Monday, October 16, 2017

Scratch Made Marshmallows & S'mores | DIY Marshmallow & Graham Crackers | Smores From Scratch

Marshmallows & Graham Crackers From Scratch | DIY Smore's

scratch made graham crackers
scratch made graham crackers

Years ago I made my own marshmallows, chocolate, & graham crackers so I could truly understand what would normally be a simplistic s'more sandwich. The graham crackers were simple, the marshmallows took a little work & some special ingredients  I normally wouldn't have on me, & the chocolate, the chocolate was just too much frustration & I ended up burning out the motor on my coffee grinder making chocolate from cacao beans. So if you are going to ever make s'mores, truly from scratch, I would recommend skipping the chocolate process!

So start with a quality mixer! I love my KitchenAid mixer & I use the sh*t out of it! You can get a good deal around Black Friday, but if you can't wait you can get this one on Amazon at a good deal.You can also use a quality hand mixer for the marshmallows & a food processor for the graham cracker dough. You can tell I'm a KitchenAid fan.

scratch made s'more
scratch made s'more

Here's my recipe for the graham crackers:

• 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 3 Tbl cane sugar
• 1 1/2 Tbl molasses
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 4 1/2 Tbl whole milk
• 4 1/2 Tbl butter
• 1/2 tea aluminum free baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a mixing bowl add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt, sugar, cold cubed butter. Beat on low until mix comes together like coarse corn meal. Add molasses, milk, & vanilla & beat on low until you form a dough.

Roll dough out in between two pieces of wax paper until about the size of your cookie sheet. Peel off the top layer of wax paper & flip your bottom layer onto the a greased cookie sheet. Flatten & spread your dough evenly across your cookie sheet. Cut your dough into about 2” x 4” rectangles. Poke each cracker with a fork about 8 times.

Bake your graham crackers at 350 degrees about 12 minutes or until the edges turn brown &
crisp & pull away from the sides.

If you haven't yet invested in quality baking sheets, I suggest these.

For the marshmallows you will need:

• Pinch of sea salt
• 3/4 cup powdered sugar
• 3 1/2 packets unflavored gelatin
• 1 tea vanilla extract (not vanillin)
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/2 cup hot water
• 1/2 cup water

Mix together the hot water & gelatin & set aside for 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan add your remaining ingredients & bring up to 240 degrees, be careful not to get the mix on your skin! Hot sugar is not easy to get off of your skin & WILL burn you badly.

Add your sugar mix to your hot water & gelatin & beat together with a whisk attachment on a mixer. After 5-6 minutes (when your marshmallows start to turn white) turn your whisk up to medium speed. Continue to whip your marshmallows until they about double in size. Your marshmallow mix should be whipped to stiff peaks, but not translucent! If your marshmallows are shiny/translucent
looking, you have whipped them too much!

Grease a 9” x 9” cake tin & coat in powdered sugar. Press or pour your marshmallow mix into tin to cool & stiffen. When your marshmallows have stiffened, cut them up.

Make your sandwich with graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, chocolate, then another graham cracker!

I have used many variations on s'mores, but my favorites are:

A: Graham Cracker, Caramel Sauce, Sliced & Cinnamon Sauteed Apple, Toasted Marshmallow, Crushed Toasted Pecans, & Another Graham Cracker.

B: Graham Cracker, Chocolate Sauce, Toasted Coconut, Toasted Marshmallow, Toasted Coconut, Walnuts, Chocolate Sauce, Graham Cracker.

C: Graham Cracker, Melted Chocolate Chips, Toasted Pecans, Toasted Marshmallows, Almond Butter, Graham Cracker.

Enjoy this old school video of me making some of my first scratch made s'mores!

- Johnny

Scratch Made Rosette Cookies | Christmas Cookies | Scandinavian Cookies | Fried Cookies

Scandinavian Fried Rosette Cookies | A Chicago Johnny's Tradition

I'm not entirely sure on how these Scandinavian cookies became popular in the Chicago Italian culture, but I'm guessing it's something as simple as small Italian grocers carrying the irons to make these cookies, thus inspiring people to make them. In our family we make them every Christmas Eve. These delicious, crispy, fried cookies are easy as easy can be to make! You just need a special iron for making these Rosettes.

I was introduced to Rosettes by my grandmother's side of the family. In fact, I remember my grandmother making these when I was a young boy for our annual Christmas Eve party in Chicago. When my grandma Annette passed I was young, but certain things she had done during my childhood stuck with me to this day. These Rosette cookies are one of my childhood memories & I think about them every year around Christmas time. 

To make Rosette cookies you need very few ingredients & a specialty iron. For ingredients you will need:
rosette cookies
Rosette Cookies
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 cup whole milk (you can substitute with almond or coconut)
• 2 tea vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 2 Tbl powdered sugar plus more for dusting finished cookies
• Lard for frying (my preferred method, but you can use canola or vegetable or coconut)
• Optional jam for filling

In our family we make our own hot Italian sausage, so I render the fat to make lard & then use the lard to fry my Rosettes. You can use store bought lard or even oil if you have it to fry your Rosettes. 

