The Feast of February 13: Wooly Pigs, Racked Lambs, Ravicarbonaroli, Batter-Fried Salads and Panna Not So Cotta

Contrasted to the din and bustle of a restaurant, a home cook’s status is positively monastic–solitary, filled with not-entirely-quiet contemplation. So it was with eagerness and a bit of apprehension that I teamed up with my friend Noah (aka Mr. Pushpush) to cook our wives an Italian-slanted four-star restaurant-grade meal on the night before Valentine’s Day. It was a success, but not without its fair share of “oh shit” moments. Continue reading

Where Was I? Oh Right… FOOD!!!

My first creative passion was music, the practice of taking a bunch of random noises and mushing them together to make something not just recognizable but emotionally resonant. It felt really good, and my guitar and I had a decent run. The tragedy of music is that you can’t eat it. Or, to put it another way, unless you are very very good–like Mark Knopfler good–people do not sit around the dinner table waiting for your tunes to spill into their bowls.

My Martin may sit on its stand collecting dust, but the All-Clads I got as a wedding gift, shit, they get a workout every day. Continue reading

Salad Theory: No More Excuses, People

Salad. La di freakin’ da, right? Only then how come so many people screw up a salad? I see salads at potlucks, at family reunions, even at friends’ dinner parties, and I’m like “Really?” I don’t really say that. I eat it, slathered in whatever Creamy Chemicals N’ Bits salad dressing that is nearby. But it’s really easy to bring some joy to Saladtown. Trash the Bac-Os. Chuck every salad dressing in your fridge. And pay attention to the Rule of Threes: Continue reading

“Our Ducks Have Untrimmed Bills”

Sometimes you learn of the horrors that go on with the leading food brands by reading the labels of smaller goody-two-shoes brands. “No trans fats” on one package means that everything else in the aisle that doesn’t say so is just lubed to the gills with them. “No hormones” means that if you eat that other guy’s meat, you will most certainly sprout bonus genitalia. And this package of frozen duck breasts? It informs me that Bell & Evans is not party to the heinous practice of trimming ducks’ bills. Thank goodness! Continue reading

Total Hack: How To Make Duck Pâté Really Fast

Pâté is cold meatloaf for snooty people. But when I start eating it, I can’t stop, especially if it’s accompanied by those cute little cornichon pickles. Everyone from Julia Child on down has a method, but whenever I read the multistep process involved, I feel lightheaded and have to sit down (and eat more pâté). Out of sheer laziness, I have backed into a foolproof pâté recipe of my own. Look, French people will probably kill me for what I’m about to tell you, but it’s worth dying for, just to know I’ve spread a little bit more pâté around the world. Continue reading

Sous Veni, Sous Vide, Sous Vici

As you might have heard, I played around with the SousVide Supreme for a review on Gizmodo. Basically I spent two weeks vacuum sealing meats into plastic bags, then cooking them at precise temperatures–you should read my review for a more clear description.

As overwhelmed as I was by having such a chef-grade tool at my disposal, I did whip up some nice food, though managed to bomb a few dishes too. (Would it feel right if I nailed every challenge? This is about failing and dealing as much as it is about getting shit right.) Anyhow, here’s a quick rundown of my sous vide concoctions, with some commentary I didn’t/couldn’t include in my Giz piece: Continue reading

Spaghetti Carbonara: Their Pic, My Pic

I was leafing through one of the final issues of Gourmet and spotted this recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara. What caught my eye was that atop its mound of pasta was a poached egg. I am not good at poaching, but since I am temporarily in possession of a machine that can make a perfect 148ºF egg, I was like, “Let’s do this thing.” At left, you can see Gourmet took a pretty picture, but mine may actually be better–both the shot and the food: Continue reading