A Toast…

I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty. – Madame Lilly Bollinger

This is how I feel about toast. Incidentally, it’s also how I feel about champagne, but that’s another post.

You wanna know what chef’s really eat? It’s not like we come home after a day in the kitchen and then bang out one more masterpiece before we call it a day. Well, OK…when I’ve got someone to cook for, that’s actually one of my favorite things to do, but left to my own devices? Toast. Like, all the time. After a day of plating, saucing, braising, brunoising, eating a million tiny meals off the back end of a spoon (because you use it twice, yo), nothing makes more sense of the world than toast. And if you live in the land of $4 toast…well it’s a done deal.

trouble

So when this is on (or this one, which is what made me teach myself guitar just so I could play that hook which I still can, whew)…or there’s a new book to dive into & I’ve got sun streaming through the window along with an ocean breeze…or when the whole world is turned upside down and spun six ways to Sunday…or the kind of day that makes someone amazing wrap their arm around you and pull you closer because they just want to be…closer…or when your little Kintsukuroi heart just can’t take any more. This is when I want toast.

And I’ve eaten a lot of toast this last year. On all of the occasions above and then some. There is nothing in the whole wide world that can bring everything into focus like toast. And I’m not giving you a recipe for it, because it’s motherfucking toast. And also because I once saw a recipe for gluten free croutons that included “Gluten free bread, olive oil, salt” and I almost threw my computer across the room because it’s fucking croutons. Crou. Tons. CROUTONS.

But I will give you some “guidelines”. Some ways to ensure that if you are going to join me & Nigel Slater – my favorite food writer of ALL TIME who once wrote It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you….Once the warm, salty butter has hit your tongue, you are smitten. Putty in their hands. –  in our love of toast, that you do it right.

  • Use good bread. Once again, the rule of “garbage in, garbage out” applies. Get rid of that sliced sandwich bread and get your hands on some ciabatta, or dense brick of German whole grain bread. Or maybe you are close enough to here  or here to get your hands on some lemon/rosemary bread. Your bread should fight back. with flavor or structure, but ideally both.
  • Got an avocado? USE IT.
  • Sliced tomato? YES.
  • Peanut butter &/or jelly
  • Cheese (I really don’t care what kind, because it kind of doesn’t matter)
  • Mustard
  • Pickled anything
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Salt (seriously.)
  • Lemon zest
  • Chili flake
  • Sautéed greens
  • Banana
  • Nutella / Cookie butter (Biscoff)

Basically, anything spreadable works. Or anything you can chop up and put on top of anything spreadable. And if all else fails:

robert downey jr

It’s supposed to be *exactly* this simple…

“I like my sugar with coffee & cream.” – The Beastie Boys, Intergalactic

I once saw this bit of graffiti in London, which was a Henry David Thoreau quote:

“Simplify. Simplify.”

And some bright spark had come along and…corrected it:

“Simplify. Simplify.”

And I’ve tried to live by this ever since.

Except when it comes to food, a subject that holds infinite fascination for me. It’s a universal experience (*everyone* requires nourishment on some level), and you get to do it (at least) three times per day. More if you are lucky.

I spent a fair portion of my 30s training to be a pastry chef. But, I don’t have a sweet tooth. At all. I’ll happily choose salt over sugar any day of the week (in my people and the things I eat). So it then begs the question: Why train that hard for it? Why give up three years of your life learning it, punishing yourself for not doing it well, much less perfectly? Why work that hard solely for the exchange of knowledge instead of money? Why subject yourself to having a level rested on your perfectly glazed Opera Cake (ruining said perfect glaze) simply to prove that it is perfectly level?

Well, for the swagger. Naturally.

I love being able to approach a subject that most chefs are afraid of with confidence. I adore being a double threat. I really like walking into any (and I mean *any*) kitchen and picking up either (with obligatory double click test) tongs or an offset spatula with equal “I will kick your muthafuckin’ grill station ass, guapo so just get the fuck outta my way.” attitude, and knowing that it’s true. Never cooked the dish before? Pfft, whatevs. It’s not just gonna be pretty, it’ll be mind-blowingly fucking beautiful, cabron.

But because of that graffiti, not a lot of people see this side of me. Only a few people get to see the tiger in the trees, unless you are the next white jacket down the line, or on the post-apocalyptic survival raft (that’s a whole other post). Because flying another person’s standard into the world instead of just your own is not a choice, it’s a simple thing that just is, but results may vary and complication is sure to ensue. And to be anything other than humble about what I can do devalues…me. And the cook next to me, who’s worked just as hard to get to where we are at that moment in time.

And it’s misrepresentation of who I am. Do I like the above, and have I cultivated it to some (or a huge) degree? Sure. Absolutely. But at the end of the day, what I really want is for you to be happy. To be nourished. To have gained some perspective. To see what I see in you. The good, the bad, and the ridiculous without asking for change or alteration. Because that would devalue you. And the myriad things you have worked as hard as I have to achieve.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually doing the right things in this search for simplicity, and whether or not my day to day is good enough. And in one of those moments got some unexpectedly apropos advice from someone I’ve come to expect this from. Because he’s made of amazing. And it wasn’t really even advice, but hit me like the graffiti did above. “You already know how to be good at something, now you just need to apply those same principles to this.”

And I am good at something. Actually, a lot of things. Which doesn’t’ change the fact that there are some things I just plain suck at:

Having a hidden agenda: You’ll always know *exactly* what’s up.

Doing anything at a level lower than “Fuck, yes!” or “No.” I go to 11. There is none more black. In for the rough and in for the easy. Enough said.

Being on time. Usually about 15 minutes, but sometimes it veers into 30. Sorry.

And when I get more wrapped up in the things that I suck at than the things that I’m good at, I want to touch base with that simplicity. And nothing is more simple than simple, which is what chefs refer to when what they want is simple syrup. A 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, you could not ask for anything more plain in cooking. You can use it for a million different things, but I recommend that you put it to work in the purest of pure things: Lemonade.