Make sure your oil or lard is at least 3" deep to avoid burning your Rosettes. Heat up your oil to 350 degrees.

While your oil is heating up, whisk together all of your ingredients. Set out a wire rack to cool your cookies & for dusting your cookies with powdered sugar. This recipe will make about 3 dozen cookies. 

To make your Rosette cookies, heat up your iron in the hot oil for about 30 seconds for the first cookie, then it only takes about 10 seconds for the rest. Take your hot iron & dip into your cookie batter, careful not to cover the top of the iron or your cookies may not come off of the iron easily. After you dip your iron in the batter, immediately dip your iron into the frying oil for about 8 seconds or until golden brown color. Take your iron out of the oil & tap your iron with a spoon or knife to release the cookie onto your wire rack. Repeat the process until you run out of batter or there is too much oil in the batter to make more cookies (each time you dip the iron into the batter a small amount of oil will be released into the batter, eventually the batter can become too oily & will no longer work to make cookies). 

Once your cookies cool, fill with jam if you choose this option, or flip over so the solid shape is face up. Then dust with powdered sugar. If your cookies are not cooled the powdered sugar will just melt & turn into kind of an icing. 

That's it. Cookies will hold up about 2 days before they get soggy, but are edible up to two weeks later.

- Johnny

Rosette Cookie Recipe
Rosette Cookie Recipe

Emo & Pop Punk Hot Sauce | Dark Matter Hot Sauce | Andrew McMahon | Jake Miller | Mayday Parade | State Champs | Joie De Vivre

Andrew McMahon | Mayday Parade | State Champs | Jake Miller | Joie De Vivre | Emo & Pop Punk Hot Sauce!

Andrew McMahon Zac Clark Hot Sauce
Andrew McMahon | Zac Clark Signing

Have you ever thought about bottling those Emo tears & giving them to charity? Well, we've kind of done that! Dark Matter Hot Sauce is a brand that hand makes hot sauces with limited edition artists' labels for charity. So far on the market are Andrew McMahon, Mayday Parade, State Champs, Joie De Vivre, & Jake Miller with limited edition bottles of only 1,111 sold to the public. But wait, there's more! There is charity involved!
Pop Punk Hot Sauce
Pop Punk Hot Sauce

The idea started in 2014 when I put Andrew McMahon's face on a label just for kicks. I got him the bottle with his face on it & was inundated with requests from his fans that wanted to buy the Andrew McMahon hot sauce. As an old school guy, I didn't want to make a quick buck on the image of Andrew McMahon, but as time went on I learned more & more about the Dear Jack Foundation ( & I friggin' love it! An organization with incredibly low overhead & that helps those individuals that really need it. So I came up with the idea that 30% of each sale go to the foundation & the rest of the money cover costs. So that's how came about, as a fundraising effort on my part for an organization that actually does good instead of just making money.
Dark Matter Hot Sauce
Dark Matter Hot Sauce

So Andrew McMahon's "Swim" 5 oz bottle & "I Woke Up In A Car" 10 oz bottle were our initial launches. Shortly thereafter was Joie De Vivre's "Maybe People Do Change." We got Mayday Parade on board with "Without The Bitter The Sweet Isn't As Sweet" & followed up with State Champ's "Slow Burn." Jake Miller was our latest release with "I Can't Help My Sauce" & we've raised over $1,500 so far for the Dear Jack Foundation! When I mentioned 30% of the sale goes to the foundation, that's what I meant; 30% of the sale, not the profit, 30% straight off the top!

Andrew McMahon Hot Sauce
Andrew McMahon Hot Sauce

Each limited edition hot sauce bottle comes wonderfully packaged & wrapped with a numbered & signed certificate of authenticity. Each label is numbered sequentially in order of the sale. We even have signed labels from most artists that are randomly sent with orders! Andrew McMahon & Zac Clark signed some rubber ducks for special orders too. 

Keep up to date with new artist labels & an upcoming extremely limited edition "Konstantine" label coming out soon! Follow us on Twitter @DMHotSauce & Instagram @DarkMatterHotSauce & Facebook

Friday, October 13, 2017

Kitchenaid Mixer Versus Sunbeam | Kitchen Aid Mixer Vs Other Mixer

So I recently started using a light weight mixer to shoot cooking videos in the studio. Only being used to a traditional Kitchen Aid mixer I was curious what the pros & cons were of this Sunbeam brand mixer. Without getting too lengthy in words, this is what I've found.

Using the Sunbeam mixer is most certainly not as high intensity as the KitchenAid. By far the KitchenAid has a superior whipping & dough kneading capacity. By far. For projects like make pizza dough, bread dough, or heavy yeast doughs, the KitchenAid wins, hands down.

