Monday, March 31, 2014

April 1 is National Sourdough Bread Day - Delightful Pastries offers a number of varieties including several Vegan Selections

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You can't go wrong celebration National Sourdough Bread day April 1 if you celebrate with any of a number ofSourdough Bread 2 et  offerings by Delightful Pastries. Pickup their Seeded Sourdough, a healthy delicious eggless bread with no dairy, sugar or yeast. It's a great vegan selection that is perfect on its own or used in making sandwiches. In fact, Delightful Pastries offers a number of vegan sourdough bread offerings including their special Pecan Cranberry Sourdough, a whole wheat bread studded with dried cranberries and pecans. Their Holiday Bread, Five Grain Levain, Farmer Rye Bread and Sunflower Rye Bread also use sourdough.
Sourdough Bread is available at all three Delightful Pastries locations: Old Town at 1710 N. Wells St., (312) 255-0724;  Jefferson Park at 5927 W. Lawrence, (773) 545-7215, and Chicago French Market at 131 N. Clinton, (312) 234-9644. Visit for more information.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Da Lobsta at Chowdah Fest Monday, March 31 at Columbia Yacht Club

Who's going to nab the title, "Best Chowdah in Town?" Every yearDa Lobsta Chowdah Fest Graphic final_et around this time, the Columbia Yacht Club of Chicago (111 North Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60601) fills up an anchored ship and holds a competition to find the best chowder in the Midwest and Da Lobsta will be there offering up its delicious New England Clam Chowda.  They will be joining 13 other Chicago “chowder” aficionados in hopes of capturing the “Best Chowder” title at the 2014 Chowdah Fest.

There will be three professional judges including Chef/Author Ina Pinkney, former Blackbird Restaurant mixologist Lynn M. House, and Jimmy Bannos Sr. Plus, a Fan Favorite Award that gives you a chance to vote for your favorite. (Pick me!)

This year’s event begins at 6.30 p.m., March 31. The cost is $55 per person. Come and cheer for Da Lobsta and enjoy the best chowder in the land. All proceeds from the event go toward youth sailing programs in the city.  For more information on the event or to buy tickets, go here.  

Competing alongside Da Lobsta are:

Ryan McCaskey of Acadia (last year’s winner)
Michael Kornick & Aaron Webb of Fish Bar
Chef Marita Tantivirasut 
of Bites Asian Tapas
Chef Julius Russell 
Chef Leonard Hollander 
Johnny Anderes of Telegraph
Dirk & Terry Fucik of Dirk's Fish & Gourmet 
Derek Simcik of Atwater Cafe 
Roger Waysok of Southwater Kitchen 
Jeff & Rob Mazza of 
New England Seafood Co. 
Kelsey Winter-Troutwine of Billy Sunday 
Tommy Zarlengo 

Can’t make it to Chowdah Fest? Stop by either of Da Lobsta’s two Chicago locations, 131 N. Clinton at the Chicago French Market or Gold Coast at 12 E. Cedar and enjoy a delicious bowl of their New England Clam Chowda, $6 small; $8 large. Visit for more information.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Delightful Pastries Dumpling & Pierogi Class April 6

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Are you wild about pierogi? Now's your chance to learn how to make them at home. Delightful Pastries will bePierogi et teaching 20 lucky people how the delicious morsels are created. Whether you call them steamed dumplings, pot stickers or pierogi, this class is for you. Come hungry. You get to eat what you make! Reserve early. Space is limited.
The class will take place at Delightful Pastries, 2 p-m to 4 p.m. April 6 in Peterson Park at 5927 W. Lawrence Ave, Chicago IL 60630.
Class is $60 per student.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Madison & Rayne redefines the home cooking experience, combining the quality of a personal chef with the convenience and cost savings of cooking at home

Dinner can be a family affair, a mid-week date night or just a relaxing evening where you create something special.

DuckFlatbread v2 300 pixels w borderAmericans are increasingly sophisticated about- and appreciative of-good food. They also have become very conscious of what ingredients go into it. So it was just a matter of time before a brilliant food service concept would emerge that combines the quality and culinary artistry of the personal chef with the convenience of cooking a fresh, restaurant quality do-it-yourself meal at home. Madison & Rayne, a Chicago-based company has created just such a formula, and it has wide appeal across demographics, lifestyles and income levels.

CuttingGarlic 300 pixels w border"Our concept is really quite straightforward," said Melanie Mityas, co-founder of Madison & Rayne. "We design delicious and creative contemporary American dishes, prepare all of the ingredients in our kitchen and deliver them, ready to cook, to our customers, who prepare the meals using our step by step directions. Our meals generally take from between 15 and 30 minutes from start to table, using a minimal amount of pots, pans and utensils. Easy to cook, easy to clean up and delicious to eat-Madison & Rayne is a perfect solution for people who like to eat really good, wholesome food at home but don't have the time or energy to shop for the ingredients and do everything from scratch. We do the hard work and our customers do the fun, easy tasks."

