Hey guys, sorry I missed you last week!! Tuesday I took the train to Chicago to visit my friend Christina and her husband Tony. I don’t know about everyone else, but here in the Midwest there’s been a terrible cold going around (I managed to get it twice in a month). Poor Christina got it, so we spent most of our time hanging out at home – AKA The Womb of Greek Hospitality – drinking tea around the kitchen table or curled up on the couch watching movies about chefs on Netflix! I also may have made Christina watch Pee Wee’s Big Adventure with me – I LOVE that movie 😀 And we spent tons of time cooking. I didn’t quite get pictures of everything, but I’ll try to fill in the blanks.
I have the hardest time sleeping the night before I travel, so I basically took a short nap around 3am. The train left here at 6, and I slept most of the way. Then after a tour of Christina’s new home, we both took a very, very long and wonderful nap. Afterwards, I had my first visit to a Cermak Fresh Market and also found fresh jackfruit for the first time ever! Sure looks weird!
The white stringy part didn’t have much flavor, but the yellowy part around the seeds tasted a little bit like pineapple.
A few things I put together with Christina instructing me, like this cabbage salad. It’s basically just cabbage, tons of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and sumac. Actually maybe that’s exactly what it is, I can’t remember.
So, I butchered the jackfruit (vegan appropriation at work) and ended up cooking it down in BBQ sauce. I cooked it for a few hours until it was very tender. We basically made American dakos, placing a rusk in the bottom of the bowl with a layer of cabbage salad on it, then a layer of BBQ jackfruit, topped with avocado.
I also boiled and peeled the jackfruit seeds and sauteed them in oil with salt and garlic. They’re very starchy and make a good snack, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort. They’re super slippery, and the peel is hard like plastic. If they don’t split on their own during boiling, it can be tricky getting the peel off. And if you accidentally leave a bit on and try to eat, it’s pretty unpleasant. But I’m glad we at least tried it. I normally buy canned jackfruit in brine, and it already has the seeds removed.
I think this salad is actually what we ate on the first night. Christina had a Cretan salad at a Greek restaurant during a recent trip to Astoria and wanted to recreate it. She told me exactly what to put in, and it turned out wonderfully.
There’s leaf lettuce, lots of cilantro, capers, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh garlic and lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. In place of feta we had a cashew cheese (it was a soft cheese and sort of melted into the salad when we tossed it, but it gave it a great flavor), and we added a dollop of kalamata olive spread when we made dakos.
Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the chili we ate for at least one meal each day. I love having leftover chili because it’s one of those things that just tastes better and better after it chills in the fridge. I could’ve eaten it for a week.
Whenever I get a combo platter at Little Africa, I’m the one who ends up eating all the beets. Sure, beets taste a little like dirt, but in a good way. These were boiled, and I don’t think much of anything was added to them besides maybe some oil and salt. I ate a huge bowl full.
On the last day of my visit I made ribs using vital wheat gluten, also known as seitan. I’ve made them before with another recipe, and I think these were not as good – but once you cover something in BBQ sauce, it’s hard to go wrong. This was my first time having access to a grill pan, it was really fun to use.
I also made a couple batches of kale chips and experimented with seasoning them in different ways. Salted, Salt & Black Pepper, Salt & Garlic with Nooch, and Oregano & Garlic…with a pinch of salt. We ate these with the ribs.
Not pictured is the steaming hot bowl of fava we also had with this meal. They were on the soupy side, which was the perfect thing to eat before going out into the freezing cold to catch the train back.
What are you eating to keep warm this winter?