When it comes to whipping (i.e. making marshmallows, whipped cream, egg whites, et cetera) the KitchenAid is superior in the sense that it will whip much smaller amounts. With the Sunbeam mixer I've found I need at least 2.5 cups of liquid to whip something where the KitchenAid will whip anything even as small as .5 a cup. The same goes for a hand mixer, whipping even the smallest amount is best with a hand mixer or a KitchenAid mixer.

Which brings me to my next thought, how often do you use a mixer? I am so used to making food in copious amounts for me, my friends, my family, & for catering. I forgot what it was like to make something in a small batch, & when I switched over to the Sunbeam my timing was off. I started shooting cooking videos making small batches of food, while the KitchenAid would have been best for these projects, I brought the Sunbeam because it was lightweight. The KitchenAid is very heavy in comparison. While at home the KitchenAid is great because it sits on the counter & I can use it about 4 or 5 times a week without an issue. However, if you are not using a mixer as often as I do you will probably keep it in a cabinet or closet somewhere. Moving the KitchenAid can be a b*&$h. The Sunbeam is incredibly easy to move, lift, travel with, et cetera. I do not recommend using a KitchenAid if you can not keep it on the counter.

Attachments were my last thought. The Sunbeam comes with two dough hooks & two traditional whip attachments (the same kind you would see on a hand mixer). The dough hooks of the Sunbeam are not nearly as heavy duty as the dough hook of the KitchenAid & the Sunbeam does not knead nearly as well as the KitchenAid. The whip attachment of the KitchenAid works much quicker than the Sunbeam, by far. The whisk attachment of the KitchenAid was my favorite new tool in the kitchen, this whisk attachment kicks some major butt. The 'Paddle' attachment of the KitchenAid does not come with the Sunbeam, & it was another favorite of mine. When making cookies, the KitchenAid 'Paddle' attachment is superior to the hooks of the Sunbeam. The 'Paddle' gets so close to the edges of the mixing bowl that when I cream the sugar & butter it comes out so light & fluffy; the Sunbeam does not even come close to the texture when creaming.

Does the Sunbeam work fine for the person only making pies for Thanksgiving every year, sure! It's lightweight, can be stored away without dreading having to pull it out of the cabinet or closet a couple of times each year. It will get most jobs done in a similar fashion to the KitchenAid. However, the KitchenAid whips, makes doughs, creams, gives beautiful texture to your baked goods in a way that the Sunbeam just can't.

Grab a KitchenAid during Black Friday deals if you can. They are usually about 30% off regular price. Mine has lasted 5 years so far & given me no issues, & I use it 4 or 5 times each week. With that thought, I don't ever want to move it around because it's so heavy in comparison.

That's my two cents on the Sunbeam vs the KitchenAid. Hope it helps!

Chicago Johnny

Smoked Italian Beef Sandwich Recipe | Chicago Johnnys Italian Beef

Make Smoked Italian Beef At Home!

For those of you outside the Chicago area, or without ties to the Chicago area, Italian beef is a round roast sliced thin & seasoned with oregano, garlic, salt, & whatever other spices depending on where you get it. I use Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Gravy Seasoning & Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Rub when I make my beef sandwiches. 

But today, today we smoke an Italian beef!

Chicago Johnnys Smoked Italian Beef
Chicago Johnny's Smoked Italian Beef

What you will need:

• Smoker
• Applewood (I use fresh cut)
• Water (for the smoker)
• Charcoal
• Water (for the gravy)
• Round Roast (I use eye of round because I can find                 them in smaller sizes than top or bottom round)
• Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Gravy Seasoning
• French Roll
• Chicago Johnny's Hot Giardiniera
• Smoked Provolone or Mozzarella (optional)

So I grew up using torpedo smokers (as shown from Amazon below) so that is what I decided to use as an adult. Set up your smoker with hot charcoal at the base & add in your smoking wood (you can use your preferred wood, mine is applewood!). For a torpedo smoker add your water pan & then your racks. 

To prep your roast is so friggin' easy! Just rub your roast with Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Gravy Seasoning & let it sit to absorb some of the flavor for about 8-10 minutes. Then rub with another heavily layered rub of the beef gravy seasoning. You can now add it to the smoker!

On the top rack (there are 2 in my style of smoker) is where I put the roasts. I put the roasts on top because I feel like the smoke is more rich up there. You can put the roasts on the rack directly above the water pan if it is something you want tender & that won't dry out (so i use that mostly for jerky).

smoked beef roast
Smoking My Italian Beef Roast

Your roast will take about 3 hours to smoke if it's about 3 lbs. I bought a 5.5 lb eye of round roast & cut it in half leaving the thin layer of fat on the roast, face up. Keep a steady amount of smoke by adding more wood, or chips, when you see the smoke thin out (you will see the smoke billow out of the lid at first, then it will slow down as the wood burns down). 

When your roasts reach about 15-160 degrees, it's ready to pull out. Wrap it in foil & let it rest about 15 minutes (or chill overnight if you are using it later). Slice incredibly thin.

