I’ve been in LA on an entertainment project and to see the opening of my friend and collaborator Richard LaGravenese‘s new movie Beautiful Creatures. I’d never been to an opening before. But quiche has been on my mind, so I’ve been using travel time to work on some variations of this infinitely variable fat custard tart. If I had time I’d head to Bouchon in Beverly Hills, which makes perfect quiche. Bouchon, and working on that book, is where I learned that, while America was taught to make quiche in premade pie shells, this deprives the quiche of its true greatness: depth. In order to achieve that voluptuous texture, it has be about two inches thick. For this, you need to have a ring. When I told this to my partner in tools, Mac Dalton, Read On »

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I followed a recipe for the first time in ages to make something I’d never cooked before. Whilst down in Key West, I decided to cook a local or near-local preparation. I once said to my friend Nathan Sheffield, Esq., “There’s no such thing as good Cuban food.” He was justifiably riled and sent me the below recipe for picadillo, a Latin American stew of chopped meat. Nathan is of Cuban heritage and thus his picadillo has lots of cumin and umami-giving olives and capers. Nathan insists that it be eaten with yellow rice, rice flavored with annatto oil. Annatto seeds are simmered in oil to make a red-orange oil that has a flavor like no other—difficult to describe but in the cinnamon range with bitterness rather than sweetness. It’s the defining seasoning here. To make a Read On »

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This blast of arctic air and wind and snow and gray has me longing for the lovely afternoons and evenings of the Key West I left a week ago. Nine full days there, writing, cooking, carousing with the sailing droogs. Sigh. So, to cheer myself, I made some Key Lime Daiquiris—proper daiquiris, with nothing but rum, citrus, and simple syrup. The frozen daiquiri and the frozen margarita are yet more travesties America has made of previously fine libations. I think I was in my thirties when I learned that a daiquiri wasn’t a slushie with alcohol. So I fight off these, the worst weeks of the year, with memories of Key West, rum, and Key limes (and thanks to you, Rob and Ab!). Yes, that’s blue Ohio winter in the background of Donna’s shot, but Read On »

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  Still recovering from 10 days of Key West fine food and postprandial debauchery, I’m giving my site over today to my friend Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti), who writes The Culinary Life blog, and whose first book, Melt, will be published next year by Little, Brown (a fine book to which I happily contributed the introduction). I’ll be back on Friday with a Key West–inspired cocktail to combat the winter grays. Take it away, Steph, and thanks for keeping it simple and discussing a critical cooking technique!—M.R. by Stephanie Stiavetti Bread pudding needn’t be complicated. At its core, custard is a straightforward dish consisting of cream and egg yolks. For a sweet custard you add sugar, alongside tiny, fragrant vanilla beans (usually), and that’s about as fussy as it gets. The best bread puddings are marked Read On »

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This is not a great photo, technically, but it’s a favorite of 2012 for all that it represents. That’s Billy Harris, apparently looking for tonsils to nibble on. Next to him is Paul Kahan, the Chicago chef, entrepreneur, badass cook, and purveyor of fine meats. At right is Jonathan Waxman, chef-owner of Barbuto in NYC and one of the godfathers of the new American cuisine. Bless them, they’d all come with many other colleagues to my town to benefit our amazing West Side Market and celebrate its hundredth birthday. The head, it will be no surprise to Cleveland food lovers, is courtesy of Jonathon Sawyer, chef-owner of The Greenhouse Tavern (he also just started an ancillary vinegar business; see below). It had come to the table with much roasted meat still attached and was deeee-licious. How can you not Read On »

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