Bill Daley is a Chicago Tribune food and features writer. He answers food and drink queries from readers in a weekly online column called ...

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Bill Daley

Bill Daley

The Daley Question

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 Minestrone recipe gets deep flavor from soup bone

Minestrone recipe gets deep flavor from soup bone

June 15, 2015

Q: Many years ago (approximately 40 to 45 years), the Tribune published a recipe for minestrone soup. It was a large-quantity soup that required two days to make. I have not had any minestrone soup since that equaled your recipe and miss it. I would hope that you can find it for me and any other forgetful readers.

  • Grill flank steak today, make fajitas tomorrow

    June 8, 2015

    Q: Looking for a beef steak fajitas marinade recipe for grilling published in the Trib in 1992-93. It was great! Leftovers made great fajita tacos. Lost it when I moved, and have been looking since that time. Have tried many but none that tasted as good.

  • Searching for pound cake like grandma used to make

    June 3, 2015

    Q: I am looking for a pound cake recipe I originally got from my Grandma Rowe, who was the best baker in our family. She even won a newspaper recipe contest for her Jack Horner coffee cake in the 1970s. I also have letters written to her personally from Mary Meade, a writer for your paper of long ago. What I do remember about the recipe is that it had 1 pound of unsalted butter, 6 large eggs and a 1 pound box of powdered sugar. I think it also used cake flour and was flavored with both vanilla and almond. I tried winging it recently and it did not turn out well. Suggestions are most welcome!

  • Searching for Ernest Hemingway's black beans recipe

    May 26, 2015

    Q: Many many years ago (1970s) I clipped a recipe for Ernest Hemingway's black bean soup from a Chicago newspaper, possibly the Trib.I made that recipe many times and was asked for the recipe many times because it was that good, perfectly seasoned.Unfortunately, someone never returned my copy of the recipe and I have been unable to find it or another that measures up since. I've been looking for the past 30 years and hope that you can help me.

  • Graham cracker cake: Recipe proved popular with mid-century readers

    May 18, 2015

    Q: Thank you for your interest in forgotten recipes. I am seeking the recipe for the fabulous graham cracker cake from Heinemann's Bakery in Chicago. I have tried other recipes which have tried to replicate this cake but IMHO they don't succeed.

  • Replacing a missing cabbage (and ketchup) soup recipe

    May 11, 2015

    Q: I am looking for a cabbage soup receipt but not just any cabbage soup. Omega restaurant (Golf Road just north of Milwaukee Avenue) makes the most delicious soup but won't part with the recipe. Can you find this for me? The only clue I have is that there is ketchup in the formula.

  • Memory of spaghetti sauce sparks search for recipe

    May 4, 2015

    Q: I've seen your Daley Question column in the Chicago Tribune many times, and with the most current article I am almost hopeful that you could locate a spaghetti sauce recipe featured on the front page of the Trib food section back in the 1990s or possibly a few years earlier. I believe the article took up about two-thirds of the page. I misplaced the recipe about 10 years ago and unfortunately didn't copy it for my computerized recipe file. I loved that recipe, one that I considered more authentic Italian than any other I'd ever made. The only ingredient (other than the obvious ones) that I recall was that it contained wine. I would be so grateful if you could locate it.

  • Mint cookie request sparks surprises

    April 28, 2015

    Q: My grandmother used to make a drop cookie (back in the '50s and '60s) that had a mint wafer in it and a walnut half on top. The walnut may have been her addition, not sure. They were made with Rockwood mint wafers and may have been called Mint Surprise. Are the wafers still available and could you find the recipe?

  • Slow cooker woes: If it doesn't fit, can I still use it?

    April 20, 2015

    Q: Can I use a 5-quart slow cooker insert in a 7-quart base? I don't know if I can and can't seem to find the answer online — please help me!

  • Readers helping readers find lost recipes

    April 13, 2015

    This column is called the "Daley Question" — and the one type of question I receive far more often than any other concerns recipes: Recipes lost, recipes remembered, recipes found, recipes tinkered with. Sometimes I can help. Sometimes I can't — either because I didn't search the archives correctly or, and this does happen, the recipe didn't run in the Chicago Tribune at all.

  • Do screw caps affect how wine ages?

    April 7, 2015

    Q: Does wine in screw top bottles age as well as wine in bottles with a cork?

  • Peanut butter cookie search leads to unexpected source

    March 30, 2015

    Q: Many years past the Tribune posted a recipe for Giant Peanut Butter Cookies — the recipe was previously made in Chicago Public Schools. It is my family's favorite recipe, and I have misplaced it for a couple of years now.I have searched your archives and cannot find it. Ifyou could help me find this recipe I would be so grateful.

  • Some alternatives to a missing brownie recipe

    March 23, 2015

    Q: Several or many years ago I cut out a recipe in the Chicago Tribune for brownies. These were the best brownies ever. After putting the dough in the pan you put in a jar of marshmallow creme. I cannot find my recipe and I really miss making these brownies. They were so moist and oh so good! Probably someone borrowed the recipe and lost it. I am 87 years old so with children, grandchildren, family and friends, who knows what happened to it? If you could come up with this recipe I would be so happy! I remain very active and still do a lot of cooking and baking.

  • Missing mom's meatballs

    March 16, 2015

    Q: I am looking for a really old recipe (about 50 years old) that my mother would make. It was a meatball recipe that included cream of mushroom soup and beer in the sauce. I even think there was beer in the meatballs. Can you help?

  • Date bar cookie like Mom used to buy

    March 9, 2015

    Q: In the early to mid-70s my mom used to buy a bakery item at the grocery store named China Chews. I am assuming it was a Heinemann's product as that what was mostly stocked at Dominick's, where she did the majority of her grocery shopping. I tried in the past to contact Heinemann's, as well as did an Internet search, to try to figure out how to make these at home with no luck. I think they must have been some sort of date bar (with lots of powdered sugar), but the few recipes I have tried don't come close to what I remember. Any suggestions? Fingers crossed that the mystery will be solved!

  • Readers share their favorite fudge recipes

    March 2, 2015

    Daley Question readers responded generously to my plea for help in finding a fudge recipe made with Nesquik, formerly known as Nestle Quik. ("Fudge recipes, Nestle-style," Daley Question, Feb. 18, 2015). Bob Smith wrote in from Wheat Ridge, Colo., asking for a recipe he believed his dad had taken from a Nestle Quik can in 1971 or 1972.

  • Reader seeks 1970s recipe for oatmeal whole wheat bread

    February 23, 2015

    Q: Sometime between 1970 and 1975; the Trib published a wonderful bread recipe for an oatmeal whole wheat bread that included honey and dry milk. My memory tells me it was the tastiest bread I've ever made. I took the recipe with me when we moved overseas in 1975 and remember teaching a class of 4th graders at the International School of Brussels how to bake whole wheat bread. Another outstanding feature of this recipe was it made three loaves with one batch. Somehow on the relocation back to Chicago the recipe went missing. Is there a possibility you could find this lost recipe?

  • Fudge recipes, Nestle-style

    February 16, 2015

    Q: I have searched for several months and have been unsuccessful trying to track down a recipe that my dad pulled from a Nestle Quik can from about 1971, or 1972. The recipe was for a fudge that either exclusively, or primarily, used Nestle Quik and a double boiler. The fudge was very high in sugar content, so it was sweeter than many fudge recipes, but the chocolate flavor was more mellow. I have tried searching nostalgia sites as well as eBay, and even contacted Nestle, but I'm at the end. Can you help?

  • Crisp oatmeal cookie recipes

    February 9, 2015

    Q: I believe that the Trib published a recipe years ago for " Viennese Oatmeal Cookies" which I can no longer find. They were very thin and crispy delicious cookies that my grandchildren loved, and since I plan to visit them again over the Valentine's holiday would you see if you can find that recipe and send or publish it again.

