Roasted Lamb Loin with Mint Chimichurri photo_th

When I am not inventing new recipes in the kitchen, I find my favorite way to enjoy an evening is to get together with close friends and family over a warm meal. As most hosts will say, a lavish dinner is not an easy task to accomplish.

Saffron Yogurt and Garlic Marinated Chicken photo_th

Every Sunday morning, I sit down in front of my steaming cappuccino and plan my menu for the week.

The Grocery Shopper’s Dilemma—why buy organic? photo_th

I know that organic food uses less pesticide, no synthetic pesticides, and no antibiotics -- but are those reasons enough to buy organic?

Warm Tuscan Kale Salad photo_th

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and thought, ”Hmmm why can’t I make stuff like this at home?”

Vegan Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes photo_t

I happen to love Thanksgiving -- a lot; the family, the loud laughter and the food. Ohhh the food!

The Only Dish You Need To Survive Winter photo_th

Food and eating has and always will be special and unifying to my family. There is no doubt about it -- the kitchen is by far the most important room in my parents' home.

Eating Like a Kid photo_th

Okay, guys. Brace yourself. This is big. Or, rather, not so big. More like kid-sized -- but amazing. I have recently discovered that even if you are, in fact, 29 years old, you can be a kid again and order from the kids menu at a restaurant.

Fall Nosh with a Jewish Twist photo_th

Sandwiched between a shvitz and a shiver, fall is the perfect season. Not only do I love fall weather, which is often breezy and cool, I cannot get enough of the beautiful fall leaves and tasty treats that arrive with the season.

Wild Mushroom and Beef Stew photo _th

I grew up in Russia (technically Moldova, but we will leave the technicalities be for now). The winters were frigid -- and sometimes a bit depressing, as winters tend to be. Food was used to comfort the grumbling bellies and laughter was used to warm up from the inside out.

Getting back to your roots photo_th

Short days and crisp nights herald the holiday season. I am always excited this time of year. The lighter fare of the summer is over and I crave heartier flavors.

Tomatoes and Premature PSL photo_th

Can we talk about the recent announcement that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is coming soon? Like very soon -- Aug. 25 soon. How can this be happening to us, Chicago?

Grilled and Marinated Flank Steak photo_th

Summer is here, despite the insanely cool weather we saw in Chi-town the first month of the season, so it’s time to get the grills going! And there is no better way to break in the grill then with this scrumptious flank steak.

Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad photo_th

Last summer I decided to make a few changes in my life. I decided to eat super clean. And I realized that I am sick of being hungry. Anyone else? I was constantly feeling guilty about eating too much, or too wrong or too many carbs or too much fat. It’s enough!

Shakshuka: A Love Story photo_th

Shakshuka, if you’re not familiar, is a Tunisian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. If you’ve never heard of it, mazel, meet your new favorite meal. If you do know shakshuka, welcome back!

Cooking With Dad photo_th

Behold the midlife crisis: a stark realization and critical time of change. Most dads turn in their sedan for a motorcycle and their North Face for a leather jacket. Some dye their hair and join the local band. But not my dad.

If a Cookie Could Talk photo_th

If your favorite cookie could talk, what would it say? An Oreo might warn you, “I’m more addicting than cocaine! 

The Ultimate Potato Salad photo_th

Does anything spell American BBQ more than potato salad? I think not.

Pickled Okra Memories photo_th2

My favorite thing about food, other than how most of it tastes amazing, is how it’s bonded to memory. What’s your favorite thing to eat? Think about that food right now. Where are you? You’re probably far, far away.

It’s not about the cookies. photo_th

My favorite bakery is in trouble. The business is failing, and the owner has cancer. The bakery is called Lax & Mandel, and it’s not in Chicago.

The Egg Magician photo_th-2

I recently poached eggs – successfully. I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever been more proud of anything; which probably means that I should find a more thrilling life.

The bitter truth about horseradish photo_th-2

We Jews love our food memories. We have our stand-by recipes that remind us of holidays, family, good times, and bad. And horseradish—maror in Hebrew—is one of those foods. I can’t even look at the root vegetable without the familiar smell taking me to Passover.

Kicking breakfast up a notch—with matzoh! photo_th

How do you make omelets and French toast even better than they already are? Matzoh, that’s how. I know that “matzoh” isn’t typically the answer to that kind of question because it’s dry and flavorless, but just go with me on this. Much like the fried tortillas in chilaquiles, matzoh has this way of turning regular old breakfast into something special, textured, and absolutely delicious.

Moroccan Chicken photo_th

Sometimes, people misconstrue the terms healthy cooking or clean eating with “flavorless” and “lackluster.” But it does not have to be this way. And my cooking certainly never is. It is a rare day in my house that we do not eat healthily. Even our late night snacks (plate fulls of lean nitrate free turkey breast and tomato and cuke slices) tend to be quite delicious and healthy.

Parisienne Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta photo_th

This is comfort food. This is fill-your-belly, warm-your-soul, take-a-nap, comfort food. And no one does comfort food as fancy as the French.

Foodspiration for the New Year photo_th

Jewish people love two things above all else: guilt and food. I tend to pay homage to both of these cultural pillars simultaneously—particularly around the new year.

Breakfast is hard photo_th

Breakfast is apparently the most important meal of the day. Everyone loves to say that. I’m not sure who decided breakfast was the most important, and I don’t know if it’s a true statement. I do hear about it a lot, though.

Food in Technicolor photo_th2

Parshat Vayeshev is the story of Joseph, and whenever I think of Joseph, I think of his amazing technicolor coat given to him by his father, Jacob. This very special coat was a sign of greatness. This concept of technicolor equaling greatness isn’t something that we should just strive for in our wardrobe, but also on our plates.

Fried Elegance for Chanukah photo_th

I want Chanukah this year to be a WOW! I am potato-ed out and frankly the thought of another sweet potato latke is as about as exciting as last year's Thanksgivukkah. HO-HUM!

Golden Potatoes with Garlic Chive Butter photo_th

You know how sometimes there are dishes that conjure up memories buried somewhere deep inside you? These potatoes do that for me.

Give It Up for Lentils photo_th

In this week’s parsha, Toldot, we learn that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for red lentil soup. He was famished from working all day and he needed food so Jacob tricked Esau into selling his birthright for a hot meal. We also learn that Esau was a hunter and Jacob a learned young man.

Socca for the Holidays photo_th

If you are anything like me, you experience an uncontrollable urge to feed people as soon as the weather turns blustery. Well, maybe the urge to feed isn’t entirely weather-dependent for us nurturing, over-bearing Jewish mother-in-training types, but there is definitely something special about feeding friends and family something warm from the oven this time of year.

