Food Lab_978-0-393-08108-4_frame

I typically get sent what must be hundreds of pounds of cookbooks in the fall and so have a fair idea of the landscape of new books. Owing to an uncommon amount of travel, I haven’t had the opportunity this year. But I was sent one book to blurb (“say nice things about”) that goes above and beyond any cookbook I’ve seen since Nathan Myrhvold and company’s Modernist Cuisine. That book is The Food Lab, by Kenji López-Alt, Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats, named for his cooking column there. That column first appeared in 2009. Over the next half-decade, this uber food geek tackled all kinds of cooking experiments to determine the very best way to cook, say, eggs. Kenji has combined knowledge gleaned over half a decade, reshaping it and putting all this knowledge, all this work, Read On »

Share
MR-xmas-books-@1020

I would of course be remiss in the eyes of my venerable publishers if I did not recommend my own books as being splendid gift ideas for the holidays. So herewith my not-so-humble descriptions of some of the books I’m most proud of. My favorite and most useful cookbook, especially for young cooks, home cooks who want to get better, or parents who want to help teach their kids to cook, is Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto. It identifies the twenty fundamental ideas, foods, and techniques required to cook just about anything. It won a James Beard Award in the general cooking category when it came out. The egg is a miracle of nutrition, economy, deliciousness, and utility. There may be no more valuable food to the cook. So I wrote a book Read On »

Share
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 »

Share
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 »

Share
photo-2

In May 2011, I traveled to my alma mater, Duke University in Durham, NC, to attend the memorial of my mentor, Reynolds Price. Returning to the school felt like returning to my youth there, where I’d pursued my dream of writing fiction, in Reynolds’s class and then beyond. I felt out of my body, seeing myself as I was then, my friends, my life there, and also all the selves I’d been in between, sometimes worse for wear, sometime better. Upon leaving Duke, I wrote two novels over the course of five years, neither of which sold and, despite Reynolds’s urgings to carry on, I gave up. I’d had such a powerful response to Reynolds’s memorial, though, to returning to that hallowed place, that I began to write an essay about it. But soon a voice from those Read On »

Share