We will not be butchering any hogs for this post, but we will be exploring food from the pages of the Chicago Tribune, or, more precisely, food from two Chicago Tribune cookbooks: The Chicago Tribune Good Eating Cookbook and Ethnic Chicago Cookbook, both edited by Carol Mighton Haddix, former food editor of the Chicago Tribune. I love these cookbooks! They have been sitting on my shelves for years, unexplored (with the exception of one recipe, “Fruity Lokshen Kugel”) . But when Cookbook Cornucopia starting cooking from these books, I found, despite the meatiness of Chicago, great recipe after good recipe after great recipe!
The Chicago Tribune Good Eating Cookbook is one of the best possible examples of the standard newspaper or magazine cookbook. We have here a big thick cookbook with lots of recipes. As is usual with newspaper recipes, the recipes are reliable, having been thoroughly tested: newspapers, unlike authors of cookbooks, cannot get away with tossing out to their readers untried recipes. Almost all of the recipes are interesting, and many come from Chicago restaurants. Other recipes come from Chicago Tribune columnists, Chicago Tribune food contest winners, or from area food professionals. This cookbook has a wonderful collection of recipes and is surprisingly vegetarian friendly.
I used kohlrabi for the first time ever when I made “Kohlrabi Slaw” (page 367). Kohlrabi is a very cool looking vegetables, with tentacles emerging from a green bulb. It’s a cabbage family vegetable, and so slaw is a natural vehicle for kohlrabi. For this particular slaw, kohlrabi and carrots are julienned and cooked for a few minutes. The vegetables, together with chopped up scallions, are dressed with an oil, vinegar, and yogurt dressing flavored with cumin. I do not think that I will ever seek out kohlrabi in order to make this salad again, but if I ever get a CFA share and end up with kohlrabi, then I will remember this recipe.
Since I had used up all my broccoli but still had half a head of cauliflower left, “Sesame, Broccoli, and Cauliflower Salad” (page 356) became sesame and cauliflower salad. This was just as well, since the broccoli and cauliflower are briefly boiled, which, I have found, might initially leave the broccoli bright green, but after a day it fades to the repulsive dull green of over-cooked broccoli (even if not over-cooked). The cauliflower, however, is just nicely softened by this treatment. For the salad, the barely cooked cauliflower is then dressed with a soy sauce sesame oil dressing. This salad is as good a use as any for a half head of cauliflower.
“Salpicón Lentil Soup” (page 96) is from a Mexican restaurant in Chicago of that name. The soup itself is very simple: lentils cooked with tomatoes. What is interesting are the garnishes: chilies, cheese, and grilled (or broiled) pineapple. I could not find any of the pasilla chilies called for, so I just spiced up the soup with Aleppo pepper. Instead of using the pineapple as a garnish, I mixed it into the soup. Finally, I did not use queso añejo, but feta. So what I ended up with might not have been much like the soup served at Salpicón, but it was still good. The pineapple was a particularly nice touch.
To make “Tuna Fillets Creole” (page 176), you prepare a mustard horseradish cream sauce, broil some tuna, then serve together decorated with chopped avocado. The sauce was absolutely delicious. However, I think that it would have been just as delicious served with broiled tofu, which certainly would have been cheaper than the tuna. I can also imagine making this with a less expensive fish. But as long as I didn’t think about how much the tuna cost, I really enjoyed eating this.
I’m not sure that I would describe “Light and Easy Lasagna” (page 108) as either light or easy. The lightness, I suppose, comes from the meatlessness of this lasagna, the part-skim cheeses specified (which I ignored, being full-fat all the way), and the large amount of sauce for a small amount of noodles. But my pan of lasagna weighed a lot, and the sauce was thick and intense, so “light” was not the word that sprang to my mind for this lasagna. As for ease, most lasagna recipes are easy; maybe this one was a little easier than others in that all we have to chop are onions and garlic, but since the tomato sauce simmers for two hours this is certainly not a quick lasagna, and “quick” is a word we often want to pair with “easy”. Complaints about the name of this recipe aside, I liked this lasagna, and approve of the greater sauce to noodle ratio.
“Vegetarian Stir-Fry with Pan-Seared Tofu in Citrus-Soy Broth” (page 339) is a recipe with a lot of hyphens! Even with the hyphens, it’s a humdrum recipe, but no less good for that. The title says it all: stir fry a bunch of vegetables, then pour over the vegetables a sauce of lemon, mirin, sake, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sriracha. The citrus-soy broth was a very nice combination of flavors, and this dish was good both hot and at room temperature.
“Egg Crepes with Red Bell Peppers and Mushrooms” (page 61) is a very useful recipe: it is suitable for Pesach, low in carbs, relatively easy to make, and quite delicious. The egg crepes are really omelets: they are made up only of eggs and water. As such, they were a little tricky to cook, but I only messed up one of them. The mushroom filling could not be simpler: it consists of sautéed mushrooms with shallot. After the mushrooms are rolled up in the egg crepes, the crepes are topped with a sauce of roasted red peppers, cream, lemon juice, and tarragon. I used a jar of roasted red peppers instead of roasting my own. Our guest Ori W particularly liked these.
I made “Curried Sweet Potato Latkes” (page 329) with Japanese sweet potatoes, purple skinned and white fleshed. I probably would not have done this if I had read up more on Japanese potatoes, as they are sweeter than the usual Garnet or Jewel sweet potatoes. But even if sweeter, these Japanese sweet potatoes made very good latkes. The batter consists of grated sweet potatoes mixed with flour, eggs, and seasonings. I served these with a sauce of mayonnaise mixed with sriracha. [Go to the recipe.]
