Short on time? Sarah Copeland has a recipe for you.
dinner that tastes like Saturday night when you’ve had all day to putter around
in the kitchen on a Wednesday? Don’t despair. Sarah Copeland, author Feast, has
a new cookbook out that’s just right for you.
recipes with prep time and total cooking time help you decide what fits in with
your busy day.
from Every Day Is Saturday by Sarah Copeland with permission by Chronicle
MIGHTY YOGURT BOWLS WITH CURRANTS AND PEACHES
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 5 MINUTES or overnight
Quick-to-make chia pudding, with the right touch, can turn an everyday yogurt bowl into something beautiful and irresistibly creamy.
The secret is to keep the chia mixture loose, and treat it like a condiment, rather than the main event. (Chia thickens as it sets in liquid, so you’ll need to add fewer seeds if you plan to let it sit overnight.) Serve this creamy, coconut-milk goodness with loads of fresh fruit, as a quick morning breakfast bowl that’s nearly ready to go when you wake up.
¾ cup whole milk, or almond, coconut, or hazelnut milk
2 to 3 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 Tbsp chia seeds
Plain yogurt, for serving
Currants, peaches, berries, honey, or maple syrup, for
Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons chia seeds in a mason jar or any glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Give it a shake or a stir and refrigerate up to overnight, or stir in the remaining chia to thicken if you plan to use right away. Spoon the chia mixture over yogurt, and top with fresh fruit and honey or maple syrup.
Sarah Copeland will be in conversation with Jeanine Donofrio of Love & Lemons at Read It & Eat in Chicago on Saturday, June 29, 2019 from 2 to 4 p.m. (773) 661-6158. 2142 N Halsted Street Chicago, IL
Elizabeth Minchilli, who has lived in Italy for a quarter of a century, has created a way for all of us to experience certain special food events that comprise the country’s heritage in much the same way as their monuments (think The Colosseum, St. Peter’s and the Leaning Tower of Pisa) are must-sees for visitors.
She shows us how, in her latest cookbook, The Italian Table: Creating Festive Meals for Family and Friends, to completely replicate such Italian food culture in such chapters as a Sunday Lunch in Email-Romagna, Farm to Sicilian Table, Panini Party in Umbria and A Table by the Sea in Positano. Because Minchilli’s background and interests are not only culinary but also envelope style and architecture, she tells us not only what to drink and eat but also how to create the tablescape as well. As an example, her Pizza by the Slice in Rome meal calls for “for the authentic pizzeria al taglia vibe, use plastic or—more sustainable—paper.”
who is from St. Louis, Missouri but moved to Rome with her parents when she was
12, developed such a passion for the all things Italy (she even married an
Italian man) and in her words, had an Italian baby, an Italian house and an
after I returned as a graduate student to study Renaissance garden architecture
in Florence,” says Minchilli when I talk to her using Skype as she was at her
home in Rome.
I discover, as we talk, that I already have one of her books, a luscious tome titled Villas on the Lakes: Orta, Maggiore, Como, Garda that someone had given me years ago and which I still leaf through to marvel at all the wonderful photos. Minchilli is one of those people who seems to do it all, she’s written nine books including Restoring a Home in Italy, takes all her own photos, writes an award winning website, elizabethminchilli.com, developed her Eat Italy app and offers food tours to behind the scenes culinary destinations as well as posting on You Tube and other social media.
me that her love for food began when she was given one of those easy-bake ovens
when she was a kid.
the cook of the family,” she says, though she obviously she’s moved way beyond
a toy where the oven is heated by a light bulb.
Italian Table is her ninth book.
really happy about it,” says Minchilli. “This is really the book where I can
bring everything together—the food, the people who make the plates, what is
surrounding us, the whole experience.”
motivated to write the book after being questioned countless about how Italian
food and dining. To showcase that, she decided on highlight 12 different
dinners and photograph and write about them in real time—as they were being
planned, cooked and served.
people to know how Italians really eat and I decided to do that by meals in different
areas and then narrowed it down by going deeper into how it all comes
together,” she says. “I set it up so you can go through the cookbook and decide
what you like.”
also included a time table, what to do, depending upon the dinner, two days
before, one day before, two hours before, one hour before and when your guests
arrive. And there are ways to lessen the cooking load for the more intensive
and elaborate dinners.
about being social and sharing,” Minchilli tells me. “A lot of people are
scared to have people over and so I wanted to take fear out of the equation. That’s
why I give people a game plan by telling people when to shop, when they should
set the table and also how far ahead to do things so that there’s less to do at
the last minute. It reduces the stress and fear and makes it more
Elizabeth Minchilli will be at Ceres’ Table, 3124 N.
Broadway, Chicago, IL on Monday, April 22 at 8 pm (EST). The Book Cellar is handling the event. The price of the ticket includes a signed copy
of the book, five course dinner selected by Elizabeth from dishes in her book,
taxes and service. Tickets, which cost $82 per person, can be purchased by
visiting the event page at bookcellarinc.com or calling (773) 293-2665.
Zucchini con Ricotta
tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch of
fresh mint, leaves only
11/2 cups of
1/2 cup of
or basil leaves, for garnish
olive oil, for drizzling (preferably your best variety)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Using a sharp knife or mandoline, cut the zucchini
lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick ribbons. (You should end up with at least 12
full-length, unbroken ribbons.) Place the zucchini in one layer on one or two
baking sheets. Season them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, half of the
mint, and salt to taste and bake them for about 10 minutes, until just tender.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
In the meantime, place the ricotta in a medium bowl with the
remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the mint, roughly chopped. Using
a fork, whip it until smooth and creamy.
