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…]

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

chicken-fennel-soup

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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]

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Blue Kitchen is back live this week, with six last-minute culinary gift ideas. This may seem like a short and somewhat random list, but all these items have one thing in common—we actually use them in our kitchen and love them. Happy shopping.

KMN Aluminum Rolling Pin

KMN Aluminum Rolling Pin

Before we saw this rolling pin from KMN Home at the National Restaurant Association Show this spring, we thought we had quite enough rolling pins, thank you. After we saw it—and after a few weeks of being unable to stop thinking about it—we bought one. Made of aircraft-grade aluminum, it has a laser-engraved ruler. The aluminum body makes it easy to keep cool for rolling pie crust dough—just pop it in the freezer for a little bit. The ruler—with measurements in inches and millimeters—makes it easy to measure those crusts as you roll them. And with its smooth anodized finish, doughs do not want to stick to it. Available in red, blue and black, it is also handsome enough to display. When I bake, this is now the rolling pin I reach for first. The KMN Aluminum Rolling Pin runs around $40. [click to continue…]

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This Mexican street food-inspired dish packs big flavor, but not too much heat. Two recipes from the archives—and a wedding story—below.

Roasted Chili Cumin Chicken with Pickled Red Onions

At some point, I’m not sure when, Mexican restaurant food became relegated to comfort food status for us. Something we could count on to be reliably good, filling and cheap, but no longer something we got a hankering for. It wasn’t always this way. At one point, Marion and I ate at a Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood at least once a week for a year or more. In fact, we went there on our wedding night, before going barhopping with my mom and my brand new sister-in-law. [read more here…]

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Thanksgiving was a smashing success (or close enough). Now delight your weekend house guests with Marion’s light, creamy pancakes topped with sautéed fruit. Recipe from the Blue Kitchen archives below.

Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Pears

Thanksgiving is arguably the most important food holiday. Sure, food matters with other holidays, but for Thanksgiving, food is the holiday. For food magazines, the Thanksgiving issue is the September issue of Vogue, and the cover girl is invariably the turkey.

At Blue Kitchen, we prefer to focus on the periphery, providing interesting side dishes that liven up the holiday table. Sweet Potato Vichyssoise for a surprising, elegant first course, Kasha, a non-traditional traditional side in our house that gravy loves every bit as much as mashed potatoes, Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Root Vegetables, a tofu-free vegetarian main course or side… [read more here…]

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