Earthy, fiber-rich lentils combine with fennel bulb, carrots, Italian sausage, onion and garlic for a satisfying antidote to cold weather. Recipe below.

Lentils with Fennel and Sausage

At least once each winter, I seem to need to start a post by talking about weather. Chicago deserves some of the credit here. One morning last week, it was 0ºF when I left for work. Zero. The high that day was 11º. Throw in the inevitable stiff winds and the five or six blocks to and from the El at both ends of the commute, and you develop a deep appreciation for hearty, simple, stick-to-your-ribs fare. Like this lentil dish. [click to continue…]

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Ground coffee, whole cumin seeds, chili powder and cinnamon create an easy, amazing spice rub for pan-seared lamb chops. Recipe below.

Lamb Chops with Coffee Cumin Rub

I have really tried to like coffee. There was almost always a pot brewing in my house when I was growing up, and over the years, starting as a teenager, I tried many times to acquire a taste for it. Never happened. I’m not proud of the fact—I consider it a major social shortcoming on my part. But even though I don’t drink coffee, I’m intrigued by what it does to food. [click to continue…]

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Heading into a new year with hope and worry

by Terry B on December 28, 2016

Christmas in Pilsen, Chicago

We’re taking a break from cooking one more week. Enjoying time with family, simple dinners in, the familiar comfort of meals out in favorite places, quiet walks in our new neighborhood. The photo above was taken on one of those walks on Christmas Eve. [click to continue…]

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Happy holidays—and happy tenth to us

by Terry B on December 21, 2016

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This has been a year. After almost two years of planning, working and hand wringing, we finally moved into our new old house. And even though literally anywhere I look in the house, I can still see something that needs doing, we love being here. Love it. But what with the gazillion projects we’ve tackled (or avoided), the finally getting around to taking road trips again, reconnecting with friends and just generally living our overbooked lives, we forgot to mark Blue Kitchen’s tenth anniversary last month. [click to continue…]

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Fresh spinach gives this classic quiche a bigger flavor than frozen—and a frozen crust simplifies preparation. Recipe below.

Fresh Spinach and Bacon Quiche

I don’t remember the first time I ate quiche, but I do remember the most memorable slice. Marion and I were in Paris several years ago, searching for the modest hotel where my brother and I had stayed many years before. It was walking distance from the Eiffel Tower, and even though the bathrooms and showers were down the hall, the rooms were clean and charming, and we paid $7.50 a night. In the intervening years, the neighborhood I’d remembered as working class—Rue de Passy—had become a fashionable shopping destination. [click to continue…]

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Six recipes for eating, drinking merrier

by Terry B on December 7, 2016

This week, we’re featuring six recipes/ideas from the Blue Kitchen archives for entertaining, celebrating and just feeling festive.

Affordable Spanish Cavas

The holidays are upon us. Time for parties, family get-togethers, intimate dinners and even being indulgent on your own. Food—and drink—play a big part in all of it. Let’s start with something to drink. [click to continue…]

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Fresh and dried mushrooms add earthy deliciousness to this filling, satisfying winter soup. Recipe below.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Wintertime when I was a kid in Detroit meant big, hearty, warming dishes—things simmered for a long time over low heat, calming and filling. Pot roasts perfuming the whole house with beefy oniony aromas, braising chickens and, of course, a battery of soups.  Borscht, potato and dill, and my personal favorite, my mother’s mushroom barley soup. For our little careful working class Detroit home, it hit all the necessary markers—aromatic, tasty, filling and, of course, thrifty. [click to continue…]

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Naturally sweet parsnips turn lusciously silky when cooked in cream, milk and butter. Perfect for holiday dinners—or everyday indulgence. Recipe below.

Puréed Parsnips

A few weeks ago, Terry wrote about his duck-filled dinners in Omaha. Well, while he was eating all sorts of duck, I was delving into some of my own favorites—not least, wonderful offal. My first Omaha dinner at La Buvette? Lamb kidneys on a bed of puréed parsnips. I just loved the whole thing—the intense, meaty chunks of kidney, the fluffy bed of parsnips. The dark sauce pooling around the white purée and a hearty big red wine alongside. It was a great meal for an autumn evening after a day on the road. And the parsnips were a marvel: at once sweet and savory and silky and faintly earthy. They were just wonderful, and we knew that when we got home, we would have to make some. [click to continue…]

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An international ingredient list produces a hearty, one-pan dinner big on flavor and comfort. Recipe below.

Pork Chops with Kimchi and Cannellini

With a headline like that, you’re probably expecting a decent backstory. Most of the recipes here at Blue Kitchen come with one. A new cookbook. An old family tradition. A restaurant discovery. Not this one. This recipe came from two simple questions. [click to continue…]

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Reducing red wine adds depth to these duck legs oven-braised with shallots, carrots, parsnip, garlic and thyme. Recipe below.

Red Wine-braised Duck Legs

I ate a lot of duck in Omaha. When we told friends about our plans to spend several days in Nebraska on our recent road trip, everyone told us to be prepared to eat a lot of beef. Nobody mentioned duck. The first night, I ate a duck leg in red wine that inspired this week’s recipe. [click to continue…]

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