Among the books that caught my eye this season, two of the most lovely are The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen and The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen. I’m biased on the Midwestern book, as it’s my home turf, but the Minnesotan Thielen, who logged serious years as a cook and chef at some of the best restaurants in Manhattan until she began a family, brings new life to recipes that are so at home in this part of America, dishes featuring our lake fish and our abundant venison, and vibrant takes on pot roasts and meat pies, recipes from simple salads to more elaborate preparations for headcheese and red current jelly. The publisher sent me an extra copy—it will be a GIVEAWAY to a commenter, just name your favorite cookbook (other Read On »

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Just a quick reminder that I sign and personalize all my books on request. Just go to my books page, scroll to what you want, and click the “Buy a signed copy” button. We can guarantee before-Xmas arrival only if you order by the end of the day Monday, December 16. In the spirit of the holidays, and because I hate shipping charges, I am now offering FREE SHIPPING. But please, and this is really important, tell me who you want the book signed to by clicking the WHAT THE NOTE INCLUDED SHOULD SAY button before you hit the “pay now” button. Also, I’d like to GIVE AWAY a signed copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty AND The Book of Schmaltz to the first person who can guess my favorite 5-digit number. [Update: The winner was Melissa Fujimoto, Read On »

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I stopped stuffing our Thanksgiving turkey reluctantly, as the stuffing was always my favorite part of the meal when Grandma Spamer made it. But my goal became a perfectly cooked bird, and you can’t cook a turkey perfectly if it’s stuffed. So now I make what we must refer to as dressing, no matter what Mario says (“That’s what you put on a salad.”). Dressing denotes that it’s stuffing cooked in a pan. And it can still be the very best part of the meal! Thanks to a versatile ratio, it’s a no brainer. Dressing, and there are infinite variations, is little more than a savory bread pudding. To make a great dressing you make the liquid a custard, the ratio for which is 2 parts liquid and 1 part egg, here 24 ounces stock Read On »

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I am at the Chefs Collaborative in Charleston, about which I will write more. So in light of the new book Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I’m reposting what has become one of the most clicked-on posts on this site. That it is a mac and cheese variation speaks to the fact of how beloved it is. Needless to say, raise the quality of your cheese and you make this dish stellar. I needed a dinner that was easy and delicious, would please everyone, one that also reheated well in case my daughter’s track meet ran late, and I had to be able to make it long before serving so it would be just a matter of reheating come dinnertime. There are of course a thousand options that fit these criteria, but last week, Read On »

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  My friends Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes  The Culinary Life blog, and Garrett McCord, who writes the blog Vanilla Garlic, are publishing their very first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, on that all-but-infallible pairing of pasta and cheese. When they asked me to write the foreword, I groaned. This is exactly the kind of cookbook we don’t need more of, I thought to myself. But then I read it, and thought this is exactly the kind of cookbook we need, this nation that has so readily accepted orange flavoring packets to stir into their food. Stephanie and Garrett attempt to raise this often thoughtlessly prepared dish to its highest possible level by asking us to take more care with it, to use excellent pasta and excellent cheese. This is not only a book filled with Read On »

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