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Last week while I was thinking about what to cook for Cinco de Mayo, I remembered something I used to make frequently when I taught cooking classes. Often, particularly around this time of year, you need a good snack to go with those endless rounds of margaritas. After a lifetime of tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole something different is desperately needed. While I love a good empanada, they’re a little too filling to be a drinking snack. So I’ve got just the thing for you today. Plantain chips. Just as delicious and addictive as tortilla chips and with a great cilantro dipping sauce – a welcome change from boring salsas and heavy guacamoles. This sauce is something else – bright, tangy, a little spicy, super fresh. It’s fantastic.

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If you weren’t aware, I’m a fan of pork fat. Using lard rather than butter in some recipes, particularly baking recipes, changes the flavor and texture for the better. A pie crust made with lard, or my preference of a lard/butter combo, is like no other. Today, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I had the idea to do some very traditional Mexican cookies from none other than Chicago’s own Chef Rick Bayless. And I was going make them with lard.

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I left work not long ago to these fatal words: “Can you do something with this? Take it.” This is exactly how I end up with so much stuff. Both my freezers are packed with things obtained in this manner, not to mention my cupboards and three large plastic totes in my dining room. Oh boy, here we go again. I can never turn down ingredients. It is a blessing and a curse and how I found myself with with two containers of crème frâiche and no plan.

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It was a dreary day, typical of a Chicago spring, and I was looking for something to cook. I was tired of hearty soups, stews and pasta and was on the hunt for something light and bright. Something spring-like. Putzing around the internet for inspiration, going from one random link to another I came across something on the Eating Well website. Radish Soup. Was that a thing? The color caught my attention – a lovely shade of light pink. Curiosity piqued, I was about to find out if this was indeed a thing.

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It’s spring. While I may be laying here nursing a cold, I can see out my windows that the trees are budding. It’s all rainy days and smooth sailing from here on out and like most of Chicago, I’m anxiously awaiting the first outdoor farmers market in a few weeks. In anticipation I bought some asparagus the other day, before I caught this nasty cold, and thought it would go well with a plate of gnocchi and a little brown butter.

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A chef friend recently stayed with me for a few weeks and we had an interesting chat at the grocery store. She was raised in Switzerland, is currently working in Hong Kong and was in town to work at a Michelin starred restaurant for a short time. We’d made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some food and she stood in front of the yogurt display, baffled. “Why is there so much yogurt? Why do you have so much yogurt?” Good question. I looked at the display and was a little embarrassed. Have you taken a good look at the yogurt selection at your local grocery store lately? It’s absurd. Why do we have so much yogurt? My store is on the smaller side and has a 7-shelf display that is at least 10 feet long. Hundreds of containers and more than half of it is Greek yogurt. It’s really ridiculous.

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After a month of chocolate recipes followed by a bunch of beer recipes and a few Italian dishes for good measure, I was in the mood for something light, bright and tangy. Something citrus, puckery citrus. Something that screamed “Spring!!” at the top of its lungs. A tender, buttery bundt cake sounded pretty good too. Let’s combine the two, shall we?

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