A recipe for a lazy Sunday photo_th

Hubs and I are both huge fans of breakfast. In fact, lazy Sundays are some of my favorite days. On a rare occasion, the munchkin sleeps over at her grandparents’ house and hubs and I have our lazy Sunday mornings all to ourselves.

Cue the Tomato Soup photo_th

I have an incredibly depressing confession to make: I’ve started preparing myself for winter. I can’t even believe I just typed that sentence, but it’s true.

A sweet alternative for the holidays photo_th

Who doesn’t love that first smear of honey dripping slowly off a crisp apple slice? Well, this year I am saying, ‘Put down the Honey Bear and try the honey from Israel.’ I am not talking about honey from bees; I am referring to Silan or date-honey.

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Brisket photo_th

As we speak, Jewish housewives all over the globe are getting out their finest china, their crispest tablecloths and their oldest recipes, all in preparation for the Jewish High Holidays.

Beeting My Girl Scout Cookie Addiction photo_th

Being hungry is a funny thing. By funny, of course, I mean crazy. Is there a more apt way to describe the raging forest fire that controls your every move? There really is no better way to qualify it. Hunger is funny.

A Guide to Kosher Ballpark Food photo_th

Recently, I went to Atlanta to see Turner Field and the Braves and I was disappointed that they lacked a kosher hot dog. So below is an updated list of kosher stands (some unconfirmed) at various baseball stadiums, their supervision, and products.

Crispy Matzo Lemon Chicken photo_th

One Friday a few weeks ago, hubs called me with a long, breathy sigh … it had been a bad day. A very bad, horrible, day. And on those days I know my hubby needs comfort food.

Tomato Vortex photo_th

The thing I love most about summer is how it’s the opposite of winter. Maybe that’s too basic, but after last winter, can you blame me?

Grilled Eggplant Salad photo_th

Side dishes have never been my forte. I am more the main entrée type of gal – that is where I sparkle. But last summer I was at my friend Tanya’s house when she whipped up a salad that is nothing more than sheer genius.

Bubbe Wanted, Apply Within photo_th

I have secret delusions of grandeur. I fantasize about a lot of things. If I look up from my computer screen I can see my daydreams strewn about my apartment.

Chile Salt photo_th

Summer is both the best and the most challenging time of year to cook. Everything is in season and readily available (yay!) but it’s all so beautiful and ripe that the idea of futzing with it in any way seems sinful (boo!).

Abi Gezunt! 'Be Healthy!' photo_th

When I had my restaurant in New York, I would take a break outside on 55th street and Madison Avenue. I watched, day after day, 2 hot dogs carts at lunch time. One cart was a kosher cart and one was not. I saw long lines form at the kosher cart as people would wait traffic light changes just to get to the kosher cart.

Lemon Parmesan Asparagus photo_th

Most of the time, dinner in our house needs to be quick and easy. Like most other supermoms out there, my days are long and I usually have about a two-hour window to cook and prep for the week.

Potluck Missed Connections photo_th

There’s a section of Craigslist called Missed Connections. I’m not sure how many people really make use of this section, but it gives me an idea. We need a website for Potluck Missed Connections.

DIY Pizza photo_th

Living in Chicago is difficult. Well, yes, there is winter, but aren’t you past that by now? We have bigger issues than a silly Polar Vortex. I’m talking about the various (mostly unspoken) rules that pit us against each other.

Green Pea & Walnut Pâté (aka “Mockchop”) photo_th

Elegance is all in the head. “Elevated” food is just simple food that is made really well and stylishly plated. So when I host a supper club, most of what I serve is really just comfort food that I put a lot of thought into and serve in a beautiful way.

What Kind of Jewish Food Are You? photo_th

Last week, I bought my first can of gefilte fish at college. Gefilte fish is one of those odd foods that I refused to touch as a child; now, its jelly-like, quivering texture fondly reminds me of home. Back at my apartment, I excitedly wrenched the top open and thrust the can before one of my friends.

A Tale of Two Cookies photo_th

It was the best of cookies, it was the worst of cookies, it was the age of French treats, it was the age of Passover treats, it was the epoch of almond flour, it was the epoch of coconut, it was the season of $2 cookies, it was the season of why-even-pay-for cookies...

Garlic and Dill Pan-Roasted Taters photo_th

Growing up, springtime used to be my favorite time of the year. The birds seemed to chirp more happily, the frigid cold breezes turned into warm drafts and brand new baby potatoes emerged in all the farmers markets in my home town.

Stephanie Goldfarb wins ‘America’s Best Cook’ photo_th

After a pressure-filled six-week competition, Chicago’s own Stephanie Goldfarb cooked her way to winning the title of “America’s Best Cook” and $50,000 on the Food Network reality series.

Stephanie Goldfarb on 'America's Best Cook' - Episode 4 photo_th

Four episodes in and Stephanie Goldfarb is still going strong on “America’s Best Cook,” the new Food Network reality cooking competition that pits the country’s best home chefs against each other with the help of Iron Chef mentors.

Stephanie Goldfarb on 'America's Best Cook' - Episode 2 photo_th

Only two episodes in and things are cooking for Stephanie Goldfarb on “America’s Best Cook,” the new Food Network reality cooking competition

Stephanie Goldfarb on ‘America’s Best Cook’ photo_th

Stephanie Goldfarb is vying to be “America’s Best Cook.” The 29-year-old senior associate of teen initiatives at the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was one of 16 home chefs selected to compete on Food Network’s newest reality cooking competition, which premiered April 13 and airs Sundays at 8 p.m.

Laura Frankel photo 2_th

Polar vortexes and mountains of snow be damned, full speed ahead to spring and the holiday! We Chicagoans have been through a lot and we deserve a delicious and full flavored Passover. My theme for all the food this year is CLEAN recipes. No hidden ingredients and no faux or ersatz substitutes. Just pure, scrumptious flavors.

Greek Taverna-Style Fava Beans photo_th

Most weeks when I am menu-planning, the main dishes always come easy. However, when I get to pairing the main entrees with side dishes, I find myself scratching my head.

Passover: Your Winter Cure photo_th

I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but it has been a long cold December, y’all. I need something to look forward to and this year I’m looking to Passover to help me make it out of the tundra with a smile on my face.

Purim Treats photo_th

I have fun and delicious recipes to help you celebrate Purim and fulfill the mitzvot. My brittle with delicious pistachios and sea salt makes a fun gift or treat for your mishloach manot (Purim baskets) or your own celebration.

