A week ago, we moved into our new home and while there are many positives to the place, a huge surprise was the presence of a lilac bush next to our home. I grew up with a lilac bush in my backyard and the smell is among my favorite. My plan was to give my partner a lilac bush to celebrate our closing, but discovering the bush during our final walk through relieved me having to buy lilacs for her. Continue reading »
We have moved. We are still in boxes, but we are in our new home. Before we left though, there were things I had to take care of. I went to some of my favorite restaurants, I ran my old running routes, and I cleaned out our fridge. In the meat drawer of our fridge sat a glass container that had been there so long I barely recognized it. A week before we left, I was reminded what it was – smelt, little fresh water fish with a small, but fervent following in Chicago. A few days before we left, I finally tried the smelt I had been salting and preserving like anchovies for over two years. Continue reading »
Surely others have preserved blood oranges in salt before. If they haven’t, and if you haven’t, next winter give it a shot and you will find the same unexpected result that I did. I have preserved lemon, preserved buddha’s hand, and preserved smoked limes in a similar fashion and the results of the lemon and lime were expected. They were deceptively savory. In fact, there would be almost no pastry application that I would advocate for with either of them. The buddha’s hand is one of my favorite condiments. It is sweet and acidic – it is like adding salt and acid in a large amounts. My thought with the blood oranges was that it would be similar to the lemons and limes and turn into a mysteriously savory ingredient. I was wrong. Continue reading »
As alluded to multiple times this Winter and Spring, we are moving. We are moving next week. Holy Moses. Moving is awful, but moving away from a place you love is worse. I moved to Chicago 13 years ago and love this city. I love Chicago, but once we had kids, our clock started running. Still I love Chicago.
There are infuriating aspects about Chicago, to be sure. It is huge city made up of little burghs with individual personalities all their own. Like people, some of the neighborhoods here are jerkstores and, with others, there are not enough hours in the day to spend with them. It is a city big enough to become lost in, but friendly enough to never feel lost. There is art, green space, and amazing restaurants. My adult life has been spent in the city. Many of my most memorable moments have happened here. Continue reading »
One bowl from my first two gallons of homemade ramen and I was hooked. It was not the best, but it was mine and it put the bug into me. Tinkering on the recipe to improve it, or in some cases make it worse, was a new “hobby”. From the order of operations to the ratio of bones to water to the time boiled, the process is set up to make it your own, but the part of the process that pleases me the most is the fabrication of the seasoning, the tare. Continue reading »
This is an all too common tale of things that taste good together outside of sausage casing are great when encased together. One of my absolute favorite combinations is chorizo and banana/plantain. The sweet flavors from the fruit goes so well with the deep and piquant flavors of chorizo, a vastly underrated sausage that it is terribly easy to make at home. I happened to have a few plantains on hand and, with the smoker already running, I thought to take it one step further and smoke the plantains.
Walking around Logan Square, I spend a lot of time ducking into and out of little mercados. I see things for which I do not have much context, but some reason stick in my mind, even when I may not initially realize it. It was the odd phenomenon of trying to describe something I had seen, what ended up being “cecina”, to my wife without having the words that planted the seed for this project in my mind. There were thin sliced lean cuts of beef marinating in red liquid in the meat case, but I could not remember the name – finally it came to me in the middle of a work meeting. Continue reading »
When in Alice Waters’ name is Spring going to get here? I have resorted to buying less than stellar asparagus to stave off the Spring fever. With an abundance of miso, mirin, and sake from ramen experiments, I thought of a miso pickle with a bundle of the West coast asparagus. Continue reading »
Twitter again has proven to be a petri dish for ideas. I have been using this salt for four months or so when it was suggested that you might be able to cure meat using preserved lemons. I suggested one better, use the residual salt to actually do the curing. It takes the guess work out of how much to use. Continue reading »
Inspiration and ideas are great things, but without execution, they disappoint. This was an idea from a long time ago, but sloppy execution took it from the must-have-again list to the must-try-again list.
It was last fall, as I tossed a bunch of concord grapes into my brussels sprouts with lamb bacon, when the trigger was made. The concords were roasted with the sprouts and the lamb to where you could get a little bit in each bite. Despite being a huge fan of sprouts, I kept pushing them aside to get bites with only lamb and grapes. It was a combo that was unfamiliar but amazingly good. Continue reading »