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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: 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.”