Oi-Sobagi: Cucumber Kimchi and the Purpose of Banchan

Try this awesome Korean appetizer.

18th Sep 2009

cucumberkimchi 19

I began to wonder whether the banchan were going to overwhelm the table. We had placed the little Korean side dishes on the smallest plates I owned, but the shear number of them added up. It was our own fault. When Blake and I decided to do a Korean Barbecue feast last weekend we figured it was time to lavish attention on banchan, giving them the attention and care usually just reserved...

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...

Chiles Rellenos

This Mexican classic deserves a little love.

31st Aug 2009

chilerelleno 27

Around hour five, I became terribly exhausted from what felt like continuous marathon of chopping, sautéing, blending, grinding, broiling, stuffing, whisking, dipping, and frying. It was the most complex and curious chile relleno I'd ever laid eyes on and the flavor nearly bawled me over. Every bite revealed layers of flavor, from the salsa, pork stuffing, to the batter. Nothing was an aft...

Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Tea Time

How to create the perfect cucumber sandwich.

21st Aug 2009

cucumbersandwich 18

I feel like I finally understand the cucumber sandwich. After weeks of thinking about it, and trying to recreate the most authentic version I could muster, it finally sunk in. The taste isn't rich, indulgent, spicy, acidic, comforting, salty, or fatty. It's cool, calm, and collected. The strongest reaction I had towards one was a contented sigh, a sort of momentary delight.

So why was I bre...

Part One of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Pain de Mie

Starting with the perfect loaf of bread.

18th Aug 2009

pullmanloaf 22

(Check out Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge for the sandwich recipe)

I went to see a man about a loaf pan. All the traditional outlets had failed (Crate and Barrel, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and four restaurant supply stores) and I was starting to get desperate. See, I needed a very peculiar kind of loaf pan, one that would help me create the mysterious loaf, pain...

The Importance of Jus: Two Chickens in One Meal

How the most chickeny chicken dish imaginable.

10th Aug 2009

twochickens 24

Every morning we would roast thirty-six chickens just for their juices, rather than for the meat...Thirty-six chicken provided enough juices for thirty portions of freshly cooked chicken. In other words, the customer had the juice of more than one whole chicken accompanying his dish...It was extreme.
- Marco Pierre White, Devil in the Kitchen

The flavor of natural roasting juices...can...

The Sides of Barbecue: Homemade Red Coleslaw, Hushpuppies, and Black Eyed Peas

What to pair with North Carolina-style barbecue.

6th Aug 2009


The crisp bite of coleslaw, the crunchy crust of freshly fried hushpuppies, and the porky punch of black eyed peas: I realized after a mad dash through the barbecue trail in North Carolina that these were not just side dishes, but essentials. Without them my meals would have fallen apart, lost in meat gluttony. They helped achieve a barbecue balance, where everything complimented and heigh...

An Update, Part 2

3rd Aug 2009


Though Blake announced his move to Chicago about a month ago, and even updated folks about his recent rental in Bucktown, I can personally vouch that he is not here. Believe me, if he were just down the block I'd be pestering him to take more pictures of his food. I know he spent months in an apartment that didn't have a stove , but come on! I have been absolutely trouncing him thi...

North Carolina Barbecue: A Tale of Vinegar, Hush Puppies, and the Whole Hog

My first trip through North Carolina.

28th Jul 2009

pc ncbbq 32

After the fifth barbecue stop in North Carolina my brother-in-law and I were delirious. We stumbled out of the door of the last joint, nearly tripping over ourselves like a couple of drunk freshman.  I called my wife but when I attempted to speak the right words wouldn’t come out.  Sure my belly was full of pork, but it was something about the addition of coleslaw, hush puppies, and glass...

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...

Chicken Satay

There's more than one way to grill a chicken.

14th Jul 2009

chicken satay 13

Cooking chicken satay at a July 4th cookout is, I admit, a little odd.  It's especially so if you consider that my wife and I subjected our parents and grandparents to the ordeal.  While everyone else around the country casually flipped hamburgers and hot dogs, I rounded up everyone available to help me skewer tiny pieces of highly marinated chicken onto wooden skewers.  That marinade also...

Where Do You Live in Chicago?

7th Jul 2009

vienna beef hot dog stand

Chicagoans, I need your help.