How To Be a Cheater photo_th

Confession: I am a cheater. No! Not the bad kind. I mean, there was that one time in high school. Doesn’t everybody do that? My Geometry teacher was sick on the day of our midterm and yada yada yada …

A Simple Valentine’s Day photo_th

Every year countless of women and men wrack their brains over what to do for Valentine’s Day. Some consider it a typical Hallmark holiday, but the hopeless romantics incessantly search for the perfect date night. The beauty is it does not have to be as difficult as everyone makes it out to be.

Crepes from the Mother photo_th

Growing up, every Sunday I jumped out of bed at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. and hurried downstairs to join my mom in her Sunday errands. These typically included going to the grocery store, the butcher and meal planning for the week.

Post Florida Depression photo_th

I don’t know about you, but the Polar Vortex had me glued to my couch last week. When it’s so dangerously cold that going to work is out of the question, there aren’t many entertainment options. I coped by staring up at the ceiling (one of my favorite winter activities) while daydreaming of warmer days.

Laura Frankel photo 2_th

Ever walk by the fish counter and see the whole fish sitting there in the case and wonder what do you do with that? Wish you could pull off a big “ta-dah?” Like Indian flavors and tired of going out for them? This dish is for you!

wafer th

In Russia, New Year's Eve is as big as Christmas is in the states. Christmas, and God forbid Chanukah, cannot be found on any calendar. Instead, New Year's Eve is lavishly celebrated.

First taste of winter photo_th

December is usually one of my favorite times of the year. Crisp-blustery air, twinkling lights, and everyone in a good mood. There are parties, excitement, tempting sales at the mall, and an air of anticipation.

The Potato Pancake Redone photo_th

Potato pancakes—or latkes as we frequently call them—are in my opinion a true art. Many have tried but few have succeeded. This simple concoction of potatoes, onions, a binder like flour or matzo meal and eggs has made many a woman turn to their local deli instead of their own kitchen, fearing that their judgmental mothers-in-law will curl their lips in disdain at their lackluster homemade versions.

Giving Chanukah Her Space photo_th

You would have to be hiding under a slow cooker filled with cholent to not have heard about Thanksgivukkah. If not, congratulations, you are the last to know that Chanukah and Thanksgiving are happening at the same time this year. While part of me is excited for this gratitudepalooza, I can’t help but want to send Chanukah to group therapy.

Saying goodbye…to doughnuts photo_th

Dear doughnuts: My, what a great 23 or so years it has been. We have had a great run together … and though it pains me to do this, I must send you my official farewell.

Fall Soup photo_th

Upon meeting someone new, when they find out I am a chef, four out of five times I am asked what I like to call the “question trifecta.” “Where do you work?” “What do you like to cook?” “What is your favorite food?”

Give Peas a Chance photo_th

It was the black-eyed peas. Isn’t that where all great Southern Romances start? They should. I guess that isn’t really where it started. But that is definitely when I knew my life was about to change. Those black-eyed peas made me open up my eyes a little wider; they made me take notice.

Smoked Salmon Crudo photo_th

I don’t know many people who can’t find an appreciation for a toasted bagel mounded with cream cheese and covered in salty hand-cut lox. Throw on some crisp cucumbers, sweet onions, and a juicy tomato and you are set.

Let Them Eat Pie photo_th

Everyone in a family gets a job. I’m not talking about your occupation (though hopefully you have one of those), but everyone in a family contributes in some way. Maybe you’re the one who is really good with scheduling or making people laugh or maybe you’re a great listener.

Health Kid Tangent photo_th

I remember when I was in junior high; there was one “big boned” kid. Now, experts use terms like epidemic, pre-diabetic, and obesity to describe what’s happening to kids today. A mixture of video games, social media and Flaming Hot Cheetos are making overweight the norm.

Jewdish photo_th

Before you start preparing your favorite chicken soup, brisket with all the trimmings and other standard Rosh Hashanah fare you might want to check the calendar. It is still SUMMER and still hot!

A taste of home photo_th

Sometimes it’s cold, I’m stressed, I’m sleepy, I’m sore, and I’m hungry – and all I want is a little comfort from my mom. Luckily for me, I have the best mother in the world – one who recognizes that sometimes comfort comes in the form of food in small, frozen packages. I call them Estee Meals, but I might as well call them “a taste of home.”

Bring Something New to the Table photo_th

I know how a calendar works, but I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner. It feels like someone hit the fast-forward button when we weren’t looking. I’ll forgo my panic about time slipping through my fingers and try to focus on something seasonally appropriate.

Zucchini Soup photo_th

Chicago might be questionable in the winter, but when it comes to summertime it is hands down one of the best cities in the country. Encouraging this strong opinion is the abundance of awesome farmers markets. Almost every neighborhood has its own special twist. With my crazy chef schedule I find myself wandering the city while most people are sitting at a desk. One of my favorite things to do on those off hours is to stumble into the Green City Market.

Summer Cooking – Don’t Sweat It (Or In It) photo_th

Summer makes me lazy. I spend most of my time trying to tear myself away from Princesses of Long Island. I’m never very successful. I can’t help myself. I love that show and everything that follows it on Bravo. But my laziness doesn’t end at the edge of my couch: it extends right into the kitchen.

No-Guilt Grilled Pizza photo_th

Recently, I came across an article arguing the effectiveness of fast food chains listing caloric value next to their menu items. They proposed the idea of instead, listing an effective exercise and recommended length of time to burn off the calories.

Summertime and the Eating is Easy photo_th

It is high summer now and the heat is on. This delicious dish is quick, easy and needs only one pot. My favorite artichoke dish is a perfect summer side dish or salad. The artichokes are braised in fruity olive oil, white wine and lots of lemon. I add a small spicy chili to braising liquid to add a bit of kick to the dish.

Become A Summer Picnic Maven photo_th

Living in Chicago can feel like a real burden at times. I find that I am always working to defend us to my friends and family from around the country. We have the Cubs (let’s not go there), hot dogs without ketchup and a pretty serious winter.

Real Talk with Gwyneth Paltrow photo_th

I’ve been thinking a lot about my BFF Gwyneth Paltrow. Our friendship is imaginary, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less important—at least not to me. Ol’ girl is in clear need of a BFF. You’d have to be hiding under a rock somewhere or not have access to a computer to not understand why. One minute she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, but then the next she’s saying something as punch-worthy as, "I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup."

Spring Fling photo_th

Spring has sprung in Chicago. Buckingham Fountain was turned on this week and the city is alive with buds budding and blossoms blossoming. Green City Market opens next week and I am beyond excited!

A Cake to Build Your Life On photo_th

I love an anniversary. I am a sucker for any chance to stop and review where I am and the path that got me here. Lucky for me my first “Jewish Birthday” is this week, so I don’t have to work very hard to find an anniversary to think about. What that means is I’m spending a lot of time this week thinking about my journey to Judaism.

