Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

February 25, 2010

Venison & Pasta

I am a HUGE fan of game, in particular venison, buffalo, elk and ostrich!! What you see here is what my Mom cooked not long ago. If I had time to hunt it or afford to buy it, I would eat game meat exclusively. Health benefits include being low in fat and cholesterol (1). There are some tricks to cooking it. Here’s how I cook game, or at least some suggestions listed below. Most game is a hint sweet compared to regular beef. They all taste enough like beef that you may not notice it's game unless someone told you.

Wild game such as the ones I mentioned are very low in fat. As a result, you will need to add some fat to the meat (depending on what you’re making). When cooking these types of meat, I would suggest using some type of cooking oil (if you’re making a sauce for pasta) such as olive (preferred) or canola oil enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Brown the meat (as you would with any pasta dish) then make the sauce (of your choosing). I would suggest you is mix the game with some beef (not more than 10% meat to 90% game) and then adding water. I prefer the first way most. The meat should cook in about 7-10 minutes when cooking 1 lb of meat.

To me, there is no “special sauce” needed for cooking game for pasta. Use the same sauce you’ve used all along. I personally prefer adding onion, garlic, oregano, salt, black pepper, mushrooms, bell peppers of your choice, and sometimes olives. The amounts of seasoning you use are based off of your personal preference and tastes. I tend to use at least 1 large onion per pound. Remember, just use the pasta sauce you would use with beef. Serve over pasta (as you see here) and enjoy!!

Below are some places where you can find further information about different types of game:
Venison meat:
Buffalo meat:
Ostrich meat:
Works Cited:

1. National Bison Association:

February 20, 2010

Guilty Food Pictures, Part 1

OK. I did a post a while back on my guilty pleasures. Living in the Chicago Area, you probably guessed that there are guilty food pleasures in abundance. So I decided to place some of these here in pictures. These were done over the last couple of months. Now I don't eat like this every day. If I did, I probably could not walk (at least very far and for any length of time). Many places I list here have a presence on Facebook and/or Twitter.

***** Warning. Reading this post could make you hungry (especially if you enjoy meat), sick/upset (if you don't like meat) or tempting if you're on a diet.*****

1. The Gyro ("yee-row", but "year-o" works as well). Its early stage of cooking on a spit (rotisserie style) over a slow fire. The one below is from ""Doggie Diner", Woodridge, Illinois. Hard to find a better gyro in the area than theirs. Another that's very good is Gemato's (Naperville, IL). I prefer lamb, beef, pork or a mix of either meat. You can also find a chicken gyro but to me, they're not as good.

- The finished product, served on a pita w/ onions, tomato, and yogart/cream/cucumber sauce (varies by where you may go). This is about 8 oz. worth of pleasure. As a younger man,. I could eat two of these.
                                                                  Doggie Diner

2. The Italian beef sandwich, one of the finest treats Chicago has to offer. It's nothing short of fantastic, as many Chicagoans will testify. This is a staple of fast food in the area (with local non-national chains). Slow cooked and shaved thin after cooking. Served on a french bread. You can order it dry (no juice), wet (inside soaked with juice) or dipped (the way you see it below- dipping the entire sandwich in the juices). You can also have it with mild or (as I prefer) hot giardinara sauce. Cheese is also an option but this time, which I added myself. Below is from Portillo's, a major local chain. Other local spots to check out include Buona Beef (Portillo's main competition- think Geno's Steak VS Pat's steak in Philly), and smaller places such as Carm's (Hillside, IL), Mr Beef (Chicago, IL on Orleans), Al's Beef (on Ontario), Roma's Beef (Chicago, IL) among a long list of great places. Portillo's, though primarily in Illinois, has two locations in California (Buona Park and Moreno Valley). Both giardinaria's you see here have bite (I chose hot). The Portillo's version has a bit more peppers. Buona's version favors towards a more olive-based flavor, but still has kick to it. Add a piece of Italian sausage and make it a combination beef and italian sausage (or just simple as for a combo). So how do I order this? Beef (or combo) with hot peppers (and cheese if I feel like it), dipped. The place you eat at will know what you want. Dipped is MESSY but very good. If you order an italian beef croissant, the hot peppers are still good but I think the sween bell peppers might be better, especially if you never had italian beef before. The rules or dry, wet or dipped still apply. Dipping a croissant may be a challenge for some because it's not as hearty as the french bread. At the very minimum, order each of these wet.

