Archive | Sandwich RSS feed for this section

Pork Belly and Coconut Risotto

12 Apr


Lemongrass chicken binh mis, Asian slaw and coconut and pork belly risotto

This weekend I cooked a Vietnamese inspired meal. On the menu was lemongrass and coconut chicken Binh Mis, coconut and pork belly risotto, Asian slaw and banana and mango spring rolls for dessert.

It was a delicious meal and despite how laborious it sounds, it was quite easy. Cook the chicken in the slow-cooker, dice up the slaw and stir up the risotto. I’ll share the ingredients for all items, but today we’ll start with the risotto. Like most things I make, this recipe isn’t a science, but rather a guestimation. I rarely ever follow recipes and this risotto is one I made up. Feel free to reach out with questions if you have any. Enjoy!

Pork Belly and Coconut Risotto


  • 2 cups abrozo rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup shredded (unsweetened coconut)
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb sliced pork belly (cook like bacon and then dice up)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish

Risotto Directions:

  1. Place the diced onion in a deep stock pot and sautee with butter over medium-high heat
  2. Meanwhile- put the chicken stock in a pot and bring to a hot temperature
  3. Once the onion is well sautéed, add the rice and olive oil, stirring continuously until the rice is transparent
  4. Add white wine and continue stirring
  5. Add the coconut shreds and porkbelly
  6. When the liquid is dissolved, begin to add half a cup of chicken stock at a time, stirring constantly and adding more liquid as it is absorbed
  7. Halfway through the use of the chicken stock, add the coconut milk
  8. The texture of the risotto should not be crunchy (I know it sounds obvious, but just saying!). Keep adding broth until you get the right level of consistency. It should take about 40 minutes of stirring, adding liquid and rinse and repeat.
  9. When the risotto is done, garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve.
  10. Enjoy

On tonight’s menu:

8 Apr
The Chicago Foodie

Catherine Merritt (it's me!), The Chicago Foodie

Tonight we’re having friends over- the kind of friends that make me nervous to cook for (he’s a professionally trained chef), but this Chicago Foodie is going for it.

On the menu:

  • Lemmongrass chicken banh mis
  • Coconut risotto
  • Asian slaw
  • And for dessert: truffle bananas, honey, mango spring rolls with a blueberry compote

I’m taking photos and will share the recipes this weekend.

Have a delicious weekend!

Vietnamese Sandwich Delight

7 Apr
NhuLan's Bakery

NhuLan's Bakery Lemongrass Tofu Sandwich (photo from Chicago Tribune)

I made a discovery yesterday. My favorite kind of discovery. The delicious kind.

After reading the Chicago Tribune’s ’30 sandwiches in 30 days’ piece, I realized that day 28’s was from NhuLan’s Bakery– mere steps from my house. I consulted with a co-worker, who also lives in the area, and she confirmed the sandwiches from NhuLan’s Bakery are to die for.

Well, you don’t have to tell me twice!

We put the baby in the stroller, put the leash on the dog and strolled a few blocks to experience the wonders of Vietnamese sandwiches from NhuLan’s Bakery last night. I got the tofu lemongrass sandwich and my husband got the grilled pork equivalent. At the bargain basement price of $3.50 each sandwich, we were already happy with our dinner decision.

When we got home, we tore into our respective sandwich bags and dug right in. The result? AMAZING. I was skeptical at first because the tofu was a little too good. Surely they had mixed mine up and put in pork instead. But no, it really was tofu. Sliced deli-thin and perfectly seasoned. My husband’s pork sandwich was equally delicious.

So the verdict: Yes. Yes, yes, and a million more times, yes. We will be back. Soon. And if you’re in Lincoln Square, we definitely recommend you checking it out as well.

Pastoral’s Fall Tastings and Classes

11 Oct

Photo from Yelp


Working in a very high-paced office and industry, I rarely go out for lunch during the day. Most often, my lunches consist of tuper-ware versions of whatever I had the night before at dinner. But once in a while, when I’m really craving a ridiculously delicious sandwich with stinky, soft cheese and chutneys, I escape my desk and head to Pastoral. It’s always a treat and my only regret is I can’t spend the rest of my day sipping their wines and sampling cheeses; alas.


In addition to enjoying their culinary achievements between sliced bread, you can also take classes from one of their shops. I am hoping to make it to one this fall, but you should definitely check them out. In addition to how delicious and fun they sound, I think they’re pretty reasonable compared to many other wine and cheese-type classes and tastings out there.


