Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Once I looked down ...

Hurray! A free morning! In between things! Yeesh. It's been pretty crazy around here the for last couple of weeks dear readers. An unending rushing stream of meetings, out of town visitors (aka Dad, I know he's singular...but it felt plural), dinner parties (Kosher lamb leg sword fight dinner parties with peer pressure fist pumping chant's of "Do it for the blog!" - excellent excuse for grown people to pick up giant lamb leg, bite into it growling and holding it up in victory...yes, you read right, I'll tell you about it), planning dinner parties, shopping for dinner parties, balancing, being at the market three days a week, property buying adventures, launching dish. private cooking lessons and catering to boutique dinner parties (so. much. fun.), shucking bags of beans, making mini lamb meatball and zucchini leaf soup, stuffing peppers, roasting peppers, drying peppers (see Facebook profile pepper rant), peeling thousands of gooseberries, buying lots of wool things (blankets, skins, socks and other such things) preparing our home for Fall and Winter, picking pumpkins and this awesome event.

Which is what I want to tell you about today. The thing though is this... the evening took a slight...shall we say... twist. Between the location, the people, the food and the event itself, somewhere along the line, my obsessions got the best of me. Quelle surprise right? So there I was, in the middle of it all. With my media badge. The sun, the water, the boats, the cookies, the truffles, the over seven hundred plus (neuroses exposing) people, the chefs preparing for burger battle, the food critics preparing their burger palates and insane badass criteria lists ...I was preparing my strategy for photos, wondering how I was going to eat everything (the burgers were seriously huge), proudly and gleefully admiring the Birri boxes (which I see all day at the market) which were the staple for the chefs burger garnishes and generally scoping out the scene...when I saw this:

It was innocent. I thought nothing of it, (except oh! how cool!) snapped a pic, and went on my merry way, stall to stall, tasting all the awesome concoctions these awesome chefs had, well, concocted, if you will. I had boudin and dark chocolate burger (team GDS! awesome idea, I told you there would be blood...), I snapped a pic. I had a foie gras burger, I snapped a pic. I had a chicken fried chili burger, I snapped a pic. I had a pulled pork and fig burger, I snapped a pic.  But a little secret here ...the pics were all of shoes! Of shoes for heaven's sake. You should have seen me, burger in hand taking a bite, mmm'ing and ammm'ing and oh, these are so good'ing and then eeeever so caaaasually my head would just kind of... turn and look down ... at shoes. I simply couldn't help myself. Once I looked down, that was it. For the rest of the night I walked around snapping peoples shoes, while normal people were snapping burgers. Indeed.

Obsessive shoe snapping:

I also got a bunch of really cool shots (between obsession shots of course) of the "other" stuff, you know, the burgers and the people and the actual relevant stuff... Take a look at dish. on flickr my dear readers until I figure out how to construct a photo page on our little blog here. Yours and mine. Feels cool. In the meantime ...

Time to dish.

The most delicate Mini Lamb Meatball and Zucchini Stem Minestrone

** A little note. Zucchini stems are completely awesome. They have this wonderfully unique flavor and they hold up incredibly well during cooking. They don't disintegrate into nothingness and have a beautiful color to boot even after cooking. You don't see them around often and the zucchini stems that were used for this recipe were brought to the market by a little, old, hunched over Italian lady that picks them from the fields. She brings these goodies often in the Fall. Look out for them at your local market or ask your farmers/vendors where you can get them. It is completely worth the effort. **

Here is what you need for the Mini Lamb Meatballs:

  • Ground lovingly farm raised fatty lamb
  • One beautiful egg
  • Small handful of fennel seeds
  • Sea salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper, small pinch
  • Olive oil
  • Finely chopped parsley
  • Finely chopped fennel fronds (if you have them)

Here is what you need for the rest of the soup:

  • Two bunches of Zucchini stems, chopped about five inches above the starting point of the stem (below that is not tender)
  • Onions, finely chopped
  • Garlic, smashed
  • Water (no broth required because the flavor of the zucchini stem is so amazing)
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Lemon juice, lots

Here is what to do to make the mini lamb meatballs:

  1. Combine all your beautiful  mini lamb meatball ingredients into a big bowl and then get in there with your hands and mix. That is about it dear readers. Once mixed, roll into mini meatballs. Honestly nothing more to it. As little or as big as you like them. I have to thank loving husband here (thank you Axel) who rolled them for me while I was tending to the chopping. We have been cooking together more often these days and I really like it. He has a lovely touch.
  2. Once rolled, heat grape seed oil in a pan, medium high heat and brown these little suckers. Don't crowd them because you want to get it over with though. You'll steam their beautiful globeness instead of browning them. Once done set aside. 

Here is what to do for the rest of the soup:

  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and add your onions, garlic and sautee for about ten minutes. Then add your chopped zucchini stems. Stir and sautee for another five minutes. Add the rest of your ingredients, your meatballs, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer until stems are tender and meatballs are happily cooked. About half an hour'ish. Taste to know for sure. Add a little more lemon juice. Super healthy, so delicious and beautiful for fall and winter. That's it dear readers. See you soon. x


  1. Another inspirational dishchronicle; your writing, your pictures and of course your recipe. I so love soup. I must make it. I will. Salivating. Thank you

  2. Wow, it sounds like you've been busy, Oana. Dish. private cooking lessons and catering? That's really exciting! I hope you'll say more about that soon.
    I don't blame you about the shoes...they are all very pretty. (I wish that heels were friendlier to my feet.) However, all of those burgers sound equally good and picture-worthy.
    The soup sounds lovely, but I never find the time to go the farmers' market. There isn't much of one in my neighbourhood, and travelling between neighbourhoods in Chicago takes forever on the bus. So when I do have time to venture out, it's usually for wild and wonderful brunches with friends. I hope you don't think my priorities are too mixed up.

  3. Love the recipe and ADORE the shoes hi hi

  4. @ Anonymous, Thank you, that's awesome. You totally must, you will love it. Once you've had this minestrone it's hard to go back ...

  5. @ Katie, Yes, I have indeed and this is just half of it. Never mind the kitchen renovations ...which I will also write about ...Yeah it's fun and I will talk a little about it soon...Are you kidding, have fun with your friends and enjoy life. Do you guys in Chicago have any CSA's? I so love Chicago by the way. Would love to go back ...

  6. @ Cheap Ethnic Eatz - It's totally awesome Eve, you'll love it. So I'm not the only one. Truth be told, you don't want to know how many I actually took. It's embarrassing.

  7. Oana, there are definitely CSAs, but I'm afraid of those weeks where all I'm going to get is a box full of potatoes or carrots or something. I really miss having a good farmers' market.

  8. Wasn't expecting this unexpected turn in your blog. Ever considered fashion blogging?

  9. @ Anonymous, neither did I :) ...hmmm ...dishsquared perhaps ...