To help us enjoy our 50th and 51st birthdays, our friend Ingrid sent us some exquisite oysters from Maine. After we’d eaten them, perhaps still delighting in the pleasure, Donna became enthralled with the shells. Me too, and I just wanted to put this photo up. Because. In October, Brian Polcyn and I will be traveling to Ingrid’s territory for demos and cooking of the noble pig, not only to promote the new and revised edition of Charcuterie, but also to benefit Ingrid’s Island Culinary & Ecological Center. Can’t wait! If you have access to pristine oysters but have never shucked before, you will need a shucking knife (about the cost of an oyster and widely available), and this good video shows how to do it. If you liked this post, read: My past post on Read On »

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I love the clean and pure daiquiri, nothing more than a rum sour. I love a mint julep for its power and herbal freshness. But one thing I don’t like is large fragments of leaves floating in my drink and ever threatening to catch on my front tooth mid-conversation. I felt like a daiquiri last weekend and made some hastily. I wanted to perfect it. To get more depth from the sugar, I made a simple syrup of brown sugar (equal parts water and brown sugar, heated to dissolve the sugar, then cooled). I pulverized the mint in a mortar, then let the rum soak with it to infuse. Then I strained the rum through a cloth. I combined it all and topped it with sparkling water. It seemed to me the perfect mojito, and Read On »

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After giving me a lesson in how thin I needed to roll the dough to make a proper knish, my neighbor Lois sat down with me in my kitchen to tape the audio for a planned iPad app called The Book of Schmaltz. I had intended to use only the audio, but now that the app is temporarily unavailable because of the publication of the hardcover book, I find Lois’s words too engaging (and funny) to hide. And so here I present her thoughts on schmaltz, chicken fat rendered with onion, against the backdrop of our messy kitchen backdoor area. She is an articulate woman who waxes beautiful on this most ethereal of fats. And, from this humble goy to Jews far and wide, L’Shanah Tovah. May your year be fruitful and filled with schmaltzy goodness. Read On »

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I published this last year in the Huffington Post on September 24, 2012, and it got such a strong response, I’m reposting it. Also I’m under the gun for two major book projects and two freelance assignments all due at once for some reason, not to mention sundry book promo interviews; I guess summer is over and fall is officially here. Sigh.—M.R. The Importance of Food? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and not least of all because I’ve always strived to distance myself from the pigeonhole called “food writer.” Food is important, obviously. If we don’t have it, we die. Writing about something so important should need no justification. And yet if I were called, say, an “environmental journalist,” wouldn’t that sound somehow more substantial, more serious than being a “food writer”? Read On »

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The creators of last week’s cocktail on fat-washed spirits, schmaltz, and rye, noted that the onion (which worked perfectly with the schmaltzy rye) recalled a Gibson. Loving the interconnectedness of cocktails, that is the choice for today’s Friday Cocktail Hour. The Gibson is a martini garnished with onion, and I like to underscore the difference between it and a martini by adding some of the pickling liquid. Because it features gin, use a good gin such as Beefeater, my fave. Same vermouth ratio as a martini, 20%, though vary this according to your tastes. Do you hear anyone asking for a vodka Gibson? Do you hear bartenders, upon being asked for a Gibson, respond, “Vodka or gin?” I think not. This is a serious cocktail with a sweet-sour-onion garnish, reflecting the serious and bittersweet recognition Read On »

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