Roasted Amish Chicken Breast with Savory French Toast 300 pixels w borderAmong the many people who have adopted the Madison and Rayne lifestyle are singles who want to eat good food but don't want to go to restaurants by themselves; families who have small children and have difficulty taking them to more upscale restaurants; people who enjoy the quiet and privacy of their own homes, but like to eat well; and those who are entertaining guests and want to serve an exciting, tasty meal without spending too much time and money to put it together.

CleaningRadish 300 pixels w borderAll meals are designed by company co-founder, Chef Josh Jones, a professional chef who has earned his stripes at such highly regarded Chicago restaurants as Spring, where he was Chef du Cuisine for Shawn McClain. "My goal is to bring contemporary American cuisine-which nowadays means food with many global influences-into the homes of food lovers so that they can enjoy exciting meals that transform the typical dinner into a very enticing one."

Braised Muscovy duck leg with couscous 300 pixels w borderMityas and Jones have created a company that turns customers into do-it-yourself personal chefs. After watching countless cooking shows where a gorgeous meal is put together within a matter of minutes, they realized that the ease and convenience of cooking show preparation - with pre-measured, pre-marinated, washed, chopped, sliced, and ready for assembly ingredients - are all that a person needs to create a wonderful dinner. 

"Think personal shopper, personal assistant, and personal delivery all rolled into one," said Mityas. "Minimal prep and minimal clean-up means that your valuable time is better spent cooking and enjoying your dinner. Mealtime should fit seamlessly into your day: we give you all the tools you need to make that happen."

Madison & Rayne has become a win-win solution for families. On the one hand, parents can begin to introduce their children to a new palette of flavors and help develop their love of good food. On the other hand, they can simply enjoy a great meal for two while preparing something else for their children who are not ready for these more sophisticated tastes. "We believe that parents shouldn't have to sacrifice their culinary pleasure simply because the children still want basic, kid-friendly foods," said Jones. "For older couples, the joy of eating good, fresh food without having to devote so much time and effort is also a great advantage. "These are not run-of-the mill dishes; these are professionally created for people who know about food and want to enjoy it at home."

Many menu options; the menu changes every two weeks, with special holiday menus
Packaging 300 pixels w borderThere are many popular, signature dishes that are always on the menu, but Madison & Rayne also add many special items on a bi-weekly basis. All of the dishes are based on seasonality and many ingredients are locally sourced, so customers always cook with fresh ingredients that are at their peak. The meals are delivered to customers' homes once a week. Everything is packed in airtight containers (which are recycled) and all ingredients are chopped, the sauces and stocks are already prepared, and each ingredient is labeled so that the preparation is step-by-step and fool-proof. Dishes can be ordered with gluten-free options and many can be ordered as vegetarian dishes. Also, customers with food allergies can request substitute ingredients.

Signature dishes, which range in price from $15-$17 per person (portions are generous but not over-indulgent), include Sweet Soy Glazed Chicken, warm egg noodle salad, bok choy, chopped peanuts; Shrimp Tacos, chimichurri, pickled corn and kale slaw, chickpea and pimento pepper dip; Duroc Pork Chop, kimchi, purple cauliflower, crispy rice noodles, soy sesame; and Blackened Tilapia, corn and cheddar fritters, shaved Brussels sprout salad, green tomatoes, mustard aioli.

Shrimp Tacos 300 pixels w borderSeasonal dishes currently on the late winter menu, priced from $15-$18 per person, include Tamarind Marinated Flank Steak, limestone bibb lettuce, cucumber, fresh herbs; Crispy Flatbread, fig jam, braised duck leg, truffled goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seed and apple salad;  Roasted Amish Chicken Breast, candied nuts, goat cheese, arugula, quinoa; and Crispy Pork Belly, chioaga beets, mejdool date mostarda, frisée, pistachios.

Additional items that are always on the menu include Michigan Greens with radish, pumpkin seeds, lemon vinaigrette; Fingerling Potatoes, roasted tomatoes, herbs; Demi-baguettes from Red Hen Bakery; and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Madison & Rayne also prepare special holiday menus for home entertaining. For example, the recent Valentine's Day 2014 menu featured a three-course feast priced at $28 per person. It included Roasted Chestnut Soup with pickled shallots and black truffle oil; Ricotta Gnudi with braised Amish chicken, shishito peppers and preserved lemon; and flourless chocolate cake with fig jam.

