Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Real Food Rehab in Chicago Sun Times Food Section

 Today I am so proud to share that my article (and photos) on eating for one that originally appeared on Melissa Graham's blog, Little Locavores, was picked up by the Sun Times Food Section. Click HERE to read it in full.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

All The Single Ladies: Cooking For One

This is excerpted from a guest blog post I just wrote for Melissa Graham's Little Locavores blog. She is a passionate writer and real food activist and I hope you will click through and check out her site.

I'm a single gal and I work from home so, on average and with the exception of dining out, I have the luxury of preparing my own meals two or three times a day. Some of you may think I must be joking - luxury? But I'm dead serious. I do consider it a luxury to prepare my own meals. Why? Because I never have to question the quality of my food since I source it. I never have to compromise on what I feel like eating because it's me I'm satisfying. I also welcome the chance to break up a day spent inside my head in front of a computer, to get back into my body and work with my hands in an intuitive, tactile and sensual way.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article...

Friday, July 30, 2010

So Long, Mr. Coffee

I have a love hate relationship with coffee. I love it and it hates me.

It's like an abusive relationship. I'm addicted to the ritual of making it, intoxicated by the smell that permeates my home, the deep, rich flavor and how the caffeine highs can make me feel almost invincible. But then, the euphoria gives way to the heart palpitations, the extreme blood sugar dips and the fits of anger - but yet I stay - I love him anyway and convince myself we're good together. The angst, I tell you.

Recently, I switched to decaffeinated for the sake of my health and only treat myself once or twice a week. I treasure our times together and make sure I purchase only the best coffee I can find. Just a year ago, it was hard to find good decaf, but that's not the case anymore.

Coffee, like other foodstuffs these days, is going through a renaissance. All across the country, specialty purveyors are roasting limited-edition coffee beans using artisanal methods and sustainable practices. These are the beans you should seek out, whether going out for coffee or bringing the beans home. Because of the attention to detail, the taste is incomparable.

Here are some of the best artisanal coffee roasters in the country who will ship you beans online tout suite:

Intelligentsia Coffee
Metropolis Coffee Company  (They make my absolute favorite - Decaf Redline.)
Blue Bottle Coffee
Gorilla Coffee

The real question is: Are you willing to give up your relationship with Mr. Coffee? The seemingly indefatigable, saggy-assed octogenarian who piddles out his weak-brewed love day after day? You really want to settle for that?

I didn't think so.

You need an Italian Stallion. One who has proven his mettle time and time again creating a dark rich brew that really satisfies.

Stovetop Espresso Maker, $39.95 by Bialetti

To learn more about what you need to make a great Latte or Cafe Au Lait at home (inexpensively!), click to read the rest of the article on The Possessionista.

Also, be sure to read my post on Maria Callas & Coffee. It's a goodie.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Quick Fix: Baby Tomato Recipes

Brace yourself for the onslaught of summer tomatoes. I especially love baby tomatoes. They're versatile, easy to use and as the band Cameo says, "They taste like Can-day." Get them at your local farmers' market now through September. Baby tomatoes come in a vibrant array of varieties, so the more you mix and match, the more colorful, tasty and healthy your meals will be.

Here are some super quick and easy recipes you can make with baby tomatoes throughout the season.

One Recipe, Many Uses
Slice the tomatoes in half and catch their juices in a big bowl. Mix with minced fresh garlic, torn basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. Then, toss over:

A piece of fish, chicken or steak hot off the grill.

Hot pasta like farfalle or spaghetti and finish with lots of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Some garlic-rubbed, grilled bread for a great bruschetta appetizer.

Slice tomatoes in quarters, catch their juice and mix with chopped red onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste. Let the flavors meld and use as chunky salsa for chips, over grilled quesadillas, or fish or skirt steak tacos.

Also, check out this 15 minute roasted tomato pasta recipe I wrote last summer.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Beginner's Guide To Homemade Salad Dressing

Antico Frantoio Muraglia 'Intenso' Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Dean & Deluca

Consider this an intervention. Those of you still buying bottles of Paul Newman's or Annie's or God forbid, Wish Bone salad dressings at the grocery store - it's over. I'm sorry but it's over. Additives? Corn Syrup? Xanthan Gum? That's not who you are.

