Posts Tagged ‘Devon Bergman’

About last night

January 6, 2011

This photo rather says it all. We had a stunning, record turnout for the start of Soup & Bread 2011. I don’t know how many people were packed into the soup line there, but my immense thanks to one and all for a) coming and b) being so patient as we worked out the glitches in our soup service and then, of course, ran out of soup.  At 6:45. I credit the collective good humor of the soup fans of Chicago from saving us from an ugly scene. And, the lack of food didn’t stop the crowd from generously filling the donations bucket: We raised a record $669 dollars last night, all of which is going to the Casa Catalina Basic Human Needs Center at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Back of the Yards.

Our soup cooks and helpers bore the brunt of the onslaught. I can’t speak to their culinary prowess —  I got about three bites of food all night — but I’d like to just thank them once again for stepping up as guinea pigs as we gear up for three new months of soup. They were patient, helpful, and compiled a list of suggestions for ways we could help things run more smoothly that I’m going to implement next week. (Thanks to Anastasia, above, who brought a black bean soup with cumin yogurt, for serving as secretary!)

Celeste and Devon brought a chicken noodle soup, one of the few I did get to sample. Overachievers that they are, they also brought two cakes and a plate of whoopie pies. Other cooks, who managed to escape my camera, were Tom V. Ray (chili), Brian Ferguson (doro wat), Swim Cafe (carrot-ginger soup), and a Soup & Bread newbie, Debbie Baer, who delivered her own take on potato-leek soup.

Soup & Bread’s always been a community endeavor, but never so much so as last night. We would not have been able to pull it all together without the contributions of many friends, including Swim Cafe workers Dianna Ryan and Ellyn Diko, who’ve pitched in to lend a hand each week in the back room; DJ Mary Nisi, whose set of soup music set the perfect mood; Soup & Bread partner and design guru Sheila Sachs, the hostess with the mostest; newly appointed S&B laundress Alison True; the generous Rida Shadin and Michelle Calderhead at La Farine Bakery, purveyors of the official Soup & Bread ciabatta; and pastry chef Rae Hill (shown above with official S&B cab driver Dmitry Samarov), who facilitated the donation of 15 pies by Paula Haney and the good bakers of Hoosier Mama Pie Company.

We’ll have recipes coming soon — and the lowdown on who, and what, we’ve got on tap for next week. In the meantime, stay warm. And of course, eat soup.

Thanks, everyone.


One-stop holiday shopping

December 6, 2010

Welcome shoppers!

We spent a hectic — but very encouraging — two days at the Renegade Holiday Sale this weekend. We saw a lot of familiar faces and got to know a great many more. And, just as exciting, we got to roll out a bunch of new Soup & Bread merchandise.

We’ve been busy all fall collecting recipes from our 2010 Soup & Bread cooks — but rather than compile them as a cookbook, we decided to change things up a bit this year. Instead, we ran off a set of recipe cards, 24 in all, bundled into four separate packets of five soups and one bread — a vegetarian pack, a vegan pack, a meaty pack, and a variety pack. They’re printed on nice heavy card stock and decorated with some of Paul Dolan‘s illustrations from last year’s cookbook. We got them back from the printer on Friday and they made their debut at the Renegade fair this past weekend. We’ll be selling them again, at $5 a pop, at the Hideout Holiday Sale on Tuesday, December 14 and 21, from 6-9 PM at … der, the Hideout.

But those 24 recipe cards are just the beginning. As part of our new Soupscription series, we’re planning on rolling out six new cards every month for all of 2011. There’s more info over on the Soupscription page, but we’ve already got recipes in the pipeline for January from chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, Publican, Big Star) and Jill Barron (Mana Food Bar), as well as some other Soup & Bread stalwarts, including my uncle Roger. Enroll now and for $60 you’ll get one of the original packs mentioned above, plus a new pack of recipes for five soups and one bread in the mail through November 2011, for a total of 60 soups and 12 breads. Each pack also comes with blank card, so you can create your own recipes as well. The button over there on the right takes you to our PayPal account, or sign up in person at the Hideout sale and we’ll hit you with a $10 discount.