Place about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on each
strip of zucchini and roll it up. Place the poppy seeds in a shallow bowl. Dip
both flat ends of the rolls in the poppy seeds, coating the ricotta.
To serve, place two or three rolls on individual plates.
Garnish each roll by placing a sage or basil leaf on top and tucking the ends
in so that it follows the curve of the roll. Drizzle with your best
extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
Radicchio with Pancetta and Parmigiano
Makes 8 servings
4 heads of radicchio di Treviso, leaves separated
30 thin slices of pancetta (about ½ pound)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
4 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (1 cup)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the
radicchio leaves on top. If some of the inner leaves are very small, you can
put two together to make a larger base.
Fry half the pancetta in a nonstick skillet over medium heat
until it has released its fat a bit. Don’t let it burn. You won’t need any oil,
as the pancetta should be pretty fatty. This may need to be done in a few
batches. Each batch should take only a few minutes.
Season the radicchio with salt and pepper and drizzle with
olive oil. Distribute the cooked pancetta on top of each leaf, then add the
chopped nuts and sprinkle with the Parmigiano.
Wrap each stuffed leaf with a slice of uncooked pancetta.
Bake in preheated oven about 20 minutes, until pancetta around the outside is
cooked and beginning to sizzle. Serve immediately, while warm.
pounds of spinach or other greens
1 cup fresh
1 large egg
1 large egg
½ cup of
4 ounces of
of fresh marjoram leaves for ½ teaspoon dried
A few grindings
of black pepper
greens in a pot with about an inch of water and cook over medium heat for about
10 minutes, until wilted. Drain and when cool enough to handle, squeeze the
greens into a ball, squeezing out every last drop of moisture. You should have
about 1 cup. Roughly chop the greens and set aside.
hour before you are going to bake the tart, place the ricotta in a fine sieve
and drain it over a bowl to remove the excess whey.
oven to 350°
F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
chopped greens in a clean bowl with the drained ricotta, whole egg and yolk,
milk, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, ¾ cup of the Parmigiano, the marjoram,
butter, salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork.
mixture into the pan, leveling off the top with the back of a spoon. Cover with
the remaining olive oil and Parmigiano.
Bake for 50
minutes, until the tart begins to brown and is well set. Remove from the oven
and let cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a knife and, using an offset
spatula, turn it out onto a serving platter.
Call it pizza love. In 2017, according to PMQ Pizza Magazine, Americans consumed 45.1 billion dollars’ worth of pies. But what’s the best place for pizza? Steve Dolinsky, a James Beard award winning food writer known as the “Hungry Hound,” podcaster and food tour operator, decided to prove there’s no better place for pizza than Chicago, its suburbs and five collar counties.
He shares his results in Pizza City, USA: 101 Reasons Why Chicago Is America’s Greatest Pizza Town(Northwestern University Press 2018; $24.95), a user-friendly guide to all things dough, sauce and toppings divided into chapters on pizza categories:: Tavern-Style (Chicago-Style Thin), Thin, Artisan, Neapolitan, By-the-Slice (New York-Style), Deep-Dish and Pan, Stuffed, Sicilian, Roman and Detroit-Style and last, but not least, Overrated. Dolinsky than includes photos and information about each of the 101 places in the book as well as the five best in each category. Maps included show where the top pizza places are located in case you want to hit the road.
It was a
tough assignment and Dolinsky often ate pizza at three different places in a
day. In all he visited 185 locations (not all made the cut), consumed massive
doses of anti-acids, and, to keep his weight gain at a minimum, practiced
portion control and doing yoga sculpting daily.
Dolinsky’s inquisitiveness about Chicago food isn’t limited to pizza. He’d already written “The 31 Essential Italian Beef Joints in Chicago(land): for his Website stevedolinsky.com and also visited every place in the city that served Vietnamese pho so he was used to massive samplings of the city’s favorite foods, but he had other reasons as well.
say Chicago has the best pizza, but I didn’t really think that anyone had done
any research on this scale, that there hadn’t been a deep dive into pizzas,” he
says, noting that he considered it an unparalleled lifetime quest in the city’s
illustration pizza history. “I didn’t realize how massive of an undertaking it
scientific study, there were rules. Dolinsky created what he called the Optimal
Bite Ratio (QBR) with points given for crust, sauce and the quality of the
sausage and pepperoni as well as the application and mouthfeel of the cheeses.
just a smattering of what Dolinsky learned. While most of the U.S. prefers
pepperoni as a topping, Chicago likes bulk sausage, which probably harkens back
to the days of the stockyards. Media outside of Chicago often confuses deep
crust pizza and stuffed pizza (the latter which Dolinsky mostly disdains). Deep
crust pizza, while one of Chicago’s wonderful inventions, is rarer than one
might think though outsiders think it’s the real Chicago thing. Notice how when
you travel, a Chicago-style pizza place means deep dish. but Dolinsky says it’s
the Tavern-Style or Chicago-Style Thin, square-cut pie that Chicagoans love—the
kind with middle pieces in the center with no crust handles that my brother and
I used to fight over when we were kids.
who want the full-Dolinsky treatment, he also runs pizza walking tours starting
in May. The tours meet at Lou Malnati’s (1235 W. Randolph St.), a 7-minute
drive from The Loop and showcases four different styles of pizza. Highlights
include a traditional Chicago deep-dish, an only-in-Chicago Roman al taglio, a
classic Neapolitan and a Sicilian slice. Included in the tour price is a custom
souvenir lanyard and badge good for discounts and deals. For more information,
can’t wait for a tour or to learn more, on Thursday, January 31 from 7:30-9:30
pm EST, Steve Dolinsky will be teaming up with the chefs from Pizzeria Bebu for
a pizza–making demonstrated, followed by a tasting. Steve then will give a
lively presentation on how he went about making the choices for the book.
