After being disappointed by several new highly regarded, cheffy cookbooks over the winter, I decided to pull in the reins a little and look to some of the classic teaching cookbooks – I mean, I could not stop buying them altogether. In an earlier post, I referenced the Good Cook series as great resources, so I picked up a rare UK only edition on Game. Searching for old cookbooks reads a bit as I was record collecting and it is not entirely far off. There is a collection aspect to it. There is the thrill of the hunt, like record collecting. And like collecting classic records, the content is, in many cases, timeless when you hit on some great books. When I was searching for the Good Cook “Game” book, the Foods of the World series kept coming up in searches. Like the Good Cook series, it is a Time-Life series, but from earlier on - the late 1960s/early 1970s. When I looked into the books, it seemed the be encyclopaedic – 54 volumes with narrative and recipes. I found a used complete set online for a few bucks per book and picked it up in short order. Continue reading
If you read enough about food, and I read far too many things about food, certain things begin to stick in your craw. I understand you might still be thinking about your meal again. For the third week in a row your mind is blown? You notice certain writers lean on the same crutch over and over again. You notice phrases like “figured out what men crave”. Continue reading
We host a dinner party periodically which is actually just a book club to which my wife belongs. Typically those types of groups are simply drinking clubs, but this one adds food and actual books. About a week before book club, I realized my original plan of serving cassoulet had been done before. By me. Last winter. It seems as when the weather grows cold, I cook beans – large pots of beans with sausages and off cuts.
Actually I should have never been surprised. Beans and meats are fantastic and this weather has forced my hand. Only, I am not a repeater. Knowing fabada is a not-so-distant cousin to cassoulet, I figured there must be more cousins. I just needed to look. Continue reading
There are foods which you go out of your way to eat. A canele from Bad Wolf coffee, churros from Masa Azul, and tots from Nightwood are a few for my family. For me, there are also a few. One is pozole from Butcher & Larder. Driving a half hour for soup is something that requires a certain dedication, but I am nothing short of dedicated about B&L’s pozole (think “Faithfully“). Being short sighted, I never buy more than a quart when Chris and Rob make a batch. With the Chicago weather hovering near zero for basically a whole month, I was left without pozole for most of it. Continue reading
For those following closely, my love for great cookbooks is no surprise. One of the cookbooks I received in a family gift exchange that has stood out as a “top of the pile cookbook is Pok Pok by Andy Ricker. I am not sure what the formula is for being one of those books, the kind that you cook from over and over again despite having others just waiting to be read, but this one joins The Art of Cooking Vegetables, Joe Beef and Momofuku in that club. Continue reading
There are so many beautiful books released this fall that I can not afford to buy even half of those I would like to have. The ones I have purchased are lovely, but sometimes the old ugly books, the ones released over thirty years ago remind us of that delicious food is not a recent trend and that snout to tail cooking was not invented in 2005. Continue reading
I love butcher shops.
Huge surprise. Right?
I do not mind the trendiness. Hell, when something is good, it is good. If others like it, so be it. Realizing it is a very old person’s way of thinking and gets in the way of the punk ethos of the tattooed chefs (cheves?), but I am not a chef, tattooed or otherwise. I just enjoy being able to get great meats in more places. Continue reading
One of the key lessons of buying two whole cow’s heads in a two month span is each head has a tongue, so you have a few options at your disposal. First, you could leave it in its head of origin and cook it surrounded by its cranial neighbors. Or, you could embrace your inner “Game of Thrones” villain and remove the tongue for a separate application. Recently, I made beef sausages studded with tongue, but this time, I focused more on the tongue. 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
Chef Mark Mendez runs the kitchen at his West Loop restaurant Vera. It is no secret that Vera is one of my favorite restaurants in town. Food is simple without being simple. Complex flavors and textures are everywhere, but nothing seems fussed over and no extra ingredients are strewn across the plate. His philosophy of keeping things simple and making sure everything included is high quality and necessary inspired most of my decisions in my kitchen design project and one of the first things cooked in the kitchen, these beef tongue and caper sausages, were inspired by a signature Mendez dish – the Beef Tongue Pincho. Continue reading