The weeks following our return from Japan proved to be a somewhat rocky re-entry. First, it reminded me how life does not wait when you are away, but rather piles up like the newspapers on your front step. Second, our jet lag combined with our girls’ new middle of the night loneliness made days next to impossible. Finally, after a week of eating better than maybe any other week of my life, what were our options when we got home? (I guess make everything out of koji.)
After the shio koji finished fermenting, I had a few ideas on how to use it. The initial idea was sausages. I was going around and around trying to find a way to make a sausage with enough simplicity to taste the shio koji which still being interesting enough to want to eat. After filtering through ideas, this sausage was based in the skewered chicken eaten while in Japan. Continue reading
I am a sucker for the milky, porky tonkotsu ramen broth which is super-charged with porcine collagen. It is one of the few opportunities one gets to drink gravy without being scapegoated, and let’s be honest tonkotsu broth and gravy are not terribly different when either are done well. You could understand my surprise when, upon trying both tonkotsu and shoyu ramen at a new local shop, I favored the shoyu. Had I overlooked shoyu ramen just because it was not the John Bonham of broths that tonkotsu is? Continue reading
It is the time of year where I remind myself by reminding you how this is not a recipe blog. The most noteworthy thing about our dinners is how positively uninteresting they are. Protein, green vegetable, non-green vegetable, and pickles/condiments. This year, the annual reminder that I am not an interesting recipe provider comes after tinkering with our weekly roasted chicken.
Time after time, I noticed the copious schmaltz at the bottom of our cast iron pan after roasting the chicken and wondered how to best keep the fat with the chicken. It is incredibly tasty but, while it is useful when reserved and reused, why not use it to make the bird better, so I stuffed absorbent pumpernickel crumbs under the skin. Continue reading
Most parents I know talk about their kids (at least a little – maybe a little too much at times, amirite?) and, when their kids are not around, they talk about their favorite moments which may be embarrassing or offbeat. I love being a parent – it is my favorite role – and I take pleasure in seeing my girls have their own kind of fun, but it is particularly special when we find a common bit of fun. Continue reading
After tasting the sunflower seed risotto made by Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food this summer here in Chicago, I said to my lovely wife, “I am going to go home and order a pressure cooker immediately.” In the heat of the moment, it sounded like a great idea, but like some of those, it was lost by the wayside. A pressure cooker did, if fact, make it onto my wish list and I received one over the holidays. Continue reading
With the Super Bowl later today, I set out on yesterday’s long run in the snow with the goal of arriving home with a few ideas of dishes to make which would be creative, use what we had on hand, and fit the football party atmosphere. It was really helpful to set out with something specific to think about because once I walked outside, I knew that the run would be difficult. We had about 4-6 inches of fresh snow and, since I head out at 5 AM, not a single flake of it had been shoveled. Throughout the thirteen miles, I thought of all of the terrible emails sent notifying me of a chicken wing shortage or how spinach-artichoke dip can be made at home (and with only 3 cans). The one flavor I kept going back to was buffalo sauce. I love the sharp blast of vinegar-y heat and the way the butter keeps the that heat and acidity on your tongue for far longer than a salsa or hot sauce. Continue reading
Admittedly, I am prone to snark – especially about food trends. I am working on it though. One trend about which I have been really curious, and a little snarky, has been ramen. In Chicago, there are a few shops that make passable ramen, but we lack a real ramen shop.This has not stopped trendsters on both sides from making iffy, to bad, ramen or eating and lauding some bad ramen.
Not having a great ramen shop in town has kept me from really understanding the obsession that some folks have regarding ramen. I have read about the obsession via Chang and others, but it was lost on me. After some internet back and forth with ramen-obsessed Justin Carlisle, chef at Umami Moto in Milwaukee, who gave me a good roadmap on how to get started, I dipped my toe in the ramen pool and came out with a full understanding of the obsession. I had made ramen, but wanted to eat it all, then make more and make it better. Continue reading
I live in Chicago. Not the Chicago as seen in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or other 1980’s movies with bucolic yards and two car garages, but rather in the city. I walk two blocks to a train that gets me to work in the center of the city in ten minutes. It with this consideration that it was actually in the city, proper, where I came across cooking in both embers and hay for the first time. Continue reading
After nearly thirty four years of eating Japanese foods in the context of sushi and mediocre izakaya food, I had a revelatory week of Japanese dining in Chicago and Las Vegas of all places. In Chicago, a friend invited me to attend the Kyoto dinner and I was not disappointed. I had flavors and textures that I had never experienced, but I had no context. Only three days later, I took a taxi from the Las Vegas strip to Raku. We were there to celebrate my grandfather’s birthday and I had made reservatios to dine solo while the boys enjoyed a night dining on the strip. Raku was the beginning of obtaining context. Continue reading