Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Prairie Grass Cafe Ramps It Up for Earth Day - Serves Complimentary River Valley Ranch Mushroom Soup at Lunch Today

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Stegner_Grant Kessler_34786
Northbrook's Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-205-4433) will be offering its lunch customer complimentary house-made River Valley Ranch Mushroom Soup today in honor of Earth Day. The soup normally sells for $5.50.

Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris, chefs/co-owners at Prairie Grass Cafe showcase various types of organic, local mushrooms. "We buy our Button and Portobello mushrooms from farmer Eric Rose of River Valley Ranch in Burlington, Wisconsin, as they are a Certified Organic Farm and the oldest mushroom farm in the Midwest," Sarah says. "All crops are grown without pesticides or chemicals. We connected with them through the Green City Market. The combination of mushrooms makes the best mushroom soup. It's truly delicious."

The Prairie Grass Cafe menu also will be featuring ramps starting tomorrow. Chefs Stegner and Bumbaris have provide their recipe using ramps from Tim Burton of Burton's Maplewood Farm. Guest will be able to enjoy the Ramp Crustini with Ramp Butter during ramp season. Says Stegner, " I always know that Spring has finally sprung when the ramps come in season." Let's hope she's right.

Sarah Stegner Photo by Grant Kessler
Prairie Grass Cafe
Ramp Crustini with Ramp Butter
By George Bumbaris and Sarah Stegner
1# of wild ramps ( I use Burton Farms from Indiana)
1 Tbsp + ¼ cup olive oil (separated)
½ cup sweet butter (softened)
8 slices of baguette - sliced on the bias, 4-5 inches long each


Cook the ramps:
Take about 10 to 20 ramps depending on the size. Clean them very well. Divide the ramps into 3 parts: the bulb, the stem and the greens into three separate parts. 

At the very beginning of the season you  may need to only divide them into 2 parts the top greens from the bottom stem. 
Blanch the stems and bulb in boiling salted water for a few minutes.  Heat a medium size saute pan over high heat, add a 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Put chopped up tops of the ramps into the pan along with the blanched stems and bulbs.  Cook until tender and season well with salt.  If they pick up a little charred color that can taste good too.

Make the ramp butter:

Place ½ cup of the cooked ramps in a blender with ¼ cup olive oil, 1/8 cup of water and a pinch of salt.  Puree well.  Fold the pureed ramps into the softened butter.


Spread some of the ramp butter onto a slice of baguette.  Toast in the oven until hot and bubbly.  The butter will be vibrant green.  Add the remaining cooked ramps over the top and eat!
Ramp Crostini Low Res
 Prairie Grass Cafe Ramp Crustini with Ramp Butter

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What are your plans for Easter Brunch and Dinner? Why not go casual at Big Chef Burgers in Schaumburg.

Celebrating Easter with family and friends doesn't have to break the bank. Big Chef Burgers (1602 E. Algonquin in Schaumburg, 847-221-8539) is offering Easter Sunday specials all day and evening beginning at 11 a.m., making it possible to enjoy a delicious meal and still have money left in your wallet.
White Pizza with Sunny Egg Potato and Rosemarrie 11
Noted chef/owner Cristiano Bassani has added two specials to the Big Chef menu for Easter. Share a wonderful White Pizza with potato, rosemary and egg, $11.

Lamb Burger lrEnjoy a hearty 1/2 pound Lamb Burger with grilled onions, your choice of cheese, and complimentary sweet potato fries, hand cut fries, coleslaw, homemade potato chips, onion rings or mashed potatoes, $14. Burgers come with your choice of bun, white, whole wheat, onion or pretzel.

Big Chef also offers are variety of salads, portioned as an entree and easily shared. Choose from the Spinach Salad with Baby Spinach with fresh Pears, Pecorino Cheese, Almonds, Dried Cranberries tossed in our Homemade Lemon and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Dressing, $8 or a Caesar Salad with Romaine Lettuce, Shaved Parmesan cheese, and Homemade Caesar dressing, $8 or add shrimp or scallops for an extra $4, chicken for an extra $3.

Lental Salad lowBig Chef's Lentil Salad is a hearty meal in itself with Lentil Beans, Asparagus, Roasted Red Beets, and Crumbled Bleu Cheese with Homemade Balsamic Vinegar Dressing, $8.

Big Chef Burgers doesn't require reservations. It also has large seating areas for groups making it the perfect spot to celebrate. It also offers single seating at the bar and open kitchen counter. So everyone has a place at the Big Chef Easter table.

