I needed a dinner that was easy and delicious, would please everyone, one that also reheated well in case my daughter’s track meet ran late, and I had to be able to make it long before serving so it would be just a matter of reheating come dinnertime.  There are of course a thousand options that fit these criteria, but last week, I was in a nostalgic mood and thought back to school lunches, one of my favorites, macaroni and beef.  We were always famished by lunchtime and this dish was dependable and impossible to screw up by a 1970’s school kitchen. For a midweek meal I went as simple as could be.  The only way I’d change it, I decided would be to pile a monstrous amount of cheddar and mozzarella on top at Read On »

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As I mentioned today over in Huffington Post’s new food pages, I once used to purchase the Knorr powdered mix for Alfredo sauce.  This is almost like buying dehydrated water.  Fettuccine Alfredo is the world’s easiest cream sauce, and it’s also one of the best. In my opinion, the quality of the dish is dependent on the cheese, good Parmigiano-Reggiano.  If you don’t have that, make something else.  The traditional Italian Alfredo doesn’t use cream but I think the cream is essential for distributing the cheese.  I also feel that dried pasta is too heavy for this—this dish calls for fresh pasta.  Best to make it yourself, but good fresh pasta is available at most grocery stores now.  This dish comes together fast—the hardest part about it waiting for the water to boil. Fettucini Alfredo Read On »

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Yes, it was a vacation, but I’d offered to help out at benefits for University Hospitals (where I was born!) in Naples and Palm Beach by doing a short demo and getting on my soapbox about cooking for yourself in your house (or, in the case of Palm Beach, hiring somebody to do so; seriously, I honestly don’t care WHO is cooking, only that someone is cooking in the house). I normally hate doing demos.  It takes real skill, it’s a different form of cooking. But Derin Moore, a bonafide certified master chef (see Soul of a Chef!), executive chef at the Ritz Carlton hooked me up big time, had me completely and thoroughly prepped out with an ace sous chef, Justin Shoults, himself a protege of CMC and competition animal Hartmut Henke, to prevent Read On »

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I tried not to read Kim Severson’s New York Times article on the one-touch buttons on appliances at the International Home and Housewares show in Chicago.  You know the buttons that say “Cookies” on your toaster oven or the “Popcorn” button on your microwave that even ConAgra, maker of microwave popcorn, says you should not use.  My microwave, my toaster oven, they have these stupid, maddening, insulting, ridiculous, harmful buttons.  I hate them, but they’re unavoidable. I didn’t want to read Kim’s story—Electrolux oven has a “perfect turkey button,” put a turkey in, press a button, perfect turkey!—because I knew it would make … my … blood … BOIL! Hey!  Idiot manufacturers!  Cut it out!  The buttons don’t work—even your partners in food crime say so!  Worse, when they don’t work, you are telling your Read On »

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With the approach of St. Paddy’s day I got a brisket into the brine Friday, in time to make my wife the corned beef she loves. And I realized I’ve never blogged about it.  Everyone who cooks should corn their own beef.  It’s easy as brining a chicken. And when you make your own pickling spice (brine photo above, recipe below), you can really pump up the flavor. Any cut of beef can be “corned” (corn was originally a generic term for grain, deriving from the same root as kernel and grain; corning beef referred to curing beef with grains of salt, McGee, page 477, thanks to Patrick for his corrective comment).  But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available Read On »

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