In January, Ryan and I were crowned the Best Home Cooks of Chicago on Bobby's Dinner Battle hosted by Bobby Flay on Food Network! Being on national television I really wanted to push the boundaries of my culinary skills, so I decided to attempt creamed spinach -- something I have eaten many times in fabulous restaurants but never made at home.
After a crazy whirlwind of four hours in the kitchen, I remember carrying the bowl of my Creamed Spinach over to the eagerly-waiting dinner guests (including Bobby Flay!) practically shaking from both excitement and nervousness! It was a hit for all six guests that day. Some even said it was the best creamed spinach they had ever had!
On the other end of the spectrum, we also attempted our version of sliders. Let's just say they did not receive the same praise as my Creamed Spinach. After the episode aired, I took the critique in stride and gave our sliders another try. I remade the recipe into Chicago Sliders and cooked them to perfection, topped with my Fresh Thyme Mayo.
I stepped in front of the camera again, this time at From My Kitchen to Yours (my web series on YouTube) to share these recipes with you. Happy cooking!
Ingredients (serves 4)
Spinach – 1 pound, fresh
Heavy Cream – 1½ cups
Butter – 4 tablespoons
Parmesan – ¾, freshly grated
Flour – ⅓ cup, all-purpose
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked
Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.
Once the water comes to a boil, cook the spinach for 30 to 45 seconds. Immediately strain the spinach and plunge into the bowl of ice water. This is called "shocking" and will stop the cooking process and allow the spinach to retain its vivid green color.
Remove the spinach from the ice water and squeeze all the excess liquid from the spinach. Place into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
Next, cook the butter and flour in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, or about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parmesan.
Transfer the white sauce into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 15 to 20 times or until desired consistency is achieved.
Transfer back into a small sauce pan and gently re-heat before serving.
Ingredients (makes 8 sliders)
Ground Beef – 1⅓ pounds, Organic, Grass Fed
Parsley – ¼ cup, freshly chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced
Butter – 2 tablespoons
Olive Oil – ¼ cup
Gruyere – 1½ cups, freshly grated
Salt – ¾ teaspoon
Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, freshly cracked
Mini Pretzel Buns – 8, lightly toasted
Arugula – For garnish and topping
Combine the beef, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley in a large bowl. Using (two) forks, gently fluff and mix the mixture until incorporated.
Gently shape the meat into 8 small patties, being very careful not to compress the meat.
Next, in a large skillet set over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.
Cook the sliders for 3 minutes on one side, then flip each one, top with cheese and cover the pan for an additional 3 minutes. Covering the lid will ensure the cheese gets nicely melted!
Serve will arugula, Fresh Thyme Mayo and pretzels buns for the ultimate Chicago Slider!
Fresh Thyme Mayo
Mayonnaise – ½ cup
Mustard – 1 tablespoon, whole grain
Thyme – 1 teaspoon, freshly minced
Lemon Juice – ½ lemon
Lemon Zest - 1 teaspoon
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Black pepper – ½ teaspoon
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix until incorporated.
Use on sliders, sandwiches, or for dipping artichokes.