Mile High Srawberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie

July 25, 2022

This fresh strawberry pie, stacked high with just-picked farmers-market berries in a strawberry-juice glaze, comes with a great backstory. Liberace (pianist Vladziu Valentino Liberace)—once the world’s highest-paid entertainer, loved this pie, ordering it by the dozen from the place it was born: the now-defunct Hess Bros. Department store, of Allentown, PA. The man who sold it to him–Max Hess, Jr., was nearly as big a showman as Liberace himself. Continue Reading…

Salad Days

Tender Wedge Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

July 3, 2022

Wedge salad is the perfect showcase for garden-grown lettuce and tomatoes. We tender it up by using Baby Butterhead (aka Boston or Bibb) lettuce rather than iceberg. One lettuce head, quartered, fills a platter for a beautiful presentation—enough for two to share as a first course. To dress the salad, I dot it with homemade blue-cheese dressing, some fresh-made bacon crumbles and a few grinds of cracked black pepper. Add a sprinkling of minced chive or green onion if you like. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Summerberry Pie

June 26, 2022

Juneberry, Sugarplum, Shadblow, Saskatoon…there are many names around the U.S. and Canada for what we know in Illinois as the Serviceberry tree. We planted ours to beautify the landscape 24 years ago and were delighted to learn that the pretty red berries are edible, with a flavor profile similar to blueberries (but more redberry-ish) and even higher in protein, dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium & manganese. No wonder Native Americans used them to make pemmican!

This year, I used the berries in combination with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries to make this fabulous summer berry pie. You can alter the berry-to-berry ratio, just be sure to use fewer blueberries than the other types of berry, and you will still need about 7 cups of fruit which should mound up nicely in your 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. While American farms don’t grow serviceberries for sale, my foodie friends let me know that they are available frozen here, from Canada: Saskatoon or Juneberries Continue Reading…

Fall-Off-The-Bone

Rosemary Garlic Pork Roast Tacos

June 10, 2022

Low and slow. There is no better way to cook a nice, big pork shoulder roast–one that you have marinated in a delicious rub of garlic, rosemary, mustard and miso. At 250°, the oven seems barely on. But as the hours pass, four… six…seven, the house fills with the most delicious aroma. And when you pull the roast from the oven and slice it, the meat falls off the bone, breaking into tender morsels of savory goodness. Filling tacos with the meat and adding some pickled onion and cotija cheese crumbles on top is our favorite way to eat this.

To make the roast, we used a seven-pound, bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) with the fat cap scored, searing it for 20 minutes at 450° and then turning it down to 250° and roasting uncovered for the remainder of the time. If using a smaller-than-seven-pound roast, start checking for fall-off-the-bone tenderness at the four-hour mark. If larger than seven pounds—say, in the nine-to-10 pound range, you’ll roast from 8 to 10 hours. Recipe adapted from Katie Workman, with big thanks to Tyler Wolff-Ormes for the idea of adding miso to the marinade.

Continue Reading…

Fall-Off-The-Bone

Rosemary Garlic Pork Roast

June 10, 2022

Low and slow. There is no better way to cook a nice, big pork shoulder roast–one that you have marinated in a delicious rub of garlic, rosemary, mustard and miso. At 250°, the oven seems barely on. But as the hours pass, four… six…seven, the house fills with the most delicious aroma. And when you pull that roast from the oven and slice it, the meat falls off the bone, breaking up into tender morsels of savory goodness. Eaten that way, sauced with juices, and paired with vegetables, it’s irresistible. But you can also fill tacos with the meat as we like to do, adding some pickled onion and cotija cheese crumbles on top.