To reheat your sliced meat if you aren't using it right away, simply make gravy stovetop by adding 2 tbls of Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Gravy Seasoning to 1 cup of water. Get your gravy to a low simmer & reheat your thinly sliced, smoked Italian beef!

Make a sandwich on a toasted French roll, thin sliced beef, Chicago Johnny's Hot Giardiniera, & smoked provolone or mozzarella if you choose! Enjoy wit' some friends over a nice chilled Old Style.

Thank you to my smoking friends over at Old Style.

Order products at or from Amazon below.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Best Chicago Food Promo - Funny Chicago Marketing

In a city where "Eagleman" & the "Victory Auto Wreckers" commercials I thought it would be fun to play with the Windy City's sense of humor. We live in the center of a special accent, the Chicago accent. Where the words "Front Room" (in typical Chicago homes there is a room in the front of the house, often with a bay window looking over the street) we have combined the words into "Frunchroom". Where we turned the commonly used, "Garage Key" & turned it into a Polish sounding last name, "Grachki." I thought I'd have some fun with our regional foods, Giardiniera (pronounced Jar-Din-Air) & Italian beef sandwiches (often referred to as a "Beef Sangwich").

what is italian beef
Funny Chicago Ad

Monday, May 29, 2017

Chicago Gift Package - The Best Gift For Him or Her From Chicago - Chicago Food Gift

Did you marry or recently start dating someone from Chicago & you just don't know what to gift them?

Looking for the BEST CHICAGO GIFTS? Are you in love wit' someone from the Windy City & you just don't know what to get him or her? Maybe you just miss your family or home in Chicago & you want to taste some comfort food! Here are some of the top Chicago Foods on Amazon that will make you or your loved one feel at home! Regional foods out here truly are "Chicago Friggin' Delicious!"

chicago style italian beef
Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Wit' Hot Giardiniera

Chicago Style Italian Beef "Sangwiches"! Absolutely da best ting' to come outta Chicago, because, well, it's the vessel that most commonly holds "Giardiniera!" So you married someone from Chicago & they are always talking about this mysterious meet sandwich wit' hot peppers & oil all over it, so juicy that you have to eat it wit' your elbows far out to your sides & your pinky fingers hanging out so the juices don't roll down your arms; the crunchy, spicy, acidic hot peppers balancing the flavors of the thinly sliced beef piled high on a luscious soft French roll dipped in the very gravy that the beef was cooked in. City workers rubbing elbows with CEO's & stock market traders in a standing room only "Beef Joint" while looking out the window watching traffic & people walk the streets. That's Chicago!

How do you compile this Italian beef 'sangwich' (you know, sandwich, but wit' a heavy Chicago accent)? First you start wit' da bread! In Chicago we use a high gluten French roll (typically Gonnella or Turano, but there are others). The bread needs to be chewy & dense wit' a tough & crusty exterior so that you can dip the whole sandwich to make it 'wet' (gross, right? Wrong!). Then you pile up some thinly sliced Italian beef that's been cooked, sliced, then heated 'tru' in the very juices that it was cooked in. An average 6" French roll will hold about 4-6 ounces of Italian beef when you make your 'sangwiches'. Then comes the greatest Chicago culinary creation, the Giardiniera (jarred-in-air). This pickled pepper, celery, cauliflower, carrot mix is a great blend of hot, crunchy, acidity, deep flavor that goes on top of the Italian beef sandwich (unless, of course, your want sweet peppers - a fried sliced bell pepper with oregano & salt, but trust me, you want some hot giardiniera if you can handle the heat). Cheese is optional at most Beef Joints across Chicago & is usually mozzarella or a mozzarella/provolone mix. Take this whole sandwich & dip it in the gravy to make a 'wet' sandwich or enjoy it as is for a 'dry' sandwich!

Get what you need for an Italian beef at home from Amazon!

chicago deep dish pizza
Chicago Johnny's Deep Dish Pizza

The Famous Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza! Is it really that deep? 

Well, yes it is! This Chicago classic style of pizza is not all about a ton more carbs, its about creating a 'wall' to hold in a lot more cheese, sauce, & toppings. When you make a deep dish pizza you 'pull up' the dough around the side walls of an aluminum pan to create a kind of pie crust. These high walls of dough are able to hold in everything, I guess similar to a pie! There is not much more dough than a traditional Chicago thin crust on the bottom of a deep dish (though there is a common misconception from outsiders that there is). Typically there is a lot of olive oil or butter (sometimes even corn oil) in the crust. This creates a flaky, rich, friggin delicious crust!

