Monthly Archives: October 2013

How Slumgullion Came To Mama D’s Kitchen of Love

Scan_Pic0007I’ve written about my mother and how she influenced my cooking. Besides being a wonderful cook she was a very well read woman. What she lacked in formal education, she more than made up for in general knowledge and an interesting and expansive vocabulary. She read the newspaper front to back everyday and always did National Observer Crossword Puzzles in ink. That’s an aspect of my personality that I can thank her for; I love to read and my facts of useless information are legendary among family and friends.

When my sons were growing up, I repurposed a lot of leftovers. I would combine meats and vegetables to get every bit of mileage out of the food I cooked. I’d add rice, pasta, or potatoes to stretch things a little farther. Scan_Pic0006When my mother saw me doing this she would always call it Slumgullion. An odd word that I honestly didn’t know the meaning of at the time, but it sounded sort of exotic and it became the name for any Leftovers of Love. I thought I should find out what the name actually meant. I looked it up a few years ago. According to the dictionary it’s a watery stew; mud and mine sluices; or whale blubber. Not very exotic after all. The name was already established so I set about to elevate it beyond its modest(?) origins. I even went so far is to make it with non-leftovers.

Surprisingly many people have recipes for Slumgullion ranging from a tomato based pasta dish, to a thin stew and even a tamales pie. What has become Slumgullion in our family however, is a skillet meal. DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s always some kind of beef, pork or chicken smoked sausage with Kielbasa and Andouille being my favorites. Peppers of any variety along with onions and garlic create the vegetable component and there must be potatoes. Yukon Gold or Red are my potatoes of choice. Spices and herbs vary and are often kept to a minimum.

DIGITAL CAMERA I even took it to the grill this summer and SlumgullionDIGITAL CAMERA on a Stick was born. The smokey taste that the grill imparted was a nice compliment to my standard ingredients. I’d always thought of Slumgullion as  a winter comfort food, but this grill interpretation was terrific and made this a year round meal. Production Note: I par-cooked the potatoes to even the cooking field. The peppers were Cubanelle. I also marinated everything in a balsamic vinaigrette and used it as a baste as well.

As with many of my recipes, the following is merely a suggestion. I never stick to it completely and I hope you’ll use it as a jumping off point to create your own Slumgullion Love. I’ve experimented with different techniques and cooking the ingredients in stages starting with the potatoes works best for flavor and texture. It’s one of those dishes that gets better after a day or so and you could easily double the recipe and freeze the leftovers. With cooler weather advancing every day, it’s a comforting meal that only needs some warm crusty bread and maybe a salad.

I think my Mom would approve.

Slumgullion
Print Recipe
Slumgullion is a skillet dish that has many interpretations...This is Mama D's version.
Servings Prep Time
6 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Slumgullion
Print Recipe
Slumgullion is a skillet dish that has many interpretations...This is Mama D's version.
Servings Prep Time
6 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat Olive Oil in a large skillet (with a lid). Add the Potatoes and toss to coat with the oil. Arrange in a single layer, cover and cook at medium heat for 3-5 minutes.Turn the potatoes and rearrange in a single layer. Cover the pan and cook fo another 3-5 minutes. The potatoes should be starting to feel tender. You no longer need the lid.
  2. Add the onions to the potatoes in the pan and cook for another 5 minutes until the onions are beginning to soften and brown. Add all of the peppers and cook, stirring occasionally 5 minutes or so until the peppers begin to soften.
  3. Raise the heat to medium high and add the sausage and garlic. Cook and stir until the sausage is beginning to brown. Keep the garlic moving do it doesn't burn.This should take 6 minutes or so.
  4. Add the Chicken Stock to the pan. Stir to loosen any brown bits and to coat the Slumgullion. Heat another 2 - 3 minutes. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve.
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It’s Time For Soup Love

 

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The weather has taken a decidedly Fall like turn. We even had our first snow sighting. Making soup goes with this weather like frost on pumpkins. I love soup. I’ve written about it several times. Today I want to share two of my favorite creamy soups, Cauliflower and/or Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup.

