Potato latkes for the holidays?  New topping combinations and favorite classics, via NYT.

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My number one pick for a great inexpensive gift to give a cook is a Japenese mandolin, aka a Benriner (the brandname). This is a tool virtually all cooks own, used for all manner of slicing, julienning and brunoising. Gnarly sweet potatoes become gorgeous chips. Under 20 bucks—can’t beat it. My most used small appliance is the hand blender, or immersion blender, a fabulous tool for pureeing soups and sauces, making vinaigrettes and mayos. Wouldn’t want to be without one. (The above link is to an inexpensive CuisinArt blender, here’s the KitchenAid version nearly 3 times as expensive but some feel it’s worth it.) If you’re really in to cooking, these round cutters come in handy for all kinds of baking, cooking, plating needs. I recently bought this fat separator and love it—simple ideas work Read On »

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Two important introductions today, the first is a contest, a Holiday Cookie Challenge (more about Gourmet’s newly published book below).  And the second is an introduction to a culinary colleague who has begun helping me out, keeping me organized, preventing my brain from exploding all over my computer screen.  Emilia Juocys (pronounced YO-chess, Lithuanian background), graduated from Schoolcraft College’s culinary arts program and proved so valuable in helping Brian Polcyn (her former chef instructor at Schoolcraft) and me with the new Salumi book that I’ve asked her to spend part of her work week helping me.  While Ratio has gone a long way in making me understand the baking kitchen, I’m still a savory guy at heart, but I’m thrilled to introduce Emilia’s love of cookies and her challenge to bakers with this cookie contest. Read On »

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