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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Cookbook Mon Dec 14 2015

Your Holiday Dessert Guide

51kageoScaL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgLegend has it that Chicago-style cheesecake, known to be richer and creamier than its New York counterpart, was created in 1977 by Chicago restaurateur Eli Schulman. The happy accident came about because of a customer complaint that led Schulman to develop a recipe for a dessert that pleased everyone. The story behind the invention of one of the nation's most famous desserts and many other tales of the famous Chicago culinary icon's life are now preserved in The Eli's Cheesecake Cookbook.

Beginning with the first cheesecake creation at Eli's The Place for Steak in the 1970s, the book tells the story of how Eli's was not only a pillar of Chicago's culinary community, it was also a noted celebrity watering hole. The cookbook collects some of the Schulman family's favorite celebrity anecdotes, which also act as introductions to recipes.

The release of the book coincides with the 35th anniversary of Eli's Cheesecakes, and finally allows home cooks to make Eli's famous cheesecake for themselves. . .and just in time for all of your holiday parties.

Jeremy Owens

Cookbook Mon Nov 23 2015

Last Minute Thanksgiving Help

books.jpgIt 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.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Owens

Cookbook Fri Nov 20 2015

Thanksgiving Inspiration from JeanMarie Brownson

dinner at home.jpgJeanMarie 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.

Jeremy Owens

Cookbook Mon Nov 09 2015

Memories and Recipes from the Breakfast Queen

Ina's Kitchen.jpg 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.

Jeremy Owens / Comments (1)

Cookbook Tue Sep 08 2015

Review: Grandbaby Cakes

grandbabycakes.jpgJocelyn Delk Adams has been breathing new life into classic baking recipes since she started her popular recipe blog Grandbaby Cakes in 2012. Her debut cookbook, Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories, out September 15, is a gorgeous collection of 50 cake recipes. If you're a fan of her blog, and you should be, you may recognize a few of her cakes along with many entirely new and inventive recipes.

Adams and her family took many trips from their Chicago home to Mississippi where she would watch her grandmother invent delicious desserts. These sweet creations became part of their family lore over the years and eventually became the inspiration of both Adams's blog and cookbook. The book was written to honor her grandmother's baked innovations, showcase her own pastry work in an accessible way, and thank those who came before by passing on these edible family traditions.

This book is for any baker looking to make gorgeous centerpiece cakes with new and interesting flare. Traditional family staples like yellow cake are available, as well as creative and new flavors such as a Red Velvet S'mores Cake and Arnold Palmer Cake among others. Grandbaby Cakes is a lovely tribute to Adams's grandmother that is filled with heart and recipes that are sure to become part of your family's traditions.

Jeremy Owens

Cookbook Fri Mar 13 2015

Review: Passion for Pizza

passionforpizza.jpgMost Chicagoans have a lot of serious and deep-rooted opinions about pizza. Each of us has different ideas as to where to find the best pizza in the city. Chances are you've spent a lot of time explaining those choices. If you're like me and consider pizza to be one of the major food groups, then I have an excellent cookbook for you:
Passion for Pizza
by Craig Whitson and Tore Gjesteland.

A few Chicago pizzerias are featured in the book alongside well-known restaurants in New York and Italy. Various pizza shops from each area are profiled, giving readers a glimpse at each shop's personality and most popular pies.

In addition to exploring some of the world's best-known pizzerias in Italy and the US, the book also gives readers recipes to make their own pizza. Key ingredients and proper equipment required for excellent pizza making is provided along with 50 pizza recipes, plus additional dough and sauce recipes. This book is a must have for pizza lovers who want to try their hand at crafting their favorite food at home.

Jeremy Owens

Cookbook Mon Dec 22 2014

Give Marcus Samuelsson for The Holidays

Screen-shot-2014-09-09-at-8.42.29-PM.pngLooking for a cookbook for the foodie on your gift list? I have the book for you. Marcus Samuelsson's new cookbook, Marcus Off Duty, is sure to delight. While you're sure to recognize Samuelsson from "Top Chef Masters" and "Chopped All Stars," he is also a five-time James Beard Award recipient and was selected as chef for the Obama Administration's first state dinner.

The recipes in Marcus Off Duty are a mix of the flavors that he has gathered together from his life and travels, from Ethiopia, Sweden, and the American South to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Italy. Of particular interest is the chapter on street foods from around the world. In this section Marcus pays tribute to his love affair with food made in carts, on docks, and in food trucks. The book is full of gorgeous photography and stories that everyone will love and the recipes will keep foodies of all levels busy and interested.

