Maybe I was more cranky in Portland than I realized.  It put me on something of a tear about how everyone’s too damned busy to cook if something’s going to take longer than 3 minutes, but my last morning at the IACP conference turned me around but good.  This is a post to thank those enormous spirits who presided over the pigs: Adam Sappington, Kate Hill, and Dominique Chapolard (can you guess which one he is?). Dominique runs a farm with his wife and brothers, “seed to sausage,” as they put it.  Everything their pigs eat from birth to slaughter is grown on that farm.  The Chapolards sell all their meat at market and make their own fresh and dry-cured sausage. Kate Hill runs a culinary retreat in Gascony nearby.  She sets up six-week butchery Read On »

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  Nine hours door to door from Cleveland to my hotel room and I was hungry.  The fine folks in Portland organizing the International Association of Culinary professionals, had filled the room with Portland products, wine beer coffee candy and, lo, some serious local beef jerky.  Dense sweet salty savory concentrated protein, like candy.  I knew I’d arrived in a good place.  Ruth Reichl opened the conference the following morning with remarks on the subject that continues to dog her, Gourmet’s end, and her desire to put it in a broader context.  “What happened at Gourmet says a lot about where we are on the food landscape” she said, adding, “I should have seen it coming but I didn’t.”  Why didn’t she see the death of this eminent, arguably best, food magazine in America?  Because Read On »

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Finally!  The Elements of Cooking, my guide to the language of the kitchen, has been published in the form it was meant to be in—paperback, an edition affordable for students (just $10 from Amazon), light and bendable for stuffing into backpacks or knife kits.  Eric Ripert, chef-owner of the 4-star restaurant, Le Bernardin, calls it “simply the best reference book and educational tool available for anyone interested in the basics of the culinary arts.” I’ve always felt this was a required resource for all young cooks or new cooks, except for its hardcover price tag. Wonderful Scribner and the visionary editor Beth Wareham, have now changed that. Sam Sifton, NYTimes restaurant critic, said this about the book in the The NYTimes Book Review: A deeply opinionated rundown of the essential knowledge all cooks and food Read On »

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As I mentioned today over in Huffington Post’s new food pages, I once used to purchase the Knorr powdered mix for Alfredo sauce.  This is almost like buying dehydrated water.  Fettuccine Alfredo is the world’s easiest cream sauce, and it’s also one of the best. In my opinion, the quality of the dish is dependent on the cheese, good Parmigiano-Reggiano.  If you don’t have that, make something else.  The traditional Italian Alfredo doesn’t use cream but I think the cream is essential for distributing the cheese.  I also feel that dried pasta is too heavy for this—this dish calls for fresh pasta.  Best to make it yourself, but good fresh pasta is available at most grocery stores now.  This dish comes together fast—the hardest part about it waiting for the water to boil. Fettucini Alfredo Read On »

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I get asked a lot about cooking tools and while I could do anything I really needed with just five tools—my truly minimalist kitchen would have a chef’s knife, cutting board, large sauté pan, flat-edged wood spoon and a large Pyrex bowl—I’ve got lots of tools I like and a box of tools I never use down in the basement.  In a world where all kinds of companies pitch all kinds of products, I’d like to talk about the actual tools I use and love. First things first: Knives.  You don’t need a big block of knives.  You need a big knife and a little knife.  Invest in good quality knives.  I use Wusthof, have been for 20 years.  I think they’re the best.  (Here they are at Amazon.)  Find a good sharpening service near Read On »

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