One thing that pops up after large floods--besides animal corpses and mold in your walls-are watermelons. After the waters recede and sunshine glares upon the wet earth, watermelons begin appearing in the oddest places--on the side of roads, in the front yard. It may be just a Southern thang, but what a wonderful thang it is.
Because watermelons produce so much waste, one trick I learned during my childhood was pickling watermelon rinds. Sweet and tender, these rinds pair well with grilled pork, ramen, and pretty much anything. So here's one more recipe for the pickling movement:
Operating a restaurant is no easy task. Fires don't help, either. So is the case of The Winchester in East Village, which closed its doors due to a small fire on May 3.
According to the official statement:
"Due to a small electrical fire that took place at The Winchester early Sunday morning (May 3), the restaurant will be closed for an indefinite period of time. We hope to be up and running in the near future and appreciate your patience with us while we undergo repairs. No one was injured in the incident."
The Chicago restaurant community is known for banning together when one of their own faces trouble, and Baker Miller, the grain-centric sweet and savory bake-house in Lincoln Square (4610 N. Western Ave), has graciously opened its doors for a pop-up benefit this Saturday, May 16 in support of the staff.
When I saw a picture on my Instagram feed several weeks ago of some of Chicago's most notable chefs gathered together looking up at what appeared to be a restaurant opening, I expected to hear more later. Turns out, they weren't awaiting a restaurant opening, they were filming a scene for "The Chef Whisperer," a whimsical parody casting some of Chicago's top chefs and Beard nominees that debuted at Monday's James Beard Awards.
The mini film starring some of Chicago's top chefs chronicles Carl Stankowski, aka "The Chef Whisperer," played by Second City's John Hartman as he leads us through how he uncovered and guided chefs to their true talents -- pulling Rick Bayless out of a career dedicated to slinging burgers and fries with "I see Mexican," recommending that Stephanie Izard "use the whole pig and not just the pretty parts," and discovering Alpana Singh's palate at the age of seven, saying she "shouldn't waste it on juice boxes."
Nestled adjacent to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, Tortoise Club is a masculine, mahogany-paneled restaurant with an old-school vibe. It's where Ron Swanson could sit alone under the dim lights, eating steak and drinking a couple of glasses (bottles?) of bourbon. In addition to classic steakhouse fare, the restaurant also offers unusual American twists like pheasant pie with foie gras, wild boar Bolognese, and bourbon barrel meatloaf. The menu also contains rare sightings for the nostalgic diner, including oysters Rockefeller, creamed spinach, and baked crab dip.
If you're passionate about beer, you like to talk about it. But rarely does the opportunity arise to talk directly with the people who make that beer. A new event series at Hopleaf hopes to change that.
On Tuesay, May 12, bartender Mark Bullock premieres Beers and Big Shoulders, a monthly "beer social" that introduces beer lovers to local craft brewers in an intimate setting. The special guests will be Ed Marszewski, founder and owner of Marz Community Brewing, and his brewers, Eric Olson, Tim Lange, Eli Espinoza and Alex Robertson. Bullock will conduct a brief interview with the brewers about their beers, plans for the future and the local craft beer scene in general, then open it up for audience questions.
"It'll be a loose interview scenario with a Q&A session to follow -- and then you can hang out afterwards and talk to everybody and drink some more beer," Bullock said.
Nearly every culture has a version of fried sweetened dough. Look doughnuts up on Wikipedia and you'll find a 15,000 word treatise describing doughnuts from across the globe.
Here in America--and specifically in Chicago--we have been doing a comprehensive exploration of the vast donut macrocosm in recent years. From the classic: old fashioned; cruller; long john to the exotic: milk chocolate pudding with a raspberry glaze and milk crumble; maple glazed and pretzel; lemon pistachio old fashioned--we have run the gamut of donut varities here in our fair city. Witness: wonut, cronut, dossaaint; donut ice cream sandwich; donut burgers...the list goes on and on.
