My daughter was assisting Donna during these videos for Le Creuset cookware (which I love, and am genuinely honored to be working with this company; seriously, not worthy, but I try). After the shoot, Addison said, angrily, real anger, “Why don’t you make that potato cheesy thing for me?!” “Good lord,” I said, “I’d make them all the time if I thought you’d eat them!” [I didn’t say, “Because of all the things you refused to eat when I tried to make good food for you!”] I cherish her but she’s difficult. Fact is, these are the easiest, best potatoes ever, and in this Le Creuset gratin dish, they not only cook perfectly, they’re gorgeous to serve. Watch the video—shallots are key, and I love that you can start the dish on the stovetop. And Le Read On »

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Tracy Jones, executive director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. Photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman. October 14, 2012, Cleveland Heights—I’ve just walked home from a brunch held by a neighbor, and now friend, Susan Zull, to benefit the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. In 2000, I lost one of my closest friends, Rusty King, who was my news-writing mentor and advocate when he was a copy editor on the National desk at the New York Times and I was a little scut copyboy most editors didn’t see unless they shouted “COPY!” (Rusty’s fellow copy editors, @FromCarl and @EricAsimov, were also there and were wonderful to us urchins as well—thank you, guys! And where is Jeanne Pinder, who was on Foreign, and on whom I had a crush?) So that’s why I was in a Read On »

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I was, by chance, in the offices of the venerable publisher Little, Brown with Donna a few weeks ago during a surprise trip to NYC, and the editor I was speaking with about a potential book deal mentioned a cocktail book they’d published the previous fall. He described it. I asked, nay, demanded, to see it. He swiveled around, swiveled back, and there it was. A book that immediately pissed me off. “HEY!” I wanted to say, “THIS IS MY TURF! THIS IS RATIOS!” (If you didn’t know, I wrote a little book called Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. We developed and built a Ratio app for iPhones and iTouches and then we—that is, my friend Will Turnage—built a Ratio app for Android devices.) Ratios simplify all of cooking. Know a ratio and you Read On »

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The word is passion and I used to hear it from chefs. “I can teach you to cook, but I can’t teach passion,” they would say. I took this at face value from so many chefs I can’t tell you, until I didn’t anymore because I realized it meant exactly nothing. Thomas Keller, the chef from whom I have learned the most, and the most by far, noted this a while back as well. Passion is the wrong word, he said. Desire was what he wanted to see in a young cook. What, really, though, is that elusive quality that makes a great chef, a great musician, a great anything? It’s not passion, and I’m not sure it’s desire either. A lot of people have passion for something they aren’t good at. In my twenties Read On »

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    How to Make Pretzels Originally Posted on November 16, 2009 My obsession with pretzels began with olives and lye, but I was only moved to actually figure pretzels out after a comically disastrous demo at the Fabulous Food Show on Saturday.(Before the demo, hanging out with Symon and Jonathon Sawyer, I mentioned my demo and said, “It’s a no-brainer, it’s so simple nothing can go wrong.” Symon clutched his bald head and shouted, “DON’T SAY THAT!!!”) Half my demo was on baking and making a 5:3 bread dough into several products, and I also wanted to bake gougères, cheese puffs, so I went early to make sure the ovens were cranked. I was assured by the very efficient woman running that stage that it was. Thirty seconds into the demo, I went to Read On »

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