How Do You Make Great Biscuits?

We need your help

14th May 2010

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Last night I made the best batch of biscuits and gravy ever. That's not something I ever thought I'd say out loud, but I cannot tell a lie. I started with some homemade breakfast sausage, which formed the base of a sensational gravy. The buttermilk biscuits were baked from scratch. It was nearly perfect.

The problem? The biscuits didn't rise, or at least not enough. I followed a fairly well...

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...

Birth of the Martini: The Turf Club

The Turf Club is an ancestor to the martini: less shockingly dry, and a little more vivacious

12th May 2010

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Do you remember your first Martini? Mine came while I was still working as a waiter. After a long, hard shift, all of us would sit around a table and get one free drink before heading home. Usually I went for the coldest beer I could fine, but that day I held my head high and ordered a Martini. It felt good to say it out loud, and it arrived all handsome and clean with a single olive in it. It...

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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Spicy, Steamed, and Braised

10th 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.

Dinner Tonight: Spaghetti with Bottarga and Almonds
Bottarga is the secret ingredient for this incredibly simple pasta.

Merguez Sausage with Collards and Couscous
This is definitely not your usual Southern version of collard greens. H...

The Paupered Chef on Twitter

7th May 2010

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Happy Friday, everybody.  It's raining and blustery in Chicago, it's almost the weekend, and we're launching a new Twitter account. It's shiny and slick and, at the moment, a little bit lonely. So come follow us !

Sure, you may already follow Nick or me on Twitter individually, but in case you were really confused about who to follow--as time and again, even our most faithful read...

The Case for Hot Pimentón

Smoked paprika transforms a Spanish garlic soup

5th May 2010

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In today's Dinner Tonight column (the post will be up later this afternoon) I walk through a very simple garlic soup recipe from Mario Batali's Spain: A Culinary Road Trip . It's the kind of a soup I adore, being nothing more than a few cloves of garlic, good chicken stock, and a few pieces of stale bread. The one wild card is hot pimentón, which is a Spanish smoked paprika .

I...

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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Sichuan Dishes, Sawdust, and a Mexican Fondue

3rd 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.

Fish Fragrant Eggplant
Your house won't start reeking of seafood when this dish is done. But honestly, there's a faint fishy flavor in the air. It's kind of miraculous. How could a dish were no fish products get close, smell of it?

Skirt St...

Wednesday Links: Reinventing Salt, The Other Uses of Sourdough

28th Apr 2010

stlbites.com/flickr

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Reinventing Salt
[via Kottke.org ]
In order to meet goals for lowering salt in processed foods, Frito-Lay has spent who knows how much money engineering crystals that "dissolve more quickly, effectively putting the sodiu...

Serious Eats Roundup: Cornmeal-Crusted and Pan-Fried

26th Apr 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.

The Best Oyster Po' Boy Outside of New Orleans
Nick still can't reach the perfection he found in New Orleans, but this cornmeal and flour crusted oyster recipe comes the closest.

Cornmeal-Crusted Pan-Fried Trout
Sometimes the simplici...

Baked Bean Failures

Trying (and for now failing) to recreate British Heinz baked beans

23rd Apr 2010

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Baked beans should have been the easiest part. When I set off on this crazy Full English Breakfast challenge I figured I'd spend most of my time stuffing sausages , or learning how to cure a completely different kind of bacon . The beans should have required a few hours on lazy Saturday afternoon. The one problem -- the only problem -- was finding a recipe.

There are no recipes....

Wednesday Links: Ruth Bourdain, Bitters, and Asian Flair

21st Apr 2010
4 20 wednesday links Rob Ireton/flickr / RuthBourdain Twitter Account

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Ruth Bourdain on Twitter
The tweets of Ruth Reichl with the mind of Anthony Bourdain, with hilarious results. It's probably worth joining Twitter just to follow this person.

Top 5 Brands of Bitte...