Where: Read It & Eat, 2142 North Halsted St., Chicago, IL. For ticket prices and more information, (773) 661-6158; readitandeatstore.com
In the meantime, here’s a deep dish pizza recipe from Lou
Malnati’s Pizzeria, rated among the top by Dolinsky and a favorite in Chicago
for over 40 years.
The Malnati Classic
20 ounces pizza dough
Olive oil, for the pan
12 to 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
12 to 14 ounces 90-percent lean Italian sausage, casings removed
10 to 12 ounces seasoned Roma tomato sauce, maintaining chunks
2 to 3 ounces grated Parmesan
2 to 3 ounces grated Romano cheese
Special equipment: a round steel baking pan
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Allow about 20 ounces of your favorite yeast dough to rise. You may do
this if you have a proofer, or simply leave it at room temp for about 2 hours.
Oil a round steel baking pan with a few ounces of olive oil. Press the
dough on the bottom and to the sides of the pan, being careful not to tear it.
Holes in the dough will create a soggy crust. Pull the dough up the sides of
pan to 1 to 1 1/2 inches high.
Place the mozzarella evenly across the dough. Top with the sausage,
making sure to get the sausage all the way to the sides.
Cover with the seasoned tomato sauce, spreading evenly and maintaining
the chunks of tomatoes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and then the Romano.
Bake until the crust and the grated cheese turn golden brown, and the
crust is firm yet flaky, 30 to 40 minutes.
Only six or so when she started helping out in the kitchen, Tiffani Thiessen grew up in a family where dinners were a gathering time to enjoy great cooking and conversations. She upped her game from traditional American fare when she and other stars from “Saved by the Bell” toured in Europe.
“It definitely impacted me,” says Thiessen who played Kelly Kapowski on the hit TV show and was 16 at the time. “I learned all about wine, cheese and all types of different foods when we traveled in France, Italy and Holland.”
This love of food and conviviality was so intense that though Thiessen continued with her acting career (she was Valerie Malone on “Beverly Hills 90210” and currently stars in “Alexa & Katie”) she also segued into cooking, hosting the long running “Dinner at Tiffani’s” on the Cooking Channel. As if that wasn’t enough to keep any mom of two young children busy enough, Thiessen has spent the last three years writing Pull Up a Chair: Recipes from My Family to Yours(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $30), which will be released on October 2.
Describing cooking as therapeutic as well as artistic and creative, Thiessen’s recipes include new dishes, those she collected through the years and family favorites, some that she tweaked including her mom’s beef stroganoff which the family ate once a week when she was young.
“I wasn’t a big fan,” says Thiessen, adding that her mom’s stroganoff was very traditional and included stirring sour cream in at the end so that it took on the appearance of dog food—her words not ours, Mrs. Thiessen. Tiffani’s tweaked it into a beef and mushroom Stroganoff with creamy polenta, spinach and a touch of brandy. The sour cream is served on the side.
Did that hurt you mom’s feelings? I ask.
“No, I have one of the most supportive families,” she says.
There’s also a cowboy twang to some of her dishes such as the short rib beef enchiladas and three cheese queso, since husband Brady Smith is a meat-loving Texas boy. Her son Holt gobbles up her mac and cheese and Thiessen says Harper her eight-year-old daughter loves to decorate pizzas.
“I don’t think of myself as anything but a home cook and my recipes are easy but everything I cook is with love and passion and that’s what Pull Up a Chairis all about,” says Thiessen, who, during our phone interview, calls me sweetheart and dear.
That friendliness as well as the sumptuousness of her cookbook—125 recipes and lots of full page color photos of both luscious-looking food and family (and yes, her husband is handsome and her children adorable), makes me long to get an invitation to dine at her house.
Since that won’t be happening, I did a little pre-interview stalking watching videos of Thiessen cooking in her kitchen and then displaying part of her cookbook collection.
“I love cookbooks, I love the look, the aesthetics of them” she says when I mention my sleuthing. “Most people I’m close to would say I have a problem. I don’t use some of them that much, as my husband points out, but there’s just something I like about having them around.”
I can identify with that having heard similar comments from both my husband and daughter. Another reason to get that dinner invitation. But until then, I have the cookbook and can create the recipes in my own home.
Pickle & Potato Salad
1½ pounds tricolored small potatoes
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the potatoes
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped sweet pickles
3 tablespoons pickle juice (from the jar)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Paprika, for garnish
Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch and a generous pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let them rest until they’re cool enough to handle. Cut each one in half.
In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sweet pickles, pickle juice, mustard, salt, and pepper.
In a separate large bowl, combine the halved potatoes, eggs, and red onion and toss with the dressing. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and garnish with the parsley and paprika.
Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings
Serves 6 to 8
½ cup honey (preferably wildflower or mesquite)
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
3 garlic cloves, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime, plus more zest for garnish
In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, tamari, sesame oil, ginger, scallions, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Reserve ¾ cup of the mixture in the fridge.