This is the first post I’ve done that has an actual recipe in it. I have a bright shiny new plugin that is allowing me to do this, and even though I’m still learning all the things it can do, I’m excited that I can now share Mama D’s Recipes Of Love with you.

These two soups share a basic recipe. The main ingredient is all that changes. I bet that you could even choose a main ingredient of your own and this soup would still be fabulous. It’s quick to prepare as soups go; it can be on the table in about an hour.

I’ve added different herbs; thyme or rosemary work well. Spices like Smoked Paprika , Cayenne or Nutmeg can also create more flavor.  Seasonings like Tabasco or Worcestershire Sauce are also great. In fact you could add (or subtract) any ingredient to make it your own.

I just made the Broccoli version using Homemade Vegetable Stock. I make stock using vegetable scraps that I save in the freezer until I have 3 cups or so. Then a little olive oil to sweat a mirepoix, water, the veggie scraps, and a Bay Leaf plus any herbs of your choice and in a couple of hours you have Vegetable Stock. A proper recipe is forthcoming.

In the meantime, give this recipe a try….’tis the season(ing).

Cauliflower Cheddar Cheese Soup
Print Recipe
A creamy and indulgent soup that helps you get your veggies.
Servings Prep Time
4 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Cauliflower Cheddar Cheese Soup
Print Recipe
A creamy and indulgent soup that helps you get your veggies.
Servings Prep Time
4 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the bacon and saute until golden brown. Remove the bacon but leave all the drippings in the pan. Reserve the bacon for later.
  2. Saute the leeks in the oil/drippings in the pan about 3 minutes until soft. Add the potatoes and cauliflower. Toss them around until they are caoted with the oil. Continue to saute until they begin to color a little.
  3. Add about a cup of the chicken stock to the pan stirring to deglaze and get all of the lovely brown bits. Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a low boil. reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender until almost smooth. If you like your soup chunky, remove some of the cauliflower and potatoes before you puree. Put them back in the pot once everything else is smooth.
  5. Return the pot to the heat . Stir in the cream and heat gently . Slowly add the shredded cheese and stir until each addition is melted and blended. Add 3/4 of the reserved bacon. Continue to heat gently until the fragrent steam rising almost makes you swoon.
  6. Serve in soup bowls topped with the last 1/4 of the bacon and some snipped chives
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Mama D Loves “Open House Chicago”

I usually write about food love, but today that content is going to take a backseat to Chicago love. In what has become an annual event, The Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts Open House Chicago. This two-day event allows anyone to visit 150 sites around the city that would normally not be open to the public. Did I mention it’s free? All sites have some kind of architectural significance from historic buildings to architectural firms. Spreading across more than 11 neighborhoods, there’s something for everyone’s taste.Aqua by Jeanne Gang

This was our second year and we were finally able to go both days. We got our Metra Weekend passes and took off for the city Saturday morning. Our first stop (after a brisk almost 2 mile walk involving quite a bit of backtracking) was Aqua, designed by Jeanne Gang. This award-winning building is known for its wavy balconies creating interesting patterns from every angle. Radisson Blu is a 334 room hotel that offers rooms with these balconies. A suite was open and we got to step out on the balcony and get a unique view of the city. It felt like Millennium Park was in my backyard. It also made me a little queasy. view from Aquaaqua balcony

The restaurant and lounge in the hotel is called Felini. It is a modern space; black and white tile with red accents and lots of (electric) candlelight  (how Felini-esque). Sadly we were too early to taste their food which is of course Italian. so it was on to our next stop, the 66th and 67th floor of Willis Tower.The Bar at Felini

Another brisk cross-loop walk brought us to the Metropolitan Club. This exclusive club offers networking opportunities for the who’s who of Chicago and dining with possibly the best views in the city. The space is elegant and offers panoramic views from every table. Alas, unless Steadman Graham invites me, I won’t be dining here anytime soon. It was still special to experience this space.Chicago Open House 2013 035Chicago Open House 2013 032

