The holiday season is quickly approaching and it's time to start thinking
about holiday dinners and parties. On that note, I have some suggestions for new dishes to add to your holiday repertoire.
In addition, we've made some changes to our web site, including adding a
search option to make it easier to find what you're looking for. The search button is located on the right hand side of the home page right
under Rick's picture.
It's hard to believe that it's time to start thinking about holiday
gifts. Of course, I'm speaking to those of us who don't have all our gifts bought and wrapped by the end of August! Check out my gift
for the serious cook on your list in Gadget Adventures.
From all of us at Frontera, Topolo and XOCO, we wish you a very happy
Peeks into Chef's Inspirations:
This dessert was inspired by the trip out to Spence Farm for last month's Spence Farm Foundation benefit in which we participated. That
night, our Pastry
Sous Chef Jennifer Jones had the opportunity to pick and sample paw paw, the northern-most grown tropical fruit in North America from trees on their
farm. Paw paw has a very floral aroma with a faintly citrus taste, similar to a cherimoya and is sometimes referred to as a prairie
Jennifer's dessert features a paw paw ice that's paired with a coconut-lime pudding cake, garnished with
coconut ribbons and set on top of an orange flower water curd. Crushed coconut macaroons, which are under the ice, provide a textural contrast
of crunch and chewiness to this dessert.
All in all, it's a very unique dish, and a fitting end to an exciting meal at Topolobampo. It will be on the menu until mid December.
Dates and Places Rick will be Appearing:
Rick's only public appearance this month will be at the Chicago Green City Market on Wednesday, November
18th. He's demonstrating the Butternut Squash soup that is part of this month's new recipes from the Test Kitchen. This soup features
of the products available at the market. The market opens at 8:00am, with his demo starting at 10:30. The Fall/Winter Green City
Market is located at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park. We hope to see you there.
Profiles on Frontera Farmer Foundation Recipients:
Meet Teresa Santiago, who in 2001 found herself recently divorced with three children and looking for a
live. She found a small three acre farm, and decided to try farming, since as a single parent, it would allow her the flexibility to be with
still being able to work.
Her goal that first year was to try growing just about everything that would thrive in Zone Five, with the
emphasis on fruits
and herbs. It was in her second year on the farm that she decided to plant five aronia bushes. The berries look like a black crab apple,
similar in size to a blueberry, and are commonly referred to as chokeberries. Aronia berries have amazing health
benefits, and as it turned out, her customers both at the Evanston Farmers Market and members of her CSA couldn't get enough of
She applied and received her first grant from the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2006. At that time,
she asked for money to purchase 1,000 additional aronia bushes. She applied and received her second grant in 2008 for the equipment necessary
make aronia juice.
Currently, she grows 30 varieties of herbs and 30 varieties of fruit, all of which are grown
Although all the fresh aronia berries and juice are gone from this year's harvest, she still has frozen
berries, jelly, and jams for sale. For more information, you can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone
Kitchen Gadget Adventures:
I admit that I'm stretching the definition of gadget with my pick this month, but given the fact that
many people are looking for holiday
time of year, I felt I could get away with it.
This is the Oxo scale, which if you have a person on your gift list that is passionate about cooking and/or baking, it's the perfect gift. In
the test kitchen, as well as in my home, I rank a scale at the top of my list of necessary equipment. This one has a large capacity, up to 11
pounds, and measures in
1/8 ounce or 1 gram increments. You're able to tare or zero the counter, and the feature I like the best is the the display can be pulled out
away from the base so you can see the weight when using large containers that would normally cover the display. The weighing surface is stainless
steel and can be removed for easy cleaning.
This scale retails for $49.99 and is available either through Oxo or at
Bed, Bath and Beyond. By
Illustrated picked this as their favorite scale in their equipment ratings also.
New Recipes from the Test Kitchen:
I was thinking seasonal and holiday in terms of my recipes this month.
Rick and I were talking about Thanksgiving dinner, and it came out that we both like to serve soup to
off the meal. With that thought in mind, and also thinking about what we could serve at his demo at Green City market, I thought of this
butternut squash soup with apple and
chipotle. It's easy to prepare ahead of time and freezes very well.
The second recipe is a guacamole that uses sun-dried tomatoes with a roasted
base. It's a great guacamole to serve at this time of year when tomatoes are out of season, and it a good way to experiment with using
The third recipe is perfect for an elegant dinner party. It's a beef tenderloin stuffed with shiitake mushrooms and swiss
chard served with a guajillo sauce.
Based on the popularity of chocoflan (Impossible Cake) at XOCO, we revisited our recipe from Season 6 and have
revised it. We think it's even better than the original.
Lastly, we've redesigned the recipe section of the web site to make it easier to find recipes. I'm
still making some last minute tweaks, but it should be finished in the next few weeks.
Blog Q & A:
Q: Does Rick offer a "Chef's Table" at any of this restaurants?
A: Although neither restaurant offers a chef's
table in the traditional sense, we do offer a private dining space in our library which is right outside of the test kitchen. Our library can
accommodate up to 12 guests and features the Topolobampo Celebration Tasting menu with customized wine pairings. All five courses are prepared right
front of you by one of our amazing chefs.
Not only will you enjoy a very memorable dinner, but you'll have the added
benefit of spending the evening surrounded by Rick's extensive cookbook collection,
which serves as the inspiration for many of the dishes that appear on our
menus. Your experience can be as interactive as you'd like, with the chef
and service team able to answer any questions you have.
information, contact Elizabeth Entwhistle at 312-334-3662 or via email at email@example.com.
Speaking of blog questions, we'll be debuting a new section on the web site within the next few weeks of
FAQ's. Watch for the announcement under Frontera News on the home
Community Supported Agriculture or (CSAs as they're more commonly referred to) started in North America in the
80's and have grown in popularity since the issues of food safety and knowing where our food comes from have become such hot topics. Membership
in a CSA is based on shares of the harvest. Shareholders (members) underwrite the harvest for the entire season in advance. This helps
farmer not only in terms of cash flow, but it cuts down on wasted product since they only harvest what they need. In terms of the consumer,
you're receiving the freshest products, and it saves you the time and effort of shopping.
Each CSA has different lengths of their season, crop varieties and prices. Even in our climate in Chicago,
there are CSAs that operate in the winter, and CSAs aren't just for produce. There are many CSAs that sell meat, poultry, eggs and dairy.
some web sites you can check out in terms of national sources, but if you do a computer search under CSA, you'll find many more.
Local Harvest not only has listings
CSAs, but also individual farms and producers. They have one of the most comprehensive databases of CSAs with over 2,500 listings and the list
keeps growing. You can even sign up for a weekly newsletter which will keep you informed about local events.
Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is a bi-lingual site that connects farmers to consumers. Their site is organized by state and
lists CSAs, plus farmers who will sell direct.
Locator This site is divided into four categories; consumer, farmer to farmer, farmer to seller and businesses to buyers. You can
either by farm name, products, type of markets, city, state or zip. Each business has its own web page which lists contact info, description of
their operation, farm practices and a list of what they sell.
It's well worth the effort you'll put into investigating your local CSAs and finding the one that best
fits your needs.
We are now archiving past issues of the newsletter on our web site under the News
tab on the
left hand side of
the home page.
See you next month.
Test Kitchen Director/Web Site Culinary Director
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