Cook the Book: The Grand Central Baking Book

Lake Forest Bakery, St. Louis Mo. It no longer exists, but it was my childhood bakery and was incredible. Chocolate chip stollen, gooey butter cake, paradise cake, all the cookies... oh, and the best chocolate-chocolate birthday cake ever. EVER.

Cook the Book: Ad Hoc at Home

Los Nopales, the most fantastic Mexican restaurant in Chicago, is literally underneath my apartment. I don't know how I got so lucky!

Valentine's Day Giveaway: Peanut Butter & Co. Chocolate Hearts

I cannot resist a Hershey's kiss. Can. Not.

What's Your Go-To Cheese?

Manchego foreeeeeever. (There's an incredible raw one at Whole Foods that I'm addicted to.)

48 Hours in Chicago!

I second the Bristol!! My absolute favorite lately. Hot Chocolate is also great, in the same vein as the Bristol. (Both have a great brunch, but Bristol's is only on Sunday.)

I think one of the most consistently excellent restaurants is Los Nopales... great Mexican-- I've made many Los Nopales converts.

Mercat a la Planxa is a fun downtown-y tapas restaurant... delicious food and not terribly expensive.

Hmm, I'll still be thinking about this for a while...


Ice Cubes in Orange Juice

Crushed ice in orange juice is my faaaaavorite. That used to be the first thing I had after I got home from school. But ice in milk is kinda gross... even crushed ice.

Cook the Book: Unforgettable Desserts

The magic combo of homemade cookies with homemade ice cream.

Pomegranate Molasses

I've used it in marinades and salad dressings. My boyfriend, more adventurous than I, likes to mix it into drinks! Juice spritzers, cocktails...

Cook the Book: 'The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion'

My grandma's M&M cookies.

New Seasonings! I need good ideas for them!

I like making aioli with my smoked paprika-- delicious. It's great with crusty bread and cheese (Manchego and Idiazabal are my faves!).

Agree with @bessfour: truffle salt on popcorn is unbeatable! Also, it's great sprinkled on drained pasta. It doesn't beat you over the head with truffle flavor, but it really amps up the taste of whatever sauce you use.

what do i do with...

I just made a fantastic thai soup this week with lemongrass.

I sauteed garlic, chunks of ginger and lemongrass in olive oil and a little bit of coconut fat. Added assorted julienned vegetables, sauteed more, then added stock, fish sauce, lime juice, ground ginger, and a little bit more coconut milk. Threw in some basil at the end and adjusted the seasonings to taste.

I crave thai soup so often-- this is the first time it's met my expectations. It really tasted like what I would order at a restaurant! I think the lemongrass played a somewhat significant part in this...

Cook the Book: 'Simple Fresh Southern'

Stuffing, stuffing, stuffing. Also, not really a side, but I always claim the vegetables that cook in the cavity of the turkey. Those are truly my favorite.

What to Eat at the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal

I miss and love Jean-Talon.

Imo's Pizza: St. Louis' Inexplicably Addictive Pie

@courtguerra, i'm with you! although my tastes have significantly broadened and developed over the years, as a st. louis native (who longs to go back!), i am quick to defend imo's and provel. i love the somewhat... metallic(?) taste and the way it burns the roof of your mouth. yummm.

rendered fat

ooh, thanks for all the tips! i was totally fantasizing about doing fries, @wookie. and yum, chopped liver!

you guys are the best!

Cook the Book: 'How to Roast a Lamb'

roasted rack of lamb and cherry tomatoes. the tomatoes become slightly stew-y and the whole thing is dee-lish.

Cook the Book: 'The Pioneer Woman Cooks'

Smitten Kitchen is so inspiring... And while this may not count as a blog, I've been known to log many hours on Tastespotting.

Cereal with Water and Other Cereal Compulsions

I pour milk in my cereal and drink it all out of the bowl instantly-- I like my cereal to be just slightly wet.

Cook the Book: The Southern Italian Table

Anchovies melted down with garlic and some tomatoes if they are on hand.

Thanks, But No Thanks: Pumpkin Spice Frozen Yogurt at Red Mango

Agreed-- we asked for a sample before deciding on the original, but still all you could taste was the graham cracker crumbs. And yes, they cover it in graham cracker crumbs when sampling...