There is a balance in lemonade that I find truly lovely. It’s sour. It’s sweet. It can be swayed any number of ways with spice or herbs or nostalgia. This might have been a better post if I could write about memories of a childhood lemonade stand, but in truth my youth + lemonade = Countrytime out of a can while shouting the lyrics to some Doobie Brothers song in the waaaay back of the family limo (a 1970 something VW bus) with my sister as we rolled through some NorCal backwater sans seatbelts (because 70s). But I can give you this. The lemonade you wished was yours as a kid.

Spicy Ginger Lemonade

Adapted by me from The Kitchn

1 lb. fresh ginger
2 cups sugar
8 cups water, divided into 4 & 4
2 cups freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from about 15 lemons)

Peel the ginger and chop into roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Combine the ginger, sugar, and 4 cups of the water in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer (I mean just simmer – do not boil this or you’ll wind up with a pot of ginger caramel and have cleaning nightmare on your hands) for 30 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temp. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the ginger with the back of a spoon. You should have about 3 cups of syrup.

Combine the lemon juice and remaining 4 cups water in a large pitcher or po (add more or less water depending on your taste or application – stronger if using for a cocktail – or use bubble water if you want something designed for a porch on a hot day). Stir in all of the ginger syrup. Chill before serving or serve over ice. And don’t forget the garnish (a nice lemon slice, a little bit of mint in the pitcher, etc.)

And by the way? I saw this not too long after that first one. Somewhere on Brick Lane, within the sound of the Bow Bells, where Big Ben and the Liberty Bell were forged, the fog is ever present, and the tea tastes of the Thames.

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Peace would be nice. Balance is better.

If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Your Mother…

“…They dined on mince, and slices of quince which they ate with a runcible spoon. And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon.” – Edward Lear, The Owl & The Pussycat

I spend a lot of my time teaching people how to cook. More accurately, I spend a lot of time helping people feel more comfortable in the kitchen. I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at it. Yeah, sometimes I can’t help it and I’ll grab the spatula out of someone’s hands because “OMFG, would you stop moving that chicken around and let it cook already?”

But for reals…

1. I love the “A-ha!” or even the “A-ha?” moment. When the switch flips and everything locks into place, you can actually see it on peoples’ faces, and it’s gorgeous. And the questions! The ones that make me think about things in new ways and develop new approaches to things I’d always done because that’s how I was taught? Fanfuckingtastic.

2. I like teaching the rules, and then very much like teaching how to break them without breaking the code of “make it nice, or make it twice”. In other words, shortcuts are rarely ever shortcuts, and sometimes that diversion is just for fun. And if it is a shortcut? Totally fine, as long as you know when and how to deploy them without sacrificing the dish, or your credibility.

3. Lastly, I really adore showing people how to have a good time in the kitchen. I mean, relax people. Pour that second glass of wine. Put on that podcast you’ve been meaning to catch up on (or better yet, this). You are making dinner, not curing cancer. If you just slow down and realize that if you tell people what you did make, rather than what you tried to make, their expectations are calibrated, and you have had what was probably a very necessary learning experience.

And at the base of all of this is a need for everyone that I spend time with behind/next to/around the stove to understand the basics. Lately, I’ve been spending time around the stove with one particular person, who oddly enough seems interested in what I have to say about food and feeding yourself/others, and viewing food as more than fuel. And I like it. I mean, really really like spending time seeing the kitchen through new eyes with him. In the latest episode, I let go of my very favorite sauce, hollandaise. This was a big deal for me. While I love getting people to “do” in the kitchen over “observe”, this one was more than casual for me. But I let it go, and he did the thing, and it was awesome. On many levels.

Simply put, hollandaise is the best. It’s warm. It’s ever so slightly dangerous (it could break at any second, become grainy, is stored at a temperature designed to breed bacteria – pffft, we’re tougher than that – or could just fail for no reason at all). It’s butter whisked into velvet submission with a little lemon and chili. You know, for the sex appeal. And it’s the mother of all mother sauces.

What’s a mother sauce, you ask? Well…if you, like me, spend entirely too much time reading about food and the “rules” that accompany it, you may have stumbled on the list of the 5 Mother Sauces. My list has seven, but that’s because I include two cold sauces while the traditional five sauce list is for warm sauces only. The idea is that every other properly made sauce begins with one of these seven. I guarantee you’ve eaten every last one of them (or their progeny) at some point in your life because if you break it down, every other sauce (called “small sauces”), again properly made, originates with one of the following:

Hollandaise: Egg, butter, lemon, chili, salt & becomes Béarnaise, Foyot, Dijon, Choron, Maltaise, & Mousseline sauces. You’ve eaten this on eggs benedict time and time again. NO REGRETS.

Béchamel: Flour, butter, salt, nutmeg, cream/milk & becomes Crème sauce, Mornay sauce, Cheddar sauce, Soubise sauce, Nantua, and Mustard sauce. You’ve eaten it in Mac ‘n Cheese, straight out of the pot with a wooden spoon. Probably late at night. Definitely with a John Hughes joint on like this or this or this.

Veloute: Stock, flour, butter, salt & becomes Normandy sauce, herbed seafood sauce, Poulette sauce, Aurora, Hungarian, Shrimp, Bercy, Mushroom, Allemande, and Supreme sauce. You’ve eaten it on biscuits and gravy. Repeatedly (if you are anything like me and just order it the second you see it on the menu).

Espagnole: Dark roux, tomato puree, veal stock & becomes Marchand de Vin, Lyonaisse, Sauce Robert, Chasseur, Charcuterie, and Madeira sauce. You’ve eaten this any time there is a vaguely unidentifiable brown sauce on the plate (Salisbury steak, anyone?).

Tomate: Tomatoes, mire poix, pork, veal stock, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf & becomes Spanish, Creole, Portugese, and Provencal sauces. You’ve eaten this any time you eat pasta with red sauce. I mean, you *know* this sauce.

