Win a Copy of 'The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook'

Gazpacho, and tomato sauce which is more a putting-things-by than a real recipe, but becomes the base for so many things over the winter.

5 Life Lessons From 2 Years of Interviewing NYC's Top Chefs

It was fun to see a link to this article in the "SmartBrief on Leadership" for last Friday. It pointed to Dave Arnold, but I think all give good leadership lessons.

Bake the Book: First Prize Pies

I do not like strawberry pie. It seems a waste of perfectly lovely berries.

Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

I made this and without looking at the comments made a couple of tweaks, including using mini-chips and leaving out the cinnamon. On a whim I entered it in a local fair and it took third place in "Quick Breads - Other" category (the other two categories are "Banana" and "Zucchini") and wanted to share the news! Not bad for something I had never made before and followed on faith except for the tweaks.

(PS: I cannot give it a full five stars because I am allergic to chocolate and don't know how it tastes; I think mini-chips are a better choice for quickbreads; and it only took third. Someone else might give it a full five, I would do four-and-a-half but there are no halvsies.)

Cook the Book: 'The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen'

It was in a barbeque shack an hour or so out of Dallas, where you lined up at the smokers with a plate and paid by the pound. Ditto for your sides (in the walled part of the building), but the iced tea was free and came out of something that looked like a moonshine still. They had pretty much any kind of meet you liked - chicken, pork, several kinds of beef, and the random game that came their way.

Staff Picks: 9 Breakfasts We Love in Chicago

I do love the breakfasts at Wishbone; it's one of the places I need to go when in town. Mango pancakes in season; omelet with bisquit and cheese grits if I need something hearty (and then often have no need for lunch, especially handy if heading for a flight out of Midway); black bean cakes with mango salsa if I am in-between appetite-wise.

Staff Picks: The Best Places to Brunch in Chicago

Their breakfasts may not strictly be brunch, but Wishbone offers good variety for not much money, especially when you consider that you often can skip lunch after going there. I generally rotate among omelets and the black bean cakes, but when in season the mango pancakes are stellar.

Bake the Book: Baked Elements

Bake the Book: Baking Out Loud

Grapefruit Italian Ice.

Bake the Book: The Seasonal Baker

Grilled peach melba, but if baking is needed: Honey shortbread ice-cream sandwiches (with fresh fruit ice-cream, whatever was at the farmer's market and a touch overripe) or grill some homemade poundcake to go under the grilled peaches.

Knead the Book: The Bread Bible

I love oatmeal-honey homebaked bread THE BEST.

Bake the Book: 'People's Pops'

In New Zealand I got to try a ginger-lemon iced-tea pop that was terrific on a hot day. I think they had a ginger beer variation too.

Bake the Book: 'People's Pops'

I love cocoanut ones, with lots of slivers so they are almost chewy. I also like ones made with frozen berries or peaches - fruit on a stick!

The Best Pad Thai in Chicago

Another spot to try is Dao on Ohio Street - you might miss it in the industrialness of the buildings but the pad thai is a favourite in my family and the other noodle dishes are great too (although Dad favours Rama Chicken), as are the spring rolls.

Knead the Book: Kneadlessly Simple

My fave depends upon the filling, but currently it's a pickle-rye for roasted red meat sandwiches (roast beast, pastrami, etc.).

Bake the Book: 'Marshmallow Madness'

The one I want to try (again( is one I've done - hot sauce, which I used to bloom the gelatin. They had a nice sweet-spicy taste and were terrific toasted, and I know that different hot sauces would have different results so I want to continue experimenting.

One I want to try soon is blood orange.

Meyer lemon marmalade

You can try heating it and turning it into a chutney base. Or mix a couple spoonfuls into baking recipes that usually call for orange marmalde; I have a brandied orange cake recipe that does this.

If it's too bitter you don't want to give the marmalade as gifts as this will reflect badly on your prowess. If you do, make it an "ingredient gift" by labeling it "Meyer Lemon Glaze" or something of the sort.