So once we've created this 'pie' dough we add cheese, usually a mozzarella, provolone, & Romano mix. Then we top the cheese with toppings (or fillings if you want to call them that). Some of the most common fillings are bell peppers, onions, Italian sausage (in a patty form or a crumbled form), spinach, & often pepperoni. Then, & this is the most confusing part if you are unfamiliar with deep dish pizza, comes the sauce! The sauce is generally a crushed tomato & spices mix to create a thick, rich sauce that won't slide off when you cut the pie. The reason sauce is on top of this amazing creation is because of the extended cooking time, you don't want the cheese to burn or the toppings to dry out! Then comes a heavy dose of Peccorino Romano or Parmesan cheese. This is typically not a "pick it up by the slice & eat it" kind of pizza, we use fork & knife to eat Chicago deep dish pizzas! Top it off wit' some hot giardiniera if you want to add a true Chicago spice to your meal!

What would a Chicago food gift package be without a Chicago hot dog!?

chicago style hot dog
Chicago Style Hot Dog "Dragged Tru Da Garden"

A Chicago hot dog is an all beef, generally natural casing, smoked hot dog topped wit' a pickle spear, mustard, raw onions, sport peppers, sliced & halved tomatoes (I prefer roma tomatoes), neon green relish (I mean NEON green), & a dash of celery salt. We call this "Dragged Tru' Da Garden" because of all the vegetables & toppings on it. Serve it on a steamed poppy seed bun, typical to Chicago.

So to make this delicious, filling Chicago Dog start with an all beef hot dog. There are two major brands in Chicago, Vienna Hot Dogs & Red Hot Chicago Dogs, both owned by Vienna. But there are plenty of delicious, all beef, smoked natural casing hot dogs (Bobak's & Daisy brand are friggin amazing). This hot dog has a 'snap' to it when you bite into it from the natural sheep intestine casing.

Place this all beef smoked hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun, then add your mustard, neon green relish, fresh diced white onion, quartered pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers (traditional to Chicago, a small pickled pepper (similar to a Tabasco pepper), & of course, a dash of celery salt (salt & crushed celery seed mix). You get a great mix of acidity, salt, fresh, smoky, & tangy flavors from this great Chicago classic!

Make your own Chicago style hot dogs at home!


What would a Chicago gift pack be without a great Maxwell Street Polish Sausage?

maxwell street polish sausage chicago sandwich
Classic Maxwell Street Polish Sausage From Chicago
Often unknown by outsiders, the Maxwell Street Polish Sausage is a summer favorite in Chicago. A course ground Polish sausage, smoked, & topped wit' sauteed onions, mustard, & often sport peppers, this is one of Chicago's best street foods!

Oddly enough, this heavy, smoked sausage is often served on a poppy seed hot dog bun! This gives a soft, fluffy wrapping contradictory to a very good 'snap' that comes from the natural encased Polish sausage! Topped with sauteed white onions (cooked in the grease from the Polish sausage or in butter), classic yellow mustard, & quite frequently with sport peppers. All around a great sandwich with a nice tangy bite, smoke flavor, sweetness from the onions & the Polish itself, & great acidity & spice from the sport peppers. Definitely a must try sandwich if you are in the area.

As common as a great juicy Italian beef 'sangwich' is the classic fennel Italian sausage! 

Chicago Johnny's Italian Sausage
Chicago Style Italian Sausage
I make my own Hot Italian Sausage & I've been making it since I was about 5 years old. As a matter of fact, our recipe goes all the way back four generations to the Sout' Side of Chicago! I sell locally to regular customers but do not distribute or sell online (sorry, locals only). There are some great Italian sausages out there though!

Typically grilled (we call it charring {ch-are-ing}) & with a great crust to the sausage, there are many variations. I love a good Italian sausage with whole fennel seeds in them! A natural pork intestine casing gives a great snap to Italian sausage & also provides a cooking vessel for the pork to 'stew' it's own juices inside! You will see just as many Italian sausages on menus across Chicago as you will Italian beef sandwiches.

So start with a good, all pork, coarse ground Italian sausage with plenty of whole fennel. Grill it in a coil or in links, but make sure to give a great 'char' to the exterior! Then, use a quality, dense French roll (usually the same as the Italian beef sandwiches, Gonnella or Turano). You will find yellow mustard everywhere that serves an Italian sausage around here but seldom used. More than likely you will be topping your Italian wit' sweet peppers & onions, sweet peppers & garlic, or hot giardiniera! I prefer hot giardiniera on a hot Italian sausage because the acidity, flavored oil, & crunch from the peppers & celery mesh so well with this pork sausage! I always toast my French roll too, a nice flaky outside (& smoke flavor from the grill) with a soft & chewy inside is the perfect combination for a nice char-grilled hot Italian sausage!


