yumm...chorizo-stuffed dates

10:00 AM sians 1 Comments

if i had to name one of the best things i've had, it would probably these little bites of awesomeness hiding a huge burst of flavor: chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce from avec. they are such winners. in fact, the most memorable part of my dinner experience at avec was these babies. it's true when they say great things come in small packages. :)

as luck would have it, i found the recipe on timeout chicago and i was ecstatic. but it was only months after that i decided on making these since i found medjool dates while i was shopping at trader joes and because i loved these yummy bites!

initially, when i searching for all the required ingredients, i thought the biggest challenge would be finding spanish chorizo which is not as readily available as its mexican counterpart. however, koren grieveson, avec's chef de cuisine mentioned of a deli in chicago where i could buy the much needed spanish chorizo but i was too lazy to make the trip out there (although it really isn't too far now that i've checked the location). hence, i opted plan b which she also provided a substitution by blending a bit of smoked paprika into a basic fresh pork sausage, about 1 tablespoon per pound of meat.

so off i went to fox&obel to try my luck to find some spanish chorizo and some other ingredients. lo and behold! they had a few selections of cured spanish chorizo at the deli counter from which i chose two to try out for the recipe - just to compare.. whee! since i was already at the store, i proceeded to the meat counter and bought some lightly spiced fresh breakfast sausage and some slices of smoked bacon (although the recipe asked for regular bacon). well, the recipe did ask to use good quality ingredients.

one ingredient that i didn't expect having difficulty finding was  piquillo peppers. it just so happens that fox&obel just ran out of inventory, so i tried a few more stores around my apartment but to no avail. next best thing: jarred roasted red peppers as substitution which can be easily found in the italian section in any regular grocery stores.

with all the ingredients in hand, time to get into making these. oh, if you are pressed for time, you could trying finding pitted dates which would eliminate one extra step. but once i had the dates pitted, i stuffed them with the two different chorizo and the pork sausage which i removed its casing and added smoked paprika, wrapped them in bacon and placed them on a baking sheet to bake them at 350F for 40 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.

as those lil parcels of flavor were baking, i started on the sauce. for good quality tomatoes, i turned to san marzano tomatoes and added the roasted red pepper with some of the juice (not too much though cos it's a ton of vinegar) and then blended them in the blender (which i have to say have been collecting dust). i adjusted the seasoning based on personal preference at this point.

once the dates are cooked through, it needs to be broiled for a couple minutes to crisp up the bacon and then arrange the dates on sauce and it's ready to be served.

verdict mmm yummy! it had a smoky richness but with the sweetness from the dates and the tartnesss of the sauce to cut through that. even though it wasn't as delicious as the one from avec (still good tasting though!) but i was proud of my own hard work. the best stuffer of the three was the pork sausage blended with the smoked paprika. i suspect that i might have gotten the wrong version of spanish chorizo - this recipe probably requires uncooked spanish chorizo and not the cured, dried ones that has the consistency of salami.  re-reading the recipe, it does say spanish-style chorizo sausage  and not spanish chorizo as well as the step where i have to check the meat being cooked through which means probably my initial suspicion is right (yeah, i know i should have figured that out when i was cooking but i've already gotten the ingredients!) - uncooked sausage to stuff into those dates. i guess that  when i think of spanish chorizo, i think of the smoked, cured and dried types.

 room for improvement for sure: a few things such as striking the right balance of date and meat since i thought the dates might have overpowered these bite size treats. and finding the right chorizo sausage to stuff it with. if chorizo is not your cup of tea, another classic pairing is stuffing the dates with goat cheese.

i would conclude that this cooking experiment as successful! i can't wait to make this again when ryan comes to visit. or maybe for thanksgiving.. just need to search for these medjool dates again! :)

if you are searching for the recipe, you can find it here:

chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper - tomato sauce
by avec's koren grieveson
found on time out chicago website

ingredients |

  • 2 lbs medjool dates
  • 1 lb spanish-style chorizo sausage
  • 1 pkg (12 strips) good-quality bacon
  • 2 jars piquillo peppers (most jars are around 7.6 ounces)
  • 1 14.5-oz can good-quality tomatoes
  • salt to taste
directions | 
  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • using a paring knife, make a small slit in each of the dates, then push out the pit
  • slice the bacon strips in half crosswise to create two pieces out of each strip
  • wrap each date with one of the half-slice segment of bacon
  • place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes
  • once the chorizo has cooked through (you can slice a date in half to test), crank up the temperature to broil and transfer the tray to the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp up the bacon, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn
  • while the dates are baking, make the sauce. add the peppers and the tomatoes together in a medium saucepan and cook slowly over medium-low heat for the entire time the dates bake 
  • season with salt to taste, then puree the sauce until almost smooth but still with some body; think thin salsa texture. (a handheld immersion blender works great but a countertop blender is fine)
  • once the bacon is crispy, divide the sauce among six plates and top with four dates each

tip you can read more about tips on the link i provided above.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experiece and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others. 


the publican brunch

5:42 PM sians 0 Comments

i've been to the publican once before for dinner which i enjoyed tremendously and praised about it for the next few days. my first time at publican was probably the first restaurant i've been with the concept of communal table. i was intrigued by their waiting tables which i thought was a awesome idea but what impressed me was their delicious food and great selection of beers. so i returned with great expectation for an end-of-summer brunch with xy. he has never been but i've been raving about this restaurant to him.

the publican is part of paul kahan's great chicago food empire that also boasts of blackbird, avec and big star. its decor is interesting - there are several artsy paintings of pigs adorning the walls.. most of my friends think they are ugly but i think they have their own uniqueness which gives the space character. the atmosphere feels like a english tavern with an old school feel.