Aioli: Eggs, olive oil, lemon (optional), mustard (optional), garlic, salt. This is just mayonnaise and basically becomes any other sauce you would add mayonnaise too. You’ve eaten this more than you could ever imagine, and it’s my second favorite (but most used) sauce.

Vinaigrette: Vinegar, olive oil, salt, mustard & becomes the basis of every salad dressing on earth. If you are smart, you’ll start making it the basis of most of your marinades too. You’ve eaten this anytime you eat a salad. I mean, *any* time you eat a salad (because who eats dry greens?).

OK, so now you have an idea of the basic sauces and are now probably dying to get started, right? I mean, who doesn’t spend a Tuesday night roasting veal bones for a brown stock and then a dark roux to make Sauce Espangole so that you can then make Sauce Robert (say it with the French accent – you’ll feel better, I promise)?

We’ll get to each of the mother sauces in the next few weeks, but I want to start with my all time favorite, mentioned above. It’s super easy to fuck up but with some attention and desire to do it right, it’s also dead easy to make. It’s great on eggs, perfect in spring on blanched vegetables, makes a crudité dip like no other, and will cause those around your table to bow down to your greatness and bring you the objects of your greatest desire to your next dinner party. Too much and you’ll cut your life short based on butter consumption alone, but in just the right amount I swear you’ll see an uptick in your “once over twice” count. The rewards for showing someone else the way? Even greater. So, put the blender away, and let’s get to it:

Hollandaise

Adapted by yours truly from Alton Brown

You’ll need:

  • 1 sauce pan
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (clarified is best but not 100% necessary – if not clarified, cut into 1/2″ pieces)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or hot sauce of your choosing)

Make a bain marie by simmering about an inch of water in the saucepan. The pot should *just* fit your bowl. Too small and you’ll give yourself a nice steam burn. Too big and you won’t get an even heat on your egg yolks and your sauce won’t come together. If you are like me, and throw caution to the wind like a Gunny Sack prom dress, you can skip the bain marie altogether and just make the sauce in the saucepan, but you absolutely cannot leave it unattended for even a second and you will need to play with your burner’s intensity so as not to cook the egg before it becomes sauce. It’s more like taking a bath over taking a shower, if that helps at all.

Place egg yolks and 1 teaspoon water in the mixing bowl and whisk until mixture lightens in color (don’t worry, you’ll see it) which takes about 2 minutes (don’t skimp on this, you’re adding air to your emulsion which you need to make the fat and the other fat become friends).

Place the mixture over the simmering water and whisk constantly for 3 to 5 minutes, or until there is a clear line that is drawn in the mixture when you pull your whisk through, or the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Remove the bowl from over the pan and gradually add the butter, 1 oz or one piece at a time, and whisk until all of the butter is incorporated. Place the bowl back over the simmering water occasionally so that it will be warm enough the melt the butter if unclarified. Whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper, and don’t forget to taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Spoon, nap, push under, pour over, drape, dip, and enjoy on anything even vaguely reasonable.

Salad Days…

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist – the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know how much oil one must mix with one’s vinegar.” – Oscar Wilde

Why the hell are you still buying bottled salad dressing?

It’s totally crammed with horrible things for you (sugar, sugar, sugar, salt), and only serves to make something that was potentially really good for you actually really terrible for you.

I mean, unless you are my old friend M, who has a pathological fear of condiments (and salad dressing is nothing if not a condiment made out of other condiments), there is absolutely no reason for you to have to work you way through a bottle of $4.50 dressing simply because you spent $4.50 on it when you could be making a fresh dressing based on what you want to eat. Tonight. And, you’ll be doing it for pennies on the dollar.

Rest assured, this isn’t some post encouraging you to eat a fat free diet guaranteed to help you ring in the new year with a halo of self righteousness, perched ever so jauntily upon your noggin. We all know I’m just not that kind of girl.

First up, pick your fat. The world is your oyster here: sour cream, mayonnaise, olive oil, eggs, or plain yogurt (if you are feeling overly virtuous). I, personally, like to mix my fats for dressing, wanting the rich eggyness of mayo against a tart sour cream or lighter oil.

Or you could opt for a slightly more exotic oil…

And if you are feeling particularly lush…

Yeah, yeah, it’s made by perfumers and most likely doesn’t have even a whiff of actual black truffle in it, but I DON’T CARE – I LOVE IT. Suck it, Bourdain.

Then pick your acid. This too, could be anything you have lying around. A lemon, a lime, a couple of oranges, vinegars of all types (apple cider, plain white, balsamic, rice wine, whatever).

Then you need to choose what you want to flavor your dressing with. And the great thing here is, that you can choose *anything*. Got a little harissa in your fridge you don’t know what to do with? Have a go. Likewise any little bits of cheese, dried herbs, spices, etc. The important thing here is that you make sure that you match up your flavors with the fat/acids you have on hand. In other words, you probably aren’t going to be very pleased with adding Parmesan to sesame oil, but you could be absolutely knocked out by chilli powder with avocado oil, sour cream, salt & pepper, and red wine vinegar or better yet, lime juice.

And there is always this little guy…

So where does this land us? Well, we know that we need to do the following:

1. Pick a fat

2. Pick an acid

3. Pick a flavor

Now you have to get them all to play together nicely. I like to use a blender, because standing there whisking a dressing into submission is something I do only when I don’t have a blender handy. So, if you have one, chuck everything in and turn that thing on high and let it go for a minute or two.

If you don’t, get your acid and flavor components into a bowl, and then put that bowl on top of a wet towel (to stop the inevitable chasing of the bowl the length of your counter and eventually onto the floor), and start whisking.  Add your oil in a slow, steady stream (like honey off a spoon). When it’s all worked in, it will be opaque and have a thicker consistency than the sum of its parts would let on.  Add a little water (seriously, no more than a teaspoon) at the end, and it will help your emulsion hold itself together (kinda like that glass of water between drinks at a bar).

