Meal planning seems to be all the rage these days. It doesn’t matter if you do it all yourself on Sunday evenings or if you do it nightly with the help of a meal subscription service like Blue Apron or Meez Meals, there is no doubt that people are looking to make their mealtimes easier. Other options such as joining a local food co-op or signing up for a protein subscription box are also becoming more and more popular. Recently I was introduced to a company called Butcher Box, a service that partners with a collective of small farms to bring you 100% grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and all-natural pork each month.
Despite Chicago’s bone-chilling temperatures, my calendar reminded me that winter doesn’t actually start until December 21st. That means that we technically have a full month of autumn left to savor all the great fall flavors that are still in season.
Last week I attended LuxeHome’s CHILL Food and Wine festival at the Merchandise Mart for an evening of browsing high-end home furnishings, sipping wine from around the world, and eating my way through many of Chicago’s favorite restaurants. This year, over $250,000 was raised to support CHILL’s charity partners, Respiratory Health Association, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, and the Lynn Sage Foundation. As I made my way from bathtub tiling to ovens and stovetops I noticed several big fall food trends that kept repeating themselves in the bites served that evening. Each of the fall-themed dishes gave me great ideas for my own recipes and I hope they inspire your fall menus as well!
When the thermometer finally hit the mid-80s in Chicago, I decided it would be the perfect time to make a chilled summer soup. Sweet corn is one of my favorite foods, and with it in season from July through October I decided to make that the star of my show. As I’m continuing to strive to cook healthier at home, I scoured the web for a recipe that didn’t have extra added cream and just a small amount of fat and found this sweet corn soup! To really bring out the sweet corn taste, I decided to boil my sheared corn cobs in water to create a stock instead of just adding plain water to the recipe. This really created an extra layer of flavor and helped bring out the natural richness of the corn.
As the weather is finally heating up in Chicago I find myself making a lot more salads these days. Besides feeling light after eating, salads usually don’t require me to turn on the oven, which keeps my apartment nice and cool as well. I put together this salad using an interesting new ingredient I discovered while browsing the expo floor at the National Restaurant Association Show this year. Sid Wainer and Fresh Origins offers a line of flavor crystals by taking herbs and flowers and cooking them down with a bit of sugar. Currently they offer rose, fennel, basil, and mint.
I used the basil crystals for my salad, but mint probably would have tasted great as well. While I was whipping up this salad I was thinking of other ways I could use the crystals in the future. I think that the rose ones would taste great sprinkled on some fresh vanilla ice cream, and the mint ones would be the perfect accent to a glass holding a mojito.