Prosciutto Wrapped Melon

If you've been following SMAK for a while you know that I enjoy trying new exotic foods and recipes. Whether it's a cold fish cake from Sweden or a ramen from Japan, I like trying everything once. I've found that I really don't mind spending hours in the kitchen preparing a meal or dish for people. I enjoy the process and time put into something that I can share with friends and family. That being said, there are absolutely times when you don't have hours on end to prepare a dish or appetizer to bring with. So today I bring you perhaps the easiest recipes that I have posted thus far on SMAK. cantaloupe

This is the quintessential summer appetizer. As you're reading this, take note, you don't have much time left to jump on this bandwagon as summer is practically over. So run to the grocery store, grab the last of the ripe cantaloupe (you can also use honeydew melon) and pick up some prosciutto as well.

prosciutto wrapped melon

The sweetness of the cantaloupe paired with the delectable saltiness of the prosciutto is enough to leave your taste buds coming back for more. The Italian classic is a great light taste that won't spoil your appetite before dinner.

I hope you all had a wonderful summer and are ready for some fantastic fall recipes!

Prosciutto Wrapped Melon

Ingredients:

1 cantaloupe 10-15 slices prosciutto

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice the cantaloupe into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes.
  2. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each melon cube and secure with a toothpick.
  3. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Chicago SMAK RPM Italian

The hype around RPM Italian was big. Bill and Giuliana Rancic are partners. The food is amazing.It would be safe to say that I was concerned that the actual experience would not live up to everything I had heard. It seemed like the shoes would be too big to fit.

RPM ItalianTouché RPM, touché. What I witnessed Monday night was perhaps the best culinary experience I have had in a very long time. The attention to detail, to flavor combinations, to presentation and service. RPM hit everything spot on. The only thing that I found to be distracting was the completely inappropriate apparel worn by some of the patrons - booty shorts and a see-through lace top are not appropriate for this venue. Take your Lollapalooza costumes back to Grant Park.

Our waitress was one of the best that I've ever had - helpful yet not overbearing, friendly, laid back, an all around pro. Walking us through the menu, she was able to get an idea of what flavors and dishes we were interested in and made suggestions from there. All of the pasta is made in-house and it definitely helped push our dining experience above and beyond our expectations. Below is our menu:

Watermen & Tomato

Watermelon & Tomato ricotta salata, black olive

This was the biggest shock of the night - the combination of tomatoes, watermelon, ricotta cheese, and chiles? I definitely didn't image that powerhouse combination would be as brilliant as it was!

Zucchini Fritti

Zucchini Fritti herb dip

In the words of our waitress, "Who needs potato chips anyways?"

Prime Beef Meatballs

Prime Beef Meatballs

Hands-down Chicago's best meatballs. From the instant it touched my tongue, the meat melted and the flavors overwhelmed my taste buds (in a very good way).

Potato Gnocchi

Potato Gnocchi sausage, rapini, chili flake

This gnocchi was about ten billion times better than the dried gnocchi I purchased at Mariano's earlier this summer. Perhaps it is time that I learned a homemade gnocchi recipe...

Mama DePandi's Bucatini Mama DePandi's Bucatini pomodoro, basil

This was the perfect basic red sauce pasta. The basil was incredibly fresh and added a burst of flavor to the fairly simple pasta dish.

Tartufo

Tartufo hazelnut gelato, chocolate shell

Have you ever had Ferrero Rocher? This was similar, but about ten times better. The hazelnut flavor wasn't overpower and the combination of soft gelato with the crunch of the chocolate shell was the perfect way to finish our dinner at RPM Italian.

If you live in Chicago, or are visiting anytime soon, I implore you. Call ahead, make reservations and spend a little extra money for an amazing dinner at RPM Italian.

Fresh Basil Pesto

Kinfolk Magazine, you are the amazing.An indie short film for a basil pesto recipe? Can I work for you right now?

[vimeo 34766296 w=500 h=281]

A good basil pesto recipe is something that every chef should have in his or her arsenal. Watching the video from Kinfolk makes me wish that is how inspiring I looked while making pesto. Truth is, it's not. Nonetheless, the recipe is simple and is made even easier with a few modern tools (i.e. food processor).

basil

I've made pesto numerous times before but wanted to try making it with my Vitamix. I figured that it would work perfectly, however I found that it wasn't able to blend the ingredients smoothly enough into a paste. Perhaps it was an abnormality, but I would suggest sticking with a food processor.

pine nuts

garlic

Pesto is a great addition to any pasta (my favorite being gnocchi), pizza, or sandwich. Check out this page from The Food Network talking about 50 things to make with pesto. There are a few ideas that I may have to borrow and try for myself.

pesto

Thursday's post will be for a recipe that I was able to include this pesto in, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new posts.

Fresh Basil Pesto Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

5-6 ounces (2 healthy bunches or about 6 cups gently packed) basil leaves, or any other green 1/2 cup pine nuts, or any other nut 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, or any other hard cheese 1-2 garlic cloves 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine half of the basil with the nuts, cheese, cloves, and salt in a food processor. Blend continuously until the ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the basil. Blend until a uniform paste has formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. With the blender running, stream in the olive oil. Less olive oil will make a paste good for spreading on sandwiches and pizzas; more will make a sauce better for pastas and stirring into soup. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue blending as needed until the olive oil is emulsified into the basil and the pesto looks uniform.
  4. Taste the pesto and add more salt, garlic, nuts or cheese as needed to taste.
  5. Pesto will darken and brown very quickly, but will still be tasty and fresh for several days. For best appearance, use it right away. If storing, store it in the smallest container possible and thoroughly press the pesto to eliminate air pockets. Pour a little olive oil over the surface, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week. Pesto can also be frozen for several months.