Easy and Convenient
Madison Rayne screenshot"All you have to do is go to, select the number of servings you want for each meal and note food preferences and allergies," said Jones. "We will adjust the menu to accommodate your tastes. We always have vegetarian options and most dishes can be prepared with alternative protein. All meals are balanced and we use fresh, never frozen, products that are as local as possible. New seasonal dishes are added every two weeks."

Chef Jones sources high-quality meat, vegetables and grains from local farms and maintains a strong commitment to using organic and sustainable products. Orders are made weekly by Saturday and delivered, every Tuesday. There is no cost for delivery. Meals are delivered to your door in a temperature-controlled reusable tote bag. They also encourage recycling.

Madison & Rayne has thought of everything. They try to keep clean-up to a minimum. Most meals only take between one or two pans. They provide very detailed recipe cards that make it next to impossible to screw up. All ingredients are clearly labeled in individual containers. You control the amount of spice and seasoning. It's fun and easy and most meals take only between 15-30 minutes to prepare. The containers in which the food comes are easy to rinse and you return them with the tote when your next order is delivered. They even provide a hotline that's manned Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. just in case customers have a question. Voice messages are returned promptly.

About Melanie Mityas and Josh Jones
Josh Jones 300 pixels w borderMelanie Mityas and Josh Jones first met in 2008 at nationally acclaimed Spring Restaurant in Chicago. Josh was the Chef de Cuisine and Melanie a frequent customer. They both share a passion for great food and wanted to create a service that would allow everyone to Rediscover Dinner at home.

"I enjoy cooking but it does not come naturally to me," said Mityas. "As a working mom, I was often struggling to get a good dinner on the table for my family. There were some weeks when I totally had my act together - found healthy recipes, prepared a grocery list, went to the store and bought everything I needed - but then I would get home late from work and did not have enough time to prepare the meal. Or I would forget to marinate the meat the night before. I often watched cooking shows and it looked so easy. Wouldn't it be nice to have all of my ingredients prepared in tiny dishes so that I could just do the cooking part and skip the prep and the clean-up? My frustration sparked the idea for our business."

"The Chicago food scene is very vibrant. People in this city are accustomed to having access to a range of restaurants serving high-quality food prepared with fresh local ingredients," said Jones. "Why shouldn't they enjoy this same experience in the comfort of their own home - whether they are cooking for themselves, their spouse and kids, or a dinner party of friends? Not lukewarm takeout or prepared food made a day or two ago, but a fresh meal that they can easily prepare. My hope is that Madison & Rayne helps people rediscover (or discover for the first time) how fun and rewarding it can be to cook a really great meal."

Jones has been a dynamic culinary talent in the restaurant industry since the age of 15, when he went to work in a professional kitchen with Chef Joel Finley of 302 West. Jones' success there led him to attend the Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated at the top of his class. Following graduation, Jones worked at Spring and quickly moved his way up the ranks to Chef du Cuisine.
Jones is dedicated to using locally sourced produce and sustainable products. He has a meticulous eye for quality, and has consistently created balanced menus that represent his passion for unique, delicious cuisine. Jones is thrilled to partner with Madison & Rayne in order to bring his culinary vision to home kitchens.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Delightful Pastries Sweet and Savory for Your Easter Table

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Whether sweet or savory, Delightful Pastries has delicious treats in store for Spring and the Easter holiday season.
While you may think of Delightful Pastries for its sweet offerings, don't forget that they offer aSpinanch and Lamb Pie et  complete selection of savories and homemade breads. Create a memorable Easter brunch by starting off with Delightful Pastries' delicious Lamb & Spinach Pie with organic lamb, spinach and a cheese béchamel sauce, serving 12-14 people. Their Veggie Quiche with French pastry filled with leeks, spinach, m ushroom, onion and Swiss cheese is another great choice for your brunch menu.
Sourdough Bread et


  Chef Dobra Bielinski suggests adding a White Borsht Soup and a Fresh Sausage and Polish salad with organic arugula, roasted butternut squash, roasted local beets from Genesis Growers, oranges, spiced walnuts with house made mustard vinaigrette to your menu. Accompany the meal with a variety of breads such as Seeded Sourdough-a healthy delicious eggless bread with no dairy, sugar or yeast. It's a great vegan selection. In fact, Delightful Pastries offers a number of vegan offerings including their special Pecan Cranberry Sourdough, a whole wheat bread studded with dried cranberries and pecans and Holiday Bread with pecans, dried cherries, raisin, dried cranberries, candied orange peel and currants. 
On the sweet side, Delightful Pastries specials include Pound Cake finished with buttercream or powdered sugar, and an array of beautifully decorated and tasty sugar cookies in adorable shapes including bunny rabbits, carrots, flowers, and butterflies topped with icing and spring decorations. Delightful Pastries' Mocha Chocolate Bundt Cake, Rum & Raisin Babka and Chocolate Babka also make a perfect hostess gift or serving centerpiece for your own holiday table.  Marble Cake et
Easter specials are available at all three Delightful Pastries locations: Old Town at 1710 N. Wells St., (312) 255-0724; Jefferson Park at 5927 W. Lawrence, (773) 545-7215, and Chicago French Market at 131 N. Clinton, (312) 234-9644. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Prairie Grass Cafe Hosting Brunch with Breakfast Queen Ina Pinkney March 30