You are someone with exquisite taste who appreciates and understands quality. And, you're about to become someone who confidently knows how to dress their own salad. Do not underestimate how important this is. I want you to experience real pleasure and satisfaction when you sit down to eat. The days of settling for mediocrity are over. Now, let's get down to business.

Buy the best ingredients you can afford.
Every time you use quality ingredients, your food is going to taste better. Period. You can buy the inexpensive extra virgin olive oils at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and use them to cook with, that's fine. But if you are buying the freshest, best tasting produce for your salads at your local farmers' market, I want to suggest that you spend more money for high quality oils and vinegars. Ones that you use only for drizzling over foods and making into vinaigrettes, not heating.

Ratios of oil to vinegar
The traditional ratio for vinaigrette is three parts oil to one part vinegar. This ratio doesn't really work for me. I enjoy a brighter flavor. The ratio for my palate is almost equal parts oil to vinegar. To find the right acidity level for you, simply taste the dressing as you're adding the oil and stop or add more to your liking. Know that if it's too acidic, you can simply add more oil to balance it out. You are the master of your dressing domain.

The quick drizzle method

Some days, I don't feel like making a full-on vinaigrette; I want super quick results. So here's what I do: Take the bottle of olive oil, cover the spout part ways with your finger and slowly drizzle lightly over your salad. Do the same with the vinegar, sprinkle some good sea salt, fresh ground pepper, gently toss with your hands and you're done. It's might seem like a crap shoot but it works. If you're unsure, start by adding less versus more because you can always add but you can't take away.

The authentic vinaigrette method
Grab a clean, empty jar with a lid. Add your minced garlic or shallots in the jar with your acid (i.e.vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, verjus, yuzu, etc.) and your salt. The acid will help mellow the sharpness of the garlic and shallot, deepen the flavors and also help "melt" the salt. Salt doesn't melt well in oil. Let it sit for a few minutes - say 5 to 10. Then add your oil, screw the lid on tight and shake like mad. You can also make the dressing in a bowl and whisk the oil in slowly. You want to make sure it's emulsified. Do not make dressing in a metallic bowl unless it is stainless steel. Your acid will be altered in flavor and not in a good way.

Here are two simple recipes to try from the great new cookbook, Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen

Sherry Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the shallot, garlic, vinegar, mustard and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in a few drops of the oil and then begin adding the oil in a thin stream, whisking continuously until all the oil is incorporated.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional)

Combine the shallot, garlic, lemon juice and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in a few drops of the oil and then begin adding the oil in a thin stream, whisking continuously until all the oil is incorporated. If using dill, add right before serving.

Storing your dressing

According to Michael Symon, if your homemade dressing contains aromatics - garlic, shallots, herbs, it will only last about a day. If not, it will last up to one week in the fridge.

I asked some talented food professionals to offer up their tips on salad making as well as some of their favorite oils and vinegars.

Christine Cikowski, Chef/Founder of Sunday Dinner and Eat Green Foods

Olio Verde Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Estate bottled in Sicily, unfiltered and made from Nocellara Olives.

Villa Manodori Balsamic
Made in small quantities, matured for 10 to 20 years. Aged in barrels of juniper, chestnut and oak.

Salad making tips
Mix your salad in a large bowl with your hands for even coat of the dressing. Don't over dress your salad. Start with a little and add slowly.

Iliana Regan, Artisan and Chef of One Sister Pierogi and the underground dining sensation - Mermaid Dinners

BLiS sherry vinegar - BLiS ages extra old, fine sherry vinegar in 18 year old, maple cured, single bourbon casks. It's AMAZING.

Salad making tips

As for sourcing, I use my own garden. Most people probably don't know that you need fairly little soil - just a two inch even layer of moist soil - and you can just throw lettuce seeds on top, no rows or planting - to have an awesome patch of lettuce. And I use lots of my own sprouts and microgreens, like sunflower and radish in my salads at home. HERBS, fine herbs, tarragon, chervil, parsley and chive, make an awesome addition of flavor on top of any salad. And, I keep it simple: lettuces, sprouts, bright herbs, a touch oil, touch vin, a little lemon or citrus zest - Grapefruit is awesome if it's hot and you're outside drinking sauvignon blanc - and finally salt and pepper. I like to play with peppers. I use a five pepper blend. One of my many favorite kitchen tools is the juicer. How that works for salads? Juice the greens, season with salt, and pour the juice onto a lined sheet tray and freeze. After it's frozen, drag a fork along in rows to make granita, mist with a little sherry vinegar and serve as a palate cleanser for a summer barbeque!

