A Paupered Chef Update

It's been awhile.

nick and blake

As many of you have noticed, it's been quite a while since we posted on the site. For that—and mostly for the lack of any news—we apologize. The story of our absence isn't as exciting as we'd like it to be. Basically, due to new jobs for the both of us, we've been busy. Really busy. So we took a little break from posting while we focused on jobs that pay money. Obviously, a note saying so wo...

Repertoire | The Dinner Party

Rules for success, including porchetta

25th Oct 2011

Ed. note: This is the third post in a "Repertoire" series on the interplay of food and style, with our friends The Midwestyle . We're helping their readers learn a few recipes, and they're teaching us a few things about doing it in style.

To say you’re an accomplished person is putting it lightly. That time you summited Kilimanjaro during a snow storm. The month you took a vow of silen...

Weekend Project: Freeze Chicken Stock in Ice Cube Trays

The Paupered Chef officially endorses the convenient practice.

19th Oct 2011

I, Nick Kindelsperger, wholeheartedly endorse the practice of freezing chicken stock in ice cube trays. Doing so allows one to crack them into zip-lock bags and stash them in the freezer for safe keeping. It is convenient, fairly easy to do, and downright practical (in a slightly embarrassing way). Of course, the problem with dishing out little kitchen tips and tricks like this one is that ther...

For the Love of Un-Simple Things: Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Just a little love for laborious cooking projects.

17th Oct 2011

The older I get, the more I appreciate the un-simple things. Sure, I admire the shining brilliance of singularly perfect foods — like the best summer tomatoes or a properly aged steak — but I'm far more interested in dishes that combine dozens of components into a complex and bewildering whole. I speak of Mexican moles, feisty Thai salads, balanced Indian curries, and, of course, a certain C...

Repertoire | The Working Lunch

An Argument for Grains and Vegetables

13th Oct 2011

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I’ve worked enough days in my life, from my desk at home to mind-numbing office temp gigs, to have developed some theories on lunch. To me, the working lunch is a series of balances: it should be fast, yet not fast-food; it should be a break from work, but not so indulgent you can’t get moving again; it should be fulfilling, but not a cause of sluggishness. Lunch should work for you, but so...

How Absinthe Can Improve Just About Any Cocktail

Forget about the hallucinations; one needs to dish this thing out in drops.

6th Oct 2011

I'm not sure if there is a better drink to write about for the launch of an improved website design than my favorite cocktail of the moment — a drink so good it's literally called an "Improved Cocktail." (If only modern drinks had enough courage to pronounce their worth.) Think of it as a relaunched product's "new and improved" guarantee, except that this one was made back in 1876 and is alcoh...

Repertoire | The French Omelette

Announcing a collaboration for the month of October

5th Oct 2011

We’re happy to announce a new collaboration between The Paupered Chef and some fellow friends and bloggers of ours in Chicago: The Midwestyle . It’s a great blog, and thorough. Ostensibly about dressing well on a budget, it’s really about caring: how you look, how you think, how you act like a young man in this here century of ours. We feel an affinity with their go-get-em energy, the sa...

Department of Basics | The Fruit Crisp

One dessert it doesn't hurt to have in the repertoire

5th Sep 2011

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It's probably become clear to most readers that this is not a food blog where you read about desserts, and for that matter, about baking at all. There's a good reason. We're no good at it.

Cupcakes and chocolate cakes and other frivolous foods are the specialty of other writers.  Besides a post or two about bread (we're pretty proud of our olive-and-herb-studded foccacia and the lengths...

Making Andouille at Home

Saving andouille from the supermarket.

22nd Aug 2011

This didn't start off as a gumbo mission, though I did end up there (more to come on that front soon.) No, the saga began simply: about three weeks ago I needed andouille for a Dinner Tonight . All I could find at the grocery store was a product that claimed to be the right stuff, but had all the character of cheap bologna and about as much spice as, well, cheap bologna. I was angry.

Then...

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Tristan Coulter of Chicago's Metropolis Coffee Explains the Pour-Over Technique

16th Aug 2011

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I discovered the first inklings of my obsessive nature while making coffee in college. So many things can go wrong. So many ways to go right off the cliff. What should be routine and pleasurable becomes stressful, maddening, disappointing. The beans, the water, the tools, the process, and the thin line between greatness and mediocrity. None are exempt from mistakes.  And of course, no one has i...

The Tomato Sandwich: Why You Don''t Always Need Bacon to Be a Glutton

Adventures with buttered toast, ripe tomatoes, and Duke's mayonnaise.

2nd Aug 2011

Most people return from the beach with tans; I returned with tomatoes. It was a half-bushel, to be exact, and they were stashed in the back of a car as it wound its way from North Carolina, through the Great Smoky Mountains, and, some 16 hours later, finally to Chicago. Why such extravagant measures for tomatoes?

When it comes to tomatoes, I don't suffer fools, and I simply can't accept sub-p...

How to Make Proper Barbecue Chicken

No offense, but you're probably doing it wrong

22nd Jul 2011

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There's a lot of misconception when it comes to "barbecue." The problem is the word itself. It's used as a synonym for grilling, refers to the grill itself, or to the meat being grilled; it also has a sauce named after it; and sometimes it's just the word for the party itself held outdoors in somebody's backyard. What, actually, is "barbecue"?

American purists see things a little differently....

How to Enjoy Hotel Bars and the Seelbach Cocktail

Nick enjoys the comforts of a 100 year old recipe.

