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Content about Food

April 23, 2012
It's been awhile.
As many of you have noticed, it's been quite a while since we posted on the site. For that—and mostly for the lack of any news—we apologize. The story of our absence isn't as exciting as we'd like it to be. Basically, due to new jobs for the both of us, we've been busy. Really busy. So we took a little break from posting while we focused on jobs that pay money. Obviously, a note saying so would have been the...
Tote bags! Autographed bookplates! Paw prints!
Pardon the shameless shill for a moment, but we're both pretty excited about this. As most of you probably know, Blake and I have been writing the Dinner Tonight column over at Serious Eats for well over four years. That's a lot of weeknight dinners. But our history with the site actually goes back to the very beginning.  (Here is one very old article that we both wrote if you need some proof.) This is all just a way of...
Rules for success, including porchetta
Ed. note: This is the third post in a "Repertoire" series on the interplay of food and style, with our friends The Midwestyle. We're helping their readers learn a few recipes, and they're teaching us a few things about doing it in style. To say you’re an accomplished person is putting it lightly. That time you summited Kilimanjaro during a snow storm. The month you took a vow of silence. The day all the...
The Paupered Chef officially endorses the convenient practice.
I, Nick Kindelsperger, wholeheartedly endorse the practice of freezing chicken stock in ice cube trays. Doing so allows one to crack them into zip-lock bags and stash them in the freezer for safe keeping. It is convenient, fairly easy to do, and downright practical (in a slightly embarrassing way). Of course, the problem with dishing out little kitchen tips and tricks like this one is that there are enough of them to make even the most...
Just a little love for laborious cooking projects.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the un-simple things. Sure, I admire the shining brilliance of singularly perfect foods — like the best summer tomatoes or a properly aged steak — but I'm far more interested in dishes that combine dozens of components into a complex and bewildering whole. I speak of Mexican moles, feisty Thai salads, balanced Indian curries, and, of course, a certain Creole dish I've been in love...
An Argument for Grains and Vegetables
I’ve worked enough days in my life, from my desk at home to mind-numbing office temp gigs, to have developed some theories on lunch. To me, the working lunch is a series of balances: it should be fast, yet not fast-food; it should be a break from work, but not so indulgent you can’t get moving again; it should be fulfilling, but not a cause of sluggishness. Lunch should work for you, but so often it’s the other way around...
Announcing a collaboration for the month of October
  We’re happy to announce a new collaboration between The Paupered Chef and some fellow friends and bloggers of ours in Chicago: The Midwestyle. It’s a great blog, and thorough. Ostensibly about dressing well on a budget, it’s really about caring: how you look, how you think, how you act like a young man in this here century of ours. We feel an affinity with their go-get-em energy, the same early-20s stuff that...
One dessert it doesn't hurt to have in the repertoire
It's probably become clear to most readers that this is not a food blog where you read about desserts, and for that matter, about baking at all. There's a good reason. We're no good at it. Cupcakes and chocolate cakes and other frivolous foods are the specialty of other writers.  Besides a post or two about bread (we're pretty proud of our olive-and-herb-studded foccacia and the lengths explored for the perfect...
August 22, 2011
Saving andouille from the supermarket.
This didn't start off as a gumbo mission, though I did end up there (more to come on that front soon.) No, the saga began simply: about three weeks ago I needed andouille for a Dinner Tonight. All I could find at the grocery store was a product that claimed to be the right stuff, but had all the character of cheap bologna and about as much spice as, well, cheap bologna. I was angry. Then I drank too much whiskey and started to dream...
Adventures with buttered toast, ripe tomatoes, and Duke's mayonnaise.
Most people return from the beach with tans; I returned with tomatoes. It was a half-bushel, to be exact, and they were stashed in the back of a car as it wound its way from North Carolina, through the Great Smoky Mountains, and, some 16 hours later, finally to Chicago. Why such extravagant measures for tomatoes? When it comes to tomatoes, I don't suffer fools, and I simply can't accept sub-par specimens. I shun fresh ones except...
