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Deep-fried turkey testicles. Don't forget the hot sauce. | photo by Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times]

Before you stuff your piehole with stuffing and pie and turkey, why not watch others stuff theirs?

At 7:30 tonight, Chicago police officers will compete in a burger-eating contest at 25 Degrees, 736 N. Clark. You pay $25 for the privilege of watching Chicago's finest eat; proceeds benefit officer Al Porrata, a cancer patient, and the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

Less altruistic, but still entertaining, is the turkey testicle eating contest at 9 p.m. Wednesday at Timothy O'Toole's, 622 N. Fairbanks, followed by a pumpkin pie eating challenge at 11 p.m. Prizes are a whole frozen turkey (good luck defrosting that) and a $25 gift certificate, respectively. While we're talking nuts, there's always the Turkey Testicle Festival in Huntley -- no eating contest here, but proceeds are donated to local charities.

If, by Friday, you haven't tired of all things resembling the Thanksgiving meal, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon, will offer a cooking class from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on what to do with those leftovers. The class is free with museum admission ($9 adults, $7 kids).

DirtyBettyPressPhoto.jpg [photo courtesy Cookie Bar]

The Cookie Bar in Lincoln Park is getting into the doughnut game.

On Wednesday, its one-year anniversary, the bakery at 2475 N. Lincoln will begin selling doughnuts -- 10 varieties daily, baked not fried -- in a pop-up format under the name Dirty Betty's.

Unlike the River North sensation Doughnut Vault, with its unpredictable hours and tweets like "3 glazed left, 350 people in line," Dirty Betty's will keep regular hours.

So, from 7 to 10 a.m. weekdays, the Cookie Bar (as Dirty Bety's) will sell only doughnuts, then close up shop until 1 p.m., when it re-opens selling its cookies and any doughnuts left over from the morning, says co-owner Joe Bova. The bakery is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., offering all its carb-laden goodness.

Bova and co-owner Jeff Steinberg are fully aware and enamored of the doughnut-as-trend. (Even Scott Harris of the Francesca's empire has a doughnut shop in the works for Bucktown.) "We fell for it years ago in Portland and Seattle," Bova says.

The Cookie Bar's spin: slightly healthier doughnuts. Or, at least, doughnuts minus the hydrogenated oils and other unnatural stuff. Flavors will include Nutella-glazed banana, blueberry with lemon glaze and ginger-Key lime. They'll sell for between $2 and $2.25 a piece.

Who's Betty? She was a character Bova developed in his former life, as an animator in Los Angeles, for a project that never got off the ground.

"Our slogan is 'Dirty Betty's, Good Clean Fun,' " he says.

Red-carpet celebs will have a few made-in-Chicago treats at their disposal (do they actually eat?) at the Academy Awards on Feb. 28.

In the backstage green room and in the dressing rooms, they'll find Terry's Toffee, and in their swag bags, they'll have cookies from Cookies by Joey of Wheeling and chocolates from Chocolatines in Schaumburg. contact.jpg

This is the seventh year Terry's Toffee has made an appearance at the Oscars, all thanks to owner Terry Opalek's chutzpah (he heard through the grapevine that that's what you should do -- call the Academy and offer your goods to them -- so that's what he did). The luxe toffee from the eight-year-old company, which started out of Opalek's home, also was hand-picked for the mini-bars of the Trump Hotel Chicago when it opened in 2008.

Cookies by Joey owner Joanne Sherman is an Oscar first-timer but no stranger either to carb- and sugar-loving famous clients.

"The Judge Mathis Show -- they order regularly. The Chicago White Sox were eating our cookies all last season. The Kardashians have enjoyed our cookies," says Sherman, who started her Wheeling company in October of 2008. "Dreamworks . . . And Ellen [DeGeneres]. She actually introduced us to Judge Mathis."

Soon enough, Distinctive Assets, the company in charge of the gift baskets at the Oscars and other major Hollywood events, came knocking for samples.

Sherman bakes eight familiar but decadent cookie varieties. For the Oscars, she'll make boxes of eight to 12 cookies, which will go to all the nominees as well as the press.

It goes without saying that the media will gobble up the cookies. Advice to celebs: Screw the detox. Sherman's cookies are super-fresh with no preservatives, so it's best to eat them as soon as possible. Which, for the losers of the night, might not be such a stretch.