Whole Foods Field Trip

Cheese (from the "remnants" section-- small pieces forunder $4.00), beer, wine, fancy chocolate... I spent almost $100 there last night buying ONLY treats. UGHHHH.

Cook the Book: 'The Craft of Baking'

Lake Forest Bakery in St. Louis-- chocolate cake, chocolate mousse frosting, chocolate shavings. This was the most heavenly birthday cake a girl could ask for for years, until the bakery closed.

Nationwide Shortage of Canned Pumpkin Threatens Thanksgiving Pies

I got the last can at my store a few weeks ago! I thought it was a fluke... now I'll have to rush back and buy all of their re-stock!

They carry ________ but not _________?!

I was at Jewel the other day (large Chicagoland chain) and they did not have a single regular sized carrot in the entire store. Baby carrots, yes. Carrot sticks, yet. Carrots in pre-packaged soup mixes, yes. NO BAGS OF CARROTS!

Cook the Book: 'Japanese Hot Pots'

I love my mom's mushroom barley soup. Just smelling it makes me feel cozy and full!

However, I just recently had Burmese food for the first time, and the samusa soup was incredible. Cabbage, broken up falafel, jalapenos, onion, a nice not-too-spicy kind of curry broth. DELICIOUS. I want it all the time now. Too bad there are no Burmese restaurants in Chicago...

Timing of Baking

I'm making two batches of cookies that I'm bringing home for Thanksgiving. One is a maple cookie, one is ginger. They are both roll/cut-out types, and I want to get started on them today.

Is it best to freeze the dough in discs and roll, cut and bake them off right before the holidays? Or bake the cookies THEN freeze them? Or freeze the dough in the cut-outs for especially easy last minute baking?


rendered fat

this is maybe a weird question... but, because i save everything with intentions of finding ways to use it, i have lots of rendered animal fat in my freezer. most of it is from chicken, but i even have some from last year's turducken.

does anyone have any ideas of what i can do with this? i remember the meat-mayonnaise post a few weeks back, but i don't think i'm ready to take that step. i was thinking savory pastry, or just using it bit by bit in soups and stews, but... any brilliant ideas would be greatly appreciated!

sourdough starter coming back to life

i made a large batch of sourdough starter about 6 months ago (or more?). i put it in to two jars and it's been in the fridge since then. what is the best way to bring it back to life quickly?

pour off the liquid, discard some starter and start over? or pour off liquid and just start re-feeding it? how long do you recommend taking to feed it before using again? other thoughts?


caramel apples


i made caramel apples a few years ago, without a whole lot of luck. don't get me wrong, they tasted good, but the nuts and caramel kind of slid down the apples within minutes. should i chill the caramel for a few minutes so it's not too warm? coat the apples and THEN chill? do multiple layers and chill in between??

does anyone have a caramel recipe that they find works really well?

clearly, i'm putting a lot of thought into this.

thanks in advance!

Portland to San Francisco

Hi all!

I'm taking a little West Coast vacation-- flying to Portland, spending two or three days, then driving down to San Francisco... I don't have a real schedule. Will probably have the drive take two days or so, and then spend another two to three days in SF.

Does anyone have restaurant recommendations for either city, or for anywhere along the way? I know most of the well-known spots, but I'm looking for some hidden or really special gems.


Help, I'm in a rut!

I'm having some friends over and am planning on making some snacks... the only problem is, lately, I feel like I have NO ideas!

I want to make a flatbread... maybe caramelized onion with some embellishments... but what should I serve with it? Something pretty easy, but also interesting... and does anyone have any flatbread toppings they absolutely love? I'm not married to the onion idea. I feel like a failure!

Thank you!!

Vegetarian Passover Mains

I'm having a lot of people over for a semi-traditional non-Seder Passover dinner. I'd like to offer something vegetarian, other than potatoes and salad, and I am completely drawing a blank! A few years ago I made a mushroom torte, but I can't find the recipe anymore. Do you know of anything similar that's tried and true? Or do you have other favorite vegetarian Passover dishes?


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