Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit. I love the friendly people, the cool vibe of the city by the water, the awesome shopping (Hello, Magnificent Mile!) and I ESPECIALLY love the foodie haunts. A friend gave me one of the best dining tips I’ve ever gotten when she suggested my husband and I check out Graham Elliot for dinner on a recent visit to the Windy City. Oh.My.Goodness. Chef Graham Elliot’s modern bistro is truly one of my favorite restaurants in the entire world. His inventive menu is highlighted not only by amazing cocktails, but top-notch ambiance and service (The “Bearded Lady” cocktail? I can’t even think about it without my mouth watering…for REAL!) His restaurant is so delicious, but still so fun and relaxed.
Since I love his restaurant, I was seriously interested when Chef Graham Elliot was tapped as a judge on FOX’s MasterChef. (And a little insider tip for you viewers, this week’s episode airing Tuesday, July 3 on FOX at 9PM EST, is going to be Ah-Mazing! It’s the Mystery Box Challenge and Graham and the remaining contestants have to whip up a dish using ONLY the mystery ingredients! Serious skills required there…)
But the real treat for you womanistas, is that Graham sent us some uber-delicious recipes that you can try out for your upcoming summer cocktail party! They are whimsical & delicious.
First up (and most important for a successful cocktail party, in my opinion…) the delish cocktail!
The Country Buck:
1.5 oz titos vodka
.5 oz triple sec
.25 oz simple syrup
.75 lemon juice
shake and then fill the glass with ginger beer.
garnish with a lemon peel
*This bad boy is light, refreshing, and perfect to sip as the sun sinks over your cocktail party. You can usually find Ginger Beer at your local grocery store, but if not, check Whole Foods or your local specialty food store!
Next up, a super-yummy shrimp recipe…now womanistas, Graham is a culinary mastermind, so I’m not even going to feign the notion that this recipe is simple & easy to whip up on whim. Plus, it has some ingredients you may have not used before…I, for one, have never cooked with yuccas! But trust me and give it a try in the kitchen, even if you aren’t exactly a domestic goddess. You may surprise yourself with your cooking skills! Or find a culinary-genius womanista friend to help you. Your taste buds will salute you in the end.
40 each lightly poached laughing bird or Carolina shrimp
3 egg yolk
1 cup grape seed oil
1 tsp. piri piri
1tsp rice wine vinegar
1Tbl chopped cilantro
1 Tbl chopped mint
2 Tbl chopped Thai basil
Salt to taste
1. Place the egg yolks in a food processor with the rice wine vinegar. Slowly add the grape seed oil to the processor until the yolks are emulsified.
2. Add the piri piri, sriracha, sumac, the juice of two limes and salt. Pulse until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Transfer the dressing to a mixing bowl and reserve.
3. Fold the shrimp and herbs with the dressing until evenly coated and season with additional salt.
To Prepare the Avocado:
1tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit with the hilt of the knife. Using a spoon, carefully remove the skin of the avocado. Dice the avocado into small uniform pieces. Toss with olive oil, fresh lime juice and salt.
To Cook the Yuccas:
2 whole yuccas
2Tbl canola oil
Salt to taste
1. Peel the yucca and store in water while working.
2. Using a mandolin, slice the yucca into thin strips lengthwise.
3. Arrange the yucca strips on a silicone lined sheet tray and brush with olive oil.
4. Bake the strip in a 300-degree oven for 12 minutes.
5. Season with salt.
To Assemble the Dish:
½ cup fresh cilantro, mint and Thai basil
Place a couple of shrimp on a yucca chip. Garnish with avocado salad and fresh herbs.
And there you have it! A crisp, summery, snack for your guests. Enjoy at your own risk…Graham’s food is addictive!
Happy cocktail partying, and happy MasterChef viewing, womanistas! Make sure to dine at “Graham Elliot” on your next visit to Chi-town, too! You won’t be disappointed!
xo, the Womanista