Ina Garten and I had such a good time on stage at Playhouse Square in Cleveland last year, she’s asked me to join her tomorrow for a similar show at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh (details here). Garten is the brain and heart behind what has become an adored brand. And such is the subject of our talk, business and brands, as well as food and cooking. (Though ask me in the comments field below if there’s something specific you’d like me to address.) She, like me, is something of an accident—that is, Garten never set out to do what she is doing. She knew by age thirty that she didn’t want to be entombed as a policy wonk in D.C., so she put a low-bid offer on a prepared foods store in the Hamptons Read On »

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Tuesday or Wednesday is usually soup day here, as it was last week when Donna’s sister, Regina, was here for Cakes 101, to teach me cake basics and all about the creams and curds that fill a cake and give it flavor. I wanted to be able to show what a proper cake could look like in the book we’re currently working on, and as Regina bakes wedding and special-occasion cakes in the Hudson Valley, we brought her in for a working visit. We spend Thanksgiving with Donna’s family in Germantown, NY, and last year Regina had two big pots of soup on the stove as the family converged on the house, one of which was so beloved by my daughter that I asked Regina to make it while she was here. She asked only Read On »

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Carri Thurman, baker and chef at Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, asked to write about soup after what I can only say is a soup moment. It’s also a glimpse of a busy bakery and kitchen (and two delicious recipes for tomato soup and a seafood soup). —M.R. The Magic of Soup by Carri Thurman I arrive at the bakery at 10 a.m to begin my day working the lunch and dinner kitchen shifts. As I get out of my car, the roar of the waves breaking on the beach next door fills my ears and the stinging odor of salt water assaults my nose. As I get closer to the building the fishy smell of the ocean mingles with that of sweet warm sticky buns tinged with ham Danish that has been left in the toaster Read On »

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Tomorrow night at Playhouse Square, I’ll be hosting Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, the brain and heart behind what has become an adored brand. And such is the subject of our talk, business and brands, as well as food and cooking. She, like me, is something of an accident—that is, Garten never set out to do what she is doing. She knew by age thirty that she didn’t want to be entombed as a policy wonk in D.C., so she put a low-bid offer on a prepared foods store in the Hamptons and got it. It had a felicitous name, which she kept, and with absolutely no training, she built it into a solid business, eventually branching out into catering. In 1996, after 18 years, she was ready to move on. More or less as Read On »

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  Donna wanted to change the banner photo on my Facebook page and it got so many likes and comments that I knew it clearly struck a wintery warmth chord in dreary March. I’ve posted this before and here it is again from, Ruhlman’s Twenty, which looks at 20 key concepts that underlie all of cooking. This key concept is water. This onion soup requires nothing but onions and water for the soup part. Plan ahead when making the soup because the onions take a long time to cook down, from a few hours to as many as five if you keep the heat very low, though you need to pay attention only at the beginning and the end. Before the onions caramelize, they’ll release copious amounts of water (be sure to taste this liquid!), which Read On »

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