Month: February 2012

Béchamel Sauce – Creamy Truffled Cauliflower Gratin

In the Top Chef Texas season there was a challenge where the chefs had to rework Escoffier’s “mother” sauces, one of which is béchamel.  This is an awesome, versatile, easy sauce for the home cook.  Once you learn to make this preparation you can make all sorts of creamy, gooey, cheesy things.  It’s perfect for making casseroles, gratins, or to flavor and use as a sauce or creamed soup.  Very simple and easy to make.  Use this the next time you make macaroni and cheese and you’ll never make the Kraft one again.  It’ll wow everyone. (more…)

Top Chef Episode 16 – Will This Season Ever End?

I’m beginning to think it won’t.  Man, this season has really dragged on.  Much like my time spent at O’Hare this morning while waiting for a flight to New Orleans.  We had a snow storm move through Chicago last night and while it didn’t dump much snow it mucked up travel nonetheless.  So, while waiting for my flight I figured I’d bang out this week’s recap.  My morning here has reflected the past few weeks of the season, initial excitement at the start, then some delay, then into the just get it over with phase.  This week’s episode was the just get it over with episode.  The three remaining chefs came down off the mountain to Vancouver where, I am only guessing on this, the title will be decided. (more…)

The Bad Apple – Nothing Bad About It!

Sitting on a corner of Lincoln Ave. between Irving Park and Montrose is a place called The Bad Apple.  I’d heard good things about it from some co-workers and since it’s just a few blocks away from my office on Damen, it’s perfect for a quick lunch.  The food is good, moderately priced, and they’ve got a huge beer list with lots of beers/ales/lambics/IPAs.  The majority of the beer offered is bottled but their draft list is large with at least a couple dozen to choose from.  And yeah that’s right, there’s nothing wrong with having a beer at lunch. (more…)

Quick Post: It’s Paczki Day Here in Chicago!

Hey Chicago!  Did you get yours this morning?  Did your boss stop and bring some to the office like mine did?  Did your friend who got up early in the morning save you one?  No?  Cheryl wasn’t so lucky either so I thought I should pick some up for her.

For all the non-Chicagoans (and non-Polish), Paczki (sounds like PUNCH-kee, where they get that “N” from I have no idea) are the pre-Ash Wednesday treat here in the Windy City.  Big Polish doughnuts.  Insert your own joke about oversized pastries for oversized noggins here.  And yes, a lot of Chicagoans get excited for this Fat Tuesday tradition.  Since Chicago’s supposedly the largest Polish city outside of Poland it’s no surprise paczki are a huge (pun intended) favorite!

I scored these from Dinkels Bakery on Lincoln Avenue by the Paulina Brown Line stop.  Since I am not of Polish heritage I did not get up at the crack of dawn to wait in line and so ended up with these flavors: lemon, raspberry, strawberry, and a caramel coated custard one.  All for $6.  They’re pretty damn awesome too (had a chocolate one and a cheese one earlier today).  I just hope Cheryl gets home soon as I can’t look at these much longer without biting into one.

What’s for Sunday Dinner – Braised Short Ribs

Short ribs!  Always be on the lookout for when these go on sale at the grocery store, when there is one they disappear quickly.  Short ribs are delicious, juicy, and tender.  These are wholly unrelated to “boneless short ribs” which aren’t even from the rib area.  They’re packed with layers of fat which melts away and shrinks the meat on the bone, so you’ll need at least 2-3 per person depending on the size of the short ribs.  Marinating and braising them in some wine makes for a very comforting Sunday dinner.  (more…)

A Tale of Two Thai’s: Eater 38’s Tac Quick, and Indie Cafe

Tac Quick's Som Tum Thai - a spicy tower of papaya

Recently we’ve been to two extremely different Thai restaurants.  One is our neighborhood place here in Wrigleyville, Tac Quick (Eater 38), and the other is up in Edgewater, Indie Cafe.  Both are very good but very different dining experiences.  At one you’ll find some unique, authentic Thai dishes, the other is more mainstream.  Oh and both restaurants are BYOB!  Score. (more…)

Top Chef Episode 15 – I thought it was the Finale

I was so excited for Top Chef last night.  You read that correctly: Excited!  Mostly because I thought it was the big final and we’d get a winner and be done with this train wreck of a season.  I was wrong.  Cheryl kept asking if I was sure this was the final episode.  Yes, yes, of course it is, they’ll have one elimination to get rid of the fourth wheel and then it’s final challenge time.  Bing bang boom, we have a winner.  Nowhere near close to what happened on the show.  (more…)