12th Jul 2011

I have a thing for hotel bars. It helps if they are opulent old ones, designed to comfort the wealthy traveler from a 100 years ago. Sure, the drinks aren't necessarily the best, and the service can be uninspired and overly corporate, but I feel immediately relieved when I walk into some grand old space like Chicago's exquisite Palmer House in the Loop. Plus, I'm just not sure there is a bet...

Italian Bean Salad with ''Loadsa'' Herbs and Tuna

Cooking from Chicago's New Dose Market, Happening Again This Sunday

8th Jul 2011

The Italian bean salad has been with me a long time, and for good reason.  I've made some variation of beans, herbs, and olive oil dozens of times over the past few years and I never get tired of it.  When it comes to the relationship between deliciousness and effort, this one gets it exactly right. It's about as easy as mixing the ingredients together and letting the flavors develop, then it'...

How to Throw a Baja Fish Taco Party

A Chicago Backyard and Many Happy People

24th Jun 2011

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Mexican food is made for parties. The construction of tortillas, fillings, salsas, and toppings; the spicy, rich flavors; and above all, the fact that it tastes so darn good. This was our guiding principle on a recent Saturday when, with the help of a handful of talented friends, we threw a Baja Fish Taco party under warm string lights in a Chicago backyard.

We were celebrating one of the e...

In Praise of Cincinnati Chili

Nick finally takes a look back at the chili of his youth.

13th Jun 2011

Cockaigne: an imaginary land of great luxury and ease.
—Merriam-Webster Dictionary

"Cockaigne was the name of the family home...Any time there's a recipe with this in the title, it means it's an old family favorite."
— 'Joy Of Cooking': 75 Years Young, CBS

When the words "imaginary land of great luxury" and "chili" collide, usually that means we're set for some hyperbolic descri...

Homemade Ginger Beer and the Dark ''n'' Stormy

Ginger, Lemon, Sugar, Yeast...and 24 hours.

8th Jun 2011

Ginger Beer

File this one under projects that seem a lot harder than they actually are.

A week or two ago, my wife tore out a couple pages in the New York Times Style magazine about a shop in Melbourne, Australia that combines style, bespoke fashion, and great food under one roof called Captains of Industry ( here it is as an interactive online feature ).  Besides all the cool ideas and wavelengths...

Homemade Rhubarb Syrup and the Rhubarb Daisy

For those who don't particularly like rhubarb.

24th May 2011

"I hate rhubarb." That was the first sentence uttered by my local butcher after I described this sauce I wanted to make to pair with some pork chops. To be fair, rhubarb is a much-maligned spring vegetable. I was just convinced that I had to love it, and that I’d instantly find all kind of amazing uses for it.

Though rhubarb and I don’t have much history to contend with, in cooking more tha...

Introducing The Soft Shell Crab Sandwich...with Bacon

Getting a head start on the season

16th May 2011

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Soft shell crab season is here, generally considered to begin at some point in May.  So we here at The Paupered Chef decided it was time to take advantage.  Generally, the soft shell crab  is dusted with flour and fried up in a skillet, and I'm not sure there is a better way to prepare this crustacean than this recipe by David Lentz from Food & Wine magazine : stuffed into a crusty baguette...

Tea-Smoked Duck Breast

Or, how to smoke indoors with a wok

11th May 2011

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I love what smoke does to foods—preserving, often cooking them, and adding layers of flavor. Next to cooking over wood fire, there's nothing more basic and caveman.  There's just one major problem with this particular hobby (true of many caveman-esque cooking experiments): it's impossible to pull off without outdoor space and a backyard. This isn't always a luxury we're afforded living in a c...

How to Make Shoyu Ramen at Home

With a lot of help from Takashi's Noodles.

19th Apr 2011


One sip of real ramen is enough. That’s all I needed to permanently erase all those memories of those pathetic packaged noodles, which I greedily warmed up in the microwave during college. One sip. Done. It was also enough to make me question whether there was a better soup on the planet. Fragrant, rich, and soothing, it has no parallel in the Midwest cuisine I grew up on, and while other marve...

Building the Best Ramen: The Noodle Question

Leaving the packaged noodles behind...

4th Apr 2011

Ramen is Japan’s ultimate comfort food, the equivalent of a cheeseburger, fried chicken, and deep-dish pizza into one.
- Takashi Yagihashi from Takashi’s Noodles

I may live in Chicago, but I’ll admit that I'd probably pick ramen before those other foods when I'm in need of something truly comforting. Those big bowls of noodles and broth seem especially perfect at warding off a brutal...

Philadelphia Fish House Punch

Or how to restore punch to its former glory

28th Mar 2011

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Until recently, my first thought upon hearing the word "punch" was a frat party, something electric red, and indiscriminate drinking--a concoction spiked with a slew of spirits that might be laying around and then covered in Koolaid. That seems to be the reputation punch has gotten—but if cocktail writer Dave Wondrich has anything to say about it , we are all missing the point. Punch is not...

The Case for Going Animal Style: The Double-Double In-N-Out Clone

I don't really care for big burgers.

23rd Mar 2011

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one railing against the big burger tide. While nearly every new restaurant opening in Chicago features a big, fat burger on its menu, I’m that guy that prefers thin little griddled burgers. Usually I can only find them at old school joints, but even these are frequently harder to find these days. It’s getting to the point where I haven’t eaten a burger...

