Repertoire | The Working Lunch

An Argument for Grains and Vegetables

13th Oct 2011

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

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

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

8th Jul 2011

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

Introducing The Soft Shell Crab Sandwich...with Bacon

Getting a head start on the season

16th May 2011

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

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

A pineapple and a few weeks is all you need

19th Aug 2010

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

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

Romesco Sauce, Meet the Summertime Grill

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

15th Jul 2010

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

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

Two pickle recipes that take less than a day to make

13th Jul 2010

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

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

Authentic Caesar Salad From a Windowsill Garden

Urban gardening in Chicago

25th Jun 2010

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

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

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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

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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...

Giardiniera

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...

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...

Blend Your Salsa: A Tale of Two Salsas

Moving beyond pico de gallo into real authentic territory

21st May 2008

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I thought I knew everything there was to know about salsa.  Tomatoes, garlic, onions, jalapenos, lime juice, salt.  Chop, mix, serve.  It’s an enormous pain, but the alternative (jarred salsa) just doesn’t compare.  Taking the time to chop is a noble pursuit.

That was until Blake visited last weekend.  What he threw together in a matter of minutes turned blood red and clung to every chip l...

Egg Mayonnaise and Cress Sandwich

Recreating a fond memory from being poor in London

14th Feb 2006

Though egg mayonnaise is essentially the same thing as American egg salad, it doesn't taste like your average pitch-in.   The mayonnaise was creamy but it had a lightness to it, which probably has something to do with the proportion of ingredients.  Instead of deli-style New York sandwiches where a literal pound of meat is thrown on each sandwich--"It's like a cow with a cracker on either side,...

White Risotto with Pesto

Trust this recipe, and never lose faith: it is actually quite simple, and can be used as a launching point for lots of other inspired ideas.

21st Jan 2006

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I remember vividly the first time I thumbed through a cookbook with a sense of purpose. I was home on a break during my freshman year of college, and my mom had been relating to me her excitement about a book my sister sent from London.  She excitedly exclaimed that “it had even been autographed.”  I smiled and nodded approvingly, unaffected.  It was a cookbook, after all.  My sister w...