Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

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It’s One of a Kind Show Time

Saturday, December 6th, 2014 by Jennifer

I live for the One of a Kind Show. For four days, I get a break from traditional retail as I wander through booths showcasing over 600 talented artists work. Each year I treat myself to one special something for myself. Last year, it was a pair of rose earrings and the year before a beautiful black and white print which is now framed and hanging in my living room. I also take care of a TON of holiday shopping! This year I have at least four people on my list I know will love something unique, and as one of a kind as they are!

OOAK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did I mention The Chopping Block has a booth there as well? Basically, we set up shop and feature not only our fun holiday tea towels and accessories but our favorite one of a kind ingredients as well. You can find us in the Gourmet Aisle sampling out our house-made Holiday Cocoa Mix which our chefs make and package just for you! There’s a ‘To and From’ label on the front so it makes a perfect stocking stuffer. Pair this with our chocolate chip or peppermint stuffin’ marshmallows and you have the perfect gift.

Chocolate Mallow

Pep Mellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will also be sampling our Jalapeno Gold Candied Jalapenos. Now I’m not really a spicy food person, but these candied jalapenos are the perfect balance of sweet heat. I have served them on a crostini with cream cheese. I also put them in my Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread every time I make it. The possibilities are endless with these bad boys.

Candied Jalepenos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop by our store on the first floor of the Mart for more samples, great gift ideas and tons of fun. We’ll be hosting a Chocolate & Wine reception tonight from 4pm-6pm, so join us on your way up to the show or as you leave. Sweets and vino? Sounds like the perfect shopping combo to me!

 

 

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Jennifer Rozman is the General Manager of The Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart location. Her favorite part of her job is sharing her cooking journey with others who are just beginning to explore the culinary world. When she's not taking a cooking class or researching her latest gourmet retail selection, you can find her working off all of the delicious treats the chefs share at hot yoga or on the tennis courts, when weather permits. Dining out at a restaurant she's never tried before is how she rewards herself, as she loves trying new things and celebrating others passions.

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Put it on a Stick

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 by Jennifer

I just returned from my favorite place in the entire world. You guessed it – the Minnesota State Fair! Each year, they introduce something new, and this year was no different. Their ability to put almost anything on a stick never seizes to amaze me.

Let’s start with my personal favorite this year, and I have to admit I did not see this coming: Deep Fried Buckeyes on a Stick. What’s that? A sweet, creamy peanut butter ball coated in chocolate, dipped in funnel cake batter, deep-fried, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served with a strawberry sauce. It was warm, gooey goodness that my boyfriend literally had to fight me for just to get a bite.

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Now, for my favorite classic. I return to the State Fair year after year for these bad boys, and it is undoubtedly the first stand I stake out every visit. Now a lot of places ‘do’ cheese curds, but no one, and I mean no one does them like the Mouse Trap at the State Fair. They are all cheese and very little batter. Crispy, salty grease filled bundles of pure joy.

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While I managed to personally enjoy a pronto pup on a stick, cheese curds, buckeye on a stick, Italian beef on a stick and a bucket of Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip cookies, I did not have the capacity to try the other new bites featured this year like ‘Chicken in the Waffle,’ ’Caribbean Style Lobster Roll’, and ‘Beer Gelato.’ I did take a picture of the ‘Spaghetti and Meatballs’ on stick to send to my boyfriend’s very Italian mother to which she responded, ‘Authentic – I’m sure. ;)’

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All in all the fair was a huge hit, as always. I encourage anyone who has a State Fair near or far to venture out because you never know what you’re going to discover!

The Chopping Block loves to put food on a stick as well. In our Street Food class, our Kofta Kebabs are skewered. In Thrill of the Grill, we make Spicy Coconut-Glazed Shrimp. In Beef on the Grill, you’ll enjoy Cumin-Spiced Beef, Onion and Pepper Kebabs with Chimichurri and Couscous. Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce is one of the stars of Vegetarian Thai, and Mix and Mingle Appetizer Party features Fresh Mozzarella Marinated with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers.

