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...