Tag top chef

Parties That Cook’s Chicago Team Treat: An Evening at Girl & the Goat

This blog is brought to you by Parties That Cook’s Chicago team! In lieu of Chicago’s traditional cookbook club this quarter, PTC lead chef David Avila recently hosted fellow PTC chefs Heidi, Molly and Brandy at Chicago’s hottest restaurant: Girl & the Goat. David runs the restaurant’s prep kitchen five days a week, so he treated the girls to an evening of delicious food and offered nuggets of insider information about the history and creation of each dish.

David said the Girl & the Goat team does all their own pickling – and a lot of it! He has even been out to the local farms, such as Slagel Family Farms, where Girl & The Goat sources meat and produce from. Sounds like the definition of farm-to-table dining.

After delivering a bottle of vodka and bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to the kitchen chefs, Heidi, Molly and Brandy sat and sipped cocktails. They then enjoyed two delicious breads made just for them: A hearty pretzel bread with a perfectly crunchy crust paired with a horseradish butter and a “corny” corn bread with a sweet and spicy corn relish. One of the restaurant’s owners stopped by their table and gave them the scoop on “Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard’s new retro-inspired diner opening this fall, “The Little Goat”. Talk about getting the VIP treatment!

Then the food started coming.

Of course, Heidi, Molly and Brandy let David order for them. They nibbled on bites of pretty much everything. First up was the Roasted Cauliflower with pickled peppers, pine nuts, and mint. Yum! The girls also got a taste of the Grilled Edamame with smoky blue cheese and rosemary. The consensus was that the smoky blue cheese melted over the edamame put it over the top in the best way. The Squash Blossom Rangoon with crab, chive yogurt and toasted almonds was delish, as was the Chickpea Fritters with eggplant-tomatillo caponata and mozzarella. The texture of the fritters was amazing and the fact that they sat on top of a bed of mozzarella made the dish that much better!

The Seared Tuna came up next – served with a delicious crumbled lamb sausage, grilled blueberries and pepitas. Yes, I said grilled blueberries! David explained that the grilling is done by putting a cooling rack on a hot grill and then “spilling” the blueberries on the rack. This was Heidi’s favorite dish of the night, while Brandy’s favorite was the Kalbi style beef ribs. She further explained, “It melted in my mouth and was served over the cutest corn coblettes and topped with charred okra.” There was more, including some oysters that were to-die-for, but if you couldn’t guess by the photos, it’s time to move on to desserts.

The group ordered all four desserts offered that night. They enjoyed the Chocolate Bouchon with a foie fluff and the Brown Sugar Cake with goat cheese mousse of the most perfect texture, but the highlight hands down was the Pork Fat Doughnuts with house-made honey yogurt and lemony eggplant. While eating, Molly shared the tale of a former job where she had to serve homemade donuts from a machine every night. Though she would normally curse a doughnut, she scraped the plate on this one.

All in all, it was an amazing experience and Heidi, Molly and Brandy thank David and the staff at Girl & the Goat for a wonderful night.

I’d like to thank Heidi, Molly and Brandy for a wonderful blog!

Top Chef in Napa Valley

We’re down to the last two episodes of Top Chef Las Vegas! The final four head to Napa for their quick-fire and elimination challenges. This week’s guest judge is Top Chef Master, Chef Michael Chiarello– a pioneer of fine dining in Napa Valley. For the quick-fire challenge the chefs must cook with Napa Valley’s signature crop: the grape. The chefs have a full pantry and 30 minutes to cook for Padma and Chef Chiarello. And for a classic Top Chef twist, they must cook and serve their dishes on the Napa Valley Wine Train. On the menu:

Kevin: honey and fromage blanc mousse, glazed grapes, olive oil and sea salt
Michael: grape leaf stuffed with couscous, vinegar glazed grape and scallop
Bryan: roasted hen, bacon, brussel sprouts, concord grapes, ruby quinoa and qrugula
Jennifer: sautéed chicken livers, clams, cabernet grapes, wild mushroom and tendrils

Michael wins the last high stakes quick fire and his prize: a new Toyota Prius. Padma announces the elimination challenge, which will determine who will be competing in the finale for the title of Top Chef. The elimination challenge: catering the Rutherford Hills Winery Crush Party. The cheftestants must each create two dishes, one vegetarian and one protein, using only local ingredients (other than salt and pepper). If the ingredient isn’t raised or grown in Napa, they will not be able to use it.

The final four head to a local market to select their ingredients. Back in the kitchen, head judge Tom Colicchio comes by to check in on the chefs. On the menu:

1)    grass-fed brisket with pumpkin polenta and marinated root vegetables
2)    roasted beets and carrots with carrot top puree and san andreas cheese

1)    turnip soup with foie gras terrine, poached pear and glazed turnip
2)    vegetable pistou, heirloom tomato coulis, 63 degree egg and fennel

1)    fig-glzed short ribs, celeriac puree, wax beans and wild arugula
2)    goat cheese ravioli, delicate squash puree and bronze fennel

1)    grilled duck breast, braised dug legs, squash puree and foie gras vinaigrette
2)    chevre mousse with honey mushrooms, braised radishes and basil

Guests arrive and it’s difficult to tell who will be eliminated. At this point in the competition, any tiny mistake can send someone packing. The judges convene at judge’s table and Tom appropriately praises the chefs for their great efforts all season long. Bryan wins the elimination challenge. However, one had to go and Jennifer is sent home. It really could have been anyone at this point. We are sad to see her leave, as she was one of our favorites. Next week is the season finale! Let us know who you are rooting for!