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Monday, June 19, 2017

Learn how to make jerky and an agua fresca using tamarillo

Posted By on 06.19.17 at 01:20 PM

Tamarillo, also known as the tree tomato, is native to Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia and is widely grown in New Zealand as a commercial crop. But it's not easy to buy the fruit in Chicago, says Gabino "Bino" Ottoman of the Ruin Daily, who was challenged by Carlos Cruz (Saint Lou's Assembly) to create a dish with it. Ottoman did find one store in Humboldt Park that sells pureed tamarillo, and Cruz was able to supply him with frozen whole fruit. "[Carlos] thought he was getting me because no one's really heard of tamarillo, but I worked at Le Bernadin [in New York], and there's way more Ecuadorians there than there are in Chicago," Ottoman says. "Every summer they would get sent Ecuadorian tree tomatoes from their families and make tamarillo agua fresca for the whole restaurant. I stole that idea for this."

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Get the sandwich of the summer at Daley Plaza Farmers Market

Posted By on 06.13.17 at 12:59 PM

Baked Cheese Haus's ham-and-cheese sandwich - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Baked Cheese Haus's ham-and-cheese sandwich

Baked Cheese Haus is not the name of your older brother's stoner-metal side project. But it may be the only outdoor-market sandwich slinger worth its own stoner-metal soundtrack. It's definitely the most theatrical.

It is, however, a side project, an increasingly heroic one from the folks behind Brunkow Cheese of Darlington, Wisconsin, a perennial presence at Chicago farmers' markets and the brains behind another brilliant market act: free samples of its molten Finnish-style Brun-uusto "bread cheese."

Baked Cheese Haus exists primarily to push Brunkow's 12-pound, three- to five-month-old raclette wheel. But the epically metal sandwich has proven so popular that the cheesemaker is out of raclette and Brunkow is now importing it from Switzerland to accommodate the savage demand. Picture it: You're wading through the lunchtime throngs at Daley Plaza. An intoxicating fungal aroma in the warm summer air alerts your olfactory system: It's alive! The crowd ahead parts and a booth appears where a maestro—his T-shirt relays a ninth beatitude, "Blessed are the cheesemakers"—plays a half reel of raclette like he's Tony Iommi.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Logan Square still hasn't reached its saturation point for cocktail bars—and Deadbolt is proof

Posted By on 06.05.17 at 04:18 PM

The polished Deadbolt shows few signs of its former life as Helen's Two-Way Lounge. - ZACHARY JOHNSTON
  • Zachary Johnston
  • The polished Deadbolt shows few signs of its former life as Helen's Two-Way Lounge.

It would be natural to look for traces of Helen's Two-Way Lounge in Deadbolt, the cocktail bar that replaced the dive bar and neighborhood favorite, which sold cheap beer and shots for more than 50 years. You won't find many, though. There's still a pair of doors—the source of the Two-Way's name—opening onto Milwaukee and Fullerton, but the rest has changed completely. Where the pool table once sat is lounge seating, and chandeliers have replaced the neon beer signs. The tin ceiling has been revealed and restored, and one wall is now exposed brick. In fact, Deadbolt resembles the nearby cocktail bar Spilt Milk (dark wood, exposed brick, mirrors, even the tin ceilings) much more than Helen's old joint.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

A peaches-and-cream cocktail goes best with Jell-O shots

Posted By on 06.01.17 at 07:37 PM

"When I was growing up, all I would eat with cottage cheese were these really syrupy, densely packed peaches," says Kiel Schelich, bar manager at Eight Bar (the previously nameless bar/restaurant downstairs from Maple & Ash). But when Steve Gleich of Luxbar challenged Schelich to use cottage cheese in a cocktail, his mind didn't immediately go there. Schelich's first thought was to make a drink modeled after a cement-mixer shot, where lime juice is added to Bailey's to curdle it. He quickly rejected that idea and moved on to scotch because, he says, it pairs well with cheese. "For like three days, I was doing scotches, trying to make a sophisticated cocktail with it," he says. "Then I was like, 'It's fucking cheese curds. Why am I overthinking this?'"

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Watch Saint Lou’s Assembly chef Carlos Cruz make a ‘land caviar’ dish that really pops

Posted By on 05.22.17 at 03:52 PM

"Land caviar" is a common nickname for tonburi—the seed of a plant known as kochia or burning bush, among other names. In Japan, the seeds are considered a delicacy similar to caviar and used as a garnish for sushi; in China they're used in traditional medicine. Chef Carlos Cruz of Saint Lou's Assembly, challenged by John Kirchner of GT Prime to create a dish with tonburi, says, "It wasn't what I expected. There's not that much flavor to it."

"Everyone talks about how it's like caviar, it pops in your mouth," Cruz says. "It does pop in your mouth just a little, but it's not extreme." The tiny seeds are dried and boiled before being placed in jars and sold commercially; they're typically served as is, but Cruz went to great lengths to bring out their flavor. "I've tried toasting it, fermenting it, even blooming it," he says. Cruz compares the smell to tea. What little flavor there is, he says, is grassy and earthy.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Leela Punyaratabandhu, author of Bangkok, talks street food, real Thai food, and shares a recipe for crispy water spinach salad

Posted By on 05.10.17 at 06:00 PM

Crispy water spinach, ยำผักบุ้งกรอบ, yam phak bung krop - DAVID LOFTUS
  • David Loftus
  • Crispy water spinach, ยำผักบุ้งกรอบ, yam phak bung krop

I don’t publish anything on Thai food before running it past Friend of the Food Chain Leela Punyaratabandhu. In English, no one is writing more authoritatively on the subject than she. For readers of her blog SheSimmers this has been evident for years, and it was only cemented with the publication of her first cookbook, Simple Thai Food, which was a come-to-Jesus for anyone familiar with the broad array of disparate dishes that seems to appear on the menus of Thai restaurants everywhere in the world—except for Thailand.

