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Chicago Cook-in of June 28-30, 2002

Hosted by Snot and Gar

Snot and Gar (Illinois)

Snot and Gar

Gar (Illinois)


WOW!! What a whirlwind of a weekend. It's taken me 2 days to catch my breath. [g]

First, I want to thank everyone who attended. I'm amazed at how wonderful you all were and how much I enjoyed each and every one of you.

The weekend started for me Thursday morning when I talked to Crash on the phone and he said they were on the road. Reality sunk in that this thing was actually happening. [g] I got on the road early to finish up last minute shopping and got more propane tanks filled I came back home to try to finish up last minute preparations. They arrived around 3:30. Damsel went to work baking and Crash and I got busy setting up the canopy and stringing up the lights. Damsel and Ariane have said it was an alley, but the alley is the thing we walked through to get to the paved backyard. (some people don't understand the concrete jungle) [g]

[Damsel - Oops! Sorry. I really thought it was an extension of the alley! Must've been the tar that threw this suburban-raised gal off.]

[Ariane - Paved backyard, alley... ;P Okay, maybe "alley" doesn't really do it justice, since you've got it all prettied up. The canopy/tent thing was neat, and a great idea. It sure helped keep the sun off us that weekend. We had the tent, fans going, a laptop set up, and a TV tuned to (what else?) the FoodTV network in the background. Not to mention music piped in, too.]

We did a dry run with the canopy a few weeks ago and I replaced the factory hardware so it went up easy, but the new lights took a little planning. I was pleased with the results. The yard was pretty much in place by the time we all turned in Thursday night.

Friday morning I got up about 5:30 to meet the garbage man so I could have the dumpster moved from the "yard" to the "alley." I had to hurry out so I left my open toed slippers on and stubbed my toe. All the "in house doctors" seemed to feel I broke it, but even if I didn't it sure didn't make life easy gimping around all weekend. lol We spent the rest of the day finishing up as much cooking and cleaning as possible. It never all got done, but does it ever?

Late Friday afternoon Ariane, Eric, Hag, Stenni, and Mike showed up. We got to know each other and got stuff situated a little and started the feast. Others have talked about the food so I won't go into it again, BUT I'm still in trouble I guess for tossing the leftover pizza. I have two batches of lump. One is from last year. I still haven't figured out which one I used that night but I couldn't get a hot enough fire to properly cook a pizza. The flavor was good, but the crust was not up to my usual. I always destroy the evidence. <hehe> We had some beers and got to know each other and wondered what had happened to Boli. Mike was obsessed with his ribs so we didn't get to see him much until Saturday when he performed his rib show.

Saturday morning I got up and went right outside to finish up the party area. I was watering the plants as Hag came bouncing around the corner from the "alley" to the "yard." With a big smile on her face she said "gotta get a Dew" as she headed to the basement where the coolers were. She's so positive and upbeat it was a good start to the morning.

[Damsel - I hereby nominate Hag as the 2002 Chicago Cook-In's Miss Congeniality!]

Stenni and Mike followed. Mike had that "gotta get to those ribs" look on his face and that's exactly what he did. Damsel had made breakfast items and we put them on the serving tables in the basement. This serving setup didn't work and we abandoned it by mid afternoon. It's one of several things I learned if I do it again. Ariane started her muffins. At this point we started bloody Marys. The rest of the day is nothing but a blur. Having 13 rfc people poping in and out of the kitchen was one of the most overwhelmingly wonderful experiences I could imagine. Boli and Tim showed up sometime Saturday morning but I couldn't tell you when [g] All I know is Boli started slicing Smithfield ham and it was a real treat. We started eating early and were still nibbling on stuff close to midnight. Hag made some pitchers of green Rum thingies that kicked every ones butt.

[Damsel - Hakata Specials. Made with Midori, rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and (Rose's) sour. I screwed up when buying the sour. I'm not a drinker, and the only sour I was aware of was lemon sour. The substitution made Hag work harder on getting proportions just right. Poor thing had to sample, and sample, and sample, just to perfect the mix.]

Although the day was a blur, Snot reminded me I mooned Hag while she had the camera in her hand (oops).

[Ariane - Yeesh, I'd BEEN trying to forget that part! Gar, get some sun on that thing, will you?]

Poor Hag had her share of surprises that night as she caught Snots boss taking a leak next to the dumpster. Things did get a little wild as the night wore on.

[Ariane - It's just one more story to add to the "Times I've had bad encounters with bodily fluids not all of them my own" collection Hag has. You all should stop in the channel and ask her sometime, it's an enlightening experience. I can say this, because I know she's stuck offline for a week. [g]]

[Gar - hehe. I've heard the story. Hag didn't want to talk about it. wonder why?]