 

And if you’ve gotten this far, you deserve the most amazing salad dressing recipe in the whole wide world. I honestly do not go a week without someone saying something about this dressing or asking for the formula. And the thing is, it’s super famous and from my home town. Chef Philip Roemer of The Palace Hotel (c. 1923) in San Francisco is responsible for making every salad it has ever graced three times better than it should be. It’s called Green Goddess, and I swear, it could get you married if you aren’t careful. And it’s not just good for salad! I put it on sandwiches, toast, push it on the plate under grain salads, use it as my go-to crudite dip, and pretty much want to bathe in it. My blender rule (or food processor) is in full effect with this one. You want a fully emulsified and thick texture at the end.

You’ll only need a few tablespoons per salad, but make the full batch because I (and you) know you’ll be back for more.

Green Goddess Dressing

Adapted and Updated by Yours Truly

You’ll Need:

  • Blender or food processor (seriousl)y, no foolin’ here)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1 bunch parsley (the whole damn thing)
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1  bunch basil (just the leaves) or tarragon
  • 6 anchovy filets
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Whack everything into the blender or food processor. Let it run for at least a minute. It will be thicker than you think necessary, but just trust me. Holds for about a 2 weeks in the fridge. Put. It. On. Everything.

 

 

 

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Babycakes…

People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching cold. – John Jay Chapman

Muffins really do get the short end of the stick in the baking world.

Which is really too bad, because if they are done right, they are pretty awesome. A cross between a quick bread and a cupcake.

But (and with apologies to Longfellow) when they are bad, they are horrid. We’ve all had the lame-ass conference room muffin, the gas station stand-by as you roll through Barstow (a town as equally uninspiring as that saran-wrapped banana nut travesty).

But I’m here today to tell you that they are worth your attention.

Especially when you are presented with a basic recipe that can accommodate not only the last of the season’s peaches, but next season’s cranberries. Or next year’s strawberries, or raspberries, or gooseberries, or snozzberries…

…and has a super delicious crumble top…

…and tastes like teensy little bits of “good morning!” that are perfect to wake up to.

The only failing I can find in this recipe is that it takes a couple extra steps and maybe an extra bowl or two, but trust me, they are worth it. You, and your paramour, will thank me.

Fruit Crumble Muffins

Adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery

You will need:

  • 1 muffin tin
  • 1 small saucepan
  • 12 cupcake liners
  • 1 small bowl
  • 2 medium mixing bowls
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 citrus zester
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 magic ice cream scoop

Ingredients for muffin batter:

  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced (you should have 1/3 cup juice, strained to remove pips)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature, natch)
  • 2 1/4 cup flour (bread flour is best but if all you have is all purpose don’t worry, it’s cool)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup seasonal fruit, diced if needed

Ingredients for crumble mixture:

  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Make crumble mixture by placing all dry ingredients in the small bowl, and melting butter. Pour melted butter on the dry ingredients and mix together with a fork, breaking it up with your fingers as needed. Set aside.

In one mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift brown sugar into the dry ingredients to remove any lumps (I use a strainer for this). Whisk together.

In the second bowl, whisk wet ingredients (milk, oil, eggs, orange zest and juice) together.

Pour wet ingredients over dry, and stir to combine. Don’t go crazy here, a few lumps are OK. Fold in whatever fruit you are using.

Use your magic scoop to portion the batter into the muffin cups. My magic scoop was given to me by my mom, who got it from her mom, etc. and so on. You may not be so lucky, but never fear – in the end, you want your paper liner to be about 2/3 full.

Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the tops of the muffins.

Bake at 400 until a tester comes out clean (15 minutes, give or take).

Enjoy with tousled hair, a cup of coffee, and the New York Times.

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Some (but not all) of the reasons…

When it’s three o’clock in New York, it’s still 1938 in London. – Bette Midler

It’s been some time since I’ve been here. Quite awhile, actually.

It isn’t that I’ve forgotten, I’ve just been a little bit busy. But it’s nice to be here.

Even if nobody is looking.

So, where have I been?

Well, I went here:

Which involved some of this:

And this:

And some of this:


There were also cookbook shops (one and two), people to love and enjoy, pouring rain, and the dinner of a lifetime with three of my favorite men, here.

Afterwards, there was a trip to Las Vegas for a bachelorette fete for a lovely and delightful friend, a dislocated ankle (not mine), meeting Ferran Adria (FERRAN ADRIA!!!), going to see Gabrielle Hamilton speak with Kim Severson, helping a lovely friend harvest her backyard vineyard, Anthony Bourdain at the Paramount, and a million other small things that take up the day to day that kept me from the here and now.

All of which leads me to why I am (finally) here today. Turns out that turning everything off for a bit can distill things down and clarify your thoughts and perspectives into something understandable and (dare I say it) meaningful.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a LOT about why professionally crafted food is so different from what most people make in their own homes (not that it’s better or worse, just…different), and it turns out, I have some opinions (shocking, I know).

I won’t claim that that the below is an “end all, be all” list of why restaurant food is better than yours (because who’s to say that it is?), but I do think that its a good start, for me, and for you.

Reason #1: Salt

It’s built and sustained cultures. It has been the basis of international trade and destroyed empires. It is one of the basic tastes the human tongue can perceive, and yet we vilify it, use it sparingly, treat it like a sin. I’m here to tell you that salt is one of the most powerful tools in your cooking arsenal, you just have to learn how to wield it (wisely). Restaurants treat salt differently than you. On the line, salt is an ingredient, not a flavor. It’s part of the elemental structure of a dish, and it’s treated as such. Some starting places for you are:

  • Salt is salt is salt. There no way way to change the NaCl nature of the beast (that expensive pink salt from the Himalayas? Guess what: It tastes exactly like that $5 canister of sea salt you have on your countertop – salty), but the way in which salt is handled after harvest makes a huge difference in the way the tongue perceives it. That flaky sel de mer? It’s fantastic on salads. Finer grain salt is better suited to braises and sauces because it melts more readily into the liquid. For baking, get your hands on some kosher salt (preferably Black Diamond). The point is to think about how you are going to use the salt, and to use the right tool for the job.
  • Ever notice that in the better restaurants, there isn’t a salt shaker on the table? That’s because salt is not only used liberally, but it is also used in layers in a dish, and in (almost) every component on the plate. Think of salt as an integral part of your cooking, and add it as you go along, rather than going crazy at the end.
  • Remember what the goal of salt is: to enhance flavors, not, in the end, to make your dish taste salty. By considering the texture of your salt, and when you add it to your dish, you are already half-way there.
  • Lastly, understand that you will use more in the process of cooking, but you will use less in the end, because you will have enhanced the flavor of your food to a point where shaking more on is actually going to detract from your dish.

