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Congratulations to Art Smith, Chicago's most huggable chef (well, kind of, except he's lost a ton of weight), and his partner, artist Jesus Salgueiro, who tied the knot Saturday at Smith's Washington D.C. restaurant Art and Soul.

Among the important details reported by the Trib: Goat cheese drop biscuits were served. And we know why they were served. To echo our former governor: These are the best f------ biscuits ever.

Smith's recipe ran in our last issue of the year, in 2008. It remains one of my favorites.

Goat cheese drop biscuits
MAKES 10 TO 14 BISCUITS

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold butter, plus extra to grease pan and top biscuits

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven while it is preheating. Place flour and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Cut in the butter and goat cheese until mixture is crumbly. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the milk. Stir until moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of milk if needed.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place 1 tablespoon of butter into it. When the butter has melted, drop 1/4-cupfuls of batter into the skillet (use a muffin scoop if you have one). Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake 14 to 16 minutes until lightly browned on the top and bottom. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Enjoy warm!

Art Smith, Table Fifty-Two


Edna Stewart, 1938-2010

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Edna Stewart, Chicago's soul food queen, has died.

Mrs. Stewart, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last November, passed away this morning at Rush Oak Park Hospital, her brother, Sam Mitchell Jr., said. She had celebrated her 72nd birthday Sunday.

"She wanted to make her birthday," Mitchell Jr. said.

Mrs. Stewart's restaurant, Edna's Restaurant at 3175 W. Madison, has been churning out flaky biscuits, delectable fried chicken and other soul food delights since 1966.

The West Side eatery is a favorite among politicians and foodies alike. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ate there. Mayor Daley eats there.

"I was working one night, filling in, and some people from New Zealand came in," Mitchell Jr. said. "We had people from Germany, London. And then all the presidents, and all the politicians, and Mayor Daley, all through the years."

Mrs. Stewart was born in Chicago and learned to cook, literally, at her mother's knee.

"She stayed in the kitchen, holding on to my mother's apron, trying to peek at what my mother was doing," Mitchell Jr. said.

Mrs. Stewart opened the restaurant with her father, Sam Mitchell Sr., and then-husband Johnny Stewart, her brother said. She cooked using some of her mother's recipes, and many of her own. She served all of the staples -- those famous biscuits, sweet potatoes, ham hocks and greens-- and more old-school fare, such as brains and eggs.

The restaurant started out inside a bowling alley and moved a few times, all within the same block, until it landed in its permanent home on West Madison.

"My mother fed so many people," her son, Melvin Mitchell, said. "And she was always one to help the next person. People coming home from the penitentiary, on work release, she hired them. And the civil rights stuff."

When King brought his activism to Chicago, renting a slum apartment to shed light on the miserable living conditions of many low-income blacks, he was a regular at Edna's.

When the late soul singer Tyrone Davis came to the restaurant -- he was battling prostate cancer at the time -- "My mom told him his money was counterfeit until he gained some weight," Melvin Mitchell said.

This year, Gov. Quinn declared Feb. 19 to be Edna Stewart Day.

In addition to her son and brother, Mrs. Stewart is survived by her daughter, Marguerite Banks, and sisters Alice McCommon and Judy Mitchell-Davis.


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The call came in.

Edna Stewart -- she of the famed soul food restaurant Edna's on the West Side -- is being honored Sunday with her own day, her brother-in-law, Ronald McCommon told me. The event is at Stewart's church, Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 600 S. Tripp.

Fantastic news! If only...

Two more calls set the record straight. Stewart is indeed being honored Sunday, along with three other leaders in the African-American community, but for an event celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Congress. Also attending: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, Ald. Emma Mitts and Ed Smith and a host of other dignitaries.

Stewart is now 71, says her brother, Sam Mitchell Jr. On March 9, her restaurant at 3175 W. Madison turns 44.

In November, Stewart was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It spread to her stomach and lung, McCommon says. "She's going through chemotherapy and doing a hell of a job with it," McCommon says.

"She has good days and bad days," Mitchell says. "But we're hoping she's going to pull through."

Edna is at her restaurant every day.

So Sunday will not be Edna Stewart Day, after all. Which begs the question -- when will it 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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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Soul food category.

Sommeliers is the previous category.

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