Her second cookbook, Bangkok, released yesterday, is a deep dive into the culinary landscape of a city most visitors only scratch the surface of. There’s a lot of food you won’t find on the streets, like home cooking (steamed dumplings with chicken-peanut filling), royal cuisine (fried taro dumplings with shrimp-coconut filling), restaurant cooking (fried chicken in pandan leaves) and cook-shop cooking (pork chops, cook-shop style), recipes resurrected from the dusty pages of history (pork belly-green juice curry), seasonal recipes (fire-roasted river prawns with tamarind sauce and blanched neem), Portuguese-Thai (rice vermicelli with chopped chicken curry and yellow chile-coconut sauce), Chinese-Thai (khao ka mu) and, yes, even street food (grilled meatballs with spicy sweet-and-sour sauce). It’s all seasoned with the sometimes-bittersweet memories of a lifelong Bangkokian who spends about half her time away from home, a lot of it in Chicago.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Uh-oh, a SpaghettiOs cocktail!

Posted By on 05.03.17 at 05:17 PM

Making a cocktail with the canned kid-pleaser SpaghettiOs "sounds like a nightmare," says Luxbar bar manager Steve Gleich. But when Nicole Brudd of the Revel Room challenged him to do just that, Gleich got to work. His first idea was a Bloody Mary, which evolved into a Bloody Maria and then sangrita, a drink that's typically sipped alongside tequila. Though sangrita originally consisted of just fruit juice and chile powder, today it often includes tomato juice as well, which is the route that Gleich went with it.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Drowning our Tax Day sorrows at Income Tax Bar

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 11:00 AM

  • courtesy Income Tax Bar
Yes, yes, I realize that we should have gone to Income Tax Bar on Tuesday to drown our sorrow over being newly poor. But the weather was so nice on Tuesday and, anyway, the government hadn't cashed the big checks we mailed to it, so the sorrow was more abstract. It was easier to be sad on Wednesday when it turned cold and blustery and our bank accounts were noticeably smaller. Those are ideal conditions for going to a bar and drinking some wine and expounding at length on our personal grievances with life.

There is plenty of wine at Income Tax Bar, mostly from France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. There are also beer, cider, spirits, and a small selection of cocktails, most of which are brandy based. The waitstaff are very kind and patient with their explanations about what things are and helpful about helping novices figure out what might taste good.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

A GT Prime chef creates a sticky-sweet pairing for foie gras

Posted By on 04.14.17 at 11:41 AM

This year Marshmallow Fluff, America’s oldest brand of marshmallow creme, celebrates its 100th anniversary. It wasn’t the first commercially available version—that honor goes to a brand called Snowflake—but it has outlasted its rival by more than 50 years. And Fluff has a particularly devoted following, especially in Massachusetts, where it was invented and is honored with an annual “What the Fluff” festival. (The state also made national headlines in 2006 after a senator filed a measure that would limit serving Fluffernutter sandwiches in school cafeterias to once a week, which provoked outrage and prompted other legislators to propose making the Fluffernutter the state sandwich.)

The other brands of marshmallow creme sold in the U.S. are Solo and Kraft, and it’s the latter that Emily Stewart of Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits chose for GT Prime chef John Kirchner's challenge. Kirchner hates marshmallows, he says, because of their texture, though the softer marshmallow creme (which uses egg whites in place of gelatin) isn’t so bad. He didn’t grow up eating the confection, though he does remember having a Fluffernutter sandwich in high school and immediately forming a “fake band” with his friends called Garbage Juice and the Fluffernutters. “We played no actual instruments—it was more for status,” he says.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Make Dana Cree's donut ice cream

Posted By on 04.13.17 at 12:22 PM

Publican-brand pastry chef Dana Cree's cookbook Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream is out now, and it should be priority one for cooks who've dreamed of making their own frozen dairy products only to be foiled by ice cream enemy number one: ice itself. Cree, whose career-long runup to this book involved attending Penn State's Ice Cream University, opens the alluring volume with a deep dive into the science behind ice cream, explaining how ice, fat, protein, sugar, and air alchemize into the miracle we all love. Along the way she provides numerous options or "texture methods" for reducing the size of ice crystals, leading to a smooth end product. And then there are the recipes, divided into custard ice creams (green cardamom, pumpkin sage), eggless Philadelphia-style ice creams (Parmesan, cheesecake), sherbets (blood orange, avocado-grapefruit), and frozen yogurt (spiced cane syrup, hibiscus), plus recipes for add-ins (butterscotch ripple, cinnamon-brown sugar streusel), all culminating in a chapter on epic composed scoops like the multipart recipe listed below. It concludes with an appendix on ratios to help you create your own recipes. Recipes are after the jump.

Cree will address all of this as well as ice cream history at Saturday's meeting of the Culinary Historians of Chicago at 10 AM at Kendall College, 900 N. North Branch, where she'll serve samples and sign books; it's $5. And next Friday, April 21, she'll appear at Foodease, 835 N. Michigan, at noon.

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September 01
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October 19

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