family-meal-@1020

  Virginia Heffernan adds to the increasing noise about how unfair cooking is for working moms in the NYT magazine. I’m a fan of her work, but her Sunday essay, a long, shrill, monochromatic whine about not liking to cook dinner, is so sad and self-unaware I feel compelled to figure out my own thoughts on a subject I write about regularly. I don’t disagree that there are many people who really don’t like cooking. More, I’ve argued that it’s probably important that every family includes people who don’t like to cook. But I do think cooking food where you live is important, as readers here know, and we fail to recognize just how important at our peril. Heffernan early on calls Ruth Reichl pompous for saying that cooking food is the most important thing you can Read On »

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A weeknight braise of chicken in red wine, coq au vin, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

It was the simplest of observations. I’d never heard it made, but it crystalized for me yet another facet of America’s dysfunctional relationship to food. I was listening to a podcast of “This American Life,” maybe the greatest show on radio, one from the archives called “Americans In Paris,” and featuring still another American treasure, David Sedaris. One of the Americans interviewed by the show’s host, Ira Glass, noted the joy with which the French eat and said, “Americans treat their food like medicine.” Exactly! We eat what’s “good” for us. We avoid what’s “bad” for us without really knowing what is good or bad for us. We eat probiotic food, such as yogurt with active cultures because it may be good for our gut flora. We avoid gluten because that’s what’s trending now. Yes, trending, Read On »

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I was about 24 hours into my vegan experiment, planning to prepare pasta with asparagus and olive oil. In Ruhlman’s Twenty, I write about what a felicitous pairing scallops and asparagus are and make a sauce by pureeing the stems and mounting the puree with butter, serving the reheated tips as garnish. Finding myself with a good bunch of asparagus, I thought, “I’ll bet pureed asparagus makes an excellent sauce for pasta. But still it’s going to need a little oomph. Hmmm. Perhaps some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Oops, not strictly vegan. But maybe just a few shaving, it’ll taste sooo much better.” I was hungry, and the dish needed a little extra something, which in so many instances is solved simply by adding an egg. Oh hell, why not mount a good deal of butter into Read On »

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No one is happier than I finally to have some routine again, tree taken down, kids in school, and a plunge back into work with all kinds of exciting projects on the horizon. But I can’t stop thinking about these Yorkshire puddings. I’m always surprised by popovers, how simple they are, and how dramatic they can be. The first time I made Yorkshire pudding for Christmas dinner, it was at Dad’s house and I simply poured the batter into the baking dish the roast beast had cooked in. I marveled at its lava-lamp convolutions as it cooked. I love the simplicity of the basic popover, which is all this is (here with some savory mustard). This post and photo long ago inspired readers as far away as India to make breakfast popovers: flour, egg and Read On »

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“You’re not going to be happy,” Bill said. Bill was the editor of Ruhlman’s Twenty, the guy who more or less line-drived it into play. I was meeting him at Chronicle’s offices for the first time. “Why not?” “Twenty‘s going to be sold out.” “I thought you printed a lot of copies.” “Not enough.” “It’s December 1st, Bill—this is, like, the biggest book-buying month of the year.” “I know.” Which is why he said I was going to be unhappy. It wasn’t even on Kindle yet (which is how I usually read my copy today, because of the search function). And which is why I’m printing one of my favorite recipes from the book below. And re-promoting it as a Superlative and Timeless Work of Culinary Artistry, as fun to read in bed as it Read On »

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