Another use would be as a glaze on a strong fist or on pork, and maybe on lamb.

Freezable Food for a Baby Shower

I agree with DashofGinger that having items that go into the freezer for after the baby comes is a very nice thing.

As for do-ahead items, assuming it's savouries, an assortment of tiny boiled potatoes (do ahead) that you cut in half, put cut-side down, scoop out a bit, top with a bit of Greek yoghurt and a bit of roe or snipped herbs.

Make a spread (herbed cheese, taramasalata, hummus) and spread on party bread slices, top with thin bits of veggies, snipped herbs, whatever. Do the spreading and topping last-minute or set it up as a "bar" where people can do their own spreading and topping.

Marinate tiny balls of mozzarella and assorted olives in herbed oil and vinegar. This also works with cubes of feta, small tomatoes, etc. Put into a pretty bowl with picks on the side for people to use to take out what they like best. You can vary with some garlic or lemon in the marinade.

Savoury cheesecake, with dried tomatoes or something similar, and cut into very thin slices.

Mini-muffaleta-type sandwiches - make the olive salad ahead, and at the last minute slide tiny rolls, layer with sliced cheese and the olive salad. Or make one long baguette sandwich and slice.

Roll patry or phyllo around a filling, bake mostly done, and then you can heat up at the party to get it crisp. If you are feeling fancy, do dried tomato or pesto palmiers.

I cant believe I made bad tasting cookies!

I don't see a problem, but I like my cookies less sweet. Maybe you have a huge sweet tooth and that is why you don't like these? It sounds as if the cookies do not taste bad just not as sugary as you like.

Honey has a taste that is not just sweet, but also can be floral or otherwise. You might try making the cookies with something that is pure sugar like corn syrup and find if that makes it sweet enough for you. You might also try dropping the flour a bit to see if that helps, maybe to 3.5 cups as a starter.

Egg-less cake smells of raw refined flour.

I think it may also depend upon the flour used and the type of cake made. I am not fond of plain cake so usually have added spice, coffee, nuts, or fruit and there is not a problem. In fact, if you add toasted and finely ground nuts instead of part of the flour, it should solve the problem.

Nine Pancakes We Love in Chicago

I would point you to the mango pancakes at Wishbone (the original location in the old tire distributorship). Seasonal, and very yummy.

Cook the Book: 'Bluestem: The Cookbook'

Miyas isn't in my town, but close by. Sustainable sushi and VERY creative cocktails.

Bake the Book: 'Entenmann's Big Book of Baking'

This tiem of year, vanilla custard paczki, but I remember a dense cake donut with hard white icing that I loved as a kid. I think it might have been Entemann's but I have not seen them in a while.

American Classics: Pączki

Around Hartford, which also has a large Polish community, these are in every shop and bakery from shortly after New Year's until Mardi Gras. My faves are custard, which I don't see listed. Something about the crisp and creamy is just wonderful to my tastebuds.

Vegan: Braised Eggplant with Tofu in Garlic Sauce

I love braised eggplant and look forward to trying this recipe. One thing – this sentence appears badly edited, and while I think I can make out what you were trying to say, Kenji, can it be rewritten? “What I do do to them is par-cook them either by steaming in a bamboo steamer set over my wok, or (as is more frequently the case these days), but microwaving them until completely softened.”

Native Pittsburgh foods to cook at home?

I am in a cooking club that meets monthly, and every month there is a theme. We are supposed to follow the theme, but it's usually very broad and we get to interpret it our own way. For example, "Reds on the Beach" resulted in everything from a Cuban arroz con pollo (because they are Communists and have beaches) to grilled shrimp to fruit soups (because you could pack them for a beach picnic, and they were based on strawberries or watermelon) to overturned nubs of cheesecake (the bottom resembling sand) with raspberries pinned to the top with a paper drink umbrella. I was traveling for work unexpectedly so my plan for tomato tart (already did one this season and had many requests when I posted pix on my blog and FB) was bagged in favour of "octodogs" because I could swing by the grocery on my way back to town and I remember eating them on the beach as a kid.