Soul—and brain—food at Milt’s photo_th

Here is everything you need to know about Milt's: It's a kosher barbecue joint. It's nice enough to host a swanky event. It's dedicated to community service. And it's set up for both dialogues and monologues.

The 10 meal project: Tales from a Seder photo_th

Since my last post about kicking off the 10 meal project, I’ll admit there hasn’t been much time for cooking anything too exciting. First, Passover came around and since then we’ve been so busy that Mike hasn’t had a chance to pull out another one of those coupons…yet.

The 10 meal project photo_th

For my husband’s 30th birthday last month, I decided to get him 30 gifts. This is a cute idea in theory, but in practice can become rather pricey. So I decided that a large portion of his gift would be something he wants more than anything else in the world—home-cooked meals prepared by me.

Pasteur photo_th

On a busy North Broadway street in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood is the much-loved restaurant, Pasteur. The new location, now one year old, prides itself on highlighting the specialty dishes of each region of Vietnam, while infusing French cuisine into each and every bite.

Passover 2013 at Chicago's Best Restaurants photo_th

Joe's Prime Steak, Seafood & Stone Crab (60 East Grand Ave.) is inviting guests to enjoy their classic Passover Dinner on Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m. Guests will begin their meal with homemade Gefilte Fish with Red Beet Horseradish, followed by a Bib Lettuce and Chive Salad with Chopped Liver. Non-meat eaters aren't left out as Suzy Friedman's Vegetarian Chopped Liver will be offered as well.

Jewdish photo_th

Passover is a holiday filled with tradition. Families gather, familiar recipes are brought out from generation’s old cookbooks, and family favorites are brought alive in the kitchen. I remember learning how to make some Passover “classics” and was reading a recipe for matzoh balls and when I asked about chicken fat, I was told that no one does that anymore, “we use vegetable oil.” The problem with that is that the vegetable oil for Passover is cottonseed oil.

A few of my favorite foods photo_th

That picture is my son burying his face in ice cream, or is it? It’s actually Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt. They only sell it at the ice cream shop. It’s lower in sugar, much higher in protein, and tastes great. My 19-month-old son had no idea it wasn’t regular ice cream.

Laura Frankel_th

Instead of the usual box of chocolates and the cliché soufflés and cakes, give your heart's desire a gift that is from your heart and good for theirs.

Chicken soup for the... photo_th

I love winter's crisp, cold air and the way the sunlight casts shadows. I enjoy the long dark nights and I especially love to cook during the winter months. I hunker down in my kitchens and bring long cooked soups and stews together with aromatic herbs, dried mushrooms and root vegetables.

Jewdish photo_th

This year to commemorate Chanukah, I am breaking out of my usual latke habit and shaking things up a bit with savory and sweet fritters. Fritters are defined as a wide variety of fried foods, usually consisting of a portion of batter or breading which has been filled with bits of meat, seafood, fruit, or other ingredients. Sounds good, right?

Talking Turkey photo_th

I was recently surprised to hear a friend tell me that she does not celebrate Thanksgiving. We were schmoozing over coffee and I asked about her plans for the day. She ticked off the usual expected items like: sleeping late, eating breakfast in pajamas, watching football, etc. I did not hear any mention of turkey or family and friends coming over. So I mentioned it. “Oh, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving,” she said.

Holiday Health photo_th

Halloween is a killer, not in the gory-scary-chainsaw massacre way but in the belly. It starts the holiday season with miniature morsels of goodness. Even if you are not knocking on doors begging for candy, you have some. And it’s in your office too, there’s no escaping Halloween candy.

Love carefully packaged into small freezable containers. photo_th

Jonah is the last of my three boys/men to go off to college. I started worrying and grieving about two years ago. The thought of an empty nest terrified me. But, two years is a long time, I told myself, and I put off thinking about it. Sure, the reality crept in every now and then as I watched him tower over me and mature, but denial is a powerful thing to a mother.

Dipped in honey photo_th

Rosh Hashanah is my favorite holiday for so many reasons. Each year for the holidays families and friends often gather together to share meals. After the candles are lit and blessing are recited we enjoy a beautiful service called Yehi Ratzon, which means "May it be Your Will." This service is one of the most special parts of the holiday for me. Most of prayers during the holidays take place in the synagogue. This symbolic and fun service takes place in the home, around the table with family and friends.

City Winery comes to Chicago photo_th

Michael Dorf, CEO and Founder of City Winery in New York, is bringing his popular concert venue and winery to Chicago's West Loop. "Chicago's [a great] if not better, a city for what we want to do," Dorf said. "There's an incredibly passionate food and cultural scene here. I'm constantly amazed at how veracious people eat and drink."

An ode to The Buffalo photo_th

We walked out of the synagogue after my grandma's memorial service and asked what any Jewish family would ask each other after a difficult experience– where should we eat? Despite filling up on coffee cake while accepting condolences from friends, I was in need of some Jewish penicillin, and there was only one place I could think of.

Fall in love with chocolate photo_th

We all know that chocolate can bring out the glint in a lover’s eye and that the smooth creamy and sensuous Aztec treat is even good for you, with all of its anti-oxidants and flavonoids, but how do you share the sumptuous chocolaty pleasure when it is blazing hot? There is nothing romantic about a box of melted chocolates.

Stinking Flower photo_th

Jews have had a long tempestuous relationship with garlic. The Talmud suggests that men eat garlic on the Sabbath because Friday was the night devoted to conjugal love. This testimonial from Ezra the Scribe: “garlic promotes love and arouses desire."

Kamehachi photo_th

In 1967, Chicago was devastated by a massive snowstorm, the Museum of Contemporary Art was founded, and the Picasso Statue was dedicated in Civic Center Plaza. What went under the radar was the opening of the alleged first sushi restaurant in the city. The area in between Division and North Avenues on Wells Street was known as Old Town, and that's where Kamehachi of Tokyo first opened its doors.

Cinco de Mayo thumbnail

The secret to good guacamole is simple: the ingredients should be ripe and really fresh, and each bite or scoopful should burst with flavor. This means no powdered garlic allowed and lots of tasting, to make sure the flavors are well balanced.

Sesame ginger quinoa almond chicken photo_th

If you want a shock, Google your favorite Chinese or Thai recipe. The calories, fat and sodium are usually ridiculously high. As most would expect fried rice is not a health food. I created a similar taste with a drop of oil and a lot of flavor.

Jewdish photo_th

I know many home cooks who make elaborate Passover meals for an insane number of family members, friends, and those in their community who do not have their own seders or Shabbat Passover dinners. These cooks create meals that feature course upon course of delicious and complicated food ornately displayed on platters with garnishes garnishing the garnishes.

