Guest post from My Girl Friday, who loves loves loves cookies—M.R. by Emilia Juocys December is here and it is time to bake cookies. It is not as easy of a task as one might think it is. I spend about two days thinking of the combination of cookies that I will be baking and presenting for Christmas. I review classic cookies that I make year round, seasonal cookies, and ones that take a bit longer to make. My labor of love are these cookies. The two dozen that make it in the box to share with friends, loved ones, and co-workers. This is my way to share my skill and love of baking with those around me. This year will be a more meaningful Christmas baking season since my mentor has passed. I Read On »

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  My pick for best food book of the year is Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal, a collection of thoughtful, elegantly written essays on food and cooking. Tamar, who has worked mainly for food magazines and has also done actual time on the line at Prune and Chez Panisse, opens the book with the rather preposterous, even arrogant claim of aspiring to the level of the doyenne of the form, MFK Fisher. As it turns out, it’s not so preposterous after all. She’s the real deal. I read the galleys of this book on a beach in Okracoke, NC, this summer and enjoyed every moment of this smart, thoughtful cook’s work. For those who like to read good writing on food, on cooking, on sharing food, both practical information on cooking and more thoughtful observations on the Read On »

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Cooking sous vide, wrapped food submerged in warm to hot water, is a relatively new form of cooking now available to home cooks. The method truly does allow for transforming food in ways previously not possible with such precision. The best example of what it can do is short ribs. Short ribs cooked at 140˚ F. for 48 hours results in medium rare to medium meat, still pink, but completely tender. Pork belly cooked for that same time, then chilled is ready to be seared crispy when you’re ready to serve it. Chicken thighs and duck legs the same. Not only does sous vide give you precise control of the internal temperature of meat and fish, it gives you the convenience of preparing food in advance, perfectly, so that it’s ready when you need it. Read On »

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When it comes to small great gifts, kitchen tools can’t be beat.  Items like the above Benriner mandoline, a tool you’ll find in just about every professional cook’s knife kit, is perfect. But there are many many ridiculous small brightly colored kitchen items out there tempting those who don’t cook with promises of ease and convenience . Last year my mom got me these pink silicone trussing bands —I do not recommend! This is the kind of stupid product that makes me crazy. But a great pepper mill, that’s something truly valuable—there are good ones and bad ones. Pugeot’s are excellent. This one from opensky is top of the line with an adjustable grind. The side towels I offer at opensky (there’s lots of great stuff in my kitchen collection there). Any of the products Mac Read On »

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This week’s posts will be devoted my personal kitchen tool gift guide, starting with the big guns. I got my first KitchenAid stand mixer 20 years ago as a Christmas gift from my mom’s boyfriend, Hap, and it was one of the best gifts I ever got. It’s the most used appliance in my kitchen. I’ve beaten the hell out of it, even flipped it off the countertop while trying to grind something particularly difficult. And it still runs. When Donna and I began doing photography for Twenty, we wanted something a little better to look at and so now use the above “Artisan” 5-quart model (linked to above). If you’re looking for that over-the-top gift for the one in your family who loves to cook, this can’t be beat. It’s what we tested all Read On »

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