Top Chef Joe Flamm: Cooking and Connection 

By Grace Kuikman 

The winner of Week 12 – a private dinner prepared by Top Chef Joe Flamm  will be thrilled not just with the food, but with the company. Flamm has an amazing love of food traditions that bring people together around a meal as the centerpiece of celebrating connection. 

Flamm’s path to success began in Ashburn where he grew up, and came full circle back to the South Side when he and his wife, Beverly/Morgan Park native Hillary Delich settled in North Beverly two years ago. It was a move that put them in close proximity with family (Hillary’s parents and Joe’s mother live in the neighborhood) and provided the sense of community the couple wants for their son Luca, who will be two this month.  

Family and community are priorities for Flamm who learned to love cooking and food traditions as a child, helping his Grandma Mary, now 91, in her kitchen. Grandma Mary’s parents came from Italy, and Flamm said they didn’t have much but tradition and recipes. “I always loved the traditions and the holidays,” Flamm said. “… making ravioli for Thanksgiving and the feast of the seven fishes for Christmas. That’s how I came up. I feel really grateful for that.”   

Flamm got his first restaurant job when he was 15.  “I instantly fell in love with the energy of being in a restaurant, and the sense of belonging, he said. Early on he decided he wanted to own a restaurant someday. Not knowing anyone in the business who could guide him to his dream, he enrolled in college for accounting. He planned to go to law school, become a lawyer and make enough money to open a restaurant when he was 50.  About halfway through college, he realized that was a flawed plan, so he dropped out and enrolled in culinary school.  

“A week later I started my first real cooking job at Table Fifty-Two on the Gold Coast,” he said. He went to culinary school Monday through Friday, 8 to 4, then headed straight to the restaurant to work. On Saturday and Sunday, he worked doubles.  “All I did was cook . . . I was hooked.”  

Flamm was on a trajectory for success.  

“Chicago’s one of those cities where the food scene is so good, it’s a city with a lot of great chefs,” he said. He had the opportunity to work with some of those chefs: Art Smith at Table Fifty-Two, Stephanie Izard at Girl and the Goat , Bill Kim at bellyQ, and Tony Mantuano at Michelen-starred Spiaggia and Café Spiaggia.  

When he was working as executive chef at Spiaggiathere was a casting call in Chicago for Bravo’s Top Chef. “I didn’t go,” Flamm said. “I didn’t even know about it.”  

Serendipity being what it is, the show’s producers called Chef Mantuano; they were disappointed in the talent that showed up for the casting call and asked if he could recommend chef for them to interview. “He told them, ‘Sit down with my chef Joe. I think you’ll really like him,’” Flamm recalled. Then Mantuano called Flamm at the restaurant. “He said to stay there. The show producers were on their way to the restaurant to meet me.”  

That meeting was the catalyst for a nearly fourmonth process that culminated with Flamm being chosen for the TV cooking competition. “They called and said, “Pack your bags.” Flamm spent two months in Colorado, spending all day cooking at the highest level, winning day after day until he was named Top Chef season 15. “Top Chef is kind of a crazy experience; a weird and rigorous competition. I made friends for life,” he said.  

He also made a name for himself as a chef. 

Flamm’s next big thing is opening his restaurant, Rose Mary (named for his two grandmothers), in the West Loop in 2021. Flamm will be serving Adriatic cuisines from the food traditions of Italy inspired by his family, and Croatia, inspired by Hillary’s father, Lou Delich, who is CroatianThe two cuisines have a lot in common.  

“Italy and Croatia are not far apart geographically so the cultures are intertwined,” Flamm said, adding, 

“You marry into a culture. It becomes your life and your child’s life. So much of culture is about cuisine.”  

The winners of BAPA’s 12 Weeks of Christmas final raffle have a lot to look forward to, but there are no sneak previews. “I always like planning the dinner with the person,” Flamm said. Of course he does.  

Tickets for the last four offerings in BAPA’s 12 Weeks of Christmas Raffle are $20 each and available at www.bapa.org  

 

Get Your Ho-Ka Turkeys at County Fair 

By Kristin Boza 

Thanksgiving celebrations may look different this year, with Zoom call-ins to the cousins and a smaller in-person table. Regardless of what the guest list looks like, County Fair, 10800 S. Western, is ready to serve the community for all their Thanksgiving dinner needs. 