Jeremy Owens

Cookbook Tue Oct 28 2014

All the Holiday Cookies Fit to Print

-9.jpgLike it or not we are a whisper away from the holiday season. It is an exciting time and within the next few weeks anything that sits still long enough will be wrapped in a string of lights and accented with tinsel. Several holiday traditions are about to spring into action, and if you're from a family like mine, the first hints of Christmas mean only one thing: the cookies are coming! The cookies are indeed coming and this year the Chicago Tribune's famed holiday cookie contest has them coming at us like never before.

For the last 25 years, the Good Eating section of the Chicago Tribune has hosted a nationwide holiday cookie contest drawing entries from home bakers looking to share their favorite family recipe--and the story behind it. Only a handful of the very best recipes are selected for publication each year, but this year winning recipes from past have been gathered into a new cookbook: Holiday Cookies: Prize-winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Owens

Cookbook Mon May 12 2014

Barefoot Contessa Coming to Chicago

INAFOUR.jpgIna Garten, the best-selling cookbook author and star of Food Network's "Barefoot Contessa," is coming to Chicago Thursday, Nov. 6, and presale tickets are available today! Ina Garten will share her natural approach to food, entertaining tips, stories, and maybe even some recipes. The Emmy Award-winning host of the "Barefoot Contessa" television show on Food Network and a New York Times best-selling author will be joined on stage at the Auditorium Theatre with special guest host Catherine De Orio, host of WTTW's Emmy award-winning "Check, Please!"

Garten will deliver a charming insider's view of the hit TV show, now in its eleventh season, and the pleasures of good food, cooked with love and passion, engaging the audience with an interactive Q&A. Garten's eagerly-anticipated ninth cookbook, Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (due out Oct. 28) delivers her top make-ahead recipes and invaluable tips, making meal-planning easier than ever. Ina Garten's Food Network show, "Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics," is now in its 11th season on Food Network and her previous eight cookbooks have all been New York Times bestsellers. Presale tickets for the event are available now by using the code INA.

Jeremy Owens / Comments (1)

Brunch Mon Mar 24 2014

Prairie Grass Cafe Hosts Brunch with The Breakfast Queen, Ina Pinkney

If you're among those who miss having breakfast at Ina's in the West Loop, you have a one-day reprieve. Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook will be hosting a special brunch with Ina Pinkney (aka The Breakfast Queen) on Sunday, March 30 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Taste Memories Cover.jpgDiners are invited to come and meet "The Breakfast Queen;" Ina will be signing copies of her new book, Taste Memories.

Prairie Grass Cafe's Chef Sarah Stegner will make some of her favorite Ina recipes, including Heavenly Hots pancakes, that will be added to a featured brunch menu. Reservations are recommended.

Prairie Grass Cafe
601 Skokie Boulevard
Northbrook, IL 60062
1-847-205-4433 for reservations

Harvey Morris

Cookbook Mon Apr 08 2013

White Sox in the Kitchen

CWSHP.JPGA diehard Sox fan is painstakingly recreating recipes from the team's 1983 cookbook Home Plate: The White Sox Favorite Recipes, which compiled favorite dishes of everyone in the organization, from team members to office workers. To give you some background, that season resulted in an AL West title, ending a nearly thirty year losing streak for the team. So it made sense for any Sox fan to celebrate with a slice of Tony La Russa's Tropical Delight Cake, the first recipe listed on the site (it contains wheat germ, so you know it's legitimately from the '80s).

Robyn Nisi / Comments (2)

Cookbook Tue Feb 26 2013

Chicago Cookbookery

After the holiday season, it's not uncommon for me to find myself abysmally broke. Going out to eat, usually my most prolific hobby, becomes increasingly uncomfortable as my pocket change dwindles (and then finally disappears altogether). Luckily, there are options. When times get financially tough, I choose to live vicariously through the experiences of others, and I have yet to encounter a better medium for exploring the various microcosms of Chicago restaurants than through cookbooks. My favorite cookbooks are not only compendiums of recipes, but also capture the culture of the restaurant itself--the behind-the-scenes lifeblood that you might normally not experience as a diner. These cookbooks showcase the Chicago food scene at its finest. And all of these titles can be found at your friendly local library branch!

Chicago's Chef Table by Amelia Levin
This book has received a lot of buzz, and for good reason. Within you will find some of the best recipes sourced directly from some of the best restaurants in Chicago: street food to white tablecloth, it's all here.

