My love of Top Chef has gotten to the point that I have a section of my main bookshelf dedicated to some of my favorite judges* and cheftestants from the show—though I will admit that Tom Colicchio’s books live up in my New York section, because most of these books came out way after his did—and while I’ve enjoyed them all, I’ve been heartily enjoying Gail Simmons’ Bringing it Home as it is filled with really interesting recipes and lots of excellent anecdotes about Top Chef from foods she loved while on location to lots of interesting tips based on professional chef techniques that she’s observed along the way, along with her own insight from her days in culinary school. Gail has long been one of my favorite staples of the show because she’s a delightful mix of knowledge, insight, warmth, and the occasional dollop of well-timed snark: Read More
With the holidays over and things slowly coming back to normal, I want to get back into the habit of blogging more regularly again. So in order to do that, I need to clear out some mental clutter.
Tuesday marked the first day in about two weeks that the temperatures went significantly over the freezing point; when preparing to go out to pick up some bread for dinner, I had steeled myself for the slap of cold I had come to expect when walking outside and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was…mild. I know it’s still early-ish in January and we have a long ways to go until spring, but it’s nice to have a bit of a respite from it for at least a few days.
With Christmas less than a week away, it’s time for me to start packing up all of our stuff to bring back to PA for the holiday weekend and get a cooking game plan set for Christmas Eve. We’re leading that particular dance this year, which is great since we did zero cooking during Thanksgiving. We are going to do the seven fishes this year, but in order to maintain our sanity and to make sure that everyone can try at least a bit of everything, we’re keeping the portions small and basically treating the meal like a tasting menu. Read More
In the section on entertaining in Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites: A Cookbook, one of his suggestions is to always keep some frozen pigs in a blanket on hand because from his experience, no matter how fancy the affair everyone will come clamoring for some meat in puff pastry. It’s a fine idea, and one I’ll probably keep in mind for our next New Year’s Eve celebration, but if I’m entertaining a smaller group of people I want to do something a little more special. Read More
One of the objectives of this whole cook-through-my-cookbook-bookcase experiment was to reconnect with cookbooks I used to use all of the time but have since…well, not abandoned, per se, but haven’t referenced as much as I’d like to. The Book of Tapas is one where I have a handful of recipes that have entered our regular rotation—I’m particularly fond of the lemon-garlic chicken wings—but a few Fridays ago I decided to finally try a recipe I sort of half-assed back in New York and then never attempted to make again: the ham and quail’s egg tapa. Read More
As I’ve learned to love and appreciate a good salad over time, I’ve been trying to add more of them to our rotation, saving the more complicated ones for the weekend, or for days when I’m craving something simple and light during one of my sabor de soledad sessions. There’s one recipe from Alton Brown’s new cookbook that’s been an early favorite, but given that strawberries feature heavily in it, I’ve been waiting for them to come into their peak season before writing about it. This recipe, on the other hand, is relatively season-agnostic* and what I like about it is that in the winter it helps you think of warmer days and in the summer the grilled mushrooms add substance without weighing the dish down on a hot day. Read More
One of the things I always lament about getting cookbooks in the fall and then later in winter during the holidays is that inevitably I’m going to find a whole host of recipes that sound amazing but I must wait to make them until better weather arrives. While flipping through Zahav back during Christmas I did exactly that not far into the book–not only did the Israeli salad featured look both fantastic and simple, but then Michael Solomonov went and did one better and add in an Israeli salad water martini that looked damn refreshing as well. Read More