  • Lost turkey meatloaf recipe was beloved by kids

    February 2, 2015

    Q: I pulled a turkey meatloaf recipe from the Tribune when my kids were little. It had spinach and carrots in it. They loved it and didn't realize all the good stuff that was in it. I believe it also had sausage in it. I've done all kinds of searches and I can't find it. Do you have it in the archives? I found the recipe in my recipe cards about a year ago — it was behind another recipe. Now I can't find it again.

  • Make a 1940s Weary Willie cake

    January 26, 2015

    Q: My father-in-law said that in the 1940s his mother made a cake called Weary Willie, which she said she got from the Chicago Tribune. I have now been tasked to make one for him. Would you by chance have the recipe?

  • Grant Achatz's recipe for prune ketchup

    January 19, 2015

    Q: We had a recipe for prune ketchup when I was a young boy. It goes great with venison. Would anyone have a great recipe?

  • Hermit cookie recipes for a snowy day

    January 12, 2015

    Hermit cookies like his mother used to make — that was the reason Don Hildebrandt of Carol Stream wrote to the Daley Question, looking for a Chicago Tribune recipe from 1964. The recipe, from Mrs. Frances Flanagan of La Moille, Ill., was found and published as a Daley Question column recently.

  • Classic shrimp recipes: Scampi and de Jonghe

    January 6, 2015

    Q: Just wondering if you have any baked shrimp recipes or recipes that featured baked shrimp?

  • Baked apple recipe sought by reader looking for simplicity

    December 29, 2014

    Q: When I was first married I made some baked apples from my grandmother's cookbook and my in-laws had come for dinner. I pulled these beautiful, plump apples from the oven perfectly nestled in a handmade ceramic casserole dish, and my father-in-law, who was retired, gasped and said, "That reminds me of my mother." It was the ultimate food compliment as I was just starting to teach myself to cook. I cannot find the recipe but believe it was to place a tablespoon of brown sugar into each cored apple and add 1/2 cup water around the apples and bake in a moderate oven. I tried this again and the Cortland apples just collapse into this apple sauce surrounded by delicious apple skin. It is the season for such wonderful desserts, and I wonder if you have a simple recipe where the apples don't collapse and are not firm but soft and the skins don't split. I think I read that the French make baked apples with milk. I don't want to add raisins, nuts or anything that complicates the wonderful simplicity of our mothers' food. Can someone help?

  • Don't save braising liquid, turn it into a sauce, pros say

    December 23, 2014

    Q: I have a Daley question for you, one that Googling does not answer. I braise meats at least once every two weeks: pot roast, short ribs, shanks, etc., with vegetables (carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc.) About a year ago it occurred to me, why am I throwing out this braising liquid and starting over every single time?

  • Mother's 'oatmeal hermit' holiday cookie recipe lost

    December 15, 2014

    Q: I'm looking for a cookie recipe that appeared in the Chicago Tribune in October or November of 1964 — "Oatmeal Hermits." It is a soft cookie and had an excellent flavor. I remember mom clipping the recipe, and she made them every year for the holidays. The recipe got lost after mom passed, and I'm wondering if you can find it in your archives.

  • How do you say 'turmeric'?

    December 8, 2014

    Q: What is the CORRECT pronunciation of turmeric? I heard nine out of 10 TV chefs say "TOO-mer-ic," but it seems it should be "TER-mer-ic."

  • Chicken and dumplings recipe

    December 2, 2014

    Q: I enjoy reading your articles, and I noticed that you sometimes help people locate recipes. I cut out a FABULOUS recipe for chicken and dumplings that was published in the "Sunday" section of the paper. I believe it was back in the 1990s. I lent my dog-eared copy to a friend and she lost it (harrumph!). I called the Trib last year and spoke to several people. They were all very nice and they tried to be helpful but to no avail. I searched the Internet and did not find what I was looking for, even though I am pretty good at data mining. At the risk of sounding like Princess Leia, you are my only hope.

  • Timing that Thanksgiving dinner just right

    November 26, 2014

    Q: I love to cook on Thanksgiving. I do the full meal of turkey, stuffing, rolls, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. Sometimes, when family comes, they like to bring a green bean casserole that needs to be heated up, or they are not a fan of my New Mexico green chili stuffing, so they bring their own. The kitchen is my retreat, but I don't want to ignore my guests and I do want to see some of the parades and football games. I only have one oven, four burners on the stove, and a microwave (which I don't like to use to "cook" anything). If cooking for a crowd of say, 7-10 people, how can I make sure that all the food comes out to the table on time and at the correct temperature? 

  • Plum tart recipe sought

    November 24, 2014

    Many times you fill requests for recipes previously printed in Good Eating. At least 22 years ago you gave a fantastic and simple recipe for a plum tart. Could you please print this again if you have it in your files?

  • How to choose, prep and cook winter squash

    November 17, 2014

    Q: At a farmers market in Brooklyn, I was recently persuaded to go beyond butternut squash and experiment. Can you help me understand how winter squash differs from summer squash? Could you offer preparation ideas for celebration squash?

  • What to do when your guests can't eat your meal

    November 3, 2014

    Q: As someone who hosts a lot of dinner parties, I find myself more often having guests with what I would consider "food fad" issues as opposed to real allergies. How do I politely distinguish between issues like the paleo diet and self-diagnosed gluten intolerance and actual food allergies? Am I obligated to accommodate each guest's individual needs?

  • Coffee talk: How to brew the best cup of coffee

    October 27, 2014

    Q: What are the easiest ways to make a better cup of coffee at home?

  • Shopping for authentic Cajun food in Chicago

    October 21, 2014

    Q: I'm looking for anything in a Cajun grocery line.

  • Stumped for dim sum in the Loop

    October 14, 2014

    Q: Why aren't there any dim sum restaurants in the Loop aside from Wow Bao? We wanted a change of pace for lunch at the office yesterday and the $10 one way cab fare to Chinatown made me think that there should be a dim sum spot downtown.

  • Help find a lost chocolate-tofu cookie recipe

    October 7, 2014

    Q: About 20 years ago I had a chocolate cookie recipe that called for tofu and could be made non-dairy. It was a dark chocolate rolled in granulated sugar before baking and was cake like when finished. I haven't been able to find anything like it since. It was a very popular cookie. Can you help me find it?

  • Birthday dining in Chicago

    September 30, 2014

    Q: My family and I are celebrating several family birthdays next week. We're all big fans of trying new restaurants. Any suggestions for the Uptown/Andersonville/Lincoln Square or surrounding areas? We live around Andersonville so have tried a lot there. We have one gluten free eater. We want to find somewhere special for the occasion that would appeal to everyone.

  • Chocolate mousse-apricot dessert recipe

    September 23, 2014

    Q: A recipe called "Madame en Chemise" was my favorite from the Tribune. I believe it was in the '80s when I found it, but through many residential moves, I have lost the recipe. It is made with ladyfingers, chocolate mousse and apricot jam, an absolutely spectacular dessert. Is it possible to find this in your archives?

  • 1918 'Loyalty Bread' recipe

    September 16, 2014

    Q: My great-grandmother, after whom I am named, was born in Chicago and resided there all her life. She was skilled at several crafts including candy making. Among my grandmother's things was found a letter from the Tribune which my father gave to me. It reads:

  • Hungry for a Cubano sandwich

    September 9, 2014

    Q: Where can I get a real Cubano sandwich?

  • A peach of a peach cake recipe

    September 2, 2014

    Q: I am writing today to request a copy of a recipe which appeared in the Chicago Tribune in July or August of 1969. The recipe was a "Fresh Peach Cake" or "Peach cake" and it was an excellent recipe. Mary Meade was the food editor at that time. I realize that 1969 was a long time ago, but if you could locate that recipe in your archives and send me a copy, I would certainly appreciate it.

  • Help, my slow cooker insert cracked!

