Originally posted, 8/13/07 (alas, I have yet to rid America of this tragedy): Does anyone know who first put cooked chicken breast on a Caesar salad and called it a Chicken Caesar?  I wish I did.  I’ve been upset about this at least for two years now because I remember railing to Todd English and Ming Tsai about it as we traveled together for an erstwhile cooking show.  “The Chicken Caesar is an emblem of the mediocrity of American cuisine!” I would cry.  Ming would chuckle and turn up the volume on his iPod, and Todd more or less ignored me as a run-of-the-mill crank screaming into the nor’easter of American food culture. Or so I thought. Last week I had lunch at a Cheesecake Factory in Cleveland, and of course, there it was, Caesar Read On »

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I tried not to read Kim Severson’s New York Times article on the one-touch buttons on appliances at the International Home and Housewares show in Chicago.  You know the buttons that say “Cookies” on your toaster oven or the “Popcorn” button on your microwave that even ConAgra, maker of microwave popcorn, says you should not use.  My microwave, my toaster oven, they have these stupid, maddening, insulting, ridiculous, harmful buttons.  I hate them, but they’re unavoidable. I didn’t want to read Kim’s story—Electrolux oven has a “perfect turkey button,” put a turkey in, press a button, perfect turkey!—because I knew it would make … my … blood … BOIL! Hey!  Idiot manufacturers!  Cut it out!  The buttons don’t work—even your partners in food crime say so!  Worse, when they don’t work, you are telling your Read On »

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This was dinner last night, moments before it was consumed.  Donna said, “This is the best cabbage I’ve ever had,” and, back at the stove, looking for thirds on the corned beef, “This is all you made?” All in all, a success.  I’ve used this particular preparation several times and it can’t be beat, a really smart strategy for cooking and serving and making use of all the flavors and juices and soft textures. First cook your corned beef (simmered for a few hours, braised, wrapped in foil with sliced onions for 4 hours at 250—how I did it—or even cooked sous vide). Only way not to cook this is slow roasting (a perfectly fine strategy but won’t give you the liquid you need to finish the cabbage here). To complete the meal.  Saute 4 Read On »

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With the approach of St. Paddy’s day I got a brisket into the brine Friday, in time to make my wife the corned beef she loves. And I realized I’ve never blogged about it.  Everyone who cooks should corn their own beef.  It’s easy as brining a chicken. And when you make your own pickling spice (brine photo above, recipe below), you can really pump up the flavor. Any cut of beef can be “corned” (corn was originally a generic term for grain, deriving from the same root as kernel and grain; corning beef referred to curing beef with grains of salt, McGee, page 477, thanks to Patrick for his corrective comment).  But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available Read On »

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At last, we’ve put together this basic video demonstration of Ratio: The Smart Phone Application (built by Will Turnage, designed by Leah McCombe) so that people can see what it does and how it works. I love the application because it’s truly useful. If I’m making hamburgers or meatloaf, it will give me the amount of seasoning I need depending on how much meat I have. If I only want a few cookies, not two dozen, it will create the recipe for me. If I find I only have one egg, but still want to make a blueberry muffin, it calculates the amount based on one egg. If I want to whip up a last minute caramel sauce it tells me how. If I want to know even the basic proportions of a stock, it’s there for me. It’s also a great ounces-to-grams converter.

This application will be of special value to anyone who works in a kitchen and to any and all culinary students. And you chefs, authors, and bloggers who develop your own recipes, this application provides the trunk from which a thousand variations branch off. I hope you’ll have a look!

This is version 1.0.1, with all bugs taken care of. Will and Leah are working on the Droid version now!

Here are some comments and reviews about the application:

Russ Parsons, in the LATimes Blog: “Michael Ruhlman wrote a really good book earlier this year called Ratio. Now he’s gone out and turned it into an even better iPhone application. … And though [his] approach may seem a little mechanistic in a cookbook (what if you happen to want a cookie with a different texture than the one chosen?), it’s sheer genius in an app, where the expectations are different. Think of ‘Ratio, the App’ as a combination culinary pocket calculator and aide-memoir.”

Chicagoist: “This application is so good it almost makes us regretting buying the book first. … At $4.99, it’s a steal.”

From the Village Voice Blog: “While Ruhlman’s app enters an already crowded market for cooking-related iPhone applications, with its gee-whiz calculations, it has the potential to be one of the most useful. The home cooking world may finally have its own version of Turing Bombe, complete with pretty colors and custard icons.”

Click here to see go to its iTunes page. All comments and criticisms welcome.

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