Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mini Provolone Popovers

No denying that popovers are one of my favorite foods and my mother use to make them as a special treat when I was young.

They are so light they literally melt in your mouth.
I did not have a mini-muffin pan (borrowed but never returned) so I used my medium size silicone baking molds. I love these molds and have to buy some more as they are great for baking anything and I especially love the cleanup.
They did not rise as high as some other popover recipes I have but they had a really good flavor with the provolone. I also loved them because you cooked them at the same hot temperature – 425 degrees.

Mini Provolone Popovers
Makes24 popovers

1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped provolone
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives

Whisk together milk, eggs, flour, 1 Tbsp butter, salt, and pepper until smooth, then stir in cheeses and chives. Chill 1 hour to allow batter to rest.
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in upper third.
Butter muffin pan with remaining Tbsp butter, then heat in oven until butter sizzles, about 2 minutes.
Gently stir batter, then divide among muffin cups (they will be about two-thirds full). Bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cooking Simple Recipes With Great Flavors

All of the recipes below were made for a party we had on Saturday night. Everything was cooked for an appetizer and cut into small, bite size pieces.  

The great thing was that all of the recipes were really easy to make and with the exception of marinating the lamb meat in the recipe below, every one of the recipes came together in under 30 minutes.
Bon Appetit!
The dipping sauce is delicious with these ribs and they went just as fast as I could refill the plate.

Vietnamese-Style Lamb Riblets with Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce
For the marinade

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. peanut or vegetable oil
2 Tbs. packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs. whole coriander seed, toasted and coarsely ground
1 tsp. chile sauce, such as sambal oelek or sriracha
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 lb. lamb breast riblets (also called Denver-style ribs)
For the dipping sauce

2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 medium clove garlic, minced
Marinate the riblets
Put all of the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Put the riblets in a gallon-size freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and massage the riblets to evenly distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally to redistribute the marinade.

Cook the riblets
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Remove the riblets from the marinade, scraping any excess seasonings back into the bag (reserve the marinade). Arrange the riblets bone side down on a flat roasting rack in a roasting pan or on a heavy-duty baking sheet. Roast, basting with the reserved marinade every 20 minutes for the first hour, until the meat is very tender and can be easily pierced with a knife, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Make the dipping sauce
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Position an oven rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiling element and heat the broiler on high. Arrange the riblets cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until browned and sizzling on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with tongs and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the dipping sauce and plenty of napkins.

This is a take on the Banh Mi sandwich, which has become one of the most popular street foods ever.
What gives it that great taste? Liverwurst and a pile of delicious rotisserie chicken or pork.
1carrot, peeled
1/2 lb daikon, peeled
½ cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1tablespoon sugar
1(24-inch) soft baguette
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1tablespoon Asian fish sauce
½ teaspoon soy sauce
¼ lb liverwurst
2 fresh jalapeños, thinly sliced
½ sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch rings
¾ cup packed cilantro sprigs
2 cooked chicken breasts or pork from the rotisserie chicken, thinly sliced
Lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Shred daikon and carrot in a food processor fitted with medium shredding disk. Stir together vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss with shredded vegetables. Let slaw stand, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat baguette on rack in oven until crusty, about 5 minutes. Cut off and discard round ends, then split baguette.
Mix together oil, fish sauce, and soy sauce and brush on cut sides of bread. Spread liverwurst on bottom layer of bread and top with chiles, onion, and cilantro.
Drain slaw in a colander.
Arrange chicken or pork, slaw, and lettuce on cilantro. Spread top layer of bread with mayonnaise and cut sandwich crosswise into fourths.
I love Naan and always go to a good Middle Eastern Bakery to buy it fresh where they take it out of the oven with huge, oversized paddles.
This was much like a middle eastern pizza and easy again with the rotisserie chicken and lots of great, fresh vegetables.
The Tsatsiki made for a delicious topping and I would try this recipe again with beef or even leftover turkey.
Chicken Gyros with Tsatsiki
2 Kirby cucumbers, divided
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (3/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 rounded teaspoon dried oregano
1 rounded teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1 (12-ounces) package naan bread (four 8-inch pieces)
1/2 roast chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded (about 2 1/4 cups), and carcass reserved for stock
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
Peel and grate 1 cucumber, then squeeze it with your hands to remove excess water. Stir together with yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, one third of garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make tsatsiki.
Cut remaining cucumber into 1/4-inch pieces and stir together with tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make salsa.
Gently simmer oil, oregano, rosemary, remaining garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small heavy saucepan, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss chicken with 3 tablespoons garlic oil and brush one side of bread with remainder.
Heat bread, oiled side up, in a 4-sided sheet pan, covered with foil, 3 to 4 inches from broiler 3 minutes. Uncover and broil, rotating bread for even coloring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes.
Spread some of tsatsiki on warm bread and top with chicken and some of lettuce and salsa. Serve remaining lettuce, salsa, and tsatsiki on the side.
Tilapia is one of my favorite fish. Although this recipe calls for frying in a little oil, I soak the fish in buttermilk for a few hours and lightly flour before I fry them.
The walnut butter was a really delicious addition and everyone loved it with the fresh flavors of the fish.
I could absolutely put this recipe on my weekly menu roll.
Tilapia With Walnut Butter
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
Dash tabasco
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 (6-oz each) boneless tilapia fish filets