Spice it up! photo_th

Spice it up! Instead of adding salt, butter, or oil to your meals, add some flavor! My number one cooking tip— flavor lightly, you can always add more spice, but if you drop in too much Tabasco, it’s over.

Michelle Well photo_th

Last month I promised to write about men's spring fashion for my March post. I'm actually postponing that to next month and instead, I'm writing about dining in Chicago. I know this probably sounds like a generic and over-addressed topic, but I actually think it's interesting – the culinary experience in Chicago is so unique.

Jewdish photo_th

While it is hard not to think of the current political climate when thinking of Iran, Persia was once the center of the spice trade for the ancient world. Animals, textiles, metals, gems and foodstuffs all passed through its ports. Ancient Persia was quite the cosmopolitan empire with influences from India, Egypt, Syria and more.

Laura Frankel_th

The New Year for trees is a great time of year to remind ourselves of the importance of eating locally and in season.

Jewdish photo_th

Each year I eagerly anticipate the proclamation of the New Year’s eating trends. This is a big deal for me as I always like to be up on what is going on in the culinary world. And just like anyone looking to purchase new clothing waits to see what the new “black” is this year, I, as a chef, am looking for direction.

How to shake up a kosher cocktail photo_th

You may not know this, but chances are you’ve had a kosher cocktail at one point or another. I’m serious. No, you did not have a rabbi for a bartender. No, it was not because it was served on Shabbat. And no, your drink was probably not blessed, either.

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There comes a time in a couple's relationship when the words "we need to try that place" come up. Even if you aren't dating, you may see a commercial or pass by a restaurant and think to yourself "wow, I need to remember this." For many of you foodies, you have a list and it's time that you re-order it and place Geja's Café in Lincoln Park at the very top.

Everybody’s Bubbe photo_th

Since I got engaged almost two years ago, I've been taking cooking lessons from my grandmas, who I call "Nana." In addition to teaching me to make some of my favorite recipes from growing up, these lessons are also intended to make me less inept in the kitchen now that I'm a married lady (though this is still yet to be seen). But most importantly, these lessons provide invaluable Nana bonding time. 

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This is my second year as the Turkey Talk expert and I could not be more excited. I have to admit that after the glamour of last year’s Turkey Talk (I had solved all of last year’s frenzy of turkey troubles), I went through a period of withdrawal.

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I’m always looking for healthy products, something that will give me a bigger bang for my nutritional buck. I took a wild night out recently and strolled the aisles of Whole Foods, and found a litany of items I’ve never seen before. My main objective was to buy some milk, but I made a few other purchases. One of which was a cool product I saw online called, Garden Good, from Mama Jess.

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There’s no better place in Chicago to watch professional sports while sipping unlimited Bloody Mary’s on a Sunday morning than Timothy O’Tooles.  This pub has it all, with a comedy club on Wednesday nights, great daily specials, and some of the most remarkable bar food in the city.

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Do you want fries with that? How about a side of mac & cheese? Deviled eggs? That’s what the waitress asked after ordering our burgers at DMK Burger Bar in Lakeview. (2954 N Sheffield Ave, 773-360-8686).

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Just when you thought you had run out of ideas about what to make for dinner, when you thought you had tried every chicken dish on the planet and you could not possibly face another stir fry, along comes not one, but two, kosher cooking magazines.

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Corn smut, Mexican Truffles, Fungus, blight…Call it what you will, huitlacoche is just plain delicious. The fungus spores infect the corn plant much the same way a mushroom spore infects wood.

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My initial thoughts about this month’s Oy! post weren’t gelling the way I had hoped, so I asked my friend Heather what I should write about. She said, “Whole Foods isn’t just a grocery store.” She is so right.

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My son Jonah likes to remind me of my age. He pokes fun at my stories of summer vacations spent running through sprinklers, jumping rope, washing my parent’s cars, and playing hide and seek. He seems entertained when I talk about homework done the old fashioned way, by hand, and when I tell him that I distinctly remember the first time I ate a kiwi.

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There’s a group of people who every month visit a new, sometimes popular, more often lesser-known Chicago pizza restaurant. That group is known as the Windy City Pizza Club. Over the past 13 months, they’ve networked, the singles mingled, and they ate award-winning pizza at places like D’Agostino’s Pizza and Pub in Wrigleyville.

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In a city known for deep dish pizza, hot dogs, and spicy fries at U.S. Cellular Field, a little know secret still remains at the ultimate popular sports bar in Wicker Park, Fifty/50.

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The market stalls are bursting with produce. It seems as though everywhere I turn there is an abundance of riotously colored vegetables and fruit. The possibilities seem endless—so much food, so little time.


In January, the building at 400 North State Street, became the newest royalty of Chicago sports bars. Like its brother Bull & Bear, this after-work, beer enthusiast restaurant and bar features some of the most radical new technology in the city. Welcome to Public House. I recently checked out what everyone was raving about, and wasn’t disappointed.

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Every summer when my kids were young, I spent months gathering supplies for my kids to take to camp. In the early years, I actually ironed name labels in all of their clothing and painstakingly labeled all of their sunscreens, bug sprays, flashlights and other camp necessities.

Taste of Chicago, Jewish style photo_th

I have to drive past the Taste of Chicago everyday on my way to Spertus. While I am glad that the taste brings business to Chicago and that vendors have an opportunity to lure locals and tourists with their tasty fare, I have to wonder, what does the taste have for a Jew?

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It is full blown wedding season and nervous brides and grooms all over the world are tying the knot. Many more are planning nuptials and are making themselves, their families and friends absolutely crazy.

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Last night, I witnessed one challenge that I will never choose to take part in. Ever. They called it the 999. Nine innings, nine hot dogs and nine drinks.

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Strawberries are my favorite fruit. They are available all year round, but are really only in season in the North and Midwest in May and June.

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I fell in love—with chocolate chip granola! Not just any brand, but Jessica’s Natural Foods granola. I was in Michigan with my wife visiting family and I ran into a Plum Market. Someone, possibly Jessica, was handing out samples of this awesome tasting treat.

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In celebration of the Royal Wedding, I offer a true Jewish recipe. A trip to London or anywhere in the UK cannot be complete without a pint of beer and a platter of fish and chips.

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If you workout really hard, you could burn between 300-500 calories. If you are running or biking a ton, you could get that number even higher. And then you can have one meal of 1200 calories and the calories you burned in your workout are instantly negated.

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Take loads of fresh vegetables, small portions of lean meats, a healthy handful of quinoa and other whole grains, add a sprinkling of cumin and paprika, mix with world flavors, and the result is the essence of Leah Koenig’s new cookbook, “The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen” (Universe, $34.95). 

