Peternell-12

I want to call attention to a cookbook after my own heart, a cookbook that seeks to encourage and teach the few fundamental ideas on which all cooking is based. It’s called Twelve Recipes by Chez Panisse chef Cal Peternell, and it came into being out of the love of a father for his sons. Peternell, on returning from a family trip to Europe, wondered why more cooking wasn’t done at home, notably and especially by his fellow chefs. He understands: fatigue, time, the desire to see new restaurants. But he also knew this: “The ancient acts of gathering foods, cooking them, and then coming together to eat are as profound as any that we do, and as pleasurable.… I consider cooking and eating with my family my best skill.” Yet he’d failed to teach his Read On »

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Key-Sunset-Cocktail

(Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman) In one week I’ll be in quirky, decadent Key West on my annual boondoggle cooking for my cousin, Rob, and the crew of Spaceman Spiff. Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour gathering pots and pans, two big cutting boards, a giant cast iron skillet, Lexan tub and circulator, flat-edged wood spoons, side towels, knives, all of which are loaded onto the boat trailer that’s now on the road south. My iPhone says it’s 77 degrees and sunny. Here in Cleveland it’s 18 degrees. Yesterday when I woke it was -2. Tomorrow’s high here will be 16 degrees. Needless to say I am not disappointed that I’ll spend nine afternoons cooking for the sailing droogs, with mornings poolside to get some writing work done. And looking forward so much I intend to Read On »

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small-chicken-stock-x3

My mom traveled to the crazy garment district in New York for her work when I was a copyboy at the New York Times, five blocks north. I remember once she took me to lunch and ordered a Bull Shot. When I asked, she told me beef broth and vodka. Which sounded whack. But tasted nourishing on that winter day. Julia Moskin’s excellent piece in the Times on stock and broth made me think of that day. At last, stock/broth is being appreciated in its own right. (But it’s not a “trend beverage” as Moskin calls it—I guess she had to justify a story on one of the oldest, most fundamental preparations in the kitchen; “trend beverage,” Jesus. But I’ll take it, and thank you Julia!). Yes, it is delicious sipped from a mug! You can feel how Read On »

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Hoping-John-lead

Happy New Year’s Eve day! Every first of the new year I make a big pot of hoppin’ john—and re-post this recipe—black-eyed peas and some kind of cured pork, yes for good luck, but mainly because black-eyed peas are an underappreciated treasure. Nutritious and earthy and economical and deeply satisfying as frigid weather pushes down on us and we look out at the horizon of winter with no May in sight. David Tanis wrote a good piece on black-eyed peas in the Times and their ancient history. He adds greens (symbol of cash) and suggests serving with cornbread (symbol of gold). But I like it humble, without hope or fear: bacon is the cured pork, tomatoes and onions for flavor, and beans beans beans. Wishing all a healthy and fruitful new year.   Hoppin’ John 1 pound Read On »

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Paddlefish-@1020

  My dear friend Annie LaGravanese sent us a whopping big tin of paddlefish caviar (from Paramount Caviar). Paddlefish are native to the Mississippi basin and offer great roe. Caviar and hen eggs go great together. Throw in a little fat and something crunchy and you have a great bite. It’s definitely a luxury item, but at this time of year when we do a lot of entertaining, it’s worth it (especially when you have a friend like Ann!). And this pie goes a long way. It made a great hors d’oeuvre on Christmas Eve for a family of twelve. We then brought it to a friend’s dinner party three days later where it did the same, accompanied by some generous champagne from one of the guests (the preferred accompanying beverage). And yesterday, Donna and I Read On »

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