Chicago-style hot dog

That’s the Chicago (dog) way

Originally appeared in the July 28, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

Ten years ago, I was living in the “City of the Big Shoulders,” attending culinary school.  On some of the more lonely afternoons between classes (and with just a few bucks in my sauce-spattered pockets), I’d make the half-mile walk to Division Street to Sammy’s Red Hots for a Chicago dog and fries.  It was comforting to indulge in a simple treat, just one of the gastronomic novelties the Windy City had to offer.  So here’s the deal: for the sake of authenticity, nine separate components need to be represented in a true Chi-town dog.  Read more after the jump: (more…)

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Steamed mussels with homemade fries

Flex some fun with mussels

Originally appeared in the July 21, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

Sometimes what hits the spot is neither a full meal nor a nibble, but something in between.

Steamed mussels are fun because they’re communal.  Imagine this:  a casual evening with friends, maybe on the weekend—maybe lounging outside (although with the current heatwave, perhaps air-conditioning is a more comfortable option)—a table loaded with finger foods, a variety of wines and beverages.  Music.  People laughing, relaxing, eating.  Read the rest here: (more…)

Jerk-spiced chicken sandwich with chimichurri

This “jerk” is no trouble

Originally appeared in the July 14, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

The recipe’s title may sound intricate, but this is really just a simple sandwich.  There are really three key elements to any sandwich:  bread, spread (or condiment), and body.

Let’s start with the bread.  The distinctly rustic crust and tender-tunneled texture of ciabatta adds a nice “mouth-feel” effect, the buns acting like bookends to showcase the filling.  Read more after the jump: (more…)

Caprese salad with basil oil and balsamic syrup

The case for Caprese

Originally appeared in the July 7, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

My reticence in featuring a Caprese salad was rooted in my unflinching suspicion that it’d been overdone—that readers would glance at the recipe’s title only to supply an uninspired mental shrug.  Currently, the Caprese salad is a pervasive staple on restaurant menus.  But sadly, many of these interpretations are poorly executed, doing little justice to such a renowned and refreshing pairing.  Yet, properly prepared, the effects are culinarily indelible.  Read the rest after the jump: (more…)