Corned Beef and Braised Cabbage with Red Potatoes, photo by Donna

It’s time for my yearly re-post of a recipe for corning your own beef. If you can brine a chicken, you can cure your own beef. Start by Thursday and it will be ready to cook on St. Paddy’s day. Of special note here is my partner in charcuterie Brian Polcyn’s recipe for a fabulous pickling spice. You can buy pickling spice, but Brian’s is over-the-top delicious. Any cut of beef can be “corned.” (See my pastrami short ribs.) But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available here, and also from Amazon. If you know of any local shops that make their own bacon, hams, or smoked sausage, they may have some on hand. This is what accounts for the deep red color Read On »

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Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

You’d think a health news piece in the venerable NYTimes questioning a NYTimes op-ed linking illness and salt would make me happy, but it only makes me angry. What is the media’s problem? Nobody knows anything for certain—that is the only possible story. Nobody really knows anything for certain. Not your doctor, not your nutritionist, not ABC News, not the Times, and, for sure, not me. Today’s op-ed by Nicholas Bakalar questions an earlier op-ed by Dr. Thomas A. Farley, former commissioner of health for New York City (both articles linked above), who wrote that excess salt is killing 40,000 to 90,000 people a year (according to “best estimates”—what exactly does this mean?). Think about this number. It accounts for more deaths than breast cancer. If he is right, shouldn’t we all be wearing little Read On »

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The OYO Manhattan/Photo by iPad

Ohio comes to Manhattan this week for the Friday cocktail hour, which I will enjoy, shivering but happy, on my fire escape in the West Village, with Columbus–based OYO clear rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters, and the indulgent Luxardo maraschino cherries (picked up around the corner at The Meadow (thank you Mark!—check out his book, my favorite salt book, period). The Manhattan, a classic I never stray far from, a family favorite, and well enduring for a reason (this is one of my favorite Friday Cocktail Hour posts). The rye Manhattan is especially good when you have great cherries. I add some syrup from the cherries, here not yet dissolved and sleeping at the bottom of the cocktail; rye is marvelously dry as whiskeys go and so the extra sweetness is perfect for this excellent winter cocktail. Read On »

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Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, will be available October 22 from Little, Brown, and it’s superb, the best one I’ve seen, in fact—accept no imitations! Her last guest post was something of a rant, which I’m always in favor of! This is a lovely primer on something we do often but tend to ignore the finer points of, boiling pasta, and to me, the finer points are what make cooking fun  Take it away, Steph! —M.R. A few weeks ago I talked about the demerits of cheap pasta and left you with the notion that artisan-made dry pasta is leagues ahead of its tasteless, texture-less, mass-produced cousins. It’s also worth noting that cooking dry pasta is an art in and of itself; while it’s a Read On »

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No, wrong. America has a serious THINKING disorder. See that white stuff raining down from my fingers? It’s salt. And it’s the way you should salt the food you cook on your stove top or the chicken that’s going into your oven. But if you listen to the ABC Nightly News reporting about The Dangers of Salt, aka ABC News acid reflux, and then read today’s NYTimes page one story saying that salt is not bad for you, you must be wondering who to listen to. Well if you are, just stop listening and think for your fucking self. I have a dear friend who prevents his kids from drinking any milk other than nonfat milk but thinks nothing of serving them Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Seriously. (The nonfat milk issue is not uncommon, judging Read On »

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