Clarification: A spokeswoman for Distinctive Assets says the gift baskets containing Sherman's cookies and other goodies (an understatement, as jewelry, trips abroad and private jet rides are common swag bag items) are delivered the morning after the ceremony to "all nominees who don't win an Oscar. It's their consolation." So there.


The bartenders interviewed for today's cover story on their homemade holiday treats gave us way more material than we could use. Here's are some delicious extras:

Post and photo by guest blogger Seanan Forbes

Forget the jokes about hand-me-down fruitcakes. When it comes to making Christmas presents, Sepia's Joshua Pearson tweaks his father's cookie recipes. Pearson's dad, Stephen Pearson, is a professional pastry chef turned bakery manager, which promises something better than a mythical fruitcake doorstop.

A bite of revised heritage: Joshua Pearson's Grand Marnier sugar cookies. "He used to make something very similar," Pearson remembers, "without the glaze." Pearson the Elder's recipe was easy to make. Pearson the Younger's twist is, too. Unsurprisingly, it's also boozy, with liqueur in both dough and glaze.

"A couple of years ago, I was looking for a holiday cookie to make. I had some Grand Marnier, and I love cooking with Grand Marnier," he says. Chuckling, he confesses, "I boozed up his cookies a little bit."

This winter, Pearson's father is up from Australia, enjoying a chilly white Christmas in Chicago. The father's out and about, seeing the town. As to Pearson, he says, "My wife and I are staying in." He's in the kitchen, cooking and baking and keeping things warm.

Has his dad tasted the Grand Marnier version of his cookies? "He hasn't yet. I'm making them for Christmas." They'll appear after dinner. "I always cook a goose. I usually do a bourbon-glazed ham." Pearson's voice drifts off to meals past and dinners yet to come. Sugar cookies, too: spirited ones.

In Australia, the big holiday meal - lunch, there as in Britain - showcases shellfish. The orange cookies would be just as welcome after a hot-season feast.

In whatever weather they're made, the next batch of cookies may have just a little finely shaved dark chocolate in the batter, grated orange in the glaze or (who knows, with Joshua Pearson?) a different spirit altogether. Only three things are certain: The cookies will taste good; they'll pass any top-shelf bar exam, and they'll be shared with friends, family and an abundance of cheer.

Recipe after the jump.

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.

A butter cookie convert

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Butter cookies aren't the first cookies we'd usually go for. Heck, they're not even the fourth. They all tend to have that forgettable Maurice Lenell-esque quality to them. Give us a chunky chocolate chip, a chewy macaroon, an almond thumbprint any day.

But that was before we tried these. These are butter cookies and then some. These are BUTTER cookies. These are the mother of all butter cookies -- or perhaps we should say, the grandaddy.

The recipe is from Roeser's, a father-son operation going on four generations in Humboldt Park (more in Dave Hoekstra's story today).

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It's an old school bakery, if there ever was one. As you can see, it's an old school recipe as well, one that we're pretty sure anyone can tackle -- flour, sugar, egg, vanilla and, of course, butter.

In a complicated world, it's the only cookie one really needs.

By guest blogger and Swap Shop columnist Sandy Thorn Clark

How is it possible that a visit to Ashkenaz Jewish Style Deli, 12 E. Cedar - where matzo ball soup, corned beef, kosher dills and Russian dressing reign - could bring to mind the perfect use for Easter's leftover gumdrops?

It's because Ashkenaz sells mammoth, irresistibly chewy gumdrops in plastic tubs.

Those gumdrops prompted my friend and co-devourer, Sharon Paino, and me to fondly recall Gumdrop Cookies, a favorite from our childhoods. The colorful cookies are a worthy use of gumdrops, which often can become stale before they are used up.

Before we could bake the spring-like cookies, we had to contact Sharon's mother, Cynthia Carney, for her recipe - and, not surprisingly, buy more gumdrops.

For 5 dozen Gumdrop Cookies: Thoroughly cream 1 cup shortening, 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar; add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat well.

Sift together 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, œ teaspoon baking soda and œ teaspoon salt; add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture.
Add 1˝ cups quick-cooking rolled oats, 1 cup flaked coconut and 1 cup chopped gumdrops (see note).

Drop from a teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Gently flatten cookies using a fork dipped in flour. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Spiced gumdrops can be substituted. To keep gumdrops from sticking together after chopping, place/roll them in a small container with granulated sugar.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

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



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