[Please note additional thoughts following comments here and on Twitter] Elise emailed a couple weeks ago to ask if I’d posted on Hollandaise.  She’d posted the blender version, first popularized by Craig Claiborne in the 1970s in The New York Times, and wanted to link for contrast to an old-school version.  The blender version is unquestionably a no-brainer and results in a delicious Hollandaise-style sauce, a lemony yolky butter, thin enough to pour. A classical French Hollandaise sauce is an emulsified butter sauce that is almost like a mayonnaise, nearly that thick, and, as I was taught it, includes an additional flavoring step, a vinegar reduction.  It’s considered difficult and temperamental but it’s neither, as long as you pay attention and don’t let it know that you’re afraid of it.  Emulsified butter sauces can sense Read On »

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Finally!  The Elements of Cooking, my guide to the language of the kitchen, has been published in the form it was meant to be in—paperback, an edition affordable for students (just $10 from Amazon), light and bendable for stuffing into backpacks or knife kits.  Eric Ripert, chef-owner of the 4-star restaurant, Le Bernardin, calls it “simply the best reference book and educational tool available for anyone interested in the basics of the culinary arts.” I’ve always felt this was a required resource for all young cooks or new cooks, except for its hardcover price tag. Wonderful Scribner and the visionary editor Beth Wareham, have now changed that. Sam Sifton, NYTimes restaurant critic, said this about the book in the The NYTimes Book Review: A deeply opinionated rundown of the essential knowledge all cooks and food Read On »

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Our last night in Florida, my mom, having no real plans for dinner, thawed a pork tenderloin she’d been wanting but was in a quandary how to cook it. I find pork tenderloin a little on the ho-hum side, but a marinade 0f some kind would help it considerably. Marinades can be a contentious subject, especially when you include something acidic, vinegar or citrus juice.  Marinades do not tenderize meat.  I almost never include acid in a marinade because it “cooks” the exterior of the meat (in a good way if you’re making the ceviche below).  If I want something acidic with the meat, I add it just before or during the cooking.  Nor do marinades penetrate the meat, not to any real effect.  If I want flavors to penetrate meat I use salt or 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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Have had butter on my mind for the past two weeks (I often have butter on my mind, but it’s been acute recently), and when my thoughts turned to Indian food the combination resulted in the desire to make ghee.  Ghee, the Indian version of clarified butter, is traditionally made with cultured butter that’s cooked till it’s lightly browned.  In the mood to experiment I thought I’d try doing it myself.  I wanted to know what it really tasted like.  And I wanted to know what genuine buttermilk tasted like. As we are a cowless family, I bought a pint of organic cream and used some of my yogurt culture.  The cream thickened and took on a gentle acidity in a day.  I then hammered it in the food processor, dumped it into a cloth-lined Read On »

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