Female. Lives in United States/Illinois/Chicago, speaks English. My interests are Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking/Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Illinois, Chicago, English, Female, Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking, Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

IMBB 14: Orange you hungry?

The team at Foodgoat is kindly hosting this month’s edition of Is My Blog Burning and they have selected foods with the color orange as the theme. I love how open-ended this theme is and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else dreams up.

Peach Marmalade is my contribution to this event. I was looking through cookbooks for recipe ideas when this one from Amanda Hesser’s The Cook and The Gardener hit me. Hesser proclaimed the marmalade to be “tangy but sweet” and to have “the velvety feel of a puree.” Sounded compelling, so despite the difficulty in finding fresh peaches in Chicago at this time of year, I knew I wanted to try it.

Peach Marmalade
Original recipe from Catherine Plagemann’s Fine Preserving
Recipe here adapted from Amanda Hesser’s The Cook and The Gardener

6 ripe yellow peaches, peeled and pitted
2 navel oranges, quartered (not peeled)
½ lemon, cut in half (not peeled) and seeded

1. If your peaches are not very ripe, they may not peel easily. Slice an X in the end of each peach then drop them in boiling water for a few seconds to loosen the clingy peels. Note: I looked everywhere for fresh peaches, but alas none were to be found at this time of year. Eager to try this recipe, I substituted frozen peaches and it turned out beautifully.

2. Combine the peaches and the citrus fruit in a fruit processor and pulse until the citrus is chopped into fine pieces. You may want to do this in two batches to avoid straining your food processor.

3. Measure the pulp and combine it with an equal amount of sugar in a pot twice the size. Let macerate overnight at room temperature. Here is what mine looked like in the morning:

4. The next morning, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Test for doneness by spooning a little onto a chilled plate; if it firms up when it cools, the marmalade is done. Mine took about 30 minutes to hit the done mark.

5. Pour into clean pint or half-pint jars. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. You can store the properly jarred marmalade in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

This peach marmalade is delicious and the flavor is getting better each day. At first, it was much more citrusy and the peach flavor didn’t come through as much as I would have hoped. With each day that passes though, the peach tones come out more and while the peach is certainly subtle compared to the citrus flavor, it is pleasantly there. So with any luck the jars you save in your pantry will have a really nice flavor balance when it is time to use them. The vibrant orange color and perfect marmalade texture of this sweet make it really hard to pass up when breakfast rolls around. I’ve been enjoying it on honey wheat sour bread from a local bakery.

It’s important to note that this recipe makes a ton of marmalade. See the photo at the top of this entry to understand just how much it makes. I had never made marmalade or any type of jelly before, so I didn’t really know what quantity to expect as I was preparing the ingredients. Hesser’s recipe didn’t indicate how much marmalade would be produced. This is a wonderful peach marmalade and it will be delightful to have around; just be warned that you will need several jelly jars ready to go to properly seal and store this tasty treat.

Thanks to the Foodgoat team for hosting IMBB 14 and presenting us with such a fun theme. Now I'm off to talk to the Guinness World Records people about my win for the largest jelly jar ever...

Next time At Our Table: I ordered spinach, they brought me tuna...but I love them anyway.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Last week I made some delicious cookies that encompassed several of the things I look for in a favorite cookie recipe. The cookies were delicious, easy to make, able to be frozen for later use, and appropriate for either a casual snack or a more festive, formal get-together with friends. These little wonders are Earl Grey Tea Cookies.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies
Recipe as seen in Real Simple magazine, May 2005
Total Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes (includes chilling time)
Makes 6 dozen cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves, from approximately 6 tea bags ( I used Trader Joe’s Organic Earl Grey tea)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized.
3. Add the vanilla, water, and the butter. Pulse together until a dough forms.
4. Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes. (Note: I chilled mine for several hours just because I got busy and had to wait until much later in the day to bake the cookies and that worked out fine.)

5. When ready to bake, slice each log into disks, about 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment or foil-lined baking sheets, roughly 2 inches apart.
6. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Be careful not to overbake. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

As I mentioned earlier, these cookies are quite easy to make and they are absolutely delicious in a simple way. I haven’t had this type of tea cookie before and there’s a subtle elegance about the Earl Grey flavor they possess. It’s a certain je ne sais quois that makes them special and unique.

