It won't be long now until you'll be standing in your kitchen juggling your feelings for Aunt Martha with the 36 cooking challenges you've given yourself. I've spent the last week or so pretending like Turkey Day isn't running at me full throttle, and I have a feeling you've been doing the very same thing. I like to think of my Thanksgiving procrastination and panic as my gift to my holiday guests. I always end up breaking the all important "don't try new dishes at a holiday celebration" rule. That sounds like punishment, but it's just my childlike reaction to 25 or so years of green bean casserole and weird stuffing. I have narrowed my Thanksgiving guides down to two cookbooks. Here's to hoping that my holiday insanity will inspire you to discover new dishes for your holiday table. Now, get to work!
Thanksgiving is pie. That's why I've chosen The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie by Paula Haney as my number one holiday guide. Haney opened the immediately successful Hoosier Mama Pie Company's first shop in the Ukrainian Village in 2009 after several years working as a Chicago pastry chef. Hoosier Mama became a local favorite right away, but also earned high praise nationwide from Bon Appetit, the Food Network, and Food & Wine Magazine. The book contains more than 120 sweet and savory recipes as well as many great tips for baking success. Imagine the possibilities with options like Sweet Potato pie, Frito-Chili Pie, Cheddar Vegetable Pie and Dutch Apple Pie with Sour Cream Custard. Paula Haney's stellar pie bible must be in your cookbook arsenal this (and every) holiday season.
JeanMarie Brownson has been a respected chef and food writer for many years. She spent time as the Chicago Tribune's associate food editor, as well as the director of its test kitchen and is known for her ongoing professional partnership with iconic Chicago chef Rick Bayless. Her life and love of cooking has also been chronicled since 2007 in a bimonthly column for the Tribune known as Dinner at Home.
Brownson has handpicked the very best recipes and stories from her beloved Tribune column and converted them into a new cookbook. Dinner at Home: 140 Recipes to Enjoy with Family and Friends is the perfect addition for any home cook looking for Thanksgiving inspiration. The full-color cookbook features a wide selection of both everyday and celebratory recipes that are sure to get you in the mood for your Turkey Day festivities.
The book is full of a wide range of recipes including everything from soups, salads, vegetables and other sides, to holiday meals, breakfast, and even baked goods. Readers will also find a bit of Brownson's charming stories sprinkled in along with her expert cooking tips and advice.
Hash House A Go Go Hash House A Go Go on the Gold Coast will be offering a buffet of their brunch items from 3 to 9pm on Thursday, Nov. 26, for $29.95 a person. Dishes include turkey with rosemary gravy, their famous sage-fried chicken and waffles, mashed potatoes, house-made biscuits, and a pie assortment.
Dolce Italian Dolce Italian in River North will be offering a $60/person prix fixe menu on Thursday from 2 to 9pm. Diners begin the meal with antipasti starters (chestnut soup or salad), followed by pasta, including butternut squash ravioli. The main course will include roasted turkey, plus additional meat-centric dishes. Desserts include an apple tart with vanilla ice cream. If their Thanksgiving menu is anything as good as their regular menu, I would strongly suggest this.
Frontier Frontier will be roasting a relatively tame meat for diners next week. $75 will get you a 15-pound turkey or $95 for a 20-pound turkey. Orders must be placed by Monday, Nov. 23, and turkeys can be picked up at the restaurant from 9am to noon on Thanksgiving day. Sides include mac and cheese, string beans, potato salad and sweet potato puree. Book your turkey at 773-772-4322.
This weekend, get your hands on some rare stuff from the bowels of Chicago restaurants and bars.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, Green City Market holds a Culinary Garage Sale at Naha, 500 N. Clark St. Pay $10 and go shopping for chef coats, promotional items, cookware, silverware, kitchen gadgets and more. The sale is open from 8am to noon -- or pay $50 for VIP access an hour earlier and grab the most coveted stuff before anyone else sees it! Proceeds of the sale benefit Green City Market's education programming.
Then on Sunday, Nov. 15, Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., hosts a Glassware Garage Sale to clear the shelves of glasses for beers they no longer carry, that don't exist anymore, that have changed logos or have otherwise changed. Some breweriana (beer signs and promo items) will also be available. The sale begins at noon, and proceeds benefit longtime Hopleaf bartender Chris "Pitt" Pittatsis, who is recovering from a brutal attack that left him in very bad shape (you can donate directly to his medical fund here.) No cover, but you must be 21.
When Breakfast Queen Ina Pinkney announced the closing of her namesake restaurant in 2013 she made headlines across the Midwest. People came from miles around to pay tribute to the Queen and to morn the loss of the 30 plus year institution. Not to fear, the favorite dishes that we all came to love at Ina's are showcased in the first paperback edition of her newly retitled book, Ina's Kitchen: Memories and Recipes from the Breakfast Queen.
This memoir/cookbook showcases 39 of Ina's favorite recipes. Readers will discover memories, and life advice as well as stories that will deepen their love and appreciation for this well known Chicago breakfast icon.