Corned Beef Short Ribs

A quicker, easier process than the whole brisket

15th Mar 2011

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Corned beef is one of the more basic and surprising kitchen experiments. But I think that people still think it's pretty nuts.  I'm staying in California for a couple weeks, and had to buy the ingredients, cook, photograph, and eat this project while staying at someone else's house (sorry for the lack of pictures).  First of all--it's really tough cooking somewhere you don't have all your fami...

Engineering the Perfect Risotto

From Bone Marrow to Saffron

28th Feb 2011

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Learning how to make risotto at home was one of the more liberating experiences of my early culinary career. The idea that I could create a perfectly legitimate risotto by just buying arborio rice and stirring like mad, was enough to make me wonder what else I couldn’t cook. I’m not going to say it single-handedly helped launch this blog and my writing career, but it was crucial. It was...

We Are Proud to Present Appetites for iPad

Cooking step-by-step with "the cookbook reimagined"

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Late last year our Paupered Chef inbox dinged with slightly cryptic e-mail about a "new top-secret project" from LA's Clear-Media. We called them up and they shared with us their idea: a step-by-step cooking app built for the iPad. They were gathering up the coolest food bloggers on the planet, and wanted us along. We said yes. The result is Appetites , which has just been released at the Ap...

Idea Lab | Is it Possible to Make Transcendent Risotto at Home?

And: Should Risotto Spread?

17th Feb 2011

If you’re a Top Chef junkie like me then you probably remember that Tre got kicked off episode 8 this season after serving a risotto that didn’t “spread.” At least, that’s what judge Tom Colicchio said. It’s always hard to know exactly why contestants are booted off the show when you can't taste the food, but this was one of those cases where you could visibly see that his riso...

Lamb Pancetta | Charcutepalooza February Challenge

Plus, a Killer Recipe To Use It In

15th Feb 2011

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We are thrilled to be participating in Charcutepalooza , an organized blogging movement of people writing about the noble art of charcuterie. Scores of people around the country (or even the world?) are making and writing about bacon, pancetta, and other delicious variations this fine month of February—and throughout the year, will be embarking on ever-cooler projects like brining, and smo...

The Winter Gimlet | Province Restaurant, Chicago

A Variation on a Classic That Goes Down a Little Easier

10th Feb 2011

Winter Gimlet with Old Tom Gin

Ah, gimlets. I've always been too much of a wuss to enjoy them. The gimlet is all harsh lime and bracing alcohol, befitting to manlier men like the British seaman who invented it, at some point in the 19th century, halfway across the Atlantic. They were looking for their allotment of vitamin C (scurvy sucks), had Rose's lime juice , and they were drinking a lot of gin. How's that for a cockt...

My Top 10 Chinese Recipes of the Year

The Chinese New Year is the perfect time to look back on a spicy year.

3rd Feb 2011

Greetings from bitterly cold and blustery Chicago. Currently the city is buried under two feet of snow, and battling some of the coldest temperatures in years. Though it seems like everyone is putting a post about where to eat Chinese food tonight in honor of the Chinese New Year, I decided to take the time and talk about what it has been like to cook Chinese dishes at home. I fell hard for this...

Three More Interesting Ways to Cook Kale

Raw, Baked, and Coconut-Grilled

1st Feb 2011

Kale sounds like a boring health food, but if you cook it well it's delicious. It's just that most recipes are too predictable: greens + fat + aromatics + acid.  Kale is a lot more versatile than people give it credit for.

Sure, you can plug in different combinations (kale, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice is pretty common) and a pinch of red chile flakes is also welcome. Sherry vinegar is es...

The Trick to Better Refried Black Beans

Some pasilla chiles and avocado leaves make all the difference.

26th Jan 2011

If you happened to stumble across the recipe for “Seasoned Black Beans” in Diana Kennedy’s Oaxaca al Gusto there wouldn’t be much to immediately keep you from turning the page. Dont get me wrong, it is housed in a beautiful book, it is just that besides the boring name and lack of picture, this is all Kennedy says in the headnote: “This fried bean paste is used for filling tamales, for t...

An Opinionated Way to Roast a Chicken

What's your favorite way?

24th Jan 2011

Roast Chicken in the Oven

Having roasted many, many chickens in my cooking life, I've come to the opinion that there is no way to roast a chicken without some kind of opinion. You may get away with tossing an untrussed chicken into the oven with a shower of salt, maybe a lemon in the cavity, and calling it dinner, pretending to be as careless as possible.  But that's still an opinion. So is planning days ahead of ti...

The Paupered Chef 2.0

Welcome to our redesign!

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We would like to welcome you, at long last, to the newly designed home of The Paupered Chef. Let us all breathe a sigh of collective relief. We’re back.

Well, things look a lot different. The pictures everywhere on the site are bigger, and we've laid out the homepage so that the articles we write get some prime real estate on the site. We've also instituted a Tumblr-style blog below, where we...

Two Cocktails to Celebrate New Years Eve in Style

With one secret ingredient

31st Dec 2010
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For the third year in a row, Nick and I will be spending our New Years Eve with friends eating tacos and drinking cocktails. It's become something of a tradition, fondly known as Cocktails and Carnitas , and I can hardly wait.

It's a given that the food is good. But we also believe in drinking very, very good cocktails. Cocktail. Rather than conjuring up images of sugary vodka-laced conco...