Reason #2: Time

This is really a two parter, the first being the amount of time we spend in the kitchen vs. “doing other things” and then the amount of time our food actually spends in the pan.

Part 1: Turns out, not every citizen of the US of A is dying to spend their evening hours toiling over a braised pork shoulder or laminating dough (it’s fun! I swear!) However, as a nation, we spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to reduce our time in the kitchen, looking for a “5 Ingredient Fix” or a meal for a family of 4 that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.  And I get it, I really do. It’s hard to raise children/have a job/care for your house/keep it all together.

But…

What I hear in all this is a desire to have more time to spend as a family. What if, just what if, we treated time in the kitchen not as a chore, but as that family time we are all so desperate to have? What if we saw it for what it is – a way to pass on traditions or make them up as we go along? What if, when our kids leave home, they are prepared to feed themselves on something other than fast food and prepared meals? What if we taught them how to prepare vegetables in a way in which they will actually enjoy them, rather than finding ways to hide them in things? What if they had that one killer thing they can make that will land that guy/girl they’ve got their eye on?

What if we treated the thing we have to do three times every day with a little respect?

Part 2: As a rule, all this hurrying in the kitchen is adding to another way in which we short-change our food. Long story short: it just simply doesn’t spend enough time in the pan. That super delicious chicken you had at Chez Whathisname? I guarantee you it was better because Chef didn’t pull it out of the pan the minute the exterior looked even remotely done. She left it there to get a little brown, let the natural sugars (yes, there are sugars in meat) caramelize and create a deeper flavor. That croissant in Paris? Delicious not only because it was made with a veritable fuck-ton of butter, but also because the patissier didn’t remove them from the oven when they were golden, he waited until they were that deep mahogany, allowing the butter to truly vaporize and create an astounding, flaky, crunchy delight. And that bread at your local artisan baker? Only better because they aren’t afraid of a little dark spot on the loaf.

So, wait a little longer. Go a little further. Let the food do its thing. Don’t burn it, but don’t puss out either. If you aren’t a little nervous, you haven’t gone far enough.

Reason #3: Heat

I need you to start thinking of heat as a tool, as a way to achieve results. Restaurants don’t bake everything at 350. They don’t always use the “medium” setting on the burner. Think about what you are doing, and then think about the heat that will be required to achieve your desired result.

Searing requires a high (yes, use the max setting you have available) heat. It’s OK to get a little agressive. If you need a sear, you need to show your food who’s boss. Are you looking to braise something? I want you to think Marvin Gaye. Low and slow is the way to handle this particular situation. Making soup? This is where the middle ground pays off, letting it bubble along, rather than rapidly boiling it’s way into extinction.

Heat is a tool. Learn how your stove works. Warm (or chill) your plates and bowls. Calibrate your oven, think about what you want your end product to look/taste like, and operate your dial as required.

Reason #4: Garnish

Why aren’t you doing this? It’s easy, and if you are already making dinner, you have all the tools at your disposal.

Did you cook chicken in that pan? A little wine and butter makes a great pan sauce. Did you make a salad dressing? Reserve some herbs and garnish your pork roast so that everything is tied together. Got nuthin? What about a little cheese, or olive oil, or mayonnaise, or yogurt, or balsamic, or mustard, or something, anything to pull it all together.

One caveat: Anything you use to garnish your plate should be edible and make sense. There is nothing worse that than lame-ass piece of curly parsley on the corner of the plate, and don’t even get me started on that ubiquitous sprig of mint that comes on every damn dessert on the planet. If you are really thinking about your garnish, it will not only be edible, but will serve to pull a dish together, make it taste even better, and perhaps even telegraph to the diner what they are about to experience. For instance, you wouldn’t garnish a lemon tart with chocolate shavings, instead, you might want a little whipped mascarpone with lemon zest on top. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to put a red wine sauce on a chicken you marinated in lime and garlic, rather, lean toward a sour cream and chipotle sauce.

And there you have it. Four ways in which to start thinking, really thinking, about the food you eat, and how to make it better.

After all, you only get to do it three times a day.

Trust me, it’s worth it…

…I do like the idea of peach pie. Its name – whisper the words – carries a seductiveness that appeals on a hot, still afternoon when there is little else to do. This is a dessert whose name alone wins you over by its unapologetic softness and deep scent of summer. – Nigel Slater

This post isn’t actually about peach pie. And because it’s the perfect time of year for them, I sorta wish it were. But I don’t regret the recipe I’m about to deliver to you one iota.

You see, peach pie is easy. Get your hands on the recipe for a great pie crust (your auntie’s, your grandma’s, or this one), and fill it up with (a ton of) late summer gold, and you are pretty much set. A little sugar, a little vanilla, maybe even a little butter, but only if you really feel the need to gild the lily. Easy peasy.

But, if you are up for (just a tiny bit) more work, this coffee cake is for you, especially if every other peach-greedy bastard (i.e., ME) has beaten you to the market and you can only get your hands on two or three of the golden beauties.

What is about to be in front of your eyes is the formula that will give you a dense yet delicate cake, which is essentially a whole lotta liquid, barely held together with just enough flour to make a batter. This cake started out as the Campton Place Coffee Cake from Desserts by the Yard, by Chef Sherry Yard, pastry chef at Spago, and by all accounts, one of the most lovely people you will ever meet (which I sincerely hope to do one day, if only to beg forgiveness for messing with her recipe below).