For the last week I've been an outsider, taking trips down to the city while staying with my parents in the suburbs, the guy who has to find his way back north again when the night is through, spending cash on the Metra train, bumming rides back from friends. From my quiet vantage point up here I can just see a faint outline of the skyline.

Nick's a well-wor...

A Weekend of Beans and Brats

Insight into perfecting 90 minute, no-soak beans and homemade bratwursts.

24th Jun 2009

beansandbrats04 homemade bratwurst 26

It's been a delicious week.  I've been doling out my homemade bratwurst to close friends and making batches of 90 Minute, No-Soak beans just because I can.  I know some people had some questions about both of these posts, and this week has given me a few more insights to both processes which hopefully will answer some of them.  Also, Michael Ruhlman wanted to see my amateurish sp...

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...

Wisconsin-Style Bratwurst

The ultimate guide to the Midwest's finest encased meat.

18th Jun 2009

homemade bratwurst 24

My little adventure with bratwurst reached its pinnacle after a tortuous three hour process of grinding, mixing, stuffing, poaching, and charcoal grilling.  What I faced, fortunately, looked a lot like the bratwurst of my wildest fantasies.  It was perfectly plump, gushing with juice, and absolutely haunted by charcoal smoke.  I stuffed that sausage into a huge roll and piled it high wi...

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...

The Bratwurst Mystery

How do you make this Wisconsin classic?

11th Jun 2009


I have been thinking about bratwurst for days.  What started as an idea for a simple cookout on my little Webber Grill has now completely consumed me because I simply can't find the right recipe.  The question eventually led me to walk into Hot Dougs on a recent Wednesday and ask Mr. Doug himself what was in the sausage.

But first, do you know?  What is it, exactly, that makes a bratwu...

90 Minute, No-Soak Beans

How to make great beans in less time.

9th Jun 2009

no soak beans 0

It seems that in the past few years there have been a few monumental revelations of the "everything you thought you knew about cooking was wrong" variety.
- Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy", Executive Director, eGullet Society

When the timer sounded, I was caught off guard.  I reached for a kitchen towel, carefully folded it around the hot handles of my dutch oven, and transfered the...

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

The spiciest way to grill your chicken.

3rd Jun 2009

jerk chicken 19

My first bite of jerk chicken, fresh from two hours of mingling with smoke, was everything I wanted it to be.  The rub of allspice berries and black peppercorns mixed with fresh ginger and thyme and created this incredible aroma --one that I couldn't help but adore.  I was completely happy and content until quickly, and without much warning, the spice hit.  A double dose of habanero cut thr...

Memphis Barbecue

Nick's tour of the South's barbecue capital.

27th May 2009

memphis barbecue 34

Memphis has insanely good ribs, some so mouthwatering and juicy that they make most of the barbecue I've ever eaten fall of their bones in shame.  The rub is better, the smoke more lingering, and the sauce more lip-smacklingly suited to the cause.  What cause?  Sublime barbecue.  I wanted to see how good it could be.  Which isn't to say that everything went perfectly or that every bite le...

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...

Do You Microwave?

How to use a foodie's most scorned appliance.

17th May 2009

microwavedasparagus 4

Do most people use their microwaves often?  Or am I just now coming round to what most people know?

I bought my microwave at a sidewalk sale for 10 bucks.  I simply asked the sellers if it still worked, and they assured me that it did.  That was good enough for me.  My previous model had just stopped working a few weeks before and Abby and I had nowhere to make popcorn.  Though I used i...

Corned Beef

How to pickle brisket.

13th May 2009

corned beef 24

I was standing in the meat section of my local Korean grocery store (the excellent Joong Boo Market ) with fellow food blogger Brian, from the Daily Ikura .  He was talking me through his favorite Korean dishes and ingredients, and I was loving it.  We were discussing uses of red bean paste, which ramen was worth its price, and whether some brands of soy sauce were really so good you...

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...

Cinco de Mayo 2009

5th May 2009


Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!  Though the specific reasons for celebrating don't have much to do with food, I feel like today is a great reminder of the fantastic Mexican meals I've made over the past year.  I don't really need much of an excuse.  I tend to get weak if I don't have corn tortillas at least 4 times a week.  I mean, I just had some for lunch, and I'm going to have it for d...

Benedictine Spread and a Mint Julep or Two

Nick throws a perfect Derby party.