If you would like to have these at the ready for future use, I’d recommend making the dough then storing the dough logs in the freezer until you are ready to bake them. Just wrap them very well in plastic wrap and they should hold up fine until you are ready to take them out, slice them up, and bake.

If you like this recipe, I bet you’ll also like the recipe for Lime Shortbread Cookies from the At Our Table archives.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Have you had Doughnut Soup?: 18 Unique Courses at Moto

Win recently had a birthday and I wanted to take him somewhere really unique and special to celebrate. I’ve had my eye on Moto for a while and Win’s birthday seemed like the perfect time to make a reservation. Moto features truly amazing and innovative food; read on even if you’re not from Chicago because the dishes prepared at Moto are one-of-a-kind. Part chemistry, part technology, and seemingly part magic, I can see why Moto has received so many accolades from the national press.

Every step of our interaction with Moto’s staff was seamless. Moto’s web site enables you to make reservations online, a feature I loved as I sat at the computer late one night reserving our table. Someone from Moto called the next day to confirm the reservation and we were all set. When I booked the reservation, I typed in that I was looking forward to trying Moto and celebrating my husband’s birthday there.

Moto scores major points for attention to detail. Although I simply mentioned the birthday in my reservation form and never spoke of it again to anyone at Moto, they noted it. When we were seated in the warm, minimalist dining room, we were immediately greeted by a waiter bearing complimentary champagne and Win was wished a happy birthday. We also received a special menu that had been decorated with fresh leaves, inscribed with “Happy Birthday” and laminated as a keepsake. This was a really high-touch way to begin our meal and it set things off to a great start.

Moto’s food is Asian-influenced and avant-garde to say the least. Chef Homaro Cantu has been compared to Willy Wonka for his culinary innovation and ability to delight and surprise the senses. Moto offers diners a choice of 3 progression menus: a five course, a 10 course, or the Grand Tour Moto which features 18 courses and the most complete view of the range of Cantu’s cooking styles. Any guesses which one we had?

Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all you probably could guess that we went with the Grand Tour Moto. We also opted to get the accompanying wine progression. Moto has received so many accolades and the menu was so intriguing that we decided we wanted to experience as much of it as we could. So without further ado, a recap of our meal:

The first dish we received was the amuse bouche. It was merely a spoon’s worth of food and our server told us it was Moto’s take on the Caesar Salad. The spoon included a parmesan flavored crouton and some romaine ice cream. I know it’s hard to believe but when you tasted the contents of that spoon, it tasted just like eating a (very cold) Caesar salad. And besides being totally unique, it was delicious.

The next course was called Maki in the 4th Dimension. One of the things Chef Cantu is known for is using edible ink and edible paper in his dishes. The New York Times, commenting on Cantu’s technological innovation with edible inks and papers, has said that Moto is “where the sous-chef is an inkjet.” This course was a very high quality sushi roll, wrapped in edible paper that was printed with pictures of sushi rolls. The top, bottom and sides of the roll were wrapped with this amazing, edible paper and it made for a beautiful dish. The roll was outstanding.

Another signature technique of Chef Cantu is using carbonation in unexpected ways. Take our next course, called simply Champagne and King Crab, for example. This beautifully presented dish was a simple glass filled with carbonated grapes, crab, caviar, and a somewhat rich sauce. The carbonated grapes had been filled with air and as such they now had a fizzy quality to them which struck such a great tone with the other flavors in the glass. Delicious and intriguing. Even more interesting was the déjà vu moment provided along with this dish. In addition to the main dish, each diner also received a colored piece of paper that he was to place on his tongue after eating the contents of the glass. You can see the paper in the photo above; it’s bluish purple and sticking out of the glass. The paper was supposed to embody all the flavors of what was in the glass and create sort of a déjà vu culinary moment, reflecting back on what you just ate. As skeptical as I was that this would work, I must say the edible paper tasted just like the dish before it, although it lacked the joy provided by the carbonated grapes.

The next course was referred to as Onion…Crouton…Nitrogenation on the menu. It was a delicious bowl of onion soup, served with a flavorful crouton and liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen created a smoky effect, making something hot appear cold…almost as if it was sitting in dry ice. The soup was exceptional and the smoke pouring off everyone’s bowls was sort of how I’d envision dinner at The Munsters’ looking.