“Colcannon” (page 311) is, traditionally, just mashed potatoes and cabbage, but Carol packs a lot into that single word “just”. The mashed potatoes are red potatoes, mashed with their skins, which provide some nice texture. She also throws in some cream, scallions (or green onions) and horseradish. I used at least twice as much horseradish as in the ingredient list. These potatoes were very good, especially with the horseradish boost, and even better with the sauce from “Tuna Fillets Creole” (more horseradish).
When I first started making scones, I tried all sorts of different recipes. Eventually I settled on my favorites, and now I only occasionally check out new scone recipes. “Pineapple-Macadamia Scones” (page 414) looked interesting because of the very low amount of added sugar: only two teaspoons, although the dried pineapple that I used (not candied pineapple, listed in the recipe) had lots of sugar. I was also attracted to the fourth cup of rum in the scones. These scones did indeed turn out well. Although I usually omit toppings for scones, I did top these with pearl sugar, and I think this little added sweetness enhanced the scones. These scones are good enough to enter the scone rotation.
Ethnic Chicago Cookbook : Ethnic-Inspired Recipes from the Pages of The Chicago Tribune, also edited by Carol Mighton Haddix, is very similar to The Chicago Tribune Good Eating Cookbook, just a little smaller and with a focus on the “ethnic-inspired”. (Let us ignore the questionable use of the word “ethnic” in the title of this book; yes, we’re all ethnic, and yes, “international” might have been a more appropriate word.) I had lots of fun cooking food from all over, serving together the Greek salad, the Ukrainian soup, the Ethiopian stew, and the Turkish zucchini.
Red beets are one of those foods that I wish I liked more. It’s the sweetness of beets, together with that beety edge that I do not like, although occasionally I come across a beet recipe that harnesses the beetiness of beets and takes that beetiness somewhere great. Such is the case with “Beet and Walnut Salad” (page 74). I’m not sure where the magic in this recipe is, but it is undeniably there. This Russian-inspired salad is a combination of cooked beets, walnuts, garlic, prunes, and mayonnaise. This salad is not going to convert any beet haters, but it might make beet fence straddlers very happy.
“Greek Easter Salad” (page 65) is a salad made up of romaine, dill, parsley, and scallions with a lemony dressing. This is a very spring like salad, without summer salad ingredients such as tomatoes, but with the spring ingredients shining on their own, without being overpowered by strong tastes such as that of olives. I admit, though, that I liked this salad more when I added some feta cheese.
Given my aforementioned issues with red beets, I do not usually like borscht. But both Danny and I agreed that “Ukrainian Meatless Borscht” (page 47) was actually pretty good. The secret to its goodness is, I believe, spicy V8 juice: the mild spiciness of the juice is just enough to counteract the cloying sweetness of the beets. This soup is very easy to make: after precooking the beets, you just combine all the ingredients (just the beets and standard soup vegetables) in a pot and cook. There is no preliminary step of sautéing the vegetables, and so no added fat to the soup. [Go to the recipe.]
I like the vegetarian Ethiopian food that I have tried in Ethiopian restaurants, but I have had less success coming up with the same flavors when I follow recipes. “Ethiopian Vegetable Stew” (page 144) almost had the taste that I was seeking, and even though this stew was not quite what I hoped it would be, it was still good. The vegetables are potatoes, carrots, and cabbages; the seasonings are onion and garlic, ginger and tumeric. I used ghee to sauté my stew vegetables, instead of the oil called for in the recipe, and I think that my version was better for using the ghee. Leftovers of this stew were good topped with a fried egg and a squirt of sriracha.
When I served “Turkish Stuffed Eggplant” (page 158) to Danny, he asked, “Why is this so good?” The stuffing consists of onion, garlic, cheese, eggs, and dill, as well as chopped up zucchini innards, and it is all sprinkled with paprika, which provides not only color but, at least if you use good paprika, a good taste. The egg from the stuffing leaked out when the zucchini were being cooked, but this wasn’t that much of a problem since I removed the stuffed zucchini from the baking dish. I don’t really know why this dish was so good, but everything came together perfectly.
I did not make “Fruity Lokshen Kugel” (page 202) during this cooking cycle, but it is a recipe that I frequently make and highly recommend. This is the quintessential sweet noodle kugel (and Carol wisely places the recipe in her dessert chapter). With pineapple, dried cranberries and raisins for the fruit; honey, cinnamon, and vanilla for flavorings; and farmer cheese and sour cream for dairy, what else does one need? Oh yes, good noodles: I only use al dente egg fettuccine. So if any of you, dear readers, either already have this cookbook or want to use my link and buy this cookbook, be sure to try this kugel.
Sweet Potato Latkes
Adpted from Carol Mighton Haddix (editor), The Chicago Tribune Good Eating Cookbook
2⁄3 cup flour
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons brown sugar
11⁄2 teaspoons sugar
11⁄4 teaspoons baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon hot paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon sweet paprika
3⁄4 teaspoon cumin
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
Combine the dry ingredients: flour, curry powder, sugars, baking powder, paprikas, and cumin. Beat in the eggs. Add the grated sweet potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together; it may take a minute or two for everything to combine adequately. Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium high to high heat. Form patties and fry on both sides until nicely browned. You will need to do this in two or batches. Drain on paper towels. If desired, serve with mayonnaise and sriracha sauce.
Adapted from Carol Mighton Haddix (editor), Ethnic Chicago Cookbook
4-5 small to medium beets
8 cups water
2 onions, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups spicy V-8 juice
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup minced dill
Cook the beets either by boiling them in water or by wrapping in foil and cooking them in the oven (at whatever temperature is convenient). Test for doneness by piercing the beets with a knife. It’s okay if they a a little underdone, as they will cook more. When the beers are cool enough to handle, peel and dice them.
Combine the water, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaves in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the beets, V-8 juice, salt, and pepper, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the dill at the end of the cooking. Serve hot or cold.