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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  I had an unstoppable hunger this past weekend for old-Chicago-style all-beef hotdogs from Vienna Beef, the best hotdog in the country in my opinion. I wanted that charred skin flavor of summer, the grill smoke from fat dripping on coals, the juicy snap when you bite into them. I decided to make buns. Why? Because, we were inviting friends (great food must be shared); I had a cool hot dog pan from American Pan; I had never made them before; and most important, the best hot dogs deserve special treatment. One of the great things about cooking is that you’re subliminally eating the entire time, a kind of calorie-free spiritual nourishment, and I was thinking about the hot dogs the whole time in the kitchen (with good mustard and minced sweet onion). Hot dog buns Read On »

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I accidentally upgraded my wordpress account and it wreaked havoc.  Lost all kinds of posts and it broke countless links.  F@$#!  One of the many post sent off unanchored into the ethernet was this guest post (and photo) by freelance writer Stephanie Stiavetti. As with her gluten-free fried chicken, enough people have asked about it that I’m reposting it again. I’ve really only recently become aware of what a rotten disease celiac is, especially for people who love to cook, and to eat, and to write about it.  This post with Carol Blymire (alineaathome.com) describes the situation, um, vividly (the post also has glutenfreegirl‘s awesome pizza dough recipe). It’s also impressed on me how important it is for chefs to understand celiac disease and gluten-free cooking. Stephanie Stiavetti, a social media consultant and reluctant techie based Read On »

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