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Monday, April 23, 2018

Here’s how to make BellyQ chef Bill Kim’s excellent Korean pesto

Posted By on 04.23.18 at 06:00 AM

Sauces and seasonings for steak-and-asparagus night. Clockwise from upper right: Korean pesto, nuoc cham, gochuchang, lemongrass chile sauce. Center: blackening seasoning. Not pictured: Korean barbecue sauce - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Sauces and seasonings for steak-and-asparagus night. Clockwise from upper right: Korean pesto, nuoc cham, gochuchang, lemongrass chile sauce. Center: blackening seasoning. Not pictured: Korean barbecue sauce
I haven't always been gentle when I've written about Bill Kim's food. I've long been of the (immensely unpopular) opinion that the former fine-dining chef behind the immensely popular BellyQ (and erstwhile Urban Belly and Belly Shack) tends to oversaturate his food with too many disparate influences.

Guess what? He doesn't care.

"Do there really have to be borders on our cuisine?," he writes in the truly touching and humble introduction to his new cookbook Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces, in which he describes his culinary evolution—from his arrival in Chicago at the age of seven, speaking no English, on up through culinary school, Charlie Trotter's, and the three Bellys—as a truly American syncretism.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Chicago-based Kitchen Toke, the first zine devoted to cooking with weed, preaches the green word

Posted By on 04.20.18 at 06:00 AM

An issue of Kitchen Toke
  • An issue of Kitchen Toke

When Chicagoan Laura Yee supplies brownies for a potluck, people wonder if she baked brownies, or brownies with a secret ingredient. “Everyone always asks, ‘Is there weed in that?’” she says.

Her reputation precedes her. Yee and longtime collaborator Joline Rivera are the founders of Kitchen Toke, the first national publication devoted to cooking with cannabis. Based in Chicago, the magazine delivers recipes for savory dishes, decadent desserts, and cocktails—all of which feature cannabis, infused in oil or butter, as an essential ingredient. Issues are released quarterly, and the second drops today, Friday 4/20.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

John Coletta's radicchio risotto is bloody good

Posted By on 03.30.18 at 06:00 AM


It's spring cookbook season, and there's a lot of noteworthy pulp by local authors out and about. You've already heard about the wonders of The Kefir Cookbook by Julie Smolyansky. In a week or two I'll take a look at Korean BBQ by Bill Kim and Plate magazine editor Chandra Ram. There's also Craft Coffee by Jessica Easto, which actually came out last year (I've been sleeping on it). But last weekend I spent some time with Risotto & Beyond by gentleman chef and fennel pollen maestro John Coletta of Quartino fame, along with Monica Kass Rogers and the late Nancy Ross Ryan.

Coletta already has one book under his belt, the dependable 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes, and he's one of the pioneers of the new charcuterie movement in Chicago, so I might've expected (hoped for?) something along those lines for a second book.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Key Ingredient Cook-Off 2016: first ingredient revealed via pancake art

Posted By on 05.03.16 at 12:33 PM

This year we've cooked up a special reveal for our 2016 Key Ingredient Cook-Off event—literally.

Pancake artist Dancakes used his batter wizardry to create a doughy representation of each of the four secret ingredients. Watch him whip up the first of four key ingredients that will be used at the cook-off.

While you're at it, buy tickets to this year's #KICO! Sixteen of Chicago's best chefs are creating dishes around the theme South of the Border. You'll have the chance to taste all of them and vote on your favorite.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

How to make Graham Elliot's cheddar risotto (and how to deal with the leftovers)

Posted By on 12.14.15 at 12:30 PM

Graham Elliot's cheddar risotto. Mine didn't look this pretty.
  • Graham Elliot's cheddar risotto. Mine didn't look this pretty.