However you do Chicago food you are doing it right! Just enjoy yourself & let our local comfort food take your worries away!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicago Food Pyramid Tees

Chicago Food Tees

Chicago ClothingIn Chicago we have certain regional specialties when it comes to food. We have giardiniera, a delicious pickled serrano, carrot, cauliflower, celery mix packed in olive oil that we use to top pizzas, sandwiches, pastas, sausages, & a plethora of other foods. You can't find it this way anywhere else in the country. We have deep dish pizzas, a hearty pizza that you have to use a knife & a fork to indulge in, with crushed tomatoes on top of the heavy layer of cheese & pizza toppings kept moist & delicious by saucing the top of the pizza pie instead of topping wit' cheese. We have hot dogs "Dragged Tru Da Garden" wit' sport peppers, mustard, neon green relish, onions, tomatoes, a long pickle, & a dash of celery salt. But my favorite, the Italian Beef 'Sangwich', is hyper specific to Chicagoland. Thinly sliced Italian roast beef cooked in gravy & spices, 'trown' on a heavy French roll & most often topped wit' sweet peppers (sauteed bell peppers, I love to add roasted garlic cloves in mine) or hot giardiniera (a great hyper-specific combination to Chicagoland). We often take our Italian Beef Sangwich & dip it in the gravy (sometimes refereed to as Au Jus) for a sloppy, wet, incredible depth of flavor. Remember, if you're going to try the 'Wet Italian Beef' make sure to put your pinkies & elbows out! And of course, in the city where the Italian Beef 'Sangwich' (said in a heavy Chicago accent sandwich becomes sangwich) was originated we have created what some would call the ultimate sandwich, The Combo! A grilled Italian Sausage on a heavy French roll that is topped wit' thin sliced Italian Beef! Talk about "Chicago Friggin' Delicious!"

So in my love of Chicago food I have designed the "Chicago Food Pyramid" with giardiniera, Italian beef sandwiches, deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs, the Combo, & of course, beer (we love our Old Style), You can find the shirt here for your loved ones or for yourself!

Wit' Love,
Chicago Johnny

Don't forget to grab your Chicago Johnny's Giardiniera!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Fire Roasted Asiago Garlic Poblano Burger Recipe, It's Really Friggin Amazing!

Chicago Johnny's Roasted Poblano Asiago Burger
Fire Roasted Poblano Asiago Garlic Burger
Some flavors just mesh, when you taste them together, you just 'get' it! With this burger you get the immediate creaminess of the roasted garlic, the tang & bite from Asiago, & the smooth rich earthy flavor from the fire roasted poblano pepper. On top of that you get the rich flavor from the Volpi salami & sweetness from caramelized onion. This s&^t is just friggin' fantastic!

I use Chicago Johnny's Burger Seasoning to crust & flavor your burger patties to a perfection. You also want a burger iron (found on the Chicago Johnny's recipe section) to flatten your patties & give them a nice dark crust!

To make this recipe you will need:
•Fire Roasted Poblano Pepper (either in a broiler, stove top, or on the grill)
•Volpi salami
•Asiago Cheese
•Ground Beef
•Crusty Italian Bread
•Caramelized Onions
•Roasted Garlic
•Burger Iron
•Cast Iron Skillet
•Love & Patience For The Kitchen
•Chicago Johnny's Burger Seasoning
•Chicago Johnny's Hot Giardiniera or Sauteed Jalepeno *Optional*

• The best burgers are two thin patties pressed hard with a burger iron, seasoned well to get a crust, & the toppings round out a well thought flavor profile. *You can get a burger iron through the Chicago Johnny’s website on the recipe page for this burger!

• Roasted garlic has none of the ‘bite’ that you get from raw garlic. Once garlic is roasted it becomes much sweeter, & milder in flavor. When roasted properly, the garlic will spread like butter!

• Fire roasting poblano peppers can be done in a broiler, stove top, or on the grill. Simply char the skin & blacken the pepper with your flame, peel the skin off under running warm water, & take the seeds out of your pepper.

• You can sauté some sliced fresh jalapeño to add some heat to this burger or Chicago Johnny’s Hot Giardiniera to really intensify the flavor!

Poblano Burger
Roasted Poblano Garlic Burger Recipe
Make sure you have a burger iron that fits into your cast iron skillet! Start your skillet on medium heat for 3-5 minutes so that the pan is hot when you place your meat into the pan, also heat up your burger iron on another flame (low) so that your iron is hot when you press your burger. While heating, split your ground beef into two 3 oz. sections & roll into two balls. Have your Italian bread, roasted garlic, fire roasted poblano (seeded & peeled), asiago, & Volpi salami ready. Once your burger patties are cooked you are going to heat up all of your ingredients & layer them together.

Toast your crusty Italian bread & butter if desired. Your skillet & iron should be hot, so slab a bit of butter in your skillet, place one ground beef ball in the pan & liberally sprinkle Chicago Johnny’s Burger Seasoning on & around the meat, about 4 inches around. Let your beef cook 20 seconds & then smash (and I mean smash) the beef flat as can be with the hot iron. You want a crust on your burger, & the meat will ‘talk’ to you as it cooks. You should hear some good sizzling. After about 40-50 seconds take your iron off, sprinkle some more Chicago Johnny’s Burger Seasoning, & flip the patty. Put the iron back on & cook for 20 seconds. Repeat for your other patty.