The famed Ho-Ka turkeys, from Howard Kauffman Turkey Farm in Waterman, Ill., takes great prides in its amazing fresh turkeys. As stated on their website, “…the turkeys grow more slowly and develop a richer flavor and denser textures.” Tom Baffes, President of County Fair Foods, is excited to get the Thanksgiving season rolling with the Ho-Ka turkeys; in a typical year, County Fair alone sells 700 to 800 of the prized birds. 

“Ho-Ka turkeys are locally grown and are truly fresh. They are harvested two weeks before Thanksgiving, while some other brands are harvested quite a bit before Thanksgiving,” Baffes said. “Ho-Ka turkeys are also cooled to a hard chill, not a real freeze. All of this makes a big difference in the fresh taste of the turkey.” 

Baffes advises people to place their Ho-Ka order early in November, and orders will end the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Customers can head to County Fair’s butcher shop directly to order a Ho-Ka, or they can call the store, 773-238-5576. 

“The Ho-Ka turkey sells itself, and we’ve been selling them for a long time. Once people are used to the taste, they don’t want to go back to any other turkey,” Baffes said.  

Additionally, the County Fair butchers will be boning out turkey breasts, which is all done in-house. Baffes aims to have even more boneless turkey breasts for sale this year since they were such a hot item in 2019. 

The Thanksgiving feast is centered around the deliciously juicy turkey, but other sides dishes and desserts are also essential. The Elegant Farmer Apple Pie in a Bag is a County Fair customer favorite, as is the red garnet sweet potatoes, which are a step up from the traditional Louisiana sweet potato, Baffes said. And don’t worry — after a bit of a canned pumpkin shortage in the area, Baffes is happy to report that they have plenty in stock for all home chefs to create their own pumpkin pies. 

“I think these holidays might be more important nowadays than ever before since people aren’t seeing their relatives as often,” Baffes said. “I expect that people will be putting more effort into the Thanksgiving dinner this year.” 

 

Grab a Taste of Ellie’s at Sweet Freaks

By Kristin Boza 

In late 2019, Ellie’s Café reached the end of its era when chef and owner Cathy Stacey decided to close her popular restaurant. For those craving the delectable comfort food offered by Ellie’s, Stacey is partnering with Pat and Katie Murphy, owners of Sweet Freaks, 9927 S. Wood St., to offer lasagna and soups made-to-order or available for walk-in purchase from the Sweet Freaks freezer. 

“After closing the Café, I barely had time to catch my breath before Covid shut most of the world down,” Stacey said. “During these uncertain times, a combined effort makes the most sense and working with this already established and talented duo give me hope for the future.” 

Lasagna in one (serves 1-2) or two (serves 3-4) pound sizes in beef, Italian sausage, vegetable, or cheese can be purchased either a la carte or as a meal paired with soup online at SweetFreakChicago.Square.Site. Order can be also called in at 773-610-6320 or emailed to sweetfreak.chicago@gmail.com and picked up Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the store. With advanced notice Stacey can make half-pan lasagnas (serving 10-12) and full-pan lasagnas (serving 20-24), or a customized soup orders in a larger amounts. 

“Ellie’s is about comfort food; it’s the food I grew up eating and it seems to make people happy. Especially in this crazy time, comfort food is what the world needs,” Stacey said. “The holidays are a really important time of year and I’m going to concentrate on making soups and lasagnas for the Thanksgiving table.” 

 

Cathy’s Classic Posole 

Pozole is a hearty dish from Mexico. A cross between soup and stewit is popular at family gatherings such as Mexican Independence Day and Christmas. Hominy is the foundation of posolewhich can be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock and red beans in place of the pork. It’s best garnished with lots of cilantro, cheese, and lime and served with warm flour tortillas. 

