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Guest post by (my dear friend and assistant) Emilia Juocys It was just Thanksgiving last week, right? Oh, wait, Christmas is this week. That means I have to get into high gear for cookie baking and prepping Christmas Eve dinner. Time has flown by so fast, and I’ve been curling across the Midwest and up in Canada. No matter where I am, I am drawn to local bakeries to see their holiday offerings or talk about baking traditions from local hosts. Home baking soothes me, calms me—even if I bake at 2:00 in the morning listening to dance music, my bake rave time. Measuring ingredients, creaming the fats and sugars, rolling out dough, cutting shapes; I just love it all. Cookie baking is my passion. Cookies are the best to share with friends and family. This year I Read On »

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After my assistant, Emilia Juocys, returned from a food-related trip to California, I asked her how it was. I’d heard about Eat Retreat but didn’t have a clear sense of what it was. I said, “Why don’t you write a post about it.”Though what she sent me was considerably more personal than I’d anticipated, it also underscored what we all recognize: the power of food to connect us to one another. —M.R. By Emilia Juocys With all of the changes I have experienced in the last 12 months I needed to do something different and meet some new people, especially in the culinary world. Chicago had been great to me but I left in the fall to return home because I was getting divorced after nine years of marriage. Never expected it, but life happens, people change, and the Read On »

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Every year in about September I start thinking about what cookies I want to bake for Michael’s blog. Its starts off as a long list and then gets cut down, so a variety of cookies are presented, ranging from classics to new formulations. This year I wanted to share two new recipes: a Cardamom Ginger Coconut cookie, inspired by my love of Indian food, and a gluten-free Linzer cookie. After spending time with a teammate who is gluten intolerant I decided to make a cookie just for her. The cardamom ginger coconut cookie has a soft spot in my heart because it marries the incredible base dough of my chocolate chips cookies and Indian cuisine. This cookie warms you with aromatics, cardamom and coriander. You get extra warmth from the minced crystalized ginger. There may Read On »

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Today’s cocktail is a new one for me, via Emilia via Pableaux (see below). It’s a sherry and fruit cocktail from the early 19th century called a Cobbler. A Google search will give you all sorts of spirit-based “cobblers,” but how they differ from a basic whiskey cocktail is, well, they don’t. So let’s keep the term clean! A cobbler is a sherry-based cocktail! And truly refreshing!—M.R. by Emilia Juocys Friday Cocktail Hour is probably one of my favorite weekly segments I have been part of since I began working with Michael and Donna. Every week I get to learn a new classic cocktail or an interesting variation. Since living in Chicago I have been blessed with not only a fantastic food scene, but also a thriving mixology scene. I’m constantly tempted to have multiple “happy Read On »

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Emilia Juocys has been my assistant for several years, first from Chicago now from her home town in Michigan. She has recently, at the age of 35, made a major transition in her life. Major transitions require reflection, reevaluation; curiosity and fear about the future are also inevitable consequences. When you are a cook you turn to food for some of the understanding and grace you need. – R By Emilia Juocys @jaldona Summer is nearly over, and the fall is closing in, and the bounty of the summer is entering our kitchen in droves. I devour the sweet summer corn and beautiful heirloom tomatoes, but for me summer would not be summer unless I had a specific summer treat. I’m also stuck in a great period of reflection, wondering where I will end up Read On »

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