Bake 425º Pizza Review

For once the suburbs beat Chicago to something yummy.  New local business, Bake 425°, promises Farm-to-Crust Bake at Home pizza and operates in Highland Park, Hinsdale, Evanston, Glencoe, Winnetka and Lake Forest.  Bake 425° took over the hole left by HomeMade Pizza Kitchen but with a modified format.  Owner, Bill Borneman, decided to keep the ease of the pre-made ready to cook pizza but shift to locally sourced, small batch and organic ingredients.  Specialty diets are honored with gluten free crust and vegetarian pizza options.  For traditionalists, classic cheese, Margherita and “pick your own topping” choices begin the menu.  Adventurous pizza monsters (like us) will be pleased, however, by the unique menu items like Poblano and Chicken Sausage pizza or the Earth Lover pizza with truffle oil, Yukon Potatoes, Portabello mushrooms and Béchamel.


Bake 425° gave us one pizza, one salad and a cookie to sample and review.  We chose the Go Green vegetarian pizza, Sunshine salad and chocolate chip cookie.

What we liked:

Pizza: The Go Green pizza comes with pistachio pesto sauce, brussel sprouts, quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic oil and mozzarella.  Pesto sauce on pizza is a total thumbs up and the brussel sprouts were (thankfully) roasted and crisp.  Crust is whole grain so some consumers may not be used to the dough’s heartier taste compared to white flour.


Salad: The Sunshine salad was filled with spicy arugula greens, roasted butternut squash, pine nuts and shaved mozzarella.  Lemon oil dressing complimented the mix with a tart and bright flavor.  The salad did need a little bit of salt and pepper to balance the sour lemon.



Ease of Cooking: Bake 425° gives you everything you need to cook your ‘za, except an oven of course.  Instructions are clear and you are provided with parchment paper for cooking, eliminating the need for any pans or clean up!

Serving Sizes: We fed three people, which averaged about $10 dollars a person…not bad for a quality take home meal.


What we would change:

The Chocolate Chip Cookie: Nothing really against the taste of the cookie but after eating a pizza, maybe the gelato that Bake 425° offers would balance out the meal better than ending with more dough.  We were so stuffed from the pizza, we barely touched the chocolatey dude.

Why would you try it?

When you are having one of those “I wanna stay in my blankey and bake on my couch” kind of nights, Bake 425° can simplify your night without compromising your taste buds.


Go Deep or Go Home: The Art of #Chicago Style #Pizza

What do a deep dish pizza and a magician have in common?  They both have good taste!  Ok, that was a stretch but did you  know magicians could have more than just doves up their sleeves?

Recently, Now We’re Cookin’ invited members of Chicago Food Bloggers (including lucky saucy us) to learn to make the Chicago style pizza at their Evanston cook space.  To our surprise, instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, our chef, a professional magician, pulled a fantastic pizza out of the oven.

Chef Brian Kirshenbaum keeps his pizza dough straightforward (yeast, warm water, all purpose flour, cornmeal and oil) but sneaks in one secret ingredient (since a magician can’t reveal all his tricks).  He demonstrated the proper way to press down the dough into a deep pan with the slight of a hand.

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Next, he created the sauce by squeezing the juice from fresh whole peeled plum tomatoes and sprinkling in fairy dust…or spices (oregano, black pepper, salt, and garlic) as we non magicians call them.  Then guests partnered up and got to work pressing their own pizza dough and prepping their chunky sauce.


Finally, the show came to it’s climatic point as fresh deli sliced mozzarella was pressed on the bottom.  Guests picked up to 3 vegetables/meats to fill their own pizza.  We shuffled through the ingredients and chose spinach, mushrooms, roasted red peppers and few thinly sliced fennel.  Veg head Monica loaded up on the plants and a dash of spice instead of sticking with just the traditional thick chunk of gooey cheese (Mon is not fan of xxxtra cheese but will eat deep dish to support her city).

Finally, we spread the chunky tomato sauce over the top of the pizza and sprinkled Parmesan cheese and viola; a magic Chicago pizza appeared :).  Notice the delicate saucy finish.  As we marveled at the fresh flavor of the pizza, Chef BK astounded us with magic acts to titillate our other senses.


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We had a blast learning from Chef and Illusionist Brian Kirshenbaum at Now We’re Cookin’.  And now Mon loves Chicago’s own deep dish pizza!

Come out of Chi-bernation for these Winter Food Finds

Oh winter…devilishly evil Chicago winter.  You haven’t been able to keep us down…especially with all these events and restaurant openings popping up.  What about you, dear readers?  Have you wound your scarf around you and strapped those snow boots on to take the chill out of winter?  Here are some spots that may make you wanna brave the great white Midwest.

