Italian

Homemade Gnocchi – It’s Taken a While but I Finally Did It

Homemade Gnocchi

Ah gnocchi.  When gnocchi is made right they are like light and airy pillows; when made wrong like heavy and dense globs of potato.  They are one of Cheryl’s favorite foods and always in the running if we’re at an Italian restaurant and gnocchi is on the menu.  Gnocchi are made with the simplest ingredients, potatoes and flour, but you have to get the ratio correct.  It’s a fine line between glob and pillow. (more…)

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What’s for Sunday Dinner – Meat Lasagna

Did you know Friday was International Port Wine Day?  It was.  And what does this have to do with meat lasagna you ask?  Well I’ll tell ya.  There was a free port tasting at my local Binny’s Beverage Depot, the one in Lakeview that looks like a castle.  For my non-Chicago readers Binny’s is a Chicagoland beer/wine/liquor emporium.  The one nearest to us is pretty huge and they have a good wine selection.  Occasionally they send out specials on a wine of the week where you can order (sometimes pre-order) and make pick-ups at the store.  Cheryl and I practically stocked our wine rack for Christmas with some of their deals.  Anyway, back to the story.  (more…)

Riccardo Trattoria

Riccardo Trattoria is one of the first restaurants Cheryl and I went to in Chicago.  She was doing her business school summer internship here and I came for a weeklong visit (my first trip ever to Chicago).  Knowing Chicago was a great culinary city I did some research.  I wanted to take her to a really nice place with good food.  She was living in Lincoln Park at the time so my research on Chicago Foodies turned up Riccardo Trattoria.  We went and have been huge fans of the restaurant ever since.  It’s our usual choice for birthdays, anniversaries, and special events.  We associate good times with it because the food is so damn good! (more…)

Quick Weeknight Dinner – Farro with Mushrooms and Peas

One ingredient I like to keep in the cupboard is farro.  It is one of the oldest grains in the world and was a staple of the Roman diet.  It’s a grain which has low gluten levels but is also a good source of fiber and protein, so it’s healthy for you too.  And versatile!  You can put it into soups, grind it into flour for bread, or make a salad out of it.  Farro can take the place of rice or potatoes or you can make a quick weeknight dinner out of it.  (more…)

What’s for Sunday Dinner – Ragu Bolognese

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese

It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving and I haven’t done the shopping yet so the fridge is looking a little bare today.  Cheryl noticed and commented that it didn’t look like there was much to make a dinner out of, then said “but you could probably figure something out.”  Indeed I could.

I knew there was some ground veal in the freezer and we had some eggs so I decided to make pasta and ragu Bolognese.  Normally I use ground beef but sometimes you have to work with what you have.  This particular sauce is one whose recipe is debated and debated and debated and there are many different sides.  Do you add milk or not?  Veal, beef, pork?  Don’t even get into the type of pasta you’re supposed to use (not spaghetti). (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…)

The Eater 38 Club

A couple of weeks ago Cheryl (a.k.a. Mrs. G-Gnome, her scientific code name) mentioned one of her co-workers came up with an idea of using the Chicago Eater’sEater 38” list of restaurants to explore some new places.  Sounded like a good idea, restaurants are added and dropped when the list is updated every few months so you can never really finish it.  First stop for the “Eater 38 Club” was Anteprima in Andersonville.  Delicious Italian food, cozy space, and the prix fixe menu (available from Sunday through Thursday) is great deal.  For $30 you get to choose three items from the menu such as starter, entrée, dessert; or starter, pasta, entrée.  And you weren’t limited to the main menu.  All of the nightly specials were options as well.  I like this a lot.  You can get an appetizer AND your pasta course! (more…)