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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Pistachio Pesto, Pea Tortilla, and a New Take on KFC

19th Apr 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.

Pistachio Asparagus Pesto on Linguine
This pesto may look similar, but it swaps the pine nuts for pistachios, and stays green thanks to a handful of spinach. It's not as herbaceous as the traditional version, but it's creamier and more delicate...

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 Creation of Will''s Special

The brief, wondrous history of a Chicago sandwich.

14th Apr 2010

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A few weeks ago, a mad group of seven men took part in the great Chicago Italian Sub Tour of 2010 . We visited six places, ate way more than we should have, and came away with the pretty definite conclusion that J.P. Graziano served the best Italian sub of the day. They used the best bread, and paid the most attention to each individual element of the sandwich. Oddly though, mixed in w...

Wednesday Links: The Science of Salt and the Case to Eat More Yak

14th Apr 2010

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[ deadrobot /Flickr]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

National Association of Science Writers: Is Salt Actually Bad For You?
"While the government has been denouncing salt as a health hazard for decades, no amount of scientific effort has been able to dispense with the sus...

Serious Eats Roundup: Kafka''s Soup, Martha''s Noodle Cakes, and Nick''s Last Stand

12th Apr 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.

Arepa Sandwiches with Chorizo and Black Beans
These traditional central American snacks are sliced in half and turned into a filling sandwich.

Asparagus Soup with Egg on Toast
This silky soup is perfect for the first asparagus of the...

The Rum Sidecar

Substituting brandy in this variation on a classic cocktail.

9th Apr 2010

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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...

Wednesday Links: Dry vs. Wet Aged Beef, Raw Milk, and Lots of Chicken

7th Apr 2010

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[m500/Flickr]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Dry vs. Wet: A Butcher's Guide to Aging Meat
Another post by Tom Mylan that explores the differences between dry aging and wet aging beef.

Faux Pas in the Bulk Aisle
This is a nice little primer on the etiquette of using the...

Grub Street Chicago Announcement

6th Apr 2010

chicagoeats03

We realize it's been a tad quiet over here for the past couple weeks, but there is some exciting news. As of, well...yesterday, I'm the new editor of Grub Street Chicago . I'll cover all the juicy restaurant news in our city from fine dining to as many posts about hot dogs I can manage. Check out my intro post here . It's a challenging new position, but one that will allow me to work f...

Serious Eats Roundup: Oozing Goat Cheese, Asian Noodles, and Ten Minute Tilapia

5th Apr 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.

Minced Pork with Soba Noodles
A simple ingredients list combined with high heat creates a complex and haunting result.

Orecchiette with Peas, Prosciutto, and Crème Fraîche
The idea behind this dish is the same as Pasta Carbonara: creamy...

Wednesday Links: Tasty Tomatoes and a Street Food Manifesto

31st Mar 2010

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[Image courtesy of Stacey Cramp for The New York Times]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Tasty Tomatoes All Year Long
Is the tyranny of summer tomatoes coming to and end?  Greenhouses the size of multiple football fields are growing tasty tomatoes all year long.

We're Wire...

Homemade British Bangers and the Search for Rusk

How to make better bangers

30th Mar 2010

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As I was digging into making my own British bangers for my Full English Breakfast challenge , I kept stumbling onto the same sad story which may or may not be complete bullshit: During the early 20th century thanks to two World Wars, meat was scarce in England and pork sausages were padded with some grains and extra liquid to help stretch the meat reserves. When cooked, these padded sausa...

Serious Eats Roundup: Frozen Custard, Ricotta Pasta, and Tofu

29th Mar 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.

Seared Scallops with Spinach and Arugula
This simple recipe sears scallops over high heat and serves them with a side of spinach and arugula.

Almond Tofu with Buckwheat Noodles and Snow Peas
Blake is not usually into vegan meals like...