Guide to the River Cottage: Why Hugh Fearnley-Whittingtsall Should Be Your Food Celebrity

The British television star that has inspired us time and again

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The River Cottage TV show begins with a ridiculously cheesy cartoon showing a curly haired driver fleeing a polluted city for an idyllic paradise, complete with jumping fish, smiling cows, and some friendly pigs. During the course of three seasons of River Cottage and the many years of spinoffs, host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall manages to kill and eat every single one of those creature...

Smoking Success: Homemade Allen and Sons Barbecue

How to make chopped (not pulled) pork

14th Dec 2010

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Just add sauce...

Does anyone have the recipe for Allen and Son's barbecue sauce, because I'll lay down a sizable chunk of change to get my hands on it. It's one my favorite barbecue restaurants in the country , and it's almost all down to that tangy, vineger based sauce. It doesn't coat the meat like a thick Kansas City-style sauce, but seems to disappear into the meat, making each bite...

Gorgefest | Los Angeles Edition

A mad dash for LA's best food in one afternoon.

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We had four hours to eat in L.A., a period of time which all of us agreed wasn't long enough. While most people would have simply given up and spent the time driving around Hollywood or lounging on the beach, we plowed ahead, sure we could catch a plane and sample some of the best food in the city along way. So our afternoon in L.A. was spent cruising the endless sprawl of concrete and zig zag...

Two Hours in Detroit: Buddy''s, Lafayette, and Telway Sliders

Pizza, Hot Dogs, and Sliders: Detroit's best in one afternoon

3rd Dec 2010

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Just a sampling.

Whether it’s research for Serious Eats, city guides for Grub Street Chicago, or "work" for this site, if you happen to call me on a Saturday you’ll probably find me in the midst of some misguided eating tour. I call it research, and yet I realize that it starts to drive one slightly mad. It’s to the point now where I can’t imagine being close to any major metropolita...

The Secret | Brussels Sprouts

How to rescue a childhood horror.

1st Dec 2010

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The hatred of brussels sprouts: a childhood universality. It's part of growing up.

But is it really fair? As children, we harbor a distaste for most vegetables, from peas to asparagus, but a special place in hell is reserved for the sprout named after Brussels, and it seems to extend to adulthood. Most kids hate asparagus, but most adults love it, especially with a little hollandaise or top...

The Plea for Turkey with Mole

Ditch the roast turkey this Thanksgiving

24th Nov 2010

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How turkey should taste.

Question: What iconic Thanksgiving food would you get rid of?
Answer: Twenty percent of chefs would prefer to get rid of the turkey altogether.
- GQ's The Great Eat Like a Man Thanksgiving Chef Survey

Here’s the question: Why is everyone working so hard to not screw something up when Mexican cuisine has figured how to make one of the greatest dishes in...

Check Us Out in Newsweek

15th Nov 2010

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Here’s something I never thought I’d say: pick up a copy of this week's Newsweek , and you'll find my name on page 56, next to a little photo spread of Chicago's glorious hot dog!  They're paired with a great article by Julia Reed about our great high and low end cuisine—from Alinea to the best hot dogs in the country—and the arrival of the Michelin Guide in Chicago (By the way, I’ll...

The Allen & Son Barbecue Sauce Dilemma

What to do with a jar of barbecue's liquid gold?

11th Nov 2010

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sacred...

Moments like this don’t happen often. I recently met up with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while, when he handed me a white bag with something surprisingly heavy in it. He’d just gotten back from North Carolina, and while he had hinted at some kind of “precious cargo” in a previous e-mail, how was I supposed to guess that I’d look into the white bag and find the abov...

Better Than Southern Fried Chicken?

Thailand-style fried chicken

8th Nov 2010

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The crackliest chicken you can imagine.

I caught your attention with that title, didn't I? Well, the same thing happened to me, when I stumbled on a recipe in The Atlantic.com's food section in a post about Bangkok street vendor fried chicken--the recipe for which the author cajoled from the street vendor, then scaled down for use in the kitchen. And yes, he called it better than Souther...

The Homemade Hummus Challenge: Are Dried Chickpeas Better Than Canned?

A fool-proof method discovered.

3rd Nov 2010

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If you don’t want to go to all the bother of soaking and cooking them, canned chickpeas work extraordinarily well
- James Beard, Beard on Food

I wanted to go to all the bother of cooking dried chickpeas from scratch. Why? Well, because I never had cooked dried chickpeas before, and I really wanted to see whether taking the time to cook them from scratch would make for a more delicious...

Apologies for the Construction

1st Nov 2010

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You may have noticed that we are having a few technical difficulties at this time. We were hacked this morning, and had to jettison the old design for now, which leaves us with this ~~ default picture of an old man walking down a tree-lined path. However soothing the image may be, it doesn't have much to do with food, and we promise to fix this glaring error as soon as possible ~~ . Update: ...

Serious Eats Roundup: Chorizo, Creama, and Goat Cheese

25th Oct 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Green Tomato Soup with Black Forest Ham
The soup is chunky, relatively light, and a great showcase for the green tomato's bracing acidity.

Pasta with Broccoli, Goat Cheese, and Oregano
Gordon Ramsay's recipe is kind of the goat-che...

Serious Eats Roundup: Quinoa, Chickpeas, and Chicken

18th Oct 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Quinoa, Chickpea, and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing
I picked this recipe from Bon Appétit solely for the smoked paprika dressing.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup
Roasting adds a depth of flavor that simmering wil...

Can You Make Homemade Tahini?

On a search for the lesser-known ingredient in hummus

13th Oct 2010

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Is store bought tahini best?

The goal is to make hummus at home with no shortcuts. I’m an apprehensive hummus fan at best, having dipped one carrot stick too many into something chalky and pasty, which claimed to be hummus but was purchased quickly from the grocery store. You could say that I’ve been ruined by the silky smooth texture of real hummus, the kind the comes with a sheen of ri...

Serious Eats Roundup: Stews, Scallops, Squid, and How to Convince an Eggplant Hater

11th Oct 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Cauliflower Stew with Lamb
This stew is "kind of a miracle." Potatoes and cauliflower add the most body here, and the ground lamb helps lend a little meaty punch to each bite.

Sea Scallops alla Caprese
A gorgeous Caprese salad paired not...

Korean Barbecue: What''s Your Secret Ingredient?

The kiwi could change everything

5th Oct 2010

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The kiwi that could change everything

I keep returning to Korean barbecue, and once I get it in my head, nothing else interests me. The amazing flavor of the meat--beefy and complex and sweet--and the unique butchering and cooking method, which renders the normally tough short rib into a grillable pleasure. These things are crack to someone who loves to eat and is fascinated with cooking.

...

Serious Eats Roundup: Salad, Soup, Sandwiches, Spaghetti...and Sandals

4th Oct 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Huaraches with Black Beans and Radish
Huaraches are flattened ovals of masa that get their name from the Mexican sandal.

Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht
Roasted beets and potatoes plus some chicken stock become this rustic, perfect-for-au...

Forget the Tomato: Chicago-Style Hot Dogs with Pickled Green Tomatoes

Tweaking the classic Chicago hot dog (aka The Superdawg)

29th Sep 2010

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Though it pains me to say this, the Chicago hot dog has one little flaw. It’s not always an issue, but it’s there just the same. Most of the seven toppings which make up a proper Chicago-style Hot Dog can be had at any time: mustard and relish are condiments, celery salt is a seasoning, the sport peppers and pickle come from a jar, and onions can be freshly cut up at any time of the year....

Serious Eats Roundup: Chiptole, Corn, and Curry

27th Sep 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight"Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Hummus with Ground Lamb and Almonds
The hummus here is a perfect match for lamb, which is mixed with cinnamon, almonds, and a final sprinkling of smoked paprika. Each bite is tangy, rich, and gorgeously perfumed thanks to the spices.

C...

The Problem with Oatmeal (And How to Eat it Cold)

A summer alternative with grated apple and almonds

21st Sep 2010

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Oatmeal at Cafe Fanny in Berkeley

I think I've always loved the idea of oatmeal for breakfast: it's simple to make, it sticks to your ribs until lunch, and it's economical. I don't always put a lot of time into breakfast, or much thought, save the occasional calm morning of a slow-fried egg on toast or scrambled eggs with chives from the windowsill garden . Oatmeal seems like a good,...

Serious Eats Roundup: Sandwiches, Steak Salad, and Sichuan Peppercorns

20th Sep 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight"Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Green Tomato Curry with Potatoes and Garlic
Turns out Indian cuisine has a grand tradition of finding uses for green tomatoes, apparent in this dish with a "gorgeous aroma" of garlic.

Roasted Poblano-Potato Salad with Grilled Steak
The rea...

Beyond the Tortilla Chip: Three Mexican Snacks that Aren''t Deep Fried

Plus a recipe for Oaxacan-Style Peanuts with Chile and Garlic

16th Sep 2010

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Forget the chips.

You know the drill. You walk into a Mexican restaurant anywhere in the country. You sit down. Within moments -often before drink orders are taken- a bowl of tortilla chips and salsa are rushed out to the table. You immediately dig in. Time disappears. Before you order, before you even think about ordering, salsa stains the tablecloth and all the chips are mysteriously gone....

Serious Eats Roundup: Ham and Pear, Grilled Beef, and Ebert''s Chicken and Rice

13th Sep 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Ham and Pear Crisp with Spiced Butter
The butter used to coat the bread is mixed with ground coriander, ginger, and pumpkin pie spice creating an almost Christmas-y aroma, which plays off the sweetness of the pear and the ham perfectly.

...

Serious Eats Roundup: Summer Tacos, Masa Dumplings, and Greek Pasta

8th Sep 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Bacon and Kimchi Fried Rice
The mix of fatty, salty bacon with the spicy, acidic kimchi might be the perfect way to dress up this leftover rice standard.

Ancho Chicken Soup with Masa Dumplings
This chili-laced soup from Veracruz uses mas...

The Five Dishes that Surprised Me In Mexico

2 weeks in Oaxaca

1st Sep 2010

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The Al Pastor was way better...

We travel to be surprised, right? While picking my favorite five dishes took some deliberation, coming up with five different foods or dishes that surprised me on a trip to Mexico should have taken me all of five minutes. But for some reason I wasn't expecting this. I have a vertiable library of Mexican cuisine in my condo courtesy of Rick Bayless, Diana K...

Serious Eats Roundup: Chickpeas, Chorizo, and Chops

30th Aug 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Chickpeas and Chorizo
The result is satisfying, flavorful, easy to prepare, and very economical. And makes great leftovers.

Alice Waters' Gazpacho
The bread thickens the soup and makes use of what would otherwise be stale. The rest of t...

Tomato Conserva: How to Make Homemade Tomato Paste

Our solution for what to do with too many tomatoes

27th Aug 2010

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There isn't much argument that summertime is the peak season for cooking. It never gets easier than in August: the produce is top-notch, everywhere, and cheap. Locavores are finally settling down and enjoying themselves instead of passing judgement on the rest of us for buying zucchini out of season. You can make dinner by cutting up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and calling it a masterpiece....