there wasn't much of a wait since i made reservations. i was hoping that there were mussels appetizer on their brunch menu which in that case, i would have to work my persuasion skills on xy to share it with me but sadly no mussels! we both started out with freshly squeezed orange juice ($3) which was fresh (as promised...hehe) by the way. while we were waiting on our food, we were people watching - actually more like food watching just to assess what everyone else ordered.

biscuit and chorizo gravy | fried egg . fried oyster . braised kale ($15)

i have to admit - i've never had biscuits & gravy as a meal before. i guess i've had biscuits and gravy separately but never together but i think that's different. i expected a flaky biscuit but it turned out crumbly which is traditionally the way it should be so it could absorb more of the gravy. the fried oysters were fresh - kinda creamy inside encased in a crunchy outside, just like it should be. the gravy was delicious with big chunks of spicy chorizo where its richness is enhanced by the runny yolk of the fried egg. the braised kale which was very flavorful (traditional southern flavor) was probably my favorite part of the dish after the fried oysters because it gives a grounding point amidstall the richness. 

all the flavors were great and combined beautifully but halfway through my meal, it gradually became too heavy and rich with each bite that i had to stop (much to my disappointment, because i did like my dish).

chicken fried steak | sunny side up eggs . cherry tomatoes . tomatillo salsa ($16)

xy's choice for brunch. it looked delicious but i didn't have a taste. however, xy did say he thought it was yummy and the fried steak was crispy and moist in the inside. and he also mentioned that the salsa went really well with the dish. after that brunch, he concurred he would return to publican for a second time.

the publican has met my expectation at brunch which i've enjoyed almost as much as my first dinner experience here. it's definitely a great restaurant that i would vote as one of my favorites in chicago. when i think of publican, i think of rich, hearty meals done with precision. and of course, those yummy mussels. :)

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

Publican on Urbanspoon


revolution brewing co.

11:30 PM sians 0 Comments

p.s. so... i wrote almost a full blog entry last week about paul kahan's big star and realized i don't have all the photos i needed :( i accidentally deleted it off my camera without checking if they were saved on my computer. so that post has to wait until my next visit to big star again :p so i had to recompose a whole new entry. #excuseforlateupdate

p.p.s. i've been slacking with updates since i was caught up with my new interests : k-pop (more specifically suju) and learning korean. but i will be working on updating my blog more often. 미안합니다 (mianhamnida - sorry in korean) #realexcuseforlateupdate

anywho, i digress way too much.

i haven't seen my friend for the longest time and planned a summer lunch (yeah i am playing catch up now) with him to catch up just a bit and decided to try out revolution brewing co located in logan square. revolution brewing company a gastrotavern that brews their own beer of up to 35 different styles throughout the year and also dish out interesting intepretation of american classic fare.

i thought the decor was interesting - in a good way. i loved the way the summer sun was streaming in through the ceiling high windows and the atmosphere was loud and crowded (which is a good sign) - what you would expect from a gastrotavern/brewery. 

we started our dining experience with our server spilling my friend's glass of water but she handled it rather apologetically and offered a free drink for my friend which more than made up for it. 

the biggest intriguing item on their menu was their bacon popcorn. of course i had to try it - regardless how much food we ended up ordering. (it's bacon! how can you say no to it??)

appetizer :: bacon fat popcorn | bacon . crispy sage . shaved parmesan ($4)

it wasn't huge bowl of popcorn (thank goodness!) but it was satisfying portion. with fried smoky and salty bacon bits strewn generously over airy popcorn which is then covered with shavings of partially melted parmesan from the residual heat of the bacon. this was then garnished with fried sage leaves which imparted a subtle earthiness that i absolutely loved. so sinfully greasy but i liked it quite a bit actually to the extent that it was hard to stop munching.  

appetizer :: steamed PEI mussels, spanish | chorizo & and tomato saffron broth ($12)

mmm.. mussels. the last time i met up with this friend, we ordered mussels vindaloo from the gage. this faired pretty well in terms of flavor profile it was aiming for but the broth itself was a tad too salty. usually, i look forward to the toast that comes with the mussel dish to sop up all the awesome broth but i was greeted with disappointment.  it wasn't crispy, toasty nor buttered up enough. however, the redeeming quality was that the mussels were fresh and flavorful which i would have to attribute to the slightly overseasoned broth.

sandwiches & burgers :: farm burger | baby spinach . roasted beet . horseradish cream . fried organic egg ($12)

huge burger portion with a generous amount of fries - hand cut fries was my choice. oddly enough, although it was a burger, it gave me the impression that it was a healthy one with the beets and spinach. they got the cooking time right since i asked for medium which had pink in the middle - moist and had nice grilled marks. the toasted bun held its own, minor sweetness from the beets combined nicely with the slight bite from the spinach but very mild horseradish kick from the cream made me wish there were a bit more seasoning on the burger. overall, i thought it was a solid burger. 

brunch :: pork belly sandwich | smoked pork belly . two fried eggs . arugula . tomato . garlic aioli  with redskin potatoes ($10)

sd ordered this as his entree. instead of hand cut fries, he opted for mashed potatoes. he mentioned that it was fatty in a few bites but it was what made it good by alternating the fatty and the meaty of the smoked pork bely. mashed potatoes were creamy and smooth but with great substance - a melt in your mouth texture with an underlying garlic flavor. 

revolution brewing co. displayed some streaks of awesomeness in their food - injecting twists to american classics makes it a place worth trying.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

Revolution Brewing on Urbanspoon

note: await for my entries SF dining experience from last month at some of food networks' celebrity chefs' restaurant including incanto and wayfare tavern. or a few new recipes that i tried recently  :)