Wednesday Links: Fajitas, Food in Film, and the Fragility of Restaurants

24th Mar 2010

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[Image courtesy of Troy Fields and the Houston Chronicle]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Not So Clear Cut
A disturbing tale of what really goes into a plate of fajitas.

The Last Days of Kugelis
The worlds oldest Lithuanian restaurant just closed on the South Side. Sky F...

Basic Tomato Sauce

Sometimes you need to start with the basics.

23rd Mar 2010

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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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Vegetarian Enchiladas, 30-Minute Roast Chicken, and a British Classic

22nd Mar 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 Spring Herbs
It doesn't get much simpler than this pasta that comes together while the water is boiling.

Jacques Pépin's Quick-Roasted Chicken
A technique to solve the problem of breast and leg meat cooking at different times...

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...

Wednesday Links: Southern Food, British Cookbooks, and French Preschoolers

17th Mar 2010
Reynolds FoodTruck2

[Oxford American]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Oxford American Food Issue
Guest editor John T. Edge puts together an issue all about food in the American South, from haute soul food to the apparent controversy of the heritage of Creole cuisine, concluding that "food is calori...

Idea Lab: Full English Breakfast from Scratch

Can you replicate the best English breakfast at home?

16th Mar 2010

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To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.
- W. Somerset Maugham

I survived my half a year in England on a diet of boiled potatoes, canned peas, Heinz beans, and 99p egg and cress sandwiches I purchased from a convenient store. The dollar was nearly worthless next to the mighty pound at that time, and I hoarded what little cash I could for bus passes and the od...

Serious Eats Roundup: Superdawg, Broiled Cod, and Reinventing the Classics

15th Mar 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 Carbonara with Leeks
This take on pasta carbonara adds some caramelized leeks to lend a slight sweetness.

Moroccan Ragout with Poached Eggs
Some spicy lamb sausage called merguez helps transform this Moroccan version of eggs in p...

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...

Wednesday Links: Whale Meat, A Cooking Philosophy, and Sweet Fizzy Coke

10th Mar 2010
whale meat

[moohaha/flickr]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Whale: To Eat, or Not to Eat?
Should whale be served at restaurants? Some people think it is more ethical than beef.

Jonah Lehrer on The Philosophy of Cooking
"To cook is to insist that every hunger is a potential occasion,...

Serious Eats Roundup: Fresh Sardines, Bay Scallops, and Good Pasta Salad

8th Mar 2010

ser030810

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.

Pimento Cheese Burger
Who needs ketchup, when you've got this incredible southern spread as a condiment?

Sardines with Lemon and Mint Salsa
Blake finds an salsa with "cutting brightness and acidity" to dress up these fresh sardines.

...

Chez Panisse Cassoulet

A tastier and quicker version of the classic.

4th Mar 2010

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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...

Wednesday Links: Keller At Home, Taxes on Junk Food, and a Guide to Sausages

3rd Mar 2010

adhocathome

[From Eating L.A. ]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Straining Valentine's Day with Thomas Keller
Are Thomas Keller's damned recipes worth it, or just overcomplicated? Sky Full of Bacon's Michael Gebert attaches his erudite crankiness to Chicken and Dumplings and inquires....

I Hate the Mac Snack Wrap: A Rant

The Big Mac will always be better.

2nd Mar 2010

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I should apologize in advance for this fast food rant. I've never indulged in such a tirade before, but I simply couldn't resist this one. Regularly scheduled content will return later this week, I promise.

The Mac Snack wrap is the stupidest, most idiotic, dumbest fast food creation I've ever seen. It purports to be a Big Mac in flour tortilla, except it betrays logic and any culinary...

Serious Eats Roundup: Chicken Three Ways, Improving Tomato Sauce, and a Loop Lunch Discovery

1st Mar 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 Black Bean Cakes
Though suspiciously close to a veggie burger, this meal made from pantry staples is moist and flavorful.

Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms and Anchovy
Adding two known "umami-bombs" to a simple tomato sauce elevates t...

