garlic salt/black pepper on the tenderloin and place on baking pan in a 350 degree oven. Cook for approximately 45 minutes until it reaches the desired temperature. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

While the tenderloin is in the oven, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat and add in the onion and garlic. Saute for about 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to low. Add in the sour cream, basil puree and the juice from the lemon. Stir in the parmesan and season generously with garlic salt/black pepper. Continue to cook on low heat, be sure it does not boil.

Cook your pasta as directed and drain all excess water. Put the cooked pasta directly into the sauce and stir well to combine. Plate the pasta and top with the sliced beef tenderloin.

Villager’s Salad.

Tomato, Cucumber & Green Onion Salad With Crumbled Gorgonzola

This is my version of a Greek “villager” style salad. I made some slight adjustments from the traditional recipe, including substituting green onion for red onion and gorgonzola for feta. This salad is incredibly easy, taking just minutes to prepare, and is full of bright and bold flavors.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small English cucumber, sliced
  • 1/3 cup green onion, diced
  • 4 tbsp crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper

Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and green onion in a large bowl. Add in the vinegar, olive oil and a dash of garlic salt and black pepper. Toss to combine the veggies and then plate. Add the crumbled Gorgonzola over the top of the salad and serve.

Shrimp & Grits.

Shrimp, Sweet Corn, Asparagus & Pancetta Stir Fry Served With Creamy Polenta

This dish is my take on shrimp and grits. I spruced up the shrimp with crunchy asparagus, fresh sweet corn and crispy pancetta. The polenta is creamy and delightful and it pairs perfectly with the shrimp and veggies. This dish is warm and comforting, but also surprisingly light. This dish is definitely a crowd pleaser!

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen tail-on shrimp, thawed & tails removed
  • 1 1/2 cups asparagus, diced
  • 4 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob
  • 1/8 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 3/4 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • garlic salt/black pepper

Creamy Polenta:

Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat and slowly add in the cornmeal while stirring. Whisk thoroughly for several minutes to remove any lumps while the polenta thickens. Cook for about 15 minutes and when the polenta has thickened, add the parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and sour cream. Season with a generous dash of garlic salt and black pepper.

Shrimp Stir Fry:

Cook the pancetta in separate non-stick pan (no oil needed.) Cook until the pancetta lightly browns.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat and add in the asparagus and corn. Cook for about 10 minutes and then add in the shrimp and the cooked pancetta. Season with a dash of garlic salt and black pepper.

Buffalo Bliss.

Buffalo & Blue Cheese Turkey Patties

These delicious little buffalo patties are like a combination between a meatball and a burger. They certainly could be served on a bun, but in an effort to avoid excess carbs, I served them up on a simple bed of lettuce. They are bursting with flavor and are filling and satisfying!

Makes about 10 small-sized patties.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Jennie-O lean ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ~3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • garlic salt/black pepper

Begin by heating 1 tsp of vegetable oil in pan on medium heat. Saute the onion and celery for about 5-10 minutes until they have browned just a bit.  Lightly season them with a dash of garlic salt/black pepper. After the vegetables have cooked, put them into a large mixing bowl and add in the ground turkey, Frank’s Red Hot, bread crumbs and egg. Use your hands to mix the ingredients and then mold the meat into small patties.

To cook the patties, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and cook on each side for about 5 minutes. You’ll most likely have to do several batches of this since there are so many patties. After the patties have cooked through, sprinkle on 1 tsp of blue cheese over top and put the lid on the pan to steam the cheese and melt it. Serve it up any way you like it with a few drops of Frank’s Red Hot over top of the melted cheese.

Perfect Pear & Blue Cheese Salad.

Pear, Blue Cheese & Golden Cherry Tomato Salad With Pecans & Champagne Vinaigrette

I love salads, but it is easy to get bored with them. I wanted to get creative with this salad by combining lots of different flavors and textures. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, creamy and delightful! It’s great on its own but also would make a great side dish. You could even add grilled chicken or salmon on top to add some protein. You won’t get bored with this salad!

Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag butter lettuce (~4-5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup golden cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 3 tbsp crushed pecans
  • 3 tbsp Champagne vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/black pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes and pears. Add in the vinegar, oil, salt and black pepper. Toss well to combine and then plate. Top with 1 tbsp of blue cheese and 1 tbsp of crushed pecans.


Petit Déjeuner.

Bistrot Margot (www.bistrotmargot.com) is one of  Gareth’s and my favorite neighborhood spots. Located on Wells Street in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, they serve up a variety of delicious French cuisine. Their dinner entrees can be a bit pricey, but their brunch menu is so affordable… and fabulous! Below are some of our favorite dishes.

TRADITIONNEL OEUFS BENEDICT: (I ordered without the Hollaindaise and potatoes) 2 poached eggs atop English muffin & Canadian bacon with Hollandaise, served with home style potatoes and haricots verts $7.95

BISTROT SALAD: Boston lettuce, spinach, bacon, egg, walnut vinaigrette $4.95

CROQUE MONSIEUR A LA MARGOT: Grilled country ham and Gruyere cheese served Parisian style with pommes frites $8.95

BISTROT BLOODY MARY

On Easter, they had a great prix fixe menu with three lovely courses. Below are some choices from that meal:

TARTE AU BRIE: Puff pastry topped with brie, served with asparagus and topped with a balsamic reduction.

LEG OF LAMB: Sliced and served with roasted potatoes and roasted vegetables.

ROASTED HAM: Served with sweet potato gratin and haricots verts in a mustard sauce.

PROFITEROLES: Made with vanilla ice cream and topped with rich chocolate sauce.

BREAD PUDDING: In a warm sauce made with Grand Marnier and topped with vanilla ice cream.