Weekend before last, I bought, among other things, a butternut squash at the farmers’ market. I had not intended to buy it, but it beckoned. It is fall. It is time to cook fall things. Such as duck confit, and sausage, and bacon, and cassoulet. And rich, soul-soothing soups. Squash soup is easy, nutritious, and delicious. I served it to a bunch of eighth-grade boys. One of them said, “This is phenomenal soup.” I was surprised they were eating it, let alone using the word “phenomenal” with regard to food. This recipe will work with any similar squash (pumpkin would be great). Use onion if you don’t have leeks. The method is standard: sweat the onion in some fat, salt it, add the squash, cook it a little, add enough half-and-half to cover, simmer till the Read On »

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A PR firm sent me a bottle of Nolet’s gin, which I was happy to taste (and used in The Southside), but when I was researching the gin I came across a Cocktail Enthusiast review of the gin, and lo! What’s this? The author of the post, Kevin Gray, included a cocktail recipe pairing the gin with sour cherries. His post calls it a Nolet’s New Fashioned. (I don’t think any general drink name should be brand specific, unless it came from the company, which this one did—shame on you Kevin! Have a little imagination, or steal, like I do!) Gray’s post accurately reviews the qualities of Nolet’s; it is indeed superlative gin. Slightly more floral than my beloved Beefeater, but still very dry. It’s so good, in fact, that arguably it should be saved exclusively Read On »

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Between you and me, putting a salted bird in a heavy-duty pan and popping the pan into a really hot oven is almost too simple to be called a technique, but one of the most frequently asked question I get is, “How do I roast a chicken?” So, it must be a technique! In Le Creuset’s third giveaway (ten awesome roasting pans—for chicken, potatoes, brownies, cornbread, just about anything!), we’re roasting. We roast a chicken in this pan because it has low sides, allowing great circulation for the moist bird, and because we can put it on the stovetop to make the sauce after we’ve cooked the bird. How to roast a chicken: Either truss or stuff the bird (with a lemon or onion) so that hot air circulating inside the cavity doesn’t overcook the breast. Put Read On »

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Wishing all a Happy Scary Halloween, America’s great pagan holiday. Friday is reserved for another post, so this will stand in for The Friday Cocktail Hour. And in the wake of Sandy, many Halloween celebrations are rightly delayed till Sunday, as they are here in Cleveland Heights. Donna loves spiced cider, and since it’s so miserable and cold, she asked if I could make a hot cider drink for her to photograph. Perfect idea to keep the chill out of the body as the tots and teens come ringing with open bags, or simply to warm the soul after this awful week for the American East Coast all the way into the Midwest. This is a simple one, cider reduced by 1/4 with cinnamon and cardamom (I like cloves, but Donna doesn’t), dark rum, bitters, Read On »

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While I’m at Pigstock, an all-around Pig Love event in Traverse City, MI, here’s a guest post from my friend and fellow writer Stephanie Stiavetti; I’m not going to say what her upcoming cookbook is about but here’s a hint. —M.R. By Stephanie J. Stiavetti Käsespätzle Many folks believe that macaroni and cheese is a purely American dish. They’re surprised when I tell them that most European countries not only have their own versions, but that some of theses recipes appeared on the culinary map long before macaroni and cheese became popular in the United States. The Italians, stalwarts of all things cheese- and pasta-related, combined these two ingredients into many a hearty dish, such as baked ziti and cacio e pepe. The Swedes have their makaronipudding, a simple, stoic casserole of macaroni and any Read On »

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