Gratin. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Here is the classic potato gratin that I made at a makeshift studio during the first series of the Le Creuset demo videos. My daughter had come along to see lovely Charleston, look at the College of Charleston, and generally take in the scene, and the only comment when we returned to Cleveland was, “Why don’t you ever make that cheesy potato thing for us?” Nothing of course would have given me more pleasure, had I only thought to do it. Indeed, this is a dish so easy and delicious and do-ahead-able, it’s a shame I don’t make it monthly during these cold winter months. Simple indeed. Layer sliced potatoes in a dish, give them a good shot of salt and pepper and several scratchings of nutmeg, cover with half-and-half, and bake covered till tender. Read On »

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What are the most special things we can cook? I contend the most special preparations are not those that are most difficult, time-consuming, or use the most expensive ingredients, but rather the ones that result in food we can’t buy. I can make bread, and it’s really good, and fun to bake and fills the house with a great aroma.  But it’s not going to be as good as the baguettes I can buy at On the Rise bakery. A preparation such as mayonnaise, however, that’s different. You can’t buy mayonnaise that’s as good as mayonnaise you make. It doesn’t exist. Potato chips are another such food. I like Lays potato chips just as I like Helmann’s mayonnaise, and on a Saturday afternoon, if I want a quick sandwich and chips, I’m glad to have Read On »

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I’ve known of Dorie Greenspan for ages, author of numerous books, highly respected and well-liked in the food world, even has large group of blogs at Tuesdays with Dorie, dedicated to her book, Baking: From My Home To Yours.  But it wasn’t till last fall at a BlogHer gathering did I get to see for myself what a sweetheart she is. She looks like and reads just like who she is, a genuine cook and wonderful spritely soul. Last fall she published Around My French Table, an exquisite book of her favorite recipes (and a steal at $22 from Amazon—how do they do it?!). My dear friend Lee asked for and received this book for Christmas. When we had Lee and her husband Les over for that spatchcocked grilled turkey, Lee appeared with an hors d’oeuvres from Read On »

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Sweet potato chips beat potato chips by a mile.  I hadn’t cooked these in years, which is a real shame—so many missed opportunities for pleasure! Sweet potato chips are dense, flavorful, nutritious, and compulsively eatable. They all but jump into your hand without your being aware of it. I mean look at them.  Are they not a picture of fall’s beauty? They were to Donna, who, spotting them as I cut up the roasted chicken they accompanied and got off this quick hip shot before they cooled. So good, so easy. How to cook sweet potato chips (points of deep-fried root vegetable finesse): 1 pound/500 grams (or more) sweet potatoes, well-scrubbed and sliced a little under 1/8th of an inch, thin as a large coin. 1 quart/liter canola oil fine sea salt Use a big Read On »

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OK, things are starting to roll a little faster here.  Delighted this week to see peas in our CSA haul!  Still a helluva lot of lettuce (which, truth be told, my belly needs a little a more of).  We were a little disappointed in week three, when some of the lettuces had rotty ends, suggesting they’d been picked many days before.  Be critical and tell your CSA farmers if you’re not happy with the product.  Remember that just because they’re local farmers, doesn’t mean they’re perfect.  As with any craft, there is a range of quality of finished product, depending on how it’s grown and, critically, how it’s handled after it’s picked.  (A friend asked me recently what CSA stands for, so it bears repeating: community supported agriculture.) Usually the farmers are happy to try Read On »

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