Duck Confit with Pepper/Coriander Cure

As fall nears, my thoughts turn to duck confit. I hope you’ll put this excellent and simple technique into your repertoire this fall. It’s a great way to have a delicious meal moments away all fall and into the winter if you make one big batch. It keeps for many months in the fridge. Here’s my method using olive oil, which works great. I love it so much that when Thomas Keller asked me to submit a piece for Finesse, his elegant magazine, on the theme of preservation, my mind went straight to duck confit. I’m reprinting it here in anticipation of fall cooking. It’s about a lot more than deliciousness. (And for the literary folks, I’ll be in Raleigh tomorrow—9/18/15—for the Southern Indie Booksellers Association event, promoting my new fiction, In Short Measures. On Sunday Read On »

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French-Bread-Stiavetti-1020

    My friend Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book is Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.   By Stephanie Stiavetti It wasn’t all that long ago that homemade bread was a regular staple at the table. Two, perhaps three, generations have passed and pushed this skill into the history books. No more warm loaves on the table, or seductive smells piquing your senses. It’s a genuine loss. Bread was one of the first projects I took on myself as a girl, and though my grandmothers didn’t really make bread, I was able to pick up the process pretty quickly. At 10 years old I baked my first bread with only the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook to guide me, and by age 12 I had managed a pretty decent French bread that earned Read On »

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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 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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