    August 26, 2014

    Q: At what point do you replace your slow cooker vessel? Mine has many spiderweb cracks in it.

  • Brussels sprouts recipe offers plenty of options

    August 19, 2014

    Q: I just discovered fried Brussels sprouts on a trip to D.C. and loved them. I would love more ways to prepare Brussels sprouts.

  • Help readers find lost recipes

    August 12, 2014

    Q: Enjoyed your May 28, 2014, article: "Longing for Hong Kong Steak." Here's another Chicago challenge: "Nello's spaghetti and fried chicken." Nello's restaurant was located in Chicago's Little Italy area of 24th and Oakley back in the '40s and '50s and served absolutely wonderful spaghetti meat sauce along with (I still feel) the world's best fried chicken. Every meal was such a treat! Unfortunately, Chef Nello closed his doors in the late '50s without notice and couldn't be located, so there was no way to get hold of his recipe. Is there any way I can get these?

  • Lunch in the Loop: More great ideas

    August 5, 2014

    Lunch spots in the Loop was the theme of a recent Daley Question column. Jenna North, of Munster, Ind., found herself downtown attending school and hungry for lunches with a price point of $15 or less. Phil Vettel, the Tribune's restaurant critic weighed in with some ideas, as did Steve Johnson, my arts and features colleague. I offered some suggestions, too, and encouraged readers to write in with their faves.

  • Cheese storage challenge

    July 29, 2014

    Q: I want to know the best way to store cheese...soft cheeses, hard cheeses, etc..Every time I open up the cheese after getting it at the store, I can't wrap it the way they do and it ends up in a Ziploc bag. And can you freeze most cheeses or does it ruin taste/texture?

  • What is tamarind, and how do I eat it?

    July 22, 2014

    Q: I feel ignorant about tamarind. There are two tamarind things I love: the tamarind sauce I've had in Indian restaurants, and the Jarritos brand tamarind-flavored soda made in Mexico. What else can you tell me about where the ingredient comes from and how else it's used, and if it's used always in a sweet, rather than savory application?

  • Help with lost Sorrento's spaghetti recipe

    July 15, 2014

    Q: We always enjoy reading your column and are often amazed that you are able to help people find "long gone"' food preparations. We are hoping you can help us as well. In the 1980s there was a restaurant in the Yorktown shopping center (Lombard) annex named Sorrento's. They had a terrific dish, "Spaghetti Ala Mario." Garlic, oil, cheese. It was terrific. We went there often just for this dish. Have tried recreating it without success. Can this recipe be resurrected from the "long gone" category?

  • Nostalgic reader hungers for silver cake

    July 8, 2014

    Q: Greetings from a former Chicagoan. I grew up in Chicago in the '40s and '50s and I recall my mom buying a white pound cake with a silver or white frosting. The cake was prepackaged and sold in grocery stores and had a cellophane wrapper. It was approximately 10 inches long by 4 inches wide by 3 inches high. I can only remember the name "Silver" associated with the cake. I would love to be able to identify this cake item and find out if it is still available to be eaten in Chicagoland or elsewhere. I have exhausted all of my own ideas and all of my older relatives who might have helped me are dead.

  • Loop lunch ideas

    July 1, 2014

    Q: Now that I am back in the Loop daily for school, I have found myself discovering new places for lunch that are out of the box. Price point under $15. I did stop by the newly opened Rustle + Roux and was quite pleased. Any other thoughts?

  • Yellow curry, green curry -- what's the difference?

    June 24, 2014

    Q: Can you explain the difference between traditional yellow curry and the more rare green curry... and what makes them taste distinctly different? Inquiring minds wanna know!

  • Ginger storage tips

    June 17, 2014

    Q: I never seem to have fresh ginger when I need it. What is the best way to store a piece of fresh ginger for later use and how long will it last?

  • When to salt the rib roast

    June 10, 2014

    Q: We cooked a standing rib roast.  It was delicious as always.  We used a simple rub of kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and garlic. I had saved a couple articles from the Trib that I refer to when tackling a rib roast.  One featured several meat purveyors advising on how to cook their favorites.  I also saved the Trib's own John Kass column on his standing rib method. Here's where the question comes in:  One of the butchers suggested that the rub be applied the day before and the meat refrigerated with the rub overnight.  Kass specifically counsels against that, indicating that the salt would draw out the juices if left on overnight. What's your take on this?  And what would a majority of chefs suggest?  I trust Kass (on cooking), but I was curious at the disparity.

  • The stuff of fortune cookies

    June 3, 2014

    Q: Just wrapped up lunch and my fortune cookie read, "You are kind and friendly", which is kind of a idiotic fortune don't you think? It predicts nothing. But it did raise the question — what is the batter/dough for fortune cookies made from? They are very crisp, slightly sweet, and pliable when hot, so I assume lots of fat, flour and sugar, period.

  • Hong Kong steak recipe

    May 27, 2014

    Q: Forty-six years ago I went to the South Pacific Polynesian Restaurant in downtown Chicago with some girlfriends. They had the best Hong Kong steak with grill marks and a nice gravy with vegetables. A few years later returning with my fiance, the restaurant was gone. Is there a way we can get the recipe?

  • Make sure your sauce is safe

    May 20, 2014

    Q: My church group and I are making spaghetti sauce for a fundraising dinner, for 200 people, for our local Relay for Life. We are making the sauce in the church kitchen because it gives us an opportunity for fellowship. The recipe instructions say to simmer the sauce for 30 minutes after all the ingredients are incorporated. If we do that, it will be hot and we won't be able to refrigerate it right away. I'm sure after having spent a couple hours, in the evening, at church people will want to get home. I don't want to haul the sauce home in case it might spill. I'm wondering if we can cook the meat and mix it with the rest of the ingredients for the sauce (unheated), without simmering it. We would then freeze the sauce in containers. On the day of the dinner we would simmer the sauce. So I'm wondering if the flavors need to meld prior to freezing or if they can meld after freezing if allowed to simmer.

  • Which wok: Stovetop or electric?

    May 13, 2014

    Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of an electric wok versus a stovetop version?

  • Wild rice stuffing recipes have year-round appeal

    May 6, 2014

    Q: I have lost my copy of a Thanksgiving issue. 1990-1991? It was a Thanksgiving menu. It was recommended as different from the traditional turkey dinner. The stuffing had nuts and dried fruit. The sweet potatoes had slices of cheddar cheese and the cranberry sauce had onions, etc.! I think it was the center section of the issue that week. I' m sure everyone would enjoy seeing and trying these recipes again. Would appreciate your help.

  • Cooking with flowers

    April 29, 2014

    Q: How about the use of fresh flowers in cooking? Maybe some of the more exotic flowers like borage, calendula, lilac, dianthus, rose petals, hollyhock and tulips. Can you go to a florist to buy flowers you want to cook with or would you have to buy dried flowers instead or foraging? Desserts as well as savory preparations.

  • Coffeeshop-style lemon pound cake recipe

    April 22, 2014

    Q: I wonder if you have a recipe for those delicious, moist, lemon-frosted pound cakes found in the popular coffee shops (they'll remain unnamed!).

  • Cracking the egg shell hassle

    April 15, 2014

    Q: When I boil eggs I get variable results, sometime the shells are easy to remove other times they stick tightly to the whites.  Is there a trick?  I would like this year's colored Easter eggs to be easy to shell.

  • Apple crisp recipe lost, but here are some alternatives

    April 8, 2014

    Q: About 30 or more years ago there was a recipe in the Tribune for Oatmeal Raisin Apple Crisp. I made it for my four children for breakfast all the time and they loved it. I have since lost the recipe and they're still asking for it. Would it be possible to find this recipe?

