How fast this summer is receding in my rear view mirror is reflected in the ciliantro that, for all my travel and busyiness, I have let go to seed. Yet there are glories even in being remiss–the fresh coriander seeds that lends so many savory preparations a huge jolt of flavor and crunch.  Fresh coriander seed makes a great garnish on rice, in salads, on meats, in sauces. I particulary love it roughly cracked and used liberally with black pepper on any grilled meat. If you grow your own, you can pick it when it’s still green, almost fruity and a little chewy with that same flavor burst. We’re ensconced now in an extraordinary big old house outside Great Barrington in western MA, preparing for the onslaught of a teaming brood, the entirety of Donna’s Read On »

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Picked up our CSA this weekend, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, lettuce, and SURPRISE! More Zucchini! Actually, I’m starting to like the zucchini challenge.  Too hot for what I want to do for it—mix it with cheese and gratin it.  I’ll wait till cooler fall to go that route. I’ve had a nostalgic urge to make zucchini bread, which I haven’t had since my mom made it when I was a kid and the notion of a sweet cake made with a vegetable was bizarre and fascinating. But I opted for a fallback here, and still one of the best and easiest ways to make zucchini: saute it.  I think its texture is best when you julienne it.  With my handy Benriner mandoline (left), it takes about 30 seconds per zucchini. The result is Read On »

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Chef Pardus blew through Cleveland a couple weeks ago, and with summer in full swing we had loads of little cukes on hand (we also did veal heart again, got it on video, stay tuned).  While there was much to do in getting dinner out (tongue salad with new potatoes, calves liver and onions, corn relish, cucumber sunomono, grilled foie gras (grilling foie takes some serious attention!), and the grilled heart with an herb shallot vinaigrette—Pardus found time to get my pickles on the cure.  Because of time constraints and other issues, he didn’t add aromatics.  What he did was make a 3% brine. I have for years been using a 5% brine for everything, pickles, chicken, pork, etc.  But this 3% worked great and I’m thinking that if you’re not going to be removing Read On »

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Flew out to southern California last week to be with one of Donna’s oldest and dearest, almost entirely beaching it, but found time for one great restaurant meal and one day exploring little Saigon south of LA with the extraordinary White On Rice Couple, Todd Porter and Diane Cu. Diane, born in Vietnam two years before the family fled in 1975, and Todd, a native of Oregon, are photographers, videographers, writers, cooks and gardeners.  I met them in Ixtapa last January and was immediately impressed with their energy and work, but I didn’t quite appreciate how fine these two souls were until they invited me and Donna and the kids into their home, gave us a tour of their truly remarkable garden, then took us on a culinary tour of Little Saigon, including a bahn Read On »

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What began as a Bourdain initiated boondoggle turned into a great break in NYC for me and Donna with several restaurants I’d been eager to try. We arrived early, unloaded our bags at the most excellent Ace hotel (I highly recommend), then headed south to Balthazar, where we had hoped to get some breakfast—love their shirred eggs; it’s the perfect way to enter the city.  Alas, closed for renovations! The young ladies posted at the door to preserve customers sent us several blocks east to Bowery and Houston to the McNally’s pizza joint, Pulino’s, where we had our eggs, on pizza. (Why eggs on pizza aren’t more common, I have no idea; want to try it? Here’s a recipe.)  We’d just taken a seat at the bar when the chef, Nate Appleman, strolled in and Read On »

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