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[courtesy Next]

If you didn't get to eat the opening menu at Next, you can at least attempt to cook it.

The 126-page digital cookbook, which details every course of the 1906 Paris menu at Grant Achatz's ever-evolving restaurant (which has since served Thai food and is now in "Childhood" mode), will be released on iTunes Tuesday. It includes exacting recipes, down to the gram and tenth of an ounce, for every morsel served in the Escoffier-inspired menu, more than 200 photographs and a video of that famous pressed duck course (see below).

"Paris: 1906" costs $4.99 and is available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Next co-owner Nick Kokonas says it already is ranked second among iBooks' best-selling cookbooks as a pre-order.

Production on the Thai menu iBook is nearly complete, and the Childhood iBook is in the works, he says.


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[photo by Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times]

For his cookbook debut, Homaro Cantu could easily have gone the shiny, coffee-table paperweight route.

Instead, Cantu, the Cheshire cat-like chef and owner of moto and iNG on West Fulton, is working on a diet book. A miracle berry diet book.

The little-known African berry temporarily re-sets your taste buds to taste sweet in even the most sour, bitter things. Cantu has been experimenting with it at moto and iNG, offering at the latter a kitchen table miracle berry menu. By the fall, he says, he's going to transition iNG to a miracle berry menu-only restaurant.

His obsession with the fruit goes back about six years, when a customer asked Cantu if he could somehow help her friend, who was in chemotherapy, taste again. What he came up with: a miracle berry-infused paper strip that allowed her to taste food as it should taste.

He still makes those strips -- about 500 "doses" weekly -- and sends them to chemo patients gratis. At home, the berry is part of his two young daughters' diets. "Every day after school, they ask for miracle berry and a lemon," Cantu says. Once while gardening, curious about how grass tastes with miracle berry, he and one of his girls tried it. Her response: "It tastes like basil."

Developing recipes for the book has been a bitch. There's a reason why cookies have sugar -- to add sweetness, but also texture, aroma and color. It took Cantu's team six weeks to figure out a sugarless cookie.

Cantu's ice cream recipe has 800 fewer calories than the average recipe, "and it's good enough to have at Ing or moto," he says.

The 150 or so recipes in the book are mostly sweet, and all require that you eat the berry (in tablet form) beforehand; its effects last for 30 to 45 minuts. Cantu says those who buy the book will get a discount on the berry tablets.

His plans for miracle berry are bigger than his backyard, and his diet book (due out next spring). The fruit and the tablets are expensive, but if he can get the prices down -- which he believes he can if the inhalable form he's developing comes to market -- Cantu says this could be the "silver bullet for obesity."

With miracle fruit in the mix, soda is merely soda water and lemon juice. Who needs sugar in it, or anything? "Why try and fight the big soda companies when we can just empower the end user to make it themselves?" Cantu wonders.


05-08-10-kim-roti01.jpg [photo by John J. Kim/Sun-Times]

Itching to stretch those snowbound legs? Join a walking spice tour of Devon Avenue from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

The intrepid tour leader is Anupy Singla, a former reporter for Bloomberg and CLTV, contributor to our Food pages, cookbook author, mother of two and all-around life force.

Singla left the news business four years ago to shift her focus to her two young daughters. As she explained to me when we first met in 2009, her girls' eating habits had veered from the healthy, home-cooked lifestyle that was always Singla's goal but not always possible with her journalist's schedule. So, she got cooking to get them back on track.

At the time, she already was tossing around ideas for a couple of books, one of them a cookbook on using the Crock-Pot to make Indian food -- the secret weapon in every Indian home cook's kitchen. In no time, she snagged a publisher, collected her family's recipes, started testing them and plying her friends and neighbors with food (all hilariously detailed on her blog and Facebook page). Within a year, warp speed in the publishing biz, her book, The Indian Slow Cooker, was on bookshelves. I did say 'life force,' didn't I?

Singla's working on a second book, still blogging, teaching occasional cooking classes. And her family is eating better than ever. The other day, Singla wrote on Facebook how one of her girls wouldn't stop eating the raw okra Singla was prepping for dinner.

Join Singla, if you can keep up, tomorrow in front of Patel Bros., 2610 W. Devon.

The tour is $42. For more details and to sign up, go to indianasapplepie.com/tours.

Frozen grapes, and then some

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At 689 pages, Bon Appetit Desserts is loaded with desserts of every stripe. And while I've put some of the showier ones on my to-make list - among them, a chilled lime-coconut pie and crème fraiche cheesecake with honey-rum-roasted pineapple - somehow, I'm drawn to the simpler ones.

Here's an idea from the book for styling up red and green grapes. These frozen numbers are served alongside grape granita, but why not just put out big clusters in a bowl by themselves?:

Dip red and green grape clusters in Muscat to moisten, then dip in sugar to coat. Place grapes on a tray and freeze until frozen, about 4 hours.