Saturday, October 16, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (Loop / Lake Street)
Exploring Italy
From Dolomite Alps to Venice, from Lake Como to Sicily, Pastoral is featuring all of our finest Italian delights. Resident sommelier Jill Pienta will cover artisan cheeses, small batch wines, meat and olives—and highlight pairing ideas that would make Dean Martin swoon. $45 per person; purchase tickets in advance at or by calling any Pastoral store location. Includes 15% shopping discount at Pastoral on the day of the class.


Pastoral will host a variety of new classes in fall 2010 as part of its growing in-store class and event program. Classes highlighted below will last approximately 90 minutes and include time for Q&A; reserved with a credit card online at or by calling any store location. Includes a 15% shopping discount at the store on the night of the class. Cancellations must be made 72 hours in advance.


Saturday, October 16, 6:30 p.m. (Loop / Lake Street)
Exploring Italy

Tuesday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. (Lakeview)
Beyond Kraft Singles: Exploring American Cheese
Food culture in the United States has changed so significantly in the last 20 years that we have quality cheeses and wines being made by hand all over the country. Join resident fromager Cesar Olivares as we venture out of California and Wisconsin to discover some of the artisan gems of the great U.S.A. $45 per person.

Monday, November 1, 7:30 p.m. (Chicago French Market)
Pairing 101
Cheese + Wine = Flavor Utopia. With so many cheese styles and a myriad of wine choices available, pairing can seem like a shot in the dark. At Pastoral, the combination of wine and cheese is a lifestyle: we’ve studied the nuance, tested the theories and created philosophies on the subject of pairing that we’d love to share with you! Visit and taste with resident sommelier Jill Pienta as she introduces the classic combos, new-age ideas and avant-garde anomalies with cheese, wine and good company! $40 per person.

Tuesday, November 16, 7:30 p.m. (Lakeview)
Bubbles, Cheese & Chocolate
Who doesn’t love sparkling wine, cheese and chocolate?? Explore some of the most coveted foods in the world and learn why these foods are so well-known and well-loved. Resident fromager Cesar Olivares takes you on a world tour of some of the best producers of these sinful indulgences. Just in time for holiday party planning ideas. $45 per person.

Gourmet lunch in the Loop? Pastoral it is

11 Sep

Photo credit: In Good Taste Blog

I work downtown and while in theory there are a lot of lunch places to grab a good bite, in actuality, it’s mostly made up of Au Bon Pains, Jimmy Johns, Panda Expresses and the likes. Which is good for me because it encourages me to bring lunch to work (my insanely busy days and constant lunches at my desk also help with this!). However, once in a while I’m reminded that among the soup-in-a-bread-bowl chains, Chicago has delicious gems sprinkled throughout the mundane Loop.

Yesterday my friend Carrie Becker and I decided to grab a quick bit. Carrie works for another company in my same building and it’s always fun catching up with her over lunch. She suggested we go to Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine after my initial recommendation fell flat (they didn’t serve sandwiches, oops). I had never been to Pastoral despite hearing about it forever, so I was game. I also didn’t realize just *how* close it is to my office. This could get dangerous.

When we arrived, the line was decent but not outrageous. We each took a look at the menu and shortly thereafter someone came to us in line to take down our order. Right off the bat I was impressed with how friendly everyone was especially considering at most high-brow wine and cheese shops, they usually aren’t. I also appreciated the fact that the guy taking our order had a Vermont hat. What can I say, I married good stock.

I ordered the Sinfully Healthy (roasted turkey on cracked wheat spread with tangy mango chutney, dijon mustard, field greens and fromage d’affinois) and a side order of the fromager’s salad (field greens, tomatoes, goat cheese, spiced almonds and balsamic vinaigrette). It was also very reasonable; only $11 even for both.

The sandwich was amazing. The mustard with the mango chutney paired amazingly with the fromage d’affinois (heaven) and the turkey was well flavored and light. The salad was a little over-done with the goat’s cheese, but better more than too little. I did have to restrain myself from browsing the cheese selection, though I will be back (soon!) and will give it a whirl then.

It’s exciting to find a really good spot that I can go to now when I want to take a little walk and break from the office. For the same price I’d spend on some mediocre sub and chips, I can get a delicious artisan sandwich and pairing.

Thanks, Carrie, for this great suggestion. What about lunch on Monday?