When my wife Ann and I were in New Orleans in January, we felt the need, after a great Po Boys and beer at Parasol’s in the Garden District, for one more afternoon libation (as you do in NOLA). We stopped at bar someone recommended down the street. I believe I asked for a boulvardier. Bartender shook his head. I said, negroni. Bartender said, “We serve N drinks here.” “Excuse me?” “N drinks. Vodka ‘n,’ Gin ‘n,’ Scotch ‘n.’” That is, no fancy pants drinks. “We serve hahd likkah heah for men who want to get drunk fast.” #itsawonderfullife And those were the drinks I saw poured in 1960s-70s suburban Cleveland growing up. Gin n Tonic, Scotch n Soda. I knew four cocktails in my youth. The Martini (Dad), The Manhattan (Uncle Jon), The Bloody Mary Read On »

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I need your help. I bought a sweet potato to force myself to cook it in a way that was exciting to me. I’m not a sweet potato fan unless they’re fried. Too mushy, too sweet. And yet, because I’ve come to appreciate how intensely nutritious they are, thanks Dr. Health Is On Your Plate, I wanted to cook it and like it, but …. It sat in the fridge for weeks. Until this morning. I was working on the new book, on Pâtés Confits and Rillettes, on some confit recipes. My partner in Charcuterie, Chef Brian, sent me a recipes for tasty morsels cooked slowly in fat, one of them a butternut squash. Of course! This would work beautifully with that neglected sweet potato I have to keep looking at every time I open the fridge. Read On »

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I knew I would be spending this afternoon with a dear friend, Laura, the girl I sat next to as we graduated from Duke in 1985. She’s in considerable anguish having lost her love to cancer, her soul, the man whose heart she carries in her heart, to use E.E. Cumming’s famous words. Harry, a lovely, brilliant, funny and delightful man, gone at 58. There are no words adequate to offer, only one’s presence. And soup. I roasted a chicken last night, ate some for dinner with mashed potatoes and broccoli, but saved most of it, and all the bones, to carry on the subway along with 4 carrots, 2 onions, celery, three tomatoes a bay leaf, to the upper east side. I set to work immediately, getting the bones boiling (I didn’t have much time, so with Read On »

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It was cold, windy night, dark by 5 pm, and I was in the mood for chili. I was also alone in my pajama pants and had no intention of leaving my toasty apartment for the tomatoes and onions I didn’t have. I knew I had a frozen pound of ground beef in the freezer, a box of pasta, a stalk of broccoli, though. So instead of putting the meat in the chili, I figured I’d put the chili in the meat, make chili meat balls, serve them on garlic pasta, with a side of good-for-you greenery. I keep a good stash of fresh spices in my freezer. I made the preparation hard on myself by cooking the spices and garlic in some olive oil before adding them to the meat—brings out the flavor in the Read On »

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My trusted assistant, Emilia Juocys, emailed to say she was making her holiday eggnog and I said, “Take pix! I want to remind people to get their eggnog made!” She did, see above, then pointed me to this intriguing Food Lab article on aged eggnog: http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/is-aging-holiday-eggnog-worth-it.html. It seems intuitive to me that the longer anything ages, the more complex and funky it will be. But is it better? That was the case with two-year eggnog, which had turned a kind of dangerous-looking brown, but I enjoyed the deep funk. How can you keep dairy and eggs in your fridge for a year or three? The alcohol kills the bacteria that cause food to spoil (not to mention salmonella that might be in raw egg). This is a good thing to remember if you need to leave Read On »

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