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...

Repertoire | The Working Lunch

An Argument for Grains and Vegetables

13th Oct 2011


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...

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


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...

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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

16th Aug 2011


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...

How to Make Proper Barbecue Chicken

No offense, but you're probably doing it wrong

22nd Jul 2011


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....

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...

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...

Introducing The Soft Shell Crab Sandwich...with Bacon

Getting a head start on the season

16th May 2011


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


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...

Philadelphia Fish House Punch

Or how to restore punch to its former glory

28th Mar 2011


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...

Corned Beef Short Ribs

A quicker, easier process than the whole brisket

15th Mar 2011


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...

We Are Proud to Present Appetites for iPad

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

Appetites for iPad logo

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...

Lamb Pancetta | Charcutepalooza February Challenge

Plus, a Killer Recipe To Use It In

15th Feb 2011


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...

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...

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!

Paupered Chef logo

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


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...

Gorgefest | Los Angeles Edition

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

Los Angeles Gorgefest 01

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...

The Secret | Brussels Sprouts

How to rescue a childhood horror.

1st Dec 2010

secret to great brussels sprouts 5

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...

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...

Korean Barbecue: What''s Your Secret Ingredient?

The kiwi could change everything

5th Oct 2010

korean barbecue 1
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.


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

A summer alternative with grated apple and almonds

21st Sep 2010

cold oatmeal 1
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,...

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....

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

A pineapple and a few weeks is all you need

19th Aug 2010

pineapple vinegar 2

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...

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...

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...

Romesco Sauce, Meet the Summertime Grill

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

15th Jul 2010

romesco sauce 1

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...

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...

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...

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...

How to Store Lettuce in the Fridge

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

17th Jun 2010

CSA haul 1

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...

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

pressure cooker chicken stock 1

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...

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

egg in a basket

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...

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...

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...

Asparagus + Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Forget hollandaise: this will blow your mind

13th May 2010

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I recently stumbled on an essay called The Power of the Hot Vinaigrette in Michael Symon's new cookboo k. "Cold vinaigrettes are excellent," he writes, "but add one to the hot pan you've sauteed some shrimp in, and the blended acid and oil will pick up all the flavor of the bits of protein and sugars that have stuck to the pan." He advocates for pan sauces to be vinaigrette-based, rath...

Pasta with Butter, Bottarga, and Breadcrumbs

"The bacon of fish" elevates this simple pasta to transcendence

11th May 2010

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You may remember awhile back my lamenting post about a favorite ingredient I couldn't find in Chicago. The ingredient that Claudia at Cook Eat Fret christened " the bacon of fish ." Something relatively undiscovered and very difficult to find in the U.S. A secret ingredient, you might say. Well, I'm done lamenting. Because I have found bottarga, the cured roe sack that's pressed and dr...

Trout a la Meunière, or Sharing a Culinary Epiphany with Julia Child

The original celebrity chef helps us out with this French classic.

4th May 2010

trout amandine

A variation on meunière sauce with almonds

In one of the opening scenes of My Life in France , Julia Child experiences an early meal in France with her husband, Paul, a lunch at La Couronne, a medieval house turned restaurant built in 1345. After oysters, she goes on to describe an early culinary epiphany, apart of what would become "the most exciting meal of my life."

Paul had...

A Guide to Bacon Styles, and How to Make Proper British Rashers

Everyone loves bacon, but it's not always the same thing.

21st Apr 2010

back bacon vs American bacon
British Bacon vs American bacon

If you've been reading the site lately, you may have been following Nick on his rather strange quest to recreate a full English breakfast from scratch (his first project was the British banger sausage ). Why, I don't know. But when Nick proposed that I take over the homemade bacon portion of the project, I leapt at the opportunity to contribute. Homema...

Homemade Gnudi from The Spotted Pig

Make these ethereal little bites at home.

15th Apr 2010

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I'm pretty sure the word "gnudi" wasn't on anyone's radar until they were served at The Spotted Pig in New York, which was when they became a food dork household name. In Italian, "gnudi" means what it sounds like in English: naked. It refers to little pasta-like dumplings that are "naked" of their pasta wrapper, raviolis without anything to enclose them. Gnudi are a bit like gnocchi, but...