The next course was probably my favorite of the evening. The menu simply calls it Lobster and Orange. It was buttered lobster served with a carbonated orange. As done earlier with the grapes, this orange had been pumped full of air. The carbonation inside the fresh orange gave it a fresh orange soda-like quality. The chef suggested that it be squeezed over the lobster. This was unbelievably good. The lobster was so buttery and fresh and the tangy, bubbly orange juice atop it was pure magic. If you go to Moto and are selecting between progression menus, I highly recommend picking a menu that includes this lobster and orange combination.

I must tell you that at this point, I was actually getting quite full. All of the courses were so delicious and even though some were small, the sheer number of courses was starting to add up. But we had 14 more to look forward to, so we plunged onward.

The servers at Moto created some suspense around the next course. Early in the meal, they brought us each a frozen ball in a dish and told us to just let it sit there and melt. This nameless ice ball would be used later in the meal. So, intrigued, we followed orders. As the meal went on, our ice ball melted and at course five we saw its purpose. This dish was Foie Gras with Vouvray, Pink Peppercorn and Apricot. The ice ball melted into a sort of soup, dotted with pink peppercorns and apricots. Foie Gras was served on top. Very, very good accompanied by the sweet and spicy combination of apricot and peppercorns.

Next up was a bit of an intermezzo. Called Artichoke and Macadamia, it was a spoonful of artichoke ice cream and a toasted macadamia nut with 100 year old balsamic. I love artichokes and macadamia nuts, but oddly enough I didn’t care for this. The balsamic was really powerful and I didn’t think the flavor combination “sang” here.

The next dish was billed on the menu as Sweet Potato Pie with Savoy Cabbage and Squab. The links you see in the back of the photo are a handcut sweet potato chain. Also featured on the plate is Moto’s Escher box of sweet potato. These were delicious and so carefully crafted you just had to marvel at them. The squab had beautiful flavor, as did the cabbage.

If you refer back to the photo of the Artichoke and Macadamia dish, you’ll notice a brown box in the background. That box contained bass and it had been placed on our table to cook the dish called Bass Prepared Tableside with Wakame. The bass was slow cooked while we enjoyed the preceding courses. When it was ready to be served, it was accompanied by a lovely sauce that complemented it well. Outstanding.

Pork Belly with a Red Wine and Beet Puree Applied Your Way was next. This dish came with a syringe-like applicator full of the puree. Our server instructed us to squeeze it over the pork belly for best results. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pork belly because I’m simply not the world’s biggest pork fan in general. Win loved it though. Looking at the photo above, you’ll also notice some beige dots on the left-hand side of the plate. This was Kentucky Fried Ice Cream, small balls of ice cream flavored exactly like Kentucky Fried Chicken. The accuracy of the taste of this ice cream was amazing, as it did taste just like it was supposed to. That said, it was rather bizarre and not a real palate pleaser. So the ice cream got points for originality, accuracy and technique, but it was definitely something for which you needed to acquire a taste.

Next was another intermezzo. This time it was dubbed Margarita with Chips and Salsa. We were served two spoons. One had tequila flavored ice cream and the other had a cube of jelly and some puree, the combination of which mimicked the flavors of chips and salsa. It was a fun and original pairing. I liked it; Win didn’t like it as much.

Up next was Lamb Loin with Braised Pizza, Garlic and Braised Kobe Beef. This dish was served with spiral handled utensils studded with garlic at the ends. According to our server, these utensils are Chef Cantu’s own design and they allow the scent of garlic to waft up from the bottom of the utensil as you eat, enhancing the experience of the dish. As silly as this sounds, you really could smell the garlic as you ate and it probably did add something to the experience.

For the next course, Chef Cantu showed off his use of edible inks and papers once again. It was a cheese course dubbed Edible Literature of Explorateur with 100-Year Old Balsamico. As you can see from the photo, we were served two kinds of cheeses, each topped with a piece of paper telling about the cheese. Very interesting and informative presentation. While I have never met a piece of cheese I didn’t like, I must say that I didn’t care for these cheeses. Paired with the stewed cherries they came with, they were pretty good, but I didn’t care for them alone. Win didn’t really like them either. Very strong, almost bitter and just not pleasant to us. I know there are people out there who would love that cheese, but we are not those people. So I’d say that this course had great presentation and technological innovation, but these particular cheeses just missed the mark for me.