Pour the remaining marinade into a 2-gallon zip-top bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Massage the marinade into the wings. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Before cooking, let the wings stand at room temperature for about 2 hours
When ready to cook the wings, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the wings from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Season the wings with salt and pepper and place them skin-side down in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spoon some of the marinade over them; discard the remaining marinade. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the wings, basting with the pan drippings. Rotate the pan and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the honey has caramelized and the skin is a dark amber color.
In a small saucepan, bring the reserved ¾ cup marinade (from the fridge) to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the liquid turns into a thick, syrupy glaze, about 4 minutes.
Coat the wings with the glaze, arrange them on a serving platter, and garnish with scallions and lime zest.
On June 7, John Coletta, author of Risotto & Beyond: 100 Authentic Italian Rice Recipes for Antipasti, Soups, Salads, Risotti, One-Dish Meals, and Desserts (Rizzoli 2018) will be at Read It and Eat! talking about his recently published book on risotto, one of the most traditional dishes in Italian Cuisine and yet the least explored. Coletta, a restauranteur and chef, will also be presenting a selection of rice-based tastings. His book, with its wonderful photographs, contains 100 authentic dishes and demonstrates how to bring the full range of Italian rice cooking into our home kitchens. Dishes range range from the familiar such as arancini, crochettes, risotti, soups and rice puddings to the more exotic like rice salads, fritters, bracioli, and gelatos. Attendees will get to take home a 500 gm tin of Acquerello Rice, a prized Carnaroli rice from Vercelli in Piemonte (retail value of $22), considered the best rice for making risotto.
Chilled Rice Soup with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped prosciutto fat (see note below)
½ medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped to make 2/3 cup
1 stalk celery, finely chopped to make 2/3 cup
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt1
teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1 cup Arborio superfino rice
Just over ½ ounce Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated to make ¼ cup
3 cups halved thin-skinned cherry tomatoes or blanched, peeled, and chopped plum or Roma tomatoes
1 bunch basil, leaves only, roughly chopped to make 6 tablespoons
Finely ground sea salt and white pepper
1 cup cold vegetable broth
2 cups quartered thin-skinned cherry tomatoes
1 bunch basil, leaves only, roughly chopped to make
6 tablespoons, plus ¼ cup chiffonade of basil leaves or small clusters of Genovese basil, for garnish
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Place the butter, olive oil, and prosciutto fat in a heavy-gauge stockpot over low heat, stirring until the butter melts and the fat becomes soft and translucent but not browned. Add the onion, celery, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften but are not browned.
Add 6 cups water and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Immediately reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, until the vegetables are soft and tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the rice, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the rice kernels are tender.
Prepare an ice-water bath in your sink. You will need this to cool the pot. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the cheese, tomatoes, and chopped basil. Transfer the pot to the ice-water bath and cool the soup to slightly below room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
FINISH THE SOUP:
The following day, taste the soup for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. If the soup has become too thick, thin it to the desired consistency with the cold vegetable broth.
In a small bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, olive oil, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls. Drizzle each portion with olive oil; top with the tomato-basil garnish and the basil chiffonade.
NOTE: If prosciutto fat is unavailable, substitute an additional 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Be careful not to burn
Arancini with Fresh Mozzarella and Italian Parsley (Arancini Di Riso Con Fior Di Latte E Prezzemolo)
ARANCINI; SERVES 4
3 cups Arborio or Carnaroli superfine rice
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons finely ground sea salt
3 large eggs, well beaten
¼ cup sweet white rice flour
1 small bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped and lightly packed to make ½ cup
2½ ounces Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated to make 1 cup
1 pound fior di latte (fresh cow’s milk mozzarella in liquid, drained and cut into ¼-inch cubes
3 large eggs, well beaten
2 cups fine dry Italian, panko, or gluten-free breadcrumbs
4 to 5 cups high-smoke-point oil (safflower, rice bran, soybean, or canola)
Salsa All’Arrabbiata, for serving or your favorite sauce
Pour 5½ cups water into a medium heavy-gauge saucepan or pot and stir in the rice, butter, and salt. Heat to boiling over medium heat; reduce the heat to low. Simmer briskly, uncovered and without stirring, until the rice has absorbed the water, about 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the eggs, rice flour, parsley, and Parmigiano.
Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Transfer the cooked rice to the parchment-lined dish, smoothing to make level. Bring the rice to room temperature. (To finish the recipe the next day, cover the rice with parchment paper and the baking dish with plastic wrap; refrigerate. Bring the rice to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.)
Assemble and fry the arancini:
Using a sharp knife dipped in cold water, score and cut the rice cake into 16 equal pieces. Place one portion of rice in your hand and shape it into a cone; fill with 3 cubes of mozzarella. Close the rice over the cheese and squeeze to shape it into a ball. Place on parchment paper. Repeat until all the arancini are formed.
Place two large bowls on a work surface. Place the eggs in one and the breadcrumbs in the other. Immerse a rice ball in the egg; move it to the bowl of breadcrumbs and dredge until well coated. Place the breaded ball on the parchment paper. Repeat until all the rice balls are breaded.
Pour the oil into a small electric fryer (amount specified by fryer model) or a heavy-gauge pot, ensuring that the oil reaches no higher than 3 inches from the top of the pot. Preheat the oil to 350°F.
Carefully transfer 3 or 4 of the balls into the hot oil, being careful not to crowd them. Fry until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Test one to ensure doneness, adjusting frying time as needed. Proceed with the remainder. Blot the fried arancini on paper toweling.