Visit http://www.bigchefburgers.com for additional information or check out the menu here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Celebrate the Day of the Mushroom Tomorrow at Big Chef Burgers

April 16 is the Day of the Mushroom. Celebrate at Big Chef Burgers (1602 E. Algonquin Rd., 847-221-8539, Schumburg) with a delicious Mushroom and Bufalo Mozzarella Neapolitan Pizza ($10 on the 16th; normally $12) or an amazing huge 1/2 pound gourmet burger with mushrooms, your choice of cheese and bun.

Looking for the best and biggest, try the signature Big Chef, one pound of fresh ground Angus beef, topped with cheese, grilled onions, wild mushrooms, bacon, lettuce and tomato ($20).

 Why Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are one of the most exciting and versatile categories of food. They instantly turn a plain pizza or burger into a gourmet feast. But most people aren’t aware of how glorious the world of mushrooms is.

Did you know that the popularity of foraged wild and cultivated specialty mushrooms can be attributed to a change in mushroom farming in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At that time, owners of mushroom farms and wild mushroom hunters began to introduce the public to unique varieties of fungi that most people had never seen before. It is hard to imagine a time when the meaty portobello wasn’t a household name; but without this big boy, we would still be feasting on snowy white buttons.
Check out their food menu here.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Benefit at Bites Asian Tapas Easter Sunday

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Every 19 minutes a child in Illinois is abused or neglected. Every 6 hours, a child dies before his or her first birthday because of the abuse. What a better way to celebrate Easter than helping protecting children who are victims of child abuse?

Bites Asian Tapas is hosting an Easter Brunch to benefit Go Blue Campaign created by One Hope United - an organization that operates in IL, WI, Mo & FL to ensure children's safety. http://onehopeunited.org/go-blue-4-ohu/

Join Bites at 3313 N. Clark St. for its $13 Easter Brunch special including an entree and a dessert. Half of all the beverages bought on Easter Sunday, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, will be donated to One Hope United. Call 773-270-5972 for reservations.

More about Bites Easter  A La Carte Brunch

Start your brunch with one of Bites' creative specialty cocktails such as the Bloody Rooster ($7), Bites' take on the traditional Bloody Mary, or Mimosas with choice of orange, lychee or mango variations. Other cocktail favorites are the Tom YUMtini ($8), made with vodka, Tom Yum syrup and lime; the Ms. Gardenia ($7), created with gin, simple syrup, Rambutan juice, Midori and lemon; or the Hot Geisha ($8) made with Shochu, ginger syrup, lemon, lemongrass, mint, and Thai chili powder.
_DSC9705 300 pixels with borderBites' food menu offers a wide variety of unique brunch selections-items you will not experience anywhere else.

Start with Small Bites such as the Lemon Ricotta Fritters ($6) and the Watermelon & Lychee Salad ($7). Move on to Brunch Bites - main selections featuring the Green Tea Pancake ($8) with matcha, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, almond and green tea ice cream; the Pulled Pork Waffle ($9), Asian styled pulled pork with BBQ sauce, scallion, and cheddar cheese; Shrimp Tonkatsu ($10), shrimp cake, white bread, Japanese coleslaw and Tonkatsu sauce; the Grilled Rib Eye Bahn Mi ($10), grilled medium-rare rib eye, lettuce, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, and spicy mayo; and the Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich ($8), crispy boneless chicken, lettuce, radish, sesame seed, scallion, and teriyaki sauce.
If you love burgers, Bite's Korean Burger ($12) with Korean marinated spicy pork, lettuce and fried egg with Bi Bim Bap Sauce and served with taro fries, is a dream come true.
Bites also features its two favorite dinner time Ramen dishes at brunch, both large enough to share. The Spicy Miso Ramen ($14) is a hearty bowl with pork belly or tofu, egg noodles, bamboo shoot, mushroom, boiled egg, sesame and chili oil; and the Tonkotsu Ramen ($14) includes pork belly or tofu in a rich and creamy broth with egg noodles, bamboo shoot, ginger, mushroom, seaweed poached egg, garlic oil, and sesame seed.
Mac & Cheese fans will adopt A-Macaroni ($8) as their new favorite preparation. Bites prepares this indulgent dish with stir-fried macaroni, tofu, egg, mozzarella cheese and onion with an Asian tomato sauce.
_DSC9684 300 pixels with borderFor those looking for more traditional brunch items, you'll enjoy Marita's creative take on a classic: Egg Benedicts ($9), with English muffin, Vietnamese ham, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce; the Omelet Crepe ($8), prepared with chopped chicken, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and spicy ketchup; and the classic "BLT" ($9), with crusted bread, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, two sunny side up eggs.
End your brunch feast with Last Bites (desserts): Coconut Crème Brûlée, Asian Churros or Mango Chili Sorbet (Organic, Gluten free)-all are $5.

Bites serves Asian brunch every weekend 10am - 3pm www.bitestapas.