My best friend came down to visit from Paris last week. She was my coworker but we became the bestest of friends in a short manner of time. Our company has an annual boat party every year at Navy Pier. This year as I was getting back in my Uber, I noticed this super cute place that seemed like it had a really nice vibe called the Hampton Social. All I saw driving by was big windows and that’s what drew me in. Right that second I told myself I HAVE to go there for lunch sometime. I actually whatsapped the best friend/coworker saying we have to go here and of course she agreed but it took her moving to Paris for us to actually go. On another note, I’ve been thinking for the past few days. When it comes to this blog, I haven’t been unapologetically myself. I kept thinking about what was politically correct to say or not say on my blog. And honestly, nobody really gives a shit about my self censor. This blog is to pen my thoughts, feelings, and food (which is basically my life summed up), so that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t think I’ll offend anyone because I’m not an offensive person and I like billions of human beings have a voice that I can use unapologetically. So here goes. Also, there’s squiggly lines under unapologetically in this post but it’s an adverb, so I am being fed lies by this editor lol. But back to this super cute restaurant we went to that has you feeling like you’re on a pier in Maine with that fresh seafood smell that hits you soon as you walk in. There’s a difference between stanky seafood smell and a good seafood smell though and the Hampton Social has a good one. Honestly I had the best squid ink linguine in my life at this place.
Hi Guys! Been super MIA lately because I’ve been so busy with life! Also I don’t know I was a little sad about some things, when I get sad I usually get either lazy or unmotivated. So I had all sorts of feels. Most of last month was Ramadan, a month of fasting, refraining from food AND water from sunrise to sunset (that was 18 hours this summer but we made it and yolo). Muslims celebrate it to empathize with the needy, to understand what it feels like to be of the less fortunate and to humble yourselves as a human being. I’m not going to lie, my Ramadan is usually the spiritual aspects of it but also scrolling through pictures of food BUT before anyone starts judging, I do that on a regular basis, ramadan or not. This one day I started craving samosas cause all my friends are telling me about how their samosa game is strong. I wanted the legit kind though, the ones from places like Tahoora on Devon Ave in Chicago, IL that actually take you back to India/Pakistan with their food. I remember I tried my hand at samosas a couple years ago but this last month I’ve made so many I’ve become a pro. Well sort of, these can’t be let out to sit if you’ve frozen them, fry soon as you take them out of the freezer, learned it the hard way. Oh and before anyone starts cringing because they can’t give up their meat, these are vegetarian samosas but I mean come on, they have POTATOES in them. So set your differences aside and bask in their glory.
- 2 large potatoes
- 1/2 cup frozen peas (or fresh)
- 1/2 tspn cumin seeds
- 1 tspn ghee
- 1 tspn chili powder
- 1 tspn ginger garlic paste (this is sold together at Indian stores)
- Pinch of crushed fenugreek leaves
- Dash of lemon juice
- 1 tspn salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tspn caraway seeds
- Water to knead dough
- 1 tspn salt
Heat up oil in your pan (I used a stir fry pan) to fill up at least a quarter of the pan on medium high heat.
Peel and chop your potatoes in bigger chunks. Boil your potatoes and peas in a saucepan or big pot filled with water on medium high heat for about 20 minutes or until you poke them with a fork and they come out clean. Set the mixture aside. In a pan heat up your ghee and fry up your cumin seeds till they are slightly brown, working quickly add in the chili powder, and ginger/garlic paste for about a minute or two. Add in the potato mixture, mix with spices till fully incorporated. Add in your lemon juice, fenugreek leaves, and salt. Mix in till incorporated. Once filling is done, take off heat and set aside.
For the pastry, mix all ingredients together. And knead till you have a stiff dough. My mom disagreed with me on this one but you have to make sure it’s not sticky or you will not be able to have a thick enough consistency for them to hold the filling. Section off dough into 6 balls. Working one at a time, roll out the balls with a rolling pin and cut in half. Alright this is harder to explain in text, so I have an example video on how to actually assemble the samosas, watch from 7:35: Assembly. Serve with mint chutney and date chutney.
This one’s an easy one cause I cheated. You’ll understand why I cheated in a second. I moved from New Orleans when I was 8, I have a few cherished memories from my hometown. One of the moon rising and me sitting on brown rusty colored lincoln that we had watching this big gigantic moon (the one from E.T when he bikes across the sky) rising. Another driving those little plastic bikes at kindercare out in the backyard, feeling like Angelica from Rugrats basically owning the world through the pedals of my plastic bike, and fyi my kindercare was cooler than others solely because it was dome shaped. Getting candy from Daddy every day cause he worked right across from Kindercare. One of my favorite memories that I still can and do re-enact is getting my favorite treat of all time Beignets from Cafe Du Monde. Beignets are a french doughnut that are pillowy in texture and absolutely melt in your mouth. There’s a rush when you bury yourself in a mountain of powdered sugar and then get it all over your clothes (it’s ok, ruining your clothes doesn’t matter till you’re out of beignets). How did I cheat? I got myself a box of Cafe Du Monde beignet mix which was probably the best thing that could happen to me cause I got a little bit of home away from home besides discovering World Market of course (possibly the best store EVER). If there’s no world market near you, you can purchase the box here….trust me you will not be disappointed!
- 2 1/3 cup mix
- 1 cup water
- vegetable oil to fry
- Generous amount of powdered sugar
Heat a fry pan with vegetable oil on medium high heat. The instructions say to get it to a certain degree. I don’t measure the temperature cause I don’t have a tool to do that and even if I did I wouldn’t…call me lazy, call me overconfident, haha.