Put the butter in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the butter begins to take on a light-brown color and gets a nutty aroma. Add the walnuts and cook for one minute. Pour in the lemon juice, turn up to high heat, and bring to a boil. Add dash of tobacco. Turn off the heat, and add the tarragon, salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste; reserve.

Season the fish filets with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Sauté the fish in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until done.
Serve hot with the butter sauce spooned over.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Parma 8200 - Minneapolis

Outside of it being the picture perfect night and in check of a great waiter who was nothing less than perfect, my little sister got terribly lost and that set the stage for the entire evening. I’ve never quite laughed so hard between the bites of what I would consider one of the best meals I’ve had in my hometown.

I loved the Osso Bucco special but the true star of the meal was a magnificent butterscotch panna cotta capped with a caramel sauce and a dollop of mascarpone.
This dessert was the best I have ever had anywhere. I savored every bite with my tiny, demitasse spoon while fighting off my family who were all into it for just one more taste.
Me, the ultimate queen of a split, finally found something that I was not into share.
I made this version at home the following Sunday and it was so delicious that I made it again the very next day. What surprised me is that I found two recipes – one easy and one hard. I chose the easy one and much to my surprise, it was almost like Parma’s.
Let set in the refrigerator for a good 8 hours.

8 ounces Brach's butterscotch candies, unwrapped, plus extra for garnish if desired
1 quart heavy cream, divided
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For garnish: almond brittle, butterscotch sauce and/or mascarpone

In the bowl of a food processor, pulverize the candies until they break down into dust.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 cups of the cream over medium low-to-medium heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pot. Add the candy and cook until it melts, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring the remaining 2 cups heavy cream to a simmer.
When the candy has completely melted, reduce the heat to low and sprinkle the gelatin over the flavored cream. Stir until the gelatin dissolves.
Slowly add the simmering cream to the candy mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
Pour the mixture into individual serving dishes, cool, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.
Garnish each serving with blueberries and almond brittle, as benjy's does, or berries, whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed candies.
Bon Appetit!
A Long, Slow Braise:
Since I could not find Veal Shanks at the market this week, I opted for rich, meaty oxtail.
I was fresh off my dinner from Parma 8200 and was in need of a fix for long, slow braised meat. I love cooking this way because once you pop everything in the oven, you’re off the hook. Just set your timer and coast.
Oxtails, a very inexpensive cut, were so delicious that this could become one of my Sunday winter standards.
Bon Appetit!
3 pounds oxtails
House Seasoning (salt, pepper and garlic powder)
1 teaspoon olive oil 
1 can beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 cloves garlic, large ones cut in 1/2
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 (8-ounce) can tomato suace
1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into 6 wedges
6 small new red potatoes, cut in 1/2
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 pot hot buttered rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle the oxtails liberally with House Seasoning on both sides.

Coat the bottom of a heavy oven-proof Dutch oven with the olive oil. Once heated, add the oxtails and sear on all sides. Remove and set aside. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic cloves. Stir. Add basil, oregano, bay leaves, hot sauce, tomato sauce, and the reserved oxtails. Stir to combine all ingredients together.

Cover tightly, place in oven, and bake for 2 ½  to 3 hours.

Remove from oven and bring to a simmer on stove top. Add the sweet onion wedges, red potatoes, garlic and carrots to the pot. Cover and simmer until  potatoes are almost tender, roughly 15 minutes.

