Homemade Mustard – Condiment Making 101

Homemade Grainy MustardMustard. Chicago’s favored hot dog condiment and one which comes in many forms. There’s spicy, sweet, honey, stone ground, Dijon, country-style, Chinese, German, sharp and tangy…I could go on and on. If you take a look at the ingredients you’ll find, no matter which is your favorite, mustards are pretty much all made with the same stuff and there’s also not much in the way of preservatives. If there are minimal ingredients, then it should be pretty easy to make some at home right? This week I put that theory to the test. (more…)


Fresh Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemaed Ricotta CheeseEach Wednesday Cheryl and I have “date night” where we do something together like a movie or dinner out.  Last week we went out to a new restaurant (for us) and had an amazing appetizer of whipped ricotta, honey, and balsamic vinegar and the dish was one of our favorites from the dinner.  Of course, Cheryl said, “you can make this.”  I said yeah, but it’d be even better with homemade ricotta cheese which is really easy to make.   (more…)

How to make Aioli: A perfect condiment for grilled foods


With egg and without. And yes the radishes, rocket, and lettuce are fresh from the garden!

Aioli, when made from scratch is very unlike the flavored mayo you get at places passed off as aioli.  It’s much creamier, packs quite the garlicky punch, and can be used to enhance the flavors of almost anything from soups to grilled vegetables to meat to crostini.  Aioli is also very easy to make and should definitely be added to your arsenal of grilling condiments for the summer. (more…)

More Summer Salad: Cucumber, Zucchini, and Tomato Salad

Been pretty hot lately so this Cucumber Zucchini Tomato Salad is a great cooler for those days you want to beat the heat.  Yeah that’s right, it’s another freaking salad.  It’s been heat wave, cool down, heat wave here in Chicago this summer which has made it interesting cooking-wise.  One week I want nothing to do with cooking outdoors, then it cools down and I get all excited to be back out on the porch in front of the grill.  You probably don’t need to read the weather reports to figure out what it’s been like here, just take note of what I’m making! (more…)

Green Bean Salad – Delicious Easy Salad for a 4th of July Picnic!

This green bean salad is one of my favorite summer salads.  My grandfather always had a garden and he’d always have baskets of green beans he couldn’t give away (or eat) fast enough.  My grandmother would make this salad all summer long and I’d eat it all summer long.  Never got tired of green bean salad either!  This is one of those things which definitely says “home” to me as I can probably walk into any of my relative’s back yards during the summer and find this particular salad (or something very close) on their table.  (more…)

Grilling Season in Chicago Already? Add Some Acid: Chimichurri

Can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted!  Very busy this past week, which has also seen some record-setting temperatures here in Chicago.  70s and 80s.  In March.  Now that’s my kind of Chicago winter.  Of course we’ll probably get some snow at Easter now.  Oh well, what can you do?  It’s pretty awesome in Chicago when the weather starts to get warm, the whole city embraces it and finds reasons to go outside and enjoy the sunshine (St. Patrick’s Day was last weekend so they didn’t have to search much). Bars and restaurants have flung open their doors and windows and set up their outside seating areas, and the scent of grilling meat has been emanating from backyards and decks throughout the neighborhood.  (more…)

Strudel – The Old Fashioned Way!

Way back in October Cheryl and I attended a hands-on strudel making demonstration at Dank Haus (German-American cultural center here in Chicago).  When we lived in Washington DC Cheryl used to get strudel from Heidelberg Pastry Shop in Arlington (they’d also have grilled sausages on the weekends which were great after my men’s league soccer matches) so we decided to see how to make it firsthand.  At the demo we made apple, sweet potato, cheese, and butternut squash strudels.  The tricky part, of course, is the dough.  You’ve got to get it paper-thin without tearing.  I was really intrigued by this demo since I’d heard stories of my Hungarian great-grandmother making strudel and how she’d spread a huge cloth on the dining room table, flour it, and pull the dough out in a huge sheet.  The demo was great and I’m keeping my eye on their event list because they also have a sausage making demo over the winter.  (more…)