Tag chicago

Parties That Cook’s Chicago Team Cookbook Club: Chicago Cooks: 25 Years of Chicago Culinary History

The Parties That Cook Blog has seen some wonderful guest posts in the past. We’re going to keep the tradition going with a recap of the most recent cookbook club meeting from our Chicago office! This installment of our Chicago Team’s Cookbook Club is brought to you by Chefs Heidi, Brandy, Liz and Molly. Thanks ladies!

After having to reschedule our book club due to the great snow storm of 2011 that hit Chicago a few weeks back, the PTC girls gathered at Brandy’s house. We were all very excited to review the book, Chicago Cooks: 25 Years of Chicago Culinary History and Great Recipes from Les Dames d’Escoffier. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm was quickly deflated.

We started with Heidi’s choice for the first course: Spicy Crab and Shrimp Rolls with Salsa. This was probably the best recipe that we reviewed because it was fairly easy and the flavors were quite good (paprika, saffron, cayenne and cumin). We often wondered if the recipes had been tested because the cooking times were incorrect on several recipes.  It took longer to cook these than the recipe indicated. Heidi also suggested doubling the cooking liquid and reserving it for dipping the rolls which would have been much better than a jarred salsa.

For our entrée, Brandy made Hickory Smoked Bacon Wrapped Rainbow Trout. This was a very simple recipe. The whole fish was stuffed with rosemary and wrapped in bacon. It was difficult to serve, but thanks to Molly and Brandy’s fabulous filleting abilities, we managed to plate it up. This is definitely not the recipe to serve when you want a beautiful presentation. We all agreed that it may have been easier to fillet the fish before cooking and wrapping each individual piece with bacon.

Alongside the fish, we served Liz’s Onion Flan. This recipe was completely off on yields and cooking times. Aside from that, it was your basic egg custard dish – similar to a quiche.

For dessert, Molly, our resident pastry Chef, made a decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. We were all very impressed when Molly unveiled her cakes. They were worthy of sitting on the shelves of the finest bakeries in town. Molly later confessed that she dolled up the cakes that otherwise would have looked like hockey pucks (literally). She added a lovely Raspberry Buttercream, Raspberry Sauce, fresh Raspberries and a chocolate disc that she brought back from her recent trip to Switzerland. The cake recipe from the book was good, but Molly’s additions elevated it to 5 star restaurant quality! It was a decadent but surprisingly light dessert. To quote some of the girls, “It didn’t feel like a gut bomb”.

I think we all agreed that this Chicago Cooks book didn’t “cook” up enough interest to merit a purchase. Though not every cookbook reviewed is a success, this doesn’t stop us from wanting to try more in the future! Look out for the next guest post of Parties That Cook’s Chicago Cookbook Club! For more ideas on cooking parties in Chicago, or for hands-on cooking classes in Chicago, you know Parties That Cook is your go-to company!

Dine About Chicago PTC Style: Our Favorite Chicago Restaurants

After doing a roundup of some of our favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, we decided it would be a great idea to ask our Chicago counterparts for their most frequented and most favorite.

Avec – a very popular, therefore very crowded, restaurant. Many reviews say it is worth the wait and the communal tables add a new twist on the old restaurant environment.

Blackbird – Noted for its innovative menu and small but solid wine list.

North Pond – With a gorgeous view and knowledgeable staff, this would be a great place for a special occasion or visiting guest.

Adobo Grill – This is a great location to get something different than your usual Mexican food, but also a good spot for a delicious margarita!

Piccolo Sogno – This upbeat joint has great appetizers as well as an array of wines served by the glass.

Big Star – These homemade and creative dishes are served at a great price!

MK – Great food in an intimate atmosphere that’s not too packed together.

Fronterra Grill – This restaurant works with top notch ingredients and serves up some delicious Mexican dishes along with great margaritas and a wide selection of Mexican beers.

Custom House – Our chefs love the Braised Short Rib!

The Publican – a pork and beer lovers dream!

The Avenues – They have a fantastic 15 course tasting menu, set in the beautiful Peninsula of Chicago.

Everest – Our chefs see this as one of their favorite staples.

Sola – Awesome food and drinks. The room has great sound as well – you can hear the person sitting across from you.

Spring – This restaurant has great food, drinks AND service. A few of the PTC favorites are the Seared Maine Sea Scallops, braised oxtail, wild mushrooms, sweet soy, and baby bok choy.

Spacca Napoli – The service is great – your pizza comes out 5-10 minutes after you order them. All of their pizzas are made in the in-house wood burning Pizza oven. The pizza special with porcinis and truffle cheese is a favorite.

Mixteco – Great mole and it is BYOB!

Any or all of these restaurants are great options to show visitors, try out for the first time, or put on your regular list of restaurants – as tested and proven by our own Chicago foodies!