Pork ingredients 

Tbsp. ground cumin 

1 tsp. garlic powder 

1 tsp. smoked paprika 

1 2-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) 

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper 

1/2 red onion, sliced 

Posole ingredients 

1/4 C. vegetable oil 

1/2 red onion, chopped 

3 garlic cloves, minced 

2 plum tomatoes, diced 

C. low-salt chicken broth 

1 28-oz. can undrained pinto beans 

1 28-oz. can white hominy, drained 

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with juices, puréed  

Tbsp. oregano (preferably Mexican) 

2 tsp. ground cumin 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

 

Pork Prep 

Preheat oven to 275°. Mix cumin, garlic powder, and smoked paprika in a small bowl; rub spice mix all over pork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork in roasting pan and cover with sliced onion. Pour 1/2 C. water in bottom of pan. Cover pan tightly with foil and roast until meat is very tender, 5–6 hours. Let pork rest until cool enough to handle. Using 2 forks, shred pork into bite-size pieces. Skim fat from juices in pan; reserve meat. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill pork and juices separately.) 

Posole Prep 

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 min. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 min. Add diced fresh tomatoes and stir until softened, about 2 min. Stir in broth and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 min. 

Add reserved pork. Simmer uncovered 30 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add reserved meat juices, if desired.  

Divide among serving bowls, garnish with shredded cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges, and serve with flour tortillas. 

 

 

 

Home Cooking: Grow Your Own Sourdough Starter 

 

By Kristin Boza 

Staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic has led to a lot of new hobbies for many people. Some people have fostered an animal, while others took on a just-as-alive but not as hard to keep that way sourdough bread starter.  

Anna Holland is an incredibly experienced baker who began her own home bread-making business, Double Dutch Sourdough, in January. Using her own sourdough starter, she has made a big name for herself locally as she devises new varieties of delicious breads that she sells each week.  

Holland grew up in a family of bakers; her dad was a professional baker and her family owned a donut shop in Oconomowoc, Wisc., and Ptiacentine’s Artisan Breads in Milwaukee.  

“I’ve been in a bakery for my entire life, and grew up baking muffins and quick breads for my family’s shop,” Holland said. “My brother, who is a chef in California, visited and encouraged me to grow my own sourdough starter. My husband bought me a sourdough bread cookbook for Christmas and I just started experimenting with the different types and flavors of bread.” 

Quickly, however, Holland’s family was overrun by bread so she began gifting the product of her hobby to friends and neighbors. “Everyone liked my bread and I started thinking that maybe people would buy it,” she said. “I started advertising on the Moms of Beverly, Beverly Free Box, and Beverly Buy Sell Facebook groups, which eventually evolved into starting my own Instagram page and website.”  

On her website, DoubleDutchSourdough.com, customers can see what Holland is planning on baking that week and can place an order, including plain sourdough bread, focaccia, sweeter sourdough bread, brioche cinnamon rolls, croissants, and danish. She said about 40 loaves are sold each week. “I wasn’t sure how many people would be interested; I’m still a very small operation in my home oven, and I can only mix enough dough for eight loaves at a time,” she said. “But it’s perfect because it leaves me plenty of time for my day job and I get to also do something I absolutely love to do.” 

Starting and maintaining a sourdough base is pretty easy. Begin with equal parts flour and water and cultivate it in a sealed jar or container. “Wild yeast is everywhere, in the air, on our hands, and on everything we touch,” Holland said. “The flour and water mix will begin to bubble and ferment as it captures the bacteria and yeast in the air. You know you have a healthy sourdough starter when it bubbles, rises, and doubles in size every six-to-eight hours.” 

The trick is to literally feed the starter as needed. Holland starts with a half cup of flour and a half cup of water, letting it sit for 12 hours. Then she throws away all but one tablespoon of the mix and adds another half cup of flour and half cup of water. “Do this process over and over — discarding and feeding — until it bubbles and ferments. This can take anywhere from seven to 14 days,” Holland said. Depending on if a sweeter or drier bread is wanted, the starter can be manipulated with more or less water, or equal parts.  

Feeding the sourdough means adding more flour to it. “I feed mine three times a day so it’s always super strong and I can use it whenever I want for bread,” Holland said. “If you bake bread once a week, keep the starter in the fridge; 24 hours before baking, take it out and refresh it two or three times before using it for baking. Feed it once a week or every couple of weeks, it all depends on how strong it is growing and how often you plan to use it.” She also advises using a mason jar and switching it out to a clean one every other day. 

