Notes, but no recipes, from the road

by Terry B on March 22, 2017

Dollar-Hamtramck

I’m out of town again, working long hours and away from my familiar kitchen. What little cooking I’m doing is on the perfunctory side, so no recipe this week. But because of where I am—Hamtramck, Michigan, a small, independent, working class municipality inside the city of Detroit—I’m thinking a lot about immigrants. [click to continue…]

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For the first time since 1871, Chicago had no measurable snowfall in January or February. So less than a week before the nominal beginning of spring, of course, we got seven inches. This was the view from my office window yesterday. You know, Tuesday. The day I’m often scrambling to create the post—and often produce the recipe—you find here on Wednesday. I had a recipe of sorts in mind, but the fierce snow and an admitted lack of willpower on my part stood between me and some necessary ingredients. So instead, I’m serving up a hearty lamb stew posted here several years ago, also during a Chicago March snowstorm. [click to continue…]

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Seven recipes from the Blue Kitchen archives celebrate the flavors immigrants have brought to our shores and tables.

Patatas Riojas

Need proof that America is a land of immigrants? Take a stroll through any supermarket worth the name. You’ll find pasta and pasta sauce makings. You’ll find cumin in the spice aisle; jalapeño peppers and fresh ginger in the produce department; sauerkraut, kielbasa (or certainly, brats). You’ll find miso paste. You’ll find hummus. These foods—once exotic, but now kitchen go-tos for most of us—didn’t get here on their own. [click to continue…]

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A simple pan-seared steak gets support from store-bought cheats for a solo dinner that got cooked quickly and lingered over. What passes for a recipe follows.

Pan-seared Steak

Various events have us all in different cities tonight, with me home in Chicago. Often in this situation, I’ll take the opportunity to work late, then grab some takeout on the way home. That was the plan tonight. Until a fire alarm went off in our building, sending the last three of us at work down thirteen flights of stairs to a lobby filled with firefighters. We didn’t smell any smoke (so I probably have an office to show up to tomorrow), but it was clear we weren’t going back upstairs tonight. [click to continue…]

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Big chunks of pork shoulder are braised in a slow cooker in a tangy, slightly spicy tomatillo-based salsa verde until fork tender. Recipe below.

Puerco en Salsa Verde

Every day, we get delicious reminders of the cultural richness immigrants bring to America. Our new old house is in Pilsen, a predominantly Mexican working class Chicago neighborhood. Walking to our el station in the morning on the way to work, we pass two or three street corner vendors selling homemade tamales and steaming bowls of pozole. Standing on the el platform, we are greeted by the fragrance of fresh tortillas being made in one of many neighborhood tortillerias. [click to continue…]

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Déjà vu all over again

by Terry B on February 15, 2017

spinning-plates

Life is being too interesting right now. Again. With any luck, we’ll be back next week with a new post.

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Leeks, chestnuts and whole grain mustard seriously up the game on braised chicken thighs. Recipe below.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Chestnuts

Dorothy Parker famously said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” If I’m being honest, that’s sometimes how I feel about cooking. I like having cooked—sitting down to something I’ve made, sharing it with family and with friends. And most of the time, I enjoy the process of getting to that point. But not always. [click to continue…]

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A simple “sauce” of parsley, lemon zest and juice, capers, scallions, garlic and olive oil delivers the promise of spring when spooned over pan-seared salmon. Recipe below.

Salmon with Parsley Lemon Sauce

Salmon seems to be our default fish for winter. The robust, fatty fish stands up nicely to winter’s cold as a satisfying meal. And salmon cooks up quick and easy. Here, our default is pan searing them with some salt and pepper and maybe a little tarragon—baking gets a little too fragrant when the windows are all closed. But the other night, facing salmon fillets yet again, I wanted to give them a hint of faraway spring. Fortunately, our fridge had just the ingredients to do that. [click to continue…]

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Bacon jam—homemade or store-bought—is the salty-sweet-tangy heart of this bar-inspired pasta dish. Recipe below.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Jam and Udon Noodles

Last week was busy and exhausting, with a lot of long work hours and late nights. And then on Saturday, to celebrate, we helped someone move. So when Sunday rolled around, we decided to have a lazy zero-brainer day. The weather was too wet and chilly to walk along the lake, but we didn’t want to be cooped up in the house either. [click to continue…]

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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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