What’s your favorite fair fare?

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Jennifer Rozman is the General Manager of The Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart location. Her favorite part of her job is sharing her cooking journey with others who are just beginning to explore the culinary world. When she's not taking a cooking class or researching her latest gourmet retail selection, you can find her working off all of the delicious treats the chefs share at hot yoga or on the tennis courts, when weather permits. Dining out at a restaurant she's never tried before is how she rewards herself, as she loves trying new things and celebrating others passions.

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Pairing Perfection: Why Beer Pairs Better than Wine

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 by Mike

ScordatosThe Chopping Block is celebrating Chicago Craft Beer Week with different beer-focused classes, including last Friday’s “He Said, She Said: Food & Beer Pairing Dinner”.  The evening featured five courses demonstrated by Chef Mario Scordato, while his wife, Stephanie, a certified Cicerone, poured and discussed five expertly aligned brews.

As someone lucky enough to get one of the last seats, it was the perfect way to start #CCBW and I learned an interesting fact, with which wine people will probably disagree.  Beer pairs better with food than wine (gasp). I know, but it’s true.

Take a minute and let that sink in… don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Beer can complement or contrast and even prepare your tongue for a brand new bite each time thanks to carbonation. When is the last time a big, bold Bordeaux gave your taster a scrubbing between each mouthful?

All that remains from that delicious meal is a recipe packet with a few giddy notes about how “I must go to Penrose immediately” and “Tonnato is the greatest thing I have never tasted”.  So needless to say, pictures were not happening as the dishes rolled out. I was more interested in being in the moment with exceptionally balanced food and beer.

Here’s the menu with the pairings:

I would be happy to discuss further with anyone who has questions… that’s what the comment section is for.

Sweet Pea and Pecorino Crostini – Penrose P2

–          Fresh taste of spring that complimented the fresh, slightly tart flavors of the P2 (which was fresh from the tap and served out of a Growler).

Ricotta Gnocchi with Leeks, Fried Lemon & Fava Beans – Metropolitan Krankshaft Kolsch

–          The crisp, clean citrus notes in the Kolsch enhanced the seasonal flavors of this dish.  The beer emphasized the lemon while reinforcing the light, fluffy nature of the ricotta “pillows” as Chef Mario called them.

Pork Tenderloin with Arugula Salad and Tonnato Dressing – Solemn Oath Whisper Kisses

–          “Whisper Kisses” has a great/creepy origin story for the name and I will leave it at that.  Tonnato sauce can be seen in a similar light.  However, both when tried are outstanding, and I would recommend giving each their fair shot if you ever have the chance to indulge in either.

Herb-Crusted Lamb Chops with Crispy Artichokes & Wild Mushrooms – Two Brothers Cane & Ebel

–          The lamb was rich, earthy and comforting, and begging for the roasted, malty flavor of the Cane & Ebel, which is a hoppy rye beer.  The meaty flavors of the lamb and mushrooms were complimented by the rye, while the hops cut nicely through the fat and added a slightly grassy, herbal note which refreshed the palate.

Profiteroles with Espresso Chocolate Sauce – Finch Secret Stache, Milk Stout

–          Stouts and Porters typically pair well with desserts and this was a great example of this concept.  The Chocolate in the dessert seems to draw out the chocolate, vanilla and toffee flavors in the beer.

The first time I attempted beer pairings for a group was my wedding last month, and was shocked by the positive feedback about the combinations.  Especially when it comes to the craft beer uninitiated, the idea that beer could pair with food was akin to the discovery of fire many, many years ago.

Whole Roasted Pig – Freehouse Battery Brown Ale

Boiled Peanut Falafel – Westbrook IPA

Lowcountry Boil – Holy City Pilsner

Dessert from Dulce Food TruckHoly City Pluff Mud Porter

The biggest takeaway I got from these pairing adventures is that beer and food belong together, and I would be happy to create a custom beer experience for you. As a planner of private events and armed with the knowledge of great local craft beers in Chicago, I can make this happen for any adventurous soul who wants to be buds with tasty food and suds!