Note that there is a lot of starter that is discarded during the growing and maintaining phases; however, this is usable starter and can be incorporated into cakes, pancakes, or waffles to cut down on waste. “You just can’t keep all of your starter because you will end up with an exorbitant amount and the ratios would begin to become off,” Holland said. “For people baking at home and starting the process, be patient! That’s the beauty of working with sourdough, you just can’t rush it. It will be ready when it wants to be ready. It’s an incredible creative outlet.” 

Find out more about Holland and her bread at DoubleDutchSourdough.com. 

Summer Berry Crumble Sourdough Cake 

1 cup sourdough discard (you can use as little as a 1/2 cup if you don’t have that much) 

1 cup milk 

1 egg 

1 cup allpurpose flour 

1/3 cup sugar 

1/3 vegetable oil or mild olive oil 

3 tsp baking powder 

pinch of salt 

1 cup fresh berries 

 

For the crumble 

1/4 cup flour 

1/4 cup oats 

1/4 sugar 

1/4 cup butter 

pinch of salt 

Rub together until large crumbs form and butter is coated. If it seems to dry or crumbs are really fine, add a tbsp more butter 

Directions 

Whisk starter, egg, and milk until starter is completely blended in 

Add flour, sugar, salt, oil, and baking powder and mix until just combined and there are no lumps 

Prepare an 8inch round or square cake pan with parchment and nonstick spray 

Pour batter into panTop with berries and then crumble 

Set aside to rest for 30 minutes while you preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Crumble should be light golden brown. 

If you like more sweetness, whisk together 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tbsp milk, water, or lemon juice and a 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract for a quick glaze to put on top of cake when it’s cool. 

 

What’s in Your Pantry? Cooking at Home During Shelter in Place

 

By Kristin Boza 

How many ways can you make a meal out of beans? Or pasta? Or canned tomatoes? Every pantry seems to brim with these kinds of staples, and the stash continues to build when there’s a big sale at County Fair. 

 Alvin Green, a personal and private chef, noticed he had an abundance of pantry foods, yet he continued to make his regular grocery purchases each weekFiguring out how to cook with whatever is on-hand once everyone began sheltering in place spawned the idea for his Facebook group, Cook My Pantry. For the group, Green gathers ideas from his friends around the country to answer the age-old question: What’s for dinner today?  

Green intended to get the group started in January 2020, well before the shelter-in-place orders took effect. In that month, he challenged himself to only purchase fresh foods and add them to the non-perishable food already in his house. Once the pandemic hit and people were making fewer trips to the grocery store and purchasing more shelf-stable food, he got the group going to help others expand their palate while creating different and tasty dishes.  

“The initial idea for the group was to post what you have in your pantry and I’d give suggestions on what to make that night, but it has evolved beyond that,” Green said. “Now, the entire group has pitched in to post their food and give suggestions to others. It’s a whole community of people who are helping one another and sharing ideas.” 

Green began the group by inviting his large family and friends, all of whom are spread across the United States. The diverse group is composed of people of different backgrounds and locations sharing their family or community’s food traditions, from carnivorous options to vegan and everything inbetween.  

“I’m from the East Coast and there was once a two-day discussion in the group about hot dogs. I like them with ketchup and relish, which my wife thinks is blasphemy,” Green joked. “It was so funny to see what people across the country like on their hot dogs and how committed they are to their way of doing it.” 

Pasta, rice, and canned tomatoes are three pantry staples that get a lot of mileage among many ethnically diverse cuisines. “You don’t have to be fancy to be a great cook. We welcome all ideas on the Cook My Pantry page, so just put it out there!” Green said. “I recently made mini naan pizzas with caramelized onion, pasta sauce, ground lamb, and greens. It was all stuff I had in the pantry or freezer and it was easy and delicious.” 

With Father’s Day approaching, Green recommends having the kids pitch in to make dad a special meal. “And don’t forget to pick up some beer from Horse Thief Hollow and Open Outcry to round it out,” he said. 

Make Your Own Pizza Party 

You can you use a wide array of items for your pizza crust: Store bought pizza dough or crust, dough from a local pizzeria, naan, flatbread, puff pastry and if you like, you can make you your own dough from scratch.   

The same goes for the pizza sauce: Store bought pizza, marinara or alfredo sauce doctored up to your taste.  You can also make a simple homemade pizza sauce, like the Italian style sauce below, recipe from Alvin Green. 