Anyway, when it all comes together, it makes for the most incredible cake with a double filling of peaches, highlighted by cocoa powder and cinnamon. Your mind? Is about to be blown.

Peach Coffee Cake

Adapted from Desserts by the Yard, Sherry Yard

You will need:

  • 2 medium bowls
  • A sifter (I use a large fine mesh strainer)
  • Liquid measuring cups
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Bowl scraper or rubber spatula
  • 1 bundt pan
  • 1 stand mixer
  • Small pot for melting butter
  • Pastry brush (I use a natural hair paintbrush from the hardware store)

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups vanilla yogurt at room temperature

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 12 oz. peaches – peeled, pitted, and diced
  • Optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds, coconut, pistachios, or whatever else strikes your fancy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare your pan by brushing with butter (please don’t use the spray – it’s gross, and always leaves a discernible and undesirable flavor), and then dusting with flour.

Make the filling by combining all ingredients in one of your medium bowls, and set aside.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together in your mixer until light and fluffy. This is going to take about 5 minutes, so don’t get all anxious and stop short. Just let the mixer do the work.

While the butter and sugar are working, sift the dry ingredients together three times (yeah, three times – it’s totally worth it and I swear you’ll be looking for things to sift three times after one taste of this cake). Set aside.

Once the butter and sugar have made friends, add the eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape the edge of the bowl a couple of times with your rubber spatula, and waiting for each egg to be fully incorporated before adding the next.

Scrape the bowl once more, and then with the mixer on its lowest setting, add the wet and dry ingredients alternately, in three additions each. Once everything is incorporated, it’s time to assemble the cake.

Put 1 1/2 cups of batter in the bottom of the pan, and use a spatula to even it out. Then, put 1/2 the filling on top of that. Next, put another 1 1/2 cups batter on top, and even out with a spatula. Add the other half of the peach filling, and then the last portion of batter on top, evening out to complete the assembly.

Bake the cake until a tester comes out clear of batter (about 45 minutes), but don’t forget to rotate half way through. Take cake out and cool for 30 minutes on a rack before inverting onto a plate. Resistance will be futile, so make sure you have a fork handy. Goes good with coffee or tea, but goes great with a favorite face on the other side of the table.

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Four and twenty…

You live and learn. At any rate, you live. – Douglas Adams

I recently had the great good fortune to assist at a baking class held at Della Fattoria, and taught by the inestimable Christa Colardo of Marin Cooking.

The building that Della is located in has been a bakery for over 100 years, and you can see it in every little quirky detail, from the dumbwaiter…

…to the fridge (ever so conveniently located on the second floor).

The focus was baking from the farmers market, and at this time of year, that means only one thing:

Pie.

In all it’s forms.

So, with everything at our disposal, we got to work.

And I have to say, I was REALLY impressed with what the students made.

At this time of year, when the sun shines just a little softer and the evenings are just a bit cooler, you are allowed to contemplate turning on the oven for a just a little bit, and dream of a perfect pie cooling on your windowsill (handsome stranger: optional). Want to try your hand at it? All you need is one thing: a reliable pie crust.

Now, everyone has their thoughts on pie crust, but for me, it’s nothing but an all butter pate brisee, and lucky for you, I’m willing to share:

Pate Brisee

You will need:

  • 1 medium bowl
  • Plastic wrap

Indredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (look, if you don’t have it, don’t worry – just use 1 cups of all purpose flour, it will be just fine)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
  • 7 tbsp. ice water

In the medium bowl, whisk your flour(s) and salt.

Take your butter out of the fridge, and place it in the bowl. Then, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour until you have a some pieces that are small (like crushed crackers) and some that are a bit bigger (like broken walnuts). The mix of sizes is actually important here (when the butter melts in the oven, it vaporizes, making the flakes everyone is after), so don’t try to get it all even and stuff.

Now, add the water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is shaggy (you’ll know it when you see it). It should not come together in a ball (if it does, it’s too wet).

Note: You can do all of this in a stand mixer, if you have one at your disposal, but don’t worry, it’s just as delicious if done by hand.

Once your dough is shaggy, put your plastic wrap on the counter, then turn the contents of your bowl out onto the plastic, and gather it all together. Then, fold up the plastic wrap, and push the dough around until it comes together and you don’t have cracks at the edge.

The last step is to let it rest, for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight in the fridge.

Then, I dare you to not find reasons to line the nearest pie pan and fill it with whatever you have on hand: peaches, berries, chocolate, quiche lorraine…

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More of a “collection”, really…

Anyone who eats three meals a day should understand why cookbooks outsell sex books three to one. – L. M. Boyd

Cookbooks. I have a few.

I also have some mixed feelings about them.

On the one hand, they can be delightful little journeys around the world, or just around the corner. They can inspire you to new heights of ridiculousness (yes, I have driven to three different grocery stores to find unpasteurized heavy cream to make fresh ricotta – and then found it just a few blocks from my house, and also discovered through experimentation that I DIDN’T EVEN NEED IT), and can lead to greatness (beef tenderloin en croute with leeks vinaigrette? Mai oui!). They are windows to a world that isn’t yours, but you wouldn’t mind if it put its slippers under the bed. The right one will send you straight into the kitchen to slice/grate/pickle/braise your way to Valhalla.

On the other hand, cookbooks will chain you down and keep you coming back for more, like a bad boyfriend. They make you dependent on a particular set of steps, ingredients, and methods. The wrong cookbook will try to convince you that you simply must, must do it (whatever “it” is) the author’s way or your efforts will fail miserably and you will die in ignominy (and hungry).  And, as great as that way may be, I *hate* being told what to do. Hate it.

Cookbooks also have a singular ability to drive you nuts when poorly constructed or not well thought out. More than once, I’ve gotten half way through reading a particular recipe, only to be left with having to guess what to do with the bunch of parsley or reserved half-cup of sugar (which I realize is the result of crap editing more than it has to do with the author herself). And, because the author has waxed rhapsodic about enjoying the dish on a deck, with a view, and a chilled glass of flinty white sitting on an artfully restored butcher block table at sunset, I wind up pissed off that I am “enjoying” it in my sweltering kitchen, the remnants of a bottle of (now warm and flat) bubbly water in a Mason jar on the counter, staring at a pile of dirty dishes instead of a vineyard. Fuck.