Buona Beef

3. So now it's time for pizza. Everyone has their favorites and I am no exception to this rule. The Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is for the SERIOUS eater. Those who don't like Chicago pizza, I understand. I know it's MUCH heavier than other regions. It's a thing of beauty when you can put all your meat, dairy, grain and veggies in one slice (I DO NOT PUT FRUIT IN MY PIZZA- I don't get that at all, but that's just me). I personally don't think you can really do a Chicago deep dish pizza properly outside of Chicagoland (I think there's something in the water that makes the dough work right. I prefer Lou Malnati's (the garlic-butter crust is something special) and Gino's East, both well -established local chains. Other worth candidates I enjoy are Eduardo's, Home Run Inn pizza (I LOVE their thin crust), Giordano's, Pizzeria D.O.C (not typical deep dish but worthy of a stop if you're in the North side; D.O.C. means Denominazione di origine controllata or Controlled Origin Denomination, the Italian sign for food and wine quality control), Piece (co-owned by Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick), Ricobene's (various locations), and Papa Joe's of Orland Park are all Tremendous. Rosati's is good but all franchised unlike the other places I mentioned. Some are very good, but others not so good.

Gino's East:

4. The Hot Dog is a thing of beauty. Below is an example of a great hot dog. My only rule as it relates to the dog is that no ketchup can be used (KILLS the texture, in my opinion). Thick salsa is OK. Chicago style- mustard, tomato, sport peppers (some say jalapenos could be a substitute), onions, relish, & kosher pickle served on a steamed poppy seed bun!!! Picture one is with mustard, onion & tomato. Aside from Portillo's and Buona Beef (mentioned earlier), there are plenty of other great places to eat and many have a Facebook and/or Twitter page.

5. Any burrito fans out there? I mean SERIOUS burrito fans. I do as well. This is a  junior burrito, chicken w/ everything plus onions and sour cream. You'll see what it looks like when it's done.............

Then adding the sauce and peppers. Normally, you would add the sauce as you ate the burrito but since I'm adding peppers, I just added the sauce while I was at it. Again, most of the major food groups are in this mass of guilty pleasure!!!!

OK. It's not pretty but you get the picture.

6. Nothing says grease cravings like a pizza puff. Sausage and cheese get the job done. This one courtesy of my local grocery store. Again it's not fancy, but tastes good.

7. Can you say slider??? Ever had one? This is the legendary White Castle food chain (mostly east of the Mississippi River or states bordering it). For those who know what I am talking about, this is really a guilty pleasure. Why? For one, they're cheap (not as much as they once were but still pretty inexpensive). I got 6 jalapeno cheeseburgers for $5. You may need a pretty strong stomach. Most people who like this place (as I do) understand the "what you crave" slogan is all about. I nearly lived on these in high school.

White Castle Sliders- What many crave!!!

More guilty pleasures to come!!! There are a TON of them I will share soon.

February 16, 2010

Black Eyed Peas: No CD Required!!

Black-eye peas are actually a food I really enjoy, especially as I got older. This is such a simple food to cook you really can’t mess anything up at all. The flavor is so unique and quite hardy. It was introduced by African and Spaniard in the new world. I have used them in everything from chicken noodle soup (oh yes, very good stuff), and served them alone. Hoppin' John is probably the dish many people associate the black-eyed pea is associated with. While often times, they’re served as a side dish, these can be served by themselves with rice. Eating them is also associated with having good luck, as the folklore tail says. Black eyed peas are an excellent source of fiber and protein (1). So lets get this thing started (couldn't resist).

The Musts (aka the brutally obvious):
- 1 package of black eyed peas (normally 1 lb).

- Liquid (about 3-3 ½ quarts of liquid- being water, stock or a mix of both. 4 cups= 1quart).

- Salt and Pepper (at least 2 teaspoons of each. I prefer kosher salt and ground black pepper. If you use ham or a ham hock, do not add salt until towards the end).

- Raw onions (at least 1 large onion. I like onion so I added 2).

- 1-2 bay leaves (whatever rules you use to when cooking bay leaves still apply here).

The Optionals: (*= amounts used are to your liking)
- 1 pound of meat (pork, bacon, salt pork, how jowl, ham hock, ham bone w/ meat), chicken, turkey- which I used here (beef doesn’t work so well, in my opinion).

- Garlic (to your liking, but at least 2 cloves would be suggested. I use more)

- *Pepper flakes or hot peppers.

- *Paprika (I prefer hot Hungarian but sweet paprika could be a substitute).

- Diced tomatoes (fresh or canned, no more than 12 oz if you use them).

