Sriracha Salmon

I go back to college in 26 days, my birthday is in 30 days, and I’m not quite ready for summer to end!

Last night my brother Andrew and I ate dinner at Brasa while my parents celebrated 24 years of marriage by seeing a show at the Guthrie. Considering 24 years is, quite literally, more than a lifetime to me, I’m happy and shocked to realize they were married on July 28, 1990. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Sriracha Salmon carries a hint of sweet and a hint of spicy, but my sweet and spicy averse friends say neither overpowers the salmon. Keep in mind that you don’t have to make this on a cedar plank on the grill. You can also place the salmon directly on the grill or in the over at 350 degrees.

Sriracha Salmon

1 lb salmon filets

2 tbsp Sriracha

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil


Combine Sriracha, brown sugar, salt, olive oil, and cilantro to make marinade, and place salmon in marinade. Place in refrigerator for a least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. After soaking the cedar plank for at least 2 hours, remove salmon from marinade and place on plank. Place salmon and plank on grill over indirect heat, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Salmon should flake when tested with a fork.

To serve, I usually put the plank on a plate and put the plate right on the table–it’s a fun way to enhance the usual serving spread!


Brussels Sprouts and Osteria Via Stato

Let me paint a picture. A big bowl of seafood and a side of Brussels sprouts. That’s it. Picture complete. If that’s not your thing, Osteria via Stato has many other offerings. My friend loved the All-Natural Parmesan Crusted Chicken, for example.

Seafood Stew

Seafood Stew

Osteria via Stato, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, is downtown Chicago. Though usually busy, the restaurant has a quiet atmosphere, ideal for conversation (a date perhaps?).

The food sets this place apart. They serve roasted garlic in their olive oil as dipping sauce for the homemade bread. It hooked me from the moment I sat down! Yes, I ate more bread than I should have. As I assume you gathered, I had the Seafood Stew with a side of Brussels Sprouts. As a seafood fanatic, I devoured, well, all of it, while also enjoying my sprouts. My friend also enjoyed the Faroe Islands Salmon.

Another note about Osteria Via Stato: they source in-season produce. Brussels sprouts are one of the current picks. A salad, entree and shared dessert costs about $30, not including drinks.

Hand-spun gelato for dessert

Hand-spun gelato for dessert

In other words, I highly recommend Osteria via Stato. I promise it’s not because they have Brussels sprouts, although that always helps.

Osteria Via Stato

620 North State Street

Chicago, IL 60610

Hub 51 is a Hub of Activity


Hub 51 peaked my interest during ChicagoNow’s restaurant week, January 24 to February 6. Creators R.J. and Jerrod Melman created a menu with “food we like to eat,” including classics like burgers and tacos, then added a creative twist with sushi, salads and steak.

Weekday and weekend alike, Hub 51 brims with activity. The restaurant has a large bar area, but reserving a table in the dining room is wise. When looking for a high-energy spot to grab a couple drinks and a bite, head just one block west of State Street in Chicago.

We enjoyed the Asian Chicken Chopped Salad, Dry-Rubbed Ribs and, surprisingly, the Loaded Baked Potato Debris. I overcame my potato animosity and tried the last dish, and to my surprise, Hub 51 pulled it off. A relatively cheap option for the location, Hub 51 is perfect for friends or coworkers to engage in a bustling environment.

Another option is to visit Sub 51, the nightclub downstairs.

Hub 51 is a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, as you may have pieced together with the Melman family name. LEYE is a national restaurant group with a frequent dining program, so sign up to accumulate points!

Hub 51

51 W Hubbard

Chicago, IL 60654

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

As strange as it seems to make dinner before eating breakfast, I love starting dinner in the slow cooker in the morning. The work is done after putting the ingredients together, and the kitchen smells great when you get home. Those are both good things.

For this recipe, grab chicken, salsa, lime juice, chili powder, sea salt, cilantro and a dash of season salt.


There it is. I used the mini tonight. Isn’t it cute?

The salsa really affects the flavor of the chicken, so choose a salsa you like. If you have a little extra time, try the Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant Style Salsa.

I sneak Season-All into most recipes because it makes almost anything better (disclaimer: that is an opinion), but if you hate it, leave it out.


If you like, serve with corn tortillas, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. I prefer the meat without the tortilla, but many of my friends (specifically the male college students) uphold carb overload diets, so I usually serve it with tortillas.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenderloins

1 cup salsa

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

season salt, to taste

2 tbsp cilantro, for garnish

Combine salsa, lime juice, chili powder, sea salt and season salt in slow cooker. Add chicken, stirring to coat with salsa mixture. Cook on low for 6 hours. Shred chicken and leave slow cooker on warm setting for 30 minutes. Transfer chicken, with salsa mixture, to serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Baked Brie

This is a go-to appetizer. It’s perfect to prepare before a nice dinner; an elegant, yet simple and hands-off snack.

You only need brie, walnuts and a savory jam. I like to use Stonewall Kitchen Hot Pepper Peach Jam, but use the flavor you prefer.


Baked Brie

1 8oz brie

1/4 cup jam

2 tbsp walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Unwrap brie and shave off rind on one flat side. Place brie rind side down in ovenproof baking dish. Spread jam evenly over brie and sprinkle walnuts. Bake for 13 minutes, until brie is soft and spreadable.

Blackened Brussels Sprouts

There’s one thing you should know. Brussels sprouts are my favorite food in the whole world. I really think I could eat them every day for the rest of my life.

That being said, this recipe is a fun twist on the classic sauté.