Remember that ol’ Lasalle Power company dance club you used to troll to pick up your future v-day date?  Well now it’s been converted into a brand new Gino’s East.  Chicago’s legendary pizza spot just got classy at its River North location.  Three floors of expansive rustic cozy hangout space will eliminate your wait with your out of town guests as you get your “mangia” on with artichoke pizza, pickle-y sliders and fat stuffed cheese sticks with spinach.  The restaurant proclaims to be  including a brewery opening in several months as well…just in time for Spring!!


Our next pick is a neighbor to the north, Pizzeria Serio, a  hidden addition to the food scene on Belmont avenue in Lakeview.  WGN’s Chicago Best honored Pizzeria Serio as one of Chicago’s fave pizza.  Check out the video here.  We hopped over snow mounds to meet with the Chicago Food Bloggers and Pizzeria Serio was gracious enough to host our group.  We sampled several tasty starters like a Spinach Salad (baby spinach leaves, red onion, mandarin oranges, goat cheese and walnuts in homemade citrus dressing) and the more traditional Caprese.   For veggie lovers and goat cheese lovers (eww says one of us..the goat cheese hater) try the spinach specialty pizza (EVOO, sea salt, black pepper, fresh garlic, tomatoes, spinach, ricotta and goat cheese sans sauce).  For the more purist pizza crowd, try the wood burned crusty Eat Your Veggies (onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives)  and get your 5 a day veg serving…a good excuse to eat mas pizza if we do say so…and we do.


In a whole other country (this is what it feels like to Chicago residents) is Farmhouse in Evanston.  This tavern makes their own burgers, condiments and soda from scratch with ingredients plucked straight from Midwestern farms.  Even their beverage selection is pulled only from Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.  The majority of interior pieces are reclaimed woods and salvaged materials.  At the kick off to North Shore Restaurant month, going on now, we gobbled down hot beer battered Wisconsin cheese curds with crispy warm centers and fresh Tavern-cut peppery potato chips with homemade ranch-like dipping sauce.  On demand for our next visit is the Old World Grains Burger with Forest Mushroom and Poblano Pepper.  For those of you who don’t venture that far out of our city, there’s also a sister location in River North with a slightly different menu and a two floor space.  Don’t all these pics of yummy food make you wanna trek through your alley to the El?


Chicago Thin Crust? A Pizza Must!


Blaze Pizza

Oh Twitter,  how we love thee.  Recently, the Chicago Food Scene held a Twitter poetry competition for free Blaze pizzas.  We dug deep back to our middle school Haiku writing days  and typed a clever pizza ditty….and won!!   Once our coupons came, we gleefully braved the snow to try the “new to Chicago” casual pizza chain, Blaze Pizza, situated in Boystown right near the El stop.  We weren’t really sure what to expect when we entered but the staff hollered out a welcome and invited us to come closer.


As we shyly peeked around, they detailed the Blaze pizza process for us.  The fine art of pizza creation is set up in an assembly line format.  Patrons can pick their own pie toppings and sauce or choose a signature ‘za and watch while it is made.  Pizzas are 11 inches of thin crust glory and take only 3 minutes to cook.  We were intrigued by the gigantic oven and learned that 12 pizza could fit inside which brings to mind sitcom hijinx of craaazy pizza cooking.  The oven man assured me that he avoided that magnitude of pizza multitasking.  The oven does, however, cook pizzas at a blazing (get it?!!!?) hot 800 degrees.


There were a ton of signature veggie pizza options available to us as well as gluten free and vegan substitutions.  We decided on the Red Vine, with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and chunky red sauce, and the Green Stripe, with pesto sauce, arugula, and garlic minus the chicken.


Blaze Pizza – “Red Vine” with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and chunky red sauce


Blaze Pizza – “Green Stripe” with pesto sauce, arugula, and garlic minus the chicken

Pizza Highlights: Blaze Pizza is a real departure from Chicago style pizza and a real good one at that.  The crust was light, crispy and a titch garlicky. Our wallets were happy because their pizzas only cost 8 bucks and we each walked out with leftover slices.  We also tried the S’mores pie, a chewy marshmallow with melted chocolate in between 2 British biscuits.  It had appropriately crumbly texture but we decided it could have used a quick pop in the oven.


Status: Liked, retweeted and plused, we loved Blaze Pizza and will be back to make our own creation.  Thanks to Blaze Pizza and Chicago Food Scene for choosing us as the creative poetresses that we are and giving us pizzas instead of an award.