The Rum Sidecar

Substituting brandy in this variation on a classic cocktail.

9th Apr 2010

rum sidecar 2

Making cocktails is a tricky business. The balance--between sour and sweet, harsh and smooth--can easily be lost if one isn't careful; most recipes are so expertly calibrated that making any kind of substitution is a bad idea. A cocktail is often a significant investment that goes down the drain if you screw it up (or in my case, gulped down with a wince because I am incapable of admitting...

Basic Tomato Sauce

Sometimes you need to start with the basics.

23rd Mar 2010

tomato sauce

I was recently bumming on a friend's membership to Costco, arms full of inexpensive bulk yeast and Dijon mustard for salad dressing , when I discovered the can of tomatoes you see above. It seemed like the deal of a century. For $3.89, I walked away with a can of San Marzano tomatoes weighing almost 7 pounds. That's the price you sometimes pay for a single 28 oz can of them.

I immed...

The Strange Appeal of Vinegar in a Cocktail

Taking the balance in a whole new direction

18th Mar 2010

vinegar cocktail

Do they belong together?

Most cocktails have too much sugar in them. I'm not sure when the barrage of overly sweet cocktails began (not to mention the tradition of putting mini umbrellas in the glass), but it leaves me with a stomach ache. Unlike the bracing experience of an Old Fashioned, possibly the first cocktail to be invented in a dusty bar in the 19th century, a succinct, aromatic si...

The Best Italian Sub in Chicago: A Tour of Six Delis

Which Italian deli in Chicago makes the best subs?

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We assembled at 11 a.m., seven hungry men, at J. P. Graziano's. This unadorned storefront in the restaurant supply district of Chicago's West Loop seemed like an odd place to begin a journey to find the best Italian sub in Chicago. The shop's exterior had no tell-tale signals that it made sandwiches--just a sign stating their business as wholesale importers. The interior contained no vine...

Chez Panisse Cassoulet

A tastier and quicker version of the classic.

4th Mar 2010

cassoulet 11

I'm tired of people lying about cassoulet. Every recipe I've ever read calls it a "peasant dish," and the fact is, cassoulet is really, really expensive to make. You need duck confit, which, if you don't buy pre-made, costs you either in the form of overpriced duck fat or the need to buy a whole duck to render it yourself. Then, you need fancy sausage, preferably the garlicky "Toulouse" vari...

The Mystery of the Chicken Oyster

How to save the oyster while cutting up chicken.

24th Feb 2010

chicken oyster 1

The chicken oyster. It sounds strange. But also intriguing enough to suggest deliciousness. I've heard other people talk about this elusive piece of meat hidden somewhere on the chicken. Only smart cooks know about it, like Thomas Keller, who mentions it in his recipe for " My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken " in the Bouchon cookbook. When the chicken is done roasting, the skin golde...

Can Pesto Be Improved?

Not all pesto is created the same.

19th Feb 2010

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I've been eating pesto with pasta since I knew how to boil water. That dense, fragrant, herb-y concentrate tossed with hot noodles -- it's magic. Even when I had no idea how to cook and bought pesto in a jar, it was wonderful and my favorite dinner. It provides that burst of freshness in the middle of February, and it's delicious enough that the flavor stays in my brain for days.

The only p...

A Gastrique Primer, or How to Improve Your Next Tomato Sauce

Vinegar and sugar can spruce up any sauce.

9th Feb 2010

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Once we had blanched and peeled the tomatoes we chopped them, strained the seeds, and simmered it for twenty minutes into a simple sauce. Then I made my gastrique , which involved no measuring -- maybe 1/4 cup of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sugar -- and a quick boil into something thick and syrupy.

I tasted the sauce before adding it, which was fine, clean and simple.  And then I tast...

Homemade Square Pizza

Focaccia becomes the base of this pizza.

4th Feb 2010

focaccia pizza 1

Good pizza means good bread. For me, there's just no other way around it. Good bread is the soul of good pizza.

But baking has never been a subject I'm comfortable with. Give me a skillet, some pasta, and a well-stocked pantry and I can improvise countless meals. But if I'm supposed to bake something, I freeze. I immediately picture failure, a leaden cracker or a gummy mess. I hate the conf...