No offense, but you're probably doing it wrong
There's a lot of misconception when it comes to "barbecue." The problem is the word itself. It's used as a synonym for grilling, refers to the grill itself, or to the meat being grilled; it also has a sauce named after it; and sometimes it's just the word for the party itself held outdoors in somebody's backyard. What, actually, is "barbecue"? American purists see things a little differently. To them...
Cooking from Chicago's New Dose Market, Happening Again This Sunday
The Italian bean salad has been with me a long time, and for good reason.  I've made some variation of beans, herbs, and olive oil dozens of times over the past few years and I never get tired of it.  When it comes to the relationship between deliciousness and effort, this one gets it exactly right.  It's about as easy as mixing the ingredients together and letting the flavors develop, then it's ready to bring to...
A Chicago Backyard and Many Happy People
Mexican food is made for parties. The construction of tortillas, fillings, salsas, and toppings; the spicy, rich flavors; and above all, the fact that it tastes so darn good. This was our guiding principle on a recent Saturday when, with the help of a handful of talented friends, we threw a Baja Fish Taco party under warm string lights in a Chicago backyard. We were celebrating one of the early recipes published on this blog for beer-...
Nick finally takes a look back at the chili of his youth.
Cockaigne: an imaginary land of great luxury and ease. —Merriam-Webster Dictionary "Cockaigne was the name of the family home...Any time there's a recipe with this in the title, it means it's an old family favorite." — 'Joy Of Cooking': 75 Years Young, CBS When the words "imaginary land of great luxury" and "chili" collide, usually that means we're set for some...
Ginger, Lemon, Sugar, Yeast...and 24 hours.
File this one under projects that seem a lot harder than they actually are. A week or two ago, my wife tore out a couple pages in the New York Times Style magazine about a shop in Melbourne, Australia that combines style, bespoke fashion, and great food under one roof called Captains of Industry (here it is as an interactive online feature).  Besides all the cool ideas and wavelengths that must bounce around in that shop, they...
Getting a head start on the season
Soft shell crab season is here, generally considered to begin at some point in May.  So we here at The Paupered Chef decided it was time to take advantage.  Generally, the soft shell crab  is dusted with flour and fried up in a skillet, and I'm not sure there is a better way to prepare this crustacean than this recipe by David Lentz from Food & Wine magazine: stuffed into a crusty baguette with a lightly dressed cole...
May 11, 2011
Or, how to smoke indoors with a wok
I love what smoke does to foods—preserving, often cooking them, and adding layers of flavor. Next to cooking over wood fire, there's nothing more basic and caveman.  There's just one major problem with this particular hobby (true of many caveman-esque cooking experiments): it's impossible to pull off without outdoor space and a backyard. This isn't always a luxury we're afforded living in a city. I have tried...
With a lot of help from Takashi's Noodles.
One sip of real ramen is enough. That’s all I needed to permanently erase all those memories of those pathetic packaged noodles, which I greedily warmed up in the microwave during college. One sip. Done. It was also enough to make me question whether there was a better soup on the planet. Fragrant, rich, and soothing, it has no parallel in the Midwest cuisine I grew up on, and while other marvelous brothy soups my attract my attention...
Leaving the packaged noodles behind...
Ramen is Japan’s ultimate comfort food, the equivalent of a cheeseburger, fried chicken, and deep-dish pizza into one. - Takashi Yagihashi from Takashi’s Noodles I may live in Chicago, but I’ll admit that I'd probably pick ramen before those other foods when I'm in need of something truly comforting. Those big bowls of noodles and broth seem especially perfect at warding off a brutal winter. Unfortunately,...
I don't really care for big burgers.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one railing against the big burger tide. While nearly every new restaurant opening in Chicago features a big, fat burger on its menu, I’m that guy that prefers thin little griddled burgers. Usually I can only find them at old school joints, but even these are frequently harder to find these days. It’s getting to the point where I haven’t eaten a burger at a restaurant in months. I...