The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant
Chef Virant's Chicago-based restaurant, Perennial Virant, relies on in-house pickling and preserves to create signature dishes that showcase produce at its prime. The Preservation Kitchen makes these techniques accessible to the home cook, with a beautiful balance of the scientific and the sensory.

Continue reading this entry »

Danielle Snow / Comments (1)

Cookbook Thu Jan 05 2012

Achatz Teases Next: Thailand Ebook, elBulli Menu

Chef Grant Achatz tweeted today that sales of the Next: Paris 1906 iPad cookbook have been "doing well," and shared a teaser of what looks to be the title page of the grilling section of the restaurant's next book, based on its Thailand menu.


Meanwhile, Achatz and executive chef David Beran are hard at work on Next's next evolution, a tribute to Ferran Adria and elBulli. Achatz tweeted that the pair had "just put the finishing touches" on the menu, which Beran tweeted yesterday and was in rough draft, to be tested today. "It's long. Come hungry," Achatz said. Tickets for Next: elBulli will be a flat $365 per person for food and drink pairings -- $473 with tax and tip -- regardless of date and time of reservation. They're expected to go on sale in early February.

Andrew Huff

Cookbook Thu Oct 27 2011

Soup & Bread Cookbook Publishing Party

Soupnbread.JPGThe Hideout's very own Wednesday night soup-kitchen-party has got another reason to celebrate. Soup and Bread is hosting a publishing party for the release of Soup and Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Bowl At A Time on Wednesday, November 2nd from 7-9pm.

If you don't know, Soup & Bread hosts a weekly event where piping hot bowls of soup created by Chicago's top chefs are served to the community every Wednesday throughout the winter, as an enticement to get out of our often dreary apartments and give back to the community via soup. You go, you eat the soup, leave a little donation and the proceeds go to make more soup a la Greater Chicago Food Depository.

From the S&B website: The Soup & Bread Cookbook, inspired by author Martha Bayne's Soup & Bread series at Chicago's Hideout, aims to explore this social role of soup, in the midst of a collection of terrific, affordable recipes from food activists, chefs, and others, providing a quirky exploration of the cultural history of soup -- and its natural ally, bread -- as a tool for both building community and fostering social justice." Copies of the cookbook will be available and as always, proceeds will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Wednesday's party will be feature:

• Soups from Longman & Eagle, West Town Tavern, Swim Cafe, the Butcher & Larder, Milk & Honey Cafe, Mana Food Bar and others.
• Brews from Revolution Brewing
• Bread from La Farine Bakery
• Music from DJ Treetop Lover

See you there!

Joanna Kanakis

Cookbook Wed Dec 08 2010

Giving Soup and Bread

Let's face it. We all have that foodie friend who has every kitchen gadget imaginable, every cookbook, every magazine, every trinket to make them the perfect chef de cuisine and yet, here you are, December 8th scratching your head unsure what vittles to give in two and a half weeks.

Soup and Bread, the Hideout's Wednesday night free soup dinner, has the perfect gift for you: Soupscriptions. From January to November 2011, you'll receive 5 drool-worthy soup recipes culled from S&B's favorites--and one bread recipe to accompany--delivered straight to your mailbox. Your real mailbox. Every cook needs an old fashioned box o' recipes and this $60 Soupscription is a great start.recipecards.jpg
Recipes come from some of Chicago's finest chefs and amateur enthusiasts whose soups have become fast favorites at the Hideout. Current recipes include:
City Provisions's Cream of Mushroom with Leeks and Pancetta
Sheila's mom's Shrimp and Red Pepper Bisque
Irish-style Sheep Stew from Mint Creek Farm
Slovak Mushroom-Sauerkraut Soup from Chicago Reader food writer Mike Sula
Spinach and Rice Soup from Bloodshot Records' CEO Rob Miller
Black-Eyed Pea, Kale, and Chorizo Soup from novelist Terri Griffith
vegan Red Pepper Soup from friends at Swim Cafe
...and our own West African Sweet Potato and Peanut soup!

Are you drooling yet? I can feel that Chicago winter just melting away...