Alisa Barry, Creator/Owner at Bella Cucina

Bella Cucina's Taste of Tuscany. It's an estate grown and bottled oil, made exclusively for Bella Cucina that evokes my favorite flavors of the Tuscan hill towns. In Tuscany, the olives are picked in November while they are still green. This gives the oil its rich color and fruity, peppery and green flavor. Another fave is Bariani California Olive Oil. Estate grown and bottled in northern California.

Verjus from Terra Sonoma in Northern California. This California winery lets nothing go to waste. Fine wine is left to age into a delicate and slightly sweet vinegar in the traditional French style. I love it as a seasoning for cooked bitter greens like lacinato kale and escarole.

Kim Shambrook of
Bespoke Cuisine

Some of my favorite olive oils are by Yellingbo – produced in Australia and quite tasty – herbaceous, yet not too heavy. I’m also a big fan of the Greek extra-virgin olive oils. I find them to have a great depth of flavor, the color is beautiful, and all you need is a little lemon juice and salt & pepper to make a simple vinaigrette.

Salad making tip
I use a Microplane grater to add lemon zest to my vinaigrettes.

Chef Paul Virant of

I love Spanish olive oils made from Picual or Arbequina olives. As far as vinegars, we use Champagne or Cava vinegar the most in conjunction with leftover preserving liquids that usually have infused flavor. (read idea, below) Our source for Spanish olive oils and Cava vinegar is La

Salad making tip
Say you've made or bought some pickled dilly beans and the liquid is garlicky and spicy. Bring up the the acidity level by adding some fresh lemon juice and add some oil and your done. This could be a nice marinade or dressing.

Terra Brockman, Farmer, Speaker and Author of
The Seasons on Henry's Farm

Napa Valley Naturals extra virgin organic olive oil.

Salad making tips
Buy salad greens from a local farmer you know, and to ask them which variety of lettuce is best at the time you are buying, since some varieties are much better in the cool, wet spring, but get bitter in the summer. Add Herbs! To liven up your salad, add some fresh herbs -- parsley, dill, tarragon, thyme or sorrel . . . whatever strikes your fancy. Add Flowers! You can find these at some farmers markets, or grow your own: johnny jump-ups, calendula, chive flowers, sage flowers, nasturtiums.

Tracy Kellner, Wine Babe & Owner of Provenance Food & Wine

Right now anything by A l'Olivier - I've tried their passion fruit, tomato, espelette, chili & fig...mild acidity and lots of the fruit's pulp is left in for a thicker, more flavorful texture. I've used them with any oil because the flavor is so good.

Salad making tips
I save small jars with lids and use them to make/shake/store my homemade dressings in smaller amounts so there is less waste. However, in summertime when there are so many great tasting veggies at their peak, I tend to use either one really high-quality oil OR vinegar, depending what flavor I want to complement or enhance in the dish or salad. That with a sprinkling of good salt and freshly-ground pepper, is all I need!

Flora Lazar, Artisan at Flora Confections

I love the Cassis Balsamic vinegar from Old Town Oil.

Salad making tip
I love, like Balthazar in NYC, to put a tiny bit of truffle oil in my salad dressing. I also love cut up pate de fruit in my salad, especially the raspberry and blueberry varieties. (Flora makes these beauties by hand using local, seasonal fruit. They're available online and Saturdays at Green City Market.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Quick Fix: Butter, Radish and Sea Salt Sandwiches

This was my dinner last night. This was also an appetizer I served to friends last week before a big, fried chicken dinner. It's incredibly delish, simple, fast and you will surprise and delight your friends and loved ones when you serve it.

You will find radishes on the scene at your local farmers' market right now. There are different varieties out there; you might want to try one you haven't tried before. They will vary in color, shape, size and flavor. Try French breakfast radishes if you can find them. They're oblong and red with a white tip. They have a crisp texture and more delicate flavor than some other varieties.

You can go about this a few ways: You can slice up a great loaf of bread, slather it with room temperature butter, throw some thinly sliced radishes on top, sprinkle it with sea salt (try Maldon or maybe a chunky, high quality grey salt) and call it a day. For the bread averse (I know you're out there), you can simply dip your trimmed radishes in the butter, sprinkle some sea salt and enjoy it that way. Your call. On a hot summer day, these babies go great with a glass of Rosé.