(And if you're just too cold to think about this, consider that come summer, roasted cherries are to be embraced. It all makes sense.)

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Judith Dunbar Hines makes an excellent point in today's Low Mileage Kitchen column: The holidays, and the floury treats that go with them, can be a bitch for the gluten-intolerant and those with celiac disease.

Hines, the city's director of culinary arts, also offers several resources for gluten-free cooking and an easy chocolate cookie recipe. But our goof: The nutritional facts are missing from the print version, so here you go.

Per cookie: 130 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 19 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugars, 1 g protein, 31 mg sodium and 0 g fiber.

(Some readers had asked why we don't include total sugars in our nutritional data for recipes. I didn't have a good answer. But you'll now find the sugar content in our recipes.)

While we're on gluten-free -- because it seems inescapable these days -- Silvana Nardone, author of Cooking for Isaiah, is in town Friday and Saturday to demo recipes from her book, which she wrote for her gluten-intolerant son.

Nardone, the former editor-in-chief of Rachael Ray magazine, will be at Caputo's Fresh Markets, 2400 N. Harlem, in Elmwood Park from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday; and on Saturday at Dominick's 5201 N. Sheridan, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Dominick's, 255 E. Grand, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Recipes she'll sample include Sugar-and-Spiced Dougnuts and Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding. Because gluten-free doesn't mean flavor-free.

The thing about these 5-ingredient-recipe books is you want to try all the recipes because, hey, they're only five ingredients! Or four!

I tried a bunch from both Claire Robinson's 5 Ingredient Fix and Abigail Dodge's Desserts 4 Today, featured in today's Food pages. I was a mad woman. I was hooked. Of course, we didn't have the space to run the whole lot, so here you go. Enjoy.

Creamy Roasted Broccoli
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 pounds fresh broccoli (about 2 large bunches), florets removed, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 large orange plus 2 teaspoons orange zest
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Put 2/3 of broccoli in large bowl with olive oil and orange juice; season with salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet, arrange in one layer and roast for approximately 15 minutes until just tender with golden brown edges.

Meanwhile, pour cream into medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add remaining broccoli, garlic and orange zest and bring to gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Cook until cream is reduced to half its original volume and broccoli is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

With handheld immersion blender or potato masher, or in food processor, blend or pulse cream and broccoli mixture until coarsely blended and still a bit chunky. Gently fold in roasted broccoli until combined; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to serving bowl and serve warm.

From 5 Ingredient Fix

More recipes after the jump.

Chicago chefs have been quite the literary bunch this year.

Forget the blogs. We're talking books and book deals, people (some more of a done deal than others). 6-22_Lachat_can_1.jpg

Grant Achatz's memoir is due out in March. Phillip Foss is shopping his around. Former Aja chef Joshua Linton reportedly has penned a cookbook. Mana Food Bar chef Jill Barron told me last month she's got an idea for a veggie cookbook stewing.

The latest (and firmly in the done deal camp): Paul "Mr. Preserves" Virant of Vie in Western Springs, who is in the throes of recipe testing for a book on canning.

"It's as if the Ball Blue Book was overhauled by a chef with a penchant for making aigre doux and unexpected variations on sauerkraut," writes Virant's co-author Kate Leahy on her blog, A Modern Meal Maker.

The book, to be published by Ten Speed Press, will take a two-pronged approach: how to make preserves, and then how to incorporate said preserves into meals.

Virant offered his expertise and recipes for our story last year on rustling up some canning courage, pulling out a tattered notebook full of recipes during writer Jennifer Olvera's time in his kitchen. The cookbook will include recipes from that notebook, says Leahy.

The book is slated for a spring/summer 2012 release.

by guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes

James Beard Foundation Award-winning writers Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg are celebrating two anniversaries. Their book, The Flavor Bible, was published two years ago; their wedding took place two decades ago. theflavorbiblecoverdepix0808.jpeg

Among chefs, culinary students and sommeliers, their reputation is something more than solid. Chicagoan Belinda Chang, wine director at the Modern in New York, describes them as "the quintessential husband-wife pairing."

Dornenburg and Page may be atypically talented but, like other true foodies, they are generous. "They're true enthusiasts," Chang says. "They're not looking for everyone to fail. They want everyone to succeed."

That's a typical industry perspective, but Dornenburg and Page's generosity doesn't stop at the cellar or kitchen door. To celebrate the two-fold anniversary, they sent their friends copies of a later book, What to Drink With What You Eat - and, because a pairing book is useless without something to pair, a few bottles of Washington State wine. Here's Chang's succinct review of What to Drink With What You Eat: "genius."

whattodrinknewcoverdepix.jpeg Don't look for the snob factor - not in conversation with Dornenburg and Page, not in their books, (seriously: What to Drink with What You Eat includes ginger ale as a pairing) and not in the bottles. Oh, sure, the writers can go high-end, but we're in a recession here. Let's keep it real - and affordable.

