As the holidays wind down and before we look forward toward 2014, I’m looking back on a few of the more popular posts of the year. One of the most trafficked was inspire by a report, picked up at face value by all the media it seems, that urged people not to wash their chicken because it sprayed bacteria all over the place. The ever sensible and funny Alton Brown, tweeted a post-it commentary that inspired this: Bacteria! RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! America’s ridiculous and idiotic fear of bacteria. Of course, we all want to be happy and healthy. Here’s my advice: Cook Your Own Food. Eat What You Want. (Think for Yourself.) The irony of it is that I don’t think you should follow it, as I explain in the post. And more ranting on the general Read On »

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I am at the Chefs Collaborative in Charleston, about which I will write more. So in light of the new book Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I’m reposting what has become one of the most clicked-on posts on this site. That it is a mac and cheese variation speaks to the fact of how beloved it is. Needless to say, raise the quality of your cheese and you make this dish stellar. I needed a dinner that was easy and delicious, would please everyone, one that also reheated well in case my daughter’s track meet ran late, and I had to be able to make it long before serving so it would be just a matter of reheating come dinnertime. There are of course a thousand options that fit these criteria, but last week, Read On »

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  My friends Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes  The Culinary Life blog, and Garrett McCord, who writes the blog Vanilla Garlic, are publishing their very first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, on that all-but-infallible pairing of pasta and cheese. When they asked me to write the foreword, I groaned. This is exactly the kind of cookbook we don’t need more of, I thought to myself. But then I read it, and thought this is exactly the kind of cookbook we need, this nation that has so readily accepted orange flavoring packets to stir into their food. Stephanie and Garrett attempt to raise this often thoughtlessly prepared dish to its highest possible level by asking us to take more care with it, to use excellent pasta and excellent cheese. This is not only a book filled with 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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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! I’m always game for a rant, especially first thing in Monday morning. Take it away, Steph! —M.R. You’ve heard Michael’s spiel on Americans being trained to believe they’re too stupid to cook. It’s an unfortunate reality that people in this country place a higher priority on time than they do nearly everything else, which greatly affects what we eat. Which affects our health. Which, in the end, affects EVERYTHING. When you eat poorly, guess what? You feel poorly too. You don’t have the energy to do the things you want to do: hitting the gym, playing ball with the kids, actually getting Read On »

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