Homemade Compound Gin (No Bathtub Required)

What we did with an unwanted bottle of vodka

25th Feb 2010

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I cannot be fooled. If a bartender accidentally swaps vodka for some gin in my drink, I can tell. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I will send it back. Why?

Because I hate vodka. Hate hate hate hate it. I hate the way it smells, and how it makes me feel. While I can talk your ear off about every other spirit you throw at me (Gin, Rum, Tequila, and especially Bourbon), I don't really have...

The Mystery of the Chicken Oyster

How to save the oyster while cutting up chicken.

24th Feb 2010

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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...

Wednesday Links: Why You Cook, and Why You Order Ginger Ale on a Plane

24th Feb 2010

[Photo from www.andrewcusack.com]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Why Do People Always Order Ginger Ale When They Fly?
This neglected soda is astonishingly popular on planes.

Why I Cook
Michael Ruhlman asks himself and others: why do you cook?  The responses are thought...

Serious Eats Roundup: Clams, Capers, and Channa Masala

22nd Feb 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.

Alton Brown's Ramen Shrimp Pouch
Yes, you can make ramen in an aluminum pouch, but why oh why wouldn't you just simmer it in a pot?

Piquant Chicken
It has has all the same "deep, seductive flavors" and hits all the notes of a good...

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...

Wednesday Links: Heavy Pans, Great Techniques, and the new Escoffier

17th Feb 2010

castiron21

[Photo from Cooking Issues ]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Heavy Metal: The Science of Cast Iron
Finally, someone sees through the false information that cast iron is a great conductor of heat. It's just the opposite, which is why we love it: it responds slowly to temper...

Salad For Breakfast

Cereal isn't the option in the morning.

16th Feb 2010

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For the past few weeks I've been eating salads for breakfast. I eat huge bowls of mixed greens sprinkled with dried fruits, toasted nuts, and whatever else happens to be on hand. If there is half an avocado in the fridge I'll cut it up and toss it in, same with roasted vegetables, chickpeas, goat cheese, carrots...you get the idea. I eat until I am no longer hungry. It has nothing to do with a...

Serious Eats Roundup: Respect the Cow

15th Feb 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.

Chipped Beef Gravy
"I can't be the only one who grew up with this meal," Nick writes.  67 comments later, we think he has his answer.

Roasted Salmon and Potatoes with Cucumber Relish
20 minutes in an oven turns out this classy dish.

...

How to Make a 3 Dollar Pizza Stone

Great pizza doesn't have to cost much.

12th Feb 2010

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If you're not down with pizza stones, it's time. Bread-bakers and home pizza afficionados praise them for their heat-retaining, moisture-wicking ability to imitate the floor of a brick oven. You put it in your oven and it not only provides a rustic surface to bake the bread on, but it also keeps the heat of the oven steady. Especially when it comes to pizza, that ever-important underside char...

Can You Make Hot Sauce at Home?

How to take 60 arbol chiles and make hot sauce.

11th Feb 2010

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Can you make hot sauce at home that's better than stuff from the store? For years I've considered hot sauce to be something you just had to buy in those little glass bottles. I have a half-dozen of them to prove it. Open up my fridge door, and they clank around for a good 15 seconds, announcing that they are ready to be used. And you know what? I like them all. Franks, Tabasco, El Yucateco, L...

Wednesday Links: Can You Learn to Cook from Cookbooks?

10th Feb 2010

wedlink021010

Welcome to Wednesday Links, our weekly collection of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

What's the Recipe?
Can you learn to cook from cookbooks? We linked to this article a few weeks ago and this week it's making the blog rounds.  Adam Gopnick believes "you can only learn from watching someone in the kitchen."

On Cookbooks
Ruth Reichl does...

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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Depression Dogs, Baked Wings, and Vegetarian Mains

8th Feb 2010

ser021110

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.

