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My mom traveled to the crazy garment district in New York for her work when I was a copyboy at the New York Times, five blocks north. I remember once she took me to lunch and ordered a Bull Shot. When I asked, she told me beef broth and vodka. Which sounded whack. But tasted nourishing on that winter day. Julia Moskin’s excellent piece in the Times on stock and broth made me think of that day. At last, stock/broth is being appreciated in its own right. (But it’s not a “trend beverage” as Moskin calls it—I guess she had to justify a story on one of the oldest, most fundamental preparations in the kitchen; “trend beverage,” Jesus. But I’ll take it, and thank you Julia!). Yes, it is delicious sipped from a mug! You can feel how Read On »

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  What I loved about Judy Rodgers during the brief time I spent with her: She wore long skirts in the kitchen. And sweaters. I never saw her in a chef coat, and didn’t like to be called “Chef.” In evaluating food with her staff before the night’s service, she would use words such as “baroque” to describe a flavor. She held her abundant hair in a bun with No. 2 pencils. She let me work in her kitchen. She faxed me the notes she took as a 17-year-old of how the Troisgros brothers made their white veal stock. When I was making her famous ricotta gnocchi, she tasted them, told me to up the seasoning, and walked to the other side of the Zuni kitchen. I gave the batch another four-finger dose of salt. Read On »

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A lot of friends emailed me last month asking what I thought about the stink bomb Julia Moskin dropped on the cookbook world in her bitter account of chefs not writing their own books (or sometimes not even reading them). Then there was the dustup that followed—Paltrow histrionic with the Times, Regina Schrambling (indefatigable NYTimes gadfly) calling bullshit on it all, time.com weighing in decorously. So this is for my friends who asked. In Michael Symon’s book, Live to Cook, he includes a recipe of mine (naturally fermented pickles), and I wrote the headnote in his voice. How meta! The above photograph is by Deborah Jones, a different version of which appears in Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller. But wait, that’s Deborah in the picture (I am in love with her), so how did Read On »

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