Grills Gone Wild: The Recipe Aftermath

(To our three readers, we are sorry that we haven’t updated the blog since last quarter… we’ll do better…)


Now THAT is a plate of tasty grilled meaty things!


Last Tuesday the Epicurean Club hosted its big fall quarter event, Grills Gone Wild. Or as it turned out, One Grill Gone Wild Thus Making it Difficult to Feed Lots of Hungry Epicureans in a Timely Fashion.  Thank you to everyone who came and ate, and especially to our awesome helpers!

In case you’d like to replicate some of the dishes at home, here are the main dish recipes. If you’re looking for a salad or dessert recipe, let us know! Though some are family secrets 🙂

KOREAN BULGOGI (wrap in a tortilla with kimchi and sriracha for a korean taco!)

  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin tips or boneless sirloin
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sake — rice wine, or sherry
  • 2 tablespoons asian — (dark) sesame oil
  • 8 cloves garlic — thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions — both white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds — toasted lightly in a skillet until golden-brown
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground

1. Prepare the beef: If using tenderloin tips, butterfly them to obtain broad, flat pieces of meat; each should be about 4 inches long and wide and 1/4-inch thick. If using the sirloin, cut it across the grain into 1/4-inch slices (placing meat in the freezer briefly makes this easier). Whichever cut you use, pound the slices between two sheets of plastic wrap with the side of a cleaver or with a rolling pin to flatten them to the thickness of 1/8 of an inch. Place the meat in a large nonreactive baking dish and set aside while you prepare the marinade.

2. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture over the meat in the baking dish and toss thoroughly to coat. Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Preheat the grill to high.

4. When ready to cook, oil the grill grate. Add the garlic kabobs (if using) to the hot grate, and grill for 4 to 5 minutes. Then arrange the pieces of meat on the grate and grill, turning with tongs, until nicely browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Turn the garlic kabobs as the meat cooks. Transfer the meat to a platter when it is done and unwrap the garlic.

Moroccan Burgers (makes four 1/4-lb burgers)

  • Salt and Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (if cooking on stove top, not grill)

In a bowl, combine the beef, garlic, onion, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons parsley and 1 teaspoon salt. Form into patties. Put those babies on the grill.

If making on stove top: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef patties and cook for about 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare.

Yogurt-Tahini Sauce for Moroccan Burgers

  • 1 cup reduced fat greek yogurt
  • 2 T tahini
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic, scraped to a paste
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes before serving.

Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs

  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper plus 2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt** (8 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, flattened
  • 2 unpeeled lemons; 1 thinly sliced into rounds, 1 cut into wedges for serving
  • 2 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken (thighs and/or breast halves), cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes

Place crushed red pepper and paprika in large bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons warm water and let stand until paste forms, about 5 minutes. Add yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper to spice mixture in bowl; whisk to blend.

Stir in garlic and lemon slices, then chicken. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Thread chicken pieces on metal skewers, dividing equally. Discard marinade in bowl. Sprinkle each skewer with salt, pepper, and additional paprika.Brush grill rack with oil. Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer skewers to platter. Surround with lemon wedges and serve.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Wings

  • Chicken wings, clipped
  • White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Salt
  • Frank’s Red Hot
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey

To grill the wings: soak wings in vinegar and salt mixture for 10-15 minutes, while grill is heating up. Put wings on grill skin-side down (no sauce). Turn occasionally and make sure the wings don’t burn. Cook until nice and crispy!

To make the sauce: Add honey to mixing bowl and add soy sauce (about 2:1 honey to soy sauce ratio). Whisk honey and soy sauce until honey breaks down. Add hot sauce to taste — aim for deep burnt red color unless you like them more sweet than spicy.

Take the wings off the grill and toss them in the sauce. Put wings back on the grill for just a minute — you want them sticky, but you don’t want the honey to burn.



Summer Internship Edition: Loop Lunch Survival Guide

We suck for our lack of updates on the blog front. Not that anyone reads this blog. Moving on…

So summer is upon us and for some of us first-years, that means working in the Chicago Loop. I thought I’d impart some wisdom on loop lunch-ing as there are many options, few of them good. There’s no need for Subway or KFC with options like those listed below. (Though ask Huei about the time he quadrupled-down… and then ate 20 wings… just because it was Wednesday and it was lunchtime).

Here are some of my — and my fellow co-chairs’ — fave spots, though we’re admittedly lacking in creativity. Please add to the list in the comments section and feel free to send us recommendations for other internship-friendly cities. We’ll share them!