With the skillet still hot, warm up your poblano, roasted garlic, caramelized onion, Volpi salami, & pile your shredded asiago (or sliced) on the skillet. Once warmed through you can assemble your burger! First a slice of toast, then your roasted garlic cloves, then your Volpi salami, (*then your sauteed jalapeño if you chose to do so), one burger patty, 1/2 of your melted asiago, the other burger patty, the other 1/2 of your asiago, your roasted poblano, caramelized onion, & your other toast!

Enjoy wit’ da best beer Chicago has to offer, an Old Style!

 Curious about what made Chicago Johnny famous? Grab a pint of Chicago Johnny's Hot Giardiniera Or Dark Alley Hot Sauce!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Aunt Barbaras Italian Pizzelles

Aunt Barbaras Italian Pizzelle Cookies (Anise, Almond, or Vanilla)

italian pizzelle recipe
Italian Pizzelle Recipe
These thin crispy cookies are traditionally flavored wit' vanilla, almond, or anise & coated wit' powdered sugar. This delicious recipe comes wit' inspiration to my Aunt Barbara, from which I learned to make Pizzelles. She is my Grandma Annette's sister, & she is one of the women that inspired my cooking styles & techniques.

Every Christmas Eve out family gathers in the city to come together, celebrate another year together, get a visit from Santa Claus, & eat, & eat, & eat! On the dessert table there's a plethora of chocolate chip cookies, struffoli, crispy marshmallow treats, rosettes, et cetera. But one of the things I look forward to every year are sweet almond or anise Pizzelle cookies dusted generously wit' powdered sugar. The snowflake designs adorn these crispy buttery delicacies to give little pockets where powdered sugar hides, but also to give more surface area to make these cookies crisper!

You can watch the video of Chicago Johnny's Pizzelle Cookies & then download a copy to print & add to your cookie file, or even hang on your fridge as a constant reminder to make these delicious treats!

You will need a Pizzelle iron to make these cookies & you will also need:

• 3 large eggs
• 1 1/2 stick butter (I prefer Challenge brand)
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• EITHER 1 tbl vanilla extract OR 2 tea almond extract OR 2 tea anise extract
• 1 cup cane or organic sugar
• 2 tea aluminum free baking powder
• Pinch sea salt
• 1 1/4 cup whole wheat or unbleached flour

Best Pizzelle Recipe
Best Pizzelle Recipe


Don't forget what made Chicago famous!

Smoky, bold, earthy flavors great for sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, Italian beef, sausage, et cetera!

Chicago Johnny's Hot Giardiniera!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Homemade Coffee Creamer Italian Sweet Cream DIY Coffee Creamer

homemade coffee creamerChicago Johnny's Home Made Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer!

I love coffee, probably in more than a healthy manner. I drink the stuff morning, noon, & night, seriously. In the morning I like a dark black coffee, then more mild as the day goes on. However, after dinner I love to add just a bit of home made coffee creamer to a rich, dark roast & enjoy an after meal coffee & cookie. Making coffee creamer at home is simple as can be!

All you need to make this creamer is:
•1 Cup of Half & Half
•1/2 Cup of Whole Milk
•2/3 Cup of Cane Sugar
•2 Tea Vanilla Extract
•1 Tea Almond Extract

That's It! Heat your Half & Half, Whole Milk, & Cane Sugar stove top in a shallow pot on low heat. Whisk together as you are heating to help dissolve the sugar, but be VERY CAREFUL because when milk heats up it will foam & you run a risk of foaming over the sides of your pot.

Once your milk is heated & your sugar is dissolved turn off your heat & add your vanilla & almond extracts. Whisk together & refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Recipe makes shy of 1 pint (2 cups).

Use Chicago Johnny's Italian Sweet Cream Recipe to enjoy your next friggin' delicious morning, noon, or evening coffee!

diy coffee creamer

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Best Dark Hot Sauce

Best Hot Sauce Ever
Best Hot Sauce Ever

Seriously, The Best Hot Sauce, Ever!

Just as dark & gritty as Chicago's history, Chicago Johnny's Dark Alley Hot Sauce is dark, rich, earthy, bold & full flavored. A subtle heat but a heavy kick in flavor, this stuff is top notch! Made from scratch with fire roasted poblano peppers, roasted garlic, hot peppers, smoked chilies, spices, vinegar, & portabella mushrooms. You've seriously never had anything like this.

Chicago Johnny's Dark Alley Hot Sauce is thick, not like your traditional hot sauces. It's full flavored with very little sour that you traditionally get from vinegar based hot sauces. It's made from scratch with white & red wine vinegar as the only preservatives. Fresh vegetables are the base of this dish, which makes it deep, earthy, & rich in flavor.

