MR-xmas-books-@1020

I would of course be remiss in the eyes of my venerable publishers if I did not recommend my own books as being splendid gift ideas for the holidays. So herewith my not-so-humble descriptions of some of the books I’m most proud of. My favorite and most useful cookbook, especially for young cooks, home cooks who want to get better, or parents who want to help teach their kids to cook, is Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto. It identifies the twenty fundamental ideas, foods, and techniques required to cook just about anything. It won a James Beard Award in the general cooking category when it came out. The egg is a miracle of nutrition, economy, deliciousness, and utility. There may be no more valuable food to the cook. So I wrote a book Read On »

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Roasted-root-vegs

Here are two fabulous side dishes to consider for the holidays (and throughout the winter). I love the roasted vegetables—easy, delicious, nutritious. And the beets, with their color and sweetness, are the linchpin of this dish, so don’t omit. My editor made these and said, “I can’t believe my kids ate beets! And loved them.” This recipe appears in my book How to Roast, FYI. The gratin is great for three, reasons. They’re so good, for one. I made the below dish when I was working with Le Creuset (great gift idea, that dish, btw). My daughter actually got mad at me and said, why don’t you make those cheesy potatoes for us? So I did. Reason two: golden brown crispiness combined with gooey cheesy goodness. Reason number three: These can be made three or Read On »

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Stock-Mise-en-place

  Want to make Thanksgiving day easier on yourself and ensure you have the best gravy ever? Start now. (Or this weekend.) This, too, planning ahead, is part of mise en place, one of the most important cooking “techniques” to recognize. Mise en place literally translates as put in place. To a cook, mise en place refers to his or her station set-up—having all that you need, at your station and in place, to accomplish the work ahead. Mise en place is shorthand for being prepared, at your station and in your mind. (I write about this more completely in Ruhlman’s Twenty.) It’s the cook’s first order of business, at a restaurant, at home. Making a roast chicken dinner with green beens and baked potato? Get everything out on the counter before you pick that Read On »

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4-Onion-Garbure

Continuing a series of soup posts as the weather cools (here in the Northeast at least), I’m offering this rich vegetable garbure. Garbure hails from my favorite food region, Gascony, in the southwestern corner of France. (I wrote about it here for Conde Nast Traveler.) It would traditionally include some kind of confited meat and cabbage. This version, which I included in Ruhlman’s Twenty, gets its depth of flavor from bacon rind, but you could substitute several slices of rind-on bacon, diced, or omit the bacon completely for a vegetarian soup. But pig skin, connective tissue, is loaded with a protein called collagen, which breaks down into gelatin to give the soup great body. If you can’t find slab bacon with a rind to remove yourself, order it from your butcher or meat department. Or, better Read On »

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Sweet-Bell-Pepper-Soup-Fini

This is a fabulous all-purpose soup method, here used with sweet bell peppers. But you can use it for just about any vegetable—asparagus, mushroom, pea, carrot. I learned it from Thomas Keller and wrote about it in his French Laundry Cookbook. Then I wrote about it again in Ruhlman’s Twenty because it’s such a versatile method. It’s very rich, so I only serve about 1/3 cup per person. This soup makes a great appetizer. (And a reminder: my partner in tools, Mac Dalton, suggested running a sale on our soup and serving spoons through this October.) Also, if you’re in Cincinnati tomorrow, come see me at Books by the Banks, where I’ll be signing my book, In Short Measures, a collection of novellas, reviewed today, happily, by Tara Laskowski. Have a great weekend, all. Sweet Bell Pepper Read On »

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