Homemade Sliders

The PC guide to little burgers.

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What is a slider? A slider is a particular thing. It's particularly American. It's a small subset of our great culinary tradition, the hamburger. But as I explained last week , it's not just a mini-hamburger. To be a slider, it cannot be perverted with expensive ingredients like foie gras or tuna tartar, a cutesy version of a burger for a chef to play with. A slider consists of a thin laye...

My Chicago: Caputo Cheese Market, and a Search for Bottarga

This fishy roe is a meal in itself.

26th Jan 2010


My Chicago is about life as a cooks and eaters in our home city. Markets, restaurants, secret finds, really tasty bites--or just a great story. We're lucky to live here.

Bottarga would handily win the award for "foodstuff with least correlation between attractiveness and deliciousness," if such a thing existed.  It is a brown, firm lobe, and, poor thing, really quite ugly. A cured, pres...

In Praise of Open-Faced Sandwiches

Some sandwiches don't need a top.

21st Jan 2010

alton brown sandwich

Personally, I didn't need any convincing, but after seeing the above picture, I can see why you might. It's the same reason Alton Brown went to great lengths on a recent episode of Good Eats to hide a central ingredient in his recipe. Something small, something oily, something canned, something with a rather poor reputation. This particular foodstuff was apart of a puzzling, yet intriguing...

Idea Lab: Focaccia Pizza

Can great pizza be made at home quickly?

12th Jan 2010

idea lab focaccia pizza

Idea Lab is where we explore topics before we head into the kitchen. We welcome your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, so please leave them in the comments!

Though I once praised the virtues of the broiling pizza on Serious Eats, I'm now over it. I'm tired of broiler antics and pre-heating cast iron pans to make approximations of Neopolitan-style pizza at home (I've already ruined one ba...

There Will be Blood. Sausages.

7th Jan 2010

blood sausage 1

Last year I fell in love with blood sausage.  Maybe that sounds strange.  So let me explain.

In Estonia, around Christmastime, they begin to fill up the meat counters, black and smooth. Just piles of them.  When Christmas comes, everyone roasts pork and potatoes, makes sauerkraut, and serves them with blood sausages.  And it wasn't until I had them as apart of this ritual that I began to...

Year in Review: The Allure of Alcohol

Our favorite drinks of 2009.


Obviously, this site is mostly devoted to cooking, and always has been. But watchful readers may have noticed over the years the occasional post slipped in about drinking. We've thankfully improved our recipes since the very first drinking post on this site, which involved mixing dark beer from New York's oldest pub, McSorley's, and some cheap vanilla ice cream. The result was the beer shake...

Year in Review: An Obsession with Beef

Best of the beef.


When Blake and I sat back and looked at what food obsessed us in 2009, we noticed an unusual interest in beef. Pork is still the hippest meat around, and praise for beef sometimes seems limited to talk about steaks or short ribs. We wrote about both of those cuts this year, but we did it our way.  We also managed to dress up mounds of round, tenderize brisket, turn chuck into the tender found...

Red-Braised Pork Belly, and a Sichuan Cooking Primer

Where to start your Sichuan obsession.

11th Dec 2009

red braised pork belly 1

For awhile now, I've been looking for a way into Chinese cooking. The whole business of it feels impenetrable. Strange flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques, and no ability to rely on what I've already learned about Western cooking and improvise. Then there's the problem that you can't accurately call anything "Chinese cooking," because China is made up of provinces with different recip...

Is Salad Dressing the Perfect Sauce?

Throw away those bottle salad dressings.

2nd Dec 2009

vinaigrette 1

I've been thinking about salad a lot lately, which is strange, because how inspiring can a salad really be? The salads I grew up with were made of lettuce with a bunch of chopped vegetables--carrots, mushrooms, peppers, whatever--doused with a dressing from the fridge door. Everyone put their favorite dressing on, and that worked pretty well. It was the typical "your-choice-of-dressing" side s...

