It’s been a long day of wrapping and cooking in preparation for Christmas, amazingly stress free because of my amazing wife and colleague Donna. Her photo above is something of a self-portrait of us on the Christmas tree. Mom and James made cookies and I made our annual Addison’s Brioche.  Mom wants to use it to make sticky buns so we’ll fill some muffin pans with brown sugar, butter and pecans, top each with the brioche and refrigerate till tomorrow morning. It’s become a tradition. As has the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas before bed. Traditions are powerful indeed. The day has also been occasion to think about how lucky I am, for Donna, for Donna’s work, for the health of my children, on this bountiful holiday. I miss my dad who was Read On »

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Marlene Newell, who runs an excellent cooking forum called CooksKorner tested all the recipes for Ratio and Twenty. She’s a friend and excellent cook. One of her passions is Yorkshire pudding, in effect, a savory popover, which is how she bakes them (as above). I, too, make roast beef for Christmans dinner and Yorkshire pudding. I believe it’s critical to cook it in beef fat, for flavor, so I buy and render suet for this purpose. I’ve also poured the batter straight into the roasting pan which works great so long as there are no burnt bits (the pudding ripples and puffs like crazy; I then cut it to serve). I imagine the roasting pan method was how it would have originated, the batter cooking in the fat and meat juices in the roasting pan. Read On »

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Food waste cost about $100 billion in the USA, one must be aware of this situation, via the Atlantic.

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One of hard things about writing books is that they are in constant flux and then they are permanent. Thanks to the organic nature of blogs, I can make amends. When I was at the Culinary Institute of America, one of my best and favorite teachers was Eve Felder, who taught Garde Manger. She was the Cheshire Cat of chefs, perched high on stacked stools, who taught us that “Cooking is alchemy, cooking is magic!” And she was right. Righter than I knew, in fact. I’m heading to her native city, Charleston, South Carolina, and so she’s been on my mind. When I wanted to do a butter-poached shrimp for Ruhlman’s Twenty, I naturally wanted to pair it with grits. Who did I call for grits finesse points? Chef Felder. In the editing process of Read On »

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I did two promotional videos for my new book, one a general description of the book (love that that one has a shot of Donna photographing, and one about an idea I thought people might call me out on. Even my recipe tester/organizer/overseer, Marlene Newell, had issues with this. Can food be a technique? I say it can. A technique is an action that has multiple applications. So while yes, an egg is an egg, it’s also an emulsifier, a leavener, a binder, and enricher. Therefore using an egg can be considered a core cooking technique. Knowing how to use salt, is one of the chef’s greatest assets. Learning how to think about these foods as tools makes you a better cook. Disagree? I’ve heard some gripes but nothing substantial. I’d love to read comments. Read On »

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