Was it two years ago? Three? Donna and I had people over on New Year’s Day and an old high school friend, Mac Dalton, said, “Michael, I gotta show you what I do. I make things. What do you want to make?” “This,” I said, standing at my stove, and held up a spoon I’d awkwardly bent for basting. “I can make that,” he said. And he did. Chef Jonathon Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern picked it this year as one of his holiday gift ideas for Food & Wine. I love these spoons. They’re elegant just to have in your hand. We immediately started to make more useful kitchen tools. Here’s our whole catalogue, available on my site. Another thing happened. I’d partnered with OpenSky, an Internet commerce site that finds really cool products, sends Read On »

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  Kitchen tools need not be expensive to be valuable. The above Benriner mandoline is one of my most valued kitchen tools for uniform slicing, julienning, and making brunoise (a julienne turned into a dice). By far my most valuable electric device in my kitchen is the hand blender—I use Braun that seems to be unavailable, but I bought this Cuisinart version for my mom  ($47) and it works well—these devices all do the job of pureeing soups and sauces, easy whisking, quick mayonnaise, and I make vinaigrettes in the cup attachment, which will even emulsify a great Caesar dressing will pureeing the garlic. Every kitchen needs a scale, the most reliable way of measuring, especially if you’re baking (which is why more cookbooks are including, if not leading with, metric weights, as does the ground-breaking Bouchon Bakery cookbook—another Read On »

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It’s time again for my picks for the big-ticket items, those expensive appliances and pots that are game changers, but real investments. I’ve just started a relationship with Le Creuset, the company that makes the best enameled cast-iron cookware on earth. My go-to pot is the 7-quart Dutch Oven (they’re made in France and the company wants me to call them French ovens, which I find interesting since there really should no longer be a nationality attached to the thing; my preferred name for this one is “My Favorite Pot”). It’s what I bought my beloved Dad long ago; now, sadly, I have two of them. My other favorite is the braiser, the everyday pot in which you can cook just about anything. (Here’s one of the videos we did, where I use this pot Read On »

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I’m going to devote the next several days to my top picks for holiday shopping for kitchen tools, as I did last year. I’ll have a day for big-ticket items, lower-priced tools, and my favorite cookbooks of the season. I’m starting with my favorite tools that OpenSky has sourced for me—first, the higher-priced items and then lower-priced items, and concluding with my top pick for every kitchen on my or anyone’s Opensky page. The above Fagor induction burner is killer for so many reasons. It gets pans really hot really fast really efficiently. It’s portable so you can use it anywhere that there’s an outlet. We used it last night in the dining room to keep the gravy hot.  It’s a great extra burner for big cooking days and it’s perfect for tiny kitchens or Read On »

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We’re back with another cooking lesson and Le Creuset giveaway! This time with my favorite cooking method: braising. Why is it my favorite? Because it so definitively expresses what real cooking is: transformation. Great cooking is about transforming something that would be unpleasant to eat into something exquisite. In my view, grilling a steak is not cooking, it’s heating. That’s not to diminish grilling steaks—one of my favorite activities and foods to eat. It can be done well or poorly, but it doesn’t transform food, which is what truly inspires me in the kitchen. To transform pork shoulder into a sausage is cooking. Whether caramelizing onions to develop their sweetness or toasting seasonings in a pan to grind and create a curry, that’s cooking. And braising, transforming tough cuts of meat into meltingly tender mouthfuls of Read On »

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