in Lake Bluff makes the best chocolate cake and I’ve been trying to copy cat
for over a year.
my October issue of Saveur came I saw
a photo (the visuals always do it for me) that looked almost like Wisma’s cake except
that it was three layer instead of one.
not to overcook this. Mine did in a little less than 25 minutes.
chocolate cake ever?
Round 2 was really good but still not quite Wisma's.
For the cake:
1 cup milk
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the icing:
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
¼ cup light corn syrup
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the cake: Bring milk
to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and cover; set
aside for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour
three 9″ cake pans; set aside. Whisk together flour and salt in large bowl; set
aside. Dissolve baking soda in ⅓ cup hot water; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat both sugars and
shortening until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well
after each, until smooth. Add flour and chocolate mixtures alternately,
beginning and ending with flour mixture, and beat until smooth. Beat in soda
water and vanilla. Divide batter evenly among pans, and smooth tops. Bake until
a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean, about 30
minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool
For the icing: Heat chocolate, sugar, milk, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a
saucepan over medium-high heat; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan, and
cook until mixture thickens and reaches 220° on thermometer.
Pour icing into a mixing bowl; beat on medium speed of a hand mixer until
slightly cooled. Add vanilla, increase speed to high, and beat until
consistency of frosting. Working quickly, place 1 cake on a cake stand; spread
about ½ cup icing on top. Cover with second cake; spread with ½ cup icing.
Cover with last cake, and spread icing over top and sides of cakes. Let cool to
set icing before cutting and serving.
At 1 West Washington, the Atwood is part of the Hotel Burnham and
is a lovely restaurant if you are looking for light. So many large windows on
all sides of the room made this location a photographer’s dream.
I was there at 8 AM when they opened. One observation: Showing up
when a restaurant opens works for me. Not only do you get great service but the
staff has time to chat and you often get some of their will kept secrets.
This dish, a Southerner’s delight, came with a double dose of BBQ
pork on a base of cornbread.
I actually made something very similar last year from leftover
I liked my recipe because the ribs were not as saturated in BBQ
sauce but Atwood’s version was really delightful because the cornbread was so sweet.
Take a half rack of ribs (enough for two) and heat it in a 350-degree oven for
ten minutes, and then shred the meat off the bone.
Meanwhile, make hickory-hoisin sauce: Bull's-Eye hickory smoke sauce and Lee
Kum Kee's hoisin sauce, mixed in a two-to-one ratio.
Toss the meat in the sauce — not a lot, since the corn bread is sweet — and set
it on top of a couple slices of corn bread.
Poach a couple of eggs by gently cracking them into a pot of aggressively
simmering water with a couple teaspoons of white vinegar. After about two
minutes, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place on top of the pork.
At 65 E Adams, Chef Andrew
Deuel creates a little Alchemy by making the most astonishing seasonal dishes
ever. Just take one bite of the braised veal cheeks, anson mills organic
polenta, with fall mire poix and you’ll be convinced.
I was on a mission to make veal cheeks today and this Emeril recipe was
the picture of my lunch although I must admit that Chef Deuel had his own spin
on the flavors.
ounces raw bacon, chopped
chopped onions 1 cup
small diced carrots Salt Freshly
ground black pepper 2
teaspoons chopped garlic 2
pounds assorted exotic
mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 1 cup
Madeira wine 4 cups
veal stock 1 bay
leaf 2 sprigs fresh thyme 8 veal
cheeks, trimmed 3 cups
whole milk 1
tablespoon butter 3/4
cup yellow cornmeal 1/4
cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 1
tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
In a heavy bottom pan or dutch ovenover medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the
bacon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Add the onions and carrots. Season
with salt and pepper. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and mushrooms. Season
with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes.
with the Madeira
and cook for 1 minute. Add the veal stock, bay leaf, and thyme, and bring to a
the veal with salt and pepper and add the simmering liquid. Cook, uncovered
until the cheeks are tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the
bottom from sticking.
a medium-size saucepan,
over medium heat, combine the milk and butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer. Stir in the cornmealand cook until creamy and thick, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cheese. Season
with salt and pepper. Remove the bay
leaf and thyme sprigs from the veal mixture.
the polenta in the center of each serving plate. Lay a veal cheek over the polenta.
