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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I get green tomato pickles on my mind every time I walk past the tomatoes on the vine in my backyard these chilly days. I’ve been reading about pickles, too.  One of the best books I’ve found is Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling.  It’s not only thorough, it’s also very well written (I was hopeful from the beginning when I saw that the book opens with an epigraph from an excellent Salman Rushdie novel).  I liked also that she immediately simplifies the subject by saying there are basically two kinds of pickles, fermented pickles and vinegar pickles.  Fermented or natural pickles use a brine to encourage good bacteria to create the acidity.  Vinegar pickles can work faster and tend to have more of a sweet-sour profile, whereas the fermented pickles don’t rely on sugar Read On »

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I first heard of  Robert Danhi from my friend Michael Pardus, who teaches Asian cuisines at the Culinary Institute of America, who said I should check out his book Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore. Dahni, a long time chef currently in southern California, had self-published it, which used to mean not good enough for traditional publishers to take a gamble on (but not necessarily any more). This book went on to get a Beard nomination, and Pardus, an expert in the subject, said the information was solid. What I like about the book—as much a travel book as cookbook—is that Danhi goes out of his way to talk about technique and the hows and whys of cooking. Here, he talks about peanuts and how they differ Read On »

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How to brine chicken, quick chicken brine recipe—why do we need quick? Because usually when I realize I need to brine something it’s too late to make and cool the brine, and then go through the hours of brining. I always brine chickens that I intend to fry. Always. Well, almost always, sometimes, the urge comes too fast and powerfully even to do this, but normally I have at least four hours before I need to get the chicken floured and plunked into the fat. Here’s what I do when I need to brine fast . As I write in Ratio: The Simple Codes etc., my ideal brine is 5%. That means 50 grams of salt in a liter of water, 1 ounce of salt for every 20 ounces of water, or for those poor Read On »

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Chef Pardus blew through Cleveland a couple weeks ago, and with summer in full swing we had loads of little cukes on hand (we also did veal heart again, got it on video, stay tuned).  While there was much to do in getting dinner out (tongue salad with new potatoes, calves liver and onions, corn relish, cucumber sunomono, grilled foie gras (grilling foie takes some serious attention!), and the grilled heart with an herb shallot vinaigrette—Pardus found time to get my pickles on the cure.  Because of time constraints and other issues, he didn’t add aromatics.  What he did was make a 3% brine. I have for years been using a 5% brine for everything, pickles, chicken, pork, etc.  But this 3% worked great and I’m thinking that if you’re not going to be removing Read On »

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