Customer Reviews: The Berghoff Café Cookbook: Berghoff Family Recipes for Simple, Satisfying Food
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on October 27, 2009
Family food history. A slice of Americana. Useful cooking tips. The Berghoff Café Cookbook has it all -- and more. Chef, owner, and author Carlyn Berghoff had me at 'Deviled Eggs with Three Fillings' (page 3). The three fillings: Caper Deviled Eggs, Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs, and Horseradish Deviled Eggs. These are deviled eggs redux.

This cookbook is full of recipes for things we all know well; food we have eaten with our families as children and as adults. Dishes that bring comfort and are 'simple and satisfying' like the cover promises. Ms. Berghoff starts off telling the reader how her great-grandfather came over from Germany in the late 1800s eventually opening the Berghoff Café in Chicago in 1898; and how it ended up in her hands several decades later. As she wends her way through the family history she throws in interesting historical tid bits about food, eating and dining from the early days. Like the story of a 'shot and a wash,' a riff on a boilermaker. A stein of favorite Berghoff beer with a shot of their seven-year old Berghoff bourbon thrown in. It started in previous centuries when water was impure giving whiskey a bad taste. The solution? Drop a shot glass of whiskey into a mug of beer; when drinking it the drinker caught the shot glass with their teeth, the beer masking the taste of the whiskey. The drink is still on the menu albeit updated.

When I first picked up the book I was a little unsure; I guess I am more of a food snob than I want to admit. The design, and the food and recipes inside are more traditional, more down home than where my tastes usually run in cookbooks. I've recently seen too many flashy books by well-known chefs. However, after reading through it, and trying several recipes -- the Potato Soup being a favorite -- I changed my tune. This books embodies the Midwestern lifestyle. It evokes what a downtown, local Chicago restaurant can be. It is warm and homey. Ms. Carlyn's maxim of 'reuse, recycle and reinvent' that she applies in the restaurant works perfectly in the home kitchen.

The Berghoff Café Cookbook offers recipes across the food gamut from bar snacks to paninis and pizzas to yummy desserts. Dishes like Alsatian Onion Soup, Apple Pie Squares with Cheddar Crust, and Westpahlian Ham Panini with Granny Smith Apple and Applesauce are a few of the standouts. Ms. Carlyn has updated the restaurant menu since her great-grandfather's day while also keeping his spirit and food very much alive. She calls it 'tradition with a twist,' and I'd say that is quite apt.

I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for straightforward, comfort food pure and simple. It's all there. Nothing fancy; nothing pretentious. The next meal I want to prepare is from the Daily Specials section: Classic Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Jus Lié and Spaetzle. Salisbury steak is a dish my Nebraska born grandmother made often when I was growing up. Comfort food.
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The demise of the original Berghoff Restaurant on Adams in downtown Chicago was a blow to families who had frequented it for generations. I remember standing for two hours on crutches after knee surgery to get into the Berghoff for my 'last supper' about a week before it closed after nearly a century in continuous operation. That said, the bright spot on the horizon was when Caryn Berghoff opened a smaller operation on the same site. While the core menu items are still on the menu, the emphasis seems to be on delicious yet modern presentations. This collection of recipes focuses primarily on the Berghoff Cafe format. The recipes are fairly easy, tasty, and satisfying to a modern palate. I particularly like that I can enjoy the Berghoff w/o having to take a train and fight the crowds. I incorporated a couple of the recipes into my Thanksgiving dinner and will def. be adding more to the repertoire for Christmas. The resounding success of the dishes served at Thanksgiving has prompted me to buy 3 additional cookbooks as Christmas gifts. This cookbook makes a wonderful companion to the Berghoff Family Cookbook.
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on January 12, 2010
I am a busy storefront owner with a growing business. This book is a staple in my house because it has easy to follow dishes that I can make when I am exhausted. I also love this book because since I am stressed out so much of the time, this book offers a lot of "comfort food" receipes. :)