Next up was a dish called Green Curry, Hearts of Palm and Salted Sugar. When presented, the dish featured candied hearts of palm and curry-flavored ice cream balls made using liquid nitrogen. Neither Win nor I liked this dish. The hearts of palm were odd and the green curry ice cream was off-putting. We just didn’t find the flavors pleasant and didn’t eat more than a bite of this one. We joked with one of our servers about this dish not being our favorite and she was surprised that we didn’t like the “sweet taste of the curry.” We actually didn’t find it sweet at all, so there was obviously a disconnect for us with this dish.

But things were soon on the upswing again with the advent of Oatmeal Stout with Venezuelan Chocolate. This will sound disgusting, but you’ll have to trust me that it was actually quite good. This dish, officially heralding the start of the dessert portion of our meal, was like sweet oatmeal cooked in beer and with chocolate. I really don’t know how else to describe it beyond saying that it was very unique, with complex flavors, and a full, stout beer taste.

Squash Ice Cream Pellets was our next course. The chef once again used the liquid nitrogen technique to create these. They had a pleasant squash flavor and that was interesting to taste in an ice cold format. Win didn’t love these but I thought they were good.

Now, for the most delicious dessert you might ever have. We were presented with a cup of Doughnut Soup. Oh my goodness, doughnut soup. All night we had been seeing people receive these little white cups, take a sip, and immediately smile and start gushing over how good it was. So needless to say, we were very excited to get our own to try. Moto’s Doughnut Soup is amazing. It is a warm, rich drink that tastes exactly like a doughnut…probably most like a Krispy Kreme if I had to label it. It’s made using pastry cream and other ingredients that mimic a doughnut’s taste. This dessert was so unique, so decadent and so satisfying, we could have ended the whole meal right there.

But this is Moto and we ordered the Grand Tour Moto so we still had several dishes to come. French Toast with Hot Blueberry Syrup was next. This was a nice one. When it arrived at the table, there were a few pieces of a French Toast-like bread/cake surrounding a dark blue bubble of some sort. When you popped the bubble with your fork, a delicious warm blueberry sauce spilled out. Delicious and interesting way of serving the sauce.

Our final “official” course was referred to on the menu as Chocolate Cake with Hot Ice Cream. It was an interesting sampler of desserts that might seem a bit more conventional by Moto’s standards. Very tasty all around, but by this time I was extremely full.

Although our meal was officially done with the Chocolate Cake, our server brought an additional course to conclude the meal. This one was great in both creativity, technique and taste. It was popcorn-flavored “Styrofoam” with a caramel dipping sauce. The food was meant to look just like Styrofoam packing material but it tasted exactly like rich, buttered popcorn. Unique texture and excellent taste. While the caramel sauce was quite good, I actually liked the popcorn Styrofoam even better on its own because its flavor was so unusual and outstanding.

As I mentioned earlier in this entry, our meal was accompanied by the Wine Progression for the Grand Tour Moto menu. Matthew Gundlach, Moto’s wine director and sommelier, has put together an interesting, challenging and delicious wine progression here and he very helpfully described each wine for us throughout the meal. He was a pleasure to have visit our table, as he knows his stuff and is very down-to-Earth and witty.

Here are the wines we enjoyed throughout the evening:
1999 Henri Mandois “Premier Cru,” Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France
2004 Pheasant Grove, Riesling, Canterbury, New Zealand
1999 Jacques Puffeney “Cuvee Sacha” Arbois, Jura, France
2004 Echeverria “Unwooded,” Chardonnay, Molina, Maule, Chile
2002 Yves Breussin, Vouvray Reserve, Loire Valley, France
2001 Nittnaus, Sauvignon Blanc Beerenauslese, Neusiedlersee, Burdenland, Austria
2003 Valckenberg, Gewurtztraminer, Pfalz, Germany
2003 J. Palacios, Petalos del Bierzo, Galecia, Spain
2002 Torii Mor, “Deuxs Verres,” Pinot Noir, Wilamette Valley, Oregon, USA
2000 Midnight “Starlight Reba” Sangiovese, Dry Creek Valley, California, USA
2004 Bruno Verdi, Sangue di Giuda “Paradiso,” Lombardy, Italy
2004 Elio Perrone “Sourgal,” Moscato d’Asti. Piedmont, Italy
2002 Jackson-Triggs, Riesling Icewine, Niagara, Ontario, Canada

As you can see, this list is quite varied in the types of wine served and the geographies from which the wines hail. Several years ago, we spent some time in Ontario wine country, so it was fun to see a Riesling Icewine from that region on the menu. The wine that I found the most unique was the Sangue di Giuda, or Blood of Judas. This was a strong, bubbly red. I’ve never had an effervescent red before so that was a very interesting glass to try.