Happy Thanksgiving, With a Little Help from Time Out Chicago

A little holiday help

eat bloggers paupered

We're signing off for the week, ready to see family, drink some of our homemade hard apple cider , and fatten ourselves on turkey.  We hope you're off to do the same!  But before you do, please direct your attention to this week's Time Out Chicago , were you will discover a cheesy picture of your humble correspondents (above).

A month ago we met up with the dashing food folks over a...

Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls: Our New Holiday Tradition

Check out a better way to make cinnamon rolls.

11th Nov 2009

cardamom cinnamon rolls

Every Christmas, we eat cinnamon rolls. That's just how it is. When I was little, someone would wake up early and drive over to the Cinnabon store and come back with a gooey dozen, and always make sure there was extra frosting. The things were so big and sweet that it would take most of Christmas morning to finish one, plus three or four glasses of milk. The cinnamon rolls tided us over until...

How to Make Paneer

The Indian speciality is easier than you think.

6th Nov 2009

how to make paneer 1

The concept of making cheese has always fascinated me, the idea that you can take milk and add a little acid (or rennet) to magically separate it into curds and whey. Milk seems like such a stable liquid, a wholesome elixir of childhood, but with a little citric acid, lemon juice, yogurt, or rennet it completely de-stabalizes into thin, watery whey and fat chunks of curd.

What you do with t...

The Final Word (for now) on Homemade Hard Cider

Thoughts about our first batch of cider.

cider tasting 1

There is no feeling in the world like popping open a batch of cider and realizing what you have created alcohol. It's really hard to describe. We've made all kinds of recipes before, including some meals that have taken days to prepare. But alcohol always seemed a little unreal, and dangerous. Making alcohol always felt too technical and lab-like. And if you're brewing beer, that's sort of tru...

How to Make Hard Apple Cider

Our guide to turning apple juice into booze.

29th Oct 2009

homemade hard cider 1

As we realized on our last post , it was time to stop talking emphatically about the cultural significance of cider, and start getting to the business of making it. Though we had read more websites, emails, and books than we could know what to do with, we were still confused, and more importantly, l didn't have a solid recipe. It was beginning to be a problem.

At its simplest, hard appl...

The Kimchi Contest Results

And the best kimchi award goes to...

kimchi 1

After a tasting of both kimchi projects, the results are in. We have a winner!

It wasn't easy to decide: there were things about Nick's kimchi that were better, and things about Blake's Kimchi that were better. We went back and forth about who should take the title. We tasted, waited, tasted again.

First, the recipes. Though our recipes were similar, there were some crucial diffe...

Homemade Kimchi Contest, Part I

Blake tries to make kimchi.

13th Oct 2009

homemade kimchi 1

Nick and I are currently in the middle of a fierce kimchi-making contest , in which we've both set off to do our own research and exploration, make a batch of the best kimchi we know how to, and submit it for a taste test. Neither of us have made kimchi before, but we both love the taste of it dearly. Tired of paying for it at the store and intoxicated by the possibility that homemade kimc...

The Tombstone Whiskey Cocktail

Whisky and sugar combine to make an unforgettable cocktail.

2nd Oct 2009

tombstone cocktail

Recently Nick and I were in the gritty West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, after a long, pork-ridden meal at The Publican , where we fed on cracklins, rillettes, belly, shoulder, and all manner of sausages. We slipped out of the restaurant happy and stuffed into the long fluorescent shadows, in search of a good bar to aid all the oncoming digesting to be done.

We ended up at Matchbox ...

The Search: Cabbage Kimchi

What is your kimchi secret?

kimchi 2

Vinegary, spicy, crunchy, and addictive. These are just some of the words we use to describe Korean dish kimchi. We could go on, but the idea is this: Kimchi fascinates us. We put it into stews , mix it with noodles and sesame oil , chop it up with fried rice , and side it up with Korean barbecue . We've been known to eat it straight out of the jar when we need a fix.


The Maxwell Street Market, Chicago

We take a walk around the legendary market.

22nd Sep 2009

maxwell street market 1

Nick and I arrived at the Maxwell Street Market to a line of colorful tents stretching out into the distance along Desplaines Street longer than we could see: men playing blues on the sidewalk, piles of tchotkes and used power tools, used DVDs, discount bras and panties, and endless stands full of tube socks. In fact, it wasn't immediately clear what we were doing there. If it weren't for th...