  • Palmer House tartar sauce fondly remembered

    April 1, 2014

    Q: I grew up in South Shore -- St. Bride's parish -- in the '50s. My Irish mother took me to the Palmer House on Fridays for their filet of sole. Those days, there were lines down the street of people waiting to get into the restaurant at lunchtime. It was served with the most wonderful tartar sauce in the world, along with cole slaw and a hard roll. Now I'm in the Denver area and with Lent in full force, I'm drooling just thinking about it. I have searched the Web to no avail, and wonder if you might have that tartar sauce recipe in your archives?

  • Beignet recipe sought

    March 25, 2014

    Q: In a column in your food section, written by Ruth Ellen Church, titled "Glorious desserts from New Orleans" ... During some of our flooding periods some of my recipes received a washing. I could not save all of them. However, half of this article was destroyed and I would appreciate if it is available to purchase that paper. Mainly interested in the "doughnuts."

  • St. Joseph's Day recipes

    March 18, 2014

    Q: With St. Joseph's Day coming up in March I wonder if you have some recipes for the St. Joseph's table?

  • Variations on a walnut finger recipe

    March 11, 2014

    Pat Prindeville's request for, among other items, a "Walnuss finger" cookie recipe ("Search for old recipes comes up with just one," Daley Question, Good Eating, Feb. 12, 2014) yielded no results from the Chicago Tribune archives. Readers were moved to submit various recipes they thought fit the bill – thanks to all who weighed in.

  • Gluten-free baking questions

    March 4, 2014

    Q: I have been diagnosed with celiac a while back and I am learning a lot about gluten-free. As I am reading the newspaper, to my surprise I see a gluten-free Portuguese sweet bread ("Gluten-free bread: It's all about trust," Feb. 5, 2014).

  • Tomato soup recipe sought by reader

    February 25, 2014

    Q: I enjoyed a delicious tomato soup recipe from the Tribune food pages 10 or 11 years ago. It was an easy recipe and so good. It used canned tomatoes and included acini di pepe pasta. I've misplaced my copy and would love to get the recipe again.

  • What are some better quality tonic waters?

    February 18, 2014

    Q: I buy expensive gin but cheap commercial tonic water. What are the other choices? I've seen some high-end bottled quinine waters but have not tried them. Are they any good? Can I make my own?

  • Sweet treats sought by reader

    February 11, 2014

    Q: Could you reprint in the Wednesday food section an old recipe called Walnuss Finger Cookies from the German Village in Columbus, Ohio? It's a very old recipe and my copy is yellow. Haven't made them in awhile and I'm not sure about the amount of flour.

  • Gluten-free bread at home

    February 4, 2014

    Q: Is it possible to make a good gluten-free bread at home?

  • Villa Moderne memories

    January 28, 2014

    Q: Can you tell me anything about the Villa Moderne Nite Club from back in the 1940s and 1950s?   We are trying to remember where it was located in the Chicagoland area and some of its history.

  • Tropical fruit health claims intrigue reader

    January 21, 2014

    Q: I have a question about a fruit from St. Lucia.  It is supposed to have cancer fighting properties and is delicious, according to my best friend.  Her boyfriend is from St. Lucia and she has had the fruit there and wonders about what a good source would be to obtain it here in Connecticut.  It is called soursap and is large, green and yellow and is white inside.  Any help would be appreciated.

  • In search of grandma's goulash

    January 14, 2014

    Q: I'm writing you because I am trying to track down a story my grandmother Anna Kiefer told me when I was a young girl about how she had submitted a recipe for Hungarian goulash for a contest that the Chicago Tribune was running, and that she won the contest for the goulash. I believe the prize was a complete set of all the winning recipes, a box set of some sort, with the cards having different colors. This would have been somewhere in the 1930s or 1940s, I'm guessing. I don't have the complete set of recipe cards, but I do have the card for the goulash and a few others. She was a good cook and did make delicious goulash. I was just wondering if you could track this story down to see if it is true. I would appreciate the help.

  • Can I use Marsala instead of Madeira in sauce?

    January 7, 2014

    Q: I am planning to make Susan Spicer's goat cheese croutons with wild mushrooms and Madeira cream from her "Crescent City Cooking." I don't have any Madeira. Is Marsala an acceptable substitute?

  • Remembering Marshall Field's hash

    December 31, 2013

    Q: As a young boy, I dined many times at the Walnut Room in the Marshall Field's State Street store. I have searched all over the Internet, bought the Marshall Field's cookbook, but alas, I have not found the recipe for corned beef hash served at the Walnut Room. Do you have any sources for this recipe? It seems to have just vanished!

  • Hamming up the holiday with Dr Pepper

    December 24, 2013

    Q: Do you need a holiday Daley Question? I'm wondering if there is an actual recipe for ham with a Dr. Pepper glaze.

  • Holiday cookie recipe sought

    December 17, 2013

    Q: Some years ago the annual holiday contest had a white chocolate cranberry cookie winner. It's one of my favorites, but unfortunately. I misplaced the recipe. Can you help?

  • Quinoa preparation tips

    December 10, 2013

    Q: My packet of red quinoa says to wash the quinoa multiple times then rinse before cooking. What's the difference?

  • Chili sauce remembered

    December 3, 2013

    Q: My mother had recipe from the Sunday Tribune food section titled, "It's Chili Sauce time!" by Mary Meade (Ruth Ellen Church's pen name). I would say it ran somewhere between the late 50's to 1966. I had the original from the paper and made a copy of the text only and lost the original. By the way it is a killer recipe. Made from fresh tomatoes and spices and peppers. Good stuff. My mother would can it every year and I have done so over the years. So my question is: Where can I go to research and make a copy of that page as it appeared in the Tribune? Is it at all possible to do so after so many years? Back in the day I could go and make a copy from what they called microfiche. Now a days I don't know if that is extinct or still around.

  • Drinkable wine?

    November 26, 2013

    Q: I have a bottle of 1993 Bourgogne Blanc by Chartron et Trebuchet. Is it drinkable? It's a bottle I inherited, so I don't know how it's been stored.

  • Looking for hot milk cake

    November 19, 2013

    Q: My mother has been looking for a recipe that her mom used to make.  It's called Hot Milk Cake.  She said that her mom probably started making it around the 1940s when she lived in Virginia. None of my grandmother's siblings know what cookbook this recipe may have originated from and can't locate a copy within the family itself. If you have heard of any recipes for this cake, could you please let me know? My mother would be delighted and so would I as I have heard it is delicious and would love to try it!

  • Tips for grinding coffee

    November 12, 2013

    Q: How long should one grind coffee beans? I'm breaking in a new grinder. Years ago I read that Starbucks ground their beans for 23 seconds and I did that. In the new grinder, 23 seconds turns the beans to dust.

  • Cracking egg cookery

    November 5, 2013

    Q: What's the perfect way to boil eggs? I've tried every tip out there, it seems. Each one promises perfectly boiled eggs that can be shelled easily.

  • Stashing the vanilla beans

    October 29, 2013

    Q: I recently purchased some very nice vanilla beans at a new market in my area. What is the best way to store them? The last ones I purchased were fairly stiff before I got a chance to use them.

  • Can guacamole be frozen?

    October 22, 2013

    Q: Can you freeze guacamole?

  • Pining for those Canadian wings

    October 15, 2013

    Q: I had some wonderfully sweet, savory and slightly crunchy chicken wings at a restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia, called Phnom Penh. Any chance you could get me their recipe, or find a restaurant in Chicago that offers something similar?

  • Scratch the box (cake)

    October 8, 2013

    Q: My son's request for a birthday cake each year is a yellow box mix with canned frosting. I would prefer to make something from scratch to celebrate his birthday this year. Do you have any a good yellow buttermilk cake recipes with a tasty chocolate frosting that will satisfy his tastes and my desire for a truly homemade cake?

  • Ice wine: how long can it last?

    October 1, 2013

    Q: I was wondering how long one can keep ice wine.

  • Cheesy chowder recipe found

    September 24, 2013


  • Gelato at home

    September 17, 2013

    Q: How can the home cook make gelato?

