Grilling On The Patio

Actually, I grill on my Weber Gas Grill, not on the patio (I don’t think that the patio bricks are designed to have fires built upon them, and they would probably crack). And it is a pleasure. But for many reasons, not just hanging out on the patio during the summer. Almost by definition, grilled and barbecued foods are simpler to prepare for cooking, and once you get the hang of not torching the chicken or leaving most of the fish stuck to the grill grates, the cooking is easier too. Continue reading “Grilling On The Patio”

A Modified Batali Pasta Recipe That Was Great!

Okay, I don’t like radicchio. Specifically, I am not enamored of cooked radicchio and, for that matter, most cooked lettuce analogs. So when my lovely wife found an interesting pasta recipe (that included radicchio) in Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes To Cook At Home, I was intrigued but suspicious. I graciously allowed her to suggest using arugula instead of radicchio, so that she could feel empowered in her position as sous-chef. And it turned out very, very well. I will further modify it when I next make it, but this Batali fellow knows how to cook. Continue reading “A Modified Batali Pasta Recipe That Was Great!”

Outright Theft, But A Good Dish!

Otto is a great pizza joint with lots of other good food available, in addition to having an excellent bar and a fantastic wine list. To top it off, the bartenders are pros, and so are some of the waiters. Some guy named Batali runs the place, or at least wanders in occasionally, and obviously he knows what he is doing. Anyway, I have had a wonderful antipasto there that they call, simply, “Shrimp, Ceci, Chiles.” Great stuff, and almost as simple as it sounds. Tommy:Eats has written about it, breaking down the dish pretty damned well. So, I happily stole it and served it on Saturday night, to great fanfare and rejoicing. Now, Mario Batali stole it from someone, and Tommy stole it from Batali, and I have stolen it from Tommy. At some point it will enter the public domain, but don’t let that stop you from making it now. Thievery in the service of your palate is a noble thing. Continue reading “Outright Theft, But A Good Dish!”

This Guy Is Definitely A Chef

This is the blog of Michael Laiskonis, the pastry chef at Le Bernardin, a nice little fish joint on 51st St. in Manhattan. Aside from it being a very interesting blog, it is a wonderful example of what separates me and, probably most of you, from professional cooking. Laiskonis’s perspective is radically different. He approaches food from directions I can’t even fathom.

I was reminded of this gulf yesterday when I had a pleasant chat with a friend who was a successful, professional chef. He mentioned that he used to experiment with pairing red wine with seafood, and that it was a difficult feat. It occurred to me that he looked at food from a perspective not unlike that of a scientist. Continue reading “This Guy Is Definitely A Chef”

A Barbecuer’s Dilemma: Charcoal Or Gas?

I love to barbecue. There, I said it. For those of us who aren’t chefs, barbecuing is a perfectly acceptable cooking method, and one that is preferred for some things (no matter what the real chefs say). Like steak for instance. Oh, I can make a mean steak in my kitchen with my trusty cast-iron pan, but grilling outside on a charcoal or gas grill just…feels right. But which will it be? When I was young and poor I didn’t have a choice. It was a tiny kettle and cut-rate briquettes. Then, as my pay check grew, so did the size of my grill. And the next logical leap was into hardwood charcoal or, and this was the really fun part, hardwood itself. Then I moved to the suburbs and left behind many things, not least among them was good bars and restaurants just around the corner, but that is a different post. But I also left my trusty Weber kettle, and moved on to a neat, and expensive, Weber gas grill. Continue reading “A Barbecuer’s Dilemma: Charcoal Or Gas?”

I Love My Cast-Iron Skillet

You can easily spend $200 on a skillet. And a set of pots and pans made from some weird copper alloy sandwiched between stainless steel with a hi-tech coating will set you back the price of a used car. Before you shoot me horrible e-mails and comments about how I don’t appreciate the technological advances that have made cooking accessible for lots of people (ignoring the fact that most people can’t afford this stuff) and how I am a Luddite, I like fancy pots and pans just as much as the next guy.

But my Lodge cast-iron skillet cost me $25, and I use it almost as much as my fancy non-stick sauté pan. Continue reading “I Love My Cast-Iron Skillet”

Sibling Rivalry, And I Lost!

I am a better cook than my sister. I have better technique, a surer sense of the chemistry of food, a much better grasp of ingredients, and I am a man, and everyone knows that men make better cooks. Did I mention that I am a better cook than my sister? So how could she take one of my recipes and improve it, both in taste and simplicity? And the worst part is that she is holding out on the details. I discussed this kind of repellent behavior a while ago, but I never expected it from my own sister.

Lobster, Cooked Correctly (Nice And Simple)

An eight-pound lobster, boiled for 18 minutes, and then iced for about an hour. I had to use my old framing hammer to crack the claws. The legs were enough for a thirteen-year-old’s dinner! No butter, no mayonnaise, just a little fresh cocktail sauce for one of our guests. The meat was incredibly sweet and tender, no doubt because of the cooking time. Check some cookbooks and you will discover that most people overcook lobster by a factor of two or three.

We served this beast with some oven roasted potatoes and Caesar Salad.


P.S.  I posted about cooking lobsters awhile ago, but I wanted to show off this nice big one, and prove that I can actually insert a photo without massive help-desk intervention.

The Dumbing Down Of Cooking: Celebrity Chefs

Years ago the only chefs on TV were people like Julia Child, James Beard, and a few other professional chefs. Nowadays of course, there are what seem to be hundreds of people, cooking sometimes nasty looking stuff, on dozens of networks. There is even a network devoted entirely to food.  But the problem is that many of them aren’t real chefs. When Jacques Pepin says something about cooking, you can take it to the bank. But when some moron spouts off about food on her own cooking show, when her last gig was as an extra on a sitcom, and her only claim to fame is a lovely body, you can safely ignore it.*

Maybe I am being harsh, but cooking shows without the benefit of professionals are just silly. Here is an article in SmartMoney magazine I found through the website of a local media company’s food blog (they used to be called newspapers): 10 Things Celebrity Chefs Won’t Tell You. There is nothing shocking in the piece, but it skewers most of the shows, and that is just fine with me.

*In the interest of full disclosure, if some “media company” offers me a cooking show or a book deal, I will smile, say “thank you very much,” and run all the way to the bank to cash the check before they realize what fools they are.