Place on a platter and serve with spicy salsa all’arrabbiata sauce or your favorite red sauce.
When: June 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Read It & Eat!, 2142 N Halsted Street Chicago, IL
For more information: (773) 661-6158; readitandeatstore.com
Southern food meets Mexican food in Eddie Hernandez’s new book Turnips & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen. Hernandez, the James Beard nominated chef/co-owner of Taqueria del Sol, has written a fantastic cookbook that explores the commonalities of these two cuisines.
Never hesitating to improve upon tradition, Hernandez tweaks classic dishes to make food taste better in such ways as by adding sugar to creamy grits to balance the jalapeños or substituting tomatillos for fried green tomatoes to achieve a more delicate texture. Turnip Greens & Tortillas offers a collection of both recipes and “Eddie’s Ways”–sidebars showing how to make each dish even more special.
As an example, Hernandez says Mexicans view bread pudding as a special treat typically eaten only during Lent.
“It is not like any bread pudding you have had in the U.S., but the flavors should taste very familiar—a little like the inside of a cinnamon roll, with the gooeyness of pecan pie,” he writes in his description of Capirotada, a Mexican bread pudding recipe in his cookbook. “The exact ingredients vary with whatever’s in the cook’s kitchen cabinet that needs to be used up, but they usually include toasted and buttered bread, dried fruits, nuts, and mild cheese. My mother often added animal crackers, and I still find their crunchy texture works well in this mixture. Whereas my mother steamed her bread pudding on top of the stove, I bake mine. Instead of being held together by an eggy custard, the pudding is drenched in a warm syrup spiced with cinnamon and cloves that is made by melting piloncillos—unrefined sugar molded in cones and sold in Mexican markets or online—with water. Turbinador brown sugar works just as well. There is deep religious meaning behind the main ingredients: The bread symbolizes Christ’s body, the syrup is his blood, the cinnamon and cloves are the wood and the nails of the cross, and the melted cheese signifies the holy burial shroud. As serious as its message is, the dish is very festive and often served with ice cream and colored sprinkles. This bread pudding is even good for breakfast as coffee cake.”
Also good for Easter are Hernandez’s breakfast egg muffins topped with a tomato-habanero sauce.
Mexican Bread Pudding (Capirotada)
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 pound cane sugar, turbinado sugar, or brown sugar
3 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks, preferably Mexican (canela)
8 ounces French bread or 4 bolillo rolls, cut into ¼-inch-thick pieces
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1½ cups crushed animal crackers
1 cup crumbled queso fresco or grated Monterey Jack cheese
¾ cup shredded sweetened coconut Ice cream (optional)
Colored sprinkles (optional)
To make the syrup:
Combine the sugar, water, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat; cover and let steep while you prepare the remainder of the dish.
This step can be done a day ahead.
Heat the broiler to high, with one rack set in the middle of the oven and one 4 or 5 inches from the broiler source. Brush the bread with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the butter. Place the pieces in a single layer on a sheet pan and set under the broiler until lightly toasted, about 1 minute (watch carefully). Remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use.
Set the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Brush a deep 8-inch square pan or 2-quart casserole dish with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons butter.
Place one-third of the bread in a single layer in the baking dish. Top with one-third of the raisins, pecans, animal crackers, cheese, and coconut. Remove the spices from the syrup and ladle one-third of the syrup over the mixture. Let the syrup soak into the bread for about 15 minutes, then repeat the layering with the remaining ingredients two more times, finishing with the syrup. Let the syrup soak into the bread for 15 minutes.
Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the top of the pudding is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream and garnished with sprinkles, if desired. The pudding will keep for several days, tightly covered, at room temperature.
My Breakfast Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
12 large eggs
4½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces andouille or other smoked sausage, cut into 24 slices; or left over roasted vegetables
¾ cup grated Monterey Jack or Colby cheese (goat cheese or other kinds of cheese can be substituted)
2 cups Tomato-Habanero Sauce (see below) or use your favorite salsa
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick vegetable spray and set aside.
Whisk the eggs, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Place 2 slices of smoked sausage and 1 tablespoon of the cheese into the bottom of each muffin cup. Divide the egg mixture evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, heat the sauce. Ladle some of the sauce onto plates and top with the egg muffins.
Makes about 4 cups
5 to 6 medium tomatoes (about 1½ pounds)
1 habanero or other types of chiles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup finely diced onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
Place the tomatoes and habanero in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil just until the tomato skins start to crack. Drain in a colander. Remove the stem from the habanero.
Transfer the tomatoes and habanero to a blender and puree until smooth.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, garlic, and salt and cook until the onion is translucent and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and the stock, increase the heat to high, and boil for 3 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. The sauce keeps for up to 3 days, covered and refrigerated.
The above recipes are from Turnip Greens and Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen by Eddie Hernandez. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Eddie Hernandez will be talking and signing copies of his book on June 3 at 1:30 p.m. at Read It & Eat, 2142 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL. For more information: (773) 661-6158; readitandeatstore.com
“I’ve always been a people person,” Justin Chapple tells me almost immediately after he calls for the scheduled interview.
Within minutes, I totally believe him. It’s like we’ve been best friends forever.
“I love to hear from people,” he says, adding that he almost always answers people who contact him via his many social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. “I tell people if they pre-order my new book through my website, justinchapple.com, I’ll send them a note and an autographed bookplate. I spend most mornings writing notes.”