Dinner Tonight: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
This Indiana specialty deserves some attention now and again.

Dinner Tonight: Vegetarian Chili
Let's just call this a vegetable stew with a healthy kick of chili powder.

Dinner Tonight: C...

Homemade Square Pizza

Focaccia becomes the base of this pizza.

4th Feb 2010

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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...

Wednesday Links: Olive Oil Barons, Secret Ramen Shops, and How to Be a Terrible Bartender

3rd Feb 2010

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[Photo by Basil Childers for The New York Times]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

The Olive Oil Barons
Awesome story about growing olives and pressing them into oil from a couple of complete amateurs.  Who knew that slightly less ripe olives are important for a peppery taste?...

Idea Lab: What To Do With An Unwanted Bottle of Vodka?

Other uses for the unloved spirit.

2nd Feb 2010

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I have this large bottle of vodka and I don't know what to do with it. It was lugged over by a friend (Blake) during a party as some kind of gift for the festivities, but I could see through his evil plan. He was trying to pawn this half finished bottle off on me because he didn't want to drink it. Sure enough, while the whiskey and gin were manhandled during the party, stirred and shaken into...

Serious Eats Roundup: Curry for Beginners, Chicago''s Great Sandwich, and an Oozing Cutlet

1st Feb 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.

Stuffed Chicken Cutlet With Ham, Cheese, and Sauerkraut
A breaded chicken cutlet, oozing provolone cheese between a layer of ham and tangy sauerkraut. What's not to like?

Beginner Almond Shrimp Curry with Tomatoes
New to curry? Even thoug...

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...

Wednesday Links: Cocktail Videos and Grits for Northerners

27th Jan 2010

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Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Cocktail Techniques
Recently Gary Regan released his list of basic cocktail techniques, and the San Francisco Chronicle convinced Neyah White and Jackie Patterson to demonstrate them on camera. Of particularly note: how to correctly stir a cockt...

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

This fishy roe is a meal in itself.

26th Jan 2010

caputo

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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Italian-American, Anglo-Indian, Chinese, and Californian Fare

25th Jan 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 Tikka Masala
Martha Stewart Approved shrimp curry that's pungent, rich, and easy.

Squash and Fennel Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Blake could really "go on for paragraphs about this soup," but advises you to just "please cook i...

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...

Wednesday Links: Reading Meat, Homemade Tofu, and Great Defunct Food Blogs

20th Jan 2010

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[Photographs by Victor Schrager and DPerstin/Flickr CC]

Welcome to Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Idea Lab: Sliders

How do you make the best mini burgers?

19th Jan 2010

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First things first: there's something to clear up about " sliders ." They are not mini hamburgers. Along with Adam Kuban over at A Hamburger Today, I actually sort of hate mini hamburgers and the implied cuteness . Sliders are a different beast, and not cute. They are compact and small, yes, but they are also haunted by sauteed onion, which they are cooked on top of to create a sort of...

Serious Eats Roundup: Fried Chicken, Chicken-Fried, and Some Famous Quinoa

18th Jan 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.

Chicken-Fried Rice
From Mark Bittman, "a vibrant and clean fried rice recipe, that's blessedly free of hijinks."

Pork Chops with Vermouth-Braised Fennel
Juicy pork over a bed of caramelized fennel: most people would pay good money for a m...

Faux Confit: Steamed Duck Legs

Can steamed duck legs tasted better than ones poached in duck fat?

14th Jan 2010

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The question about whether a steamed duck leg tastes as good duck confit has been boggling my mind for months ever since I read this article in the New York Times . Finally, last night, after spending the previous three days hacking up two ducks, rendering loads of fat, and figuring out what to do with the heads ( Jonathan Gold actually sent me some interesting options on Twitter), I f...

Wednesday Links: How Not to Die from Liquid Nitrogen, and The Future of Food Media

13th Jan 2010

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[Photographs: chispita_666/Flickr CC and Cooking Issues blog]

Wednesday Links is our weekly collection of the four most interesting food reads we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

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...