I was raised with Sunday dinners. It is an important part of my upbringing. However we live in an age where we are always so busy and reach for convenience foods. What I love most about this book (and her other one as well) is there are dishes in there that are fast and easy and there are dishes in there that I can leisurely do on a Sunday afternoon. I guess you could say I love this cookbook for the simple reason is I love to cook but I also hate to cook. This cookbook caters to my "busy" side of cooking and my "leisure" side of cooking. It's a must have in your collection. I reach for this book more than my other fancy cook books I have received over the years. This is the only one that doesn't have dust on it. :)
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on January 8, 2010
For more than 100 years there has beena Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago. With this latest addiiton to the pantheon of great eating, we are allowed to further discover great meals that can be easily prepared while not sacrificing the qaulity of the presentation on a budget that's perefect for these economic times. The legions of Berghoff family members who have come before author Carlyn Berghoff would be proud to have this latest offering wear the Berghoff family name. It's fun and engaging and filled with great recipes from one of Chicago's legendary families. More so, it's a great follow-up to the Berghoff Family Cookbook that came out just more than a year ago. For me this has been a great gift for family and friends especiually for those peoiple who want to enjoy a great sampling of Chicago cuisine as created by the masters of our cluture. Carlyn Berghoff should be congratulated for keeping the legacy alive and taking it to the newxt level. A book like this makes food preparation fun, interesting and tasty!
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on July 8, 2010
I've never been to Chicago. I never heard of Berghof until I purchased this book. I did buy the book though and have been testing the recipes. My family, read that wife, is very picky about what she eats and so I approached the recipes cautiously. Because it's the summer, I started off with salads. Before I could do that, I had to start with the dressings. The ranch and the champaign have no equal in a bottle...they're easy, they're wonderful and healthful since I know what's in them. Since the dressings were sucessful throughout the family, I progressed on to the salads. My wife, who doesn't like salads, craved for more. She really liked the shrimp salad.
Well, on to the soups. Delicious! Then on to the main courses. Since I spent most of my life in Germany and therefore know German food, I started there with schnitzels. Then on to spaetzle. Every receipe was good and it felt good to have a receipe that I could rely on to be good 100% of the time. I must admit that the recipes are close to those in German cookbooks but they are good and the taste takes me back to the wood paneled gasthouses of Germany.
I haven't tried any of the deserts but know they'll be as wonderful as the other recipes have been.
In fact, since everything was so good, I went on to order the big Berghof restaurant cookbook which looks good but which I haven't had time to try out yet.
The Berghof cafe is worth every penny and I hope that there will be more Berghof cookbooks to follow.
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on August 25, 2012
This is a really nice cookbook with a variety of different recipes, I really love the homemade dressing recipes, especially the one for Thousand Island Dressing. It has alot of different sandwiches and pizzas. It's an excellent cookbook as far as I'm concerned, I don't regret purchasing it. Buy it for yourself and start to enjoy some wonderful food!
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on January 9, 2015
Got this cookbook for my wife when she received the Berghoff Family Cookbook. The recipies, however tasty, are not traditional Berghoff restaurant style as they came from the cafe (nachos, sandwiches and soups). If you already have the Berghoff Family Cookbook this would be a good addition.
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on February 16, 2013
This book is so much more than just a cookbook. Its interesting to read and the recipes are great fun to make. I use this cookbook often and my family and friends have loved every dish! I really like that the author shares stories about her life and the Berghoff Restaurant. I have also given this cookbook as a gift to others that enjoy good german food.
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on December 5, 2009
Remember the good old days when you could go into a corner bar and get the best food on earth? This cook book made my mouth water and even though I'm not a good cook, I'll try each recipe and know that it's going to be delicious. This is "bar cookin" at it's best. Try it, all you oldies out there!! I sent a copy to my daughter, even though she doesn't remember the days of the corner bar!!
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on January 10, 2010
Looking for a fabulous resource for recipes for good, old-fashioned comfort food with a modern, healthier twist? Then this is the cookbook for you. Taking many of the traditional recipes that made the Berghoff Restaurant and its hugely popular century-old saloon, the Berghoff Cafe, so beloved by Chicagoans and tourists alike, Carlyn Berghoff has now shared her secrets for transforming many treasured classics into contemporary favorites. This easy-to-use, well organized book devotes separate chapters to each of the sections of the Berghoff Cafe menu: bar snacks, soups, sandwiches, salads, side dishes, entrees, pizzas and desserts. Whether you've always wanted to know how to make homemade spaetzle or the key to a perfect turkey meat loaf, these clearly explained recipes will find an immediate place atop your stack of kitchen cookbooks. The author has thoughtfully added cross-references to other recipes in the book that match well with complementary dishes. (Need a good side dish to accompany that turkey meat loaf? The green beans and Lyonnaise potatoes are killer.) Buy this book, and use it in good health.
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