Even without the benefit of a pedometer, we’d walked a lot.  It was time for lunch. Chicago is restaurant heaven and the choices are mind-boggling. We had many choices, but decided to go to an old standby. Miller’s Pub. Best known as a late-night stop for the famous ribs and famous clientele, it offers good service and good food at a very reasonable price. It’s dark, a little dated, and always crowded, all of it in a good way. Feeling like we could calorie splurge, we ordered their 10 ounce (yep) burgers.Chicago Open House 2013 042 I had the Patty Melt and Jeff had the Barbecue Burger. Both were cooked exactly as requested and came with fries, cole slaw, and a pickle. They were juicy, flavor-packed and I’m actually a little ashamed to say we ate it all. We each washed it down with our favorite bourbon on the rocks. All this and we spent less than $40 (pre-tip) including the steep10+% sales tax.  That just doesn’t happen in the city…

Chicago Open House 2013 053So, on we walked.  We visited The Chicago Temple and highest chapel in the world. Again, we had views you can’t see everyday, from the pastor’s terrace. We visited Dirtt (Do It Right This Time) a company that specializes in sustainable ideas and solutions for building spaces.Chicago Open House 2013 054 Our final stop was the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist. This six-sided building was designed by Harry Weese. It’s auditorium boasts an organ with over 3000 pipes.Chicago Open House 2013 057

We snoozed on the train, went to bed early and got up on Sunday and started again.

Our first stop Sunday was the Chicago Board of Trade. A magnificent Art Deco building that Chicago Open House 2013 060boasts an underground vault that once held gold bars and copious Chicago Open House 2013 062amounts of money. Now it’s a seldom seen, quirky photo-op.

The Palmer House, an iconic Chicago Hotel. We visited the Empire Room, created in 1925 to serve as a large dining hall. In later years it became one of the most famous nightclubs in Chicago featuring Big Bands, singers and comedians. Now used for conventions and the occasional wedding it is seldom open to the public. On Sunday, it was, complete with rare performance recordings, a formally set table and a spotlighted stage. Chicago Open House 2013 070Returning to the opulent lobby, we took a seat at the Lockwood Bar. Always a source for a good Bloody Mary, this one didn’t disappoint. Super spicy, with a garnish of cheddar cheese, pepperoncini and a crisp strip of bacon. Looking down the bar it was almost everyone’s drink of choice.

Fortified, we began our stroll down South Michigan Avenue at The University Club of Chicago. An exclusive private club that boasts a 2 story Cathedral Hall.Chicago Open House 2013 080 Stained glass windows symbolizing various disciplines and occupations and coats of arms of many universities encircle the walls. Several windows allowed some amazing views of Millennium Park.Chicago Open House 2013 088

We visited the current home of the Cliff Dwellers, a private club whose members are artists, Chicago Open House 2013 105writers, and musicians. The space included a dining room, library, and bar overlooking the Chicago Open House 2013 106lakefront. it also had a balcony that was a premier vantage point for taking  in the Lakefront in its early fall beauty.

The Fine Arts Building was our next stop. Built in 1898, it is the oldest artist colony in the Chicago Open House 2013 116U.S. The interior feels like it’s frozen in time. Bass cage elevators, Art Nouveau Murals, and hundreds of music studios behind dark wood doors topped with frosted glass transoms. Pianos  and flutes could be heard as we walked the halls. We also stood on the stage of the Studebaker Theater, currently closed but still a beautiful venue.

We ended our formal tour at the Blackstone Hotel. Once the favorite Chicago stay of presidents (12 sitting presidents have stayed in the Presidential Suite), The suite had many of the original fixtures, but also had all the modern conveniences including a TV in the bathroom mirror.Chicago Open House 2013 127 It is now a boutique hotel boasting a billiard table in the lobby and a Spanish Tapas restaurant, Mercat a la Planxa. We felt the need for a little refreshment and it really felt good to sit down in the bar. We experienced the most magnificent Bloody Mary Bar I have ever seen. it actually took up the entire bar.

Chicago Open House 2013 130The house infused vodka (spanish peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic) could be mixed with a traditional spicy tomato juice, but Tomatillo and Watermelon Tomato Gazpachos were also available. Smoked Paprika, cumin, and assorted roasted and pickled vegetables Chicago Open House 2013 129were available to add to your drink. It was delicious and I can say with authority that if you muddle them enough, you can suck roasted garlic, tomatoes, and peppers through a straw.