30th Apr 2009

kentucky derby 16

The authentic Julep is a drink from the Heroic Age of American Tippling, and as such is not for novices. That's perhaps the chief reason it's fallen out of favor in these weak-livered times.
- David Wondrich

I'll get to the julep soon enough.  But first I want to talk about the Kentucky Derby.  Though I grew up on the Indiana side of the Ohio River, I don't care much about the Indy 5...

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...

In Search of Dashi and Perfect Miso Soup

A better way to make Japanese soup.

23rd Apr 2009

Turns out, once you have all the ingredients, the process is rather straight forward and won't take longer than 30 minutes or so.  And since most of the ingredients besides the tofu are pantry items, whipping up a new batch of miso soup in the future should be a breeze.

Bonito smells like, well, dried fish, but it looks more like pencil shavings. They are the body behind the miso, and make the...

D.I.Y. Time Out Chicago!

22nd Apr 2009


Hey everyone!  Check out the most recent DIY issue of Time Out Chicago and you'll see me !  The issue is online today and should be sent out tomorrow.  The article focuses on some of the more absurd projects Blake and I have done here on the site.  It also quite accurately describes the chaos of creation and the battle scars that occasionally result.  There's even a great picture of...

In Honor of Honey 1 Barbecue: Barbecue Ribs

How to make Grand World Champion ribs.

16th Apr 2009

barbecue ribs 18

I returned home from a weekend in Ohio to to find that a fire had struck Honey 1 Barbecue .  The building was still intact, but the smoking aquarium where they cook all their meat had been destroyed.  According to owner, it might take a few months to get back in order if smoker is salvageable and the insurance company gives up the money quickly.  It could take much longer.

I found the n...

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...

The Butter Steak: What''s the Best Way to Cook a Steak?

How to cook your next porterhouse.

9th Apr 2009

butter steak 03

I'm not interested in carbonizing the surface of the meat. To me that ruins the flavor.
- Alain Ducasse

It was a bachelor weekend of sorts. My wife mercifully let me pass on attending a wedding of an old family family friend, so I had the whole weekend alone in the apartment to get work done.  I had some crazy projects planned including a mad braise of a cow tongue, but the first nigh...

The Paupered Chef Redesign

7th Apr 2009


Welcome to the new Paupered Chef design!

Over the last month or so, both of us have scratched our heads figuring out how to move our blog from Typepad to Wordpress, and in the process redesign the site.  After a lot of research, tinkering, and a huge helping hand from a company called Foliovision who helped us with the transfer, we're now safe in our new, Wordpress-hosted home.  Biggest...

My New Apartment, and Its One Little Problem

6th Apr 2009


Over the weekend, Elin and I moved into a new apartment in a different part of Tartu.  Our previous digs belong to her relatives, who only live in Estonia for the better half of the year, when the sun shines and the days are long.  Last week they came back to Estonia to claim their apartment, leaving us to find somewhere else to live for the remaining few months of our time here.

To say the...

Deep-Dish Pizza: Round 2

Nick learns from his mistakes and makes a good deep-dish pie at home.

3rd Apr 2009


I was determined not to fail this time.  My last attempt at deep-dish wasn't an absolute failure, but it was close.  It was too soggy and messy , and had none of the glorious qualities that my favorite Chicago pizzeria, Pequods , displayed.  I theorized about all kinds reasons for the failure, thinking it had something to do with the crust.  Then I just gave up and asked you all...


How to make Chicago's favorite condiment.

30th Mar 2009

Most of the recipes online are found on generic websites and just have a bunch of cut up vegetables mixed with olive oil, which I already knew was completely wrong.  There needed to be some kind of acidic kick, something to balance the aggressive heat and the fair amount of oil.

I had my first breakthrough when I found this random video from the Food Network show "Unwrapped".  They were visiti...


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...

Digging into Deep-Dish

Nick struggles to perfect deep-dish pizza at home.

17th Mar 2009


Or at least, that was my hunch.  I searched for a long time and finally settled on this recipe from pizzamaking.com.  Deep-dish dough is very different from its thin crust counterpart. The crust has a healthy dose of cornmeal, which gives it an interesting crunch and texture.  All the elements seemed to be here.  I tracked down some tomatoes, cheese, and even decided to add some spinach (a...

Korean Short Ribs

Korean barbecue solves the challenges of cooking short ribs.