Hannah’s Bretzel — the Serrano ham sandwich with manchego, shaved fennel and fig jam on a pretzel roll is… omgIwanttoeatitnow

Jaffa Bagel — when I worked near the Illinois Center (one of its multiple locations) I called this place the “thanksgiving turkey sandwich” place because they have straight-up roasted Thanksgiving turkey… AND cranberry sauce! No stuffing 😦

Oasis Cafe — in the words of Dan, “the best in-jewelry-store middle eastern restaurant ever”

Heaven on Seven — The original location, home of New Orleans cuisine and a gazillion hot sauces. I’ve actually never been here but am available for take-your-Epicurean-co-chair-out-to-lunch day

The Gage — the best Irish food this side of… nevermind, the food in Ireland is pretty bad. Perfect for lunch, after-work drinks or dinner. Good food, beautiful historic building and a few outdoor tables right across from Millennium Park

Terzo Piano — Tony Mantuono’s (Spiggia) gorgeous restaurant in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, has an amazing deck overlooking Millennium Park and Grant Park

Roti — Mini-chain of Mediterranean sandwiches and salads — supposed to be awesome!

Purple Pig — Wait, have you not been here? It’s basically across the street from Gleacher and serves all manner of pork, cheese, more pork… other delicious meaty things… mmm

Seven on State — On the 7th floor of Marshall Field’s (never Macy’s!!!) is this not-so-hidden gem of celeb chef gone cheap and quick. Rick Bayless, Takashi Yagihashi and Marcus Samuelsson (well, employees of them) cook up tacos, noodles and burgers, respectively, plus there are stations for more pedestrian soup, salad and sandwich fare

Sopraffina — This Italian take-out place around the loop isn’t as culinarily intriguing as the others but with one of its locations in the Aon Center, where I used to work, it deserves an honorable mention if only for share-of-my-wallet. It’s a good option for quick sandwiches, salad, antipasti, etc. — may I recommend the Hilltop salad, with goat cheese instead of gorgonzola? A similar and also quite good place is Caffe Baci

Pastoral — Home of the winter quarter cheese-tasting event, this place has amazing sandwiches that you should eat! Also a great place to get picnic fare for the free Millenium Park concert series!

Let us know what great loop lunch spots we missed… (especially if they are, say, near Wacker and Jackson…) as I’m sure there are a lot of hidden gems out there.

Happy lunching, interns!


Chicago James Beard Award Winners, Top Chef Happenings…


Our fair (err…kinda corrupt) city brought home three awards at last night’s 2010 James Beard Foundation Awards! Koren Grieveson from Avec won Best Chef, Great Lakes Region (beating out Schwa, Arun’s and North Pond). Guess the wait for a table will be even longer…

Alinea, fresh off its amazing accolade of 7th best restaurant in the world, won for Best Service. And little South Side haunt Calumet Fisheries won an American Classics award. Anyone up for a field trip down to 95th street for some smoked shrimp and fried catfish? This girl is.

Check out all the James Beard Award winners here, including media awards for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Reader.

Speaking of Chicago and food (when am I not?), there’s some Top Chef-ing going down in the Chi this week (thanks to Audarshia from 312 Dining Diva for the scoop!)

Tony Mantuono, who’s currently competing on “Top Chef Masters,” is hosting a viewing party at his lovely Art Institute Modern Wing restaurant, Terzo Piano, on Wednesday from 8:30 – 10:30 (show starts at 9:00). $20 gets you dessert selections paired with wines, with proceeds going to Feeding America and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Win, win, win. Mantuono’s other restaurant, Spiaggia, was nominated for the James Beard “Best Restaurant” (in the country) award but lost to NYC’s Daniel.

And if you’re near Gleacher or what I recently learned to be the “Booth Ghetto” (i.e., the dorms) later this week, the Top Chef Tour is going to be at Michigan and Illinois on Thursday and Friday for three shows: 10:30-11:30, 12:00-1:00, 1:30-2:30.  Kevin Gillespie and Mike Isabella (Season 6) are definitely going to be there. Pre-registration is closed so it’s first come first serve, my hungry hungry hippos.

Happy Eating!

Top 40 Chicago Restaurants. Like, Ever.

The latest issue of Chicago magazine features one editor’s take on the Top 40 Chicago Restaurants Ever. Ever. Most of the restaurants on the list have closed (r.i.p. Le Francais), are past their prime (Cape Cod Room, Pump Room) or are on the list for being a “game changer” rather than the quality of the food (Cafe Ba-Ba-Reba, Carson’s… really? Carson’s is one of Chicago’s best restaurants ever? Really?)

I’m pretty impressed with myself — I’ve been to 9 of the top 10 (here is where I come out of the foodie closet… I have not been to Alinea… would you like to take me?) and at least 22 total (with about 8 closing before I was born or taken to restaurants. My first restaurant? Athenian Room, where I still make very regular visits).