Recipes include everything from Ina's signature Blobbs and Heavenly Hots to Baked French Toast and Ina's Bloody Mary recipe. Desserts and savory dishes are also included to make Ina's cookbook well rounded. The book is full of Ina's charm and spirit, which is perfect for Ina's greatest fans, but also great for those looking for an essential piece of Chicago's culinary history.
Latinicity--or a Latino version of Eataly--opens today at Block 37, a mall located smack dab in the middle of the Loop. The 22,000 square-foot hall includes twelve food stalls, a sit-down restaurant focused on tapas, and a lounge bar. Menu items include ceviche, salads, sushi, stir-fry, and even Caesar salads (for the truly adventurous).
On my journey to pastry sainthood, I'm gleaning knowledge faster than eggs curdle in hot milk. After some disastrous flings with cookies, I've decided to tackle the cake. See below for my essential tips and tricks:
Create a dense cake.
Density, or the relationship between mass of cake and the space the cake takes up, matters when you're frosting. Baking a cake that doesn't disintegrate into despondent chunks will help with carving. Bake dense cakes (hell, bake a brownie) or springy cakes that won't explode into a billion crumbs.
Paint your cake; it will impress everyone around you, even yourself.
Oh yes, you can paint a cake. I usually opt for the Jackson Pollock style in which I chuck a bunch of food coloring at a white fondant cake and pretend I'm a mighty fine artist. Co-workers are generally impressed, or at least outwardly so.
Earlier this week, Michelin announced its Chicago star rankings on the tail-end of announcing its Bib Gourmand Awards -- a status that indicates the best value for price (two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less before tax and gratuity). When Parachute and Dusek's didn't make the Bib Gourmand list, both the Tribune and Crain's predicted a star was most likely on the way. They were right; both restaurants joined the starred list, earning one star each. Acadia moved from one star to two, which is impressive considering they had to close for six weeks this summer and lost a large amount of their staff. Among those still retaining their starred status on the list are Alinea, Boka, Blackbird, Everest, Longman & Eagle, Sixteen, Sepia, Spiaggia, NAHA and Tru. A total of 22 stars were awarded down from 24 in 2015 and 26 in 2014. You can see the complete list below.
If you've ever wondered what tires and food have in common, the story goes as follows. In 1900, French tire manufacturer André Michelin and his brother Édouard needed to sell some tires. Seeking to create interest in more cars, and thereby, more tires, they published the then blue Michelin Guide as a travel guide. The restaurant section was apparently a hit so the brothers started recruiting people to anonymously review restaurants for the guide. By the '20s, they were awarding worthy restaurants with one star, and by the '30s, the three star standard was created that still exists today. The review committee is completely anonymous and purports to visit the restaurant throughout the year to judge on five criteria: product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef's personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time and across the entire menu -- likely one of the reasons why Next hasn't been able to find its way on the list. Three stars = Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey, Two stars = Excellent cuisine, worth a detour, and One star = A very good restaurant in its category -- original designations that are still used today.
I had heard to be patient. Call and hope they answer the phone, and make sure you have your reservation date and pizza order ready, even though there was no website to use (I found a menu that a member of LTH Forum had uploaded years back). Don't be late, pay in cash, and don't even think about adding on anything to your order once you get there. In an era of super sizes and selling anything and everything off a menu, Burt's Place went against the grain. Overseen by the heavily bearded and heavily introverted Burt Katz, whose pizza pedigree was responsible for the distinctive, caramelized cheese crust that put Pequod's on the map, Burt's Place was full of wild rules and wild characters; Burt's wife Sharon boasted repeatedly during my one (and only) visit that "people tell me I'm on TV all the time" (Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" made a visit a few years back) as she served pizza on an IHOP-branded plate, and RC Cola that I was positive came from a two-liter bottle. The room was dimly lit, nearly silent except for a small radio, dusty and full of yellowed newspaper clippings and old advertisements pinned to the walls. I felt like I was in a basement of a beloved, quirky grandfather, but instead we were in a small storefront in Morton Grove. As pizzas baked in the oven, Burt and Sharon sat in a booth in the back, quietly staring at the two occupied tables in the room. It was a busy night for them.
Their pizza was good--similar to Pequod's, but you could tell the ingredient quality was far better than his former business, which held court only a few blocks away. After closing abruptly several months ago (with the notion that it would be temporary), it was announced today that Burt's will close permanently. It's a shame for pizza lovers everywhere, who clearly knew that a trip to Burt's was well worth the effort. If you got a table, or even a takeout reservation, it wasn't because you happened upon this place; it's because you researched, planned, and spent several afternoons on the phone at work, hoping someone answered your call. I'm glad to say I was one of the lucky ones.
Following the footsteps of adjacent neighborhoods, Old Town will be hosting its own Restaurant Week starting Monday, October 26 to Saturday, October 31. 15 restaurants in this artsy but yet affluent community will be offering special menu options, cooking demonstrations and fantastic dining deals. See below for additional details:
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