Check out Recipes & Techniques section below for Aug/Sept update: PESTO!!
Exploring our world through food & drink!
This is not something for the masses, it is exclusively for our friends - those ready to think outside the box just a little... or in some cases, maybe a lot. Chicago Bite Club is a private group of individuals who share singular culinary experiences while raising awareness & resources for local groups in need.
Those lucky enough to be invited to a CBC event will enjoy their favorite things in a comfortable,
intimate & flexible setting that feels like a home away from home.
Tickets are all-inclusive meaning members are not charged anything more for a little extra of their favorite dish
or for that last cocktail or pour of their favorite wine.
Know someone in the Club? Hit us up - we will look forward to seeing you at an event soon!
There is always something special cooking at CBC, and many of the ideas for dinners and themes come from our illustrious Members themselves.
Whatever can be dreamed up, can be enjoyed with friends.
You won't believe what is coming next . . .
Have a great idea for a theme or special ingredient?
Want to host a public or private event?
Question about food or cooking?
Know a Member and want to get invited?
Ask away . . .
Chicago Bite Club happily gets its hands dirty each month doing fundraising dinners, charity auctions and making other creative donations to support local organizations.
Have a favorite cause and think we can help? Let us know how we can get involved and we will do our best!
Chicago Youth Rugby is a great local organization working to provide low-cost athletic activities with a focus on community & respect.
Each donation of $30 allows one girl or boy aged 4-18 to laugh, play, grow & have fun for one season.
Few things say summer like the fresh, vibrant pop on your tongue of the classic basil condiment known the world over as Pesto.
Maybe you already know that each region in Italy claims some version of herbs & spices ground with olive oil as their own, using the local ingredients abundant in each region to create something unique to their tradition. However the version from Genoa is the one most commonly thought of outside of Italy. This version takes advantage of the Genovese staples of basil, walnuts, parsley, garlic & Grana Padano cheese ground into a creamy vibrant green sauce that can be drizzled over almost anything - even gelato!
As with all of our techniques and tips, feel free to adjust to your tastes & comfort by swapping in or out ingredients that you have on hand or are popping in your own garden plot, one of our favorites variations replaces the basil with fresh thyme and another variation replaces 1/3 of the olive oil with spicy chili oil - YUM!
Genovese Pesto, makes approx 3 cups
3-4 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 packed cup fresh parsley leaves
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 w oz toasted walnut pieces (optional)
2 w oz freshly grated hard cheese such as Grana Padano or Parmigiano
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1) Using a mortar & pestle or food processor, grind the garlic, cheese & walnuts into a smooth paste, adding a little olive oil if needed.
2) Add the parsley and basil in batches that fit in your pestle or food processor, processing until smooth.
3) Add salt & pepper to taste
4) Let sit about 1 hour before using, if possible.
5) Use by drizzling over or tossing with already cooked dishes - do not cook or heat for best results and maximum flavor.
6) Refrigerate any unused sauce in a sealed jar for up to 10 days.
Fonduta is a rich & creamy cheese sauce that can be used in a number of ways:
-as a sauce over gnocchi or sformato (see sformato recipe below)
-as a filling for pasta such as tortellini, ravioli or agnolotti (see agnolotti recipe below)
-as a cheese course served with crostini or toast like fondue
However you decide to use it, it can be personalized endlessly, and once you get started, it is hard to stop!
Fonduta di Fontina is traditionally made with Fontina Valdostana which is a specific Italian Alpine cow's milk cheese, however you can use any creamy easy melting cheese - one of my favorites is gorgonzola.
Fonduta di Fontina, makes approx 2 cups
3 w oz Italian Fontina or other melting cheese
10 fl oz heavy cream
4 egg yolks
optional: fresh herbs OR black or white truffles or a DROP OR TWO of high quality truffle oil
1) Cut the sheese into small cubes, add to a small sturdy sauce pan and cover with the cream.
2) Let stand for 20-30 minutes covered at room temperature.
3) Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a heat proof flat-bottomed bowl large enough to hold the cheese/cream mixture. (reserve egg whites for another recipe)
4) Cook over medium-low heat stirring constantly until the cheese has melted into the cream - DO NOT ALLOW MIXTURE TO BOIL.
