I pay for a service called SaneBox to deal with email overload, so much of it mass PR mail. Somehow a diligent soul, Sally Alfis of M Booth, who represents the company’s spirit clients, got though the barricades. Having seen my Friday cocktail hour posts, she asked if she could send me some premium hooch. I never turn down free premium hooch. Thus, the most excellent rum in the photo (it’s very good). Surprisingly, though, she continues to read Friday posts and, following my hasty Negroni post (no link, Donna unhappy with photo), sent me a new cocktail made by Scott Fitzgerald (no, relation, though he does beat on, like all the rest of us boats) of the Mulberry Project in NYC. What got me about Fitzgerald’s lovely cocktail was its variation on a personal fave, the Negroni (thus Sally’s clever suggestion—she Read On »

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Some cocktails are spontaneous given what’s at hand. I happened to be making nougat, the French confection created by pouring cooked sugar and honey into whipped egg whites, then folding in nuts and dried fruits. The pix were so stunning in the Bouchon Bakery book, I simply had to give it a go and attempt a paired down version for the home cook. I considered adding rum-soaked dried cherries and so prepared these. But by the time the eggs whites and sugar had cooled to glossy perfection, I worried that the red-tinted rum, attracted by the sugar, would leach into the stunning whiteness of the nougat. When the shooting was done for the day, I had a bowlful of rum soaked cherries. Hmmm. How to put to use? “Donna! Don’t put your camera away!” I shouted, Read On »

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The television personality and cookbook author Ted Allen stirred up a shit storm this week by calling me out on my hatred of the round wooden spoon, which he apparently has the hots for. He happened to mention our exchange at a City Harvest event to Eric Ripert, executive chef of Le Bernardin, one of the finest restaurants in the country, with whom I’ve worked closely, who added a little more caca to the pot by tweeting “Crème anglaise? Since the days of Escoffier, stir with a wood spoon, Ruhlman.” He then phoned me to further faire caca into my cell phone until he conceded that it was the wood, not a round wood spoon, then was evasive, said a client had just arrived. But he handed the phone to his British-born, French-trained pastry chef, Laurie Read On »

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A couple weeks ago, inspired by my BFF Blake Bailey’s latest bio, Farther and Wilder (boffo WSJ review here), I offered a Tom Collins, gin-lemon-soda. But on retrospect it was only OK—it would be the perfect libation on a hot summer evening, but it was March. Also, I could hardly taste the gin, and what’s the point of that unless you’re drinking the cheap shit? Just to check, I ordered one last weekend at a restaurant and it was so bad I didn’t even finish it (which is not like me, that’s how bad it was—how do you screw up something as simple as that?). But I loved the idea of the heavy lemon. I loved the idea of, every now and then, not being aware of the alcohol in my drink. What does this lead to? Read On »

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There was no other way given everyone’s schedule. We arrived from a relaxing vacay with Mom in West Palm on Monday night, and Donna’s sister, Regina, a professional cake whisperer, arrived first thing the next day ready to work (and teach). I am cake challenged. I’m sweets challenged. My idea of sweets is pictured above. But the subject I’m writing about now, cleverly integrated into the above photo, demands that I address cakes. Thus, despite Regina’s patience, energy, and expertise, each day has for me ended with a feeling of depletion and fatigue, requiring a single end-of-the-day cocktail before I began dinner (which would be followed by more baking—cakes can be, should be, frozen—and/or photography). So I wanted something strong, complex, familiar, and easy at the end of these challenging days, no straining into a Read On »

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