Keep it Simple

Cooking tastefully simple

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Eating well and cooking right can often mean keeping it simple. Finding fresh produce and protein that has not been altered with additives is healthier for you, and in most cases, better tasting. We ate this way at Grapes 2 Glass on Tuesday night in our French-themed Tour de France dinner and will do it again next week Tuesday (June 23) at Ad-Lib in Lindenhurst, Illinois. Both dinners were and will be inspired by our recent wining and dining tour of Burgundy and Rhone, where the food was simply prepared yet spectacular.

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Celebrate with Three Beers

Rustic Road Brewing Company (downtown Kenosha) is celebrating their 3-year anniversary on Saturday with three new beers to sample. Their very first pilsner, a German Pils, will be tapped along with a new Cherry Wheat and Belgian Tripel. I’ll be there tasting after my wine event at G2G.


Recipe Time!

We also featured a much-talked about side on our appetizer trio at Grapes 2 Glass last Tuesday. Onion Marmalade, a complex in flavor yet insanely simple condiment or side was a hit in both France and Sturtevant.  The combination of heat and sweet was perfect on a crunchy crostini alongside a zucchini flan and escargot with a bright-yellow garlic aioli. An easy-to-make recipe follows later in this blog.

But, before we get into the simple things in life and cooking, here’s more information on the dinner next Tuesday. I will also be pouring wine at G2G tomorrow (Saturday June 20) and the following Saturday (June 27) in two separately themed tastings. Father’s Day is the focus tomorrow and Firecracker Wines (fully flavored) will kick-off Fourth of July Week. Both wine tasting will begin at 4pm and run until 6pm.


Ad-Lib in French

It’s not too late to reserve a seat for next week Tuesday at Ad-Lib in Lindenehurst (just over the border in Illinois on Hwy 45) and will also feature wines and food from Burgundy, Loire and the Cotes du Rhone. This wine dinner will be five-courses with six wines and an amuse bouche will be served at 6pm. Dinner at 6:30. The cost is only $71 per person before tax and tip. My friend and Chef Rick Starr is a true rock star and I really want all of you to have this opportunity to experience his creativity.

We’ve selected a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Burgundy along with a Loire Sauvignon and three wines from the Rhone Valley, one being a very smooth Domaine Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The menu will reflect many of the dishes we encountered along our journey. Reserve by emailing corkmeetsfork at


Amuse Bouche
Domaine du Rin du Bois Touraine Sauvignon
Mussels in  white wine and fennel
Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair L’Ormichal Blanc
Foie Gras and Truffles
Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair L’Ormichal Rouge
Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese
Seguret Cotes du Rhone Villages
Chicken and Truffles
Domaine Berther-Rayne Chateauneuf du Pape Tradition
Lemon Curd
Les Costes Cotes du Rhone Blanc

Tuesday June 23

6:30pm   $71
One can sign up today by emailing me at

Back to Basics

Keep it simple in the kitchen and your food will flourish. Sure there are intricacies in cooking technique and following the proper steps to insure the flavors come together correctly, but fresh ingredients without a lot of clutter is key to cooking right.

I know several young chefs and home cooks that like to add a lot of extra spices and flavors to their dishes to jack things up. I’ve found that using less ingredients add more importance to each existing flavor on the tongue. Why mess with the brightness of thyme and lemon in a zucchini tart or flan by overpowering the spice and zest with a rich and creamy cheddar that will dominate the dish?

Buying fresh meats, fish, vegetables and spices keep the preservatives off the plate and provide clean flavors in each dish. Fish tastes like fish because it’s supposed to.


A Simple Recipe

Try this Onion Marmalade recipe at home and you’ll discover a myriad of uses. It can be the condiment on a grilled brat, a topping on a seared New York sirloin or a filling in a ravioli. It can also be a side on a beautifully presented cheese plate.


Onion Marmalade



4 large Vidalia onions
1/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar



Slice peeled onions in half then slice thin into half-moon slices. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add onions, salt, pepper, soy sauce and crushed red pepper flakes then cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, to begin to brown onions. Add butter and stir for 10 more minutes.  Stir in Balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, then cook for 10 more minutes, stirring again, until onions turn a darker brown.


Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes until moisture thickens and onions tenderize.  Cool the Onion Marmalade in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. The Marmalade can be stored for up to 3 weeks.


Serve hot or cold as a side or as a condiment.


Simply Put

Notice the black and white only theme of this corkmeetsfork newsletter. No additives or color. Just the way your food should be. Hope to see some of you at Ad-Lib or Grapes 2 Glass in the next week. Also check out the Bargain Box wine of the week below and the simple yet elegant gift box that comes with each bottle (Father’s Day?). And enjoy life as simple as it can be.


Did you know?

Processed foods are not only boxed and canned products or microwave meals. The term “processed food” applies to any food that has been altered from its natural state in any way, either for food preservation or manufacturing ease.

Processed foods aren’t all bad for you, but you don’t always know exactly what ingredients have been used.







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