The Five Best Things I Ate in Oaxaca, Mexico

These are the five things I can't stop thinking about

25th Aug 2010

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I went to Mexico to eat, and I handpicked the region of Oaxaca specifically because I figured I could eat there best. It’s a place where chiles, chocolate, and tomatoes have been growing for thousands of years, and where the holy trinity of corn, beans, and squash make up the local diet. Forget Italy, France, or Spain. Oaxaca is where my favorite food in the world comes from.

I spent two we...

Serious Eats Roundup: Summer Corn, Succotash, and Sizzling Steaks

23rd Aug 2010

20100822 ser

Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Chicken with Tomato-Saffron Vinaigrette with Mixed Greens
Paprika and saffron help give a vivid orange-red tinge and a round, mellow flavor to this simple summer salad.

Summer Succotash with Bacon
Lovely, lovely bacon fat and a shot of...

How to Make Homemade Vinegar (It Couldn''t Be Easier)

A pineapple and a few weeks is all you need

19th Aug 2010

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When I think of Mexican cuisine, I think of balance. Mexicans love acidity in their cooking, and that's what makes it so appealing to eat. Though it's a function of living in a warm climate--the same reason Thai cuisine is also fond of citrus, it's a necessary form of preservation--the culinary benefit has outlasted the necessity.

When you have something rich and heavy in your taco--like, s...

Serious Eats Roundup: Summer Carbonara, Sticky Maple Pork Chops, and a Simple, Smoky Soup

16th Aug 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Maple Black Pepper Pork Chops
Though the maple syrup might seem sweet, these thick-cut glazed pork chops are balanced with pepper and cider vinegar.

Grilled Steak with Sauce Gribiche
Gribiche, a spin on mayonnaise made with hard-boiled eg...

My Chicago: Cafe Spiaggia

Chicago's famed restaurant revamps their cafe

11th Aug 2010

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Spiaggia isn’t the sort of restaurant you waltz into on a whim--you have to wear a jacket to eat there, its gorgeous dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows, they have a cheese cave, and, oh, it’s really, really expensive. But the secret is that Spiaggia also has a cafe . It’s casual, intimate, and the food is superb. The attention to detail that is expected of a high-end restaurant...

Serious Eats Roundup: Too Much Summer Produce, Shrimp Shells, and a Riff on Pupusas

9th Aug 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Hong Kong Salt Shrimp
Dropped into bubbling oil and coated with spices, these shrimp pack a punch--but strangest of all, you can eat the shell, too.

Pasta with Corn, Prosciutto, and Burrata
Though burrata cheese is a luxurious touch--it's...

Serious Eats Roundup: Calabazas, Cayenne, Chiles, and Chorizo

2nd Aug 2010

20100802 seriouseatsroundup

Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Calabazas Horneadas (Baked Squash, Chiles, and Corn Tacos)
Corn and squash act as the backbone of this classic Oaxacan dish.

Cayenne-Rubbed Ribeyes with Lime Butter
Cayenne kicks up this simple rub for steak.

Open-Face Prosciutto, F...

What Should I Eat in Mexico City?

I’ll only have 36 hours in the capital to eat as much as I possibly can

30th Jul 2010

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jamidwyer /Flickr

Next Friday my wife and I will hop on the Blue Line, head north to O’Hare, and then take a plane halfway across North America to Mexico City for one of the most intense eating experiences of my life. As you may have noticed over the four years or so that I’ve been writing, I adore Mexican cuisine all out of proportion. It’s my favorite cuisine--from complex and elegant ...

Brewing with Graham Elliot at Goose Island Brewery

An afternoon learning about "Grahampagne"

29th Jul 2010

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Through a heavy, metal door with "Brewery Employees Only" slapped on the front, I was led into a warm, steamy room where Goose Island beer is made. I side-stepped hoses and puddles of water and found a capacious space filled with slanted light; up above, at the top of a skinny ladder, great tanks of beer were lined up at various stages of aging and fermentation on a platform, were Goose Island...

Serious Eats Roundup: Seafood, Summer Squash, and Quail Egg Salad

26th Jul 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Shrimp Quesadilla with Kale
Stuffed with poached shrimp marinated in lime juice, this comes out like a cross with ceviche.

Scallops with Corn and Fava Bean Succotash
A trip to the markets of Montreal yield this simple recipe inspired by a...

Serious Eats Roundup: Cod, Curry, and Chiles

19th Jul 2010

20100719 ser

Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Curried Udon Noodle Stir-Fry
This Japanese curry dish mixes flavorful spices with udon noodles and broccoli.

Roasted Beet Salad with Guajilo Chile Dressing
This unique take on beets looks to Mexico instead of France.

Packets of Cod ...

Romesco Sauce, Meet the Summertime Grill

A blend of bread, nuts, olive oil, tomato, and peppers

15th Jul 2010

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My fridge lately has been so full of food I can hardly see what’s inside of it. Since joining a CSA , I am completely overwhelmed with the amount of food I have, and how to cook it all quickly enough. The other day I realized that I had, like, 2 or 3 pounds of green onions--and not wispy little ones, big, fat ones, the white roots thick and juicy, the green shoots long and vibrant. I’d b...

