December 08, 2008

Out on the town in the hometown!

The Holiday Entertaining tour has brought me back home to Chicago! It was such a thrill to be on the NBC affiliate on my home turf. The night before the show I used my per diem (talk about Budget Diva!) to take my parents out to dinner in my hometown of Libertyville, IL. Our favorite restaurant in town is a wonderful place called 545 North. (If you are ever around it is located at 545 North Milwaukee Avenue!) We love to support the local businesses and this restaurant never disappoints.

All three of us started with the soup of the day – Cream of Mushroom. It was so out of this world we all had to resist licking the bottom of the bowl. (We all love mushroom soup in my family, so I added my version below.) For our main dish my Dad ordered the pork tenderloin while my mom and I enjoyed the Arctic Char. Everything was perfectly cooked and the flavors were so dynamic, it was just fantastic.

For dessert our server surprised us with a generous slice of Chocolate Mousse Pie to share. Isn’t it amazing how you can be so full after a wonderful meal and then suddenly have room for dessert? Hmm, maybe it’s just me ;)

Wild Mushroom and Leek Soup

Fresh wild mushrooms, leeks and celery flavor this soup nicely. Dry sherry and chicken broth also add great flavor.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced leek, white part only
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup peeled and diced potato
4 cups mixed fresh wild mushrooms, cepes, chanterelles, shiitake, etc.
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup half and half
Salt and white pepper to taste
Snipped chives
Small pieces wild mushrooms

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add leeks, celery, and potato then saute 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove lid and set soup aside to cool 5-8 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend until vegetables are smooth, or place soup in blender and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pan over medium heat. Stir in sherry and half and half. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Heat until soup is very hot, stirring constantly. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle snipped chives over soup and top with small pieces of wild mushrooms. Serve immediately.

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