[Ariane - Because she hasn't had enough Hakata specials, that's why. ;) ]

Sunday morning while we were recuperating, Boli made griddle cakes that were wonderful. Damsel fried up Taylor Pork roll slices. I'm sure there was something else but I'm not much of a breakfast eater so I forget. It was cooked outside on grills and the smells reminded me of camping when I was a child. It was lots of fun. Ariane and Eric had to leave pretty early so we started splitting up the leftovers and they loaded them up along with the plants Damsel brought for her. There will be a picture of them on shutterbug as soon as I get them all scanned. We sadly saw them off and loaded up my van and Boli's car and headed off to Costco because Hag had not been to one. We wandered the aisles, sampled lots of goodies, and bought a few things. I kept on forgetting I had a car following me and Tim wanted to kill me when we got to Costco. I was a little better on the way back.

When we returned home it was time for the sad good-byes. First Hag and her family then Damsel and Crash. I was a sad time to see things end.

[Damsel - It was a terribly sad time for me. I feel so close to all of you. It was like leaving family, knowing I wouldn't see them again for at least another year.]

Boli still had one more night and it was a treat to spend some time with him and Tim to get to know them a little better. I got some ground beef and onion rolls at Costco so we had burgers. I made them about 1/3 pound and put a slab of gorgonzola inside them. They were topped with melted provolone, tomato, grilled onion, and lettuce. I must say they were quite tasty. I also made fries and the ketchup bottle hit the table for the first time all weekend. (we don't put no stinkin ketchup on hot dogs in Chicago) We sat outside and Boli went in the chat channel and Tim played a game on his laptop. They left around 10:45 sunday and the cook-in was over. But the memories have just begun.

I'd do this again in a heartbeat. I can't remember 4 days ever going so fast. Everyone was fabulous. I sure hope you all felt as comfortable as Snot and I did. (I'm sure she'll be reporting too) Any reservations I had were gone the minute I met all of you.

[Ariane - Hee hee... Tell us what reservations you had about us, I'm dying to know!]

[Gar - I guess I was just worried if we were organized enough to have things flow smooth enough. The weekend went by so fast I still don't know. [g] ]

[Ariane - Oh yeah, organization isn't that big of an obstacle with this crowd. As long as there's food, we're happy. ;P You guys did great, especially with all the unknown variables involved--people arriving late, way too much food per person, etc. And for the record, Erik and I DID call you guys when we got to town and got your voicemail. We waited a couple hours, gave up and decided to crash your place anyway!]

Ariane - You guys were great. Erik and I felt right at home, even though he was a little anxious about eating food prepared by someone named "Snot." We assured him it was a nickname, not a main ingredient. But he did say that he didn't realize you'd be so tall and scary-looking, except for the limp from your BROKEN toe.]

[Gar - I thought the only time I was scary looking was when my pants are pulled down.

[Ariane - That was only the scariest, there were less scary moments, too!]

I think it's the pot calling the kettle black, you're _both_ frightening-looking people I'd cross the street to avoid if I didn't know you. ;P

With all the conversations we had I'm sure we'll all be cook-in pros the next time. We kinda liked the timing of this weekend because the weather is usually pretty good. There might be a second annual next year.

[Damsel - Because most of the attendees are regulars in IRC chat, we didn't walk into this as total strangers. It felt surprisingly natural and right that we all be together. What's that saying? "Friends are the family that you choose yourself." I spent this past weekend with my family!]

I want to thank all of you got the wonderful gifts. I have several beautiful cook books that are all coffee table quality. And that's where they are now and will be there for a long time. Boli and Damsel gave me an Alton Brown book that Boli stood in line for hours to have signed. It says "To Gar <--(insert real name) you grilling and smoking fool." I'm rather talkative but I was silently choked up as I read this. Thanks so much to all of you for the gifts and the fabulous weekend.

Barb send along a can of food that's apparently been passed on from a few cook-ins. If I can get to Jack's cook-in, I'll bring it. Otherwise I'll send it to him. Maybe it will become the official cook-in good luck charm.

I'll post pictures as soon as I get them scanned. Some will probably end up on Damsels site.

I also want to thank Carol for all the work she has done on the web site. I could never have done it myself. It worked out so slick to have all our recipes in one place while we were doing our thing.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something important, But I've rambled enough And I type with 2 fingers [g]

[Ariane - After this weekend, I know not to ask what you're doing with the other eight fingers.]

[Gar - LOL... the 2 fingers I use are on different hands. [wink-wink] ]

[Ariane - Bragging about one's flexibility is so unbecoming, Gar. ;)]

Vienna Beef Chicago Style Hot Dog


Italian Beef Sandwiches


Crispy Grilled Asparagus

Crispy Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Pork Tenderloins

Grilled Pork Tenderloins

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

The dough recipe was adapted from the book, "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American" by Jeff Smith. It makes enough dough for 3 deep dish pizzas made in 12" cast iron skillets.

2 packages rapid rise dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cornmeal
5 1/2 cups flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer (KitchenAid), dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the vegetable oil, olive oil, cornmeal, and half of the flour. Beat for 10 minutes. Attach the dough hook and mix in the remaining flour. Knead for several minutes with the mixer (note: because the dough is very rich and moist, it would be difficult to do this by hand).