A great sauce for beef, pork, chicken, or even on a burger! I had one guy try a dab of this stuff on a spoon & he immediately bought an entire case, it's that friggin good!
Voodoo Chicken Nachos
Voodoo Chicken Nachos

 Pair it up with Chicago Johnny's Cajun Seasoning & make voodoo chicken! Simply pan fry chicken thighs with the cajun seasoning & sauce it with Dark Alley Hot Sauce for a smoky, spicy, rich Voodoo Chicken! Turn it into a Po' Boy Sandwich with homemade remoulade or shred your chicken & make Voodoo Chicken Nachos! Friggin' Delicious!

chicagos best giardineira
Chicagos Best Giardiniera

Want to try what all of Chicago is talking about? Chicago Johnny's Giardiniera is hand made in
Chicago. Bold, smoky, earthy, & friggin delicious! Chicago's Favorite Giardiniera!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Best Eggplant Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Best Eggplant Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A Chicago Johnny Recipe

the best eggplant grilled cheese sandwich
The Best Eggplant Grilled Cheese Sandwich
I first discovered Parmesan crusted sandwiches from a small town bakery up in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. This place, Bodi's Bake Shop closes early in the afternoon but is very welcoming, small town, & incredibly reasonably priced foods. Their danishes are on point but their sandwiches are something you will be wondering in amazement how a small Wisconsin bake shop can turn out these delicious, made to order sandwiches.

So once I was introduced to this crispy fried cheese concept some of the sandwiches I created were turned up a few notches. Crusting your grilled cheese with salty, nutty Parmesan can bring another element to a grilled cheese that you have probably been missing out on!

So to make this "Italian" inspired grilled cheese sandwich you will need the following: a fire roasted red pepper (skinned & seeded), roasted or sauteed garlic cloves, eggplant (skinned), fresh basil leaves, grated or shredded Parmesan, ciabatta bread, creamy tangy Havarti, smoked provolone, sea salt, & black pepper. There are a number of steps that I take in order to make such a friggin' delicious grilled cheese, but they are worth doing so that your end product is just as good as it can get!

Before you even get to compiling The Best Eggplant Grilled Cheese Sandwich, you will need to do some preparation. First, roast your red pepper either on the flame stove-top, on a grill, or in a broiler. Once charred all around, cover your hot red pepper in a sealed bowl or container & let sit, this will make the skin easier to peel off. Once cooled, peel off the skin & take out the seeds of your red pepper.

Next you will roast your garlic. Roasted garlic is one of my favorite things to eat. Unlike the peppery bite you get from raw garlic, roasted garlic is very mild & sweet, & also very soft so you can smash the cloves easily. To roast garlic, take a bulb & rub your hands around the outside to remove any loose paper skin. Cut just the top of the bulb off to expose each (or as many cloves as possible), then drizzle some olive oil & sprinkle sea salt. Roast your bulb in the oven on 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes (depending on how many bulbs you are roasting & how big the bulbs are). You will know when your garlic is done roasting because you will be able to "pop" the clove out of the paper skin & it should "smoosh" right out. After your garlic bulb cools, peel away the paper skin & try to keep your cloves in tact.

You will also want to prepare your eggplant. Eggplant is an amazing flavor "carrier" in the sense that it will soak up whatever flavors you put on it. So skin your eggplant & slice about 1/4" thick slices (either round circles or lengthwise depending on the size of your eggplant & the size of your bread). Heat up some olive oil on medium heat in an iron skillet. Lay in your eggplant slices in the oil & season with sea salt & black pepper, then quickly flip your eggplant & season again. You want to flip the eggplant because it will soak up just about as much oil as you can put in the pan, so to prevent the eggplant from becoming too greasy you should flip it to absorb your olive oil on both sides of the eggplant. Cook each side of your eggplant slices until they start to "char" well.

Slice your ciabatta roll in half & lay both pieces with the insides up on a baking sheet. On the top half put your provolone slices & on the bottom half put Havarti on the bottom half. Bake on 350 degrees for 5 minutes to melt your cheeses & toast your bread just a bit & then take out of the oven.

Now you can start building your sandwich! Layer your sandwich as follows!

Bottom half with Havarti, lay your eggplant on top, then your roasted red pepper, then your roasted garlic, then your top half with provolone on bottom. Heat up your skillet again & use olive oil for your frying. Sprinkle about 2 Tbl of your Parmesan cheese & immediately lay your sandwich on top of the Parmesan. Fry 2-3 minutes on your heated skillet, then use a spatula to remove your sandwich, sprinkle another 2 Tbl of Parmesan & immediately lay your sandwich on the Parmesan upside down. Fry another 2-3 minutes to crisp the Parmesan & toast the ciabatta. Remove your sandwich from the pan with your spatula & turn off your heat. Pull your sandwich top off & lay in your fresh basil. Now enjoy this labor intensive, friggin' amazing eggplant grilled cheese sandwich!

Kick up your sandwiches with Chicago's Favorite Giardiniera!
best chicago giardiniera
Chicagos Best Giardiniera
Chicago Johnny's Hot Giardiniera, Chicago's Best Giardiniera!