To make this roast, we used a seven-pound, bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) with the fat cap scored, searing it for 20 minutes at 450° and then turning it down to 250° and roasting uncovered for the remainder of the time. If using a smaller-than-seven-pound roast, start checking for fall-off-the-bone tenderness at the four-hour mark. If larger than seven pounds—say, in the nine-to-10 pound range, you’ll roast from 8 to 10 hours. Recipe adapted from Katie Workman, with kudos to Tyler Wolff-Ormes for the idea of adding miso to the marinade. Continue Reading…

Seafood

Sauteed Fish with Melted Tomato, Spring Onion + Asparagus

June 4, 2022

Taking the short walk across the Piscataqua River from Kittery, Maine to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Cathy Wolff points out historic points of interest. There are a lot of them, as Kittery– incorporated in 1647, is the oldest town in Maine. And Portsmouth, established in 1653, came just after. We’re on our way to Strawbery Banke a historic cluster of restored buildings at the site of one of Portsmouth’s earliest settlements.

 It’s here that Wolff spends her Friday afternoons, handing out freshly caught fish to hungry locals who buy from New Hampshire Community Seafood—supporter of sustainable fisheries and local fishermen.

When the work is done, Cathy and I head back to her house, a fat package of fresh haddock in hand. This recipe, with skillet-melted cherry tomatoes, spring onion (sometimes called knob onion) and asparagus, is a snap to make and a great way to feature haddock or cod. Continue Reading…

American Classica

Flint-style Coney Chili Dog

May 31, 2022

There are chili dogs, and then there are Flint-MI-style Coney chili dogs, grilled and topped with a very specific spiced-meat and onion sauce.  Go anywhere near Southeastern Michigan, and you’ll be sure to find one. To set the record straight on all of the lore and legend that grew up around these saucy dogs in the last century, food historian Dave Liske spent about 12 years researching, culminating in his just published, “The Flint Coney, a Savory History,” (American Palate, a division of The History Press.) Continue Reading…

Brunch Bunch

Banana-Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries

May 23, 2022

Since debuting in 1971 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Tonga Toast–a cinnamon-sugared chunk of flash-fried, banana-stuffed breakfast bliss–has always been a top seller. Michael Thompson, a Polynesian Resort chef for seven years, can’t give out exact sales numbers,  but sums: “Let’s just say we receive our bananas by the pallet load!”

Continue Reading…
Rice Entrees

Wild Ramp Risotto with Spring Asparagus

May 13, 2022

Last year, we planted our first crop of asparagus and were delighted to see the spears shoot up from the earth at the same time the woods filled with ramps—those mild and garlicky wild onions that gave Chicago its name. I just had to pair the asparagus and ramps together in a recipe. Having done a book, Risotto & Beyond (Rizzoli), featuring 100 Italian rice recipes that I tested and wrote about for Chef John Coletta, risotto seemed the perfect transport. Note: For a little added earthiness, you can add a handful of sauteed mushrooms to the mix when you stir in the ramps and asparagus.

Irish

Ballymaloe Irish Lamb Stew

March 10, 2022

Cherished recipes are like ripples, each one an echo of the wave-maker that first broke the surface. This Ballymaloe House lamb stew is the 1940s original that started ripples of stews to follow. A version of it was later published in Gourmet magazine (1960s) and then again in Ruth Reichl’s 2004-published volume featuring six-decades of Gourmet recipe bests. Rather than look to the later versions, when a woman wrote me in search of the recipe, I reached out to Darina Allen, head of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland, and a member of the family running Ballymaloe House Hotel and Restaurant.

According to Darina, the simple, hearty recipe was given to her mother-in-law Myrtle Allen by neighbor Madge Dolan in the 1940s. It became a staple at both Ballymaloe House and at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. While lamb stew is extremely common in Ireland with regional variations from county to county, (no carrots in Northern Ireland; barley added for extra sustenance in other places,) this version differed from others of the period because the meat and vegetables are browned in hot fat before stewing, making the finished dish more flavorful. It’s a very simple and straightforward recipe—the love you add comes with peeling all those tiny potatoes and pearl onions (!) The stew is delicious served up right after you make it and is also good warmed up the next day.