12th Mar 2009


Short ribs and I don't have a good history. The first time I tried to make these with Blake we ended up with a collection of tough, greasy, hunks of impenetrable meat. The second time I solved the toughness factor by cooking them for ages, but forgot about the fat.  Even after stashing the pot of short ribs in the fridge for a day so I could easily skim some off, I still felt like I h...

A Return Home: Roast Chicken with Crispy Drippings Croûtons

What Nick cooks when he feels nostalgic for simplicity.

10th Mar 2009


I think part of the reason I took a break from roast chicken was the rising absurdity of my preparations.  A few years ago I had chased after juicy meat and crispy skin, by trying various combinations of slow roasting , extreme slow roasting , experiments with baking soda , and high, high heat .  The results were often spectacular, if never quite practical.  And somewhere alo...

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...

Wrapping Up Tamales

3rd Mar 2009


My wife has been bugging me for months now to make tamales , and it's always been the next project, the one I'll do after I finish whatever I'm doing at the moment.  When that time comes I've usually forgotten about them and have moved onto something else.  Truthfully, I didn't see much of a rush.  I love tamales, but I can indulge in them whenever I'd like around my neighborhood.  The...

And the Award Goes to Acidity, for Best Supporting Actor

26th Feb 2009

wine bottle

Occasionally, I guiltily pause to consider how much salt I put in my cooking.  Only occasionally.  But when I'm cooking pasta--throwing in handfuls of the stuff to ensure the noodles are full of flavor--I think, "this can't be good for me."  But then I think that the greater crime is eating food that doesn't taste as flavorful as it possibly can.  What a waste of calories to consume someth...

Top that Pie: Fresh Italian Sausage

Make the perfect topping for your pizza.

23rd Feb 2009


For the sausage novices, nothing could be quite so easy as this recipe from Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie.  Because I was using it straight away I had no need to stuff it into casing only break them free a moment a latter.  I essentially just mixed everything together, ground it on the small die of my meat grinder, and cooked it.  It was about as time consuming as cutting up a bunch of vege...

''Dinner Tonight'' is Famous!

19th Feb 2009


Times Online has listed 50 great food blogs that will "change the way you cook and eat forever."  Our beloved Serious Eats came in at #8:

Practically everything you need to know about food can be found on this multi-contributor food website, started by New York Times journalist Ed Levine. The focus is on American foods such as hot dogs, there are restaurant and gadget reviews, foo...

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...

Homemade Italian Beef

How to make this Chicago classic.

13th Feb 2009


The other issue I had to face was how to cut the meat.  As I remembered from my visit to Al's #1, the beef should be shaved as thinly as possible.  Al's used an huge deli slicer, which I obviously didn't have.  Saveur recommended just tossing the meat in the freezer for 2 hours before serving and then slicing it as thinly as possible with a chef's knife.  Some recipes recommended taking th...

Dipping Into the Italian Beef

Discovering Chicago's distinctive beef sandwich.

11th Feb 2009

The mystery is that while the sandwich's meat is incredibly tender, it isn't made from some expensive cut of beef.  From the research that I've done, most Italian beef recipes call for round or the sirloin tip, which are both tough and lean cuts.  The use of a cheap, neglected cut really interested me.

At first glance, the sandwich looks a lot like a cheese-less Philly cheesesteak.  But I've b...

Best of 2008: Now...where do you live?

6th Feb 2009


It sounds like an easy question to answer, but sometimes even I have a hard time remembering where Blake is half the time (Don't even get me started on what time zone he lives in).  I can only imagine what casual readers might think.  In the past three years we've both lived in a combined total of 9 or so apartments, which doesn't include Blake's month of couch surfing, which might bring...

Best of 2008: The Urban Farmer

5th Feb 2009

One of the things we've talked about on this site from time to time is a British fellow named Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, mostly in spurts of unmitigated, gushing exaltation: this man is some kind of food messiah.  When we live-blogged last year's James Beard Awards --which is the most fun we've had in ages, standing ten feet from Jacques Pepin (who was surrounded by young women), watching...

Best of 2008: "Dinner Tonights" of the Year

4th Feb 2009


Though last year we boasted of writing well over 140 articles at places besides this blog, that turned out to be nothing.  This year that total was well over the 250 mark.  Nearly all of those were for the Dinner Tonight column at Serious Eats , which, as the name suggests, is updated every weekday night.  That's a lot of recipes, and a hell of a lot to keep straight.  Abby has to o...