  • Day old wine woes

    September 10, 2013

    Q: Whenever I dine with my friend and she orders a glass of wine, she insists on the server opening up a new bottle. She says she does not like day old wine and insists she can taste the difference. Meanwhile, I do not ask for a new bottle and I have never had a bad glass of wine. We frequent nice restaurants and have no reason to believe the bottles are sitting for days. Sure, it must be about personal taste but if you have any concrete facts about wine from one day to the next that I can share with her, I would appreciate it.

  • Kobe beef explained

    August 27, 2013

    Q: Could you possibly clear up the notion of Kobe beef? From what I have read it is extremely hard to find the real stuff outside of Japan and that in the U.S. it's all just a big scam.

  • Cake, icing recipes lost & found

    August 20, 2013

    Q: I saw your July 24th column ("Rye bread recipe lost … and found," Good Eating) in which you tracked down a missing beloved rye bread recipe. Could you work that magic again?  I had a Trib recipe for chocolate cake and icing which the Trib represented was the winner from over 200 recipes the Trib people tested to find the perfect chocolate cake. I made it for a friend's birthday and she was nuts about it. I want to make it again for her and I'll be darned if I can find the recipe. The recipe might have been printed between 1980 and 1988, I think.  Definitely no earlier than October, 1977, because I did not live in Chicago until then.

  • Grilling vs. barbecue

    August 13, 2013

    Q: How about the age-old question of grilling vs. BBQ. If you're cooking on propane can that really qualify as BBQ?

  • Saving the cilantro

    July 30, 2013

    Q: I have lots of cilantro plants in my garden. How can I make cilantro-flavored olive oil that will last long enough without spoiling? I will lose most of my harvest, since we use it perhaps only once a week in our Spanish meals.

  • Rye bread recipe lost...

    July 23, 2013

    Q: I looked my Scandinavian Rye Bread recipe  recently and was shocked to find it missing. I started making it in the early 80's and expect that it might have run in the Tribune as early as the late 70's.

  • Agar agar leaves reader puzzled

    July 16, 2013

    Q: I found the recipe for a Dressel's cake in a somewhat recent article of yours ("Reader hankers for a Dressel cake," Good Eating, May 23, 2012.) Exactly what is agar agar, and where the heck does one find that sort of thing? Unless you meant "sugar" and something got mistranslated somewhere? I dunno.

  • Wine words: Don't let label descriptors intimidate you

    July 9, 2013

    Q: I like hot and spicy food, hot peppers, wasabi, horseradish—you get the idea. In a conversation I had about wine I was told people with tastes like mine could never taste the subtle flavors and aromas in wines. In general do you think this is true? I read the descriptors on labels and can almost never smell or taste these things. I've been told many times you have to develop that taste. Is there hope for me or is this just hype?. I enjoy reds for the most part and have my likes and dislikes.

  • Grill gone but not forgotten

    July 2, 2013

    Q: Would you know if the Ramova Grill is still in operation? It was located at 35th and Halsted not too far from the Ramova Theater. Also is the theater still there?

  • Vegan dishes and cabernet

    June 25, 2013

    What's your favorite vegan entree with cabernet sauvignon? Sorry, it's a question always needing an answer here in California.

  • Looking for dad's birthday cake

    June 18, 2013

    Q: My father is a native Chicagoan. Someone once asked me where, exactly, he grew up. I asked Dad and he replied, "Tell them I grew up on the corner of Kostner and Van Buren...and then watch them recoil in horror."

  • Tripping to Chicago?

    June 11, 2013

    Q: I am planning my first trip to Chicago for sometime in mid-June. What are your recommendations and must-have food experiences for a newcomer to Chicago?

  • Waiting for a seating policy that makes sense

    June 4, 2013

    Q: This just feels wrong — what's your take? Should a restaurant with a completely empty community table outside (all of their outdoor seating) and half empty inside tell you there is a 25-30 minute wait (first time) and 10-15 minute wait (second time) but offer for you to wait at the bar? When asked why we were waiting given all the empty seats, they said their kitchen is too small to actually serve in a timely manner if they seated everyone in the empty seats. We said, 'Why not at least seat us and serve us a drink?' They said their bar was too small to get drinks out while we were seated (but, it wasn't too small for us to go stand at the bar while waiting...). We told the hostess that seemed crazy, and she said that was just the way the owner and the chef wanted to do it. Your thoughts? We like the food very much but won't go back.

  • Pulled pork 101

    May 24, 2013

    Q: Where do they pull pulled pork from?

  • Recognizing restaurant regulars

    May 21, 2013

    Q: Was talking with a few friends the other day about restaurants we frequent often. It occurred to us that rarely do restaurants ever recognize your consistent patronage with a free app or drink. Are we living with bygone expectations? Thoughts?

  • In a pickle about salt

    May 14, 2013

    Q: I have a recipe for pickles that calls for 1 cup coarse salt for 6-8 quart jars of pickles. If I reduce the salt to 1/2 cup, will it affect how the pickles turn out? What if I reduce it to 1/4 cup of salt? There are enough other flavors in the recipe (hot peppers, dill and garlic) to make up for the lack of salt flavoring, I believe. I guess my question is, if I reduce the salt significantly will the cucumbers still turn into pickles?

  • Dishing on dining

    May 7, 2013

    Q: You have a pretty big audience of friends. I bet they have the some of the same questions for you that I have. When you eat out, do you go with a group of people? Do you order extra dishes just so you can taste them? Do you take notes while you are eating? Is this a journalistic perk? Do you take doggie bags home with you? Inquiring minds would like to know.

  • Searching for sunshine cake

    May 1, 2013

    Q: A bit of a long shot here. I'm writing from outside London, UK, and am trying to trace a recipe that appeared in the Chicago Tribune back in the '50s/'60s. Told you it was a long shot! I'm looking for a recipe that appeared way back when ... it's "Apricot Sunshine Cake." Apparently it's a sponge cake base with apricot/orange (kind of gel) frosting, and real whipped cream dollops on top. A dear friend's mother cut it out of your paper all those years ago but the recipe has been lost. My friend was hoping to bake this cake for her 55th wedding anniversary which is June 7, so the race is on to find it! I don't have access to the archives and I don't even know if the recipe can be found on there but I thought I'd give it a try anyway.

  • Hungry for grilling books

    April 23, 2013

    Q: Who's your go-to for smoking and slow cooking on the grill? Looking for a few good recipes this summer.

  • Bottle blues: Why does the wine taste worse at home?

    April 16, 2013

    Q: When I've purchased wine lately at either a grocery store, or even a wine shop for that matter, it seems as though some of the wines have a sour taste to them. We can have wine in a restaurant and then purchase the same wine in a store and it doesn't taste the same. I know I'm purchasing the same wine because I'll write down the one we liked and look for it in the store. It's happened not only with moderately priced wines, but more expensive bottles as well. Is this because the wine is not shipped or stored correctly? It's so frustrating, especially if I've spent a good amount on the bottle.

  • Pining for Danilo's pepper steak

    April 9, 2013

    Q: There was a restaurant called Danilo's in the area of Grand and Milwaukee. They've been closed for about 8 years. They had a terrific item on the menu known as Italian-style pepper steak. Hoping that you may have been familiar with the location and could tell me if there is another establishment serving that item. I believe the old owner's name was Danilo Lenzi

  • Best milk for cheesemaking

    April 2, 2013

    Q: Since milk and cream are ultra-pasteurized I am having a hard time making ricotta and Greek cheese. Do you have any suggestions or do you know where I can purchase pasteurized (not ultra) milk or cream? I know raw milk is not sold in the U.S. I hope you can help.

  • Calzone v. stromboli

    March 26, 2013

    Q: What's the difference between a calzone and a strombolli? I might have misspelled that. It's early and my coffee hasn't kicked in.