And they take up a hell of a lot of shelf space.

And they are everywhere around here. They are piled on coffee tables, stuffed into corners, and (despite my half-assed efforts to achieve a semblance of domestic organization worthy of a spread in Dwell) find their way into the shelves reserved specifically for non-food related books (all two of them).

So, even though there are a fair few cookbooks out there that make me idiotic with rage, I’d like to take up a bit of digital space with (yet another) list of those that absolutely rock my world. That changed the way I view food and cooking. If this list was in any way timely and profiled works published only in the last year, I would suggest that we give them an award for pure awesomeness. But (at least this time) this is more of a survey of what’s on my shelf and (more importantly) what’s on my counter, getting down and dirty and (not a little bit) sticky. So, here we go:

Best All Around

Mark Bitman is quite possibly my favorite food guy, ever. And? He wants you to cook. Badly. Not that he wants you to eff up every time you step in front of the stove, rather he is deeply invested in getting a knife in your hand, a whisk in your utensil holder, and a pan on the stove. Moreover, he wants the food you cook to be FOOD. Granted, his columns in the NYTimes have become…curmudgeonly (by his own admission), but his omnibus How to Cook Everything is truly the best book you can have in your kitchen because it provides you with more than recipes. He gives you techniques, and encourages you to step outside the formulas he presents. If you are new to the kitchen, or just need a (really) basic reference, get this.

Best Vegetable (But Not Necessarily Vegetarian)

Yotam Ottolenghi is a genius. No, really, a genius. If you are lucky enough to live in London (or just planning to visit), please please please, go here (there are four: Notting Hill, Islington, Belgravia, and Kensington). And then take your bounty to Green Park (after stopping here for a little light reading) and enjoy your spoils in the golden light of Autumn (because I am picturing you heading over in October, which is my favorite month to land upon their shores). If you aren’t planning to storm the the old sod any time soon, get your hands on his book(s). Nobody has a more beautiful perspective on vegetables, and nobody is combining flavors the way he is. Mr. Ottolenghi, while as committed as the next chef to seasonal and organic, isn’t going to hit you over the head with an Alice Waters-sized sledgehammer about it. He’s more interested in getting YOU interested in making the flora of the land the centerpiece of your meal.

Best for the Devoted Carnivore

The River Cottage Meat Book is, bar none, the best book dealing with the many thorny issues around eating meat. Particularly if you are interested in eating responsibly and sustainably, without pulling a Zuckerberg. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on his way to becoming an institution in the UK DIY food scene (whatever you are thinking of brewing/preserving/curing/raising – he’s done it first), and rightly so. If you start with The River Cottage Meat Book, make sure you follow up with their handbook series (bread, jam, etc.).

Best “Wait, You Can Do That at Home”?

Charcuterie is enjoying a renaissance, particularly with the Do It Yourself set. And, while there’s a lot of weird information out there (which is hilarious, because it’s a pretty straightforward and classic craft), I suggest that you put on your goggles, prepare to get dirty, and dive into this guide for the self-starter salumieri. While Mark Ruhlman will be mentioned more than once in this post, I humbly suggest that if you are interested (and can get your hands on a pork leg) in hanging your own prosciutto or developing a signature smoked duck, this is the book for you. Ruhlman, in partnership with master salumieri Brian Polcyn and Chef Thomas Keller not only explain the principles and process of creating masterful farce (or “force meat” – the basis of all sausage/salami), but also walk you through the different additives and sanitation concerns you need to keep in mind. Long story short: want to make your own chorizo? Get your hands on a copy of “Charcuterie“.

Best “Well Preserved”

I talked about both of these ladies in a previous post, but I’ll say it again: If you want to make good jam (and who doesn’t?!?), you need to get both Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures, and for good measure The Blue Chair Fruit book by Rachel Saunders. ‘Nuff said.

Best Party

If I can’t be Elizabeth David, I would like to be Serena Bass. Times a bajillion.

Best “Celebrity”

I really have nothing to say here. Most “celebrity” cookbooks are too heavy on the celebrity, and too light on the cooking. Additionally, my celebrities are probably a bit nerdier than the standard. That said, for pure entertainment, I nominate Anthony Bourdain for the one line in the Les Halles Cookbook: “If you can’t properly roast a chicken then you are one helpless, hopeless, sorry-ass bivalve in an apron. Take that apron off, wrap it around your neck, and hang yourself. You do not deserve to wear the proud garment of generations of hardworking, dedicated cooks. Turn in those clogs, too.” Luckily, the book is also full of great, technique-based formulas, and I’m pretty sure he feels just ever so slightly douche-y, wearing whites for the cover shot, since he hasn’t been in a kitchen for years (a fact that only he holds against himself – once a cook, always a cook I say).

Best Pastry (Reference)

There are about a million books out there that claim to be the end all, be all  of baking reference books, but I have to say that James Peterson’s Baking is far and away my favorite. Covering everything from sweet to savory, laminated to short dough, bread to biscuit, and puff to praline, this is my go-to book when I have a question about how to get the job done right. The extensive photo work is a great reference for what it might look like (remember, YOU are the chef, not some book, so you get to decide what the final product should look/taste like), and I have yet to have a formula fail.

Best Pastry (Outside the Bag of AP Flour)

A lot of people have already blogged about this book, so I’m just adding my voice to the chorus. In Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce has done a masterful job of expanding the range of baked goods in the average kitchen. Who knew that rye flour would make such an intense danish dough? Oatmeal sandwich bread? Yeah, it’s now the house staple. And Oh. My. God. The whole wheat chocolate chip cookies? A. Maze. Ing.