Best of 2008: Hamburgers of the Year

3rd Feb 2009

Since the beginning of the site, Blake and I have had an unabashed love affair with the burger.  Though often neglected for more highfalutin fare, we've found inspiration in the ground meat patty.  Perhaps we loved it so much because ground beef was cheapest kind of meat in the grocery store when we were poor and living in Manhattan.  There was hardly a week that went by that we didn't have...

Best of 2008: The Art of Curing Meat

2nd Feb 2009


Welcome to our Perpetually Late Year-End Roundup. It's a tradition here at The Paupered Chef that we tend to pull off sometime in January or February.  Maybe we only put this thing together for our own amusement, because when you're constantly writing and thinking about new things, you sometimes forget where you've been.  It's illuminating, to see what captured one's imagination over...

The Elements of Chili

A recipe for Texas-style chili.

30th Jan 2009


Diced instead of Ground Meat
I had stopped using ground beef a few years back, after watching a Good Eats episode. The reasoning makes sense.  When ground beef is used, the fat either needs to be drained off immediately, or needs to be skimmed off the day after when all the fat has accumulated at the top.  But if you use chunks a lot of the juices stay inside, leaving both the chili less...

First Step: Chili Powder

The best chili starts with the best chili powder.

29th Jan 2009


That meant forgoing the blend I had in my spice rack and picking up a load of dried chilies from the local Mexican market.  I needed to create my own blend, something that was completely unique to me, but where do I start?  There honestly aren't that many recipes for chili powder out there.  My only real resources were Homesick Texan (great site) and Alton Brown .

Thanks to the larg...

La Cabrera, Buenos Aires, Argentina

28th Jan 2009


When I arrived in Buenos Aires, "Ojo de Bife" ("eye of beef") was at the top of most steak menus, giving the blessed ribeye its appropriate place in the steak pantheon.  It reminded me of a Jeffrey Steingarten passage from his essay in Men's Vogue about a search across Spain for great steak--which has led me to order ribeye almost exclusively since reading it:

...the most del...

Liniers Cattle Market, Buenos Aires, Argentina

27th Jan 2009


Before heading to Buenos Aires , I'd heard mostly about the steak.  Friends who'd gone had talked fondly of beautiful architecture and vibrant street life.  But their eyes really lit up when they started raving about the beef.   Supposedly, it was some of the best in the world, deep and rich and pronouncd in beefiness. The quality of Argentinian beef is especially significant because t...

Buenos Aires

25th Jan 2009


You might assume that Nick has hijacked The Paupered Chef, chopped my body into little pieces and hid me in the attic (between sessions of ravioli-making and chili shenanigans ).  But this is not the case; I am alive and well.  I left Estonia for close to a month to bask in holiday cheer back home in the States.  But now I've returned to the cold and dark climate of Northern Europe...

Nick''s Drunken Texas Chili

25th Jan 2009


Alas, I didn't take home the top prize, but I did have an amazing time at the 2009 Time Out Chili Cook-off.  There were some quite good chilies there, including a smoked brisket one that happened to be stationed right next to mine made by some firemen.  I can't believe theirs didn't win!

As I promised people who liked my chili at the event, here is the recipe that I used for my Drunken Texa...

Time Out for Chili

22nd Jan 2009

Logo Though I once promised an Irish waitress that I'd never compete in a chili cook-off, I've decided to officially break my oath.  I am in the running for the top prize at the 2009 Time Out Chicago's Chili Cook-off at Martyr's ( 3855 N Lincoln Ave ).  It's all happening this Saturday, Janurary 24th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This is my first competition, and in typical Paupered Chef fash...

The Way Around: Butternut Squash Ravioli with Butter Sage Sauce

A better way to make ravioli.

21st Jan 2009


What kind of flour should I use? I had quite quickly settled on 100% Semolina flour when I first made tagliatelle, because I loved the bite that it gave my fresh pasta.  When I made the first batch of ravioli, I just started there, figuring it would work for all fresh pasta recipes.  But as I read more and more, I noticed that most of the recipes specifically called for all-purpose fl...

