It is time again to bring out The Chicken-Fried Pork Belly Salad, which I created in August 2007 in the midst of my fury at the chief icon of American restaurant food: The Chicken Caesar.  Today’s post was sparked by Sam Sifton’s NYTimes magazine column on the Caesar salad, which addresses the fact that few dishes are truly authentic, and he uses the Caesar salad as an example. For me putting a chicken breast on a perfectly good Caesar is an emblem of American mediocrity, a lack of imagination, and our fear of food (The Shame of the Chicken Caesar Salad). But Sifton, while he makes the unconscionable error of failing to include my Chicken Fried Pork Belly Casear in his list of famous variations, does us a service by telling us a freeing truth: Read On »

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How-to-make-pasta instructions almost always include putting flour on your counter or board, forming a well and cracking your eggs into the well.  I almost always wind up with egg white on my shoe when I do this.  It only dawned on me while working on the pasta dough ratio for Ratio that this well method was completely unnecessary and that I would never have to wipe egg white off my shoe again.  The dough is thoroughly mixed and kneaded till smooth so how you incorporate the eggs isn’t critical. I imagine the original reason for the well method was that it saved on cleaning a bowl, but I would rather clean a bowl than my shoe and floor.  The well method is romantic, encouraging a measure-by-eye attitude and evoking images of an Italian grandma in Read On »

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Regular readers know I’m a veal stock evangelist. Veal stock is one of those magical ingredients that can transform a mediocre cook into an ohmyfuckinggodthisfoodisamazing cook. Really, it’s that powerful. My first piece for Gourmet magazine was about veal stock. My veal stock recipe is in the Gourmet cookbook. In Elements of Cooking, a 242-page book about food and cooking, there is but a single recipe: veal stock. I once asked Jacques Pepin about veal stock and he said he didn’t much make it. Ingredients weren’t at his store in Connecticut.  I found this amazing, until I realized something important!  It was Jacques Pepin!  He doesn’t NEED veal stock.  He could probably make Miracle Whip taste good. But for the rest of us?  Slipping a little veal stock into our food has the same effect Read On »

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Biscotti is the perfect accompaniment mid-morning when I’m into my fifth or sixth cup of coffee.  I drink coffee all morning long and I’m able to do so because I don’t use one of those horrible drip machines, but rather what I think of as my personal 1956 Lincoln Continental of a coffee machine. The problem has always been that I’ve never really liked biscotti.  Maybe because I’ve only ever had the stuff that comes in a gift basket from Gallucci’s (a store I adore).  Or the one time I tried to make it myself.  It was rock hard and tasteless, so I figured I’d done a perfect job. But a while back, someone asked for a biscotti recipe, perhaps even a ratio.  My able colleague Emilia Juocys was intrigued and so recently set to Read On »

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A multigrain bread recipe will open the new year for a reason.  Will Turnage (aka @wubbahed), Donna and I finished and submitted to Apple last week a bread baking app for iPad.  It’s time finally to act on a fascinating email I got from a baker in North Carolina about bagel making.  And Shuna privately but with her own inimitable force and clarity begged to differ on my take on English Muffins.  And just yesterday a reader emailed, pleading for a good all-purpose gluten-free bread recipe. So it’s now officially bread baking month here, when the cold and early darkness are subdued by a hot heart and hands-on kitchen work.  (And yes, kneading should be a part of the process—it’s part of the goodness of bread, mediation through kneading. It’s also fun.)  The holidays are Read On »

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