Yes, he does. Even though Chapple has the high prestige job of Culinary Director at Food & Wine magazine, was nominated for a James Beard Award for “Mad Genius,” the weekly morning show he hosts, does the magazine’s video series “Mad Genius Tips” and is the author of two cookbooks, Mad Genius Tips (Broadmoor House 2016) and the soon to be released Just Cook It! 145 Built-To-Be-Easy Recipes That Are Totally Delicious (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018; $30), he’s all about you.
“It means a lot to me to have people’s support,” says Chapple, who regularly appears on NBC’s “Today.” “And if they have a question about one of my recipes or cooking, I always try to answer it.”
He’s also all about recipes, cooking tips and making it simple. As part of his job as culinary director, he not only has developed and tested thousands of recipes but also converts esoteric recipes from famous chefs—the kind most of us would look at and shake our heads in despair—and makes them accessible for our own kitchens. Watch a few episodes from his “Mad Genius LIVE and “Mad Genius Tips” shows and you’re first thought is, I can use that followed by where does he get all those ideas.
“Sometimes they pop up in my head and I’ll say ‘omigoodness’,” says Chapple who really doesn’t sound like someone who trained at the prestigious French Culinary Institute. “Other times it’s what people ask of me—they want to know how to do something like peel a mango and I’m happy they asked and come up with ideas.”
Though his classical French cooking background is important, he says he learned much of his kitchen know-how from his grandmother.
“She had to make do with whatever she had and she always made the food taste wonderful,” he says.
Describing Just Cook It as low-concept, he says it’s about everyday simple easy recipes. For example, when you have a hankering for lasagna but there’s not enough time to pull it all together, he suggests Ravioli Lasagna with Arugula. It’s good, fast approximation for busy weeknights. Just buy some cheese ravioli, parboil it, drain, place in a casserole and then add fresh mozzarella. Open a jar of good marinara sauce, sauté it with ground beef or fresh veggies or just add it plain to the ravioli. There you have it.
Like gnocchi or other types of dumplings but don’t want to mess with rolling each one out and shaping them by hand? Never fear, there’s a secret to that as well. Using a food processor, he mixes the ingredients for his Ricotta Gnudi (gnocchi are dumplings made with potatoes and gnudi are made with ricotta cheese), but the next step is much more unusual. Taking an ice cream scoop, he spoons small balls of the dough directly from the food processor and dumps them into hot water.
“Simmer them until they pillowy and just firm,” he says. “I then sauté them until they’re browned and coated with the butter mixture.”
He sprinkles the cook gnuda with pistachio-almond dukka, an Arabic dish (you often also see a bowl of it at Indian restaurants near where you pay your bill). It’s a mixture of spices, seeds and nuts including cumin, coriander, sesame and caraway seeds, pistachios and almonds and cayenne and black peppers.
Dukka is another example of the recipes in his new cookbook. There are a plethora of global offerings such as Thai Skillet Corn, Shumai Stew with Shiitake & Mustard Greens, Rice & Pork Congee with Chiles, Crispy Garlic & Ginger, several types of curry and Catalan-Style Mussels with Green Olives & Fried Almonds. In other words, you can create international meals effortlessly and without fuss.
As for the cooking demonstration at the KitchenAid Fairway Club during the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Chapple says he’s very excited as he’s heard southwest Michigan is beautiful.
“I’m going to demonstrate a few different very simple and fun recipes including a golden tomato gazpacho,” he says.
Though his background in French cooking would seem to call for rich creams and butter, Chapple says he ‘d rather add flavors with such ingredients as good quality olive oil that creates a “silky taste.”
“Another one of the secrets I like to share is using smoked almonds,” he says. “They’re so delicious and so easy and they impart a lot of flavor.”
Chapple talks about his “secrets” and I ask, jokingly, how they can be secrets since he tells them to everyone.
“That’s the fun of secrets,” he says. “Telling them to people.”
What: Interactive Cooking Demonstration with Justin Chapple
When: Noon CST/ 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 26
Where: KitchenAid Fairway Club near the main entrance, Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor, Michigan
FYI: For more information about the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, or to buy tickets, visit pga.com/events/seniorpgachampionship/2018 or call 269-487-3200.
Follow Justin on Twitter and Instagram at: @justinchapple and Facebook at facebook.com/justin.a.chapple.
Bill Kim’s first cooking experience was making instant ramen over seogtan (burning coals) at age six a year before his family moved from Seoul, Korea to Chicago. Fast forward four decades and Kim, who owns several restaurants in Chicago including urbanbelly, a communal-seating restaurant featuring creative noodle, dumpling and rice dishes, Belly Shack featuring menu items blending Asian and Latin flavors and bellyQ, a modern Asian barbecue concept, recently authored Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces (Ten Speed Press 2018; $28).
His career path to culinary heights and James Beard Award nominations began with experiences feeding siblings and cousins while his parents worked and worries about not being able to make it in a traditional college atmosphere when attending a college recruitment event at his high school. That all changed when he saw a giant wedding cake. It was a lure and when he approached the table, a representative from a culinary school asked if was interested in a cooking career.
Attending Kendall College where he studied classic French, Kim then worked in the kitchens with such greats as Pierre Pollin at le Titi de Paris in Arlington Heights near Chicago and Jean Banchet at Ciboulette and ultimately became the chef de cuisine at Charlie Trotter’s and then served as executive chef at Le Lan, a French-Asian restaurant.