Don't you think Graham Elliot should've been cast in The Hunger Games as a TV chef in the Capitol? These days the bow-tied one may be more known for playing good cop on MasterChef than he is for his food. When was the last time he was associated with a dish that pervaded the gustatory zeitgeist like the foielipop? But the dictates of celebrity cheffery demand a cookbook, and now there's Cooking Like a Master Chef, a slick 100-recipe volume interspersed with plenty of food porn and shots of the slimmed-down, postbariatric Elliot frolicking with his family like a regular joe. There are lots of accessible recipes with occasional jarring, intriguing twists on the familiar (Chinese forbidden fried rice, strip steak with Cabernet jam), and many of the chef's old signature dishes are there—the truffled popcorn, the buffalo chicken with beer foam, the deconstructed Caesar, the lobster corn dog, the short-rib stroganoff.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

JeanMarie Brownson's everything cookie can slake a stoner's hunger

Posted By on 12.03.15 at 02:00 PM

JeanMarie Brownson's Chocolate Cherry Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • JeanMarie Brownson's Chocolate Cherry Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Moving along with our continuing series of local food books: To date Tribune food columnist JeanMarie Brownson's most notable cookbooks have been coauthored with Rick Bayless, for whom she serves as culinary director of Frontera Foods. Though her name was on 1989's The Chicago Tribune Cookbook (when she was head of the paper's test kitchen), until now there's been no hardcover collection of her own work. Dinner at Home, published by Agate Surrey (which is becoming the publisher of record for local cookbooks), is made up of recipes selected from Brownson's column, and it has the wide scope you'd expect to come out of a major daily.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Laura Frankel's Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes aren't just for Shabbat

Posted By on 11.13.15 at 01:08 PM


The slow cooker is a crucial piece of kitchen equipment for folks keeping kosher, particularly on the Sabbath when they aren't supposed to work or tend the fire. The simple solution for putting together a hot and ready midday meal is to assemble it in the slow cooker Friday night, and the next day, there it is. That process is at the heart of Laura Frankel's Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes, an updated paperback edition of a book the former Shallots Bistro chef and current chef at Wolfgang Puck's Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute published in 2009.  

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Make a River Roast dinner for two last for weeks

Posted By on 11.06.15 at 02:15 PM


It's a good thing I didn't reread Mike Sula's review of River Roast before my boyfriend and I headed there for his birthday dinner (his choice). The gimmick behind the sprawling Levy Restaurant is family-style dinners centered on a big hunk o' beef, fish, or poultry, and Sula found the last two "the most disappointing things on the menu"—the chicken especially: 
its legs, blackened by flame, are dry and pull apart like jerky, while the breast meat is devoid of any sort of moisture to remind you that it was once a living being. At $39, it's a galling thing to do to a bird.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

How to make a Stinger: A two-ingredient cocktail with hardly any sting

Posted By on 09.14.15 at 01:40 PM

The Dimention, left, and Stinger, right - JULIA THIEL
  • Julia Thiel
  • The Dimention, left, and Stinger, right

Reginald Vanderbilt, the early-20th-century millionaire often credited with inventing the Stinger, described it as "a short drink with a long reach, a subtle blending of ardent nectars, a boon to friendship, a dispeller of care." (At least that's what a syndicated 1923 newspaper article reported, though in his updated edition of Imbibe, David Wondrich describes the article as "gossipy.") It's a difficult promise for any cocktail to live up to, and I doubt that most people these days would consider creme de menthe, one of the cocktail's two ingredients, to be an "ardent nectar." (Though I've been discovering recently that it can make a very good mixer.)

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Cling to summer by making your own creme de menthe

Posted By on 09.04.15 at 01:00 PM

  • Julia Thiel

With the scorching weather we've had for the past few days (not to mention the weekend forecast), it's tempting to wish summer would hurry up and leave already. To be honest, I kind of do. But then I start thinking about all that's going to leave along with the warm weather—peak-season tomatoes, peaches, basil, mint—and trying to figure out if I can live solely on tomatoes for the next couple weeks. I guess I could start canning tomatoes or peaches, but I've tried canning in the past and wasn't wild about the hours of work in a hot kitchen (plus, I don't own a food mill). Preserving flavors in alcohol, on the other hand, is incredibly easy. Enter creme de menthe.

As cocktail ingredients go, creme de menthe is dated: it pops up over and over in the cocktail books from the 1930s that I've recently been sifting through, and it starred in the Grasshopper cocktails that were so popular in the 70s. But these days, much like creme de cacao (which I also recently tried making), creme de menthe is more likely to be found in a dorm room than in a well-curated liquor cabinet.

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