Best “Damn, That Girl can BAKE”

I’ve mentioned this chef before as well. Joanne Chang’s Flour is on high rotation in this “lady”‘s kitchen, not only because it’s full of solid formulas, but also because she crosses the Franco-American boundary with ease. A cookbook with everything from craquelin to the world’s best granola ever, by way of a cookie entitled “The Chunky Lola”? Sign. Me. Up.

Best “When You are Ready to Give Up the Recipe and Finally COOK”

And here is where I get back to my original thought: Folks, cookbooks are holding you down until you say “Uncle”. If you only ever buy one more cookbook, ever, make it Ratio by Mark Ruhlman. Having this on your shelf is like having a secret decoder ring to the world of food. It will put a whole new perspective on the cookbooks you do have, and will enable you to better judge what books you buy in the future. It will also save you $60K in culinary school tuition.

Best for the Food Nerd

Harold McGee is the master of all things science in the kitchen. Maillard reactions? He understands them, and wants you to as well (but he’s also gonna let you know that it’s just another word for caramelization). Gluten strands? They are some of his best friends. And best of all? He makes them accessible. Well, OK, the really best thing is that I just found out he LIVES DIRECTLY BEHIND A FRIEND OF MINE. Let the stalking begin! Alright, all I really want is for him to sign my copy of On Food and Cooking. And maybe to cook him dinner.

Best Food Writing – Actual Book

You don’t have to take it from me, you can also listen to the James Beard Awards. By far and away, Gabrielle Hamilton has written the best. book. on. cooking. ever. Blood, Bones, and Butter not only covers the psychological ups/downs/inbetweens of being a chef (in a variety of environments from the home kitchen to renown restaurant), but it is one of the most beautifully, finely written works on the shelf. It’s also one of the few written by a woman chef (a subject she covers eloquently and realistically), which like it or not, is a rare and wonderful thing. She’s a bad ass, and if I can’t be Elizabeth David or Serena Bass, I want to be Gabrielle Hamilton, warts and all.

Best Food Writing – After the Blog to Book

Cleaving, by Julie Powell will change your mind about this fantastic author who doesn’t look or act a thing like Amy Adams. Singularly talented, and singularly effed up in all the right ways.

And there it is. Yep, I glossed over some writers I really love, and read over and over and over again, but if I didn’t give the likes of  Nigel Slater (hearts. galore.), MFK Fisher, Julia Child (gasp!), Molly Wizenberg, Deb Perelman, David Lebovitz, and Dan Lepard short shrift (all of whom will get their own posts), we’d be here all night, and there is a glass of wine and two new books (Cooking with Les Dames d’Escoffier and Bacchus and Me) calling my name…

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Honor among thieves…

“You might get the impression from the specifics of my less than stellar career that all line cooks are whacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts and psychopaths. You wouldn’t be too far off base….maybe they’re running away from something-be it an ex-wife, a rotten family history, trouble with the law, a squalid Third World backwater with no opportunity for advancement. Or maybe, like me, they just like it here. “ – Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

I need to come clean: I recently stole something. Well, not really “stole”, and not really “one thing”. More like “borrowed indefinitely” and “four things.”

You see, all cooks are thieves. Not of the “break into your house on Christmas Eve” ilk, but thieves nonetheless. And? I am no better than the next white jacket down the line. Was I shocked to find two more whisks than I left home with and a brand-new-to-me pair of tongs? Not really. Because that’s just how it goes when you are in a hurry to get from one kitchen to another. You aren’t looking too hard at what goes into your kit, and neither is the cook next to you.

Did I mean to do it? No.

Will it happen again? Definitely.

But none of this thievery is intentional. I have no need for more whipping instruments or grabby devices. And in some other cook’s kit is my favorite peeler, a few towels, and a microplane.

Am I irritated by this? Yes. Because that was my *favorite* peeler, dammit.

Am I mad about it? No. Because it’s inevitable, so there isn’t any sense in getting pissy about it.

And now I need to say this: In spite of all this thievery, cooks are the most generous people on the planet. Truly.

We are geared to feed you on a multitude of levels. And when I say “geared”, I mean, it’s essential to our being. We are the lowest on Maslow’s hierarchy, but want nothing more than to ensure that your basic needs are met.

For instance, in the last week, I have delivered two dinner baskets to people who aren’t cooking for themselves for whatever reason, got bored and made carrot cake for the folks at my favorite bar, gave dessert ideas to one of my favorite ladies chasing a guy I heartily approve of (she went with vanilla shortcake with grilled fruit and bourbon whipped cream), delivered restaurant recommendations to a guy I think needs to land a particular girl (I’m really hoping they are able to get a table at Frances), agreed to teach a baking class (at a bakery I think makes the best bread in all the land), and will spend the holiday weekend cooking exactly enough food to satisfy the Holy Roman Army at an event I already told people I wouldn’t be feeding them at, as well as providing desserts for a family event (that I’m pretty sure I’m stepping on some very gracious toes to do so).

And in unwitting trade for the things I gave up, the lovely Patty (with whom my friendship is as uncomplicated as my path to knowing her has twists and turns) provided me with an unprecedented bounty from her garden and the always delightful Paige (who provides a sense of balance and reprieve from judgment) handed off not only a dozen pasture-raised eggs, but also garlic, rosemary salt, 3# of flour, and a loaf of bread from Eat Well Farms.

I? Win.

I also managed to pilfer, along with the aforementioned tools, a jar of the most effing delicious quick-pickled onions I’ve ever tasted. Really. And true to the generous form (in spirit and body) of cooks around the world, I want you to have them too, so here they are:

Pickled Red Onions

Courtesy of Christa Colardo, of Marin Cooking

You will need:

  • 1 sharp knife
  • 1 small saucepan
  • 1 sterilized pint jar and lid

Ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 medium red onions
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch chili flake
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seed
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pinch salt

Slice onions into 1/4″ thick slices. Separate into rings and pack tightly into your jar.

In the saucepan, place all other ingredients, and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour hot mixture over the onions, and close jar. Refrigerate for at least a day before enjoying on salads, sandwiches, or whatever else your little heart desires.

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