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 »

Share

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 »

Share

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 »

Share

Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, will be published next year by Little, Brown. by Stephanie Stiavetti If you’re a regular reader of Michael’s site, then you’re probably one of a class of people that thinks a lot about food. You might make it a point to buy quality ingredients, mostly prepare your meals at home, and generally spend a fair amount of time thinking about what you put in your body. What baffles me, though, is that despite all the grass-fed beef and produce carefully selected at the local farmers’ market, a huge number of the people in this food-conscious demographic still buy crappy, industrially produced cheese. These folks have educated themselves about many other aspects of what they eat, but are seemingly unaware that these Read On »

Share

  Still recovering from 10 days of Key West fine food and postprandial debauchery, I’m giving my site over today to my friend Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti), who writes The Culinary Life blog, and whose first book, Melt, will be published next year by Little, Brown (a fine book to which I happily contributed the introduction). I’ll be back on Friday with a Key West–inspired cocktail to combat the winter grays. Take it away, Steph, and thanks for keeping it simple and discussing a critical cooking technique!—M.R. by Stephanie Stiavetti Bread pudding needn’t be complicated. At its core, custard is a straightforward dish consisting of cream and egg yolks. For a sweet custard you add sugar, alongside tiny, fragrant vanilla beans (usually), and that’s about as fussy as it gets. The best bread puddings are marked Read On »

Share