Spoon the sauce over the cheeks.
with the reserved crispy bacon and parsley.
The sweet spot?
A Divino with Vodka instead of Gin, june, dimmi and lemon. Oh and a few
grapes floating around for focus. Without a doubt, this was an outstanding mix
A tip from the friendly staff at Tesori?
Few Spirits in Evanston, IL brews some of the best small batches anywhere.
I have a brewery tour booked October 6 so look for a follow-up.
the first cookbooks I owned was Julia and
Jacques Cooking At Home written by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. It was
given to me as a gift and for the first few years I had it, I barley looked at
come to love this cookbook because it is a basic of great French cooking… one
of those cookbook classics. In fact, everything I have ever cooked from it has
Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Mexico, invented Caesar salad, it was
Julia Child who brought it front and center to the culinary scene.
is a recipe that was modified from Julia’s recipe and is in the current issue
of Saveur Magazine. The original
recipe did not include anchovy filets; the slight anchovy flavor comes from the
grilling weather this past weekend and this fresh salad was a wonderful
addition to a grilled steak, fresh tomatoes and another round of haricot verts.
1 ½ cups olive oil
cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 8 oz.
stale crusty Italian or French white bread, cut into 1” cubes 1
tbsp. fresh lemon juice 1 ½
tsp. Worcestershire sauce ½ tsp.
hot sauce, such as Tabasco 4
oil-packed anchovy filets, drained and chopped Kosher
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 12 oz.
whole romaine lettuce, inner leaves only 1 egg,
lightly beaten 1 cup
finely grated Parmesan
cup oil and 1 clove of garlic in a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add bread and
toss often until golden brown and crisp – about 5 minutes.
to a paper towel to drain.
remaining garlic over inside of a large salad bowl.
lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, anchovies, and salt and pepper, and
whisk until anchovies are broken down.
remaining oil and whisk until blended.
lettuce leaves and toss to coat in dressing; drizzle eggs over leaves, and toss
again until evenly coated.
reserved croutons, Parmesan and salt and pepper, and toss until evenly
combined. Serves 2.
dishes at Frog N Snail, 3124 N Broadway, are first and foremost visual. I know. It looks like a mess but it was a pure work
chef who succeeded Grant Achatz at Trio ,Dale
Levitski, had his eye on the fall and took total advantage of what was
available – in fact he was still changing the menu when I arrived at 10 AM. That’s
a sign of a seasonal chef at his best.
for me the Curried Lamb Benedict (zucchini bread, spring vegetable salad, poached egg, and foie gras
still on the menu. This was not only a brilliant combination of flavors but was
the best Benedict I’ve had in Chicago….and I’ve had a lot of great Benedict.
petite side salad was also an impressive preparation of beets, cauliflower and
not a big fan of zucchini bread but this base layer won me over. The lamb was
incredibly rich and tender and the undersized amount of hollandaise (yes, I
wondered where the hollandaise was) was the perfect top off.
foodies around me – and they were all talking food - got interesting dishes as
well so my goal is to take the entire neighborhood back and share.
one quick way to knock off the entire menu in just one seating.
teaspoons rice vinegar 3
tablespoons raw foie gras 3
tablespoons butter 1
tablespoon white truffle oil Salt
Puree the foie gras and butter in a blender or food processor
Wisk the eggs yolks and rice vinegar in a double boiler or a bowl
placed over boiling water until aerated. Quickly begin mixing in the foie gras
and butter mixture bit by bit, whisking constantly.
When all the “foie gras butter” has been incorporated, whisk in
the white truffle oil.
Season the foie gras hollandaise with salt and pepper to taste.
I took a detour from my
original list of what to eat at the fair. With the exception of Pork shank,
every new item on my Must-Eat List was chosen strictly by the visual.
Visuals always get me in
trouble, especially when it comes to food.