In case you’re wondering, Moto was very generous with their pours. At the start of the meal, we were told each wine would be poured to about ¼ of a glass. In reality, I think Moto was more generous than that and we probably had about 1/3 of a glass of wine with each step in the progression.

So taking a tally, that would mean that the Grand Tour Moto resulted in 20 food courses, a 13-step wine progression, and of course that complimentary glass of champagne to wish Win a happy birthday. This meal took close to five hours and we were the last customers to leave at 1:00am. Moto graciously arranges for cabs to be waiting for those customers who need them, so despite the late hour an easy exit was available.

We loved Moto and left full and thrilled with the whole experience. My one small concern when I chose it for Win’s birthday was that perhaps it would be too gimmicky and focus more on the special effects stuff and less on creating delicious, substantive dishes. Fortunately, that little concern was proven totally wrong. Moto’s cuisine is such a unique combination of culinary expertise, artistic ability, chemistry, and technological innovation. The food is delicious, visually appealing, and every course challenges your senses and gives you something new to think about and experience. As I mentioned, there were some courses we adored and some we didn’t care for, but every one was new, interesting and worth trying. Moto’s staff is polished, informed and helpful. What I liked best about them though was how friendly and casual they could also be. Perfect, gracious service without any phony airs.

Moto is pricey, but it is absolutely worth experiencing. The whole dining experience is completely unique and the food is exceptional.

945 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
Telephone: 312-491-0058
Web Site:
Note: Moto’s online reservation system is excellent and convenient

Next time At Our Table: Easy and Delicious Tea Cookies

Note: The first photo in this post, showing the interior of Moto, comes from the Moto web site and is property of Moto. All other photos in this post were taken by us.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Great Barbeque in the Burbs: Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe

I know what you're thinking. You took one look at the photo above and you can't imagine how a place with a goofy sign like that could be good. That's kind of what Win and I thought when we walked into Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe last week, but we were thrilled to find out how tasty the food really is.

Chuck's was recommended to Win by a colleague who felt strongly enough about the place that he felt it worth us using one of our precious and few childless nights out to experience it. So we hopped into the car and headed to Burbank, IL to check it out.

Chuck's exterior is nothing fancy and the neon beer signs hanging in the window give it a really casual feel. The inside is very clean, but modest, and decorated with both Mardi Gras and Southwestern themes to capture the two kinds of cuisine in which they specialize. Booths line the walls and tables fill the center of the room. Now I'll have to explain right upfront why I don't have any photos of Chuck's excellent food. This is a very down-to-Earth, casual place that seemed to have an equally casual and down-to-Earth clientele. When Win and I arrived, all the booths were taken and the only tables up for grabs were right in the center of the room. For much of our meal, we were the only ones sitting in the center of the room so whipping out a camera to take photos of every course would have inevitably drawn some stares from the others in the dining room just trying to enjoy their meals. I've whipped out a camera in a lot of dining rooms, but I just felt it would have been too much of a spectacle at Chuck's this time around. Hard to ignore the lone crazy woman in the middle of the room with her flash going off every few minutes.

Our server greeted us warmly and showed us their wine, beer and drinks list. I tried their Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. This was a unique and delicious beer made with a touch of chicory and Mexican coffee. I really could taste those flavors in the beer, in a pleasant, balanced way.

Chuck's menu changes frequently and they have several daily specials. As I mentioned, their menu is a compilation of Mexican and Southwestern fare, Southern barbeque and Southern-style food, and classics like burgers, sandwiches, and pastas. I was in the mood for Mexican that night, so I opted to start my meal with a cup of Chuck's Red, an amazing Mexican chili with meat and beans, topped with sour cream and tortilla strips. This chili was outstanding...full of flavor, perfectly spiced and so hearty and satisfying. Great way to start my meal. Win opted for one of Chuck's daily specials, the Chorizo Surtidas. This was a sampler of three homemade sausages, including:

1. Chorizo, flavored with ancho and pasilla chiles
2. Chorizo Verde, a garlicky sausage with jalapeno, parsley and cilantro, and
3. Longaniza, a Yucatecan style smoked sausage flavored with achiote and sweet spices.

