Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chili con dos Carnes

Chili con dos Carnes

 Everyone has a favorite Chili recipe. Some like it savory, some sweet; with or without beans; red, white or brown and varying degrees of heat from mild to “I will never be able to taste again!” There are also those truly fearsome Chili aficionados with their set of rules that govern what is or is not real chili. Good for them, everyone needs a cause to fight for!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Seventy Five Feet of Heaven

75 feet of Chocolate

I just came across these photos from our 2011 Caribbean Valentine Cruise and I wanted to share these wonderful creations. The pastry chefs were very busy judging by the magnitude of this magnificent spread that was literally 75' long! In addition to gallons of chocolate, there was a very large assortment of pastries, fruit and candies in many unique and tasty forms.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mom’s Meatloaf (was never like this!)

Baked Meatloaf

It’s the rare American who is not passionate, in one way or another, about meatloaf. The pro-meatloaf contingency may speak fondly of meatloaf “every night when we were first starting out”, or stuffed with this or that or smothered in this or that or “the best part is the sandwiches”. Conversely, the anti-meatloaf camp will probably drone on about meatloaf “every night when we were first starting out”, or stuffed with this or that or smothered in this or that or “the best part is the sandwiches”. While the reasons to either love or hate the lowly loaf are many, and so very similar, I believe that most haters have just been exposed to too many bad attempts.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hammy Chowder

Ham Chowder

Chowder... the word alone brings about delightful feelings of comfort and a sense of well-being. Add to that a nourishing and filling dish and you’ve got the perfect winter supper. This is not to say that I consider all chowders to be wintery fare. I can be persuaded to, without much coercion, indulge in either clam variety at any time of the year. When local sweet corn is at its peak of abundance and I’ve consumed more than my fair share of golden nuggets directly from the ear, my thoughts often turn to spicy southwestern corn chowder. But ham chowder just says such sweet things to me during the cold months.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mrs. Powell’s Dumplings & Chicken

Chicken and Dumplings

Mrs. Powell rented rooms from my Grandmother in Chicago when I was a little kid. Grandma Bess lived in what had previously been the home of the Mayor of Morgan Park, before the city of Chicago absorbed the once posh suburb. It was a big house with front and back parlors, a huge dining room and several floors of enormous bedrooms with sitting rooms. It had to be big; it was the house in which my dad and his four brothers, in ages spanning over twenty years, grew up. It was also the house in which she lived until she died. After my grandfather died and all of the boys left home, Grandma Bess took in boarders and Mrs. Powell, who I think was in her nineties then, was there as far back as I can remember.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

These are incredibly easy to make for a party buffet. Pinwheels are everywhere! You will surely see them on just about every catering menu, but why buy someone else’s creation when you can make your own in just minutes?  Start with some of the treats you already enjoy in another form and just transfer them to a pinwheel arrangement.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Braised Chicken Paprikash

Braised Chicken Paprikash

This has been a favorite around our house for decades. I’m not sayin’ how many decades, but just using that word should be enough to tell you that it’s been a long, long time.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Roasted Pork

Roasted Pork

On the near west side of Chicago, every Czech-Bohemian restaurant has their own version of this dish. They’re all based on some mom’s Sunday Dinner recipe. This kicked up version offers similar tastes to satisfy the “comfort food” region of our brains, while entertaining the other definition of Bohemian – the different thinker in us all.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

We don’t eat enough purple food! Just seeing this side dish is enough to make you smile – it’s just so… so purple! This isn’t a kind of Kraut, sour or otherwise. Of course you could make Sour Kraut with Red Cabbage, but then it would be Red Sour Kraut. While Kraut has a snap or least a bit of a crunch, all of the vegetables and fruit in this dish are just barely recognizable. I like to layer flavors here; just pay attention to any cooking show on television – it’s a big deal, and really works to add dimension to foods, but there’s no layering here. All of the individual ingredients have given up their distinctive tastes for the good of the dish.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Houskove Knedliky (Bohemian Dumplings)

Houskove Knedliky (Bohemian Dumplings)

This is a traditional accompaniment to Roast Pork served every day at most Czechoslovakian restaurants in Chicago. Frankly, the quality of the dumpling is how we determine whether or not we’ll be returning to the restaurant! 

They’re not fluffy like the dumplings Grandma made in her Chicken & Dumplings, but they’re not like Spaetzel, those little chunks of Bavarian dough noodles. In fact, when you see these for the first time your impression will likely be that someone put slices of bread and gravy on your plate.