Pajeon, the Korean Scallion Pancake

Not like most pancakes...

15th Sep 2009

pajeon 1

I recently experienced Korean Barbecue for the first time, and I'm not sure I'll ever be quite the same. For days afterwards, I could taste the spicy, sweet, marinated short ribs between my teeth. The heady scent of kimchi haunted me; I'd walk around corners and swear I could smell it. Korean barbecue is soul food. It's comforting, the flavors are deep, and it's all based around communal eatin...

Pork Rillettes

The best kind of wedding appetizers.

7th Sep 2009

pork rillettes 1

A pure expression of the pig: nothing extraneous, nothing wasted.  Pork, salt, and a little bit of time: that's all you need to make rillettes.  It was a beautiful idea which had led me to the kitchen, where I had 25 pounds of pork (a ball of lard, huge hunks of shoulder, and a bag of spare ribs larger than a medium-sized dog) and where I realized I was in over my head.

C onfiture de coch...

How to Make a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

A step-by-step guide to every condiment and step in making the perfect, authentic Chicago-style hot dog.

22nd Jul 2009

chicago hot dog 1

The Chicago Hot Dog is, perhaps, one of the most improbable food combinations in the world. We do know this: it shouldn't work. A towering, precipitous bundle, loaded up with so many condiments that it's twice the volume of the dog itself. It threatens to fall apart, to be so absurd it forgets its provenance as a hot dog. It's misguided, it's madness. Yet it's mad enough to succeed brilliantly...

Rafa''s Restaurant, and Other Highlights from the Costa Brava

Visiting the Spanish coast.

22nd Jun 2009

costa brava 1

Barcelona was a wonderful city to be in, but leaving it was just as fun. Installed in a tiny stick-shift Citroen, we headed north from the city for Costa Brava, opting for the cheaper no-toll road that snakes along the coast and could take twice as long. Driving in Europe was harrowing the first time I did it, but I've since learned to embrace the speeding, reckless flow--I figure it's safe...

Highlights from Barcelona on the Cheap

How to save money in the stylish Spanish city.

16th Jun 2009

barcelona 11

While Nick has been saving the world with quick no-soak-beans and investigating the roots of Wisconsin bratwurst (part of my family is from Wisconsin and I hope to weigh in with strong opinions on the subject sooner than later), I've been on the run, away from a kitchen, squeezing every trip out of Europe I can afford.  Which isn't much at the moment.  But a lack of cash didn't deter...

Auberge de la Loube, Buoux, France

Blake eats the best of France.

24th May 2009

auberge de la loube 1

After we spent our Saturday morning at the sprawling market in Apt, sampling cheese and charcuterie, the only task ahead of us was to find a tiny hillside town called Buoux by lunchtime.  Exploring a mountainous countryside of hamlets and hairpin turns was all that awaited us. By the time we'd arrived a few hours later, the sun was falling lazily on a descent toward dusk; the air was fragrant...

Restaurants We Weren''t Looking For: Provence

Blake finds hidden gems in France.

21st May 2009

la regalade 1

Our goal for eating in France, as our budget was limited, was to find simple and unpretentious food.  And though we hit the ground running with a list of online recommendations culled from a number of sources--an article in Travel + Leisure , searches on Chowhound and eGullet, guidebooks galore--some of our best and most memorable meals came from eclectic little spots that nobody had writt...

Markets of Provence

Photos from France.

12th May 2009


As I was wandering through Lourmarin, a ridiculously charming Provencal town where a bustling Friday-morning market was in full swing--the fresh breeze carrying the smell of cured sausage and fresh baguettes to my nostrils--I began having fantasies.  Mostly it involved never being heard from again, disappearing into those lavender-scented hills, without so much as a trace.  (A convenient lot...

A Visit to Hellenurme Watermill, Valga County, Estonia

Blake visits a famed watermill in Estonia.

6th May 2009

water mill 2

I knew next to nothing about watermills before heading down to see one in southern Estonia, so I had an open mind.  The website promised a tour, a glass of milk and fresh warm bread.  So when the offer of a ride down came up, I had little reason to turn it down.

