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The cover of "Middlewest" and a photo from a recipe for icebox cake.

We?ve always wondered: Do food critics take their high-end eating habits home? Or when they?re off the clock, do they smear peanut butter on bread and call it a night?

TimeOut Chicago dining editor David Tamarkin, it turns out, is a passionate cook even in his own kitchen, and his new project, Middlewest, is a semiannual magazine full of accessible make-at-home recipes with modern twists.

The idea for the publication came a year ago, when Tamarkin printed his family?s revered coffee-cake recipe on thick card stock and mailed it to friends as a holiday gift. That led to Middlewest?s unconventional format: The magazine is actually a collection of loose, 6-by-9-inch recipe cards beautifully designed by local print studio Sonnenzimmer. Pull them out, tack them up or tuck them into your kitchen?s nooks and crannies while you work.

Middlewest currently features recipes by Tamarkin--think lamb hand pies, spring pea pâté and, yes, coffee cake--but will eventually include contributions from other under-the-radar Midwest chefs. (Between Tamarkin and his Middlewest collaborator, TOC associate photo editor Erica Gannett, their work has appeared in nearly every major food publication.)

A successful Kickstarter campaign funded the first issue, which is available online for $18. In light of last week?s TOC news, we?re glad this fresh idea still lets us see Tamarkin?s byline in print.

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