Don''t Waste Time: How to Make Quick Pickles

Two pickle recipes that take less than a day to make

13th Jul 2010

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You know how you see scallops at the fish market and think to yourself, I could sauté those with?...When I’m at the farmers’ market, I see bushels and baskets of potential pickles...
- David Chang, Momofuku

It's been over three years, and yet I can still vividly remember an appetizer I ate at Momofuku Ssäm Bar . In a meal filled with gloriously fatty meat laced with spice, this s...

Serious Eats Roundup: Summer Pastas, Risotto, and Dolling up Steamed Tofu

12th Jul 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Pasta with Salmon, Peas, and Pesto
Yogurt and pesto combine to dress this light, simple summer pasta.

Spaghetti with Crab, Chile, and Mint
Nick recreates a dish from Chicago's Cibo Matto

Summer Squash Risotto
The flavor of zuchini...

Griddled Carne Asada Tacos

Or, the best carne asada tacos we've ever had

9th Jul 2010

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As far as I know there are only two kinds of ways to make carne asada. The first method is to take thinly sliced flank or skirt steak, sear it over mad charcoal fire, chop it up, and then stuff it into warm corn tortillas. It's almost always great. The second method is the kind that most taquerias use, which is to scoop some bits of raw steak, plop it on a grill, and sauté until it is cooked....

You Could Pickle Anything in This And It Would Taste Marvelous

A delicious formula for making homemade pickles

7th Jul 2010

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Pickling vegetables is something that I’ve yet to get real excited about. Of all the "DIY" food movements, it’s one of the last to catch on. Why, I don’t know. Probably because a slab of homemade bacon is a lot more exciting than a jar of tangy vegetables. Which is no mark against the vegetables. Most anything next to a slab of bacon is bound to lose terribly.

But actually, pickling is...

Serious Eats Roundup: Smoked Paprika, Sriracha Mayonnaise, and a Salad BLT

6th Jul 2010

20100706 ser

Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Steak and Eggs with Smoked Paprika
A sprinkle of smoked paprika helps wake up this breakfast classic.

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Salad with Aioli Dressing
This dish reinterprets the ingredients of a BLT as a refreshing summer salad.

...

Pork Larb and the Search for Toasted Rice Powder

A Thai salad meaty and acidic, packed with cilantro and mint, served with crisp cabbage

2nd Jul 2010

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The only time in the past two years that my wife and I have ordered takeout was this New Years, when, after cleaning up our place from our annual carnitas feast and trying to kick a massive hangover, we basically camped out in the living room on a trundle bed and ate Thai food in our pajamas. Surely, this is why takeout was invented. The idea of doing anything but drinking loads of water and w...

Baba Ganoush and a Fear of Eggplant

Hummus' neglected cousin

30th Jun 2010

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When it comes to Middle Eastern dips, hummus hogs most of the love and attention. (The New York Times recently reported that hummus is "catching on" in America, where it dominates the $325 million-a-year refrigerated flavored spreads category). You see tubs of it everywhere, and for good reason: it's a great snack to have around.

But there's another beige spread (now doesn't that so...

Serious Eats Roundup: Vegetarian Salads, A Twist on Pesto, and Porky Noodles x2

28th Jun 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Wheat Berry Salad with Harissa and Pistachios
If you've been clamoring to try wheat berries--which cook up a bit like cous cous--try this summery little salad with currants, pistachios, and some spicy harissa.

Pasta with Garlic Scape and Ba...

Authentic Caesar Salad From a Windowsill Garden

Urban gardening in Chicago

25th Jun 2010

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I've started an experiment this year: how easy is it, really, to grow vegetables and herbs in a windowsill?

When I moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan three years ago, I was rather taken with the idea of urban agriculture, romanticizing the rustic life of the small producer who grows his own vegetables, raises his own livestock, and scavenges the seas for the rest. (This fantasy was fueled rat...

Thai Salads for the Summer

The Thai salad is bracingly good, a dish to banish all memory of bad takeout

22nd Jun 2010

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Joe said we should meet for dinner at Thai Aree . You may all remember Joe for his helpful advice on J. P. Graziano's , but I still wasn't sure whether I trusted him completely. l rattled off a few alternatives, slyly attempting to change his mind, but he insisted. "The food is wonderful and the prices are great too." Fine, whatever. I didn't really have the courage to admit that I did...

Serious Eats Roundup: Pork Chops, Brandade, and Breakfast Sausage

21st Jun 2010

20100621 ser

Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Slow Cooked Salmon with Ginger and Scallion
This simple salmon dish is cooked in a low oven so the flesh stays moist and succulent.

Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Apples and Onion
The classic dish of pork chops and applesauce is spruced up h...

How to Store Lettuce in the Fridge

Many a leafy vegetable has turned to sludge under my watch. No Longer.

17th Jun 2010

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Even though it's been around for a few years now, I am still incredibly excited to have joined a CSA this year.  A few years ago, "CSA" was the big new food acronym, standing for Community Supported Agriculture, the rather wonderful setup where cooks and eaters pay in advance for the season and in return get a box  delivered to their neighborhood every week or two, effectively a farmer's mar...

Serious Eats Roundup: Pan-Fried Noodles, Skate Wing, and a Twist on Mexican Breakfast

14th Jun 2010
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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Hong Kong Style Pan-Fried Noodles
There's no need to boil: just toss in a skillet for crispy noodles with meaty mushrooms and bok choy. A little chili sesame oil helps wake everything up.

Chorizo and Eggs
This dead-simple recipe employs t...