It goes without saying you'll want to use the best ingredients you can find. Find an artisan loaf of bread. Nope, sorry, Panera, doesn't cut it. Check your farmers' market. Check your food coop. Check smaller gourmet shops and bakeries. Is there someone in your area making gorgeous hearth loaves of bread from scratch? That's the bread you want to buy. In Chicago, we have some great options which include Anne at Crumb, Cook au Vin, and the prolific Pamela Fitzpatrick at Fox & Obel.

There are also local creameries making small-batch butter with sweet cream from cows grazing on pasture! Once you taste pasture butter you will never go back. And ahem, this butter is loaded with good fat! Did you know that milk from pastured cows also contains an ideal ratio of essential fatty acids or EFAs including Omega 3s and 6s? Read it and weep, people! It's healthy for you! Consider yourself unshackled.

The award-winning Nordic Creamery in Wisconsin is selling their Summer Butter right now at Green City Market and at Provenance Food & Wine. You can also buy it online. And it is not simply hyperbole when I say this butter is life changing.

This is butter that killer hostess gifts are made of. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Stage With Chef Paul Virant of Vie

Black Perigord Truffles

The Excuse

Here's a lame story for you: I was fortunate enough to stage in the kitchen with Chef Paul Virant of Vie back in February and never wrote about it. Why? I took a gazillion photos then lost the memory card in my home somewhere, knowing it would eventually turn up. It finally did, inside a shoe I haven't worn in three months! So now, much after the fact, I finally get to share the experience with you, visually enhanced by my photos.

The Restaurant

Vie is a three-star restaurant serving seasonal contemporary American cuisine, located in Western Springs, an older, established and very charming suburb about fifteen miles west of Chicago. Lots of beautiful, architecture - everything from art deco bungalows to grand Arts and Crafts-style manor homes. You don't see any new construction or McMansions there, which I appreciate very much. There's a sweet, thriving business district with a family owned butcher shop, bakery and hardware store that have all been there forever. Paul's restaurant, Vie, is nestled on a side street off the main street in its own store front. The BNSF Railway also runs through the center of town, with its long, ambling freight trains which gives the place a slower, Mayberry kind of feel.

The reason I asked to stage in Paul's kitchen is Number One, I find him approachable, gentle and kind. I used to run into him at the Green City Market a lot when I worked and shopped there. He never struck me as an irascible, fry pan-throwing, type of chef. This was comforting to me. Number Two, he is passionate about local, seasonal and sustainable food. That is what moves me most. Paul uses the best ingredients and has close, longstanding relationships with farmers and growers. He cures and smokes his own meats and seafood, pickles and preserves his own produce and he's been doing this long before it was trendy. For lack of better terminology, Paul Virant is the bomb.

The Mindset

So, on my way out there, I was really nervous. I kept envisioning I was going to make a giant ass of myself which wasn't out of the realm of possibility. Working in a professional kitchen felt like a big challenge to me and I had no idea what to expect. I was imagining I would cut myself, burn myself, shatter many plates and drop expensive cuts of meat on the floor. It was like a montage from a bad Jerry Lewis movie. After all, this is a three star kitchen helmed by one of the best chefs in the city: Food & Wine Best New Chef 2007, one of Gayot's Top 40 Restaurants in the Country, the list of accolades goes on and on. The pressure in my chattering monkey mind was building. Not to mention I was a few minutes late because of that damn freight train. Oy.

The Goal

My immediate goal? To learn as much as I could. To have an experience without any expectation. To be open to everything. To not pretend I knew anything I didn't. To be gracious. My long term goal? To use the experience as a building block to become more fluent in the use of seasonal ingredients. There are ingredients I long to take home from the farmers' market but feel mildly intimidated by how to best use them.

