Month: November 2011

Top Chef recap

So happy we finally got to the real show!  Quickfire and Elimination challenges are back!  It was a good episode tonight.  The send-home decision wasn’t very controversial, it was a clear-cut win, and everyone is getting along, very little personality drama so far.  There were a few curious decisions by the cheftestants however. (more…)


Sweet Potato and Spicy Sausage Soup

Here’s an extremely simple pureed soup that fits in nicely with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  Everyone has their favorite part of the Thanksgiving dinner (mine is the stuffing, the turkey is just the vessel by which the stuffing is cooked in my opinion) and most of the time no one ever wants to mess with the traditional parts of the annual dinner like the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pies, myself included.  Over the past few Thanksgiving dinners I’ve stuck with a traditional roast turkey, my grandmother’s stuffing (come back later in the week for the recipe for that…sausage is involved) and pumpkin pie.  As good a base as any to build around.  Cheryl’s fav is the green beans with fried onions so we’ve incorporated that into our traditional base as well.  The rest of the sides are where I think you can get a little more creative and adventurous.  Sweet potatoes are one side dish you can really branch out on.  Here’s one variation that is so simple you can test it out the weekend before. (more…)

Chicago Michelin Guide – Nope, Zero Stars for Next

Michelin Guide is out.  Nope, no star for Next.  Chef Achatz will have to be content with his 3 stars for Alinea.  Not surprised actually though.  Why the snub?  Who knows.  There’s been some speculation lately that Next wouldn’t get a star because the menu is always changing and you could have entirely different meals quality-wise because of it.  Since no one really knows what Michelin looks for any guess is just that…a guess.  Bottom line is they didn’t give it any stars.  Deal with it Next fans.


Eater 38 – The Purple Pig

A couple of weekends ago Cheryl and I had another opportunity to dine at one of Chicago Eater’sEater 38” restaurants.  We had some friends visiting from DC who were staying downtown so we recommended going to The Purple Pig.  It’s on Michigan just north of the river which is enough to make you think “tourist food” but it’s not.  Well, okay, there can be tourists there but it’s not a tourist trap type of place.  In fact The Purple Pig is on the Michelin Guide’s “Bib Gourmand” list for Chicago which means it has high quality food and the price of an appetizer, entrée, and glass of wine is below $40.  At the Purple Pig you can definitely get under that number and be very satisfied when you push away from the table. (more…)

What’s for Sunday Dinner – Beef Shanks Osso Buco Style

Braised beef shanks, polenta, and carmelized parsnips w/ pancetta

My favorite Italian restaurant dinner is osso buco.  The big falling-off-the-bone piece of veal, the marrow, the pairing of risotto Milanese, it’s a big, heavy dish best saved for special occasions when dining out.  Because of the heartiness of it you don’t normally find it on menus in the summertime.  Like most braised meat dishes it’s a dinner for fall and winter.  I love making this at home.  It has an excellent wow factor and is pretty simple to make, like last week’s Sunday dinner.  Veal shanks can be pretty expensive but you can use this technique to turn any shanks into an “osso buco” dinner. (more…)

I Love My Panini Press

Perfect sandwich for a crisp fall Saturday

A long time ago I bought something from Williams-Sonoma which of course put me on their email list.  One day I received an email from them about a big sale on a Breville panini press It was pretty heavily discounted so I bought it.  One of my most favorite purchases.  Plug it in and while it’s heating up make your sandwich.  Mortadella was on sale this week so I picked some up with a little block of fontina for the sole purpose of making paninis with my freshly baked bread.  A little dijon mustard on the mortadella half, some olive oil drizzled on the outside of the sandwich and into the heated grill.  It’s hard not to keep checking but I’ve learned not to disturb it until I hear the sizzling noise melting cheese makes when it oozes out and hits the hot press.  One of these and some soup is the perfect casual lunch for a crisp fall Saturday afternoon!










Top Chef – prelims pt. 2

Well at least that’s over with.  I think the third group got shafted a bit.  Each of the other groups basically had an ingredient challenge while these chefs had a time element added.  Instead of having the same time as everyone else, some had more,  some had less.  This little twist really looked like it threw a lot of them off their game.  Based on their performances they looked like the weakest group.  Who knows how they would have done if given the same time as the others?  It’s Top Chef and part of the attraction is how they throw curve balls at you but if you’re having to cook your way on you’d probably like to compete on level field with everyone else.  Anyway…  (more…)