We are so excited to say this: Middlewest No. 2 is here.
Well, almost. MW No. 2 won’t actually start shipping until early November. But it’s available for pre-order right now. So we’re ready to share details.
Middlewest No. 2 | Jason Vincent Cooks for Fall and Winter is a collection of exciting and uncommon recipes by the titular Jason Vincent, the chef at Nightwood. Jason has long been a favorite chef of Chicagoans, and lately the rest of the country has been catching on as well. This year he was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2013. And last year, he toppled some stiff competition to be Cochon 555‘s King of Porc.
We told Jason he could do whatever he wanted in this issue, so long as he included at least one cocktail and one dessert. We encouraged–but did not demand–that he also include something akin to a holiday meal. We could not be more thrilled with what he came up with:
Warm Pear and Brussels Sprout Salad
Whey and Ricotta
Goose Fat Schmear
Apple Pie with Rosemary Ice Cream
And that’s not all. Jason also gives a lesson on how to make flawless gnocchi, and shares his recipe for a perfect, classic ragu.
We’ll be sharing more about the issue in the coming days here and on our Facebook page. In the meantime, if you want to order a copy, just head to our store. We hear that if you use code MW10 before Halloween, you might get a little discount…
Readers of our first issue may have deduced something about the cocktail preferences at Middlewest: We like them simple. When we were developing The Breakfast Club (the lone cocktail recipe in Middlewest No. 1), we specifically made it with three ingredients, and that number–give or take a few–continues to feel right.
The One + Only is a little more complicated than The Breakfast Club–it requires making a flavored simple syrup–but it clocks in at four components, each of which can be varied to suit whatever’s on hand. These components are: 1. An herb syrup. 2. Fruit. 3. Lime juice. 4. Booze. It is, we think, the only cocktail recipe you need for summer. Which is why we called it the One + Only.
Here’s how it works:
1. Make the herb syrup. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water with 1 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. When the syrup starts to bubble, turn off the heat and throw in a big handful of any herb, rinsed. Cover, remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer the syrup to the fridge and chill until you’re ready to use it.
2. Make the cocktail base. Strain the herb syrup and discard the herbs. In a blender–or with an immersion blender–puree 1 cup herb syrup with 1 cup ripe, chopped fruit (blueberries can be left whole; stone fruits like peaches and plums should be peeled and pitted). Transfer the puree to a pitcher and stir in 3/4 cup lime juice.
3. Shake your cocktail (or not). You can finish this drink in countless ways. For a non-alcoholic drink, put 1/3 cup of the base in a glass and top with sparkling water. For a Champagnelike cocktail, do the same with sparkling wine. For a gin, vodka or tequila drink, add one cup of your chosen spirit to the pitcher and stir (this will yield about seven 4-ounce drinks and ten 3-ounce drinks). Pour over ice in lowball glasses, or shake them with ice in a shaker and use cocktail glasses. Either way, garnish with more of the herb.
A few of the many possible variations: strawberry-rosemary-gin (pictured); strawberry-rosemary-tequila; blueberry-mint-vodka; peach-thyme-tequila; raspberry-lavender-Champagne.
Middlewest: Basil + Cream + Roasted Strawberry from Middlewest Magazine on Vimeo.
You may have seen our new video on Saveur.com, in the same post where they called Middlewest their “new favorite indie food magazine” (thanks Saveur!). We wanted to post it here, too.
Christina Stradone made this video as a sort of trailer for our first issue, 10 Recipes For Spring. It follows the process of making what is perhaps the most springy of those recipes: An icebox cake with layers of roasted strawberries and basil-infused whipped cream.
Of course, strawberries are not quite in season yet. That gives you plenty of time to watch this video and perfect your technique.
Middlewest No. 1, 10 Recipes For Spring, gets shipped next week. In other words, the thing is finally finished.
As the title suggests, our premiere issue features 10 full-color, double-sided recipe cards, each one treated with a protective coating that resists things like olive oil and tomato sauce. Also included is a copy of our literary supplement, which is where we publish essays, articles and photographs. All of this comes in a sturdy resealable envelope. Here’s a photo:
Photos by: Erica Gannett
Some of the recipes included in the first issue:
Carrot-cumin soup with parsley oil
Lamb hand pies
Spaghetti with asparagus-pistachio pesto
Strawberry-basil icebox cake
The authors we are proud to publish in our literary supplement:
Middlewest No. 1 is available right here, in our store.
Photo by: Erica Gannett
Why did I buy a small bag of bebere? I can’t tell you, exactly. One afternoon I saw a jar of the spice blend at Colonel De and impulsively bought a few ounces. Then it was in my kitchen, and I had to use it.
I started with the obvious: Ethiopian food. Lentils. The kind of thing this spice blend was made for.
But a few days later the bebere was still on my mind. I found myself staring at a loaf of brioche and thinking of something Sally Schneider once wrote about savory French toast. So I tried it. My process looked more or less like this:
Put two thick slices of brioche on a cooling rack and let them dry out overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350. Whisk together two eggs, a cup of milk, some salt, some black pepper and a heaping tablespoon of bebere. Pour the custard over the bread in a baking dish and let it soak until you basically can’t stand it anymore–you want most of the custard to have disappeared into the bread. In a cast iron skillet, fry the slices in butter over medium-high heat until one side is very golden. Flip the slices (carefully–the bread will still be quite soggy) and transfer the pan to the oven until it puffs up (10-15 minutes).
The first time I cooked this I took the skillet out of the oven a little before the French toast was done. I cut an X into the top of each slice and dropped an egg into each one, then returned it to the oven until the eggs were cooked. I’m not sure I’d recommend this–you have to get the timing just right to get a runny yolk. Frying an egg separately could be easier.
Also, I finished the dish with a sprinkle of more bebere. Like I said, I had to use it.
Photo by: Erica Gannett
On Sunday, April 7th, Middlewest will participate in a four-day exploration of food and design curated by Fête Chicago. The event features Middlewest’s creators, who will talk about the current aesthetics of food media, and how Middlewest fits in–or rather, how it doesn’t. If you like Powerpoint presentations, you’ll like this event. If you like coffee and coffee cake, you’ll like it even more.
The talk takes place at Rational Park, who will provide coffee. Middlewest’s poppy-seed coffee cake–the signature recipe from issue No. 1–will also be served. If you want to join us, navigate here and buy a ticket. We look forward to hanging out with you.