The Plunge: Homemade Ravioli

13th Jan 2009

ravioli spinach ricotta01

How long do you cook ravioli?  I wondered this precisely the moment after I plunged my handmade ravioli into a raging cauldron of boiling water. It didn't occur to me that it might be an issue. I had always thought you pulled them as soon as they floated, or was that just gnocchi? When I consulted my recipe in The Silver Spoon it said I needed to cook them for 10 minutes, which sounded abs...

Authentic Carnitas and Three Pounds of Lard

Lard is the secret to this Mexican classic.

5th Jan 2009

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By the time I fished the three pounds of pork hunks from the lard and stacked them on the cutting board,far more guests had arrived than I had originally planned.  It was a New Year's Eve party, but I thought dinner would just be an intimate gathering of 5 or so, and then we'd meet up with more friends later in the night.  But apparently my calls for meeting up later meant that they should c...

The Smash Technique and Skinny Burger Perfection

How to make the best burger at home.

11th Dec 2008


You know the burger obsession is going off the deep end when semi-serious discussion takes place over the burger making skills of a cartoon .  Please stick with me.  This cartoon happened feature J. Wellington Wimpy, the burger-loving sidekick of Popeye.  Hamburger America author George Motz found this clip and was there to comment on Wimpy's burger making skills: "Notice how even in...

Bon Appétit''s Blog Envy

10th Dec 2008


Head on over to the Bon Appétit -- the folks over there have put together a wonderful slideshow of photographs from an impressive group of food bloggers they like -- and we're included!  "Adventures in Crazy-Ambitious Food Googling" is the new name for this blog.  We're totally honored.

The theme for the slideshow is dishes served for the holidays.  Our coffee cake recipe , handed d...

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...

Ragù alla Bolognese

Because fresh pasta deserves a sauce this good.

20th Nov 2008


Once I figured out how to make fresh pasta , I waited all of 12 hours before I set out to create my own Ragù alla Bolognese.  It was a goal of mine ever since watching an episode of Heston Blumenthal's TV series In Search of Perfection .  The premise of the show is for the acclaimed chef to reexamine some stodgy British classics by going back to the roots of the original dish.  His f...

Homemade Tagliatelle and the Curse of Fresh Pasta

16th Nov 2008


I've had a tumultuous history with fresh pasta.  Though I adore dried pasta in all its forms and permutations, my adventures with the fresh can best be described as a disaster.  I've wasted hours and honestly lost friendships to the stuff.  For this I've relegated fresh pasta to something I may order at restaurants but never, ever make at home.

Perhaps I wasn't giving it a fair shot.  When...

Bourbon Tour 3: Jim Beam and Heaven Hill

9th Nov 2008


Oh, geez, where to begin.  While Blake was off gallivanting around the eternal city sampling the finer things in life , I was once again down in Kentucky on another bourbon tour.  I'm sure Blake spent his free time strolling along ancient streets admiring priceless art.  Yet, here I was staring down a family - complete with dog - made from whiskey barrels (the one with a...

Cibrèo Caffè, Florence

3rd Nov 2008


It came in tin foil, a particularly unfancy receptacle for what was inside.  Our waiter, who had just dropped off plates of sea bass carpaccio and a veal meatloaf stuffed into chicken neck (including the head), put the foil on a plate and began unceremoniously unfolding its crinkled, crimped top.  It opened in a steamy, meaty rush, and none of us could do much but stare.  As Hamid, our hos...

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...

Arriving in Rome, and the Search for Pizza Bianca

27th Oct 2008


I've dreamed about going to Italy for a couple years now. But with New York rent to pay, only a handful of vacation days to draw from, and 7 hours of plane time all conspiring against me, I've never been able to go.  By a great margin Italian food is my favorite food to cook.  As my love of Italian food has grown, so has this vaguely imaginary place called Italy--into a glorious land of gran...

The Markets of Tartu, Estonia

20th Oct 2008


I've moved to Tartu, Estonia with Elin, where she is doing research, and I'm now neck-deep in a deeply confusing language which has no prepositions, word for "he" or "she", no future tense, and three different Os -- o, õ, and ö (ask me to pronounce them in succession: it sounds like I'm trying to lift a piano).  And of course, I'm learning to cook in this new place.  Good food is frighteni...

Homemade Hot Dogs and the Sausage Stuffing Adventure

13th Oct 2008


Well, just look at that!  After all my anxiety and the lack of sausage stuffer before I started this adventure , on the third day I ate hot dogs.  They looked like hot dogs, smelled like hot dogs, and tasted like that perfect hot dog you always dream about (well, at least I dream about hot dogs).  Unbelievably beefy and with a hard snap from the sheep intestine, this was a truly wonderfu...

