Wednesday, February 9, 2011

World Festival 2011 Chefs!!

We are so lucky to have such AMAZING chefs that participate in our World Festival this year!! Drum roll please...

Jimmy Bannos, Jr., The Purple Pig; Jimmy Bannos, Sr., Heaven on Seven; Frank Brunacci, Sixteen at Trump Tower International; David Burke & Rick Gresh, David Burke’s Primehouse; Domenica Catelli, Momalicious; Christine Cikowski & Josh Kulp, Sunday Dinner; Chris Curren, Blue 13; Graham Elliot Bowles & Merlin Verrier, Graham Elliot ; Curtis Duffy Avenues at The Peninsula Chicago; David Dworshak, Carnivale; Patrick Fahy, Blackbird; Paul Fehribach, Big Jones; Meg Galus, Sofitel; Troy Graves, Supreme Lobster; Koren Grieveson, avec; Jason Hammel & Lea Tshilds, Lula Café & Nightwood; Roger Herring & David Gollan, Socca and Redd Herring; Kevin Hickey, Seasons; Brian Huston, The Publican; Stephanie Izard, Girl & The Goat; Harold Jurado, Chizakaya, Paul Kahan & David Posey, Blackbird; Bill Kim, Urban Belly and Belly Shack; Edward Kim, Ruxbin; Peter Klein, Seedling; Sarah Kosikowski, Sixteen at Trump Tower International; Gilbert Langlois, Chalkboard; Justin Large, Big Star; Ryan LaRoche, NoMI; Rob & Allie Levitt, The Butcher and Larder; Sarah Levy, Sarah’s Pastries & Candies; Anita Lo, Annisa Restaurant; Colin Lynch, Menton; Rod Markus, Rare Tea Cellars; Steve McDonagh & Dan Smith, Hearty; Jason McLeod, Balsan at The Elysian Hotel; Chris Nugent, Les Nomades; Jessica Oloroso, Black Dog Gelato; Chris Pandel, The Bristol; Mark Payne, deca Restaurant and Bar; Nicole Pederson, C-House; Ryan Poli, Perennial; Bill Reynolds, Sikia; Toni Roberts, C-House; Patricio Sandoval, Mercadito; Mario Santiago, May St Café; Adam Seger, Hum Spirits; Patrick Sheerin, The Signature Room at the 95th; Art Smith & Rey Villalobos, TABLE fifty-two; Todd Stein, The Florentine; Kristine Subido, Wave ; Giuseppe Tentori & Carl Shelton, BOKA; Heather Terhune, Sable; Dan Tucker, SushiSamba; Jared Van Camp, Old Town Social;; Paul Virant, Vie; Scott Walton, Markethouse ; Daven Wardynski, 676 Restaurant & Bar; Carol Watson, Milk & Honey Café; Jared Wentworth, Longman & Eagle; Roy Yamaguchi, Roy’s; Shelley Young, The Chopping Block; Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia; Randy Zweiban, Province; and more…


February Volunteer Spotlight--Diane Heffernan

Diane Heffernan says her favorite thing about volunteering is sharing her enthusiasm she has for food and cooking with kids. We can honestly tell you that our kids feel her enthusiasm every week. Diane has volunteered with Common Threads for the past 4 years. She has taught numerous kids how to mince, dice and sauté. She has “traveled” with them to Italy, China and Spain.

She feels strongly about educating kids about nutrition and diet and loves that Common Threads introduces the students to food from around the world. “What is created during class is a sense of accomplishment, teamwork, friendships, enthusiasm, laughter and “imprint” of healthy eating to share with their family and friends,” says Diane. We could not say it better ourselves.
Common Threads is beyond thankful for Diane’s support and dedication!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Story and My Ingredients for Success

Hello everyone. My name is Jeff Shwom and I am the development assistant at Common Threads. I joined the Common Threads staff in December, though I am not longer the newest employee. When I moved to Chicago in October 2010, I had been exploring non profits that worked with children and food. I had worked for a food organization in Washington DC that trained adults (actually, ex convicts and individuals who got into trouble with the law) to prepare and cook food. Common Threads had a unique environment that I was interested in: younger children, local and involved chefs, and fresh ingredients…What could be better!

I have made a personal commitment to my health and healthy eating. I cook probably 6 nights of the week and always bring my lunch (ask my co workers!). I have food that by coming home and focusing on my meals, I am eating healthier foods and enjoying what I eat. That is why I like Common Threads…it engages students and families in the family meal. It brings suggestions to them on how to make good food and learn about cultures at the same time. I myself have tried in my own test kitchen our recipes and let me tell you, they are easy, great, and healthy!

Well, I hope my enthusiasm, which comes from a more indirect service perspective being development, can explain how Common Threads has impacted me thus far.

One final thought for everyone: if an average joe like myself can cook recipes and be happy, then anyone can. So go for it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

National Pie Day!

It's time to get your sweet treat fix!

Sunday January 23rd was National Pie Day...we think this should be celebrated the entire week so we've asked Heather Terhune, Executive Chef of Sable Kitchen & Bar and loyal supporter of Common Threads, to pass along one of her favorite pie recipes! Heather always supports the Common Threads mission and is always ready to lend a hand in a class guest teaching or offering a cool after party space in the new Palomar Hotel. Not many of our Common Threads classes include a sweet grand finale but every once in a while you can splurge. Try out Heather’s special dessert on National Pie Day as a treat from her is always a special occasion!

