In preparation for Thanksgiving, America’s biggest home-cooking day, I’ll be addressing a few of the most common issues and frequently asked questions about the basics: roasting turkey and making gravy. Friday, I’ll be introducing an innovate and  in my opinion the best possible way to roast a whole turkey (it involves a dual method and resulted last year in Donna’s saying, “This is the best roasted turkey we’ve ever had.”) But first things first: make turkey stock now so that you have it on hand to make gravy. I don’t know where we got the idea that a roasting turkey results enough juices to make gravy. It doesn’t. And you certainly want to have way too much gravy on Thanksgiving so that you have leftovers. My favorite day-after meal is hot turkey sandwiches, smothered in Read On »

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Chefs Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp, among the growing legions who are making our food better and helping us to appreciate it more, call their moveable feast Sunday Dinner Club because it evoked a time when their families shared a long meal together.  Sharing meals with the people you love is far more important than I’d ever realized, a fact that deepens the more I cook, read, and listen to other cooks, both home cooks and professionals.  I love that spirit. Sunday Dinner Club is an unusual Chicago-based business created in 2004.  What the chefs do is host dinner parties in their home and invite people on their mailing list to attend. The mailing list has been cultivated over the last six years by referral only which means that everyone that comes to the dinner club Read On »

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Corn is in and with the hot weather, there’s no better way to cook corn than to grill it. People have asked me what’s the best way to do it? There are two basic ways, depending on what you’re after. Corn today is so sweet and tender, it only needs to be heated through, so your decision is really one about types of heat to use, high direct heat, which will brown the corn giving it a grilled flavor, or low temperature, steamed within its wet husk. I like both and the above corn which we ate after a day at the beach (sigh), used a little of both. I love the appearance because it tells you how it was cooked.  If I want a really smoke roasted caramelized flavor, I’d shuck the corn and Read On »

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Dried beans and salt. Dried beans and soaking.  Ask some chefs and they’ll tell you add salt in the beginning and the beans will never get soft.  Some chefs have suggested that salt slows the rehydration of beans.  Others say, the slower the rehydration, the better the finished bean (fewer broken ones), so it’s important to soak them overnight.  Others say it doesn’t really matter, or it depends.  One thing that is demonstrably true is that you don’t have to soak your beans overnight; if you want beans for dinner, put them in water and cook them till they’re tender or at least edible, no soaking, no blanching, just put them in a pot and cook them. Wanting to get to the bottom of this, though, and having little scientific knowledge of bean cookery myself, Read On »

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Introduce yourself to jarrahdale, kabocha, red kuri, and a few other squash.  Find interesting facts, recipes, and quick hints about these winter fruits, via NPR.

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