Paleo diet. Photo by

I gave an enthusiastic blurb to Michelle Tam’s book Nom Nom Paleo because I was so captivated by its exuberant spirit. Having met her at the IACP conference in Chicago on Monday, I’m delighted to find she has every bit the same spirit conveyed by her excellent book and lovely blog. While I’m anti-diet anything, I’m intrigued by the sense Paleo diets seems to make, at least intuitively, given the health issues created by Americans’ reliance on sugar-laden processed food. I’ve always promoted a sensible approach to eating that includes all foods, and I’ll never give up pasta or good bread, but I do think that I could adapt some influences of the Paleo diet, which eschews heavily processed foods, refined grains, and sugar, in order to keep my tubbo within acceptable range. So I Read On »

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Pamplemousse Vieux Mot, a mixture of gin, St. Germain, and citrus. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Enamored of the elderflower liqueur, St. Germain, and looking for a cocktail that would give me an excuse to reach for its unique bottle, My Girl Friday and I both found this lovely new cocktail, a variation on the Vieux Mot, perfect for late winter when good grapefruits are still coming in. Citrusy and floral, a perfect libation and anticipation of spring, which can’t get here soon enough for me. The Vieux Mot, French for old saying or wise old saying, combines gin, St. Germain, and lemon. This variation, the Pamplemousse Vieux Mot, adds grapefruit juice, thanks to a lovely blog we found, the Bojon Gourmet, by food stylist and photographer Alanna Taylor-Tobin, whose lovely photos feature her expertise in pastry (currently pain au chocolat, using rye flour for the laminated dough, inspired by the Read On »

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Gratin. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Here is the classic potato gratin that I made at a makeshift studio during the first series of the Le Creuset demo videos. My daughter had come along to see lovely Charleston, look at the College of Charleston, and generally take in the scene, and the only comment when we returned to Cleveland was, “Why don’t you ever make that cheesy potato thing for us?” Nothing of course would have given me more pleasure, had I only thought to do it. Indeed, this is a dish so easy and delicious and do-ahead-able, it’s a shame I don’t make it monthly during these cold winter months. Simple indeed. Layer sliced potatoes in a dish, give them a good shot of salt and pepper and several scratchings of nutmeg, cover with half-and-half, and bake covered till tender. Read On »

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Bourbon Milk Punch/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

This is considered more a morning cocktail than one for a Friday evening, one to be offered, say, at a Tulane frat house brunch after a heavy night on Bourbon Street. But I want to write about it now for two reasons. First, it was a revelation to me when my dearest pal, Blake Bailey, Tulane class of 1985, offered it to me (one hung-over Sunday morning in Manhattan, in 1986)—wow, bourbon, milk, and sugar make a fabulous elixir. And two, because those days are now vividly returned to me in Blake’s acclaimed new memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned, where I, our shared New York apartment, and a pregnant hooker from New Jersey, enjoy a cameo in this wrenching, tragic story about the havoc Blake’s older brother brought on Blake’s entire extended family. In Read On »

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Pan fried chicken thighs. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Two things of note here: the technique called pan-fry and the awesome chicken thigh. The latter should be your go-to chicken part. How and why chicken mongers can get away with selling the boneless, skinless chicken breast is beyond me. Then again, why anyone would buy skim milk is beyond me. I love bone-in, skin-on thighs but am delighted that the boned version is available as well. I recommend slicing it thinly for stir-fries, in chunks for chicken stews (curries, fricassee). It’s a well-worked muscle and therefore flavorful (and chewy); it’s also got some fat and is therefore juicy. Not long ago my son James, chewing on a fried chicken drumstick, wondered if we couldn’t have boneless fried chicken, so that he could, I imagine, revel in the unalloyed pleasure of fried chicken—crispy flavorful exterior, Read On »

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