Leeks, potatoes and frozen green peas quickly cook into a creamy, hearty soup that tastes like spring. See Kitchen Notes for a vegetarian version. Recipe below.
Spring in Chicago is being its usual capricious self. Warm, sunny days mix it up with cold, blustery, rain-filled stretches. The range of our outerwear this time of year says it all. Leather jackets, sport coats, shirt sleeves, raincoats and, sadly, even our down parkas all see action.
It’s the same story in the kitchen. Longer days and soft breezes have us longing for fresh asparagus and other tastes of spring. Sudden blasts of cold send us running for comfort food. This soup delivers both. The sweet, green flavor of peas is filled with promise; the thick, hearty, potato-rich base soothes even on an unseasonably chilly night. [click to continue…]
Herbed biscuits stand in for pie crust in this deconstructed chicken pot pie. Herbes de Provence, garlic and wine give the American classic a French accent. Recipe below.
I recently had lunch at Dine, the restaurant of the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro hotel. I wasn’t there because of my food writing credentials. Marion’s sister Lena works in the travel industry. The hotel had invited her to lunch; I was her plus one.
Historically, hotel restaurants have offered safe, if less than inspired meals to weary business travelers and wary tourists afraid to play restaurant roulette in a strange city. That’s beginning to change, though. Increasingly, hotels are bringing in new chefs and inviting them to play with their food. [click to continue…]
We go to the International Home + Housewares Show every year in search of new tools, technologies and ideas for the kitchen. And every year, we’re equally impressed by the color and fun. Like these spatulas spreading the ubiquitous “Keep Calm” message at the Lifetime Brands booth. Here, then, are some of the cool (and colorful) things we saw at this year’s show. Some are brand new, others just new to us. [click to continue…]
No new recipe this week. I wanted to concentrate on our coverage of this year’s International Home + Housewares Show. But I also wanted to remind you that Passover begins Monday evening, March 25. If you’re looking for a dessert idea, you absolutely cannot do better than Marion’s Matzoh Crack, made with white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and spicy rose sugar. As the name suggests, it is addictive.
Pork and beef meatloaf is flavored with basil, scallions, garlic and Chinese five-spice powder, topped with pickled carrots and daikon, then served with baguette slices for this American take on Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches. Recipes below.
We love border-crossing cooking. When ingredients and techniques travel across boundaries and cultures, food gets interesting. Vietnamese cuisine is a perfect example. Not only does it share herbs and spices with its Asian neighbors, but it borrows from its culinary past as a French colony.
A family favorite here at Blue Kitchen is Marion’s Vietnamese Beef Stew. The slow cooked, meaty, multi-spiced dish is served with a French baguette instead of rice and eaten with forks and spoons, not chopsticks. Similarly, bánh mì—in the West, delicious, usually meaty Vietnamese sandwiches—are served on baguettes. In Vietnam, the term bánh mì actually means bread or, more specifically, French bread. [click to continue…]
Sustainably farmed tilapia is simply steamed with wine and lemon juice on a bed of sautéed leeks and garlic for this weeknight-quick seafood recipe.
Eating seafood keeps getting trickier. For years now, we’ve been urged to eat more of it for our health. Fish is a low-fat source of protein. And instead of the artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising saturated fats found in meats, even fatty fish such as salmon contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that do all sorts of good things for us.
But also for years, we’ve been warned about mercury and other harmful pollutants in some fish. We’ve been told that certain species are being overfished to the verge of extinction, and that fish farming often takes a heavy toll on the environment. And now a study on seafood fraud says that even when we try to choose the right seafood, chances are good we’re not getting what we think we are. [click to continue…]
Leftover pot roast (or whatever meat you may have on hand) combines with potatoes (and not a lot else) to make a hash that shows why meat and potatoes rock. Recipe below.
Some foods are just made for each other. A grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup; black beans and rice; pizza and beer; apple pie and vanilla ice cream.
And, of course, beef and potatoes.
These days we are not eating meat as often as we once did, trying to be more mindful of the way we live on the planet. But when we do, we still love it. And we don’t waste any of it.
The arrival in the mailbox of the annual Saveur 100 issue was the gateway to a new to me recipe that is an old American classic: hash. The Saveur 100 is always one of my favorite reading events—it’s a thrill when it arrives and a pleasure throughout the year. Saveur always talks about the coolest trends, the most amazing destinations, and of course the oh golly! examples of local favorites (“Ohio nachos”). I excavate it from our magazine mountain again and again throughout the year for inspiration or just to while away the time. [click to continue…]
Mango filling adds a lively twist to this traditional Purim cookie. Recipe below.
An interesting thing about Mad Men to me is that the producers chose to depict Sterling Cooper as a status quo, advertising-as-usual ad agency. Three-martini lunches and solid, but don’t-rock-the-boat creative. That was the norm then, but a handful of brilliant agencies were indeed rocking the boat with smart, funny, engaging creative. One such agency was Doyle Dane Bernbach. They created the legendary “Think Small” campaign for Volkswagen in 1959. Ten years before that, they introduced this charming campaign for a Jewish bakery in Brooklyn:
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Elements of two classic comfort foods combine in meaty, satisfying Braised Veal Shanks with White Beans. Recipe below.
Don’t get me wrong. I love osso buco. I’ve even made the time-honored Italian dish. But when I recently got my hands on some nice looking veal shanks, I wanted to try something different. Apparently, I’m not alone in that. Nestled among a bazillion osso buco recipes that a quick search for veal shanks recipes brought up was this plaintive cry on Chowhound: “Need veal shank recipe—Not Osso Buco.”
In my head, I traveled the culinary globe off and on for a couple of days. I spent a lot of virtual time in Mexico and Latin America, conjuring up tangy, spicy, chipotle-smoky dishes. Morocco called to me, with cumin, paprika, cinnamon and golden raisins. In the end, though, I landed right next door to Italy, in France. And the resulting recipe borrowed from classic dishes of both. [click to continue…]