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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Ground coffee, whole cumin seeds, chili powder and cinnamon create an easy, amazing spice rub for pan-seared lamb chops. Recipe below.

Lamb Chops with Coffee Cumin Rub

I have really tried to like coffee. There was almost always a pot brewing in my house when I was growing up, and over the years, starting as a teenager, I tried many times to acquire a taste for it. Never happened. I’m not proud of the fact—I consider it a major social shortcoming on my part. But even though I don’t drink coffee, I’m intrigued by what it does to food. [click to continue…]

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Heading into a new year with hope and worry

by Terry B on December 28, 2016

Christmas in Pilsen, Chicago

We’re taking a break from cooking one more week. Enjoying time with family, simple dinners in, the familiar comfort of meals out in favorite places, quiet walks in our new neighborhood. The photo above was taken on one of those walks on Christmas Eve. [click to continue…]

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Happy holidays—and happy tenth to us

by Terry B on December 21, 2016

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This has been a year. After almost two years of planning, working and hand wringing, we finally moved into our new old house. And even though literally anywhere I look in the house, I can still see something that needs doing, we love being here. Love it. But what with the gazillion projects we’ve tackled (or avoided), the finally getting around to taking road trips again, reconnecting with friends and just generally living our overbooked lives, we forgot to mark Blue Kitchen’s tenth anniversary last month. [click to continue…]

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Fresh spinach gives this classic quiche a bigger flavor than frozen—and a frozen crust simplifies preparation. Recipe below.

Fresh Spinach and Bacon Quiche

I don’t remember the first time I ate quiche, but I do remember the most memorable slice. Marion and I were in Paris several years ago, searching for the modest hotel where my brother and I had stayed many years before. It was walking distance from the Eiffel Tower, and even though the bathrooms and showers were down the hall, the rooms were clean and charming, and we paid $7.50 a night. In the intervening years, the neighborhood I’d remembered as working class—Rue de Passy—had become a fashionable shopping destination. [click to continue…]

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