  • Vanilla 101

    March 19, 2013

    Q: Can you please tell me the difference between powdered vanilla and liquid vanilla. Is one stronger? Can you only use the powdered for cooking? I ruined a "no cook" icing recipe using the powdered form and have been afraid to use it ever since. Also are some liquid vanillas stronger than others? Like what you get from Mexico? What about cheap ones verses more expensive ones in the grocery store? Lots of questions — hope you are able to answer all 5 of them.

  • Corning beef

    March 12, 2013

    Q: I use to use a recipe I got from the Chicago Tribune for making your own corned beef from scratch, using whatever cut of beef you wanted. Recipe dates back to 1993 or 1994. The last time I used the recipe was 1999. I was going to try the recipe again this year, but I can't seem to find it. Just wondering if a recipe will be published in the food section this month?

  • A beef over chicken breasts

    March 5, 2013

    Q: What is up with boneless, skinless chicken breasts? I buy them at my local supermarket and they weigh between 7 and 10 ounces each. They're huge. I sometimes trim them down and use the trimmings for stir fry, but part of the reason for buying these is that they are pan ready. If they take a lot of prep, the convenience factor is gone. Also most whole chickens are in the 5-6 pound range rather than the 3-4 pound range that you expect (and that most recipes are written for) for a fryer. I recently cooked a recipe using bone-in breast quarters and by the time the center was done, the rest of the breast was approaching that dry shoe leather consistency. It's exasperating.

  • Soup recipe unavailable? Re-create it on your own

    February 25, 2013

    Q: My health club serve a terrific tomato mushroom soup. Supposedly it has only 65 calories. Wonder if you could get the recipe out of them, I couldn't!! It's Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn.

  • Tips for shopping responsibly

    February 19, 2013

    Q: I've decided to be more mindful about my meat and fish consumption. Can you recommend butchers and fishmongers in Chicago or the close-in suburbs that sell responsibly produced meat and fish? I am looking for more information than the animal welfare scale that one local grocer uses.

  • Fried green tomatillos

    February 12, 2013

    Q: Since green tomatoes are never found in the supermarket, I wonder how a tomatillo would be, sliced and fried.  When I get a chance, I am going to try it. Thanks for any opinion or info.

  • Rice flour switcheroo

    February 5, 2013

    Q: The recipe for "KFC" Korean fried chicken wings from this week's (Jan. 30, 2013) Good Eating sounds very good, and I'd like to try it. Can you tell me if sweet rice flour is the same as non-glutinous rice flour? I have the former if that will work.

  • Wasting a tail?

    January 29, 2013

    Q: We like to splurge once in a while and have 8-ounce lobster tails. Because they are so expensive at the restaurant we wait until they are on sale at our local market. We put the frozen tails in boiling water then simmer for 7-8 minutes, remove them from the water, cut them in half (lengthwise), spread some butter on them, put them on a steak plate (flesh side up) and broil in oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven and serve with melted butter for dipping. Problem: Many times all the edible portion does not come out of the shell and it is hard to retrieve. What a waste! Is there a better way to prepare them so the tails come out of the shells completely?

  • Oregano origins can matter

    January 22, 2013

    Q: I found a recipe that called for Mexican Oregano is this different than the Italian Oregano that I have in my spice rack?

  • Re-creating restaurant's Tuscan chicken pasta

    January 15, 2013

    Q:I have eaten at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery several times and LOVE their Tuscan Chicken. Is there a recipe that you could get for this delicious dish? 

  • Condensed milk or cream?

    January 8, 2013

    Q: What are the advantages or disadvantages of condensed milk over cream?

  • Ice wine: Older is better?

    January 1, 2013

    Q: I have a 2008 German Eiswein, and I haven't had it stored in a refrigeration unit since I got it. I was wondering if it is still good to drink. I have had the bottle stored upright in a dark cabinet that stays room temperature. Does it only need refrigeration just before serving? Any help on this would be great because I'd like to finally crack this bottle open.

  • Boxed in on Boxing Day?

    December 25, 2012

    Q: I am invited to an affair called Boxing Day. My Scottish and Polish sister-in-law will be having Scottish and Polish food and I would like to bring a side dish that will knock their socks off. They wanted my spinach salad but I am thinking of Barefoot Contessa's scalloped potato and fennel casserole. ... Are there any other appropriate side dishes for Boxing Day that I can consider bringing? I would like to make some hearty vegetable side dishes such as red cabbage, apples and vinegar.

  • A search for holiday cheer

    December 18, 2012

    Q: I have a co-worker and dear friend who seems to have met Mr. Might-Be-Right. The parents have all met and are completely copacetic. This is their first Christmas together and she wants to get him a few impressive things. He's a member of a wine-tasting club. She knows little about wine but would like to get him something that will make the club members sit up and go "hmm." He prefers red to white. Something interesting but not necessarily obvious. Price range is up to $75. She lives on Long Island but works and spends most of her weekends in New York City (Manhattan, to be precise). Any suggestions?

  • Timing a tenderloin

    December 11, 2012

    Q: I have been cooking beef tenderloin with Madeira sauce from the Dec. 3, 2003, Trib for several years. My question is: Could I make it up to the point where I make the sauce then refrigerate it? Then, prior to serving, bring to room temp and finish it off?

  • Pining for a pizza recipe

    December 4, 2012

    Q: See if you can find out if the Villa Girgenti passed their pizza recipe out to anyone when they closed their place on Paulina. It was a '60s North Side high school hangout, and they had the best thin crust pizza ever. What a waste to no longer sell it. I will never stop searching for this.

  • How do you slice an apple?

    November 27, 2012

    Q: I understand that slicing an apple seems like a simple task, but I would like to read about the most efficient way to slice an apple around its core in one of your columns. Also if you wouldn't mind explaining to me the most efficient way to slice a pineapple around its core for my friend Joey, it would be greatly appreciated.

  • Turkey toting tips

    November 20, 2012

    Q: Do you have any advice for a movable feast? Meaning, I'd like to offer to cook and bring the turkey to this year's celebration at our son's home, but we have a 45-minute to 1-hour drive to his place, and although I like to cook I've rarely done a turkey. I plan to buy a fresh, "green" bird and not stuff it. I'd be cooking a bird to feed nine adults and two young children.

  • Where's the date on the bottle?

    November 13, 2012

    Q: I have noticed while shopping that a few wine bottles did not have a year listed on their labels. Because I like to store wine according to its vintage, this is frustrating — and puzzling too. Could you clarify this?

  • Beef brisket wanted

    November 6, 2012

    Q: A good friend of mine is seeking a recipe for beef brisket which she had cut out last year but now has lost.  It was a good one and she wants to make it for a special event this weekend.   She says the recipe ran last year and ran about the time of a Jewish holiday; was a lead piece in the section.  Would appreciate any help you can give. She is an avid reader of the Tribune's food section.

  • Pining for Best's Kosher Franks

    October 30, 2012

    Q: I write you from autumnal New England with one quick question about a Chicago food tradition, Best's Kosher Franks, which were made in the Windy City for a long, long time. They were the absolute best frankfurters available (even here in Massachusetts) and were gobbled up and disposed of by Sarah Lee. Has anyone revived the recipe?

  • Vegetarian meals: Ideas?

    October 23, 2012

    Q: Hubby is dieting by eating vegetarian as often as possible. It's been a week, and he is getting bored quickly. Do you have any recommendations for some vegetarian dinner meals that are nutritionally complete, and are not simply variations of chili?

  • That old fruitcake magic

    October 16, 2012

    Q: When I got married, for our first Christmas, I decided to bake a fruitcake for the first time. The thinking was that if it was made from scratch it would be much better than those horrors sold in the stores. The Betty Crocker yellow fruitcake recipe was used substituting butter for the shortening.

  • Was James Beard the Jolly Green Giant?

