It may be rainy and windy outside in Chicago, but inside Navy Pier this afternoon it was bright and felt like spring!  I just returned from the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier, in which I held a cooking demonstration this afternoon.  In sticking with the theme, I made a dish that is fresh from the garden and a refreshing addition to any gathering.  The show participants learned how to prepare Tomato Basil Bruschetta.

Bruschetta is one of those classic appetizers that is simple to prepare and can be served in a number of different ways.  I discovered one of my favorite ways this fall when I created a Bruschetta Bar at a Berghoff catered wedding.  The tomato basil relish is the constant in this dish, and with a bar set up, guests can choose how they enjoy it.  Classically the tomato basil relish is spooned onto a toasted bite size piece of baguette bread.  Another option is to have the relish in a bowl and serve with strong chips.  Cucumbers are another fresh ingredient that grows in one’s garden.  Thus the inspiration behind bite size cucumber cups: hollowed out cucumber chunks filled with tomato basil relish.  And because I never like to see food go to waste, leftover tomato basil relish is a great relish served alongside grilled fish or turkey breast.

As I always say, every good party begins with a drink.  Today I accompanied the Bruschetta with a Blackberry Poblano Margarita.  The drink is made with fresh ingredients and on special for the month of March at the Berghoff Bar.  Spring is right around the corner, so until then, let’s eat and drink like it’s here today.  Cheers!


Blackberry Poblano Margarita

Yield: Makes 1 drink

Made with fresh ingredients, this is the perfect Margarita for springtime.


  • 1 tablespoon of fresh blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon diced poblano peppers
  • 1 ounce silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau


Dice poblano pepper (I suggest wearing gloves) and place in drink shaker with blackberries. Using a muddler, muddle the pepper and berries. Add ice, tequila, and cointreau and shake well.

To serve, pour drink into a chilled margarita glass and garnish with fresh blackberries.