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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Still On The Road, Chicago Chicago It's My Kind of Town


Leaving Milwaukee you must decide direction, head north toward Duluth, west to Minneapolis or south along the great lake to Chi Town.  Let's go south, Chicago is only a quick 2 1/2 hour drive south and there is so much to do and see there why would you want to spend the time behind the steering wheel?  You know a city is great when Frank Sinatra sings about it, New York and Chicago or lesser known L.A. My Lady. So get there quickly so you miss out on nothing and be sure to arrive hungry. For some great views and a listen to Sinatra check out this link: Chicago is my kind of town for sure and can be yours too.

Absolutely  a city for everyone, there is something here no matter what you are looking for, be assured Chicago has it. Shopping along the Magnificent Mile, strolling along State Street (or dancing as Sinatra sang) the Navy Pier, The Old Water Tower, Lincoln Park Zoo and so much more.

Chicago has made many contributions to the culinary scene globally, deep dish pizza, Italian beef, Chicago hot dogs everyone knows. But what of Greek Saganaki, or the Brownie, Chicken Vesuvio even the cafeteria is a Chicago creation.  You simply haven't experienced  Chicago unless you have had seafood at the Drake or Prime Rib at Lawery's  (the seasoned salt of the same name created for the original California restaurant) Lou Malnati's for deep dish pizza, steak and chicken at Gene & Georgetti and 312 Chicago for fine dining Italian style. Grab a bag of Jay's potato chips for a snack (an Al Capone favorite) and course you haven't dined in Chicago unless you have visited the Billy Goat Tavern where the "curse of the Billy Goat began.

It is said that the tavern  tried to bring a goat named Murphy into a world Series game at Wrigley Field in 1945 as the Chicago Cubs played the Detroit Tigers, but was denied entry by the owner of the club stating
that "goats stink". William "Billy Goat" Sianis, upset over this crused the club with  "The Cubs ain't gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field." so far the curse holds, although the descendants of William and Murphy were finally given access in 1984 and the curse was lifted by them, who knew.

If you wanted a great steak and to dine where Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. Dean Martin and other celebrities dine then a visit to Eli's Steakhouse was a must. However, more than steak this is the home of the famous Eli's Cheesecake, created on Independence Day of 1966 this creamy cheesecake
is rivaled only by the more famous New York cheesecake. In 2005 Eli's closed the restaurant and is focused on the production of the best cheesecake in America you can tour the bakery and enjoy a great meal at the Eli’s Cheesecake Bakery Cafe 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr.

What may be surprising to many is that Chicago has great Mexican food. Rick Bayless calls Chicago home for his Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Xoco, full service restaurants, and when you shop Macy's  in Chicago visit Rick's QSR Frontera Fresco. Visit Ricks web site for exciting recipes and information on his restaurants, television program and products at:

Chicago is also the second largest Polish city in the world, next to Warsaw, so you can be sure the restaurants will service authentic Polish foods like pierogi's (Polish dumplings), Gołąbki  (cabbage rolls) and Nalesniki z kury z grzybami (crepes or thin pancakes).

African, Indian, Caribbean, Asian foods all have strong influences in Chicago, why you can visit a different ethnic restaurant every day of the year, taste the world and not even leave the city.


Deep Dish Pizza, what would a trip be without trying a Chicago deep dish pizza? With a 3 inch crust side, generous amounts of toppings and cheese who can resist. The Uno's Deep Dish (The creators of the pizza) calls for a higher but thin crust as compared to the "pan" pizza sold throughout the rest of the country. Baked in a cake style pan rather a traditional pizza pan the pizza requires a long cooking time, which could burn the pizza if assembled like pan pizzas. Instead the dough is pressed into the pan, then the cheese is layered on the dough, next the toppings and finally an uncooked sauce this is completely the  reserve of other pizzas, this method ensures excellence in the product.

Begin with a Vienna pure beef hot dog using the 6 per pond count. Steam the dog, never boil it (this gives the dog a nice snap), while the dog is steaming take poppy seed coated hot dog buns,  mustard is placed on the bun, then a green relish, the steamed dog, a bit of chopped Spanish onion, a sprinkling of celery salt finally hot peppers, chopped tomato and dill pickle completes the hot dog, the only thing left is to eat it.

Saganaki refers to the two-handled vessel wherein such appetizers are served , not just the flaming cheese, but to any appetizer served with the two handle skillet. The flaming cheese dish was created in the Greek area of Chicago known as the Delta at a restaurant called the Parthenon in 1968 when a customer requested a little brandy to be poured and flamed on the fried cheese.

2 tbsp  (30 mL)  all-purpose flour
1 slice (4 oz/125 g) Kefalotiri or Kefalograviera cheese

1/3 cup  (75 mL)  extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp  (15 mL)  ouzo, brandy or vodka
1 lemon wedge

Spread flour on plate; press both sides of the cheese into flour to coat. Discard remaining flour.
In small skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot enough to produce small bubbles when a wooden spoon is inserted into the oil; fry cheese, turning once, until golden brown, 4 minutes.
Using slotted spatula, transfer to warm plate. In small saucepan, heat ouzo over high heat until steaming hot (or microwave for 10 to 15 seconds).
At table, pour ouzo over cheese and ignite. When flames subside, squeeze lemon over cheese.