You’ll need worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, olive oil, cumin, garlic powder and brussels sprouts.


To start, cut off the brussels sprouts stems and slice the sprouts lengthwise. Place the groomed vegetables in a bag, add two tablespoons of olive oil and toss.


Next, put the brussels sprouts in a frying pan on medium high heat. Leave them here, stirring occasionally, until sufficiently blackened (7 minutes for me). The brussels sprouts will likely still be firm, so turn the heat down to low, and let them cook about ten more minutes, again stirring occasionally.

When the brussels sprouts are soft, right before removing for serving, add two teaspoons worcestershire, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and hot sauce to taste. Stir around and serve.

Blackened Brussels Sprouts

12 oz brussels sprouts

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp worcestershire sauce

hot sauce, to taste

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Trim brussels sprouts and cut in half, lengthwise. Toss brussels sprouts and olive oil in sealed bag. Cook brussels sprouts in frying pan on medium-high heat for 7 minutes until blackened, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, and let brussels sprouts cook for 10 minutes, until soft, again stirring occasionally.

When soft, add worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin and garlic powder.

Non-European Food Blog

It feels official; I’m back in the United States, at least for a while. Although the days of Europe frolicking tales have passed, I hope to keep Brown Eyes and a Smile active as I continue my journey in Chicago, even if it looks a little different. I hope to share some of my favorite recipes and restaurants with you, if you’re up for it. I might have fewer exotic photos to show, but I promise to continue eating well in my American life. I hope you’re up for the journey with me!

A Different Kind of (Thanksgiving) Tradition

Though it was the strangest Thanksgiving thus far, I nevertheless enjoyed the day with family and delicious food. After my host family welcomed my United States family into their home for a traditional Spanish lunch, my immediate family did a little touring around Madrid and went to Ten Con Ten for dinner.

In the trendy Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid (which, even if not to eat here you should visit), Ten Con Ten almost always has a full bar and dining room. We ordered a complete meal, since it was Thanksgiving. To start we shared tomato and mozzarella salad, tuna tartar and sautéed vegetables. We enjoyed all of them, but the salad stood out, and we could tell it was made from fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Then, I ordered the fish of the day, which was a cod with roasted apples. It was a pairing I wouldn’t have thought of, but one I will definitely try to replicate at home. Also to note was the oxtail hamburger, which my brother Andrew loved.

To finish off my most distinct Thanksgiving, I ordered the traditional: apple pie. As I unfortunately expected, I was a bit disappointed. The dish lacked flavor, and the pairing with chocolate chip ice cream was strange at best. On the other hand, the mango mousse that my dad ordered (and I obviously stole a bite of) was lovely.


Apple pie

Ten Con Ten is a bit pricey, as a dinner for four with wine easily soars into the 200 euro range. Though for a special occasion, this is the perfect place.

No turkey or stuffing was served, but we still ate more than we should have. After all, since Thanksgiving is all about food, family and being thankful, we celebrated the right way.

Ten Con Ten

Calle de Ayala, 6

Madrid, Spain 28001


Back to Back Spanish Culture

A long day at school on Wednesday continued into a long night. The night part was better than the school part.

After class I ran home, put on a dress, and walked to the Ritz Carlton Madrid. We all need a one night luxury getaway, right? As nice as that sounds, I did not check in or stay the night. Instead, I attended a wine tasting event called Vinoro. Twenty Seven wine booths lined the ballroom, eager to pass out samples and explain origins and cultivation.

I learned  the Spanish are ashamed that Americans only know of Rioja wine from Spain. They set out to change that, encouraging me to try white wines from the Galicia region. I got some Christmas gift ideas, so look forward to those everyone! The man who owns Bodegas Felix Sanz even gifted my friend and I a bottle of Monte Negro and a corkscrew.


I admit, I could have gone home satisfied with my night. However, I had Real Madrid tickets that I couldn’t let go to waste! After wine, I went to see Real Madrid take the Copenhagen 4-0 in a Champions League game. Since I’m missing U.S. football season, ¡Vamos Madrid!


A Paris Visit to Café Constant

I promised to post this two days ago. I know, I’m sorry. This week wifi stopped working at home, and my iPhone broke. Don’t worry, everything works now.

On to Café Constant. Christian Constant, a Michelin Start chef, set out to serve sophisticated food at reasonable prices. With three restaurants along Rue Saint-Dominique, or Rue Constant as some locals know it, Constant succeeded.

Visit the Eiffel Tower at dusk, and continue to Constant, two blocks away, for a late (European timed) dinner, 25 to 30 euros for three courses and a glass of wine.

Since Café Constant does not accept reservations, expect to wait. Just don’t let the wait turn you away. Put your name in, go down the street for a glass of wine and come back after your allotted wait time.

Once seated and perusing the menu, the multilingual staff will gladly answer questions. My vegetarian friend and I chose only seafood. We started with the tartare of oysters, seabass and salmon seasoned with ginger and lemon. The modest glaze added flavor without overpowering. Next, the poached cod with vegetables and garlic mayonnaise. Since the fish had pesto, I used the mayonnaise for the veggies.

Cod with vegetables

Cod with vegetables

Chocolate ‘quenelles’ with crème anglaise concluded the evening. For those unfamiliar with ‘quenelles’ (I was!), they are a form of chocolate ganache. I’m a dark chocolate freak, so this was the best dessert I’ve had  in Europe. The chocolate and cream with a few shaved almonds gives a rich taste.

Bliss! (chocolate

Pure bliss (chocolate ‘quenelles’)

Café Constant

139 Rue Saint-Dominique

75007 Paris, France