Key Lime Tart
Makes One 9-inch tart

9 to 10 graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup coconut flakes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh key lime juice or fresh lime juice
1 tsp fresh lime zest
4 large egg yolks
Pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Process graham crackers, coconut and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs form, add butter. Process until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pat into bottom and up sides.
3. Place pan on a baking sheet, and bake until crust is fragrant and slightly colored, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, lime juice, egg yolks, lime zest and salt; whisk until smooth. Pour mixture into crust (warm or cool is fine), leaving 1/8 inch at the top; return to oven. Bake until filling is set around edge but still slightly loose in center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. To store longer, cover and refrigerate, up to 2 days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's National Pizza Week! Executive Chef Sarah Grueneberg of Spiaggia Offers Her Healthy Pizza Recipe...

Café Spiaggia’s Spicy Calamari Pizza

For the Marinade:

1 ½ pounds thinly sliced calamari rings
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pizza Dough:

4 cups Italian caputo flour (oo)
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 packets active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water

For the Topping:

Extra virgin olive oil for brushing
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup Neonata, also known as Rosamarina, a spicy Calabrian chili paste

2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 cup julienne escarole leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Makes 4 pizzas

In a blender or food processor, puree the paprika, oregano, pepper, salt, garlic, and olive oil until smooth to make a marinade.

Put the calamari in a non reactive shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the calamari and toss to coat evenly. Cover and marinate the calamari in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 24 hours.

Make the dough. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, yeast and sugar. Add the water to the dry ingredients and mix until the water is absorbed and the dough forms shards. Turn the dough out onto a board and knead for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth.

If using a stand mixer, mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together in the mixing bowl, stirring to combine. On low speed, pour in the water and mix using the dough hook. Mix on low until the dough forms around the hook, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix the dough again but on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Place on a floured sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone if possible.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, (cover the remaining dough with a moist kitchen towel until ready to use) flatten the dough on a floured work surface. Carefully stretch the dough out with the edge of your hands. Next, gently roll out the pizza dough into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch-thick.

Brush the dough with a thin layer of olive oil. Then brush on a thin layer of tomato sauce and neonata, spreading to the edge. Top with ¼ of the cheese cubes, and top with calamari and escarole and season with salt and pepper. Place the pizza directly on the pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes or until crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.

Remove from the oven onto a cutting board and cut into 8 slices and serve.

Repeat the process to make the remaining 3 pizzas.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Healthy Eating Tip and Recipe by Chef Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Sunday Dinner

Christine and Josh have been strong supporters of Common Threads and our mission for over 3 years. Their commitment to quality ingredients sourced from locally responsible sources is evident in everything they do from their underground Sunday Dinner club to their delicious Eat Green Foods granola bars. Try out this recipe (one of the pairs favorite’s) and start 2011 off strong by eating well!

Complements of Chef Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp
Sunday Dinner
Minted Red Lentil Soup with Crab Salad and Crème Fraiche
Serves 4-6


1 medium onion
1 shallot
1 red jalapeno
1 cup red lentils
3 cups chicken or fish stock or water
10 mint stems tied into a bunch
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion, jalapeno, and shallot in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce or small soup pot until golden and caramelized about 10-15 min. Add stock and mint and bring to a boil. Season to taste (ie. make sure the stock tastes good). Add lentils and simmer until lentils are tender. Let soup cool slightly, remove the mint, transfer to blender and blend until smooth.

Crab Salad
1 cup crab meat
1 tsp chopped chives
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp of julienned mint leaves (slice them)
1 tsp crème fraiche
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together- chill until ready to serve.

To Serve:
Reheat soup and re-season to taste. Add juice from the other ½ lemon if the soup needs a little brightness. Maybe add a pat of butter to make it richer or a splash of olive oil.

Pour soup in bowl, place mound of crab salad in center of soup.

Take ¼ cup crème fraiche and combine with 1 Tbsp of water and mix. Drizzle thinned crème fraiche over soup.

Sit. Relax. Eat.

Friday, September 17, 2010

By: Candace Jordan

Memeber of Common Threads Board of Directors

My affiliation with Common Threads began with a glitzy party for Marc Jacobs in January of 2007. It was a packed house and I don’t think, at the time, I even knew what the event supported but I did know it was a GREAT party! So there I was, minding my own business, when a gorgeous woman came up to me and started asking questions. (She happened to be Linda Novick O’Keefe, Executive Director of CT). She was so charming and she asked me if I knew about Common Threads. I said I didn’t and she proceeded to tell me with such passion about this organization that I was immediately intrigued. Now, I am a proud member of the Board of Directors since 2008. What cemented my involvement was the dedication and clear impact that Common Threads has on so many children’s lives. When I first attended one of their after-school cooking classes, I quickly realized that there was a lot more to this than just cooking. To see the kids’ faces light up with happiness and understanding when they realize they will be capable of changing their families’ lives and keeping them all healthier than they have ever been before is an experience I will never forget. As a matter of fact, I brought several more of my friends to another class so they could see for themselves the importance of this program. Many of them are now involved today. Words can’t describe the difference Common Threads makes in the lives of so many children and their families across the country. I hope to see this organization grow into more national importance because of the great need for this very type of nutritional education and mentoring that we all need to grow and flourish. I am proud and honored to be a loyal supporter of Common Threads.

Check out the other links below for more Candid Candace stories about Common Threads: