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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Fat on bread. Talk about felicitous but little-thought-about pairings. While writing Schmaltz, I of course tasted schmaltz on rye, with a little kosher salt, and it’s so good. Now this really is better than butter. (Donna would want to underscore yet again the power of backlighting. This was shot in late afternoon sunlight.) Back to cold Cleveland tomorrow. Now need to make lobster stock from yesterday’s crustacean extravaganza. Twenty-five lobsters à la minute is no easy task, so thanks to all the sailors who lent a hand, especially Russ, whom I sprayed repeatedly with lobster juice as we cracked fifty claws. His favorite shirt no less. Other links you may like: My post on how to make a classic rye bread. A guest post on how to make bagels from scratch. Lobster facts! Learn more Read On »

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  I’m giving my site over today to my friend Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes The Culinary Life blog, and whose first book, Melt, will be published next year by Little, Brown. Here she focuses on cinnamon at a time of the year when the smell of cinnamon announces the celebratory nature of the month and soothes stress. It’s true, the smell of cinnamon bread baking makes for a better mood around the house. A note about yeast and temperatures—many novice bakers get in a fluff about it. Fresh? Active dry? Instant dry? What’s it all mean? I’m not going to go into it because it’s boring—use dry, it doesn’t matter what kind (I recommend Red Star or SAF, same company). You don’t need to be obsessive about the temperature of the liquid. This recipe will Read On »

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    How to Make Pretzels Originally Posted on November 16, 2009 My obsession with pretzels began with olives and lye, but I was only moved to actually figure pretzels out after a comically disastrous demo at the Fabulous Food Show on Saturday.(Before the demo, hanging out with Symon and Jonathon Sawyer, I mentioned my demo and said, “It’s a no-brainer, it’s so simple nothing can go wrong.” Symon clutched his bald head and shouted, “DON’T SAY THAT!!!”) Half my demo was on baking and making a 5:3 bread dough into several products, and I also wanted to bake gougères, cheese puffs, so I went early to make sure the ovens were cranked. I was assured by the very efficient woman running that stage that it was. Thirty seconds into the demo, I went to Read On »

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Announcing the first episode of my Le Creuset Technique series! In December, in Charleston, South Carolina, while promoting my book, Ruhlman’s Twenty, I met Will Copenhaver and Grimsley Matkov, from the Marketing Communications team at Le Creuset US. They loved my book (and the many photos of the food we cooked in Le Creuset products, which Donna shot). I told them I love Le Creuset, it’s the best stuff on the market, that’s why we use it. A month later, while cooking in Key West (brought my 7-quart Le Creuset French oven along with other tools, bien sûr), a colleague of mine, Warren Johnson, of Taste Five Media in Charleston, asked if I’d consider working with Le Creuset. I told him nothing would please me more, and Warren got to work. Le Creuset wanted to teach Read On »

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