    October 9, 2012

    Q: I really did enjoy everyone celebrating Julia Child's birthday. But, I do remember another chef that was on television before her, James Beard. I remember seeing his cooking shows and I guess there are no tapes or films that were saved, or maybe there were two in the Library of Congress. So, I was researching James Beard and how they made a museum out of his town house in Greenwich Village and guest chefs put on wonderful food events there. I came across some information that James Beard would do food ads on his show and that he was the original Jolly Green Giant. Is this true? I bought some fresh produce at Target today, Green Giant which was nicely packaged and it made me think of this question.

  • Looking for a special loaf

    October 2, 2012

    Q: Where can one buy English toasting bread in the Chicago area? I bought a loaf earlier this year at a store in the Crest Hill area. But since then have been unable to find it in a store. Worse yet I can't remember the name of the store at which I bought the English toasting bread or the brand name.

  • Hungry for Canasta cake

    September 25, 2012

    Q: I am originally from the Southwest side of the city. I grew up on a Canasta cake made by Weber's Bakery on Archer Avenue. I live retired in Phoenix now and I can find nothing like it here. When I fly back from the city, I stop there and bring one back on the plane along with fresh Polish sausage and pierogi from Joe and Frank's at Archer and Harlem. Is there anyway to get that cake recipe? It is to die for.

  • Searching for squid

    September 18, 2012

    Q: I had the most delicious squid pasta while vacationing in Michigan's UP. I have a basic recipe, and I hope to try it out soon. I have questions for you: Where on earth can I find squid or calamari in the far western suburbs of Chicago? I haven't a clue where she found it up there or if it was fresh or frozen. I would probably get overwhelmed cleaning and prepping, so I may need frozen? She also mentioned putting wine corks in the sauce to keep the calamari from getting rubbery. Have you ever heard of that?  This was a spicy red sauce over thin spaghetti noodles -- ever good -- do you have a more specific recipe for it? 

  • Hungry for recipe from Pauline's

    September 11, 2012

    Q: While my mother was visiting me here in Chicago, my partner and I took her for breakfast at Pauline's in the Andersonville area and she was very enamored with the French bread pudding toast. She was wondering if there was any way that she could obtain the recipe. If at all possible, would you be able to check to see if the folks at Pauline's would be willing to share it with one of your readers?

  • Liver gone bad

    September 4, 2012

    Q: Sometimes you get liver and it tastes bad and sometimes you get liver and it tastes really good. So how do you get the ugly taste out of it (when it's bad)? Do you rinse it in water, salt water, milk, anything? Anyway, If you have an answer to this I would be very grateful.

  • Going bananas for missing bread recipe?

    August 28, 2012

    Q: I was scouring Google and the web for my favorite banana bread recipe that I think my husband accidentally threw in the trash. I won't make another banana bread without it!

  • Pressed to find classic duck dish

    August 21, 2012

    Q: Many years ago I was dining in a restaurant in Chicago's Chinatown. I ordered pressed duck. It was served in a deep fried form about 6 inches in length, 4 inches wide and about an inch or so thick. The vegetables were pressed together with the duck and was served with a sauce. I don't know if it is Cantonese, Mandarin, etc. Chinese cookbooks contain no such recipe. For many years since that occasion I have dined in Chinese restaurants around the country and have never been able to find pressed duck prepared in this manner. I am seeking your help in finding a Chicago area restaurant that serves pressed duck in this manner or a recipe so that I may prepare it at home.

  • No smoking!

    August 14, 2012

    Q: I dislike food with soot or smoke on it or in it although I like well done meat and fowl. Could a charcoal grill work which had a thin metal plate under the grill? This would, of course, be circular, and would have three short arms which rest on the top edge of the charcoal pan permitting smoke and heat to escape between the edge of the plate and the pan. It's not very complicated. Perhaps it has already been tried as in using a large fry pan with a grill bottom, and the fry pan rests on the hot coals.

  • Triple chocolate cake like mom used to make

    July 31, 2012

    Q: My brother and I were recently talking about a cake that our mom used to make called Triple Chocolate Cake (in a 13-by-9 pan) The three chocolate items were chocolate cake mix, chocolate instant pudding mix and chocolate chips. When our mom passed away we looked in her recipes for this and could not find it. Based on our age and our memories it was probably the late '70s and early '80s that she made this cake. Any thoughts?

  • Heavy cream substitutions

    July 24, 2012

    Q: Can evaporated milk be substituted for heavy cream? I have an ice cream recipe that calls for heavy cream. I've been to three stores, but only found light cream.

  • Can't find that prize-winning recipe?

    July 18, 2012

    (Note: This story contains updated material. Please see below.)

  • Margarine for shortening?

    July 10, 2012

    Q: Can you substitute margarine for shortening in a cupcake recipe?

  • Slicing a cake

    July 10, 2012

    Most people approach slicing the typical round layer cake like they would a pizza: cutting it into wedges that are similar in size. And that, in the experienced eyes of Nancie McDermott, is exactly the wrong way to go about it.

  • Pound cake goes flat

    June 19, 2012

    Q: My whole family has tried to duplicate my grandma's pound cake recipe without any success. It tastes the same but doesn't rise and if becomes a really heavy dense cake. Any idea why the cake won't rise? I want to be able to figure this out and make it for her. She just broke her hip and she is 93 so who knows how much longer we have.

  • Looking for aunt's date brownies

    June 12, 2012

    Q: Can you direct me to where I can find a brownie-type recipe from the 1950s that was made with chopped dates?  It is a childhood favorite I used to make with my Aunt Anne. She is long passed away.

  • Speaking of wine, family and love

    September 22, 2010

    Jean-Charles Boisset is the wine world equivalent of a star chef. Handsome, successful, globe-trotting and visionary — and wed last year to another wine star, Gina Gallo — he is intent on making distinctive wine at all price points. The French winemaker can be as modern as they come in his wine packaging and marketing, but he remains steadfastly traditional in his devotion to terroir, a French term that denotes an almost mystical sense of place in winemaking.

  • Great duck: It's in the sauce

    September 15, 2010

    Longer nights and cooler temps will lead naturally to richer, fuller-flavored foods. Duck, in particular, seems to celebrate autumn's sensuality with its crisped skin, sweet fat and plush flesh that can go with all sorts of treatments, from simple roasting to pastry-festooned terrines.

  • Cool wines getting hot

    September 8, 2010

    Sometimes it pays to play it cool; just ask President Obama, Lauren Bacall, Johnny Depp and the grape growers and winemakers of Chile's Casablanca Valley.

  • Exploring the whites of Italy

    September 1, 2010

    Just as Italy's vast and varied cuisine seems to have been boiled down to a few tired and true warhorses — spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, cheese pizza — on the trip across the North Atlantic, so too has the choice of Italian wine often appeared to be limited to familiar reds such as Chianti or lambrusco. Italian whites rarely seem to figure in the popular imagination, and when they do, the pick always seems to be pinot grigio.

  • A wine for more seasons

    August 17, 2010

    Shadows are growing longer and days are growing shorter, but don't for a second think summer is over — even if the kids are heading back to school. There are plenty of sultry days in store. Warm weather can extend well beyond Labor Day; just ask any New Englander about Indian summer, a San Franciscan about what life is like in October (especially life without air conditioning) or a Floridian pretty much any time of year. Rose will matter for quite a while now.

  • 'No winemaking' says Italian winemaker

    August 11, 2010

    Soave is so-so at best: That's the line you often hear from people disappointed (and fed up) with Italy's most popular white wine. But Soave, named for a town/area in the Veneto region, can be quite good, minerally crisp and food-friendly. Some of the best representations of Soave can be found under the distinctive neo-classical labels of Inama.

  • Celebrating local foods, purveyors

    August 10, 2010

    Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian (Wiley, $29.95)

  • Time is ripe for verdejo

    August 3, 2010

    Verdejo just may be the Cinderella grape of the wine world. Long made into a sherrylike wine, verdejo got a new lease on life beginning in the 1970s when Spanish winemakers in the Rueda region began making fresh, lively white wines out of it.