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It was barely Purim and my phone was ringing off the hook with friends and clients asking questions regarding Passover. What am I making? Will I share recipes? Can I come over and cook for them? Will I come over for a meal (I especially love that one)?

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I recently sat down and interviewed a fellow health nut and owner of Protein Bar, Matt Matros. This was very exciting for me, as I love Protein Bar. It’s not too often I find a spot that offers amazing food that’s low in fat and calories, high in protein, and for a great value.

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I’m not sure how campers are called to meal time these days. I know most of the kids do not wear watches (they all have cell phones with which they check the time), so I’m not sure of how CHOW TIME is announced.

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This week Shorashim will speak to thousands of applicants for Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. They will have many questions about Israel, about the Israelis who are on the 10 day trip, the accommodations, and what clothes to bring. They also will ask about the food.

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Often lovingly referred to as the “other food group,” chocolate has found its way into our daily lives. Inspiring everything from recipes, stories, cravings and a host of products from funky-flavored chocolate bars to bubble bath— chocolate is an obsession.

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The food trend list is not nearly as exciting as the list of movies up for awards, but for those of us in the business and those of us who LOVE to eat— this is important stuff. Here goes foodies— the list for 2011!

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Tu B’Shvat is next week and is the perfect day to reflect on how we might better take care of the earth and its resources. Though the holiday has changed throughout the centuries, Tu B’Shvat can be a day to celebrate the unique partnership between man and nature. It appears that now more than ever we need to be more conscious of everything we do and how it affects the planet.

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Back during the women’s lib movement, Marjorie Gelb was part of the first generation of professional women that were climbing the career ladder. She was a fulltime working lawyer, a wife, and a mother of two. She wanted a fulfilling career, but she still desired to put high-quality food on the table for her family. In fact, Gelb identifies herself as a gourmet, defined by the French as “someone who likes to eat good things.”

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Forget the turkey, goose or other roasted items gracing the holiday table. We Jews have our own tradition for festive meals on Christmas; Chinese food! The history of Jews eating Chinese food on Christmas comes from the late 1800’s when Chinese restaurants were typically the only places open on Christmas (many Chinese are Buddhist) and welcomed Jews who were looking for an outing on the Christian holiday.


I admit to being somewhat of a gastronomic and a culinary discontent. I like to push the envelope and play with an idea or recipe and then move on and do it all over again. The same applies to holiday menus. I love the rituals of the Jewish holidays and the foods, but I do not like the routine recipes that often accompany those dishes. This Chanukah I am thinking outside the box and mixing it up a bit.

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I love Thanksgiving. It is the most American of all holidays. As a Jew, I especially love the holiday—it’s the only time where I can eat a big fancy dinner, pile into the car and go visit friends or just drive around and look at the holiday lights.


I went to help a friend make Roasted Butternut Squash Soup last week. She is always saying how much she loves the soup, but can’t seem to make it without all sorts of battle wounds and horror stories.

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Every reality competition with judges has a “mean one": Simon Cowell’s scathing remarks made plenty of “American Idol” contestants cry. For the first couple of seasons of “Top Chef,” the Emmy Award-winning Bravo TV series now in its seventh season, that judge was Gail Simmons.

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Shana Tova to you all! In the spirit of the New Year, and while munching on the irresistible flavor combination of apples and honey, I have compiled a list of my favorite bars and restaurants that opened their doors since September of last year.

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Every year I have a love affair with autumn. The crisp air, colorful leaves, moody sky and my favorite produce filling the markets give me an incredible sense of well being. I also love Sukkoth. I like the whole premise of the holiday with harvests and ingathering, but mostly I like the fact that this is a holiday that does not tell me what to eat, only where to eat it.

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There is a perfect diet.  It will help you fit into your skinny jeans, and help you gain muscle.  It works for everyone.  This magical meal planning will help you feel energetic, sleep soundly, gain muscle and drop fat.  You can either hire me to tell you this secret, or just keep reading.

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Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world and is a time for reflection and self evaluation. It is also a time for families and friends to gather and enjoy elaborate meals.

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I’m so excited for tonight’s Oy!Chicago fro-yo get together at my new favorite hot spot Forever Yogurt.  I LOVE fro-yo.  Love it!  Nothing beats a delicious bowl of smooth, creamy, soft-serve goodness topped with tasty treats.  It doesn’t matter what season, it’s always worth the trip.  I love fro-yo so much that I’ve been known to eat my cup, decide I didn’t get enough and get back in line for another scoop.

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Classic food pairings are like best friends. Meat and potatoes, spaghetti and meatballs, red beans and rice, chocolate and raspberries, tomatoes and basil…I could go on forever. These classic combos enhance and play off each other on your palate often teasing you into wanting more. Ah, tongue titillating bliss.

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When the heat is on and you cannot bear the thought of turning on the oven, keep cool with refreshing gazpacho. Gazpacho originated in Spain as an afternoon snack. The true Andalusia version has almonds, bread, grapes, olive oil, vinegar and salt.

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Clarity. It all started out with a cooking class. Well, me and our Ethiopian nanny cooking together. So, it was more of a lesson than a class, which I think ends up making more sense.

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I recently spent several days in Boston with my son Ari who is a student at MIT (much Jewish mother kvelling). Boston is an easily maneuverable city, unlike Chicago, LA or New York. You can get from point A to point B without much cab fare, train time or stress.

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I grew up in a very adventurous household. I did not know it at the time, but we were really different from other families. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and from all outward appearances we were probably very typical. My father was a pretty average suburban dad with one eccentricity—he liked to travel the world with food.

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As a personal trainer, I get asked nutritional questions all the time. The thing is, I’m not a nutritionist—I’m just a really opinionated personal trainer. I do, however, have several nutritionist friends, so I went to one with an expertise in celiac disease to learn about allergies, organic food, and of course weight loss tips.

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This is the first time in many years that I do not have to work on Mother’s Day—woohoo! I have been excited for months. I kept cautiously checking the calendar at work, each time confirming with myself that “no one books an event on Mother’s Day.”

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I think we are supposed to end Passover feeling unburdened and brand new. I feel neither. Do not get me wrong—I had a great Pesach. The weather was amazing for Chicago in March/early April and we were able to get outside and take walks. We ate great food and enjoyed some fun family time. But I have this nagging feeling that I did not do the holiday the way I should have.

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One sure sign that spring has sprung is the plethora of Passover products that start appearing on grocery store shelves. Each year I look forward to checking out what new foodstuffs were invented. Usually these products are meant to counterfeit their non-Passover counterparts. Each year I hold my own personal contest to see what the strangest and most Pesadich-y thing will be.

