Celebrating the new year with a banana bread that gets a boozy flavor boost with bourbon, pecans and orange zest. Recipe below.
The last day of 2013 began with me in the kitchen at 8:30 in the morning, preheating the oven, preparing to bake. The day being New Year’s Eve, it was somehow appropriate that I would be baking with bourbon.
Our houseguest was still asleep, so instead of the kitchen boombox, I had my iPod going. Somehow appropriate to cooking with bourbon, what was playing on it was The Cannonball Adderley Sextet in New York, a live album recorded at the Village Vanguard in January 1962. In addition to Cannonball on alto sax and his brother Nat on cornet, it featured the always inventive Yusef Lateef on tenor sax, flute and oboe. Hard bop jazz of the 1950s and ’60s is a sweet spot for me, and this album is particularly sweet. Great music to cook to—especially with bourbon. [click to continue…]
A TV dinner and a hula girl. How much more Christmasy can you get? Somehow another year has flown by. And while other food bloggers were busy sharing holiday recipes and gift ideas, I was, well, not. Partly, it’s because I was settling into a new job and we were traveling to see our older daughter graduate summa cum laude, both really wonderful things.
But mostly, it’s because I am perhaps one of the most accomplished procrastinators on the planet. I frequently amaze even myself with my abilities in this arena. So instead of all the ideas I should have been giving you to make your holidays brighter, cooler, funner, tastier, I’ll just tell you a little bit about how we’re enjoying ours. [click to continue…]
Tilapia with White Beans and Kale is a weeknight-quick, one-pan meal. Capers add a bright, briny kick. Recipe below.
Inspiration for the recipes you find here comes from everywhere. From restaurant meals to farmers market or grocery store finds, cookbooks, magazines, even random photographs or phrases. This recipe’s origin was much more straightforward. The tilapia fillets in the fridge weren’t getting any younger, and I wanted something other than my usual couple of go-to recipes. Oh, and it had to be quick. We had something to do after dinner.
That meant there would be no running to the store for anything we didn’t already have on hand. What we had on hand included kale, a shallot, canned white beans, white wine, broth and some capers. I knew we would be fine. [click to continue…]
This is my first experience cooking with a slow cooker—pot roast with carrots, onions, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic and red wine. Recipe below.
This recipe is brought to you by Black Friday. For some years now, Marion and her sister Lena have treated Black Friday as an annual, mostly-for-entertainment ritual. At some point on Thanksgiving Day, the ad-fat Chicago Tribune is explored and a plan of attack is, well, planned. Lena arrives at our house in the predawn hours on Friday and they head off. By late morning, they’re breakfasting in some pancake house and relishing the shopping adventures they’ve just shared. My total involvement in previous years’ predawn sorties has been to open one eye and wish Marion good hunting as she departed.
This year, we slept in. After a leisurely breakfast, we all headed out mid-morning with just a couple of goals in mind. A slow cooker was not one of them. But as we stood in a checkout line, wildly discounted mattress pads and comforters filling our arms, we saw the impressive tower of slow cookers, also impressively priced. [click to continue…]
Red cabbage is quickly sautéed in butter and oil with onion, apple, pear and bay leaf, then braised with red wine, vinegar, cloves and sugar for a delicious, healthy side. Recipe below.
Red cabbage was one of the regular culinary parts of my childhood—I loved it and I still do. I am not saying that red cabbage is my madeleine, but when I am assembling this recipe, and when we dish it up, it never fails to give me a cozy sense of the comforts of home. Especially in winter, when the nights have drawn in, I love to have a pot simmering on the stove, on its way to being served alongside something simple and true like a roasted chicken or as a beautiful part of a vegetarian meal, alongside a savory socca pancake and steamed green beans, or a portobello sandwich. [click to continue…]
Pork chops are quickly seared, then finished in a sauce of blueberries, rosemary, shallots, whole grain mustard and red wine. Recipe below.
Search for blueberry recipes on the Google and you come up with pies, pancakes, muffins, scones, cobblers, crumbles, crisps, buckles… you get the idea. All are absolutely delicious, of course, but this kind of typecasting troubles the folks at the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. They’d like to see home cooks be a little more adventurous in their use of blueberries.
So they invited bloggers to participate in a contest to create recipes that use blueberries in fresh ways. The contest, called Blueberries Meet Their Match, specifically challenged participants to combine blueberries with one of four possible ingredients—bananas, coconut, balsamic vinegar or rosemary. I chose rosemary and immediately headed in a savory direction. [click to continue…]
Whole duck legs are braised with orange, ginger, lemongrass, cilantro and garlic in this dish adapted from The Lemonade Cookbook. Recipe below.
We occasionally get offers to review cookbooks. Often, we say yes. But sometimes, the cookbooks can be a little too, well, niche for our tastes. Did you know there are multiple jello shot cookbooks?
So when we were asked to review The Lemonade Cookbook, you can imagine our first response. Turns out, though, that lemonade isn’t the key ingredient in the book’s recipes. It’s the name of a popular chain of modern cafeterias in Southern California with an emphasis on simple preparations, bold flavors and imaginative dishes with an inventive global taste. This sounded like a cookbook we needed to see. [click to continue…]
Whoopie pies go seasonal, with pumpkin cookies and two different cream cheese fillings—lemon and maple syrup. Recipes below.
When I told my friends that for this week’s post I would be making whoopie pies, no one said, “Making what?”
Pretty much everybody in the United States these days knows what a whoopie pie is. A cookie sandwich with an icing filling, it’s simpler than cake, a happy intermediate between a cupcake and a sweet bread. Whoopie pies emanated from the American Northeast—Maine (where it is the “official state treat”), Pennsylvania and Boston all vow they invented it. Wikipedia reports that the world’s largest whoopie pie was made in South Portland, Maine in 2011. It weighed 1,062 pounds. This is a real thing, that happened. [click to continue…]
In this recipe from Home Cooking with Charlie Trotter, a braised beef stew flavored with cardamom, garlic, onion, celery and carrots is topped with roasted potatoes, parsnips and celery root. Recipe below.
Charlie Trotter died last week. The groundbreaking restaurateur and chef—and Chicago hometown hero—was just 54. In the world of food, proclamations that someone “changed the way we eat” or “changed the way we cook” get bandied about a lot. In Trotter’s case, both are true and then some. His eponymous restaurant, opened in 1987 in a Lincoln Park townhouse, was an immediate success. And his innovative approach to cooking created a seismic shift in Chicago’s restaurant scene. As William Grimes put it in The New York Times, “In the blink of an eye, the city’s lagging restaurant culture… took a giant step into the future.”
Trotter was a self-taught chef. He became interested in cooking through a college roommate, who was an avid cook. After graduating from college, he traveled around the U.S. and Europe, dining at the finest restaurants, seeking to figure out how the “best” gained that title. His first cooking job was for another famous Chicago chef, Gordon Sinclair. He opened Charlie Trotter’s when he was 28. [click to continue…]
A long train ride back from a weekend in Syracuse, New York called for comfort food even an exhausted traveler could throw together from what was on hand. Below, the recipe for the easiest thing I cook.
We took the overnight train from Chicago to Syracuse last weekend. No fancy sleeping compartment for us. We toughed it out in coach, with reclining seats, a stack of magazines and books, DVDs for the laptop, a bottle of wine, sandwiches and assorted snacks. Okay, so we weren’t exactly roughing it. [click to continue…]