Gratin. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Here is the classic potato gratin that I made at a makeshift studio during the first series of the Le Creuset demo videos. My daughter had come along to see lovely Charleston, look at the College of Charleston, and generally take in the scene, and the only comment when we returned to Cleveland was, “Why don’t you ever make that cheesy potato thing for us?” Nothing of course would have given me more pleasure, had I only thought to do it. Indeed, this is a dish so easy and delicious and do-ahead-able, it’s a shame I don’t make it monthly during these cold winter months. Simple indeed. Layer sliced potatoes in a dish, give them a good shot of salt and pepper and several scratchings of nutmeg, cover with half-and-half, and bake covered till tender. Read On »

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Bourbon Milk Punch/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

This is considered more a morning cocktail than one for a Friday evening, one to be offered, say, at a Tulane frat house brunch after a heavy night on Bourbon Street. But I want to write about it now for two reasons. First, it was a revelation to me when my dearest pal, Blake Bailey, Tulane class of 1985, offered it to me (one hung-over Sunday morning in Manhattan, in 1986)—wow, bourbon, milk, and sugar make a fabulous elixir. And two, because those days are now vividly returned to me in Blake’s acclaimed new memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned, where I, our shared New York apartment, and a pregnant hooker from New Jersey, enjoy a cameo in this wrenching, tragic story about the havoc Blake’s older brother brought on Blake’s entire extended family. In Read On »

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Pan fried chicken thighs. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Two things of note here: the technique called pan-fry and the awesome chicken thigh. The latter should be your go-to chicken part. How and why chicken mongers can get away with selling the boneless, skinless chicken breast is beyond me. Then again, why anyone would buy skim milk is beyond me. I love bone-in, skin-on thighs but am delighted that the boned version is available as well. I recommend slicing it thinly for stir-fries, in chunks for chicken stews (curries, fricassee). It’s a well-worked muscle and therefore flavorful (and chewy); it’s also got some fat and is therefore juicy. Not long ago my son James, chewing on a fried chicken drumstick, wondered if we couldn’t have boneless fried chicken, so that he could, I imagine, revel in the unalloyed pleasure of fried chicken—crispy flavorful exterior, Read On »

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As the world turns, so does the Internet and thus this site with it, a new design of ruhlman.com by David and Joleen Hughes, of Level Design in Calistoga (I love their quill and knife graphic), implemented in WordPress by Stephen Jenkins. Thank you all. I had several goals: to keep it clean and easy to read and to navigate; to continue to feature my wife Donna’s photography (the lobsters were for my 50th birthday dinner); to further solidify my partnership with Le Creuset, which makes the best enameled cast iron pots and pans on the planet; and most importantly to make the screen responsive to whatever device you’re reading on. (Check it out on your smart phone or tablet—or reduce your browser window to see the screen elements shift.) All comments are welcome. And Read On »

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The OYO Manhattan/Photo by iPad

Ohio comes to Manhattan this week for the Friday cocktail hour, which I will enjoy, shivering but happy, on my fire escape in the West Village, with Columbus–based OYO clear rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters, and the indulgent Luxardo maraschino cherries (picked up around the corner at The Meadow (thank you Mark!—check out his book, my favorite salt book, period). The Manhattan, a classic I never stray far from, a family favorite, and well enduring for a reason (this is one of my favorite Friday Cocktail Hour posts). The rye Manhattan is especially good when you have great cherries. I add some syrup from the cherries, here not yet dissolved and sleeping at the bottom of the cocktail; rye is marvelously dry as whiskeys go and so the extra sweetness is perfect for this excellent winter cocktail. Read On »

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