A week’s vacation in West Palm—a week that concluded with blue skies, beach, pool food, fruity rum drinks—began with an unexpectedly fine lunch made by my dear, hard-working, fun-loving, enormously generous mum. We’d risen early, left gloomy Cleveland Heights in time to drop the dog off at Metrobarks, arrived at PBI, rented a stupid little Chevy that caused nothing but arguments until it became funny, and arrived at Mom’s by lunchtime.  She had glasses of cold white wine and the above meal waiting for us. It was such a lovely spread, Donna was immediately moved to take it out onto the sunny balcony for a couple quick snapshots with the Lumix. It’s a perfect example of how to put together a quick meal to share, most things done ahead, some bought, some made, all prepared Read On »

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Update 9/13/07: Chicago Tribune writer Kevin Pang and anonymous reviewer are first to review the dish. I personally will not rest until this dish makes it onto The Cheesecake Factory Menu. Yesterday I received a heartening email about my plea to rid the nation of the tragedy called the Chicken Caesar Salad and my suggestion for a protest replacement.  It wasn’t from an esoteric ADD freaking madman cook putting rooster tops on romaine.  It was a man of the heartland, a relative unknown, a cook who’s spent a plenty of time in corporate chefdom.  His name is Mark Mavrantonis and he’s the chef at Mike Ditka’s suburban outpost in Oakbrook Terrace, a half hour outside Chicago.  (You gotta trust a chef who goes after his own king crabs.) It’s proof that some of these guys Read On »

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It’s the only way to redeem the catastrophe of the Chicken Caesar.  Wed it with pork belly that has been briefly cured, then gently poached in fat, cooled in fat, then sliced, breaded and deep-fried.  I want to say it again: Pork belly confit, deep-fried.  Oh, man it is soooo good. Following what I think is an extraordinary thread of comments on the Caesar Salad in America, for which I want to express huge thanks to those who took the time to write and argue; all of you help me to know what I think and I hope think better, and I am grateful—I humbly introduce … The Chicken Fried Pork Belly Caesar.  I didn’t do the croutons because of the crispy nature of the pork but Donna suggested that for a truly innovative interpretation, Read On »

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