How to Fall in Love With Sichuan Food: Mapo Doufu

A mixture of tofu, ground meat, and chile bean paste suspended in a bright red and dangerously spicy sauce

11th Jun 2010

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Had you put a gun to my head a few years ago and asked me what my least favorite kind of food was, I'd have A) asked you why wanted to shoot me, and then B) probably said Chinese. Bad broccoli and beef, greasy fried rice, those strange orange packets of sauce--these were my impressions of the entirety of Chinese cuisine and what a billion people ate for dinner. Though I probably knew better, I...

Under Pressure: How To Make Superb Chicken Stock In About An Hour

What if there was a method for making stock that not only dispensed with the time-consuming part, but also produced something that tasted better?

10th Jun 2010

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In practice, significantly more flavor is extracted from the meat. [...] When combined with good ingredients, these factors produce remarkable stocks in significantly less time.

-Heston Blumenthal, The Fat Duck Cookbook

I started making stock when I realized that you could stash the carcasses from roast chickens in the freezer and save them up for an empty Sunday and a few hour...

Serious Eats Roundup: Prosciutto, Pistachios, and Papaduzul

7th Jun 2010

20100608 ser

Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Shaved Asparagus, Pea, and Prosciutto Salad
Blake takes advantage of asparagus season by shaving the spring vegetable thinly and tossing it in a salad.

Yucatecan Papaduzul (Enchiladas Stuffed with Hard-Boiled Eggs)
Pumpkin seeds flesh...

The Comfort of Eggs in a Basket

One of the best 5 minute meals on the planet--and one of the only meals that literally takes 5 minutes

3rd Jun 2010

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Eggs in a basket was the first meal I ever cooked. I was in 5th grade, and it was a Sunday morning at my best friend's house after a sleepover. We woke up hungry, and for some reason his parents weren't home. This confused me--my parents would never do that--but more important than confusion was the fact that I was terribly hungry, and I didn't see how that problem was going to be solved, s...

My First Mole: Rich Red Mole with Chicken

Tackling Mexico's national dish

1st Jun 2010

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You can shave truffles over a dish and call it special, but it's not; it's just expensive.
- Rick Bayless

I've been a fan of Rick Bayless since this blog started over four years ago, but it wasn't until he blurted out the above statement during the Top Chef Masters finale last year that I really figured out why. I already knew that I loved so many Mexican dishes because they balanc...

Serious Eats Roundup: Deep Fried Burritos, Simple Pasta, and a New Kind of Panzanella

31st May 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Grilled Asparagus Panzanella
Panzanella is usually based on stale bread and great summer tomatoes, but here grilled asparagus is the backbone, to delicious results.

Pasta with Brown Butter, Capers, Walnuts and Spinach
Nutty brown butt...

Discovering White Gazpacho

Almonds, garlic, and bread are the magic ingredients in this alternative to tomato gazpacho

27th May 2010

white gazpacho

I heard a lot of complaining this month about Chicago weather, mostly about how cold and rainy it was, and I added my fair share to the chorus. "It's May, already, where's the warm weather?" was a common conversation starter, as weather always is. Apparently, somebody upstairs was listening. This week we have been thrust into what feels like the height of summer: it has climbed repeatedly abov...

The Silver Fizz: The Perfect Chicago Summer Cocktail

Gin, lemon juice, and egg white make for a drink designed to cool you down

25th May 2010

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I'm not sure if the Silver Fizz was developed in Chicago, or if it was just popular for a time around 1883. But I have to believe that there is a correlation between cocktails and the cities that embrace them. Wine has a tie to the land, and cuisines are based around what's local and fresh. So it's my humble opinion that the Silver Fizz was built to cool the heads and stomachs of men without a...

Serious Eats Roundup: Breakfast Sausage, Italian Sausage, and Squash

24th May 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Spicy Italian Sausage with Peppers Sandwich
An Italian sausage and pepper sandwich is usually tired and boring, but this one adds some much needed acid to the party.

Olive Oil–Poached Salmon
Poached salmon is a standard, but swapping...

A Rooftop Grows in Chicago

The SIP method of urban gardening

20th May 2010

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I've long been drawn to the idea of urban farming. When I lived in Brooklyn, I had two plots in two community gardens , in addition to three massive tomato plants on the back deck. Planting seeds and growing vegetables was an unlikely pleasure. For me it was connected to good eating: I loved to cook and eat the freshest vegetables I could find. Getting to the source is something we often e...

Better Homemade Biscuits and Gravy

It's my opinion that the secret to great biscuits and gravy is that there is no secret

19th May 2010

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I know that biscuits and gravy together don't make sense. It's meat, thickened with flour and milk, ladled atop a starchy biscuit. There is no balance, no acid, and no spice. Compared to the dynamic Szechuan food I've been making lately, it can seem safe and boring. But that's not how I think of it. Perhaps it's something that needs to be injected to your blood as a child, because I have a fon...

Serious Eats Roundup: French Toast Sandwich, Creamy Beans, and Lentils in Pasta

17th May 2010

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Our weekly roundup of what the two of us have written over on Serious Eats.

"Dinner Tonight" Column

QUICK MEALS TO YOUR TABLE FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Monte Cristo
Essentially it's a ham sandwich that's been cooked like French toast. A mishmash of dinner, breakfast, and chaos, all on the same plate. Oh, and it's delicious.

Lamb Chops with Crème Fraîche Beans
Lamb chops need nothing...