Meringue, whipped with sugar, binds nuts and dried fruit/photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman

  I’m doing a lot of interviews regarding my new book, Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient, and one question is persistent: What did I uncover that surprised me about the egg? I was surprised—very surprised—once, and that was when I began to write about meringue. The proteins that make up the egg white have the remarkable capacity to unwind and form a kind of mesh that traps air bubbles. Once it begins to trap infinitesimal and countless bubbles, the white expands to five or more times its initial volume, becoming completely opaque and about as white as anything one can imagine. The above photo is of nougat, a French confection of egg whites and sugar, that bind a combination of nuts and fruit (photo by Donna, of course). It’s chewy. Read On »

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san fran

I’m writing this from Portland but headed to San Fran for the Egg events below. Hoping to sneak out to Sausalito to meet the extraordinary Deborah Jones, photog of all French Laundry books and an angel on earth—one of the great luxuries of a book tour, seeing cherished friends. I emailed Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti), hoping to see her as well. Stephanie writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, is also from Little, Brown, and it’s superb, the best one I’ve seen, in fact—accept no imitations! I asked her for SF food recs, and this is what she sent—well worth sharing (though Steph, I hear Hog Island closed for remodeling or something, damn!)—M.R. Dispatch from Stephanie Stiavetti If you’ve got time to head down to the Ferry Building, Hog Island Read On »

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Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient. It honestly did come to me in something like a flash, or a series of small idea explosions, one leading to another to another until the entire landscape went up in flames. The whole of the egg, a miracle of nutrition, economy, utility, and deliciousness, came to me as a single image. All one thing. In this euphoria of eureka, I called out to Donna to help me capture it. Within the hour we had a complete flowchart of the egg on five feet of parchment paper, a document that served as the proposal for this book (and that its publisher, Little, Brown, has not only recreated and tucked into the back of the book, but made interactive in the astonishing electronic version). I will Read On »

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denise-sakaki_9428

When I published Boys Themselves in 1996, I was discombobulated from all the unfamiliar stuff of interviews and the weird business of promotion, and I told my wonderful agent this, who said, “Of course you are, you’re publishing a book!” It hadn’t occurred to me that publishing a books was like … well, what is it like? You’re walking along a calm shady street, all’s right with the world, and then someone you kind of know pulls you into a carnival funhouse. And it is fun, a lot of fun, you meet new folks and interesting people ask you good questions about things that are really important to you. But it’s also disorienting and you come out the back door looking kind of like a tattered Gilligan. Or so it seems. Today, in support of 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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