Sheep Intestines and the Quest for the Perfect Hot Dog

6th Oct 2008


(Scene at the Paulina Meat Market in Chicago)

Butcher: "Number 37!"

Me: "Yeah, that's me."

Butcher: "What can I get for you?"

Me: "Yeah, I'll take 10 feet of sheep casings."

I don't say that often enough in life, and up until this Saturday it had never crossed my mind.  But here I was at Paulina Meat Market ordering sheep intestines from butchers that make their own fine...

Duck Rillettes

22nd Sep 2008


It was a last-minute whim, but there I was at the checkout, buying a whole duck. I've cut up dozens of roast chickens into legs, thighs, and breasts -- usually with the meat and skin steaming and burning my fingers -- so how much harder could it be to do the same with a duck?  Above all, it's much cheaper to buy a whole duck and cut it up yourself than it is to buy the parts separately -- and...

Fresh Mexican Chorizo

How to make the staple Mexican sausage.

18th Sep 2008

The recipe comes from Diana Kennedy's "From My Mexican Kitchen".  This particular version comes from the Michoacán region.  She does give direction on how to stuff the mixture into casings, but I bailed out early.  Some day.

As first sausage making experiences go, I'd have to say this was pretty remarkable.  I got about 2 pounds of fresh sausage and spent about $12 dollars.  Half of it is fro...

The Wait of Dill Pickles

How to make pickles at home without filling your place with the smell of pickles.

10th Sep 2008

But all I did was worry.  Why was there no garlic in the dill pickles? Every other jar of dill pickles I had bought contained garlic.  And why did the pickling spice smell so sweet?  Dill pickles weren't sweet.  I worried that Ruhlman's recipe was too refined.  I wanted simple dill pickles.  I'd have to look elsewhere.


I pulled out Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking and found Dill Pi...

Chicago Eats, Part II

8th Sep 2008


When I spent a week with Nick in Chicago, we had grand plans for every single meal - especially the ones we cooked in his kitchen.  Nick's already covered the fatty, home-ground burger and our foray into making red enchilada sauce , our two major kitchen experiments.  But I also know that Chicago is a great eating town.  I grew up in the area, but my knowledge of Chicago food is sham...

My Last Brooklyn Salad

1st Sep 2008


A couple days ago Elin and I went to our community garden plots to asses things after a two and a half week absence from New York.  When we left, our garden was thriving with tomatoes, kale, collard greens, beets, carrots, corn, and peppers.  Despite our best efforts to screw things up, the Brooklyn soil continues to sprout edibles.

We returned to find out tomato plants brown, drooping,...

Enchiladas Colorado: The Sauce That Can Do No Wrong

29th Aug 2008


This whole site was started when we were fresh from college and cooking together recklessly.   Since our lives have changed--moving in with girlfriends, marriage , and new cities (and boroughs )--we don't always get to indulge in those old times.  But with Blake in Chicago visiting this past week, it was like we were back at York Avenue in that tiny little apartment .  From ab...

The Quick-Flipped Fat Burger

Keep that spatula at hand.

26th Aug 2008

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At first everything was fine. Taking a cue from Adam Kuban , we decided to make our own onion rings instead of the normal burger pairing of fries. The recipe was taken from Simply Recipes , which soaked the onions in buttermilk and coated them in flour and cornmeal.

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We fried them in canola oil set to 350 degrees for a few minutes, until nice and golden brown.  We stashed them i...

Everyone Should Get Married

19th Aug 2008


For the past year I have been banned from buying new kitchen appliances.  Once Abby and I got engaged, she decreed that I could not willfully purchase anything new for the kitchen because we would be getting wedding presents.  She was immovable.  So as Blake ground his own meat for hamburgers with a Kitchen Aid and made his own no-knead bread in a Dutch oven, I sat and read wondering w...

A Visit to Fulton Street Fish Market: Part 2, Hunts Point and the Market

19th Aug 2008


My last post about the Fulton Street Fish market covered its history, including corruption and mob connections, leading up to the 2005 move from lower Manhattan up to Hunts Point in the Bronx.  This post is about our actual experience in the market: how it functioned, what Hunts Point is like today, and a few good eats in the area.  While in Hunts Point we met a few fish buyers, ate in 2...