When we arrived, we found an idle lake reflecting the brilliant blue sky, clouds tossing across the sky, and a brick building...

A Story About Eggy Bread

What if French toast could be improved by the Brits?

27th Apr 2009

Eggy bread, a slice of white loaf dipped in egg whisked with milk and fried in butter, is simply French toast without the sweetness.  It is a food I've consumed in countless American diners, and on countless Sunday mornings as a kid.  But that morning I found eggy bread unrecognizable without its sheen of maple syrup and its fragrant nutmeg and cinnamon spices.  Still, there it was, plain and o...

Easter Dinner and My Mysteriously Cheap Lamb Chops

Cooking Easter dinner with no oven.

14th Apr 2009

lamb easter dinner 6

Easter dinner has always been a giant-baked-ham affair for me.  Glazed with a sticky concoction loaded to its saturation point with brown sugar and splashed with bourbon, studded with cloves, and baked until warm and tender--ah, it's hard to beat.

Living here in a country full of pork , I figured reproducing this wouldn't be too hard to pull off.  But two problems presented themselves:...

Why Do You Eat Free-Range Pork?

Does it have anything to do with hunting?

13th Apr 2009
Illustration credit: NYTimes.com

On Thursday the New York Times published an op-ed piece written by a Texas historian named James E. McWilliams called "Free-Range Trichinosis," which argues that the public's perception of free-range pork has been misguided.   On the contrary to our idyllic view of healthy, happy animals, the "free-range option can pose a heightened health threat to consumers."  Citing a study which claime...


Blake discovers South African dried beef.

25th Mar 2009

By Blake Royer Here in Estonia there is a word,...


Here in Estonia there is a word, kevadväsimus , that translates as "spring fatigue."  It's the expression that refers to a grim mood that seizes us all when the sun has come out and the days are growing longer yet all other signs still point to winter.  We know the weather will improve, but it's that sliver of hope that makes it no...

Focaccia, the Easiest Homemade Bread

The best bread to make for those that don't like to make bread.

6th Mar 2009

If bread making scares you like it scares me, but the lure of authenticity is irresistible, then focaccia may be the place to begin.

homemade focaccia1

The intoxicating smell of yeast; the wet stickiness between your fingers; the magical billowing quality of the dough when a warm spot trns it into a living thing.  These are the pleasures of bread making.  And these are the pleasures I am almost wholly unfam...

Sauerbraten, Or How to Make Beef Round Tender and Delicious

The German way with round.

17th Feb 2009

Sauerbraten is a national dish of Germany, and there are many variations in its preparation, all hailing from different regions.  However, I didn't have to look much further than Alton Brown for a good recipe--the reviews on the recipe's page at Food Network are almost exclusively raving.  A combination of cider and red wine vinegar provide the recipe's twang, and all the traditional notes fo...

GG''s Coffee Cake

Start a holiday morning tradition with delicious coffee cake.

3rd Dec 2008


The holidays are incredibly food-centric times.  From the Thanksgiving turkey all the way until the Christmas ham, it seems like the whole country is suddenly swept up into mass foodie-ism.  Grandmothers start talking about their recipes.  Aunts compete with casseroles.  Somebody's got their secret, "this-will-change-your-life" salad, as if life-changing experiences didn't seem all that im...

"Saucisson" of Pork Tenderloin

A baby step towards making salami.

30th Nov 2008


It's similar in appearance and texture, and has that unmistakable salty tang of cured meat.  I'm surprised it never occurred to me before, but the idea is simple.  Pork tenderloin, which is already in a convenient salami-like shape perfect for slicing, makes a perfect dry-curing project.

There is already one traditional cured meat called Lonzino , Italian, which is made not from the ten...

Ristorante Matricianella

Blake visits the Eternal City for one night only.

29th Oct 2008


We only had one night in Rome to eat. So where would we choose?  We had no idea where to begin.

My friend Mitchell Davis came to the rescue when I emailed him to ask for help.  One night in Rome?  "I’d try Matricianella, I think, if I had one night. All the classics, well prepared, great wine list, not pricey."  Indeed, classics were what I wanted: specifically, a giant creamy steamin...

