Share |

Content about Food and drink

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...
Tristan Coulter of Chicago's Metropolis Coffee Explains the Pour-Over Technique
I discovered the first inklings of my obsessive nature while making coffee in college. So many things can go wrong. So many ways to go right off the cliff. What should be routine and pleasurable becomes stressful, maddening, disappointing. The beans, the water, the tools, the process, and the thin line between greatness and mediocrity. None are exempt from mistakes.  And of course, no one has ingested any caffeine yet. And we know what...
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...
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,...
Or how to restore punch to its former glory
Until recently, my first thought upon hearing the word "punch" was a frat party, something electric red, and indiscriminate drinking--a concoction spiked with a slew of spirits that might be laying around and then covered in Koolaid. That seems to be the reputation punch has gotten—but if cocktail writer Dave Wondrich has anything to say about it, we are all missing the point. Punch is not the currency of undistinguishing...
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...
March 15, 2011
Here's a video on 5 ways to make duck charcuterie--redefining what we mean by eating nose to tail.  Also, check out the PC's Beginner's Charcuterie post where Blake takes on duck prosciutto! Duck Charcuterie 5 Ways (and Recipes)
Our friends over at A Cozy Kitchen have put together a killer recipe for a new take on rice krispie treats. Marshmallow and caramel...yum! Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats
I'm kind of sucker for Cajun and Creole cuisine, so I couldn't help but whip up a batch of shrimp and in honor of Fat Tuesday. What I didn't expect was that everything would heat back up so well for lunch the next day. The grits were still creamy and addictive, and the shrimp still popped. Might have to start making this more often for the week. 
The National Pork Board is changing its ad campaign from that adage we were all familiar with in commercials of the 90s to a new slogan: "Be Inspired."  Apparently the inferiority complex to chicken has been overcome by wrapping bacon around it... Does Pork Inspire You?
Our friends over at Serious Eats have put together a slide show of America's top fried chicken joints.  Predictably, most of them are in the South.  Now, they just need to do a chicken and waffles list... Our Favorite Fried Chicken in America
February 22, 2011
Nick eats lunch at home everyday, usually scrounging up leftovers in his fridge into some kind of new creation. He'll post about more successful attempts. After making a big batch of beef broth for the best risotto of my life, I was also left with an insane amount of poached beef. Though a simple beef sandwich with horseradish would have worked, I instead decided to make a modified Italian Beef. Not 100% successful, but still delicious.
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...
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...
February 10, 2011
Just made up a batch of salsa (recipe here) with dried guajilo chiles, garlic, canned tomatoes, and lime juice. Killer recipe that never seems to fail.
A Variation on a Classic That Goes Down a Little Easier
Ah, gimlets. I've always been too much of a wuss to enjoy them. The gimlet is all harsh lime and bracing alcohol, befitting to manlier men like the British seaman who invented it, at some point in the 19th century, halfway across the Atlantic. They were looking for their allotment of vitamin C (scurvy sucks), had Rose's lime juice, and they were drinking a lot of gin. How's that for a cocktail history? Today, the gimlet is still...
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...
January 31, 2011
Here's an oldie but goodie on nachos creation for the Superbowl.  How do you top your tortilla chips?
January 26, 2011
We've joined the Charcutepalooza movement, also known as a group of bloggers led by the folks over at Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen who are embarking on 12 months of charcuterie-making.  We're throwing our hat in the ring...winner gets a fancy trip to France! See also: Charcuterie Archives on The Paupered Chef