The herb garden has gone wild from the heat and rain showers. It’s bursting with more herbs than I can handle or possibly use.  It’s like an herb party with too many rowdy guest showing up.  So now is exactly the time to start cutting them back and letting them dry for winter cooking.  This will both begin the supply of dried herbs and also encourage more growth during the next weeks of summer.  Herbs are roughly divided into two categories, “hard” and “soft.”  The soft herbs are herbs with soft stems, such as parsley and tarragon. The soft herbs are best used fresh; they’re fine dried, but they lose their magic, all the beguiling qualities that make them so powerful a la minute. The hard herbs, those herbs that when allowed to grow develop Read On »

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Thomas Keller shares his kitchen hints on salt, brines and a few recipes in the LA Times new monthly column called Master Class, via LA Times.

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First, I love love love all these suggestions from the Veal Stock Contest post.  There were great drinks, including jello shots. I love the Bloody Mary with diced demi cubes (see below).  The above is the cocktail is a meal; veal stock gives it body and umami and nutrition: 1 ounce tomato juice 1 ounce veal stock, 2 ounces of gin (or OYO vodka), 1/2 teaspoon horseradish, shot of Worchestershire Sauce, lemon juice garnished with scallion, and garnished with the overall winner: Veal Salt! Veal Salt is my personal pick of favorite veal stock innovations, offered by Josh Kantor, a 21-year-old senior economics at Occidental College in Los Angeles and part-time garde manger at Hatfield’s Restaurant.  It makes everything taste better.  I’m not usually a fan of flavored salts, but this salt puts veal stock’s Read On »

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Dried beans and salt. Dried beans and soaking.  Ask some chefs and they’ll tell you add salt in the beginning and the beans will never get soft.  Some chefs have suggested that salt slows the rehydration of beans.  Others say, the slower the rehydration, the better the finished bean (fewer broken ones), so it’s important to soak them overnight.  Others say it doesn’t really matter, or it depends.  One thing that is demonstrably true is that you don’t have to soak your beans overnight; if you want beans for dinner, put them in water and cook them till they’re tender or at least edible, no soaking, no blanching, just put them in a pot and cook them. Wanting to get to the bottom of this, though, and having little scientific knowledge of bean cookery myself, Read On »

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How to brine chicken, quick chicken brine recipe—why do we need quick? Because usually when I realize I need to brine something it’s too late to make and cool the brine, and then go through the hours of brining. I always brine chickens that I intend to fry. Always. Well, almost always, sometimes, the urge comes too fast and powerfully even to do this, but normally I have at least four hours before I need to get the chicken floured and plunked into the fat. Here’s what I do when I need to brine fast . As I write in Ratio: The Simple Codes etc., my ideal brine is 5%. That means 50 grams of salt in a liter of water, 1 ounce of salt for every 20 ounces of water, or for those poor Read On »

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