The Young Man and the Cocktail

The perfection introduction to mixed drinks.

23rd May 2008


Over the past year or so, Nick and I have developed a kind of unhealthy obsession with cocktails -- some could argue literally.  We've quietly stocked our cabinets with liquers, liquors, bitters; our fridge doors are weighed down with vermouths (yes, they should be refrigerated ) and simple syrups; a regular supply of rye whiskey, bourbon and gin comes and goes, mixed with a recurring stoc...

Guanciale, Or How to Hang a Pig Jowl in Your Living Room

The other Italian bacon.

14th May 2008

guanciale9 2

It took me almost a month and calls to half the butchers in New York before I could get my hands on a pair of pig jowls.  Here’s the problem: they want you to order the whole head.  And while I had a wonderful time watching pot-roasted pig heads go ferrying by my table at the Spotted Pig , when it was under the tutelage of British chef Fergus Henderson , the thought of lugging a 40...

They Came, I Ground, We Ate: Which Cuts Make for the Best Burger?

How to make a better burger at home.

21st Feb 2008


Grinding meat may seem like an exercise for those with too much time on their hands, or those overly devoted to doing things from scratch--which I am.  But I'm here to argue that there are more compelling and more logical reasons for doing so: for one, the meat will taste better.  You'll also know where it omes from, unlike with a styrofoam tray from the grocery store, which is likely the su...

Adventures in Homemade Bacon

Make your bacon at home.

8th Feb 2008

The bacon most of us know it is made from pork belly, but there are also variations made from other cuts, notably the cheeks and jowl, which makes guanciale --a porkier tasting, fattier cut that's a staple in properly-made Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Bucatinia alla Amatraciana . Hog jowls are difficult to find, though, especially because a butcher would probably need to order an entire he...

Linguine with Clams from the Babbo Kitchen, via Bill Buford

From his memoir Heat

24th Jan 2008


My favorite passages from Bill Buford's Heat are set in the Babbo kitchen, when he describes with fear and awe the wonder that is a busy restaurant kitchen at dinnertime-- tickets flying, steam vaporizing, oil popping. Orders arrive faster than they can be made; you are perpetually behind. The heat, of course, is unbearable-- like a shimmering wall when you enter the kitchen. Sweat...

Madrid With an Insider

Crawling the streets in search of ham and beer

3rd Dec 2007


We arrived at the ultra-modern Madrid airport terminal half-asleep, legs in need of a stretch, eager for what we imagined might be a giant, country-wide cocktail party.  The Spanish tradition of tapas awaited (or, as we would later call them in San Sebastian, pintxos , our American tongues unsure how a “t” can be pronounced before an “x," the result a squished noise that sounds l...

The Duck Prosciutto Emerges

A results of a simple dry-cured meat project revealed

28th Nov 2007


About ten days after I hung a salt-cured duck breast in the vestibule of my garden apartment, wrapped in cheesecloth and suspended by kitchen string in a little tent of wooden dowel rods, I retrieved it, unwrapped it, and laid it on a cutting board in my kitchen.  It was my first attempt at curing, my Duck Prosciutto .

The flesh had taken on a dark red, almost black color on the outside...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 3, Carnitas on the Run

Killer tacos and no-corn-syrup Mexican Coke

17th Nov 2007


With the time change and a long flight ahead of us, we have to leave by 4pm just to arrive home in New York at midnight (Correction: arrive in Newark.  I'm never doing that again).  With a morning left and having had scarce time to explore Olympia itself, we asked Scott exactly what to do with the remaining hours.  “Well, there’s this Mexican taco truck,” he said casually.  And it wa...

The Proper Way to Cook a Hot Dog?

A nice technique for cooking hot dogs at home.

26th Oct 2007

By Blake Royer I hardly ever cook hot dogs at...


I hardly ever cook hot dogs at home--it's the kind of food that I buy on a street corner in a rush.  On the way to a concert. When I don’t have more than 5 minutes for lunch. When it’s three days before my paycheck and rent's due.  Two bucks on a street corner, less than that if I'm lucky to be near a Papaya King (or Gray's Papaya ),...