When it came time to open his own restaurants, he decided to focus on his own heritage as well as that of his wife who is from Puerto Rico in a style he calls Kori-Can. There were, of course, many remnants from his French culinary background and world travels in the mix as well and his American upbringing. For the latter, check out his recipe for Kimchi Potato Salad. He also wanted to get away from the rarified world of cuisine and open up his food to everyone.
“My parents were very humble people who owned their own dry cleaning business for 35 years,” says Kim. “I wanted them to see their sacrifice pay off by taking all the things that I learned and being able to use it. My parents had only eaten at one restaurant I worked and that made me sad, I saw because I knew how hard they worked. As I got further in my career, I was cooking for fewer people—only those people who had the means to eat in the restaurants I worked in. But those weren’t the people I grew up and I wanted them to have restaurants to eat at.”
BBQ itself is engrained in the Korean culture says Kim.
“We didn’t have a lot of things when I was growing up in Chicago, we didn’t have a grill,” he says. “So when we wanted to barbecue, we had to go to park where there were free grills. I remember how the aroma of the foods we were cooking always attracted by people who weren’t part of our family. that someone from a different country could come up to you and ask what it was we were cooking. My mom would give even strangers food. It was pretty powerful watching them when they tried it, the way their eyes opened and they smiled. That’s when I learned food doesn’t speak a certain language.”
Making Korean barbecue accessible was one of the inspirations behind Kim’s decision to write his cookbook.
“I think I had a lot to say,” he says. “I really didn’t think there was a cookbook out there written by a chef, sharing the experience of being born in Korean and growing up here and adapting to a culture that was a very foreign to me.”
He also sees it as a way of giving back and to make Korean food accessible.
“I think we take for granted that food is an entry level to a different culture,” says Kim. “I want people to look at the book and know the history behind it. And I wanted people to be able to cook Korean barbecue at home.”
Indeed, with a wonderful, heartfelt introduction and seven master sauces and three spice rubs that make his dishes easy and simple to recreate at home, Kim takes away the mysteries of Korean food.
“The thing that I want people to understand is that you can cook without borders now more than ever because the borders have crumbled,” he says. “Even though the food is not 100% Korean it’s these flavors that can come out.”
Seoul to Buffalo Shrimp
1½ cups Lemongrass Chili Sauce (see below)
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
3 pounds extra-large peeled and deveined shrimp (16/20 count)
¼ cup Blackening Seasoning (see below)
FEEDS 6 people
Heat the grill for direct heat cooking to medium (350°F to 375°F).
Combine the Lemongrass Chili Sauce, butter, sesame seeds, and sambal oelek in a large bowl and whisk until well mixed. Set aside.
When the grill is ready, season the shrimp with the Blackening Seasoning, coating them evenly. Place the shrimp on the grill grate, close the lid, and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp over, close the lid, and cook them for another 2 minutes, until they turn an opaque pink color.
Remove the shrimp from the grill, add to the sauce, toss well, and serve.
Lemongrass Chili Sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
¼ cup minced lemongrass
1 cup sweet chili sauce
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup sambal oelek
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
PREP TIME 10 minutes
MAKES 2¼ cups
Combine the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili sauce, fish sauce, sambal oelek, and oil in a bowl and whisk until blended. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months (see note).
¼ cup sweet paprika
¼ cups granulated garlic or garlic powder
¼ cup chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Makes ¾ cup
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to mix. Store in airtight container in a cool, dark cupboard for up to six months
Sharing his life story and his struggle with food was the inspiration behind Judson Todd Allen’s recently released “The Spice Diet: Use Powerhouse Flavor to Fight Cravings and Win the Weight-Loss Battle” (Grand Central Life & Style 2018; $27). Indeed, when Steve Harvey wanted to lose weight he turned to Allen, who helped him drop 30 pounds. Even more impressively, Judson himself shed more than 100 pounds and has managed to keep it off.
“Since I was little, I struggled with weight and telling people about my journey is very empowering for me,” says Allen, a finalist in Season 8 on the “Food Network Star” and executive chef of Taste 222 restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop. “It’s something that many people go through and this book allows me to help others.”
Allen graduated from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and then earned a bachelor’s in food science and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana. This background gave him a unique perspective on food and later, studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and then traveling throughout Europe sampling a myriad of cuisine, solidified his perspective that the use of spices can create foods so compelling and flavorful that they can overcome our need for sugar and salt.
Citrus such as lime and lemon or lemons zest produce a taste effect that’s similar to salt says Allen, the CEO and Executive Chef of Healthy Infused Cuisine, LLC., a premium cuisine company that provides customized personal, private and event chef services and catering to clients who desire healthier food choices that don’t compromise taste.
“It’s all about balancing,” he says, noting that using spices, herbs, fresh ingredients, cutting out things and using alternatives works when it comes to creating tasty food that doesn’t have unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients. “I balance vinegar’s acidity with sweetness using honey or agave. It all gives a level of flavor that keeps you from cravings for salt. One of the things about most diets is you have these cravings and we all know cravings are hard to overcome. If we want to have a healthy life-style change we need foods that we will always want to eat.”
One of the cravings Allen, who was born and raised in Chicago, remembered and wanted to re-imagine was the marvelous food his grandfather, a New Orleans native, cooked.
“One of his favorite dishes is fried fish and grits,” says Allen. “It is only fitting that I re-create the delectable taste of his favorite dish in a healthier version, because he is my inspiration for being a chef. Early on in my attempts to change my eating habits, I figured out the best way to achieve the fried fish effect without the deep-frying and calories. By incorporating healthy nuts with the perfect spice blend and other flavor enhancements, I cracked the code with this recipe.”
