By far the best meal of the summer was our crab boil during our week in Ocracoke.  And like many “best” meals, it was unplanned, a surprise, a gift we were smart enough to take advantage of.  Donna has pals from her native Port Washington, NY, who have houses here, one of whom owns a popular restaurant on this lovely barrier island off the coast of North Carolina (a ferry-ride away from Cape Hatteras). So she found us a swank house on the water where we and friends and Donna’s sister and nieces could frolic. In the grass beside the house was an old crab pot. In the house was my sun-averse pal Lester. In the fridge, was a beef heart. As the sun set, Lester lowered the trap, stuffed with beef heart trim, into the Read On »

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A few weeks ago, I made a full meal on the grill, grilled green beans, grilled vidalia onion, and some awesome grilled short ribs.  The following are three recipes, techniques really, for making barbecued beef short ribs, cooking them start to finish on the grill, pre-cooking them and finishing them on the grill, and cooking them sous vide and finishing them on the grill.  (If you don’t have a wood or charcoal grill, I really don’t recommend doing short ribs this way.) Use whatever your favorite barbecue sauce is, store bought or homemade. (I need to do a homemade barbecue sauce post! Anyone wants to make suggestions, feel free in comments.) I recommend the first method because it results in a deeply smokey flavor, and is a good excuse to hang out around the food and Read On »

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©photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman—see more at: Ruhlmanphotography.com When Donna found herself in NYC at the Ace Hotel last fall, she spent a couple nights in the Breslin kitchen watching executive chef April Bloomfield, Breslin chef de cuisine Peter Cho, and crew rock (that’s Peter and April top right). The trotter caught her eye.  It’s the perfect example of why this post could be called Why April Is Not the Cruelest Month But Rather the Best Porker, or simply Why We Love April.  The British chef takes a great Italian classic, a zampone, as she notes, breads it, fries it in olive oil and butter, and serves it as their “Pig’s Foot for 2.”  It’s the boned out trotter, stuffed with cotechino, a pork and pig skin farce.  Peter says it’s currently served with braised Read On »

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I’m finishing up answering copy-edit queries on the new book, my beliefs on the core techniques of cooking due out next fall from Chronicle, and also going over some last minute testing with the good folks at cookskorner.com. One of the recipes being tested is a Moroccan-style braised lamb shank using lemon confit and the blend of spices known as ras el hanout.  The testers asked, for those who weren’t able to find it in their town, should I include a recipe for it. The book is already running long and I’m not an expert on the subject, so I thought why not include a link to it rather than my own version?  Yes, but how do I know the online version I find will be any less spurious than mine? Go to an expert.  Read On »

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Flew out to southern California last week to be with one of Donna’s oldest and dearest, almost entirely beaching it, but found time for one great restaurant meal and one day exploring little Saigon south of LA with the extraordinary White On Rice Couple, Todd Porter and Diane Cu. Diane, born in Vietnam two years before the family fled in 1975, and Todd, a native of Oregon, are photographers, videographers, writers, cooks and gardeners.  I met them in Ixtapa last January and was immediately impressed with their energy and work, but I didn’t quite appreciate how fine these two souls were until they invited me and Donna and the kids into their home, gave us a tour of their truly remarkable garden, then took us on a culinary tour of Little Saigon, including a bahn Read On »

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