Next month's theme is "Pirates". I'm tempted to make something from Pittsburgh because I am a sports nut. I could wimp out and obtain local brews, but I'm more of a cook than a drinker. I did some looking-up and most of the suggestions don't scream "Pittsburgh" to me: Halušky and Kielbasa, Pierogis, Klondike Bars. I did see reference to deli sandwiches with coleslaw and fries inside, but I don't know if I will be able to make fries at the home we're at next month. I also saw references to "city chicken" which might be an option.

Then I thought I'd ask the greater SE-scape if y'all have any suggestions. My quick search found passing (or maybe passing-over) references to food in Pittsburgh, but someone has to have substantive information for me! I used to go to Pittsburgh annually but we mostly picked up food at the grocery store to cook where we were camping. A friend was at a convention there last year and sent back a review of a brewpub, but that's not much help for cooking. Does anybody know which sandwich won to become the signature sandwich for 2011 at PNC Park? Any other suggestions? Recipes?

Slice Harvester - tasting all NYC by-the-slice options.

I've been following this discussion on MeFi; haven't gone off to read all the reviews:

It makes me think the guy doesn't know about Slice here, or feels that Slice focuses too much on the fancy kinds that he abhors. Some of the reviews are kind of fun (the "Total Bummer" category is one I wish I'd thought of when telling people about a few places) although it's clear he has a chunk of attitude with his cheese.

I was surprised that a number of the commenters also don't know about Slice. You want maps? We got maps here!

Favourite Frozen Treats for Summer

I saw this article on the Chicago Tribune blogsite and it got me thinking:

Serious Eaters, what are YOUR favourite treats? And this is not meant to be a rundown of ice creameries, I am talking primarily about things served on a stick or in a glass or a cone and not requiring any scooping.

I'm trying the 21-day challenge

I was reading Richard Blais' blog where he talks about doing a challenge wherein you follow a diet that is "completely vegan, no gluten, no processed sugar, no alcohol, and no caffeine for 21 days." Since I've been feeling out of sorts in a physical way, and have been thinking of doing a dietary revamp to see if that helps, I am going to try this starting on Saturday.

Because this is a fairly drastic change, I thought doing it on a weekend would be a gentler start. I've reviewed my schedule for the following 21-day period, and have almost no social events where I would be expected to consume pre-made food except two. One is a wine-and-cheese thing, and since I don't drink alcohol anyway and they probably have fruit as well, that should be OK. The other is my monthly cooking club and I can take an item that I would eat, and just work around the rest of the dishes. It's more of a social event than just for cooking anyway.

Has anybody tried this, and do you have suggestions? I do most of my own cooking already (I'm cheap, and I like it), and we're still in the farmer's market season so I should be able to find nice veggies and fruits. Luckily I have a somewhat European view of shopping and tend to do a couple small stops during the week so I don't have a lot of food to eat before Saturday, but I will make sure to get some additional grains and pulses. So much of my default cooking for grains involves stock, though, and I'm going to have to review how to cook them with flavour but without stocks.

Luckily I like and cook a lot of cuisines that seem vegan-friendly and non-gluten-friendly, and I have several friends who lead gluten-free lives so I have people to ask. Has anybody tried this and did you find yourself enjoying the challenge, or marking off days like a con awaiting parole? I've been checking out recipes and working out ones that can work for supper and reheat for lunch. Breakfast will be my big problem - no oatmeal allowed!

Rice Paddy Art in Japan

Photograph from Pink Tentacle rounds up some amazing rice paddy art in Japan, made by "strategically arranging and growing different colors of rice plants." Pictured above is the depiction of a Sengoku-period warrior in the village of Inakadate. [via Boing Boing]... More