The first table I ever waited on would comprise two serious chefs, Richard Czack and CIA prez Ferdinand Metz, and the parents of a seminal American chef. It was in the St. Andrew’s restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America and it is forever linked in my mind with two similar drinks, the Sea Breeze and the Madras. The following is from the book that forever altered my course: Chef Czack did not look like a chef—balding, glasses, slight of frame; I didn’t know his age but he seemed elderly. His voice was nasal, fussy. He looked and sounded more like an accountant’s clerk. But Chef Czack was in fact a certified master chef and I was excited to be serving him and his guests, Mr. and Mrs. Forgione, parents of celebrity chef Larry, and Read On »

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It made so much sense the second I read it. One of those “of course!” moments. It was, not atypically, while reading Michael Pollan in his NYTimes magazine story a few years ago about how no one cooks anymore (really?). Certainly in the 1980s and 1990s most of the country relied on reheating already-cooked food for their meals. And perhaps as a result, at least in part, we became a grossly obese country where seemingly the only people who dieted were the people who were already thin, and the rest made increasingly bizarre, unsustainable stabs at it. A physically sick country, a confused country—don’t get me started. The “of course” moment. It didn’t come from Pollan, but rather from a researcher he interviewed, Harry Balzer, who works for the market research behemoth NPD, and studies all kinds of Read On »

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What else with the fried chicken for a graduation lunch? Any special beverages for graduation? “Kathy likes Cosmos,” our soon-to-graduate daughter offered. We considered. But this was lunch, so we decided to keep it to wine and beer, and a champagne toast for the three graduates we were to celebrate (gosh, they are so much more responsible than I was, praise the Lord). But that Cosmo idea. It stuck. Because Kathy Mustee, wife and mom of four including newly graduated twins, is a pleasure to be with, smart, and, significantly, she is not to be trifled with. Even my daughter fears the Wrath of Kathy, the only person I know her openly to fear (I’d have paid Kathy for lessons had I known). And she likes Cosmos. Clearly, the Cosmopolitan, a pink vodka-based drink needed Read On »

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For her high school graduation lunch last week, my daughter asked for my fried chicken. Normally, I break down a chicken into 9 pieces and cook it and serve it. But we’d invited friends, bringing our total number to 20. Fried chicken for 20 is different from fried chicken for four. I had no intention of spending all that time frying while hosting the lunch. But it wasn’t until we were seated and one of the guests, while biting into a juicy drumstick, asked, “You can do this ahead of time?” did I realize that I must, must post on this subject, to deepen our understanding and encourage more cooking of one of the greatest dishes in the American repertoire. Yes, this can be done the day ahead. Follow all the steps below, though you Read On »

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Lisa Ludwinski, 29, is a baker and cook living in Ferndale, Michigan. She recently returned to the Great Lakes State after a six-year stint eating bagels, nannying, and mixing many pounds of cookie dough in Brooklyn, finishing with stints at Momofuku Milk Bar and Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Now she is the owner of Sister Pie, a from-scratch home bakery serving the Detroit area via the Facebook page, and aims to celebrate the seasons with pie and other sweets through unique interpretations and natural ingredients. For now, she’s able to bake pies from home for sale under Michigan’s Cottage Food Law, but her goal is to open a full-service breakfast/lunch/pie shop. Here she offers her take on one of my favorite pies. I like to make a lattice top, which allows all of the moisture to escape Read On »

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