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Mike Lintal grew up in a suburb of Charleston, South Carolina. He studied Broadcast Journalism at The University of South Carolina, and upon graduation took a job as a local news producer at a TV station in Charleston. Soon after, fate called Mike to Chicago when his girlfriend received a dream job offer. Mike quickly realized that his interest in good food and beverage, cultivated by the Lowcountry's high quality and standards, was known in the "Big City" as being a "Foodie". After spending 3 well-fed years enjoying Chicago's vibrant and blossoming dining options and attempting to convince rural car dealers that the internet was not "THE Devil" he knew it was time for a change. Constantly looking for a way to turn his love of all things gourmand into his professional endeavor, he accepted a position as Private Events Coordinator with The Chopping Block. When he's not out pursuing all things taco or brewed, he can be found cooking at home with his fiancée or playing with their infectiously cute puppy.

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Lincoln Square’s Good Eats & Drinks

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 by Robyn

One of the biggest perks of working at The Chopping Block is that I get to be in Lincoln Square every day. Nestled in the armpit of Lawrence, Western and Lincoln, this neighborhood is host to lovely scenery, attractive young couples, playful puppies, a shocking number of babies, and lots — LOTS — of good eats.

That being said, it’s great to work here, and it’s nice that on lunch breaks and after work I can pop out to any of the following good spots for nosh and/or beer and/or wine. But, I have to admit, it’s getting a little out of hand. Every day? I mean, EVERY day?

This is how Lincoln Square gets you:

 

  1. genesRegional, curious shops. Gene’s Sausage Shop across the street from The Chopping Block is always a fun place to pop in and explore (woah, the candy Polish kids eat is so weird!), and it’s definitely got the best prices on meats and deli salads in the area. With this in mind, I always walk in planning to grab a cheap little something, and walk out with a $5 bottle of Kombucha.
  2. Provenance Food and Wine? Same idea. It’s a place you enter to gaze at the beautiful oils, vinegars and chocolates and leave with a $15 block of delicious cheese.
  3. selmarieCharming, tiny cookies. At Cafe Selmarie, the romantic French pastry shop, you will feast your eyes on gorgeous tarts and bonbons sitting fresh-made in the pastry case. The vision: you’re sitting with a book on their bistro-style patio, sipping red wine and taking an hour to nibble through a single, quarter-sized sugar cookie because you’re French now. The reality: 10 sugar cookies, two beers, and half a quiche later, you’re sunburned and full.
  4. badappleBad ass burgers and damn delicious beers. The Bad Apple, a bit down Lincoln from the square itself, is one of our favorite places to pop in for a few beers and some laughs. Of course, when the menu comes around I suddenly realize I’ve been robbing myself of the true stuff of life—unique bar food and fancy beverages—for too long. I know we were going to go home after and cook, but who knows if I’ll ever have the opportunity to try a bacon and peanut butter veggie burger again! This could be my only chance! And I have to get this one funky beer to go with it! Fail.
  5. taqueriaSalsa verde. Okay, so we’ve all been eating red salsa at Chi-chis since we were seven. We’re over it. Salsa verde, though? With the chips? Now that’s something to sit down and wait for! Taqueria El Asadero down at Lincoln and Montrose has the right idea with this. At least once a week when I’m off work and starving, I can’t not go to this ten-table joint for some of the best vegetarian tacos and, yes, salsa verde, in Chicago. That is, I do this instead of going to the Jewel right next door and getting the goods to cook for myself. Because my tacos just aren’t that good. I don’t know what “el asadero” means, but I’m guessing it’s close to “place where you spend all your money.”

What’s your favorite place to blow your paycheck in Lincoln Square? Reply here and let me know.