The Menu

This was not an average night at Vie. This was a very special night. Paul often executes seasonally themed dinners throughout the year and this was his Black Truffle Dinner. Paul bought a large amount (serious Ca-Ching!) of fresh, black Perigord truffles to infuse into every course. They are a fungus named after the Périgord region in France and highly prized for their earthy, pungent flavor - nothing tastes quite like them. Paul explained that a lot of hard core Vie regulars were guests that night, many of them accompanied by prized bottles of wine from their own cellars. He told me about one guest in particular who was coming, who had eaten at Vie about 500 times! (but who's counting?) Here is the glorious menu:

Black Truffle Dinner
February 3, 2010


black truffle and parmigiano-reggiano gougères


edelweiss creamery emmenthaler fondue, celery root, croutons, black truffles

08 Rebenhof, Ürziger Würtzgarten, Riesling Kabinett, Germany


moose island scallops, black truffles, puff pastry, honey vinegar

08 Westrey, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon


maine lobster, black truffles, leeks, yukon gold potatoes, butter “en papillote”

07 Pulenta Estate, Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina


terrine of au bon canard foie gras with black truffles and château montifaud cognac, three sisters pea shoots, roasted apple, black truffles

08 Domaine du Tariquet, Ugni Blanc-Colombard, Côtes De Gascogne, France


gunthorp farm chicken and black truffle “scotch egg,”

spinach, jus de poulet mayonnaise

07 Stoller, Pinot Noir, JV Estate, Dundee Hills, Oregon


roasted hawks hill ranch elk tenderloin, salsify, port and truffle sauce

07 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Masante, Langhe Dolcetto, Monforte D’Alba, Italy

To Finish

local honey, truffle, and walnut butter cake,

truffle chiboust, black walnut and truffle nougatine

black walnut and honey infused death’s door white whiskey

The Prep

My nervousness subsided a bit after I was greeted warmly by everyone in the kitchen. The staff were all young and very accomplished. There was one woman who had left a long stint at Alinea to work with Paul, another culinary veteran who owned her own farm in Michigan during the growing season and worked at a couple restaurants doing front and back of the house during the off season. One chef had been with Paul since the beginning and learned everything on the job.

Kitchen Meeting

Paul called a meeting to go over the specific preparation of each course and to delegate prep. He let me know this was not your average high stress night in the kitchen where everyone is ordering something different at different times. This was a pleasure trip by comparison: all courses would go out at the same time. We'd wait until the guests had finished one course, then put together the next and so on.

We were each put to work - there was another stage there, a recent culinary graduate named Tom, and he and I were assigned to peel the soft-boiled eggs for the Scotch Eggs without breaking them and spilling their runny centers. The eggs that didn't make the cut were served to the staff as a snack on grilled bread. Meanwhile, Paul was next to me killing live lobsters in the most humane way possible which I learned is by running a knife all the way through their heads into the cutting board to make sure their brains are severed before poaching them in water. It was a little heartbreaking for me to watch, I must confess. But I'm a very conflicted eater when it comes to living things and also a hypocrite. I love lobster.

The Kill

Nothing gets wasted - even the lobster shells. Everything is composted and recycled. Mint Creek Farms comes and gets their scraps for their compost pile.

Still Life With Compost Heap

Chicken Wrap

Paul and the other chefs showed Tom and I how to complete all the steps for the Scotch Eggs. After they were peeled we wrapped them in housemade Gunthorp Farms chicken sausage that were laced with a ton of sliced truffles. Paul estimated there was about $8 worth of truffles in each egg alone! He was very generous with the truffles that night. I gotta say, they were really flowing. The eggs were then rolled in flour, egg and bread crumbs and put in the deep fryer later before the course went out.

Scotch Eggs Right Out Of the Deep Fryer

I never got to touch a knife that night - but I cleaned spinach and also put together the papillote packages for the second course: we laid out circles of parchment paper and brushed them with butter. Then we stacked the ingredients on one half of the circle so we could fold over the other half to seal and then bake the packages. The Yukon Golds came first, then the sauteed leeks, lobster, black truffle slices, a big beautiful blob of butter, and a squirt of Pulenta Estate Chardonnay (the same wine paired with this course on the menu).

Lobster en Papillote

The terrine of goose liver, truffle and cognac was made in-house, in advance and here it is in all of its visually stunning glory. They look like granite paperweights from the shops along the Arno.


A couple of other cool things that were happening while I was there - the pastry chef was brewing homemade root beer and one of the chefs was smoking pork belly so the kitchen smelled like heaven all day long.

Smoked Pork Belly

The Show

Before guests arrived I went out with Paul to watch him go over the menu with the front of the house staff, talk about the wine pairings and how the evening would unfold. It was clear that Vie is a family restaurant and that Paul has cultivated a very devoted staff. I have worked in restaurants where there's lots of drama and dysfunction and Vie feels nothing like that. Paul had just gotten in a new small batch bourbon that day and he opened it and gave all of us a nice pour to take the edge off before service began. We drank out it out of short, plastic to-go containers. It was freaking fabulous.