Toppings are endless, mix and match to your heart’s content. 

EASY PIZZA SAUCE 

15 oz. crushed fire roasted tomatoes 

Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 

1 small clove garlic (1/2 medium) 

1/2 tsp. dried oregano 

Scant 1/2 tsp. kosher salt  

INSTRUCTIONS 

Cut garlic into a few rough pieces 

Place all ingredients in blender, blend until fully combined. (This pizza sauce is Italian-style, which has a slightly runnier texture than American-style pizza sauce.) 

Add desired toppings to pizza crust* and bake in a 425F preheated oven for 13-15 minutes or until toppings are golden brown. Slice and serve. 

*If using a storebought crust, follow package directions.  

 

Reilly’s Daughter Irish Soda Bread Contest Entries Sought 

By Kristin O’Neill Boza 

The simple truth about Irish soda bread is that as vital to the ingredients families mix in bowls and bake in ovens is the pride, tradition and heritage with which they make it. Soda bread is not just a food, it’s a cultural experience that’s as personal as each family’s recipe.  

Every year, area bakers bring their unique versions to compete in the legendary Boz O’Brien’s Irish Soda Bread Contest at Reilly’s Daughter, 4010 W. 111th St. This year’s bake-off takes place on Sat., Mar. 7, 1 to 4 p.m. All entrants can sign up with their delectable loaf at 10 a.m. on the day of the competition for a chance to win one of 10 prizes. Last year, nearly 100 samples of the best Irish soda bread on the south side entered the competition.  

First place wins airfare for two to Ireland; second place wins $500; third place wins $200; and fourth through tenth places win gift certificates. Judges are local notables, and past judges include Ald. Matt O’Shea, State Rep. Fran Hurley, and the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Queen and court. 

Now run by second-generation Reilly’s Daughter owner Brendan O’Brien, no loaf will be turned away as long as it’s there by 10 a.m. on Sat., Mar. 7. Will a Beverly/Morgan Park resident take home the bragging rights this year? For more information, check out Reilly’s Daughter on Facebook, or call 708-423-1188. 

Thsoda bread basics are flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. In that form, soda bread became popular in Ireland in the mid-1800s. Bicarbonate of soda was more available and less expensive than yeast as a leavener. Ireland’s soft wheat flour made a satisfying bread that could feed the family. 

According the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread website, soda bread was baked every day, and covering your newly baked loaf of soda bread with a damp towel was a must.  

Every family has multiple takes on what makes the best Irish soda bread; here’s one of many examples from my own family. 

Grandma Nancy’s Nutty Irish Soda Bread 

1 c chopped walnuts 

4 ½ c all-purpose flour 

2 ¼ tsp. baking soda 

1 tsp. salt 

1 c golden raisins 

1 ½ c buttermilk 

2 eggs 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on ungreased baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned; 5-6 minutes; cool.  

In large bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, raisins, and walnuts. Combine buttermilk and eggs. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour until combined.  

On work surface, knead dough until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Shape into round loaf; lightly sprinkle with flour. Place on ungreased baking sheet. With serrated knife, cut ½” deep “X” in the top.  

Bake 45-50 minutes or until baked through and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from pan and cool on rack for 20 minutes.  

 

 

Home Cooking: Family Foodie Traditions 

Every family has a food tradition at the holidays, from Aunt Judy’s green bean casserole to Grandma’s pumpkin pie from scratch. These foods evoke childhood memories and instill an urge to keep the tradition going for the next generation. A few Beverly/Morgan Park neighbors recently shared their family foodie traditions.  

Anyone who has visited Americanos, 11060 S. Western, knows that owner AJ Castillo and his hard-working kitchen create delectable modern Mexican food. During the holidays, the Castillos gather in their home kitchens. 

“In December, we get together as a family to prep the tamales that we cook on Christmas Eve at our family party,” Castillo said. “We have all sorts of side dishes, but the tamales are the main attraction since we only get together to cook them once a year.” The whole Chicago branch of the family gets together to prep, cook, and of course, eat the tamales that are a family specialty. 