5) Stir the yolks and slowly add the hot cheese/cream mixture a little at a time to the yolks, stirring constantly until all the mixture is in the egg bowl.
6) Return the mixture to the sauce pan and continue stirring over low heat until the mixture begins to thicken.
7) Remove the mixture from the heat and continue to stir for 3-4 minutes to cool slightly.
6) Taste and add salt if needed.
8) Add herbs or oil if using.
AS A SAUCE FOR PASTA OR SFORMATO: serve immediately or keep warm over hot water bath, stirring before serving. Drizzle generously
AS A CHEESE COURSE: Let stand at room temperature for one hour then spread on crostini
AS A FILLING FOR PASTA: refrigerate over night and when cold, scoop into small balls and seal into pasta. Keep chilled until moment of dropping pasta into boiling water.
Agnolotti are little pillows of pasta filled with meat (sometimes cheese) and served simply. Ultimately easy to make (despite the long recipe) & delicious to eat - what's not to love?
Assemble all ingredients & kitchen utensils in one area before beginning. Please use this as a framework and adjust to your personal tastes by varying the fillings or sauces. For the meat filling outlined below, feel free to substitute any ingredients you might have left-over in the fridge or even omit things that you might not feel like snagging from the store - it will be delicious no matter what!
This recipe is long but relatively easy, however there are many steps - I highly suggest you read it through entirely and contemplate the areas that might challenge you personally before attempting. Also, this is one of those truly special dishes that are actually traditionally served with truffles, and even more rare: a dish that pairs well with either white, summer or black truffles.
This month we will cover the meat filling, which can also be used for tortellini (just sub Parmigiano for the Grana cheese and add a little roasted prosciutto & mortadella). Next month we will cover the cheese filling which can also be used as a rich sauce for veggies or sformato.
Meat filling for Agnolloti del Plin, makes approx eighty = 6-8 entree portions
6 w oz well done roasted & cooled (leftover) beef, lamb, chicken, duck, rabbit or any combination thereof
1 w oz butter or 2 fl oz fat drippings from the meat
2 oz mushrooms
1/2 small onion
1 rib celery
1 packed cup spinach or chard leaves
2 egg yolks
1 w oz Grana Padano or other hard grating cheese
Salt & black pepper to taste
1 grate of fresh nutmeg
optional: black or white truffles or a DROP OR TWO of high quality truffle oil
1) Chop the mushrooms, onion, celery, carrot & spinach very finely OR pulse a few times in a food processor until reduced to a chunky puree.
2) Melt the butter or drippings in a large sauce pan.
3) Cook the veggies in the butter or drippings over medium heat stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is evaporated, then reduce heat to low.
4) Continue to cook over low heat for another 15-30 minutes stirring occasionally & scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon until a very thick paste is achieved.
5) Let cool slightly while grating the cheese finely.
6) Chop the meat into small dice OR pulse a few times in a food processor, cutting any large chunks that remain by hand.
7) In a large bowl, or using a stand mixer + paddle, combine the chopped meat, veggie paste, yolks, cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper (& truffles or truffle oil if using) until well combined.
8) Taste & add more salt/pepper if needed.
9) Form into one mass and flatten into a rough rectangle on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper until approx 1" thick
10) Cover & refrigerate for a minimum of two hours or a maximum of 3 days - can be made in larger batches and frozen for up to a month well-wrapped in plastic.
11) When cooled & firm, remove the rectangle of filling to a cutting board and cut into 4 equal pieces, then cut each smaller rectangle into 4 equal pieces.
12) Cut each resulting piece into 5 equal pieces, rolling each into a little 'tootsie roll' shape and placing back on the original lined baking sheet.
13) Refrigerate until use.
Pasta, enough to make at least 80 small agnolotti or ravioli, plus a little extra
3 cups AP flour plus more for dusting
3 eggs + 2 eggs, separated
Large pinch salt
1) In a large bowl or stand mixer + dough hook, combine eggs + egg yolks, flour and salt until the mixture comes together.
2) Knead until smooth.
3) Cover & let rest 20 minutes or wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to one week.