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‘Tis the season for spring break.  Left and right, nearly everyone I know is heading somewhere, whether they are graduate students heading on exotic vacations or colleagues leaving town for Passover to avoid the stress of de-chametz-ing the kitchen.

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As you enter, you are greeted by an obsequious type wearing a bowtie or a garish – possibly sequined – tie and vest combo. You are led to a room full of gilded baubles. Tables are piled high with colorful food whose names you know only if you grew up in a Russian household.


Being a foodie can occasionally be something of a burden.  It is all too easy to get jaded, to stop finding pleasure in perfectly serviceable meals, because they aren’t new enough or innovative enough.  One can forget that doing something simple and well is actually proof of skill in the kitchen.  After all, ask almost any chef or restaurant critic the mark of a great cook, and they will tell you roasted chicken is the ultimate test.

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Fridays are frenetic, frantic and leave me frizzled! I run around like a maniac so that I can rush home to make an elaborate dinner for my family and friends. I don’t usually question if I could be doing a better job of “doing a Friday,” I just accept it and run around trying to make it all happen.

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What if I told you, you could eat bread, pizza, potatoes, wine and pastries and still be thin? Oh, and you can eat dinner at 10 p.m. Carbs, alcohol, sugar and some more carbs do not add up to a diet most people think of as healthy. Dr. Atkin’s would be shocked.

Chocolate photo_th

Often lovingly referred to as the “other food group,” chocolate has become an obsession, inspiring everything from recipes, stories, cravings and a host of products from funky-flavored chocolate bars to bubble bath.

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Imagine soft candle light, beautiful music, crisp-refreshing martinis, crackling skinned chicken with the fragrance of rosemary and lemon perfuming the air and deep dark chocolate mousse. Your favorite restaurant? No. This is your home kitchen with you at the helm.

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When I think of the Jewish pastry rugelach, I usually picture my late, silver-haired Russian Jewish grandma—or at least someone’s Jewish grandma—flattening dough with her rolling pin in her cozy kitchen. But Leon Greenberg, a low-key, middle-aged guy from Great Neck, Long Island, doesn’t look or act anything like my grandma. He dubs himself “The Rugelach Man,” and makes rugelach as delicious as that of any grandmother I know.

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David Sax is on a quest. His mission? Save the deli. Growing up in Montreal and Toronto, Sax was first introduced to matzo ball soup, kishke, corned beef and coleslaw on a weekly jaunt to the deli his family would make after Friday night services. Sax translated his love for all things Eastern European food into visits to the “great deli cities” – New York, Chicago, L.A. and Montreal come to mind foremost.


In these trying economic times, socializing can become a challenge. Restaurants are still expensive, and if you want a nice leisurely evening, with an appetizer or salad, an entrée, and a cocktail or glass of wine you can easily be out $50 with tax and tip, and lord help you if you want a dessert or a second beverage.

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As the holiday season is really all about food, I thought it would be funny if I attempted to cook a traditional Shabbat dinner for my boyfriend Mike and wrote a blog post making fun of my inevitable failure. Lucky for me (and for Mike), this isn’t a story of failure at all.

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It is hard not to feel festive this time of year with all of the shining lights, decorations, and a general feeling of goodwill toward everyone. It is my favorite time of year. I love the brisk—chilly air and broody—moody sky that December brings. I also love Chanukah.

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Ah, the Festival of Lights—the eight days of oil burning brightly in the newly purified Temple, thanks to the Maccabees and the thousands of Jews that stood against its oppressors. While we do say blessings and light candles as a reminder to the sacrifices of those before us, I say it’s about time we raise our glasses and say a toast! Lucky for us, this year the first night of Chanukah coincides with a Friday night—drink up people!

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In his new book Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer gives the following advice about having a Thanksgiving holiday that is truly reflective of one’s appreciation for health, happiness and loved ones.  His advice:  DON’T SERVE TURKEY!

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I think the concept that best explains how I think about food is the notion of Cucina Povera. This Tuscan concept is one born out of humble and peasant ingredients both afforded in the region of Italy and grown locally. The phrase Cucina Povera means "poor kitchen." The idea is almost more of a technique and way of thinking rather than just a bare cupboard.

Sundays at The Bagel photo_th

It’s a few minutes after 7 p.m. as we gather inside the waiting area of the popular Lakeview restaurant, greeting each other with hugs and friendly handshakes.  Our ritual marks the end to another weekend and the start to another week in our busy lives.  Restaurant patrons push their way around us to get a table as we gather into a tightly packed circle making sure we have a full headcount to give the host a more accurate number.  One never knows who will show up late or bring a friend along.  We meet at the Bagel in Lakeview frequently, but tonight everybody is in a little brighter mood than normal as we have something special to celebrate.

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I’ve been in a very thoughtful place of late.  The loss of both John Hughes, the passionate chronicler of my adolescence, and Michael Jackson, who I loved right up until he lost his ever loving mind, and whose music defined my entire childhood, put me in a fog of nostalgia.  I see odd vestiges of my youth everywhere, and it isn’t always pretty.  Neon is making a weird fashion comeback, as are shoulder pads, and I really hope it is short lived.  Remakes of 90210 and Melrose Place are on the airwaves.  Hershey is now using Modern English’s anthem of teen longing “I Melt With You” to sell chocolate bars with almonds.  No, really.  It’s official.  I’m old.

Bringing the farm to the bar photo_th

As I began packing for my Advanced Mixology Academy class field trip to Chef’s Garden in Milan, Ohio, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I have been to my share of the city’s vast and vibrant neighborhood farmer’s markets. I've tasted some of the best food and sipped the highest quality cocktails around, but I was told that this wasn't anything like your typical farm and that these ingredients weren’t going to be found at the average farmer’s market.

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Cooking keeps me company when everyone around me is busy or absent.  And, as I've developed a deeper appreciation for what and how I cook, so too with my Judaism.  So here I am: a 20 year-old junior, living in a one-bedroom, eager to make it kosher.  And not just kosher—organic and local round out my trinity of food wants.  Organic, Local, Kosher—two out of three's not bad, right?

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 Ah, summer. Finally. After all the months of winter when you think the sun will never shine again, and the spring, which is mostly cold and rainy, we can settle into summer and all of its promise. Flip flops and tank tops, hanging at the beach or the pool, all the restaurants putting out tables on the patio, street fairs and festivals... And barbecues.


Anyone who has ever been married, or had a serious long-term relationship, knows that there are temptations everywhere. Even the most devoutly monogamous person can find herself drawn in other directions, intrigued by the new. If you are smart, your crush remains chaste; taking the best of what is possible, breaking neither trust nor vows. After all, there is nothing wrong with building a deep friendship; even if underneath that friendship is the tacit understanding that in a different world, in a parallel reality, the boundaries would be very different. If you are less disciplined, the passion takes over and you can find yourself in a full -fledged affair of the heart.