“On New Year’s Day, my mother always has pozole, which is a soup made with hominy, pork shoulder, guajillo chilies, cabbage, onions, cilantro and radishes,” he said. “My mother, Cynthia Castillo, learned to make pozole from her mother. These dishes are a special part of the holiday because it reminds us all of home and where we came from.” 

Unfortunately, Castillo was unable to share the tamale and pozole recipes because, as experienced family tradition cooks know, these kinds of dishes are prepared based not on written recipes but on instinct, and maybe a whisper from Grandma. 

Two Mile Coffee Bar located in the 95th Street Metra Station, is owned by Nate and Sonia Hollister and Greta Dertinger, who keep commuters and neighbors well-caffeinated.  

Sonia and 5-year-old daughter, Emily, began a homemade cinnamon roll tradition that spans every holiday and birthday throughout the year — and little Emily takes the lead! “Emily loves being in the kitchen baking with me; she loves measuring the flour and sugar, cracking eggs, and pouring the ingredients into the mixture,” Sonia said. “Nate and I got into breadmaking and pastry dough making after binging The Great British Bake-Off,’ and now Emily gets in and kneads the dough perfectly for our cinnamon rolls.” 

Sonia and Emily begin mixing and prepping the dough the night before, to give it the necessary time to rise; then they bake them fresh in the morning. Sonia developed her recipe based on four others she found online, mixing and matching the quantities and ingredients until she hit on the best combination. Sonia and Emily’s cinnamon rolls pair perfectly with Two Mile Coffee Bar coffee; the shop is expected to release a special holiday drink later in December. 

Sonia and Emily’s Cinnamon Rolls 

Dough 

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast 

1 cup milk, lukewarm 

1/2 cup granulated sugar 

1/3 cup butter unsalted, softened,  

1 tsp salt 

2 eggs 

4 cups all-purpose flour 

Filling 

1 cup brown sugar packed 

3 tbsp cinnamon 

1/3 cup butter unsalted, softened, or margarine 

Frosting 

½ cup softened cream cheese 

½ cup unsalted butter 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

2 cups powdered sugar 

How To Make Cinnamon Rolls 

Dissolve yeast in the warm milk and let sit 5 to 10 minutes until it has foamed up.  

Combine sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour in a stand mixer with dough hook and mix on low. Pour the milk/yeast mixture over the flour mixture. Knead” in mixer until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Run mixer for approximately 10 minutes to allow dough to stretch and develop gluten. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.  

Prepare filling: Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. 

To assemble cinnamon rolls, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. Spread filling evenly over the dough. Working carefully from the long edge, roll dough. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices, and place in a lightly greased baking pan.  

Place rolls into lightly greased baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator overnight. The next day, allow them to come to room temperature before baking. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees; bake rolls about 14 minutes 

While rolls are baking make frosting, combining all ingredients and beating with an electric mixer until fluffy and smooth. When the rolls are done, spread generously with frosting. 

For Stephen Milton and Sandra Beidron and their son, Sebastian, the array of holiday food traditions range from German dishes on St. Nicholas Day and Christmas morning to Slavic on Christmas Eve and Italian the day after Christmas to celebrate St. Stephen’s Day.  

Biedron’s mother, Gail, passed along the tradition of going to German shops on Lincoln Avenue for stolen, the German Christmas cake. Biedron’s father, the late Emil, was born on Christmas Eve in a family that celebrated Czech, Slovak and Polish traditions. “My grandmother had my dad at home at 1926 North Winchester and was not charged for the birth assistance by the doctor because he said the baby was good luck,” Biedron said. 

 “Christmas Eve dinner starts with breaking of the break about a half hour before the stars come out, then people gather around the table and the dinner starts when the first star is seen,” Biedron explained. “There are plates stacked at the table for the people that could not join us.  The top plate is with straw for the Christ child.”  

Christmas Eve dinner is meatless because of the tradition of fasting until after midnight. Dishes include Sole Walewska, pierogis with a sour cream sauce, crepes filled with apricot, raspberry or prunecucumbers with dill, vinegar, and sour cream,  stewed fruit and rye bread. 

The Italian tradition also features fish and vegetarian dishes on Christmas Eve, a big dinner on St. Stephen’s Day, and Panettone on Epiphany eve when La Befana, the witch who comes by broom on Epiphany Eve to bring gifts.  