- Celery (no more than 4 stalks in my opinion).

- Cayenne (again to your preference).

- Thyme (I added 1 teaspoon).
Now for the meat of the matter. How did I cook them? First, they must be soaked for at least 8 hours (listed below). I soaked them almost 24 hours because of time and other things that came up. Then drain them as shown below (as you would with pasta) and noticed that they have expanded. Below is what 1 pound of black eyed peas looks like after soaking:

Normally, you take the meat (sausage) and sauté together with the onions and celery in olive oil (which I prefer) or butter until they sweat. I would say 5-10 minutes. In this case, the meat was already cooked so I added the turkey towards the end (the last 60 minutes or so). I did use both dark and white meat. This is the same turkey I blogged about a while back.

Using a post of at least 6 quarts, add the liquid, and bring to a boil. Then add the black eyed peas (and port if you used it) for about 10-15 minutes. I would add all the remaining spices, and even add a "pinch" more garlic. If you use pork, be careful of how much salt you use (you may not need any at all until the last stage of cooking). The ham hock or ham bone would go in first and boil for about 1 hour. Then add the black eyed peas. Once this is done, simmer for at least 1 hour but you could cook for 2 hours. As long as the peas have not split, you're ok.

Lastly, let the flavors settle for a bit (5-15 minutes) and serve with rice. Trust me, they taste better in the days ahead. They do freeze well but don't freeze them with rice.

Last. Plate up with some rice & eat!!!!!!

Works Cited:
1. "Black Eyed Peas: Not Just Good Music, but Good for Your Diet Too", Joshinda Williams, Associate Content Internet site, July 2, 2007 : "Black Eyed Peas: Not Just Good Music, Good for Your Diet Too", Joshinda Williams, Associated Content Internet site, 7/2/07

February 10, 2010

Hungry Hound

These are some segments from the Hungry Hound, WLS-TV Chicago. I really enjoy the weekly segments because I can make note of so many up and coming places to eat. The Greater Chicago has a TON, and is next to impossible to keep up with everything.

Chicago's indoor year round French Market:

The type of cuisine is a bit different where places use the entire animal. Jimmy Banos, Jr. is the chef at the ThePurple Pig, which I have not dined at (yet). Banos' father (seen early in this clip) and uncle are the founders of Chicago legend "Heaven on 7", know for its southern dining.

Speaking of Southern dining, Morrison's Retaurant is joining other legends such as Army & Lou's and BJ's Market, making some very good food. A rarity because all the items are under $9.00. I got hungry watching this. In the event you every come to Chicago, a good reference for where to eat is the Hungry Hound, found on WLS-TV channel 7, Chicago.


Asparagus. Something I really didn't like very much as a kid but eventually began to like them. Now before you try to adjust your screen, the asparagus you see above is white asparagus. White asparagus??? What's the difference between that and the normal green variety? The white variety is not quite as strong (flavor-wise/ more delicate for lack of better words) as the green. It is deprived of any light so changing to green will not happen (botanist I'm not so you can do an engine search for that).

If you have someone who doesn't like the more traditional asparagus, try these and see how they react. The same rules apply when you buy any variety- fresh smell (if any), consistent color of the asparagus, not wrinkled, and free of any mold (at the bottom in particular) or discoloration on the bottom.

So how did I cook these? It's pretty simple.

1. I cut off the lower inch from the bottom since that's the hardest part to cook.

2. One think I read about was to shave the skin off of the lower 2/3 of the stalks. The instructions from a package I bought gave specific instructions to do so. I did it and have done so ever since.

3. Get a pan big enough where the asparagus can fit properly and be fully covered with water. Bring to a boil. I placed some extra virgin olive oil in the pan for some extra flavor. Add some salt for taste.

4. Boil for 10 minutes and then drain the water after cooking. They should be fork tender when finished cooking. I drain the water, especially if they will sit for a short period. This will prevent them from being too soggy.

5. If they do sit for a short period (say 5-10 minutes), I would suggest that you use a pan than can retain some heat. That way, you don't worry about overcooking (simmering them longer than needed; the risk is over soaking or burning them).

6. The only thing I add to them as far as seasoning is salt, pepper, and olive oil- then end!!! Asparagus really doesn't need any more seasoning but if I were to do anything else, garlic and/or ginger would be the only things I would consider. The spices I mentioned above are meant only to complement the asparagus, not overtake the flavor of it.

7. Plate and eat!!!! Take you meat of choice, potato dish, pasta salad (or mac and cheese) or rice would be a perfect complement together. Enjoy.