Bourbon Neat en Plastique

Once the guests sat down I stood at the end of the line and watched the chefs do their thing. I did get to contribute to the plating here and there and Paul made a few extra dishes for the staff so we all got to try every course and also taste the wine pairings.

Line Dance

Another major bonus were these Vie regulars, who would come back in the kitchen and leave the staff glasses of their 1983 Mouton Rothschild for us to try. Sweet!! I mean come on, this is my kind of place.

Mais Oui, Monsieur

It surprised me how much I loved the dessert. The truffle-walnut-honey combo was a winner; the cake so buttery-moist and the truffle very subtle. That combined with the crunchy nougatine and the infused Death's Door white whiskey? It smacked of a real manly man's dessert. Lots of earthy and rich, deep and sweet flavors.

The Favorites

Chicken Brickle

My favorite things of the night were elements on the plates of two different courses but both were so simple and flavorful and I could replicate them very easily at home. One was the crunchy, seasoned chicken skin that topped the Scotch Egg. I call it Chicken Brickle. It is perhaps the greatest salty snack of all time. I can see serving that as a cocktail snack on it's own or as an accompaniment to a great salad. I know, completely decadent but so good. My dad eats this old world Jewish dish called gribenes - it's fried chicken fat - kind of like pork skins but chicken instead. I have to make it for him. Here's how:

Chicken Brickle Recipe
Heat oven to 300, lay the chicken skin (seasoned with salt and pepper) between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Place between 2 sheet pans and bake until skin is crisp, 1 hr.


The other is this fresh, gorgeous pea shoot salad that was served with the terrine course. It's tossed with shaved black truffles, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar! So fresh and so clean, clean.

Pea Shoot & Shaved Truffle Salad

The Recipe
Since many of us don't have the budget for live lobsters, I've asked Paul to give us an easy, simple Spring recipe using papillote - which is wrapping your ingredients in parchment paper pouches and cooking them in the oven - which seals in juices and causes the ingredients to meld beautifully.

Great Lakes Whitefish Papillote
(serves four)

4-5oz pieces whitefish filet, skin removed


5 T butter

2 globe radishes, washed and thinly sliced

2 spring onions, washed and sliced

1 white hakuri turnip, washed and sliced

4 dried tomato slices (olive oil packed)

4 T sauvignon blanc

1 c loosely packed herbs, picked (basil, tarragon, chervil, parsley)

4 ½ sheets parchment paper

Preheat an oven to 400F. Season whitefish with salt. Place sheets of parchment, shorter side facing you. Spread 1T of the butter evenly on each sheet. Place an equal amount of radishes, spring onions and turnips just below the center of the parchment sheets, season the vegetables. Place fish on top of the vegetable bed. Place 1T butter and 1 tomato slice on each fish. Top the fish with an equal amount of herbs. Fold shorter side over to meet the opposite shorter side. Starting by one crease, begin folding the parchment, each consecutive fold overlapping the one before. Continue folding to form a half cirlcle, just before you make the final fold to seal, add 1T white wine to each. Make sure each “bag” is sealed properly. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes (parchment should puff and resemble pillows), serve immediately. Cut parchment tableside, discard paper, enjoy!

The Big Thanks

One of the unfortunate things I did, that I feared might have gotten on everyone's nerves, was my propensity to say, "This is awesome," in a completely geeked out way every ten minutes or so throughout the day. It was an authentic statement for sure, but no doubt, highly annoying. I was so happy to be there, so honored to experience all that was going on, to learn, watch, taste and sip. And very grateful the staff was so kind and open towards me. I was like a kid in a candy store (chicken candy, that is). I love to learn and I value experience over things any day. I was tired when it was all over. I think I was on my feet from 1 pm to about 11:15 pm. But it was so worth it.

Big thanks to Paul, Jimmy, Albert, Anne, Kyle, Abra, Kennard, Tom, the Pastry Team, the front of the house staff, that regular (you know who you are) who brought the amazing wines to the kitchen and anyone else I'm forgetting - I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it!

For those of you who haven't experienced Vie, be sure to get there, special occasion or any occasion (the bar is great too) and also check out their cooking classes (scroll down the page) which I also hope to experience myself this summer.