Serious Eats Roundup: Chicken Soup, Omelets, and Skinny Fries

11th Jan 2010

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Welcome! Here's 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.

Omelet with White Beans and Green Onions
This odd omelet from José Andrés features sauteed white beans and scallions.

Alice Waters' Chicken Noodle Soup
Sometimes the simple recipes surprise you the most.

Red Posole...

My Chicago: Spicy Yeul Ramyon from the Joong Boo Market

How to dress up cheap ramen.

8th Jan 2010

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Every Friday, we publish a story about life as a cooks and eaters in Chicago. Markets, restaurants, secret finds, really tasty bites--or just a great story. We're lucky to live here.

Close your eyes and think about instant ramen...I know it's probably been a while. You probably have in mind some MSG-laden bastion of cheap college eating, because that's where I used to be, too.

But now it...

There Will be Blood. Sausages.

7th Jan 2010

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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...

Wednesday Links: The New Classic Cocktails, Mad Science and How to Buy a Duck

6th Jan 2010

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[Photographs: Evan Sung and Christopher Smith for The New York Times ]

Welcome to the first edition of Wednesday Links. This is our weekly collection of four of the most interesting food links we've discovered in the past week. Enjoy!

Nick:

Heston Blumenthal's Mad Scientist Christmas Dinner
This video showcases Heston's perfect Christmas meal...and I thought my Christmas dinner of f...

Idea Lab: Steamed Duck Confit?

Can you really leave behind all the fat??

5th Jan 2010

idea lab duck confit
Welcome to the Idea Lab, where we explore topics before we head into the kitchen. We welcome your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, so please leave them in the comments!

Is duck confit a lie? According to Dr. Myhrvold, who runs Intellectual Ventures in Seattle, the technique is actually rather pointless.

...confit, the French technique of cooking slowly in fat, is supposed to impart a uniq...

Serious Eats Roundup

4th Jan 2010

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Happy New Year!  We hope your holiday was as food-filled and fun as ours.  Lots of stories to tell, but for for now, here's a little 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.

The Paupered Chef Gift Guide

16th Dec 2009

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Well, guess we better throw our hats in the ring: it's the time of year for gift guides and we're not afraid to participate. We've avoided it for 4 years, but our streak is about to come to an end: we hereby present the first annual Paupered Chef gift guide.

We've got kitchen gear to recommend, and some awesome food products, too. From what we have learned, cooks really just need a few basi...

Year in Review: The Allure of Alcohol

Our favorite drinks of 2009.

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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.

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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

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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...

Cook, Eat, Blog

10th Dec 2009

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Come out and meet us!

Nick and I will be hanging out at the South Loop Whole Foods this evening as apart of an event called Cook, Eat, Blog.  The store is located at 1101 S Canal St. downtown.  Along with other Chicago food bloggers, we'll be talking about some products we love at Whole Foods and how we use them.  For example, our recent experiments with hard apple cider were based...

My Perfect Daisy with Homemade Grenadine

It's pink, but manly

9th Dec 2009

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To stretch the metaphor, the essential DNA of the Daisy involves adding a little soda water to a Sour (spirit, citrus, sweetener). Beyond that, though, you can take some liberties .
- Imbibe Magazine

If you're not too careful, cocktails can swallow you into an alternative universe of reason where there are no right answers. The perfectly proportioned Negroni , which I wrote a...

In Search of the Cheapest Sous-Vide Steak

How to transform cheap meat.

4th Dec 2009

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This is why beef chuck roast cooked in a 131°F–140°F (55°C–60°C) water bath for 24–48 hours has the texture of filet mignon.
- Douglas Baldwin, A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking

After my experiments with sous-vide chicken resulted in one of the finest birds I'd ever eaten, I immediately set off on a crusade to transform the cheapest cut of beef I could find into filet mignon...