I learned so much from him writes Steve Harvey in the book’s introduction.
“Being able to make a lifetime commitment to healthy eating depended on getting to the root of my issues with food. He showed me how to ‘cheat on my favorite foods by substituting healthy ingredients and spice combinations without sacrificing any of the flavor or texture. He was a stickler for portion control,” he continues. “After a while, I didn’t notice that I was eating less, because my food was so delicious and satisfying.
“A few outstanding dishes left a lasting impression on me. His Special Fried Chicken, which was organic chicken marinated in a crazy blend of spices and crusted with pecans and fresh parsley, looked just like pieces of dark golden fried chicken, but it was baked in the oven in a healthy way. I also appreciated his creativity when he made a healthier version of cornbread, one of my favorites, by using cauliflower, jalapeño, and other ingredients for a comparable yet brand-new experience that was totally satisfying. Given my long days, I really appreciated the snacks, especially his health bars. The recipes are all in The Spice Diet.”
Judson Todd Allen will be cooking and talking about his cookbook at Read It and Eat on Thursday, April 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 CT. 2142 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL. (773) 661-6158; readitandeatstore.com
The following recipes are courtesy of Chef Judson Todd Allen
New Orleans Pecan-Crusted Catfish
Serving size: 1 fillet
Calories per serving: 292
This recipe works with just about any type of fish. If catfish is not your cup of tea, then swap it out for halibut, cod, red snapper, sword fish or salmon.
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4 tablespoons Bayou Cajun Spice Blend, divided (recipe below; you can reduce this amount if you have sensitivity to heat)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6 (5-ounce) catfish fillets or almost any other kind of fish, deboned
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the pecans, cheese, 3 tablespoons Bayou Cajun Spice Blend, parsley, lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Place catfish fillets on the lined baking sheet. Brush the fillets with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and rub in 1 tablespoon of the Bayou Cajun Spice Blend. Massage the oil and spice on both sides of the fish.
Spread the pecan crust liberally over the top of each piece of fish.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is dark golden and the fish is flaky and moist. Serve with lemon wedges.
Bayou Cajun Spice Blend
Yield: 1/4 cup
“Cajun cuisine is the food of my ancestors,” says Allen. “I love it. Let the good times roll! When I think about catfish now, I think about this blend. It works well with any white- fleshed fish, shrimp, or poultry, and brings vegetables to life.”
2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
Mix together all the ingredients in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place away from heat and light.
The Ultimate Tuna Salad
Serving Size: 1 Cup
Calories Per Serving: 257
3 (5-ounce) cans albacore tuna in water, drained
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2” cubes
In a large serving bowl, combine the tuna, cucumber, capers, avocado, onion, fresh herbs, tomatoes and Cajun Spice Blend. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss the salad.
Chef Judson’s Sweet and Sour Dill Pickle Cashews
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Sour Dill Pickle Spice Blend (see recipe below)
2 cups raw unsalted cashews
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, mix the honey, lime juice, olive oil, and Sour Dill Pickle Spice Blend together. Add the nuts and coat them fully.
Spread the nuts on the lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Nuts can be stored in an air – tight container in the pantry for 6 to 9 months, in the refrigerator away from strong smelling food up to a year, and in the freezer for 2 years.
Sour Dill Pickle Spice Blend
Yield: about 1⁄3 cup
Dill and lemon is a familiar combination, and the garlic in this blend adds another layer of flavor. I use it on salmon and delicate fish like sole or flounder. This blend is not overpowering. It’s great in a broth – based soup. It also pairs well with shellfish.
2 tablespoons dried dill
3 tablespoons lemon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Mix all the ingredients in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place away from heat and light.
Imagine strolling through Paris with a friend, one who knows the greatest little patisseries, cafes, outdoor markets and shops tucked along winding cobbled streets. Together the two of us try on amazingly chic designer dresses at La boutique Didier Ludot and amble through the courtyard gardens and gaze at the Swedish art work at Institut Suedois located in the Hôtel de Marle, a 16th century mansion in the heart of the central Marais district.
We order small plates of fantastic food amidst 19th century murals of clowns at the appropriately named Clown Bar, considered one of the city’s finest restaurants. After stopping to admire the Eiffel Tower, we trek even more before stopping to reward ourselves with ice cream at Berthillon Glacier. We are, definitely, Parisian insiders.
Wait—don’t have a friend in Paris? Don’t even have tickets or plans to go sometime soon? Well, Rick of Casablanca told Else they’d always have Paris and for the rest of us, before we get there, we’ll have the recently released Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide(Rizzoli 2018; $27.50), co-authored by Jessie Kanelos Weiner, a Chicago gal who grew up on the Northside and Sarah Moroz both of whom have lived in Paris for the last decade. Charmingly illustrated with over 150 of Weiner’s delicate watercolors, the book curates walking itineraries the authors put together to go beyond the typical guidebooks.
“We wanted to put together walking tours of a timeless Paris, the type of Paris that will always be the same,” says Weiner. “We wanted something that wasn’t too text heavy, a book that was a jumping off point to see what you want to see, one that wasn’t prescriptive but takes you down the side streets.”
Paris is Weiner’s passion and wandering its streets is what she loves to do.
“It’s a city based on pleasure,” she says, “and one with many beguiling things along the way.”