Serve oxtails with the vegetables over hot buttered rice.

Wise Acre - Minneapolis

Can you can taste the farm freshness? At 5401 Nicollet Ave South, Wise Acre is an adjacent stop from the Minneapolis airport.

Now that I’ve eaten at the restaurant, I want to visit the farm because the photos in their brochure were stunning. How great would it be to raise all of the food that you eat? I am game any time to try it.
An old garage converted to a restaurant, Wise Acre is supported by a 150 acre farm and the quality was apparent. The walls were a vertical garden and most of the plants come from the farm as well.
Owner and chef were super friendly and the menu is small.. it changes up every 6 weeks depending on what is in season. I know one thing for sure - if I lived in Minneapolis, I would be a regular.
Farm fed? I had to order something with an egg on it to really judge and this eye-catching grilled cheese, ham and egg sandwich fit the bill perfectly and was really delicious.
Sausages were home-made and the burger – well the bacon was complimented by a little spoonful of Brie and in this case the Brie made the burger (and I never thought I would ever give bacon a secondary role to anything).
Dessert: Homemade custard with toffee. Good to the last crunch and split it but honesty could have done an entire mini-bowl myself it was so good.

The highlight: Their Tangletown Garden store across the street. An hour in there and even I could get into gardening.

Bon Appetit!

Publican Quality Meats

House-made sausage, charcuterie, aged prime beef, pork and other cured meats are the focus of this new market at 835 West Fulton Market. 
Since I failed to bring my cold bag, there was no giving into the temptation of the lamb shank (the guy in front of me bought the last 4 anyway) and the Serrano Ham sitting on top of the main counter top with a tag reading "Jamon Iberico $200 l/b".
The space will also be used for private parties and cooking classes so I definitely want to check it out as there can never be too many quality cooking classes in Chicago.
I arrive at 10:30 AM to a packed house and by 11:00 (that “magic” hour at which they begin serving lunch and not a minute before) I ordered a “Better Than Gyros “sandwich which was stuffed with delicious pork belly and raita – an Indian yogurt sauce that was every bit as good as tzatziki. The homemade chips were delicious but in desperate need of a dose of salt.
Next time I’ll try their Albacore Muffaletta sandwich which was a wish -I –ordered favorite of just about everyone there.
There was a nice grocery area where I discovered Bill Kim’s Belly Fire hot sauce which is an Urban Belly classic… and the first time I had found it anywhere for sale.
My advice: Go back in a few weeks when they get their act together. I don’t mind crowds but this was half-organized chaos since two doors fed a steady and growing stream of hungry visitors…most of whom had never been there before because it was only open for a week.
Knowledgeable butchers and innovative selections will make this place a foodie favorite.
Bon Appetit!

The Cheesecake Factory

Into sisters but not chain restaurants… so I thought.
I met my four sisters for brunch in Minneapolis and of the 5 items we tried, every one of them was high-quality and we had a variety.
Even the guacamole egg rolls – which I thought would be typical bar food - were wonderful.
Guacamole Egg Rolls
Dipping sauce:

3-4 t white vinegar
1 t balsamic vinegar
1/2 t tamarind pulp
1/2 c honey
1 pinch powdered saffron
1/2 c chopped cashews
2/3 c fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
2 green onions
1 T granulated sugar
1 t ground black pepper
1 t ground cumin
1/4 c olive oil

Egg Rolls:

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, & diced
1 T minced red onion
2 T sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1/2 t fresh cilantro, chopped
1 pinch salt
3 egg roll wraps
1 egg, beaten

Stir together vinegars, tamarind, honey, and saffron in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until tamarind is dissolved. In a blender, puree tamarind mixture, cashews, 2/3 c cilantro, garlic, onions, sugar, pepper, and cumin. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Gently stir together avocado, tomatoes, onion, 1/2 t cilantro, and salt. Distribute filling evenly onto center of each egg roll wrapper. Position a wrapper so that a corner is pointing toward you; fold the bottom corner up, 1/4 of the way over the filling. Brush remaining corners and edges of the wrapper with egg, roll up from side to side, fold top corner over all and press to seal.
Repeat with remaining wrappers. Continue by deep-frying the egg rolls in 375 degree oil for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown.

Conclusion: This is one chain restaurant I would fearlessly try again… if for nothing else a piece of the Cheesecake.
And speaking of desserts…
This little dessert made our Valentine’s dinner. I’m not a mainstream red velet fan but this was worth exploring again.

