I am normally straight at you like a knife, cocktailwise. A martini is gin with vermouth you can taste, and a twist. Period. Either there is no other martini or the name doesn’t mean anything. (I refuse to back down on this one, sorry. I like vodka, I own vodka, I drink vodka, but vodka and vermouth is a stupid drink with an appropriately stupid name.) I want plenty of bitters in my Manhattan. After the martini, there’s no better drink than an old-fashioned. So you’d think I’d pooh-pooh infusing decent spirits with shit from my herb garden. And I did. Until a new pal made Donna a gimlet with basil-infused gin. And he made a delicious summer cocktail with cantaloupe and basil-infused tequila. Basil is in full growth now, and it takes only a Read On »

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We’re back again with another valuable technique, the water bath, essential for gentle cooking. The water bath uses the miracle tool, water. Water makes life as we know it possible. It’s one of the only substances that expands when it freezes rather than contracts (if it didn’t, ice would sink, not simply ruining your gin and tonic, but rendering the gin and tonic moot, as most of habitable earth would be flooded). Water cannot go above 212°F in normal circumstances (it can if you heat it under pressure or, with less pressure, specifically at high altitudes, it turns to gas at lower temperatures). And importantly, it cools as it evaporates (which is why sweating cools our body). In this video we use it to gently cook emulsified shrimp and cream, mixed with whole chunks of Read On »

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We’ve taken up part-time residence in Manhattan and discovered that our downstairs neighbor is Tobin Ludwig, one of the partners in Hella Bitters. We were having cocktails in his apartment when he passed around some exquisite cantaloupe. In season, it was juicy and sweet; chewing, Tobin said, “This would go great in a cocktail.” And the challenge was on. He would follow the local and seasonal in creating an elegant summer cocktail using cantaloupe and the basil that is in full flourish, infusing reposado tequila, made from the highly vegetal cactus plant, with this herbaceous leaf. “Basil is a great cocktail ingredient,” Tobin says, “because it’s so versatile. It can go savory or sweet.” To infuse spirits with herbs, combine torn leaves with the spirit of your choice for 48 hours and strain. For basil Read On »

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Taking up part-time residence in New York City last month, I was delighted to meet a downstairs neighbor, Tobin Ludwig, who makes the lovely Hella Bitters. What good karma for our new old building! “What is your favorite use of bitters?” I asked. For someone who makes bitters, he struggled. I pushed. He relented and said, “A rum old fashioned.” What a splendid idea, I thought. Last night a tweet asked me for a cocktail with a good rum. And so there it was. The rum old-fashioned called. The weather has cooled, I have some most excellent rum, and the sweetness and the bitters combine for a great summer rum cocktail. But lo—there was more, karma-wise. I returned to my original old-fashioned post and noticed that I’d used Hella bitters, long before I’d met Tobin! Read On »

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Introducing the first of a new series of cooking videos on technique, though admittedly this one focuses on an actual Le Creuset piece, the cocotte. I love these little dishes. They’re great to cook in and great to serve in. I’m dying to do a little snail potpie in them. In this video, though, I’m cooking my favorite ingredient, the egg. How many ways can this little miracle of nutrition and economy be brought to ethereal heights of soul-satisfying deliciousness? Enough to fill a book or ten (wait for mine, coming in April). Here, I’m going with perhaps the easiest way of all to cook an egg, baked in an enclosed vessel. There are three different terms applied to eggs cooked in an oven. The second, after baked, is coddled: covered and baked in a Read On »

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