December is the month for making brioche at home. It’s the great holiday bread.  Though calling it bread doesn’t do it justice.  Good brioche is like a cross between bread and cake.  Hell, it’s really cake sneaking in as bread. Nothing better on Christmas morning. It’s a celebratory bread—rich with butter and eggs.  Toast it and eat it with butter. Toast it and eat it with foie gras. It makes extraordinary and delicate croutons.  Nothing makes better French toast.  And it’s fabulous on its own, straight out of the oven. I made it once for my daughter Addison.  When she asked for a repeat performance, I wrote the below recipe so that she could make it on her own. She first made it when she was eleven, four years ago, and she still makes it Read On »

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We live in a time of unprecedented interest in, and care for, food and all the issues that surround its growing, harvesting, purveyance, and its cooking.  This interest happened because we were on the brink of losing good food altogether, with farmers disappearing and the masses abandoning the kitchen, handing over our farming to Monsanto and giving our most fundamental and exclusively human act, cooking, over to the ConAgras and McDonalds.  (ConAgra, one of our biggest food processors, is that name a joke on us?! Con, against, Agra, agriculuture—against agriculture! At least they’re open about it!) We only become reflective about something we’d previously taken for granted when it becomes imperiled. I’m not saying that rampant diabetes in teenagers, epidemic obesity, social fragmentation and alienation, nitrogen runoff in our rivers and oceans, oceans increasingly depleted Read On »

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Christmas, 1992, my mom’s beau, an avid cook with whom I shared many happy hours in the kitchen, gave me a KitchenAid standing mixer.  It quickly became and remains my most relied upon countertop appliance.  I use it for mixing all kinds of dough, whipping meringue, making big batches of pate a choux, and, when I joined forces with Brian Polcyn to write a book about sausages and other forms of food economy and preservation, to grind meat (via the grinder attachment) and to mix the meat afterward (more this later).  It was one of the best and most useful gifts I’ve received ever. Christmas is a time when we indulge the people we love with gifts they wouldn’t be able to afford or to justify buying on their own.  For those of you who Read On »

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If you’re making Thanksgiving dinner next Thursday and want delicious turkey gravy, make a small batch of easy turkey stock this weekend.  If you have delicious stock on hand, gravy is just a little roux away.  We’ll have ten at the table this year and I’m making a batch of stock this weekend from the above legs and wings. It’s simple: Roast them till they’re good enough to eat, then try to eat as little as possible before you put them in a pot and bring the water to a simmer.  As soon as it’s at a simmer, put the pot in a 200 degree oven for 8 hours or so (the longer the better—because of some timing issues mine went 16, so I added a little more water).  Then, add sliced onion, chopped carrot, Read On »

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