  • Don't be chicken; try riesling

    July 28, 2010

    What says summer more than a platter of hot, just-off-the-grill chicken legs slathered in smoky, spicy barbecue sauce and paired with a chilled bottle or two of a crisp white wine? Make that white a riesling. You'll get a dry, lively flavor that can take the saucy heat and an intriguing aroma.

  • The tale of Yellow Tail brand

    July 21, 2010

    Since its launch in 2001, the Yellow Tail line of wines has hopped smartly to the front of the affordable wine pack. The brand's colorful wallaby-festooned label has spawned so many animal-themed wannabe's that a name for a whole new wine genre was coined: "critter wines."

  • Go red, white or rosé

    July 14, 2010

    July 14 is Bastille Day in France, and it truly is, as the French call it, "La Fete Nationale."

  • Pinot chic

    July 7, 2010

    Pinot noir is not the most popular red wine in the United States — even merlot outsells it almost 2-to-1, according to The Nielsen Co. But pinot noir is arguably the most chic grape in the vineyard, which may explain why the variety has proved so troublesome.

  • Zin-ful toast to 4th of July

    June 30, 2010

    July Fourth: Rockets will scream through the darkening sky, sparklers will sputter and cherry bombs will pop in backyards all across the United States. Why not also celebrate Independence Day with a firecracker of a wine, a zinfandel from California's Sonoma County?

  • Which white?

    June 22, 2010

    Pork famously became "the other white meat" when the National Pork Board launched the slogan back in the 1980s. It's a term that's stuck — more than 90 percent of Americans recognize it today, according to Pamela Johnson of the board's Pork Information Bureau. Ironically, perhaps, the slogan is so familiar that the National Pork Board is looking for new slogans to help wake up the consumer to all the porky possibilities.

  • Hey, syrah!

    June 16, 2010

    "Shame about syrah, really," I was thinking the other day while washing down a cheeseburger with a glass of 2003 Ojai Thompson Vineyard Syrah from California's Santa Barbara County. The wine was big, meaty even. Yet, it was balanced, in proportion, perfect with my dinner.

  • Sherry: A little secret no more

    June 2, 2010

    Psst! I've got a secret and, boy, am I eager to share it with you. It's one word, six letters.

  • Don't cry for Argentina's wine

    May 26, 2010

    Sorry, Evita, if there's any crying going on in Argentina these days, it's likely to be in the vineyards. And they're tears of joy.

  • With wine, it's the fruit that counts

    May 19, 2010

    Pardon the pun, but if anyone has reason to be merry these days, it's Merry Edwards. Her signature pinot noir wines from California's Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast continue to garner kudos and reviewers' points. Her sauvignon blanc enjoys a rapidly growing reputation as one of the nation's best.

  • Vibrancy of Finger Lakes wines

    May 12, 2010

    New York wines are really nothing new if you take into account an oenological history dating back to the Dutch in the 17th century. But it's probably fair to say that, although its production is third in U.S. wine production behind California and Washington, many Americans have never had one drop from the Empire State.

  • A toast to Mom

    May 5, 2010

    Celebrate Mother's Day with a leisurely brunch sparked with a celebratory bottle of white wine.

  • South Africa: Land of variety

    April 28, 2010

    World Cup competition comes to South Africa in June. Start the celebration of soccer's ultimate event a little early with South African wines. In so doing, experience the country's past, present and future.

  • Uncorked: Freedom to blend

    April 20, 2010

    One of the major differences between American winemakers and their European counterparts is that here wine is largely made and sold based on grape variety rather than a growing area. So, a Californian will make a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot while a French vintner will produce a Pauillac or a Saint-Emilion.

  • Clueless about wine?

    April 6, 2010

    Clueless about wine? Don't worry, you're sitting in a pretty crowded boat. While it seems more and more people are drinking more and more wine, there's still a wide gap out there in terms of wine knowledge.

  • Wines to serve with Easter ham

    March 30, 2010

    Ham is the Meryl Streep of the Easter table. Depending on the menu, it can alter appearances, switch flavor accents and even set a certain emotional mood at dinner.

  • Kosher wine, beyond sweet red

    March 24, 2010

    Passover preparation can be an arduous task. You clean the house, get rid of leavened foods, bring out the right china, cook a Seder dinner — and shop for kosher wine.

  • Dressed in whites

    March 17, 2010

    The St. Joseph's Day dinner is traditionally meatless because the day falls during Lent and often features Sicilian cuisine.

  • Winemaker talks terroir

    March 10, 2010

    Cathy Corison produces only up to 3,000 cases at her eponymous winery in California's Napa Valley. She sells just two cabernet sauvignons nationally. There's a staff of only three. Yet her influence on winemaking is being increasingly felt in the United States and around the world.

  • He's a believer in biodynamic wine

    February 17, 2010

    Alois Lageder (pronounced "ah-loh-IS  lah-GAY-der") is the fourth generation of his family to manage this eponymous winery in the northeastern Italian province of Alto Adige. The region belonged to Austria until after World War I, which explains why many of the wines don't taste stereotypically Italian and why wine labels are written in German as well as Italian.

  • Bonny Doon founder is a punster d'vine

    January 20, 2010

    Randall Grahm is the legendary founder of California's Bonny Doon Vineyard, noted for creating delicious Rhone-style wines. He is an innovator not only in the vineyard, where he fearlessly experiments with different grape varieties, but also in the marketplace, where his eye-catching labels and fondness for outrageous punning have long entertained consumers.

  • Merlot: It's all in the micro-climates

    January 13, 2010

    Telling Mike Januik that his merlot reminds you of cabernet sauvignon won't exactly break the Washington winemaker's heart. For Januik, who produces wine under his eponymous label and for Novelty Hill, believes what sets the merlots of the Columbia Valley region apart from others is their sense of place; these wines have a point of view.

  • Pinot noir smackdown: Oregon vs. California

    January 6, 2010

    Oregonians famously don't want you to move there, but they don't mind a visit — unless you're Californian. Then don't bother, please, and thank you. Regional dislikes are nothing new: Connecticut people loathe New Yorkers (especially those behind the wheel); Texans have legions of detractors across the South; and Wisconsin residents are dismissed as cheese heads by those in Illinois.

  • Sangiovese, the Italian grape with many names and many wines

    July 15, 2009

    Sangiovese is one of the most popular and most planted grapes in Italy. The grapes make wines that offer fresh, cherry flavors and an earthy quality, often aromatic like cedar. Yet sangiovese (san-joh-VAY-zeh) isn't over the top. As the many sangiovese blends out there prove, the grape plays well with others.

  • Not your parent's sauvignon blanc

    July 16, 2008

    Sauvignon blanc is popular in the U.S. today largely because the late Robert Mondavi had the smarts 40 years ago to market the white wine under another name: fumé blanc.

  • Label confusion

    May 14, 2008

    Italian wines are the biggest-selling imported wines in the United States, but just how well does the average wine consumer know them? Probably not much beyond Chianti or pinot grigio.

  • Jug-heads

    November 7, 2007

    Jug wine has long been scorned for its simple flavors, cheap prices and ample gallonage. In the last few years, though, jug wine has gathered some retro charm as a few winemakers tweak its down-market persona into something hipper and more contemporary.

  • Bullish for tinto de Toro

    October 10, 2007

    Wine drinkers are growing increasingly bullish for Spanish wines of all types, including the distinctive tinto de Toro reds. These wines made from the tempranillo grape are named for a town on the Duero River in the province of Zamora, northwest of Madrid. The appellation is small in size, but the area is standing increasingly tall in the international market.

  • Consider the cork

    October 3, 2007

    What's inside the wine bottle is what counts, of course, but debate continues to rage within the industry over the question of how that bottle should be stoppered. Now, into the fray comes a voice of reason outlining the problems and the challenges that preserving wine poses.