So, imagine my delight to learn of a new donut collaboration with a unique flavor profile. Firecakes Donuts has teamed up with Kool-Aid to launch their new Cherry Kool-Aid Donut. And to celebrate, the local chain welcomed a visit from the favorite iconic childhood mascot, The Kool-Aid Man, to their local shop and a food truck stop on Friday morning.
As food and drink trend towards artisanship and simplicity, craft beer is leading the movement in Chicago. Numerous breweries have opened in Chicago during the last three years, and booze fests become larger (and drunker) each year. Brewing beer is complex chemistry, as there are multiple ingredients and steps that must be executed carefully to create the perfect product. The process isn't easy, and that's why I've listed five educational resources that will help you brew your first beer:
Brew Camp Brew Camp is a small homebrew shop in Lincoln Square and Evanston. Their mission is simple and straightforward: "We have everything you need to make great beer & wine. We teach classes, We throw private events, We talk about brewing." Their introductory Making Beer at Home class goes over the basics (equipment, ingredients, techniques) and costs only $20 dollars for 1.5 hours of instruction. Brew Camp also has more advanced classes, like all-grain brewing ($20 for 2 hours) and kegging workshops ($10 for 30 minutes).
The first line of the introduction to Mindy Segal's newest cookbook Cookie Love (Ten Speed, $25) is all you need to know for understanding why this is required reading for all bakers: "I am a cookie nerd."
Yes, the celebrated pastry chef, James Beard award recipient and owner of Bucktown's Hot Chocolate knows where the real thunder of desserts rumbles -- the cookie. Why? It's versatile in all ways, from a standard chocolate chip, a shortbread with a delicate layer of sugar, or a delicate macaron. The cookie's flexibility has puzzlingly made it an overlooked item when it comes to fine dining menus, banished to being the backup dancer for panna cotta. Segal clearly has a different perspective, taking cookies all over the sensory and flavor map--a cornmeal shortbread dotted with crushed Corn Nuts, a graham cracker and passionfruit whoopie pie cookie, a strawberry rhubarb rugelach with oatmeal streusel (recipe at the end of this article), even a recipe for pumpkin dog biscuits brushed with meat drippings. The ingredients used in Cookie Love span from the recognizable to the average baker (Folgers crystals, peppermint candies), to ones that require trips to specialty stores for things like an Ateco Pipe #826 or orange blossom water. Each recipe requires work and attention; even the batch of simple snickerdoodles I made last night had me making dough very differently (read: less carelessly) than normal as I followed the instructions to Segal's word. It was work, but the results were delicious. If we're going to heighten the food, we heighten the technique.
Each entry is paired with a thoughtful story about its origins: a family recipe, a request from a bartender for a good oatmeal scotchie, a regular customer whose kids get walked back to the kitchen to pick out their own cookies from the cooling racks -- and is sometimes paired with technical shop talk on how to build on Segal's recipe, like how to chocolate-ify her take on a Fig Newton whose filling consists of figs cooked in port wine and honey. Segal clearly takes her subject matter seriously, and reading through Cookie Love, you'd forget that these cookies are baked daily and served at Hot Chocolate alongside an equally good full menu. Segal intends to release more cookbooks down the line of a single subject, so every item on her table will get their due.
McDonald's has been rolling out ordering "Create Your Taste" ordering kiosks in some stores that allow you to customize your hamburger. Oddly, the system appears to allow you to only get up to two hamburger patties and one bun, but "10X" everything else. Moshe Tamssot, founder of MakeItFor.Us, decided to see what resulted from maxing out all of the options. The resulting $25 monstrosity weighed 3.8lbs and included what looks to be two whole tomatoes.
The first line of the introduction to Mindy Segal's newest cookbook Cookie Love (Ten Speed, $25) is all you need to know for understanding why this is required reading for all bakers: "I am a cookie nerd." Yes, the celebrated... Read this feature »