 

Sole Walewska  

Filets of Dover Sole  

Lobster tails in shells 

Butter 

Brandy (may use cognac or Armagnac) 

Heavy cream 

Cook lobster tails in the oven at 300 to350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove the lobster from the shells and set the lobster meat in the refrigerator. Place lobster shells in a pan with the cream, butter and brandy and simmer gently until the creme is orange-pink (about 1-2 hours). Strain shells from sauce and reduce; thicken with a little corn starch if needed. Once reduced, add dime- to quarter-sized pieces of lobster into the simmering cream sauce for 5 minutes maximum).  In a shallow pan of simmering water, gently poach the Dover Sole until cooked (ten minutes or less). Serve with lobster sauce on the side. 

Although Judie Anderson’s mother was born in the United States, her parents didn’t like America so they raised their daughter in their native country, Ukraine. In 1927, at the age of sixteen, Judie’s mother returned to the USA by herself, and settled in Chicago.  

Judie and her brother were raised in the holiday traditions of Ukraine, similar to the traditions in Poland and Lithuania. With her mother as her guide, Judie learned to make intricate straw tree ornaments, and to appreciate the colorful beauty and intricate design of the Ukranian creche, Christmas decorations and foods.  

The Christmas holidays were celebrated on Jan. 6 with dancing and festive foods. Like the tables set in her childhood, Anderson still prepares the dishes that recall her youth: borscht, pierogis, holepchi (cabbage rolls), kishka (blood sausage), kapusta (sauerkraut) and rye bread. Sweets include the beautifully decorated babka, a sweet bread made with citrus fruits, raisins and almonds, and kolacky.  

Anderson shared her easy and delicious recipe for sauerkraut.  

KAPUSTA 

1 small can Frank’s sweet sauerkraut 

1/2 cup applesauce 

1/2 sweet onion, chopped 

1/2 cup maple syrup 

Caraway seed to taste 

Simmer all ingredients for about 15 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water and stir to thicken. Serves 4-6. 

 

Cooking Healthy Summer Meals on the Grill 

 

By Kristin Boza 

Since Whole Foods Market opened three months ago in Evergreen Plaza, 9600 S. Western Ave., the neighborhood rejoiced to finally have fast access to the popular organic and natural grocery chain. 

The concept for Whole Foods Market is twofold, according to Kristi Malicoat, Store Team Leader at the Evergreen Park location. “There’s a misconception that everything is really expensive here, but I can feed my family a really nutritious meal that’s easy to make and also very filling for under $30,” she said. Malicoat encourages new shoppers to simply ask a team member for help when they shop, as they are trained to “build a basket on any budget,” according to Malicoat. She also encourages budget-conscious shoppers to check out Whole Foods’ 365 line, which is the company’s value-priced products. 

Shoppers should also know that not everything at Whole Foods Market is organic; in fact, the store has both organic and natural options. “Natural means the product contains no artificial ingredients, like colors or sweeteners,” Malicoat said. “Our organic products are properly certified as organic. Any team member can help shoppers find what’s right for them.” 

Malicoat grew up in South Bend, Ind., and worked in retail for years before landing her position at Whole Foods Market. One of the best things about the Evergreen Park location is that her team members, many of whom worked all over the city and suburbs for Whole Foods Market, can now work close to home.  

“We had about 15 team members transfer to our store from other locations — now they’re coming to work much closer to home. Many of them used to commute up to two hours, and now they have a neighborhood store that’s 10 minutes from their house. Their passion during the interview process was incredible; they’d been fighting for this store location and waiting for it to open. Their passion about the community is what got me excited to work here, too!” 

Summer grilling is easy with the help of Whole Foods Market products; Malicoat’s favorite is the Tequila Lime Spice. “It’s so good on shrimp, salmon or chicken, and you can also turn it into a dressing for a delicious salad,” she said. “You can get really creative with grilling, especially throwing vegetables and melon on the grill. We have many pre-marinated items for those in a hurry. We have plenty of fresh seafood, and also bags of frozen fish that can be thawed during the day and thrown on the grill for a simple and filling dinner.” 

 

Grilling with Whole Foods Market 

 

Tequila Lime Marinade and Dressing 

Ingredients (amounts are specific to personal taste!) 