President Obama and Mayor Daley at Manny's (from

Here are the restaurants on the list you can still enjoy to this day (Spiaggia, Avec and Blackbird are musts!):


Charlie Trotter’s

Frontera Grill (good luck with that 2-hour wait!)

Spiaggia (the Obamas’ favorite special occasion restaurant, and Chef Mantuano is currently competing on Top Chef Masters)


Pizzeria Uno (please for the love of Chitown understand that the original Uno… and around-the-corner Due… is not the same as the Uno Chicago Grill at the airport)


Carlos’ (in the burbs)


Cafe Ba-Ba-Reba



The Pump Room


Gibson’s (what made the Viagara Triangle… the Viagara Triangle)


Gene & Georgetti (about as old school Chicago as it gets… get the garbage salad)

Manny’s Deli

Hackney’s (original location in the burbs… get the onion loaf!)

The Berghoff

The Cape Cod Room

Also in the magazine is the list of Best New Restaurants 2010, which I’ll post soon, and online is an article on what restaurant lines are worth the wait. I personally look forward to the day that reservations come back in style.


Bourbon Dinner at Longman and Eagle 4/26

I got an email from Time Out Chicago’s Dining & Libation Society that gave me some serious grumble in my tumble…

Bourbon Dinner at Longman & Eagle

Monday, April 26, 6:30 pm

Tickets here. $65 including tax & tip (not bad!)

Five-course meal inspired by bourbon. Maker’s Mark cocktails to accompany each course.

I mean, really, need I go on? The event will be hosted by Time Out Chicago’s Editor in Chief for all you media-philes.

If you haven’t heard about Longman & Eagle, it opened recently in Logan Square and is supposed to be super delicious and fun. It is literally at the top of my restaurant “to do” list. Dinner — duck fat-fried potato chips, wild boar sloppy joes, roasted marrow with red onion jam — is served until 1am and “no frills” hotel rooms will open later this spring for those who need to make a night of it. (Y’know, for those who trek all the way from downtown…)

They also just started serving brunch, including something called the PBR Breakfast and what may be the most delicious omelet I’ve ever heard of (crisped pork belly, piquillo peppers, manchego).


Tonight – Chili Cookoff & Dogfish Head

Welcome back from spring break, Epicureans! Co-chair Lauren here — I’ll be updating this blog as often as possible with Chicago restaurant news and events. More on me, other co-chairs/contributors and how we’d love to get you all involved coming soon.

While this lovely weather doesn’t exactly scream warm, hearty chili, there’s a fun food event tonight if you’re looking for some pre-TNDC action!

Stephanie Izard (of Top Chef fame) is going head-to-head with the chefs from the Boka restaurant group (Boka, Landmark and Perennial) in a CHILI COOK-OFF, featuring beers from Dogfish Head.

It’s at Landmark and $20 at the door gets you unlimited chili — it’s bound to be amazing — and $.25 beers all night.

More info on Izard’s blog. Her restaurant, Girl & The Goat, part of the Boka group, is opening soon!

Quick Bites: For those with a sweet tooth…

Here are a couple of tasty little spots in the Loop that still seem to fly under the radar.  If you’ve already been, great.  If not, enjoy!

Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique
So everyone is always excited about cupcakes(!), and I understand why.  They are delicious and they are great for portable consumption.  With shops popping up on every corner, cupcake connoisseur-ism is undeniably the new culinary black.  That said, rarely do people mention Sugar Bliss, and it’s really a shame because in my pseudo-cupcake-connoisseur quasi-professional opinion, these are the best in Chicago.  And I’ve been everywhere.  An added benefit?  The founder, Teresa Ging, went to school at the University of Chicago.

The menu changes all the time (they have both daily specials AND weekly “seasonal” treats), and the cupcakes are two sizes: regular and mini.

Did I mention that they're gorgeous?


  • The red velvet is INSANE
  • They get more popular every day, so call in big orders!  I also recommend an early arrival to make sure all the options are available
  • Get it:

115 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60602

Beard Papa’s
Beard Papa’s is a Japanese cream puff chain that recently opened its first Illinois shop at the new Block 37 (the giant retail space spanning the west side of State between Randolph and Washington).  It is located on the Pedway level, and it’s worth a trip.    They have a variety of flavors of the actual cream puffs themselves, but the best part of the experience is that you get to customize the flavor of custard that they then inject directly into the center of the cream puff (should you be a custard kind of a person, which hopefully you are because it’s quite tasty).  I love chocolate, so I went with the éclair cream puff and chocolate custard.  My friend went traditional with the classic vanilla cream puff and vanilla custard.  Both were awesome.

And remember what I said about the portability of cupcakes?  The same characteristic does not apply to Beard Papa’s if you opt for the filling.  Grab a table and enjoy!

108 N State St
Chicago,IL 60602

Happy eating!