March 15, 2011
A quicker, easier process than the whole brisket
Corned beef is one of the more basic and surprising kitchen experiments. But I think that people still think it's pretty nuts.  I'm staying in California for a couple weeks, and had to buy the ingredients, cook, photograph, and eat this project while staying at someone else's house (sorry for the lack of pictures).  First of all--it's really tough cooking somewhere you don't have all your familiar tools! But I...
British food writer Niki Segnit's reference book for home cooks lists 99 flavors and 900 common flavor pairings, like tomato and anchovy. Looks like an awesome resource to inspire kitchen creativity. Good Books: Niki Segnit's Flavour Thesaurus
From Bone Marrow to Saffron
Learning how to make risotto at home was one of the more liberating experiences of my early culinary career. The idea that I could create a perfectly legitimate risotto by just buying arborio rice and stirring like mad, was enough to make me wonder what else I couldn’t cook. I’m not going to say it single-handedly helped launch this blog and my writing career, but it was crucial. It was the moment that I looked around the...
Cooking step-by-step with "the cookbook reimagined"
Late last year our Paupered Chef inbox dinged with slightly cryptic e-mail about a "new top-secret project" from LA's Clear-Media. We called them up and they shared with us their idea: a step-by-step cooking app built for the iPad. They were gathering up the coolest food bloggers on the planet, and wanted us along. We said yes. The result is Appetites, which has just been released at the App Store…and it's even...
And: Should Risotto Spread?
If you’re a Top Chef junkie like me then you probably remember that Tre got kicked off episode 8 this season after serving a risotto that didn’t “spread.” At least, that’s what judge Tom Colicchio said. It’s always hard to know exactly why contestants are booted off the show when you can't taste the food, but this was one of those cases where you could visibly see that his risotto sat up in a bowl...
February 16, 2011
Welcome to the new online world of food.  Foodily is a search engine that culls recipes from over a million recipes and integrates them with social network sharing like Facebook and Twitter.  We've been waiting for something like this for a while!
Chicago's forthcoming iNG restaurant by Homaro Cantu has a pretty novel concept: rather than ordering a la carte, you just pay them by the hour to bring you out delicious things.  Would you pay $50/hr for continuous food and beer? We sure would for oysters with foie smoke, among other things. [iNG Menu]
Plus, a Killer Recipe To Use It In
We are thrilled to be participating in Charcutepalooza, an organized blogging movement of people writing about the noble art of charcuterie. Scores of people around the country (or even the world?) are making and writing about bacon, pancetta, and other delicious variations this fine month of February—and throughout the year, will be embarking on ever-cooler projects like brining, and smoking and drying and fermenting (the organizers...
We can't seem to get enough food history, so here's another read for your commute home: the fortune cookie.  
The Chinese New Year is the perfect time to look back on a spicy year.
Greetings from bitterly cold and blustery Chicago. Currently the city is buried under two feet of snow, and battling some of the coldest temperatures in years. Though it seems like everyone is putting a post about where to eat Chinese food tonight in honor of the Chinese New Year, I decided to take the time and talk about what it has been like to cook Chinese dishes at home. I fell hard for this mighty cuisine in 2010, cooking it nearly...
Raw, Baked, and Coconut-Grilled
Kale sounds like a boring health food, but if you cook it well it's delicious. It's just that most recipes are too predictable: greens + fat + aromatics + acid.  Kale is a lot more versatile than people give it credit for. Sure, you can plug in different combinations (kale, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice is pretty common) and a pinch of red chile flakes is also welcome. Sherry vinegar is especially good, too, and the greens...
Apparently, the Romans were the first (of course) to start this time-honored tradition.  And then, during WWII, food scraps and Fido met for the first time. [The Smithsonian's Food & Think]