These sausages were terrific. Absolutely beautiful and homemade with high quality meat. The trio of sauces that accompanied them was delightful and one was extremely spicy. Win loved this delicious and beautifully presented appetizer.

For our main course choices, I went with Barbeque Nachos. This was a large nacho platter with melted cheese, guacamole, sour cream, peppers, tomatoes, and pulled pork and pulled chicken. The pulled meats worked really well with the Mexican flavors and it was a nice dish.

Win stayed true to his Southern roots and selected the Super Sampler of barbeque specialties. For his sampler, he selected 3 ribs, a quarter barbequed chicken, and pulled pork. He also got to choose two side dishes and he went with Brunswick stew and mashed potatoes and gravy. This was some meal. Chuck's portions are generous and each component in the sampler was well-prepared, flavorful and delicious. Win commented that the pulled pork was nicely dressed in barbeque sauce and that he didn't even need to add additional sauce from the bottle on the table, which is rare.

Chuck's portions are very generous, so we ended up taking a lot of food home and not having room for dessert. Their desserts looked amazing though and I would have ordered the peach cobbler in a minute if I had any stomach space left.

If you have occasion to be in Burbank, IL you should check out Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe. It's an unassuming place---nothing fancy---but the food is the real deal. Delicious, authentic food that's well-prepared. I can see why Chuck's has received accolades from Chicago Magazine and Chicago's ABC 7 News. Servers are friendly and efficient and the vast menu provides something for everyone in your party.

Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe
5557 W. 79th Street
Burbank, IL 60459
Telephone: 708-229-8700
Web Site: http://www.chuckscafe.com

Next time At Our Table: A birthday celebration with one of Chicago's culinary innovators

Monday, April 04, 2005

Will Linda Blog Again?...and other odds 'n ends

You know you've been away from your blog for too long when it's a struggle to remember some of the html code you need and a few of your passwords have become hazy. Thanks for sticking with me while I took an uncharacteristically long time away from the blog in the past couple weeks. I had a cold and chose rest over blogging for a few days, then I had a nice trip to visit with my family and put blogging aside to spend time with them. But now I'm back and with any luck we'll get back to a more regular posting schedule.

Thanks to everyone who sent e-mails in the past couple weeks. It's always great to hear from readers and I appreciate your notes.

So here's a quick Easter recap: We had a great time with my parents and I just love my Mom for making us the Easter Bunny Cake pictured above. She made this because she thought our Lima Bean would get a kick out of it, and she certainly did. My Mom made this cake once before, probably in the late 70s or early 80s, for my brother Mike and me when we were little kids. The minute Mike and I saw the cake, we got totally nostalgic and happy Easter memories of egg hunts and Easter bunnies came rushing back to us. It's a simple cake and can be done with any flavor combinations you'd like. This time, my Mom made a cinnamon swirl cake and topped with vanilla icing. Decorate with candy and colored, shredded coconut and you're ready to go. Ahhh, the Easter Bunny Cake continues to bring joy to the next generation.

Lima is big on "helping" now so I'm always giving her little jobs to do around the house. Often, her "help" causes me more work and clean-up, but she's cute and very well-meaning. During our Easter visit, Lima wanted to help set the table. Here's how she set the table, with no guidance from anyone:

So we added some forks and knives and off we went. Easter wouldn't be Easter without some egg painting, and we did that too. Lima loved hunting for the eggs on Easter morning. She'd find an egg, put it in her basket and yell "There one is!" Then she'd rehide that same egg herself and look for it again, greatly extending the Easter egg hunt's length.

Besides an Easter wrap-up, I wanted to let people know that Juliette Rossant of Super Chef Blog is running a poll for White House Woman Chef. A couple months ago, Juliette ran a fun poll soliciting ideas for White House Guest Chefs. This time around, she's looking for your input on females to serve as White House Executive Chef. Click here to see Juliette's poll and offer your vote.

Next time At Our Table: Great Barbeque in the Burbs