I could not give up the conventional
fair-feasts of funnel cake and cheese curds nor could I resist anything that
looked or smelled even half way amazing. Unfortunately that was just about
I was at the mercy of every
aroma and in the case of the pork chop- on -a -stick, I gave into the
temptation even though I swore I would not eat anything on a stick. At this
point, I had already thrown my healthy eating plan out the window and there was
no turning back.
Have you ever had a day of
sheer indulgence? This was my day.
Did I feel guilty? Never. You
see, I haven’t done this since I was 16 years old. I was making up for lost
The mere mention of Bridgeman’s
Ice Cream – Minnesota’s best that I grew up on - and I was off to a good start.
I had to fight the crowds
and the lines got so long but like everyone else I waited. Everything I tried
was worth waiting for.
In no particular order of
preference, I had a bite (or two) of:
Chop On A Stick
I told my sister before the
fair that my goal was to photograph more than I ate.
ask me what I want for dessert and my number one answer will always be ice
cream…good ice cream!
already admitted to being an ice cream snob. I grew up on great ice cream and
can’t eat anything that isn’t made using top quality, farm-fresh, locally
been researching ice cream recipes since my recent trip to San Francisco. Both Humphry
Slocombe and Bi Rite have inspired me to cook ice cream rather than take the
easy way out and always use cold ingredients.
Silver of Snookelfritz
Ice Cream told me the same thing on Saturday when I tried some of her flavors at
Green City Market. She cooks her ice cream and said they are all custard based.
Just look at her Peach and Brown Sugar and Blackberry. Both were both delicious.
In fact, I haven’t had an ice cream I didn’t love at Snookelfritz.
treated the ladies at Flamin’ Fury Peaches to Nancy’ ice cream. They let me use
their delicious fruit to showcase Nancy’s scoops.
recipe below is for Bi-Rite’s vanilla and was in the August issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Honestly, I haven’t looked at the magazine for
years but was really impressed with the recipes in the August issue.
my first time cooking ice cream and I was not sure how long to leave it on the
stove but like everything else, I took a leap of faith to bring it to the next
fact, I just had a bite (straight out of my ice cream freezer) and it was so
delicious that I broke down and bought a copy of Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. In fact, I’m
studying the all-famous recipe for Salted Caramel, the ice cream that started
it all in San Francisco at the Street Food Fest.
tuned and Bon Appetit!
1 whole vanilla bean
1 3/4 cups heavy cream 3/4 cup milk 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 5large egg yolks 2teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In heavy saucepan stir together
cream, milk, half the sugar, and the salt. With a small knife split the vanilla
bean lengthwise and scrape seeds from bean. Add seeds and split bean to pan.
Heat over medium-high heat. When mixture just begins to bubble around edges,
remove from heat; cover. Let seeds and split bean soak for 30 minutes to infuse
the liquid. Remove and discard vanilla bean.
Place egg yolks in a medium
heatproof bowl and whisk just enough to break up yolks. Whisk in remaining
sugar until smooth. (The sugar dilutes the eggs a bit and prevents them from
scrambling when the hot cream is added.) Set aside. Uncover cream mixture and
heat over medium-high heat until almost simmering. Reduce heat to medium.
Using a ladle, carefully scoop out
about 1/2 cup of the hot cream; whisking constantly, pour into yolks. Repeat.
(This step, known as tempering, gradually heats the yolks to reduce the risk of
overcooking.) Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, slowly pour yolk mixture
into hot cream in saucepan. Continue to cook on medium, stirring constantly in
a figure eight to cover entire bottom of pan. Pay close attention as the
consistency can change quickly. Cook until mixture goes from the consistency of
heavy cream to that of a thin puree, but no thicker. You'll notice the mixture
thickening slightly and feel a little more resistance as you stir.
(NOTE: See, it doesn’t exactly tell you how long to cook it.
I read in a Humphry Slocombe
recipe that it should be 2-3 minutes so that’s what I did. The path on the
spoon did hold but I also read a recipe that said it should be cooked to a certain
temperature. More later)
To test the readiness of the
custard, remove the spoon from the saucepan and drag your finger across it. If
the base coats the back of the spoon and the path made by your finger holds for
a second or two, it's ready. Remove the pan from heat and immediately pour
through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup or small bowl.
Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice
water and stir frequently with a clean spatula until cool. Remove and cover
with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours until completely cold.
Stir in vanilla extract just before churning and freezing the ice cream.
Variation Cinnamon and
Snickerdoodles:Stir in crumbled cinnamon-sugar cookies and a hefty sprinkle of
cinnamon. If you like, top with sauteed apples or a drizzle of caramel sauce.
Variation Lavender and Honey:Stir
snipped fresh or dried lavender and honey into the finished ice cream. For a
more intense flavor-before making the ice cream base, add 1/4 cup honey and 2
tablespoons dried lavender with the vanilla bean.
Variation Strawberry and Balsamic
Vinegar:Before stirring strawberries into the ice cream, chop and cook the
berries with a little sugar to remove excess water. Cool, puree, then stir into
ice cream with a few dashes of balsamic vinegar.
Variation Double Chocolate:Before
heating the cream, stir together 1/4 cup of Dutch process cocoa powder with
half the sugar. Whisk in a little of the cream to make a paste. Then whisk in
the remaining cream, the milk, and salt.
Variation Blueberry-Lemon Ice Cream
PieTo create an ice cream pie in sundae form, start with a sweet blueberry
sauce made by cooking the berries with sugar and a squeeze of lemon until
thickened. Pour over the ice cream and finish with crumbled gingersnaps or
Variation Citrus Olive Oil and Sea
SaltDrizzle ice cream with bergamot olive oil (a citrus fruit that gives Earl
Grey tea its hint of orange flavor), Meyer lemon, or orange-flavored olive oil
will add the same citrusy brightness. Top it all off with a dollop of whipped
cream and crunchy coarse sea salt flakes.
Variation Caramelized Banana Sundae.
Create a sundae with warm cooked bananas. Start by melting butter and brown
sugar in a skillet. Add a couple of split bananas; cook until caramelized. If
desired, add a little rum and cook and stir a few minutes. Spoon over ice
cream. Top with whipped cream and toasted chopped pecans.
The degree of separation
between trouble and double trouble is exactly one block.
In my estimation, Big N
Little (860 N Orleans) and Bad Happy Poutine (939 N Orleans) are too close for
Big N Little’s Soft Shell
Poorboy sandwich is extravagance to the limit. Even
a muzzled dog was sniffing for my leftovers. Totally logical that the line was out the door and Guy
Fieri featured this place on Diner’s, Drive In’s and Dives.
I then wandered down the street to Bad
Happy Poutine. An authentic Canadian from Hamilton calls it her own and puts
out some of the best Poutine ever for the price. So glad I don’t have to travel
to Canada to get good Poutine anymore. She’s threatening to do it with duck
gravy soon so be sure to check back.
The surprise of the day – the shakes. I
love shakes and these two were ridiculous.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake: peanut butter rubbed
on the inside of the glass and chocolate, vanilla bean ice cream and milk
perfectly blended and then to topped off with flaming marshmallows.
The Bad Happy Birthday Cake Shake had bits of yellow
layer cake and was topped off with sprinkles.
A great recipe cookbook for these amazing shakes is Milkshake Bar by Hannah Miles. 10+ recipes
to try so get ready for an overload next week.
This winery, located in
Delano, MN., bottles 50,000+ a year, and is an award winner – winning eight medals
at the 2010 International Cold Climate Wine Competition and the title of
Minnesota’s best winery.
fell in love with the location and thought that it would be the ideal location
for a wedding. Mine maybe? Now all I have to do is find a groom.
were there for the Friday night happy hour. For $20 we got a tasting of 6 of
their best wines and all you can eat hors
d'oeuvres. The hors d’oeuvres were
wonderful, especially the cookies that were coated with some of the best
chocolate. I wouldn’t tell you exactly how many I ate.
Salud to the owners who have taken this winery and made
it a magical place to relax on a Friday night.
