I made my staple Lemon-Cumin Dal the other day and while I served, Donna brought the pappadams over to the light for this photo. I always serve these Indian—what, crackers?—with dal. They add a delicate crisp crunch to the meal and an exotic (to me) flavor. If you’ve never served them, I urge you to try them. Not only delicious, but fun to cook! Made from lentil or chickpea flour, they’re sold as flat smooth discs. Slip them into hot oil and they puff and fold and are finished in five seconds. While I’m hoping a prominent food blogger, who publishes one of the most lovely recipe blogs I know, will try the recipe for this mung-bean-based dal, featured in Twenty, it reminds me of two other writer cooks specializing in Indian food. The wonderful Read On »

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  These are some of the pix we didn’t use in the new book, Ruhlman’s Twenty, and I wanted to share them because they make me hungry for pork belly. But when I sat down simply to mention this dish, Crispy Pork Belly with Miso-Caramel Glaze, it surprised me with all the lessons it has wrapped up in it. First of all, it’s a delicious dish (I was delighted that Rob Misfud, in his review of the book in Toronto’s Globe and Mail, tried it and loved it—while it’s not difficult, it’s more involved than most of the other recipes in the book).  But go below the deliciousness and you will see it’s a lesson in braising, in understanding the nature of pork skin, of the power of sugar, of using a definitively sweet ingredient in a Read On »

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  Even James, the guy who handed me a bag of 20 pig ears, gave me a funny look.  “What do you do with ’em?” It’s not obvious, even to farmers, not in America. It wasn’t obvious to me till I had my first one several years ago at Michael Symon’s Lola, fried crispy on the outside, gelatinous and chewy on the inside, their richness offset by the sweet-sour heat of pickled chillis. Michael said he’d had a similar reaction when he’d first had one from Mario Batali. Where did Mario first have them? “The ears were a prized part of eating whole suckling pigs on weekend lunches in Segovia, Spain, near where we lived in Madrid throughout high school,” he said in an email yesterday. “I’ve  lived for ears and cheeks ever since!” How Read On »

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Just about anything can be grilled that won’t slip through the grate or grilling basket. You can’t grill batter, you can’t grill soup (though you could keep it hot on a grill). I don’t know that I’d grill a tough vegetable, like cabbage or kale, but you could try. One of my favorite vegetables to grill is radicchio.  Its natural bitter notes take on the smokey charred flavors of hot open flames deliciously. And when paired with the acidic sweetness of balasamic vinegar, it’s a great side dish. I’d like to underscore the importance of balsamic vinegar here. Its intense sweet acidity offsets the natural (pleasing) bitterness all foods grilled over high heat pick up. I love a product called Crema di Balsamico, which is basically pre-reduced balsamic. Just a few drops of it are Read On »

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Video: watch the Kocurek Family discuss the history of charcuterie and their business, via Huffington Post.

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