Remove dough and place on a clean countertop. Cover with a very large metal bowl and allow to rise until double in bulk. Punch down and allow to rise again. Punch down a second time and you are ready to make pizza!

Oil your deep-dish pizza pan. Depending on the size of your pan, place some dough in the pan and push it out to the edges using your fingers. Put in enough dough so that you can run the crust right up the side of the pan. Make it about 1/8-inch thick throughout the pan.

Gorgonzola Tart

Gorgonzola Tart

Land O'Lakes

Pastry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter
5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Filling Ingredients:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers
3 tablespoons pine nuts or your favorite chopped nuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 375°F. Place flour in large bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in water with fork until flour is just moistened. Shape into a ball. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle.

Place in 9 or 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom or pie pan; press firmly on bottom and up sides of pan. Cut away excess pastry; prick all over with fork. Bake for 17 to 22 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine cream cheese and gorgonzola in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy (1 to 2 minutes). Continue beating, gradually adding whipping cream, egg and ground pepper until blended (1 to 2 minutes). Spread into baked pastry. Sprinkle with roasted red pepper, pine nuts and parsley.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is set. Let stand 20 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges. Cover; store refrigerated.

Pecan Bars

Gooey Pecan Bar

1-1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c plus 2 T confectioners sugar
10 T unsalted butter, room temp, cut into 10 pieces
1 egg white for glazing

1/2 c (lightly packed) light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
10 T dark corn syrup
2 large eggs, room temp
1/4 t vanilla extract
pinch salt
3 T unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 c chopped pecans (I use more)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9-inch square pan with butter or vegetable oil (butter makes it too dark for me).

For the base, process the flour and confectioners sugar in a food processor for several seconds. Add the butter and process until the dough comes together, 20 to 30 seconds (If you don't have a food processor, just rub the butter and the dry ingredients between your fingers until combined).

Pat the dough gently over the bottom of the prepared pan and push it 1/2 inch up the sides with your thumb. Glaze it with the egg white: pour the egg white on the dough and tip the pan from side to side to spread the white over the surface. Pour off the excess.

Bake the base on the center oven rack until lightly golden about 30 minutes (keep your eye on this one). Place the base in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool completely. Keep the oven on.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping:

Gently whisk together both sugars, the corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and salt in a medium sized bowl until blended.

Stir in the melted butter, then the nuts. Pour the topping evenly over the base.

Bake until the topping is set and forms a crust, about 50 minutes.

Allow the bars to cools for 15 minutes on a rack, then run a sharp knife around the sides of the pan (this is important if you want to remove the bars from the pan within your lifetime). Cool the bars completely and cut into squares. A cleaver or very firm knife works best.

Taken from Rosie's All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No Holds Barred Baking Book by Judy Rosenberg.

Smoked Meatloaf

Smoked Meatloaf

Good Eats Meat Loaf

Recipe By: Alton Brown
Serving Size: 4
Preparation Time: 0:25
Categories: beef food processor meatballs/loaves

6 ounces croutons -- garlic-flavored
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 onion -- roughly chopped
1 carrot -- peeled and broken
3 whole cloves garlic
1/2 red bell pepper
18 ounces ground chuck
18 ounces ground sirloin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg

1/2 cup catsup
1 tablespoon ground cumin
dash worcestershire sauce
dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, and ground chuck with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees.

Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Source: www.foodtv.com

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

From Steve Raichlen's book How To Grill.

2 lb salmon fillet
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup coarse salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 cup of dark rum

Using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the salmon. Using a needle nose, remove any bones.

Soak it in the rum for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together - this is the cure.

Using a shallow pan, completely bury the fillet in the cure mixture. Let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours (a lot of the juice will be extracted by the cure).

Rinse off the cure with cold water and pat dry.

Smoke it at 200-225 for 1.5 to 2 hours or until it's done.

From How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques by Steven Raichlen.

Special Baked Beans

Baked Beans

Recipe By: Thierry Gerbault
Serving Size: 6
Categories: Vegetables Side Dish

2 can (28-oz) Bush's baked beans
1/2 lb Bacon, diced
1 2-inch yellow onion, diced
3 Tbsp Light brown sugar, packed
3 Tbsp Tomato catsup
1 tsp Coleman's dry mustard
1/2 tsp French's yellow mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tobasco sauce
1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Bacon fat
Reserved bean liquid

Pour baked beans into colander and drain, reserving liquid. Fry diced bacon until crisp. Add bacon to beans, reserving fat. Fry diced onion in bacon fat until transparent but not brown. Add onion and 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat to the beans.

Mix remaining ingredients in small mixing bowl. Add mixture to beans and combine all ingredients throughly, but gently. Add sufficient reserved bean liquid to moisten bean mixture. It should not be soupy.

Turn bean mixture into 2-quart casserole. Beans may be refrigerated and held one or two days until baking.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake beans uncovered for 30-45 minutes until a crust forms on top. Serves six.

May 11, 1985