Authentic English Muffins: A Recipe To Work On

I have been looking for a good English muffin recipe for a long time. 
I love Jim Lahey’s no-knead cookbook, My Bread, where he researched old Italian bread making and developing this sticky dough, overnight rising bread with awesome flavor.
In fact, I’m hooked and will never make anything but overnight bread.

This muffin recipe comes from Sheryl Canter and I made it for brunch. It had the perfect taste but it was also slightly doughy so it needs a little work.

Recipe Challenge: She is on to something here with the overnight proofing though. It just needs a little fine-tuning.
Let me know when you get it perfect and I'll be over for breakfast!

Bon Appetit!
This recipe makes six muffins.
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar or honey
1 packet (2¼ tsp) dry yeast
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt

Heat the milk to simmering, then drop in the butter and the sugar or honey. Stir so they melt and combine, and let the mixture cool. When it’s lukewarm, sprinkle in the yeast, stir, and let it sit for 10 minutes until bubbly. Don’t use an aluminum bowl because that can interfere with the yeast. Glass is best.
While that’s happening, measure out the flour and salt and mix together well. When the yeast mixture is bubbly, add the flour and beat vigorously for a couple minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter (not in the refrigerator) overnight. It will overproof – rise and collapse. This is what creates the English muffin’s characteristic sourdough taste and large bubbles.
In the morning, scrape the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and remix a little. Then use a spatula and spoon to drop muffin-size globs into a small bowl of cornmeal, as pictured in the previous section. Don’t try to handle the dough – it’s too sticky. Lift each muffin from the cornmeal with a slotted spatula, shake off the excess, and place in an ungreased skillet.
When the skillet is full, cover it (with a glass top, if you have one), and let the muffins rise for 30 minutes. They won’t rise much at this point because all the sugar has been eaten by the yeast, but they’ll puff up a little more when they start to cook. Remove the lid before cooking.
Set your stove’s burner to medium-low. If it’s electric, let the burner preheat. If you have an electric skillet, you’ll have to let the muffins rise somewhere else so you can preheat it. I’ve read that electric skillets should be set to 300°F, but I don’t have one so I can’t verify that. I used a cast iron pan and set the burner to medium-low.
Warning: don’t set the temperature too high. The muffins have to cook slowly or the inside will be doughy while the outside is burned. Don’t crank up the heat because it’s not sizzling. It’s not supposed to sizzle. Just because it’s not making any noise doesn’t mean it’s not doing anything. It’s cooking.
The muffins can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes per side, depending on how high you set the skillet temperature. Turn them over when the first side is browned.
When the second side is browned, remove the muffins to a cooling rack and let them cool completely. If you don’t let them cool, they will be doughy inside. Also, they taste best if they are fully cooled and then toasted. Split them for toasting by pulling them apart with your fingers, rather than cutting with a knife. This maximizes the nooks and crannies that are so great for holding butter and jam.
English muffins are a quick and easy breakfast because they were designed to be quick and easy. The batter is made the night before, and no rolling is required. You mix everything together, go to sleep, then cook them up in the morning.
Overproofing is what gives the characteristic taste and texture – no vinegar or baking soda required.

Cooking Ribs Indoors

My mom cooked the best BBQ ribs and always made them indoors.

Here is yet another way to cook ribs inside - using a slow cooker and the broiler - and look how “outdoor grilled” they look just by putting them under the broiler for a short time to brown.
Bon Appetit!

Easy Winter BBQ Ribs

3 tablespoons sweet paprika (I used a little less)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used a bit more)
Salt and pepper
6 pounds pork baby back ribs
3 cups barbecue sauce (Homemade if you have time)
Vegetable oil spray

Mix paprika, sugar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon pepper together, then rub mixture evenly over ribs. Arrange ribs upright in slow cooker, with meaty sides facing outward. Pour barbecue sauce over ribs, cover, and cook until ribs are tender, 6 to 8 hours on low.

Position oven rack 10 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Place wire rack in aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and coat with vegetable oil spray. Carefully transfer ribs, meaty side down, to prepared baking sheet and tent with foil. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon.
Strain braising liquid into medium saucepan and simmer until thickened and measures 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Brush ribs with some sauce and broil until ribs start to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip ribs over, brush with more sauce, and continue to broil until ribs are well browned and sticky, 9 to 12 minutes longer, brushing with additional sauce every few minutes.
Transfer ribs to cutting board with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with remaining sauce.