Is Salad Dressing the Perfect Sauce?

Throw away those bottle salad dressings.

2nd Dec 2009

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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

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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...

Experiments with Sous-Vide Chicken

Perhaps the best way to cook chicken.

18th Nov 2009

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In my opinion, the best chicken is chicken sous-vide. Each bite is tender and succulent in a way I never thought chicken could possibly be. It's kind of changed everything for me. Even the appearance of the meat is different, instead of stringy and tough, a fork can simply cut through the meat. It's enough to make anyone convert.

So for the past few weeks I've been proselytizing about the p...

Bon Appétit Blog Envy Bake-Off

16th Nov 2009

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Bon Appétit has put together another collection of their favorite holiday dishes, and we're honored to be involved again this year. Last time we showcased our scrumptious holiday coffee cake , but this year is a sweeter affair. It's also happens to be less of a genteel showcase of the amazing blogger talent. This is a Bake-Off , and there will be a winner. We need your votes!

We...

The Negroni

Perhaps the most perfect cocktail.

13th Nov 2009

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"A proper Negroni is as perfectly and tripodically balanced as, say, a water molecule. "
- Jonathan Miles

The Negroni is an incorruptible drink. While the martini can be perverted by nefarious substances like apple pucker and vodka and many places make Margaritas by simply drizzling a little tequila in a cup of sugary mix, a Negroni is a Negroni. It has three ingredients (gin, sw...

Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls: Our New Holiday Tradition

Check out a better way to make cinnamon rolls.

11th Nov 2009

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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

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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.

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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

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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 Case for Hard Cider

Why every American should drink more cider.

22nd Oct 2009

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Currently Blake and I have four gallons of apple cider fermenting in the back of his bedroom closet. The hope is that in a few days, thanks to some hungry yeast, we'll have something that might resemble hard apple cider. We're honestly nervous. We've undertaken ridiculous experiments before, but nothing that could potentially get us hammered. If it works, then we'll have made an alcoholic drin...

The Kimchi Contest Results

And the best kimchi award goes to...

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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 II

Nick gives kimchi his best shot.

14th Oct 2009

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Though Blake was thrilled to jump right into this Kimchi-making process , I dragged my feet the whole way. It's not that I don't love kimchi. That's far from the case . It's just that I've been really happy with the jars of kimchi I've been buying from the Korean market. Uncovering the ways of kimchi, however enlightening the process may be, would sort of remove the magic from the who...

Homemade Kimchi Contest, Part I

Blake tries to make kimchi.

13th Oct 2009

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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...

Fan of The Paupered Chef?

9th Oct 2009

foodblogs1 Signing on for a little bit of self-promotion.

We've never been all that great at championing ourselves, but it's an honor to be nominated as one of the "Top 100 Food Blogs of 2009" over at Chef2Chef.net .  We're among esteemed company.

If you love what we do here on The Paupered Chef, and want to tell the world, consider voting for us on the ranking page . We need your help to mo...

Building a Better Chicken Soup

Some tricks to improve this classic soup.

7th Oct 2009

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It's cold season, and everyone's coming down with something.  Chicken soup is a nourishing potion, one that seems almost automatic even though I've never really questioned why. Most of the time this tradition involves nothing more than opening a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup: somehow those minuscule pellets of chicken and mushy noodles are okay once your temperature is above 100.

Bu...

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?

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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.

There...

Homemade Ketchup and French Fries

Make both of those at home.

24th Sep 2009

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The tomatoes were turning on me. A few weeks ago they were red and rosy, destined for a starring role in a BLT. Now, I'm not sure if they can withstand the scrutiny of the spotlight. They are still light years beyond what appears during the winter here in the Midwest, but not quite the ones you can slice up, sprinkle with salt, and eat raw. I kind of wish I would have known this before I bough...

The Maxwell Street Market, Chicago

We take a walk around the legendary market.

22nd Sep 2009

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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...