Mix the water and beignet mix together. If the dough is too sticky you can add in some more mix to stiffen up the dough. If you ran out of extra mix (oh because you made this a couple hundred times) and your dough is too watery then you can use all purpose flour to stiffen up your dough or in a brown household we have an abundance of whole wheat flour, you can use that too (side note, we have an abundance of all purpose flour cause I like the deals at Costco). Roll out dough with a rolling pin into 1/8 in. thick 8×10 rectangle. Cut out 3×3 in. squares or rectangles close to that size. Add beignets to the fry pan and fry till they come up to the surface, about 10 seconds per side. Do NOT over fry them because the texture will be rubbery. Take out of pan and dust with piles and piles of powdered sugar!
Note: These turn rubbery in texture once they get cold, serve them hot or warm!
I came back from this magical middle eastern restaurant couple days back. This place has the hustle and bustle of a crammed l train in Chicago on the weekends and every night in Ramadan(Muslim holiday based on lunar activity). So it was nice to go on a weeknight and have a little leg room at the dining table. Our family was fashionably late an hour after the reservation time but no one really cared since they weren’t packed. We ordered 2 big platters that mostly everyone orders because it’s pocket friendly and feeds about a good 5-6 people. It consists of a really thin bread at the bottom, rice, there’s 2 kinds one that tastes like spanish rice and the other yellow rice that most people are accustomed to at a Middle Eastern restaurant (spanish one is my fave!), and then all sorts of meat at the top: lamb, quail, chicken, and beef kabob. Beef kabob is my favorite at any restaurant and even at home. And lol restaurant politics they don’t serve lamb on quiet days with the platter even though it’s on the menu, according to them they ran out, economically speaking they sell it for $15-20 separately so they can’t include their highest price point meat in a platter that serves their meat in bulk. Anywayssssss I’m getting into the logistics of it too much, back to the point. For starters they serve hummus, pita, and FINALLY after years of eating there I figured out what the white dip was: labaneh. Labaneh is my favorite, I eat the entire thing on my own….I HAVE to share it sometimes. It’s tangy, creamy, and basically everything you could want in your mouth. So I go back home craving more and went on a rampage to make some for myself. No questions asked I headed straight to my second home, the grocery store.
- 2 7 oz fage greek yogurt cups
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tspn lemon juice
- Pinch of Paprika
- Pinch of Zatar (spice blend of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, and cumin)
Mix yogurt, salt, and lemon juice together and set aside. Set cheesecloth in a sieve and set the sieve over a bowl. Add yogurt to your cheesecloth (do not fold your cheesecloth, you want the yogurt to strain well, so just add it to one layer unfolded). Cover the top of the yogurt with the rest of the cheesecloth and chill in the fridge for 24-48 hours. The longer you let it strain, the thicker the consistency. I strained and chilled my labneh for 24 hours and I thought the consistency was just right.
Practice really does make perfect. Not saying I’m perfect because I still messed up but this lattice top was much much much much better than my first. Then the 3rd pie I ended up making had the best lattice top. Trial and error my friends. Mostly error but then you end up getting it just right. Honestly speaking that’s pretty much everything in life. I love love love salted caramel, I made some for my bestie a couple months back, and then I also incorporated it in my green tea ice cream with caramel swirls. Honestly, I could dip anything in salted caramel and drool as I go at it: apples, ice cream cones, cake, chips, my laptop, joking but I probably could. So for the second time in a row I’m mentioning that I just got myself Sweeter off the Vine by Yossy Arefi, after checking out her blog and her instagram I’ve deemed the woman a pie queen. I tried to learn her pie ways, I did a pretty good job the third time around. Haha, most of my posts are about me getting things right after several times but hey I’m human, not perfect, and we all mess up.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 whipping cream
Heat your sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat. Melt sugar for about 5 minutes until you get a brown sauce, make sure you don’t burn your sugar. Add in your butter and after butter has been incorporated into your sugar, add your cream. Cook for about 2 minutes until cream has been mixed into sugar well. Take saucepan off stove and let cool. After completely cooled, set in the fridge.
All butter pie crust recipe from Sweeter off the Vine, you can find pie crust recipe from her site.
- 2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks of butter)
- 8 tbsp ice cold water
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tspn salt
Add flour and salt to a large bowl and mix. Cut up butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Add butter to flour and mix (I use my hands, if you do that make sure to wash them) till you coat your butter and get big dime size pieces of coated butter. Add apple cider vinegar to your cold water. Add 1/2 of your water mixture to your flour and knead. Add the rest and knead till you have a dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight. Best to chill overnight or you can chill for 2 hours before using. I made a couple batches of pie dough and froze it, you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
Salted Caramel Apple Pie
- 1 egg
- pie dough
- 1/4 cup flour
- 4 gala apples
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tspn cinnamon
- 1/2 cup salted caramel
- Lemon juice from 1 small lemon
- 3 tspn turbinado sugar or 3 individual packets
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Coat a 9in round pan with butter or oil. Section pie dough into 2 pieces, one for the crust and one for the top. Roll out the pie dough with a rolling pin and cover your pan, leave excess on the sides to roll up after the top is done. Roll out the other half and cut into 1 inch thick strips. Chill pie crust and strips while you get your filling ready.
Peel and cut apples into 1/4 inch thick lengthwise strips. Add apples to a large bowl, mix in lemon juice, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Take our pan from cooling, add 1/2 the filling to the bottom, add your salted caramel, and then top it off with the rest of the filling. Take out your strips and make a lattice top by adding down 3-4 strips on top of your pie and then criss crossing in the rest of the strips. Fold up the excess pie dough from the sides and crimp up to make a cute pattern. In a small bowl beat your egg and then brush on your egg wash onto your pie top. Add turbinado sugar to the top. Bake for 50 minutes. After it’s done baking, set aside to cool but not for too long cause apple pie tastes soooooooo good warm, with a scoop of ice cream!