Stall after stall of fresh foods from around the world. Also,
the perfect place to source ingredients if you can’t find it at the
The Highlight: The Left Handed Cook and the Salty Tart
and K Poutine (fries topped with Pork Belly curry, onions, Kimchi, Parm,
Cheddar, Soft Poached Egg and Chipotle Aioli) to the Chop (chopped Soft Shell
Crab, Avocado, Onions, Thai Mayo, Arugula and Patis Vinaigrette) the flavors at
the Left Handed Cook were amazing.
Michelle Gayer-Nicholson was named "Best Pastry
Chef" by the editors of Bon Appetit magazine, and was a finalist for the
James Beard Award for Best Pastry Chef in 2010. Her Salty Tart bakery is loaded
with sweet goodies including this sugar coated Brioche and triple rich chocolate
a map and your appetite. You’ll want to spend hours exploring this market.
The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture has partnered with Motorola to develop a Chicago collection of stories on Motorola’s travel app.
If you have an Android phone, you can download the StoryPlace.me.app and set up a user account to follow Explore Chicago’s Attractions collection of stories.
When you get within 0.2 miles of Maxwell Street Market, you will be able to unlock my video - Cooking Inspired By Maxwell Street Market – which is a story featured in their collection.
The Sun Is Shining And So Am I!
Never Drive Faster
Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly!
Cesar Mascorro Perez - Tequila Expert
I am delighted that my dear friend, César Mascorro Pérez has agreed to be the resident Tequila expert on CupCakesandCrabLegs.
Tequila and Cesar are two words I always pair together!
As a former Regional Manager at Bancomext (The Mexican Trade Commission – Guadalajara) he was in charge of exports for tequila and worked with the US, Central America, South America, Japan. Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany and Holland. Also as a consultant to Tequilas Del Señor he implemented and developed new tequila markets especially in the European Union.
He has been an advisor to many international companies on Tequila including my former school, the Universidad de Guadalajara Pro Tequila Industry in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame.
Ask any question about tequila and he has an answer... except maybe the morning after cure which we are all still looking for!
Salud and Bienvenido! Fun posts on tequila and its pairing with magnificent food to follow!
Always Up For A New Adventure
Can Have My Bags Packed in 5 Minutes!
Come Out Of The Kitchen With A Game Plan...
Like a pressure cooker, things accelerate but even the most tricky situation will remind you why having a “Plan B” in place is important. My friends call me the Plan B Queen. You can never have too many backup plans to keep your own game plan on course. Salud!
This Plan Has Worked For Me For Years
- Eat extremely healthy during the week - Carb load Friday night for my long run on Saturday - Exercise 5-6 days a week for at least an hour - Weight train on Tuesday and Thursday - Take some supplements including Fish and Flax Seed Oil - Cheat on the Weekends with no regrets!
Why I Run...
I must admit that one of the reasons I run is because I love to eat.
I run for ice cream and chocolate.
I also run for the medals and the t-shirts.
I run to discover how far I can push myself.
I love to run on Saturday morning and go up the tunnel across the street from the Drake Hotel and see the Chicago skyline. It never fails to take my breath away and remind me why I live in and love Chicago.
After 10 miles I am pretty sure I run for steak and eggs at the Breakfast Club (1381 W Hubbard St Chicago, IL 60642
The best recovery food ever!
Got This Email From My Brother Terry Who Is A Great Chef...
"Now where can I find a job like Guy Fieri from Diners, Dives and Drive In's? I'd even color and spike my hair. Love ya, Terry"
Happy Wanderer and seasoned traveler. Currently in San Miguel de Allende for food project. Mother of one talented and funny son. Runner/cyclist/athlete. Award winning, published and exhibited photographer. Into breakfast, dark chocolate and white wine. Loves to cook. Owns a million swimsuits. Sings in the shower. Blows bubbles and follows shooting stars. St Maarten is my “leave me there” place. There is nothing better than running up the tunnel on Saturday morning across the street from the Drake and seeing the Chicago skyline. Love the color white and if it’s not a color – I pick red. Always up for a new adventure… I can have my bags packed in 5 minutes. Mexican in my past life and Italian in my next. All of my best memories in life have been at the beach.Love Life and never look back!