Continue reading this entry »

Joanna Kanakis

Cookbook Fri Dec 03 2010

Mamma Agata's Plan to Populate the Amalfi Coast...with a Cookbook

Mamma Agata, the renown chef at Italy's Hollywood-heyday-hangout Villa Chivita and the famous matriarch behind the Amalfi Coast's Mamma Agata Cooking School, has just released her first cookbook, Mamma Agata: Simple and Genuine Italian Family Recipes. But just like that Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man," there might be a hidden motive in the delicate deliciousness that oozes out of every recipe in the book, albeit for much more benevolent purposes. Namely, with food this good, and scenery as lush as depicted in the beautiful photos spread throughout the book, Agata may be coaxing everyone who picks up this book to relocate to the Amalfi Coast. Hopefully, there's room enough for all at The Hidden Treasure Cooking School run by Agata's daughter, Chiara Lima.

1A. The view.JPG
Mamma Agata's view of the Amalfi Coast

Continue reading this entry »

Ben Schulman

Cookbook Thu Oct 28 2010

Barbara Fairchild Book Signing in Old Town

On November 5 get a book signed by culinary goddess, Barbara Fairchild. The long-time editor of Bon Appétit will be at Old Town's Spice House signing Just Desserts, The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful, her new book featuring the best desserts from over 50 years of Bon Appétit archives. The signing will be from 6-8 pm and will feature samples from the new book will, as well as treats from the French Pastry School and Callebaut Chocolate.

Don't have time to buy the book? Don't worry, Spice House will have books available to purchase. The event is free; all you have to do is email Spice House at and let them know the number of people attending. Barbara. Desserts. Free. Can't beat that!

Renee Barone

Chef Mon Sep 27 2010

Dinner at C-House with Top Chef Masters' Marcus Sammuelson and Tony Mantuano

Tonight C-House will host a private dinner party benefiting Friends of the Fisherman, a Louisiana Fisherman organization. C-House's Marcus Sammuelson and Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano will be cooking up their favorite home cooked dishes from their latest cookbooks and dinner will be served with select craft beers from Goose Island. Both chef's will be available to sign their cookbooks after the event.

Tickets are $125 and seating is limited. While it's a lot of money, I am sure the food will be amazing. I've personally met both chefs at different events and they are as kind and gracious as can be! To make a reservation for tonight call 312-523-0923.

Renee Barone

Chef Fri Jan 08 2010

Vegan Cooking With Chef Tal Ronnen

tal_ronnen.jpgAfter last year's foodie focus on serving and eating the whole hog, it would be nice if appetites turned to vegetarian and vegan fare this year. An article in The Chicago Tribune this week predicts nutrition trends for 2010, including a move away from meat. Local nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner backed up the forecast, saying concerns over health, the environment and the economy will prompt people to cut back on meat. Already, many are taking part in Meatless Mondays.

Another person touting the benefits of a meat-free diet is Chef Tal Ronnen, who recently released The Conscious Cook, a cookbook named one of the best cookbooks of 2009 by Epicurious.

Continue reading this entry »

Lori Barrett / Comments (3)

Recipe Sat Oct 03 2009

Neighborly Love

After a week of what seemed like the true beginning of fall - crisp temps, necessitating jackets; leaves starting to turn and fall off their branches - I woke up to what I would expect for an autumn Saturday morning. My condo was still and quiet, and I lay in bed, just reading and enjoying the lazy early hours.

But somewhere around 11:00 a.m., my upstairs neighbhors, whom I rarely hear due to different work schedules, began what sounded like the makings of a pretty sweet dance party (or at least a rousing soundtrack for a weekend cleaning spree). To some, this beat-laden accompaniment to the peaceful weekend may have been a nuisance. To me, it was an audible reminder of my community, of the friendly 9 people who have been my neighbors over the last year and a half in our 6-unit Bucktown condo.

Continue reading this entry »

Caroline Kraft

Review Tue Dec 23 2008

Memories of a Special Feast

My German last name hides the fact that I'm a second generation Italian-American on my mother's side. And growing up, Christmas was usually spent with my mom's side of the family -- which meant meant Christmas Eve was far more important, celebration-wise than Christmas Day. Oh sure, we got our presents from Santa on the 25th, but Christmas Eve dinner was the highlight of the holiday season.

The dinner was always centered around lots of seafood; only later did I learn that it was a variation on the Feast of Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian Christmas Eve meal. By my count, we had at least that many: anchovies mixed into the breading on the stuffed artichokes; oysters Rockefeller; shrimp cocktail; fried calamari and smelts; and spaghetti with a gravy containing lobster, calamari, fresh cod (or other white fish) and baccalà (salt cod). Add to that antipasti, deviled eggs, salad, broccoli (always overcooked), scalloped potatoes, Italian sausage simmered in marinara, and whatever other dishes my grandmother, mother and aunts decided to make, and you've got quite a meal.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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