Tequila Lime Spice 

Olive Oil 

Lime Juice 

Water 

Shrimp, either precooked or raw 

Whisk together the first five ingredients, then add in the shrimp until coated. Heat up the grill and spear the shrimp on a kabob; grill until cooked through. 

 

Side Salad
Get creative with the ingredients!  

Romaine Lettuce 

Cucumbers 

Whole Foods’ Flavor Bomb Cherry Tomatoes 

Avocado 

Cilantro 

Dice all ingredients and pour the Tequila Lime Dressing over the top. Add the grilled shrimp for a complete meal. 

Kids Share Their Mother’s Day Menus 

By Kristin Boza 

Mother’s Day is Sun., May 12. These local kids are cooking, preparing or simply offering their moms and grandmas some unforgettable meals this year!  

Patrick Howe-Bowen 

8th grade, Sutherland School
I’m making my mom some Pao de Queijo (a cheese bread) that we had on our recent trip to Brazil, and a Brazilian carrot cake. You can find the recipe for Pao de Queijo at www.bonappetit.com. The best thing about my mom is that she won’t let anyone mess with her children.  

Elianna Angone 

1st grade, Clissold School
I will make my mom enchiladas because she really likes them! The best thing about my mom is that she loves me no matter what. 

Araceli Angone 

 2nd grade, Clissold Elementary
I would send my grandma Peeps because they are her favorite candy. But first, I’d open the package because she likes them best when they are a tiny bit hard. The best thing about my grandma is that she never gets mad and has the best dog ever. 

Evelyn Slattery 

 4th grade, Clissold School
I don’t know what I will cook for my mom. All I know how to cook is quesadillas! The best thing about my mom is that she takes care of me, and she loves me, and she helps me a lot, and she’s fun to play with. 

Mae Slattery 

2nd grade, Clissold School
I will cook Southwest Salad for my mom because she loves it. The best thing about my mom is … there’s so many things! 

Billy Slattery 

Immanuel Preschool
I will cook pizza for my mom. I want to eat it with her! I love my mom because she’s nicer. 

Madelyn Slatter 

 Immanuel Preschool
I cook mommy cheesy noodles! I love mommy, she gives me apples. 

Nine One One BBQ Shack Feeds the Neighborhood 

By Kristin Boza 

A new name, a new location, but the same amazing barbecue: Nine One One BBQ Shack, 2734 W. 111th St., is on deck to save any hunger emergencies. 

Known as 19 Paul BBQ at its former location at 111th and Vincennes, Nine One One delivers the same tastes that locals have come to love, and a name that keeps neighbors mindful of the people we rely on to serve and protect our community 

“Restaurants typically name a restaurant to give honor to a food or person; why not a group of people? It’s a heartfelt way of acknowledging the work that our first responders do on a daily basis: helping to preserve our way of life,” said owner Kurrin Beamon.  

The Nine One One menu consists of slowly smoked ribs, brisket, chicken and pulled pork. Side options include salads, greens, their famous mac ‘n cheese, sweet potatoes, fries and slaw. They are open for takeout, delivery, walk-ups and even catering.  

There’s something magical about a hearty plate of BBQ on a cold winter day. “When the chill hits our bones, a slab of ribs with a side of greens and the sweet indulgence of peach cobbler can make terrible weather feel more like a mid-summer’s night breeze!” said Beamon. 

Beamon’s brisket smokes with hickory wood for 14 hours. At-home barbecue enthusiasts should never rush the process, as “… any true BBQ is worth the wait,” according to Beamon. She advises that patience is the key to perfecting barbecue; simply flavor your brisket with any favorite spices and let it smoke. 

In March, Nine One One will add some St. Paddy’s Day flavors into their regular menu with smoked BBQ corned beef with potatoes. 

Nine One One BBQ Shack is open Mon. through Thurs.,10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Fri. and Sat. from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find their menu and more at NineOneOneBBQShack.com. 

Nine One One Collard Greens 

lbs collard greens
1 turkey wing
1 red onion
1 yellow onion
4 cups chicken stock
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt to taste 

In a large pot, add chicken stock, one turkey wing, onions, red pepper flakes and collard greens. Cook on high until a rapid boil builds, then, simmer until tender. Add salt to taste and serve!