A Visit to the Fulton Street Fish Market: Part I, History

12th Aug 2008

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If you walk around Manhattan, it often seems like more than half of the stores are restaurants, most of them busy and stuffed with people.  It doesn't take much thinking before one wonders how all that food gets into the kitchens to feed them all.  And not just the dining-out set: what about grocery stores?  And bodegas.  And butchers.  And fish mongers.  The sheer quantity of food moved...

Apple City Barbecue''s Smoked Pulled Pork

Make pulled pork at home.

5th Aug 2008

Apple City Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Day 1


  • 1 pork butt (4-6 pounds), preferably with the bone-in

Prick the pork butt all over with a fork.

Magic Dust: AKA the Rub


  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic...

An Update

29th Jul 2008

It's been a bit quiet around here--so here's what we've been up to the last couple weeks.


First, the big, important news: Nick got hitched!  On Saturday, July 26th, he married his lovely fiancée Abby in Columbus, Indiana; I was the best man.  At the reception we ate Nick's own gravlax , which was delicious and, I imagine, extremely laborious to slice for over 200 people.  Nick is curre...

Charcuterie Class Tomorrow at Whole Foods Bowery

23rd Jul 2008


If you haven't signed up yet , there may be a few spots left: tomorrow, at the Whole Foods on Bowery at 7pm, I'll be teaching a class about salt preservation and the basics of dry-curing meat.  We'll be starting gravlax, bacon, and duck prosciutto projects.  The class is an incredible deal, and you'll walk away with two pounds of meat to finish curing in your apartment.

The Daily News d...

A Salad Grows in Brooklyn

9th Jul 2008


It was the most fantastic feeling in the world--especially for someone who has no idea how to grow food, like me. A bunch of seeds Elin and I planted months ago in a nearby community garden--tomatoes, kale, peppers, cucumbers, snap peas, beets, radishes, onions, lettuce, and corn--had been growing into large green bushy things that we hoped weren't weeds. Were they healthy and sated with water...

Chicago Essentials

7th Jul 2008


It's been nearly a week since I packed up all those boxes in Ohio and made my way up north, but it sure doesn't feel like it.  Nestled in my Bucktown apartment by Western and Fullerton, I've been spending the last week trying to sort through cardboard, and finalize plans for my upcoming wedding (less than three weeks away!).  It's been a hectic past week, which I've mostly spent in m...

Real Homemade American Bacon

How to smoke pork belly at home.

2nd Jul 2008


First, I needed to find some pork belly with its skin still firmly on. My previous attempt removed it , along with a lot of precious fat directly underneath.  My bacon didn't have nearly enough fat on it to fry up, so instead cooking up beautifully in a pan, it burned .  My local butcher wouldn't sell me a piece with the skin on unless I bought 10 pounds, a fact I still find ridicu...

Goodbye Columbus

26th Jun 2008


For the fourth time in as many years, I'm going to spend the last weekend of June packing up boxes, carrying heavy couches down stairwells, and figuring out whether the odd Ikea piece of furniture is really worth the effort of moving.  I already cooked my last meal on the well worn stove (had to be the shrimp etouffee ), and will now be living on bagels and sandwiches.  This time next wee...

Highlights from a Trip Northeast

24th Jun 2008


The weekend before last Elin and her mom and I set off to see four states in four days.  Our goal was to do it just before the tourists and summer heat took over.  In the highly organized itinerary, which would be promptly deviated from, we had plans for upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  The loose organizing principle to the whole affair was to stay in Bed and Breakfasts...

Return of the Homemade Yogurt

19th Jun 2008


This one has a happy ending.  Unlike my previous attempt where I failed once and then crashed and burned in such an epic fashion that I never wanted make yogurt again, this one has a neat little recipe at the end.  I'm happy.  When I started this crazy business I had expected to knock off a bunch of yogurt and be done with it.  To be honest, I’d never really thought much about...

Homemade Guanciale, the Verdict Is...

15th Jun 2008


My most ambitious meat curing project yet recently emerged from an unplugged fridge in my living room.  It was a pig cheek from a heritage-breed pig, also known as the jowl, which was salted and seasoned with sugar, black pepper, and thyme leaves, then left in the bottom of my real fridge for a week to release moisture.  After that, I hung it to dry in the unplugged fridge for three more...