Cafe Absinthe, French Fare in Wicker Park

Cafe Absinthe, French Fare in Wicker Park

Crab Cake first course and Beet Salad

Crab Cake first course and Beet Salad

Although we have always planned dining here, we  just never made it through the charming back alley entrance into this French bistro before today.  Just the perfect amount of lighting for a great first date or romantic dinner we enjoyed the Beet salad the Boston Lobster Salad, Horseradish crusted Salmon was excellent and the Tenderloin was also very good.  Wine was excellent and the service was superb, attentive and yet not intrusive, thorough and not stuffy.  A big thumbs up for Cafe Absinthe in Wicker Park: just enter through the alley off Damen, just north of North Avenue – follow the green sprite. About $50/person with drink.

Brava Eggs

Brava Eggs

Brava Eggs a Two Urns Chef's choice entree

Brava Eggs a Two Urns Chef’s choice entree

Ingredients (2 servings):

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 stalks asparagus  2″ tips saved and rest of stalk chopped finely
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp. Brava Sauce
  • Salt Pepper to taste
  • Manchego or Iberico cheese

Saute onion and chopped asparagus lightly in olive oil.  Steam tips and set aside.  Scramble eggs lightly add onion and asparagus,salt and pepper.  Plate in small bowl add two asparagus tips and Brava sauce

Shop West Town

Shop West Town

Great shopping just a short walk from Two Urns during the summer.

Great shopping just a short walk from Two Urns during the summer.

Every summer the neighborhoods of Chicago come alive with different festivals and events.  We love all the handmade indie-vibe crafters that are here during the Renegade Craft Fair every September.  The West Fest offers a great line up of music talent, artisan  and sidewalk shopping.   Design Harvest highlights many of the city’s unique design firms and is always the last “hurrah” of the festival season, just in time for autumn.   All in  “West Town” the area directly north west of the Loop  (Division Street south to Grand) here are some of the 2014 highlights:

We always have lots of guests who come in for these events so plan early to book to get the best room choice.

Apricot Pecan Muffins

Apricot Pecan Muffins

Apricot Pecan Muffin

Apricot Pecan Muffin

This recipe is from Carol Nebughr, the innkeeper at Windy Hill Acres Inn in Cobden, IL.  This is also one of my favorite recipes from the Illinois Bed and Breakfast cookbook.  Makes 1 dozen.

  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (original recipe calls for butter, but I use a heart healthier choice)
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease the cups of a muffin tin. Put the chopped apricots in the boiling water and let sit 2 minutes. Puree well in food processer. (I also like using one cup of frozen or fresh apricot puree in place of the dried apricots in water- I have lots from our two apricot trees every July and so I puree and freeze those ripe juicy apricots that just fall off the pit and I like the soft, less chunky muffin that it makes – but when I run out of my frozen stash – I will use dried apricots as this original recipe specifies). In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and oil. Add the baking soda to the sour cream and let sit a few minutes until foamy. Add the sour cream mixture, apricots, orange zest and dry ingredients and 1/3 cup pecans together gently.  Fill the greased muffin cups 7/8 full, sprinkle the rest of the pecans on top of the muffins and bake 20-22 minutes. Cool and serve.

Chocolate Strawberry French Toast

Chocolate Strawberry French Toast

Chocolate Strawberry French Toast

Chocolate Strawberry French Toast

It’s the morning after Valentine’s Day, 2014 and I decided to splurge and make a Chocolate Strawberry French Toast this morning for my guests – many who are returning guests, who all loved it and thought this was not TOO sweet of a breakfast entree; consensus was to put this in as a rotating entree at the Two Urns kitchen.

Start by making a custard of: 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup cocoa, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp almond flavoring – whisk well until the cocoa is absorbed.I cut hearts out of a hearty multi-grain bread for this special breakfast day and used two hearts per serving.  Dip hearts in cocoa custard and fry on both sides.

I also made a Chocolate Ganache from heating 1 cup whipping cream and pouring over 8 oz of 72% dark chocolate, chopped finely.  Let sit for 2 min. then stir and Voila! you have Ganache – so easy.  I put some in a squeeze bottle and kept warm on the back of the cook top as the oven was keeping the yummy muffins warm.  The rest of the ganache I am saving for making hot chocolate, yum!

Place two hearts on a plate.  Place cut strawberries on top. Squeeze some ganache on top and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
  • pinch of salt
  • strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced in quarters
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped)
  • powdered sugar
Roosevelt University Music Events for Spring 2014

Roosevelt University Music Events for Spring 2014

 ganz hall214Roosevelt University’s Chicago College for Performing Arts (CCPA) offers a series of free music and theatre events each term and the music events are presented in “Ganz Hall” one of Chicago’s architectural treasures designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankbar Adler.  Worth a visit to see the beautiful auditorium, but stay for the talented young performers – mostly classical or jazz concerts, but check their website for details.  Located in Roosevelt University at Congress and S. Michigan Avenue: 430 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605

Roger Brown Study Center

Roger Brown Study Center

City ExpandingWe treat our Chicago Art Retreat artists to the special collection of the Roger Brown house museum every winter www.chicagoartretreats.org, but you can schedule your own private tour in advance of your arrival to Chicago by emailing rbsc@saic.edu to arrange a tour for $15 (Museum Tour with slide presentation) or $8 (DIY  tour).  This is a great overview of Roger Brown’s work as well as many of the Chicago Imagist artists/educators, who were his colleagues and friends: Ray Yoshida, Christina Ramberg, Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, Karl Wirsum, Phil Hanson, Don Baum, et al. and includes work by outsider artists: Henry Darger, Jesse Howard and  Joseph Yoakum.  We highly recommend this home/studio tour if you are interested in Brown’s work as an artist/collector, the Chicago Imagist or “Hairy Who” group from the 1970′s.

Appointment: 773-929-2452

or email: rbsc@saic.edu

The Haute and the Dog

The Haute and the Dog

Hankerin' for a good dog?

Hankerin’ for a good dog?

This high-tailin’ sausage shop is just a short walk away from the B&B.  With daily specials and small sides of cole slaw, mac and cheese or baked beans they can also make some tofu/vegan dogs with whole wheat buns.   Dogs run about $3.5 to $5 – cash only.  Limited seating.  Just walk north of Division on Damen 2 blocks to this corner sausage shop.

Welcome!

Welcome!

Welcome to The House of Two Urns Bed and Breakfast Blog.  We are in the process of updating a lot of the Discover Chicago pages so keep posted!