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Robyn recently moved to Chicago from Boston, where she taught math and reading in an urban high school. During that time, she discovered with dismay a huge lack of food knowledge and access in her students' communities and got totally fired up. She started cooking with the kids and created a class in which students learned how to budget for and select healthy, ethical, sustainable food. She is now at The Chopping Block with the hope to further the mission of getting the world to cook! In her free time, Robyn enjoys cooking and eating, bicycling and running, blogging and reading and adventuring.

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I’m Breaking Up with Sugar

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by Chloe

Picture if you will the following: racks of freshly baked treats of varying sizes, flavors and colors. There’s no one around to stop you from eating all of it. It’s just you and those cupcakes, cookies, brownies, etc!

Inside Truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, my friends, that is my life. I manage a dessert truck for a little bake shop in Los Angeles. My job is a ton of fun, and I have full, unadulterated access to freshly baked sweets. The picture above is my daily view from my “desk.” The hard part is that I work alone quite a bit, and thus, I have no one there to tell me not to have a brownie for breakfast or to silently judge me while I go for that third cookie. No one is there, and I’m stuck with only my waning self-discipline to be my guide. My relationship with sugar is, well, unhealthy.

Sugar addictionSo after doing some research on sugar and what it does to the body, it turns out that it causes a host of problems, like cavities and weight gain and losing friends! I kid, but seriously, I might’ve chosen a cookie over taking a shower at one point in the past year. I don’t know why I had to make a choice between the two. Regardless of that, I know I have to cut back because I deserve better, right? I’m a big believer in moderation, but like any other unhealthy relationship, cutting ties completely is the best step for one to heal and move on in life.

So I’ve decided to break up with sugar for a month. I’m calling it “No Sweets May!” What does that include though? Here’s my short list of stuff I’m cutting out for May: Candy, baked goods, soda (diet or otherwise), added refined sugar, CHOCOLATE, etc. I’m not fully ready to tackle the issues of all the added sugar in non-baked items and desserts, but if you’re interested in learning more about that, read this article or just google “hidden sugar.” For now, I’m focusing on kicking the habit of allowing myself a dessert five times a day.

Sugar addiction 2I’m most scared about my withdrawal from chocolate. I’m about 5 days in thus far, and this is longest I’ve gone from chocolate probably since I first tried chocolate back in 1948. If you think that’s a lie, well it is, but this is definitely the longest I’ve gone since I got a job in an office.  Offices always have chocolate. How am I doing, you ask?  I’m just …(audible sigh)…doin’, man. Sugar withdrawal is known to cause crankiness and sadness, according to a study I’ve done in the past five days since not eating sugar.

So basically, how does one live without chocolate and candy?  I guess, you just live, but find other alternatives to satisfy those urges. Here are some things to think about that may help me (or you):

  • Make my own salad dressing
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Avoid all artificial sweeteners
  • Use mashed bananas or applesauce as baking alternatives
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Drink infused water
  • Remove temptations. EXAMPLE: I recently bought over 5 bags of Easter candy after Easter because it was on sale and I LOVE JELLYBEANS. So I moved the bags of jellybeans to the top of the pantry. Now every time I’m bored and want to eat something, it’s not the first thing I see. #science
  • Take a walk. Apparently getting your body moving is a good trick to get your mind moving on from the idea of sugar. Walks are like hugs from your mom, they cure everything sometimes. #science
  • Be prepared with snacks
  • Meal plan as much as possible

I’m gonna start with this stuff. I’d love to hear about any other ideas you have, and especially any experiences you might have had in a similar situation. Sadly, I think a breakup from sugar might be better for the long run, not just one month. However, we’re staying open about it, and just going to try and get through this month apart.

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Born and raised in Florida, Chloe Ditzel is a former class assistant at The Chopping Block, and would like to make it clear that she did not go to culinary school. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, and is discovering the culinary treasures of the west coast one delicious food truck at a time. Her biggest goal in life is to somehow combine the following three mediums: food, comedy & unicycles. Bon Appetite!