I'm soooo over winter!
It's been a crazy season in Chicago and even though the weather
isn't exactly cooperating, (it snowed six inches over the weekend),
we're moving ahead with our plans for
Peeks into the chef's inspiration: I'm so
fortunate to be able to work with such talented chefs, like Richard
James. This is one of his creations, featured on this month's
Frontera Menu. (I've already eaten it three times this
month.) The dish is called Pollo en Mole Blanco. It's a
wood-grilled Gunthorp chicken breast served with a "white" mole of
almonds, dried fruit, sweet spices and "blond" chile. I love
the story behind how Richard created this dish. Rick isn't a
huge fan of white moles, and because of that, they rarely
appeared on our menus. Richard worked until he perfected his
version of Mole Blanco, and needless to say, he won Rick over!
Check out all the new dishes at Frontera and Topolo.
Spring has sprung in the Morales
Room. Looking for a venue for a graduation
party, bridal shower or any other celebration this spring and
summer? The Morales Room might be just what you're
looking for. Our private dining room can accomodate up
to 45 guests. All new seasonal menus will be posted on
the web site in mid-April. Contact Elizabeth Entwhistle at
312-334-3662 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
to set up a truly memorable party.
In the News. In the April issue of
Saveur Magazine, Topolo was named as one of the "12 Restaurants That
Profiles of Frontera Farmer Foundation
recipients. Meet Jody and Beth Osmund of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm near
Ottawa, Illinois. They moved back to Jody's family farm seven
years ago after spending 15 years in corporate America. As
Jody put it, "We needed to find a way to make a living on a
small farm where we could stay independent and wouldn't
require a huge capital investment." They were looking for a
niche where they could concentrate their efforts into
producing quality products in a sustainable manner with the
positive enviromental benefit of locally produced food. They
started with a vegetable CSA, and a few years ago, expanded to
poultry, beef, and pork. In 2007, they decided to start a
meat CSA, and in 2008, made the decision to focus on that sector of
They applied to the Frontera Farmer Foundation in order to
expand their infrastucture. One of their purchases was a
walk-in freezer. These improvements helped them grow their
business from 50 CSA monthly shares to 190 monthly shares.
That's a truly amazing growth, and why we feel so passionate about
helping local farmers.
Frontera Farmer Foundation Benefit.
Speaking of the Farmer Foundation, we've gotten so many requests to
sign up to attend this year's benefit on June 14th, that we've
decided to start taking reservations early.
For those of you who may not be acquainted this event, the day
is broken up into two parts. In the morning Frontera
Grill is transformed into a one of a kind Farmer's Market.
From Noon to 3pm meet and eat with our local farmers, staff and
friends of the restaurant! Check out Rick in the test
kitchen, great auction items, and see what it means to support our
local farmers! Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door.
Then join us at 6pm for our annual Dinner like no Other! Five
courses prepared just for this night, featuring early summer
produce, meat and fish from local farms and producers. $125
per person. All proceeds go directly to capital development grants
for local farmers. There are a limited number of reservations, and they tend to go
fast, so don't wait too long before calling 312-661-1434 and making
New on the Web Site. We've added a new feature
to our site called "Building Blocks for the Mexican
Kitchen." Rick demos basic cooking preparations that
are used in Mexican cooking. This month it's Roasted Poblana
Rajas. He then turns the rajas into a finished dish with
grilled chicken breasts.
Kitchen gadget adventure. Here's a gadget that
we're constantly getting requests for more information. It's
a 2-in-1 lemon and lime squeezer from AMCO which retails for $19.99
at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It works for
both lemons and limes, and it's coated in enamel, which means it's
dishwasher safe. I use it all the time in both my kitchen at
home and in the test kitchen, and you've probably seen Rick use it
on the TV show.
Cocktail time. Jen, our bar
manager, has a few tequila recommendations this month. Here
are her thoughts on tequila pairings.
"When I think of spring, what
comes to mind are foods with delicate, fresh flavors. I
recommend pairing blanco tequilas, since they won't overwhelm these
flavors. Blanco is the designation that applies to the
category of tequilas that are not aged. I've picked two of
the more subtle blancos, since they're my personal favorites.
Vida from the highlands of Jalisco is my first
choice for its smooth, clean agave flavor. It's hinted with a
touch of fresh coconut & a slight grassiness. My second
pick is Oro Azul Blanco, which is just a touch
richer and very easy drinking. This one displays the
freshness of a light spring rain with a touch of
Also, if you get a chance, check out our
which is now posted on our web site.
Blog Q &
Q: Hi Rick, I'm going to make
cochinita pibil and I was wondering is there a difference in flavor
from cooking it in an oven versus in a pit. I'm using pork
shoulder. (if that helps).
A: I wouldn't be telling the
truth if I said that cochinita pibil tastes the same when baked in
an oven or a wood-fired pit in the ground. The
in-ground method produces a slightly smoky flavor and supple
texture that you'll never get in an oven. That said, how many
of us have the time or wherewithall to do the pit thing? And
that's okay, because cochinita pibil in an oven (or a slow-cooker,
for that matter) is a truely delicious thing. Bones matter,
perhaps, even more than the pit. They add so much
flavor. So be sure to use a bone-in pork shoulder roast for
your cochinita pibil. And, if you're ever going to serve a
crowd, buy a suckling pig. The additional flavor you get from
the trotters (and head!) are incredible.
New Recipes from the Test
Kitchen. I've posted three recipes
on the web site this month. The first is from the PBS special
that Rick did called "A Moveable Feast with America's Favorite
Chefs" for Café Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken
Enchiladas. The second is the grill method for cooking
Cochinita Pibil in answer to the above
blog question. The third is an updated recipe for
Ripe Plantain Turnovers with Black Bean
Sustainability. We call
this our rooftop salsa garden. Last year we had 45 earthboxes
planted with tomatoes and chiles which we used in the
restaurant. This year we're adding another 35 boxes.
Earthboxes are a self
contained gardening system, they're self-watering and
self-fertilizing with the water reservoir in the bottom. The
water wicks up through the soil into the roots, which means that it
uses significantly less water than conventional gardening.
Each box is 2 1/2 feet long, 15 inches wide and 1 foot tall, so
that they can fit almost anywhere.
Earthboxes are used by the Growing Connection,
which is a grassroots project developed by the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supported by a progressive
coalition of private and public sector partners. How does it
work? School gardening programs and community gardens around
the world grow vegetables in an EarthBox system that becomes a
common growing platform for all participants. Students grow
food, conduct horticultural experiments and share their lessons and
experiences with each other using IT connectivity. If you'd
like to contribute to this worthwhile program, you can make a
donation on-line at The Growing
Well, that's it for this month.
Test Kitchen Director/Web Site Culinary
P.S. If you happen to be in Dallas on
April 25th, Rick will be appearing at the Macy's Galleria
store from 2 - 4pm. For reservations call
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