A relentlessly busy schedule these days has us raiding the Blue Kitchen archives again, this time for New Orleans-style comfort food with a kick: Spicy Shrimp with Tomatoes and Cheddar Grits. Recipe below.

Spicy Shrimp with Tomatoes and Cheddar Grits

New Orleans is one of our favorite cities for food. Everything tastes of history, blended cultures and spices. Lots of spices. Some of them hot, of course, but more often just big flavored. And from the diviest dives to the fanciest white tablecloth spots, you have to work hard to find a bad meal.[Read more here…]



Inspired by the “fowl-mouthed” celebrity chef, this lively, weeknight-quick dish from the Blue Kitchen archives first appeared in February 2009. Recipe below.

When children are very young, their first experiences of playing with other children are actually playing next to other children. They don’t truly interact with one another, but for them, playing side-by-side is the beginning of their social lives. There’s a school of thought in cooking that mirrors this experience, the idea that putting ingredients next to one another actually achieves some meaningful interaction among them.

You know what I mean—recipes that include instructions like “lay sprigs of rosemary around the roast” or “place a whole peeled apple in the chicken cavity”… Or my favorite, recipes that instruct you to rub lamb chops, steaks, slices of baguette or anything with a cut clove of garlic. In my experience, this technique is a perfect way to waste a clove of garlic and five or so minutes of your life. It adds nothing to the flavor of anything, so far as I can tell. Ingredients have to fully commit to a dish and mix it up with the others to have an impact on the final taste.[Read more here…]



All the comforts of restaurant: Egg Drop Soup

by Marion on February 3, 2016

This six-ingredient egg drop soup is as impressively restaurant-authentic as it is quick and easy to make. Recipe below.

Restaurant-style Egg Drop Soup

The line between home cooking and restaurant cooking can get blurry at times. There’s a whole subset of restaurants that tries to serve—or at least convince us they’re serving—homestyle cooking. And in kitchens around the world, home cooks obsess over recreating chef-driven restaurant meals. But there’s another style of restaurant cooking that’s often overlooked at home, not complex or seasonal or locally sourced. Just humble fare, but soul-satisfyingly comforting. This is one of those recipes. [click to continue…]



Beef and Pork Ragú: Hearty, rustic, meaty

by Terry B on January 27, 2016

Seasonably frigid temperatures inspired Marion to remake this delicious, hearty pasta dish from the Blue Kitchen archives. It originally appeared in unseasonably cold May 2011.

Beef and Pork Ragú

It is flat-out refusing to stay warm here. We have these occasional days that are, frankly, just hot, where after days of unseasonable cold it suddenly, spitefully, turns 85 for like one day. The warm weather comes on too abruptly to be any fun at all. We are inevitably at the office wearing too much, too thick clothing. We get home and the apartment is stuffy and hot. The cats stagger around, collapsing randomly here and there and glaring at us: I can go no farther—you did this to me. Then within a few hours huge storms wash through and the weather turns crazy cold again and just. stays. that. way. Tomato planting? Forget it.[Read more here…]



Fennel bulb, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, chicken, cannellini beans, pasta and lemon. What else do you need to know? Recipe below.


I’ve been not cooking lately. Yes, we’ve been crazy busy at times, with long hours away from home and non-meshing schedules. But it’s been more than that or simple midwinter malaise. I just didn’t seem to be in the mood to get in the kitchen, even when all the ingredients for a particular dish were in the house. I needed a kick in the pants to get over myself. It came in the form of a PBS show. [click to continue…]



Giardiniera Slaw with Bacon packs some heat and some surprises, including olive brine. Recipe below.

Giardiniera Slaw with Bacon

Johnny’s Grill, an old school diner in our Logan Square neighborhood, closed some time ago. In our nine or so years of living here, it had never seemed to be what you’d call hopping. For that matter, it had never enticed us in. Recently, it has reopened with a gently hipsterish makeover. Same formica counter and red vinyl stools, but the menu, still diner-ish and still reasonably priced, has gotten some cheflike loving. [click to continue…]



What we’ve been doing instead of cooking

by Terry B on January 6, 2016

Victorian door backplates

These are Victorian door backplates. Until very recently, they were buried under 120+ years of paint, so thickly coated that their exquisite patterns were completely obscured. Not any more. We got them off the doors, and Marion went at them with dangerous chemicals, brass brushes, rags and fierce determination. [click to continue…]



A road trip and Roast Chicken Provençal

by Terry B on December 30, 2015

Chicken thighs are browned, then roasted with shallots, lemons, garlic and what sounds like way too much herbes de Provence. It isn’t. Recipe below.

Roast Chicken Provençal

Last week, I wrote about how we would spend Christmas. Christmas Eve dinner in Chinatown (at Lao Shanghai—delicious), a movie Christmas day (Spotlight, a surprisingly uplifting film for such a heavy subject) and a simple roast chicken dish for dinner. It was good. The dish you see above was my second attempt, cooked last night with a few tweaks. It was very good. [click to continue…]



Traditions and non-food food for thought

by Terry B on December 23, 2015

Logan Square Holiday Decorations

Our holiday celebrations are shaping up pretty much the same way they do every year. Well, actually, things have been on the crazy busy side for us lately, even by our standards, so Hanukkah got the most perfunctory nod. But we’ll make up for it by celebrating Christmas as generations of Jewish families have—and as we always do. [click to continue…]



Challah, a traditional Jewish braided bread, can be flavored in many ways, from simple to savory to sweet. Here, semi-sweet chocolate and brown sugar create an almost dessertlike loaf. Recipe below.

Chocolate-filled Challah

My mother, a brilliant baker, used to routinely make elaborate, gorgeous, braided challahs with five, seven and even nine strands, filling them with chocolate, or candied fruits, or finely chopped nuts, or just cinnamon and sugar added with a cheerful generous hand. The scent, the anticipation, the burnished golden crust, all the ways we could use it: challah was a regular and wonderful part of my childhood. [click to continue…]