Five and a half years ago, Linda Zelda Neiman was a stay-at-home mom, doing lots of volunteer work and baking and cooking up a storm in her Lincolnwood kitchen. When she felt ready to go back to work, she opted not to go back to her old job in computer science and instead to follow her passion for sweets, opening Zelda’s Sweet Shoppe in Skokie.


We don’t know anything about St. Valentine whose feast day is February 14 other than the fact that he was buried on February 14 at the Via Flaminia north of Rome. How this martyred saint (who might actually be the amalgamation of several martyred guys named Valentine) became the representation of romantic love for most of the Western world is a mystery to me. But because it is effectively a Gentile construct (and they celebrate the June birth of the most famous Member of the Tribe on December 25), we don’t need to ponder the logic overmuch, especially as it is now as secular a day as Thanksgiving.


After arriving home from a 10-day visit to Israel on January 2, I declared to all who would listen that I would never eat falafel again. Fewer than three weeks later, while thumbing through a coupon book, I saw an ad for Mizrahi Grill, and was overcome with a craving for deep-fried chickpea balls. I grabbed my husband, ripped out the coupon and headed to Highland Park.


The old Sunday night take-out standby for members of the tribe used to be Chinese. I myself have nothing but fond memories of the Sunday nights of my childhood: waiting to watch whatever was the special Sunday Night Movie on network TV as my mom arranged the signature red and white cylinders and white trapezoidal boxes on wooden trays. We got to eat on television trays and drink pop instead of milk—Sunday nights were special.


“Gather around my friends, you are in a sacred place, you are among those you can trust, and your secrets are safe here. No one will judge you. No one will point fingers. And no one will tell your grandparents.”


From age four, Halstuk acted as a young sous-chef to her mother, Marla Templer, helping her to prepare the mandel bread, a dessert often called the Jewish biscotti. And when Halstuk was away at Jewish summer camp, Templer would ship her daughter a bag of the goodies. “It would be 90 degrees and I would make the mandel bread last for four weeks hidden under my bed. I guess that’s kind of disgusting,” jokes Halstuk.


It’s probably going to get me some flack to admit that my favorite holiday isn’t a Jewish holiday, but a secular one. Don’t get me wrong, I love many of our ages-old holy days, and look forward to both the sense of connectedness they bring as well as the comfort of traditional foods and the company of friends and family. Rosh Hashanah, Passover…both solidly in my top five holiday-wise. I love a latke, I’m moved by matzo balls, get blissed out over brisket. I even heart a hamentashen. But none of the celebrations mandated by the Torah come close to inspiring the passion I have for Thanksgiving.


I am unabashed in my love of sparkling wines.  And while I have a particular affinity both for the true French champagnes, and for the sparklers made in the Méthode Champenoise from other regions of the world, I don’t turn down a good cava from Spain or a prosecco from Italy.  For the sake of ease, despite the twitch it is likely to produce in any serious oenophiles who may be reading this, it’s really all champagne to me, and I tend to refer to it as such.  I don’t need an occasion to drink champagne, any random day will do.

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Stacey Ballis Joey, in action Joey’s Brickhouse 1258 W. Belmont 773.296.1300 When I called Chef Joey Morelli to see if I could interview him for this article, the first thing he did was propose. Upon discovering that he had gone to high school with a cousin of mine, and


As I have mentioned before, my Judaism, while deeply rooted and very important to me, is something that falls more on the side of culture and tradition and less on the side of religion or spirituality. But there are certain aspects of every holiday that resonate for me, and one of the things I appreciate about being Jewish, is that I can feel free to cherry pick the pieces I like and leave the rest behind.


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in general, only rarely do your day in and day out dining choices ever get reviewed anywhere. With limited space, reviewers tend to focus on what’s new, what’s hot, what just opened or which fancy chef has blown into town. Sure, now and again you might see one of your regular haunts mentioned in a Best Of article, but really, does that get you through a Tuesday night when you are looking for something that requires neither a reservation nor much brain power?


There is evidence to indicate I have no business contributing to anything called Nosh. My college roommate still recalls the time I removed a cold, hard Idaho potato from its produce bag and asked, “So is this a baked potato, or do I need to do something to it?”  Fast forward two college degrees (yes, from accredited universities) and you will witness a similar scene as my husband – in one of his more patient moments – walks me through the complex art of boiling an egg.


Zed is the British/French pronunciation of the last letter of the alphabet.  451 is the number of degrees (in Fahrenheit) needed for fire to ignite.  So, one would imagine that somehow the creators of this new restaurant are implying that their concept is a culminating point, the end all be all, the point of combustion.


Kosher wine.
For many of us, those two small words pack a big, sweet, grapey, syrupy, low-alcohol, Manischevitz-endorsed punch. We have memories of tasting it for the first time in elementary school—at synagogue, at Bubbe’s seder, at cousin Bobby’s bar mitzvah—and either loving it (“Yummy, tastes like grape Nerds!”) or loathing it (“Yuck, this stuff tastes like Robitussin!”).


Chalkboard is romantic enough to be a great date spot, but not so overt as to be alienating for those of us who are dining with friends or family. The menu is full of carefully crafted dishes, with inspired touches…your childhood favorites made sophisticated with a rich tomato soup paired with a blue cheese grilled cheese sandwich on the side, Kobe beef mini burger appetizer with Nueske bacon, truly spectacular fried chicken.


For anyone who loves Chicago history, one of the most exciting periods occurred in 1871 after the Great Chicago Fire, when the Custom House Levee District flourished. Filled with saloons, brothels and gaming houses, and home to the genesis of the classic pay-for-votes politics, the Levee District was an oasis of sin and sensual pleasures. The higher class bordellos were as famous for the quality of their food and wine as they were for the charms of their girls, and the area we now know as Printer’s Row spent a glorious thirty-five years reigning as the place to experience carnal delights of every sort.


When people ask me what I love most about being Jewish, the images flash before my eyes. Succulent slices of slow cooked brisket, moist with rich tomato-y gravy. Latkes, crisp on the outside, melting in the middle, with applesauce and sour cream. Light as air matzo balls, floating in a pool of golden chicken soup, dense sweet noodle kugel. After all, I’m the girl who, when asked what she wanted for her third birthday dinner, answered “brisket and farfel!” 

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Every year, friends and family gather to celebrate the miracle of an event that happened in ancient times. After the Maccabian revolt, there was only enough oil in the temple to last one day. Miraculously, it lasted eight. All around the world, Jews gather to celebrate the holiday for eight days. We also gather to eat, for what would a Jewish holiday be without food?



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