AND, if you’re going to start collecting recipe cards, where better to put them than a handcrafted recipe box? We asked our friend Devon Bergman, who’s an ace cabinetmaker, if she wanted to throw together some boxes for us to sell. When we got a look at them earlier this week we were floored. They are so very beautiful — the photos don’t do them justice. Each box is handmade from repurposed wine crates and other salvaged wood and hardware. The one above has handles made from parts of an old piano she found in the alley.

This one has handles made from Champagne corks. The lid, which (obviously) you can’t see, is inlaid with part of a (bronze? copper?) soap mold. It reads, backwards, “Superfatted.” And, frankly, if someone doesn’t buy it soon it’s going home with me.

This one’s from Devon’s “farmhouse rustic” line, with the cute tin “4” on the lid and the seal from a dairy affixed to the front. The alley piano makes a return appearance here as well; piano hammers sanded as smooth as satin serve as the handles.

Here’s a better look at the boxes in action. Seven of them sold over the weekend (they’re $75 each, but they are so worth it) and we’ve got seven left in stock, though I believe Devon is putting the finishing touches on a few more. We will have them all at the Hideout on the 14th and the 21st, but we probably won’t be selling them through the website. If you’re interested in one and can’t make it out to the Hideout, drop me a line and we’ll try and set something up.

And, of course, we still have some of last year’s cookbooks left ($20) — though not very many! — as well as Soup & Bread aprons ($15) and an assortment of Alana Bailey’s awesome silkscreens of Paul’s illustrations from last year ($10).  As ever, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of all of this stuff goes to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. If there’s a soup fan in your life, you could do worse.

Soup and Bread 2011 starts January 5 and runs Wednesdays through mid-April at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Soup’s on at 5:30 and served till 7:30 or we run out, whichever comes first. There’s never a cover and kids are always welcome.

Week 15: And so we come to the end

April 20, 2010

There was so much going on at last week’s final Soup and Bread (and Pie) that wrapping it up has proved a challenge. Do I lead with my new hero, Hot Doug Sohn? Doug showed up bright and early as we were still setting up tables. He brought along two large pots,  one bursting with 20-sausage chili, the other brimming with tortilla soup. He brought his own burners. He dished up bowls of deliciousness till the bitter end, then stuck around to clean up. We couldn’t get him to sit down and have a beer! He even helped count the cash. Doug, you win. You really are the nicest guy in Chicago food.

But I don’t mean to shortchange the contributions of the rest of the soup team. Take Allison Stout, over there on the far right. Last Wednesday morning I was fretting, fearful of a looming soup shortage. I Twittered my anxiety to the world, and Allison responded in a flash. “Off today and could bring by some potato soup. Let me know.”  Voila! Another soup, social media-style. Thank you Allison! You also win. As of today, I just heard, she is gainfully employed as the CEO of Hoosier Mama‘s savory quiche and pot pie program. Lucky duck.

Of course, between Doug and Allison, our friends at Swim Cafe (who came through this week with an artichoke and green pea soup), the surprise chili contribution of our neighbor Dan Blue (recipe for “Crazy Dan’s Hot Aged Chili Cooked With Hydrogen” coming soon), and the scheduled soup stylings of the rest of our cooks, there was no actual soup shortage. Christine Garcia, in the bottom-left corner there, produced a pot starring this season’s stealth ingredient, hominy. Specifically a smoky white bean-chipotle-hominy soup whose complex balance of flavors (there’s also a lot of garlic and cumin involved) belies its alleged simplicity. And Josh Hudson stifled his inner carnivore to produce the nutty, vegan “Iranian Enrichment Program” soup, a chickpea, spinach, and sun-dried tomato concoction shot through with … spices. When he gets me the recipe I’ll tell you exactly what spices.

Cheesemonger Brad Bornac paid tribute to the arrival of tiny baby Olive with his Olive Tortellini in Basil-Parmesan Broth, a spin on a family favorite called Ravs in Broth. And Hideout talent booker Jeanine O’Toole honored her Irish heritage with a vegan curried carrot soup she dubbed Carrots O’Toole. Because, you know, the Irish are so famed for their curries. And their vegan cookery. Both Brad and Jeanine have already sent along their recipes (win!) and I should have those up soon.