Beef is King, Chicago Italian beef, New Yorks Bookmaker, Buffalo's Beef on Weck and even The Philly Steak  Sandwich all rely on good quality beef to make the perfect sandwich.  The Italian beef sandwich had its beginning around the turn of the last century and is believed to have been popularized by a butcher (Pasquale Scala) who took thinly sliced beef soaked in beef jus, sautéd green bell pepper slices and giardiniera a bun with "wet" strength  to create the perfect Italian beef sandwich.

2 tablespoons seasoned salt (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4½ pound boneless beef rump roast
2 cups dry red wine
4 medium onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 6-inch sub rolls or lengths of Italian bread
4 stalks celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
4 bell peppers (red and green), sliced 3/4 inch thick
6-8 pickled giardiniera

Mix together 2 tablespoons seasoned salt, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, and the dried thyme in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the beef, and put the meat in a large resealable bag. Combine wine, 1 sliced onion, and the garlic, and pour this marinade over the meat. Seal tightly, and let marinate in the refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the meat from the bag, and rub with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the meat and the marinade in a large pan, and roast, uncovered, until tender and the meat is pink in the middle, about 11⁄₂ hours, flipping the meat once during cooking. Remove, and let the meat rest 15 minutes before slicing, reserving the cooking juices in the pan. Slide the sliced rolls into the oven to toast slightly as the oven cools down.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet, and toss in the remaining onions and the celery. Sauté until the onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and remaining dried oregano. Stir the bell peppers and the giardiniera into the onions, and cover the skillet to cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Slice the meat, against the grain, as thinly as possible. (Use a meat slicer if you have one.) When the peppers are tender, add the sliced meat to the skillet, along with any juices left in the roasting pan. Cook until the meat is just heated through, about 3 or 4 minutes. Serve meat with peppers and onions, on the toasted rolls.  


1/3 cup fine salt
3 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the  ingredients into a small bowl.
Combine until well blended.
Transfer into a coffee grinder and grind until very fine.
NOTE: Lawerys Seasoned Salt contains MSG a chemical made from sugar beets, I do not recommend the use of it in any cooking, if you choose to use add no more than 1 teaspoon to the above recipe.


2 tsp dried Oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
5 lb Bone In 8 piece cut chicken
3 tbsp olive oil
4 medium Russet Potatoes, cut into wedges
1 1/2 Cups White Wine
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock
10 to 12 Whole Roasted Garlic Cloves
1 cup Frozen Peas
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour

Mix the salt, pepper, herbs and granulated garlic together in a small bowl use to season your chicken pieces on all sides.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil, and brown your potato wedge’s and chicken pieces, then remove and place in a roasting pan.
Place the  garlic cloves in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes.
Deglaze your pan with the wine, add your chicken broth. Simmer for 3 minutes.
 Pour into the roasting pan with the chicken and potatoes. Bake at 375F till chicken is cooked through, about an hour and 15 min’s. The last 15 minutes, toss in the frozen pea’s.
Heat the butter in a small saucepan, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, Strain the broth from the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.
Plate the chicken, potatoes and peas, smother with sauce and serve at once.
Serves 4


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup cold mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup cool water (approx.)
Melted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups warm mashed potatoes
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cooked bacon bits
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauté the onion in the butter until softened, about 6 minutes.
Combine with the potatoes, cheese and bacon mix well.
Season with salt and pepper.
Let cool thoroughly before using.

(The filling can be made a day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.).
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Add the egg yolks, mashed potatoes, melted butter and just enough of the water to form a medium-soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. (Too much kneading will make the dough tough)
Divide the dough in half and cover with an inverted bowl.
Let stand for 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough until it is quite thin and cut rounds about 2 to 3 inches wide with a large biscuit cutter.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a little salt.
To each round of dough, add a spoonful of filling and fold over to form a half circle.
Press the edges together with well floured fingers, making sure the perogy are well sealed.
Transfer them to a lightly floured surface and cover them with a clean tea towel so that they do not dry out.
Drop a few at a time into the boiling water, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to separate them and keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, at which point they should be puffed and bobbing on the surface. (The thinner the dough and the smaller the perogy, the quicker they will cook).
Transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander, drain thoroughly and place in a warmed bowl.
Drizzle with melted butter and toss gently to keep them from sticking together.
Cover and keep warm while you cook the remaining Perogy.


1/2 lb of cooked ground beef or pork
2 cups rice
2 cups or less of boiling water
1 medium onion diced
2 teaspoons salt
4-5 tablespoons butter or other type of fat
salt and pepper

1). Add the rice to the boiling water. Stir in the salt. Bring it to a boil again and let it cook for one minute. Cover, lower the heat and allow it to stand long enough to absorb the water. The rice is only partially cooked at this point since it will finish cooking in the rolls.
2). Cook the onion in the fat until it is slightly golden. Mix with the cooked ground beef or pork and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Season well because the cabbage leaves will absorb some of the taste. Cool until ready to use.

