Corned beef and cabbage, Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

  Never pass up an excuse to corn beef. Start now for St. Patrick’s day dinner. Or for whenever. The cure takes five days, so plan ahead. I recently got a question about curing it at room temperature. The brine is a nearly 10 percent salt solution, so I imagine it would be fine for five days. Also remember that after it’s cured you can keep it refrigerated for about a week before cooking. And you could keep it indefinitely in the fridge in the brine, but you’d have to be sure to cook the salt out of it after. Any cut of beef can be “corned.” (See my pastrami short ribs.) But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available here and Read On »

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Roasted-root-vegs

Here are two fabulous side dishes to consider for the holidays (and throughout the winter). I love the roasted vegetables—easy, delicious, nutritious. And the beets, with their color and sweetness, are the linchpin of this dish, so don’t omit. My editor made these and said, “I can’t believe my kids ate beets! And loved them.” This recipe appears in my book How to Roast, FYI. The gratin is great for three, reasons. They’re so good, for one. I made the below dish when I was working with Le Creuset (great gift idea, that dish, btw). My daughter actually got mad at me and said, why don’t you make those cheesy potatoes for us? So I did. Reason two: golden brown crispiness combined with gooey cheesy goodness. Reason number three: These can be made three or Read On »

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Butternut-squah-soup

I’m reposting this soup because it’s such a fabulous fall soup, and the weather in the northeast has finally turned into appropriate soup weather. There’s no better fall vegetable soup than this one (ok, well, maybe French Onion). But certainly no easier soup. Even working slowly and distractedly, this soup can be on the table in twenty or thirty minutes. Which can’t be said for onion soup. It would work equally well with pumpkin if that’s your preference. When I made the above soup, I took some extra time to clean and sauté the seeds in some butter for a crunchy garnish. Fresh or whole, dried thyme leaves are the key to the flavor of this soup (don’t use the old, powdered thyme sitting in your spice rack). I still have fresh thyme in the Read On »

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4-Onion-Garbure

Continuing a series of soup posts as the weather cools (here in the Northeast at least), I’m offering this rich vegetable garbure. Garbure hails from my favorite food region, Gascony, in the southwestern corner of France. (I wrote about it here for Conde Nast Traveler.) It would traditionally include some kind of confited meat and cabbage. This version, which I included in Ruhlman’s Twenty, gets its depth of flavor from bacon rind, but you could substitute several slices of rind-on bacon, diced, or omit the bacon completely for a vegetarian soup. But pig skin, connective tissue, is loaded with a protein called collagen, which breaks down into gelatin to give the soup great body. If you can’t find slab bacon with a rind to remove yourself, order it from your butcher or meat department. Or, better Read On »

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Sweet-Bell-Pepper-Soup-Fini

This is a fabulous all-purpose soup method, here used with sweet bell peppers. But you can use it for just about any vegetable—asparagus, mushroom, pea, carrot. I learned it from Thomas Keller and wrote about it in his French Laundry Cookbook. Then I wrote about it again in Ruhlman’s Twenty because it’s such a versatile method. It’s very rich, so I only serve about 1/3 cup per person. This soup makes a great appetizer. (And a reminder: my partner in tools, Mac Dalton, suggested running a sale on our soup and serving spoons through this October.) Also, if you’re in Cincinnati tomorrow, come see me at Books by the Banks, where I’ll be signing my book, In Short Measures, a collection of novellas, reviewed today, happily, by Tara Laskowski. Have a great weekend, all. Sweet Bell Pepper Read On »

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