Cajun Chicken

This Cajun chicken was great and an easy fix for a special meal when you have a houseful of guests.
I’ve used both whole peeled tomatoes and fresh romas and no matter how many times I change this up, I still go back to this basic recipe.

Bon Appetit!

Cajun Chicken Parmesan

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 medium onion, chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch basil leaves
2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes or fresh roma tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
Salt and black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
Mozzarella cheese
Freshly grated parmesan
1 pound pasta, cooked

Coat a saute pan with olive oil and place over medium heat
When oil gets hazy, add the onions, garlic and bay leaves; cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the basil and tomatoes, cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick, approximately 20 minutes. Then season with sugar, salt and pepper
Lower the heat, cover and keep warm.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Get the ingredients together for the chicken:

Put the chicken breasts in a zip lock bag and pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet until they are 1/2 inch thick. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy.Put the bread crumbs on a plate, season with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat in a large oven proof skillet.
Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken in the seasoned flour, then dip them in eggs to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.

Ladle tomato sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with cheese.
Bake the chicken for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and serve hot with spaghetti.

Baking Bacon

My meat market, the Daily Grind makes the best homemade bacon. 
I like to bake it as it sheds the grease and with Rick’s special flavoring, it comes out picture perfect every time. It’s so much easier to line a pan with foil and bake it while you are dealing with everything else.
I like it plain with a side of eggs but my all time favorite? No matter what season – a BLT!
Bon Appetit!
Cookie sheet – with sides – do not use a flat cookie sheet
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with foil, you can leave the foil a little crinkled so the grease doing pool under the bacon. Do not use a flat cookie sheet, use a bar pan.
Lay out bacon one strip at a time on the cookie sheet. The bacon should not touch. You can leave about a quarter inch between of space between each slice of bacon.
Place cookie sheet with bacon into the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes.
When the bacon is browned and crisp drain on paper towels.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chicago's Best Brunch Dishes

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Saturday Brunch. Given my choice of breakfast, lunch or dinner, I will choose breakfast every time. 
These 10 restaurants get my vote for a Saturday’s best because there was one item that stuck in my mind and prompts me to come back for Round II.

2 Sparrows – Glazed Doughnuts

These were so good I immediately went home and tried to duplicate the recipe. No such luck. One-of-a-kind excellence.

553 W Diversey

Big Jones – Popovers

Big Jones Benedict had house cured and smoked ham simmered in Kilgus Farmstead cream, poached eggs and Potatoes O'Brien but instead of having it on a biscuit I opted for the popover. The popover made the dish.

5347 N Clark

Chicago Q – Southern Hash browns

I judge a place by the way they cook their hash brown potatoes and these were the best southern fries I’ve ever had. A second nod goes to the smoked chicken in the Egg’s Benedict. And watch out...homemade chips and pickles will fill you up.

1160 N Dearborn

Davanti Enoteca - Pizza della Fattoria

A Farmed Egg+Pork Belly+Potato+Scallions+Asiago+béchamel. Ask anyone who has tried this and they will tell you it’s simply the best pizza in Chicago.

1359 W Taylor

Chicago scores double on this one. Great Hot Chocolate is hard to find and I had a cup at not just one but two celebrated restaurants.
Mindy’s Hot ChocolateThe Black and Tan
1/3 hot fudge and 2/3 medium hot chocolate

A plus for the homemade marshmallows.

1747 North Damen

XOCO – Mexico City Thick Hot Chocolate.

Extra points for bean-to-bar and the amazing aroma of roasting cacao

449 N Clark

Lula – English Muffins

I found out at Lula’s that a super-thin English muffin makes the Eggs Benedict.

2537 N Kenzie
Mercat a la Planxa – Truffle Oil

Another Egg’s Benedict with huge flavor and the secret is all in the truffle oil.

638 South Michigan

Perennial Virant – Homeboy Potatoes

Tiny, crispy and with a topping of Brunkow cheese curds.

1800 N Lincoln Avenue

Sola – Huevos Benedictos

Feeling a little under the weather from the night before? Nothing that eggs, cornbread and a little chorizo wouldn’t cure.
3868 N Lincoln Avenue
Runner Up: The walk up that every one lines up for on Saturday AM - The Doughnut Vault.
401 1/2 N Franklin.

Bon Appetit!