Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Radish on buttered toast - sounds pretty exciting right?  Radish is a pretty divisive veggie - I often see it come back to the kitchen on otherwise clean salad plates.  It turns out, some great ingredients and a little butter might make a radish believer out of almost anyone.

radish on buttered caraway rye
Chef tip of the day: Keep it simple.  I like great bread - in this case a lightly toasted slice of our friend Anne's Crumb caraway rye.   On that, spread a thick smear of fresh butter, some crunchy breakfast radishes from the farmers at Green Acres, a sprinkle of Honey Butter business partner Jen Mayer's homemade celery salt and finally some fresh cracked pepper.  Best snack or breakfast ever!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dinner with Field Recordings and Vinejoy

We had a great time pairing the truly magnificent wines from Field Recordings with a late summer menu at a couple of dinner clubs this month.  Having the guys from Vinejoy - Ian and Steve, along with Andrew Jones from Field Recordings in the house was a real treat.

Smoked Trout Croquettas

Check out the menu, the pairings, and look for these wines - they are delicious!

Melon Gazpacho, La Quercia Prosciutto Picante and Grapes 
White Fiction
Smoked Trout Croquetas, Caper Remoulade, Fried Lemon, Watercress Salad and Almonds
Jurassic Park Chenin Blanc
Rossejat with Garlic Allioli, Grilled Chicken Leg, Roasted Sweet Peppers and Chorizo 
Red Fiction
Chocolate Bread Pudding, Olive Oil and Raspberries 
Chorus Effect Blend

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sunday Dinner on the TV!

We want to thank Steve Dolinsky for inviting us to appear on Chicago's ABC News with him this morning. Many thanks as well to the wonderful WLS-TV staff for their hospitality. We had such a great time - the lights were bright! We are thrilled to be able to promote Heather Lalley and Brendan Lekan's awesome book, The Chicago Homegrown Cookbook. Heather did a wonderful job telling the stories of many Chicago chefs and area farmers and Brendan's photography is second to none. Check it out!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Inaugural Totally Vegetarian Dinner Club Menu - Really, No Bacon

Hey Folks,

Today, we are posting publicly our August 2011 dinner club menu. We plan to share our menus on the blog as we go forward (we've designed and cooked hundreds of menus over the years - we try not to repeat ourselves - but we do love cassoulet in the winter!).

So - the first 100% vegetarian Sunday Dinner Club Menu:

Broccoli and Butterkase Arancini, Roasted Summer Pepper Rouille

Caramelized Tomato Tatin, Olive Tapenade, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Arugula

Baked Farm Egg, Cherry Tomato Confit, Patty Pan Squash, Basil Pesto, Foccacia

Handmade Ravioli, Ricotta, Chili, Sweet Corn, Roasted Chanterelles

Yeast Doughnuts, Candied Eggplant, Fresh Plums, Walnut Cream, Honey

People often ask us (Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp) what Sunday Dinner Club is exactly. It’s sort of been hard to for us to define. Most people will refer to us as an underground restaurant. But we really aren’t underground. And we really aren’t a restaurant either. Simply put, we host dinner parties in our homes and the homes of friends and invite people on our mailing list to attend. The mailing list has been cultivated over the last six years by referral only which means that everyone that comes to the dinner club is connected in some way to us or another diner. The dinners are multi-course feasts, featuring the best of what is available from the good local and sustainable Midwest farmers at our fair city's markets. The food that we cook is the food we want to eat – seasonal, simple, clean but also refined and painstakingly handcrafted. In addition, we can be found grilling fresh-ground burgers at Chicago’s Green City Market on Saturdays and catering smallish food-focused events.

Please note that the dinner club mailing list is not open to public sign-up. We've grown our list through word of mouth only. If you are interested in being added to the list - find someone who can get you added (there are a few thousand of them around the city!) or look for Sunday Dinner at the Green City Market on Saturday slinging burgers - we heard a rumor that a sign up sheet just might be on the counter each week:) We'd also be happy to cater a delicious private dinner for you and your friends!

Our post on Ruhlman.com

We recently had the honor to share our experience roasting a couple of whole piglets on the blog of one of our culinary heroes - Michael Ruhlman. As young chefs, we eagerly devoured his books: The Making of a Chef, a must read for anyone considering a culinary career and culinary school, and The Soul of a Chef, featuring an intimate account of cooking at the French Laundry under chef Thomas Keller and exploring what it means to really be a chef. As professionals, we have relied upon and learned from his truly essential books: The Elements of Cooking, never has an essay on the import of veal stock been so fascinating, Ratio and it's accompanying app have saved us time and again. Charcuterie, his book with Brian Polcyn is nearly biblical in terms of it's influence on chefs interested in curing, smoking, and the craft of sausage making. We eagerly look forward to his next books and apps or whatever else he chooses to explore. Oh and check out those pigs!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Nothing quite like ramps to change the way your trunk smells. Having made the mistake of leaving a bag o' ramps in the trunk last year for only an hour, and smelling them for rest of the spring, we made sure they only sat there for a quick five minute trip. We picked up our first ramps of the year today at Lula Café, they being the helpful middleman for Spence Farm, the ramp kings of the Midwest. Just to warm up, I had a quick eggs Benedict at Lula, complete with some delicious hunks of pork, a tasty lemon hollandaise, some Swan Creek eggs, a couple of toasty pieces of baguette, and of course RAMPS! I love these things. I love them on pizza, I love them pickled, I love them in pesto, I love them in ramp butter, I love them in pasta. Grilled ramp butter with hangar steak anyone?

Just in case you're a bit confused about all this ramp talk and are thinking I'm a skateboarder or X Games guy, let us clarify what a ramp is. Per Wikipedia, ramps are also known as wild leeks and are a member of the onion family. You can eat the whole thing. The green leafy part is particularly good for quick cooking or for salad and pesto. The white and pinkish stems are great for pickling or longer cooking. Try cooking some ramp stems with some bacon and cook up some crispy potatoes. You'll be happy. They are quite aromatic, bringing the best sweetness and bite from both garlic are onion.

Be sure to be on the look out for ramps in both Sunday Dinner menus and Eat Green Foods items. We are already incorporating them into our sandwiches and sides. Man, I stink!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Before and After

Berry cobbler at Christian Constant's Le Cocotte near the Eiffel Tower was damn good. And it was fast. Real quick. Gone. Coupling the appetite of a few American chef's with the quality and portion size of French food led to many a cleared plate. Something mesmerizing about a just emptied plate. How much did they like it? How's their diet going? Did they scrape the plate? Did they make like my girlfriend and just lick the plate?

Plating of food is so temporary. Chef's can worry about where to place each item, and perhaps a moment after reaching a diner, the destruction has begun.

The proof, my friends, is down below. Total elapsed time between the first and second photos? Any guesses?