4) On a large surface, roll one quarter of the dough as thin as possible using a pasta machine (by hand works also:)) Keep the remainder covered at room temperature.
5) Cut the flattened dough lengthwise into long approximately 1 1/2" strips.
6) Working quickly, place a row of filling pieces lengthwise in the center of each strip of pasta.
7) Using a brush, lightly brush the dough around each filling with the reserved egg whites, and quickly fold the dough over to cover the filling, matching the edges.
8) The filling should be at one side, and a long flat piece of dough at the other.
9) Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut halfway between each filling to separate the pieces.
10) Press to seal the the dough around each filling, squeezing out any air, if possible.
11) Roll the side with the filling over the flat side, press lightly then pinch the ends to seal; should resemble the pic above.
12) Place on a floured towel and cover with another dry towel until all the agnolotti are complete.
13) Repeat steps 4 -12 until the pasta is shaped & ready.
14) Cut any extra dough into bite size pieces and leave to dry for tomorrow's chicken soup! Once dry, store in the fridge in an airtight container until used, up to 1 week.
15) Cook the agnolotti within 90 minutes
To finsih the dish like they do in Piemonte:
4 w oz butter
2 w oz Grana Padano or similar, freshly grated
3 large leaves sage
salt & pepper to taste
optional: white or black truffles or a little Italian condimento left over from the roasting of the meat
1) Bring a large covered pot of salted water to the boil.
2) In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter until it almost stops bubbling - might begin to smell a little like caramel
3) Immediately remove from the heat.
4) Let stand 2 minutes, then add the sage leaves, salt & pepper; keep warm.
5) Depending on the size of the pot used, drop the agnolotti in batches of 8-15 into the boiling water on high heat and return the cover; make sure they have plenty of room to swim and are not crowded in the pot.
6) The idea is to bring the water back to boiling as quickly as possible.
7) When the pot begins boiling once again, usually in 30-60 seconds, use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked agnolotti, drain slightly, then add them to the warm butter & sage mixture.
8) Toss to coat the pasta, then keep warm & covered until all batches are cooked.
9) Repeat steps 5-8 until all the pasta is cooked and tossed together in the butter & sage.
10) Serve immediately in warm bowls with a generous amount of cheese, as well as shaved truffles or condimento if using.
This savory custard is a hit at any brunch, lunch or dinner - and the technique is SUPER simple. Use the framework below and let your creative juices flow.
Assemble all ingredients & kitchen utensils in one area before beginning. Please use this framework as your jumping off point and adjust to your personal tastes.
Cook the veggies any way you want, but roasting the veggies concentrates the flavors & removes excess water. Starchy veggies may require a little less egg depending on your taste & practices.
I have subbed vegan egg products and xanthan gum to make delicious vegan sformati as well.
Flavors to try:
Peas & Beans (can be starchy)
Lettuces & Greens of all sorts
Alliums of all sorts
Squashes of all sorts (starchy)
Cauliflower & Cabbage (can be starchy)
Fresh herbs of all sorts work well, but will need to adjust quantity based on potency
For the batter, makes about eight 3.5 oz portions
10 w oz cooked & drained item from the list above
2 egg yolks
10 fl oz heavy cream, ½ & ½ or whole milk (coconut milk works also)
Salt & black pepper to taste
1 grate of fresh nutmeg (optional)
1 peeled clove raw garlic or shallot (optional)
1) Set your oven to 225F
2) Cook and drain veggies.
3) Puree until smooth: room temp veggies, eggs, yolks, salt, pepper, garlic or shallot & nutmeg to a blender
4) Add cream & pulse until incorporated.
5) Pass mixture through a fine sieve, if desired.
6) Prep eight ramekins with olive oil and place in a large, flat bottomed roasting pan.
7) Divide batter between the ramekins, leaving a little room at the top.
8) Add water to roasting pan until halfway up the side of the ramekins.
9) Cover with a vented lid or heavily perforated foil.
10) Bake or cook until just set and centers are solid & lifting slightly, between 30-50 minutes based on veggies and method of cooking.
11) Unmold & serve hot or room temp with your favorite sauce or accompaniment for the veggie you chose.
12) Can be refrigerated in the mold for up to 4 days and re-heate