Yet again finishing up a manuscript with mayonnaise on my mind, and I always think of Donna’s lovely images, captured when spring light was coming through our kitchen window. I could look at these forever (and now, as I couldn’t five years ago, I can post them to Twitter). Thanks, Donna! And remember, the emulsion is less about the yolk than about the liquid. Originally posted on May 21, 2008 Finishing up the revisions of a manuscript and going over some fat-based sauces has returned me to the mayonnaise. Like the popover, it’s the story of a great transformation. Yolk, lemon juice, salt, and oil. There simply isn’t anything like it when you make it yourself—you can’t buy this stuff. But I’ll bet you have everything you need to make it right now. I’ll include a Read On »

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This blast of arctic air and wind and snow and gray has me longing for the lovely afternoons and evenings of the Key West I left a week ago. Nine full days there, writing, cooking, carousing with the sailing droogs. Sigh. So, to cheer myself, I made some Key Lime Daiquiris—proper daiquiris, with nothing but rum, citrus, and simple syrup. The frozen daiquiri and the frozen margarita are yet more travesties America has made of previously fine libations. I think I was in my thirties when I learned that a daiquiri wasn’t a slushie with alcohol. So I fight off these, the worst weeks of the year, with memories of Key West, rum, and Key limes (and thanks to you, Rob and Ab!). Yes, that’s blue Ohio winter in the background of Donna’s shot, but Read On »

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A year ago, my neighbor, Lois Baron, said she had to leave a party early to make schmaltz, as the High Holy days of the Jewish year approached and she was the cook in the family. Long having wanted to explore this oft-maligned fat, I asked for Lois’s help in understanding its history and use. (Almost everyone refers to it as “heart attack food,” but it’s not. It’s good for you! In moderation. Lois is in her 70s and cooks like a banshee, her husband Russell is in his 80s and still practices law, and Lois’s mom cooked schmaltz well into her 90s, though she wouldn’t admit it.) Schmaltz, rendered chicken fat flavored with onion, was such an odd topic, and so focused, it didn’t seem like a big-book idea, so Donna encouraged me to Read On »

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  I’m giving my site over today to my friend Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes The Culinary Life blog, and whose first book, Melt, will be published next year by Little, Brown. Here she focuses on cinnamon at a time of the year when the smell of cinnamon announces the celebratory nature of the month and soothes stress. It’s true, the smell of cinnamon bread baking makes for a better mood around the house. A note about yeast and temperatures—many novice bakers get in a fluff about it. Fresh? Active dry? Instant dry? What’s it all mean? I’m not going to go into it because it’s boring—use dry, it doesn’t matter what kind (I recommend Red Star or SAF, same company). You don’t need to be obsessive about the temperature of the liquid. This recipe will Read On »

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  It’s Thursday as I write this, a week before Thanksgiving. This year we’re driving to the Hudson Valley to celebrate with Donna’s big and growing family—something like 21 adults, a few teenagers, and a few youngsters. Donna volunteered me for the gravy because, well, let’s face it, gravy is a no-brainer and will travel well. (Recipes for stock and Friday Cocktail below.) A no-brainer if you make excellent turkey stock now! I’ll be doubling or tripling the below recipe this year. Today, I’ll be roasting drumsticks, wings, and necks. (I read on Wednesday in the Times that the venerable Jacques Pépin picks the meat off the neck of the turkey and adds it to the gravy. I might try that this year.) Roasting them will give your stock a nice flavor. All that golden brown Read On »

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