Our Open House tour ended here, we did have more adventures before we got back on the train, but that’s  another post.

I want to thank my wonderful husband, Jeff. He took the pictures in this post.

Adventures, food or otherwise would never be the same without you . I love you, honey.

 

 

 

A Visit to The Market At Gracious Hall

When I set out to create this blog, I wanted to  chronicle my food adventures in and out of DIGITAL CAMERAthe kitchen. Mama D loves to cook, but all cooking adventures  and no out and about adventures make for a boring Mama D. I began to remedy that this week. I just returned from my first field trip. Always liking to support local merchants I went to check out the Market at Gracious Hall.

DIGITAL CAMERAGracious Hall is a catering company owned by Rebecca Colburn in Geneva, Illinois. Rebecca has been catering large and small events for several years and has just expanded to a retail gourmet market.  The small space in front of her kitchen features foods and cheeses, many from local purveyors. The market also features “Grab and Go” items that Rebecca creates.

Rebecca trained at the French Baking School in Chicago and DIGITAL CAMERAbakes all of the breads and rolls sold at Gracious Hall along with preparing all the carry out lunch items not to mention the exquisite food she creates for her clients. When I arrived she was on the phone arranging a catering job. Catering is the backbone of Gracious Hall but the addition of a gourmet market will give her more flexibility in running her business.

I was there on their first official business day. Still very much a catering company, the retail space was furnished with the usual coolers for perishable food DIGITAL CAMERAbut the space was warmed by wonderful eclectic furniture pieces for display. Even though there were limited items available, everything was artfully displayed…I can envision the wonders the future will hold and look forward to the product expansion to come. Gracious Hall carries an impressive selection of cheeses.

This is possible through a partnership with Curds and Whey a local Fox Valley merchant.  Along with domestic and imported cheeses, there are sausages, salami, and lox. It was hard to choose, but the beautiful fresh mozzarella bocconcini sang to come home with me. These bite sized bits of heaven paired beautifully with what is officially the last of my garden tomatoes ( the cold night and my husband put an end to it) and basil to create an Autumn Kissed Bruschetta.DIGITAL CAMERA

So my field trip was informative and enjoyable. I have to do this more often.  The change of scenery was much-needed, and being able to talk to someone who is passionate about food and living their dream was inspiring.  Hmm…where to next?

Baking with Fruit in the Kitchen of Love

As my food adventures continue, I’ve discovered that I really do love to bake. Baking has always been around my kitchen, but when i was working it was relegated to holidays or special occasions. Now with more time to spend in the kitchen, baking is happening at least once a week.  Chocolate makes for good baking in brownies, cookies, and cakes which have appeared in the kitchen of love. but along with re-discovering baking, I’ve discovered that baking with fruit is quite wonderful.DIGITAL CAMERA

It all started when I found a recipe for a Peach Cake. It was summer and peaches were plentiful and it just sounded so yummy. Lots of fresh peaches happily residing in a moist buttermilk cake. A topping of cinnamon sugar and almonds that baked into a crunchy golden crown. It was really amazing and good enough to bake twice.DIGITAL CAMERA

So I had entered into the world of fresh fruit baking. What delight would be next? Blueberries were in season. The good ones from Michigan that are bursting with flavor, not the bland ones that seem to be available all year. Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits, but I wanted to do something other than muffins. I found a blueberry cake recipe that sounded perfect. Another buttermilk cake, this one topped with streusel. Blueberries were laced through the cake whole and as a thick syrup. This was worthy of being baked on three seperate non-occasions.DIGITAL CAMERA

Peaches and blueberries had their individual moment in the sun or should I say oven, but what would happen if they came together in one baking masterpiece? Presenting for your delight, the Blueberry & Peach Pie. The peaches and blueberries were lightly sweetened with brown sugar, enhanced with a little almond extract and sprinkled with tapioca to thicken the juices. The streusel topping was almonds, butter, brown sugar, and a little flour. It baked to a golden brown oozing juicy goodness.018

So there you have it …my summer of fruit love. As fall creeps in, apples, pumpkin, pears and cranberries beckon to be transformed into fruity baked delights…Stay tuned. More goodies will be coming out of Mama D’s Kitchen of Love.