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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A week’s vacation in West Palm—a week that concluded with blue skies, beach, pool food, fruity rum drinks—began with an unexpectedly fine lunch made by my dear, hard-working, fun-loving, enormously generous mum. We’d risen early, left gloomy Cleveland Heights in time to drop the dog off at Metrobarks, arrived at PBI, rented a stupid little Chevy that caused nothing but arguments until it became funny, and arrived at Mom’s by lunchtime.  She had glasses of cold white wine and the above meal waiting for us. It was such a lovely spread, Donna was immediately moved to take it out onto the sunny balcony for a couple quick snapshots with the Lumix. It’s a perfect example of how to put together a quick meal to share, most things done ahead, some bought, some made, all prepared Read On »

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Update 9/13/07: Chicago Tribune writer Kevin Pang and anonymous reviewer are first to review the dish. I personally will not rest until this dish makes it onto The Cheesecake Factory Menu. Yesterday I received a heartening email about my plea to rid the nation of the tragedy called the Chicken Caesar Salad and my suggestion for a protest replacement.  It wasn’t from an esoteric ADD freaking madman cook putting rooster tops on romaine.  It was a man of the heartland, a relative unknown, a cook who’s spent a plenty of time in corporate chefdom.  His name is Mark Mavrantonis and he’s the chef at Mike Ditka’s suburban outpost in Oakbrook Terrace, a half hour outside Chicago.  (You gotta trust a chef who goes after his own king crabs.) It’s proof that some of these guys Read On »

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