There are worse things to do than pour a glass of wine and pore through this book. As you might guess from the title, there's a "What to Drink with What You Eat" section.

Here's fare for the Washington wines:

Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling 2008 ($21.99 at Binny's) serves well as an aperitif. It also goes with apricots, artichokes and asparagus. One letter into the alphabet, and the choices are broad. Riesling migrates across consonants and vowels. In a world written by Page and Dornenburg, everything does.

They offer different approaches. Another chapter is "What to Eat with What You Drink." Break out Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($11.99 at Binny's) with basil, bay, beef, braised dishes, dark chocolate, black currants, duck, pork, rabbit, rosemary . . . variety is the spice of wine.

Champagnes and sparkling wines beg for celebration. (There's something about that "pop.") Drink Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc de Blancs Methode Champenoise ($10.99 at Binny's) with caviar or oysters, or with Asian food, gougeres, pasta or - good news - dessert. Brunch is in the lineup. Sleep in and have a lazy breakfast in bed. That's a good enough reason to pop the cork.

Twelve wines to keep at home, after the jump

What, if any, impact will the departure of Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Barbara Fairchild mean for Chicago Gourmet, which this year benefited from the magazine's sponsorship and presence?

Not much, Fairchild hopes.

"Quite frankly, I'd love to attend next year just a private person because I do love the city so much and I have relationships with a lot of chefs there," Fairchild said today, back in her office in Los Angeles. Early last week, Fairchild announced she was leaving the magazine after 32 years; parent company Conde Nast is moving the magazine's operations to New York.

Reflecting on the jam-packed weekend, Fairchild was genuinely pleased by what she saw as a successful event, right up there with the magazine's Vegas Uncork'd event, albeit distinct in personality. "I loved the atmosphere. . . This one had a wonderful air of almost being in a country fair but in an urban setting," she said. Now, now, don't take those as fighting words. "It's well spread out," she continued. "Even though there were 13,000 people there, I never got the sense it was crowded. Everybody kept up the pace."

She admits, however, that those long lines were hard to miss.

"Some of the food lines were really long, but that's what happens when you get Rick Bayless and some of these other chefs cooking," she said.

While the discussion over how to remedy those nagging lines unfolds, Fairchild simply offered this: "Maybe instead of reducing the number of people, what you need is more food."

Fairchild will be back in our big city/small town in November to promote her Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook.

7-13-10 podgo daley 33x.jpg p.s. Let's have more of this next year, shall we?! (Minus, uh, Mayor Daley. And Barbara Fairchild as Bon Appetit editor).

Roger Ebert has not posted online -- not yet, anyway -- the baby photo of him using the potty, which he jokingly referenced during our conversation for this story in today's Food pages. The man has a sense of humor. And bless him for it.

That humor is what makes Ebert's new rice cooker cookbook, The Pot and How to Use It, in stores next week, such a read. It is how a man who can't eat or smell still finds pleasure in cooking.

There are no photos in the book. To call it a cookbook is somewhat a stretch. An essay with a to-hell-with-it-just-experiment-and-you'll-be-ok attitude is more like it.

I'll spoil some of it for you. Here is Ebert, on the Pot's intuitiveness:
"How does the Pot know how long to cook the rice? It is an ancient mystery of the Orient. Don't ask questions you don't need the answers to."

On why you should make your own oatmeal:
"Take a good look at the label on that microwave oatmeal you've been eating. It's probably loaded with salt, corn syrup and palm and coconut oil -- the two deadliest oils on the planet. It's a dangerous travesty of the healthy food it pretends to be. But it's high fiber, you say? Terrific. You can die of a heart attack during a perfect bowel movement."

On using bottled sauces:
"A gourmet cook would never stoop to adding bottles sauce to menus, but I stoop all the time."

You get the idea.

Ebert genuinely believes the rice cooker can be a godsend for college kids and those in tight quarters, but he also knows the rice cooker isn't God. It can't cook a souffle, for instance (though if you've successfully made a souffle in the Pot, let me know!).

If there's one thing Ebert thinks everyone should try in the Pot, it's oatmeal. "Put oatmeal + water + fruit in pot and its ready for you. Prep time 30 seconds. Try it," he wrote on his notepad during our interview. I'm of the oatmeal-with-milk persuasion, but I tried it. And while I have to admit I'm sticking with my own tried-and-true method of cooking oatmeal, I was pleasantly surprised at how other dishes turned out. His book had me half-sauteing, half-steaming onions for a tasty corn chowder, throwing raw chicken in for a no-frills rice dish and spooning out a heavenly scented rice pudding.

It had never occurred to me to cook anything but rice in my rice cooker.

The Pot may be just the thing to get more of us in the kitchen. If Ebert is cooking, shouldn't we all be?

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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