But — wait — here I am going on and on about soup and neglecting not just bread, but our special guest star, pie! The fantabulous Sheila Sachs, who also produced a light and springlike vegetable-pesto soup last week in honor of cookbook donors the Gills, rounded up a stellar array of bakers to contribute pie. And cookies. And cake. The above photo was taken before half the night’s baked bounty arrived —  but note tasty “free spinach brownies” at bottom right. All our bakers are winners, but Henry and Beckett? Ultrawin.

We also had a overflowing basket of Soup and Bread-themed minibrownies, courtesy of the lovely Liz Tamny.

And the piece de resistance: the Soup and Bread Crock Pot Cake. Courtesy of mad genius baker Celeste Dolan and her partner in crime Devon Bergman. Inside: layer after layer of chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream. Allegedly, one soup-hungry guest tried in vain to take the lid off this crock to see what lay inside. I really wish I had seen that.

I’d also like to take a moment for a heartfelt shout out to Rida Shahin, Clare Kellam, and the rest of the staff at La Farine. They have graciously donated bag after bag of bread to the cause this winter, and if you’re not hooked on their chewy, salty ciabatta by now you really don’t know what you are missing. Stop by the bakery some time (@ 1461 W. Chicago) and find out; they’re the nicest people southeast of Doug, and seriously skillful bakers to boot. Thank you so very much, Rida. You win too!

The weather last week was fantastic, allowing us to spill out onto the patio. A good thing, since a slew of regulars and newcomers, like my buddy Lilli, above, turned out to sample the night’s extensive menu. And, thanks to the generosity of this big and happy crowd, we raised a glorious $526 for Ravenswood Community Services.

And so, we come to the end of this action-packed soup season. But … not really. There are more recipes to come, and another cookbook to write, and plans for summer soups to confirm. And, of course, there’s bingo. Stay tuned for more on bingo, and much more on soup. And thank you so much for sticking around through Soup and Bread 2010. It was pretty awesome, all around.

Boule with Onion Jam

January 9, 2010

From Devon Bergman

(Adapted from the “Master Recipe” in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.)

Makes four one-pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water (no warmer than 100 degrees)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with scoop and sweep method
parchment paper for baking
baking stone
broiler pan

Onion Jam
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 1/4 red onions, thinly sliced
1/2 bottle dry red wine
2 tablespoons ruby port
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste


1. Warm water slightly: it should feel just a little warmer than body temp. If cold water is used the rise time will be doubled.

2. Combine yeast, salt, and water in a 5-quart mixing bowl or large plastic container and give it a quick stir.

3. Add the flour all at once to the yeast, salt, and water. Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is well-incorporated; it should appear uniform with no dry patches. (NO KNEADING IS NECESSARY.) This mixing should only take a couple of minutes.

4. Allow the dough to rise. Cover the bowl or container with a non-air tight lid or loose fitting sheet of plastic wrap. The mixture should rise at room temp. until dough begins to collapse or at least flatten on the top. (No less than 2 hours)

5. While the dough is rising make the onion jam as follows:

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with butter. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilted but not browned, 20-30 minutes. Add the red wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered until there is little or no liquid, 40-50 minutes. Add the port and the sugar and simmer until all the liquid has been cooked away. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Forming the Boule: Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a one-pound piece the size of a large grapefruit size. Dust hands and work surface with more flour if necessary. Again – NO KNEADING IS NECESSARY. (The remaining dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 14 days with an air-tight lid.)

Before forming the dough into a ball create a pocket in the lump of dough with the handle of a wooden spoon and fill the cavity with jam. Gently pinch the pocket closed and repeat in another area of the dough until there is a random distribution of jam-filled pockets deep within the dough (as few or as many as desired).

Dust hands with more flour if needed. To create a “gluten cloak” gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. The bottom of the ball may look like a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out in the resting and baking process.

7. Place the formed loaf on a sheet of parchment on top of an upside-down sheet pan. Rest the dough between 40 and 60 minutes before baking.

8. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking stone in the oven on the center rack and an empty boiler tray on the lowest rack.

9. After the boule has rested, paint the loaf with water and slash the top of the loaf with 1/4″ deep cuts approximately 2″ apart.

10. When the oven is fully preheated, slide the loaf with the parchment onto the baking stone from the upside down sheet pan. In the broiler tray on the low oven rack, place ice cubes from two trays to create steam during the baking process. The loaf should bake until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch, approximately 50 min.

11. Let cool completely before slicing.