1 large cabbage head
1 large can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste to thicken sauce (if needed)
2 tablespoons or more of butter or bacon fat
salt and pepper

1). Remove the core from the head of the cabbage by cutting around it with a sharp knife.
2). Place the head of cabbage upside down in a large pot and pour boiling water into where the core was. Cover the head completely.
3). Let it stand until the leaves are soft and easily removable. Drain and remove the leaves from the head very carefully. Do not tear them! Cut off some of the hard center rib of each leaf without removing it from the leaf.
4). Cut the largest leaves into two or three sections and line the bottom of a large pot with them.
5). Place a generous spoonful of the meat and rice filling on the end of one leaf and roll lightly. Tuck in the ends.
6). Place the completed rolls in layers in the pot and sprinkle with some sauce and some salt, but do not add too much. Combine the fat with the sauce first. The liquid should barely fill the gaps between each roll.
7). Protect the last layers from burning by covering it with a few large leaves.
8). Place a lid on the pot and bake in a moderate over at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until both the cabbage and the filling are thoroughly cooked.
Serve hot with chopped crispy bacon and onions, large spoonfuls of sour cream or a mushroom sauce.


1 cup     250 ml   flour
¼ tsp     1 ml        salt
¼ tsp     1 ml        each of pepper, nutmeg
½ tsp     3 ml        Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp    30 ml     safflower oil
¼ cup    310 ml   milk
¼ cup    60 ml     soda water
2              2              eggs
¼ cup    60 ml     butter

3 tbsp    45 ml     butter
½ lb        225 g      Mushrooms
2              2              chopped green onion
2 cups   500 ml   cooked diced chicken
1 cup     250 ml   Ricotta cheese
½ tsp     3 ml        basil leaves
2              2              eggs
¼ cup    60 ml     milk
1½ cup  375 ml   fine dry seasoned bread crumbs

4 tbsp    60 ml     butter
4 tbsp    60 ml     flour
2 cups   500 ml   milk
½ tsp     3 ml        salt
½ tsp     3 ml        white pepper
pinch     pinch     nutmeg

Sift the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg together.  Blend in the Worcestershire, oil,  milk, and soda water. Beat 2 eggs and add to the liquid.  Blend into the dry ingredients.  Beat until a smooth thin batter is formed.
To cook the crepes, spread about 3 tbsp (45 ml) of batter in a lightly buttered hot skillet. Cook about 1 ½ minutes.  Turn the crepe and cook 1 minute over medium heat.

Heat the butter in a large skillet.  Sauté the mushrooms until all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the green onion, chicken, cheese and basil leaves. Place 2 tbsp (30 ml) of filling on each crepe.  Fold over the ends and roll. Blend the eggs with the milk.  Dip each crepe into the egg mixture and roll in the bread crumbs.
Heat a small amount of butter in a skillet and fry each crepe until golden brown.  Repeat the process until all crepes have been cooked.  Reserve warm in a greased casserole dish.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add flour and stir into a paste (roux).  Cook for 2 minutes over low heat.
Add the milk and stir.  Simmer until thickened. Add the seasonings and simmer for an additional 2  minutes.
Pour sauce over crepe casserole.  Bake in a preheated 350F (180F) oven for 15 minutes.


¾ lb                        340 g                  semi sweet chocolate
¼ cup                    60 ml                    honey
½ cup                    125 ml                  butter
1 cup                     250 ml                  sugar
2                              2                        eggs
1 tsp                      5 ml                      vanilla
½ cup                    140 ml                  flour cpl.+ 1 tbsp
¼ tsp                     1 ml                      baking powder
pinch                     pinch                     salt
3 tbsp                    45 ml                    heavy cream
¼ cup                    60 ml                    walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a double boiler, melt half the chocolate and stir in the honey.
Cream together half the butter with ¼ cup (60 ml) of sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add ½ tsp (3 ml) of vanilla. Stir in the melted chocolate.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture.
Pour into lightly buttered 9 in (23 cm) square cake pan.
Bake in oven 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool.
In a saucepan, blend the remaining sugar and butter with the cream.  Bring to a boil.
Add the remaining chocolate, walnuts and vanilla.  Stir until chocolate melts.

Pour over brownies.  Cut into squares.



3-2 cups               graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp                    ground cinnamon
1/4 cup                 melted butter


32 oz                    cream cheese
4 cups                   granulated sugar
3 cups                   heavy cream
2 tbsp                    lemon juice
1 tbsp                    vanilla
8 eggs,                   room temperature
2 cups                   sour cream

Combine crust ingredients. Press into the bottom and sides of a buttered 10" spring form pan. Chill. C).F (160Preheat the oven to 325

Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the cream, lemon juice and vanilla, beat until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the sour cream.

Pour mixture into prepared shell and bake in the oven until the center is set, about 90 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop door open slightly.

After about 30 minutes transfer to a rack to cool, chill overnight. Serve with fresh fruit or fruit sauce.

Makes two 10" Cakes

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