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Opportunity to Meet Ina, Enjoy Specials
and Get a Signed Copy of Taste Memories

Prairie Grass Cafe,  (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL  60062, 847-205-4433) is hosting a special brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, March 30 featuring chef/author Ina Pinkney . Come and meet "The Breakfast Ina Pinkney Taste Memories lrQueen" and have her sign a copy of her new book, Taste Memories: Recipes for Life and Breakfast.

Prairie Grass Cafe's Chef Sarah Stegner will be making some of her favorite Ina recipes, including Heavenly Hot's pancakes, so light & fluffy when you eat them you would think you are in heaven.  Prairie Grass Cafe's regular brunch menu also will be featured.

Ina will have her new book available for purchase and signing. Think about picking one up; it's a great Mother's Day gift. 
TASTE MEMORIES: Recipes for Life and Breakfast ($34) was published in 2013 so that her recipes would live in everyone's home..
Ina has been an ICON in the industry, setting the standard for breakfast in Chicago. She is wise, the consummate professional, and everyone's friend! Prairie Grass Cafe loves her and know that you will too. "It is in honor to have her come to Prairie Grass Cafe," said Chef Sarah Stegner, Prairie Grass Cafe co-owner and friend of Ina.

 Learn more about Ina here.

Reservations are recommended by calling Prairie Grass Cafe at 847-205-4433 or by visiting
# # #

Ina Pinkney's Heavenly Hots Recipe

Ina-Pinkeys-Heavenly-Hots lr

This was developed by Ina Pinkney of Ina's restaurant.  She suggests portioning out the batter using a 1/4 cup measure and using a very thin flexible spatula for turning the pancakes.  She serves them with a peach, raspberry and blueberry compote.  Look for potato starch in the baking aisle of the supermarket.
Ingredients4 large eggs
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup cake flour
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 tsp. each baking soda, salt

Directions1. Beat the eggs in a bowl, blender or food processor; beat in the sour cream.  Mix together the dry ingredients in another bowl; add to egg mixture.  Mix until smooth.
2. Heat a lightly greased griddle or non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Pour large spoonfuls of batter into the skillet in batches to make 3" circles.  Cook until a few bubbles appear on the top, about 2 minutes.  Turn carefully; cook until lightly browned on bottom, about 2 minutes.

Notes: Per 6 pancakes; 178 calories, 61% from fat; 13 g. fat, 7 g saturated fat, 127 mg. cholesterol, 12 g. carbs, 5 g. protein, 284 sodium, 0 g. fiber.

Ina Pinkney's Blobbs Recipe Blob Photo by Stephen Hamilton et
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 17-20 minutes
Makes: 26 large brownie-cookies

Ina Pinkney invented the Blobbs in response to the gourmet brownie craze of the 1980s. What are they? "A mounded cookie/brownie with 2 kinds of chocolate, walnuts, pecans and chocolate chips,'' Pinkney writes in "Taste Memories." "When baked they held the domed shape created by the ice cream scoop I used to measure them out. They became firm on the outside and amazingly soft on the inside." They also became the recipe requested most by customers. Pinkney never divulged it, until now.

4 ounces unsalted butter
9 ounces dark chocolate (about 60 percent)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
Melt butter and chocolates slowly in a bowl in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top; cool to room temp.

3 ounces flour, a scant 3/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl; stir vigorously. Set aside.

3 eggs, large
Whip eggs in a mixer on medium/high speed until lighter and creamy.
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
Add superfine sugar slowly to eggs; continue whipping until very light and creamy.

2 teaspoons vanilla
Add vanilla to egg mixture.

12 ounces chocolate chips
5 ounces pecan pieces
4 ounces walnut pieces
Combine chocolate chips and nuts in a bowl; set aside.

When the egg mixture is ready, change the whip to a paddle. Add chocolate-butter mixture, combining on low. Then gradually add the flour mixture on low.

Add the nut mixture and mix well. Finish by hand to be sure it's all combined at the bottom.

Pack mixture into a 2-inch ice cream scoop, scraping off excess. When released from the scoop, the mixture should hold its shape. Place mounds on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes. The tops should look a little dry and lighter in color. You also can freeze the unbaked blobbs and bake them from frozen.

Nutrition information per cookie: 294 calories, 20 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 28 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 44 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

Ina Pinkney
Chef, Author
TASTE MEMORIES: Recipes for Life and Breakfast