Funny.  The recipes people are pulled toward, desire, crave, are the most basic. Like Onion soup. Part of why I love people’s hunger for basic food is because there’s so much to learn from the simplest dishes. This recipe is from the new book, Ruhlman’s Twenty.  The new book attempts to distill cooking down to 20 fundamental techniques. Two of the techniques are not verbs but rather nouns: water and onion—two of the most powerful ingredients in your kitchen, rarely given the reverence they deserve. The soup deserves this high praise not only because it’s delicious and satisfying, but because it was borne out of economy. This is a peasant soup, made from onions, a scrap of old bread, some grated cheese, and water. Season with salt and whatever wine is on hand or some Read On »

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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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