Christopher Kimball: "He may be the sole person associated with food journalism to remark, 'There’s something about pleasure I find annoying.'"
"Cooking isn't creative, and it isn't easy." A NYT Magazine piece on Christopher Kimball, Cook's Illustrated, and his franchise (America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country, et al.). "At the core of C.I.’s M.O. are two intrepid observations Kimball has made about the innermost psychology of home cooks. Namely that they 1) are haunted by a fear of humiliation, and 2) will not follow a recipe to the letter, believing that slavishly following directions is an implicit admission that you cannot cook... What the magazine essentially offers its readers is a bargain: if they agree to follow the recipes as written, their cooking will succeed and they will be recognized by family and friends as competent or even expert in the kitchen... The bargain further holds that the peppercorn-crusted filet of beef or butterscotch-cream pie will turn out not only in C.I.’s professional kitchen, with its All-Clad pans and DCS ranges, but also on a lowly electric four-top, using a dull knife and a $20 nonstick skillet." [more inside]
The broth is just chicken and onions, with a confetti of vegetables added at the end where their flavor remains bright. The noodles are wide and winding... But, for me, the real triumph was giving the chicken parts and onion a saute... before adding water to make the soup. This deepened flavor base makes for magical soup, with a bronzed color, more robust flavor and significantly reduced prep time. ... With all of the blustery, cold days to go this winter, everyone... deserves to have a homemade, from-scratch chicken noodle soup that can be pulled off in just about an hour in their back pocket. [more inside]
Like all shrines, this one is on a hill, and built into solid rock. Richard Olney saw it first in 1961 on an excursion south from his adoptive home in Paris. Olney, whose The French Menu Cookbook was recently judged the best cookbook ever by this magazine, immediately knew he had found his proper place on earth. [more inside]
What do tostones, pumpkin pie flan, and egg nog have in common? Not much, except that you can learn how to make them by watching these drag queens' instructional videos.
On November 7, more than 60 chefs will converge on Valladolid, Spain to vie for glory in the annual National Tapas Competition. [more inside]
Archibald Query 's creation, Marshmallow Fluff, followed a winding path to household name. Most famous as a component of the Fluffernutter sandwich, this icon of New England cuisine appears in hundreds of other recipes, including whoopie pies and Mamie Eisenhower's Never Fail Fudge. You can even try making it yourself. . Other homages include the pop-style "Fluffart" of Susan Olsen, perhaps better known to us as the Brady Bunch's Cindy; some video tributes, and the What the Fluff? Festival in Somerville, MA (previously),
Ding Baozhen (1820-1886) was a governor of Sichuan province during the Qing dynasty. The emperor bestowed upon him the title Gōng Bǎo - "palatial guardian". He supervised the reconstruction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. But he achieved immortality through the dish named for him: Kung Pao Chicken. [more inside]
The known knowns, known unknowns, and perhaps even the unknown unknowns of why a calorie is not a calorie.
Ice Cubes - A Recipe. The comments offer many helpful tips.
Tomorrow would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. To celebrate, PBS Digital Studios offers: Julia Child Remixed. They also have created a celebration page, complete with an infographic, recipes, quotes, videos and more. [more inside]
Food writing’s shameful secret, wrote John Thorne his seminal essay, “Cuisine Mécanique”, is its intellectual poverty. John himself is a notable exception. He is one of those rare authors who have the gift of transporting us into a world of their own creation which we are happy to occupy for a while in preference to any other. They are Virgils to our Dante, showing us around the territory and introducing us to the natives. In these magic realms, strangers speak to us immediately as old friends; arriving unexpectedly at dinner time, we find a place already set for us. [more inside]
Buffalo chicken wings were invented by Teressa Bellissimo at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964. Americans will eat 25 billion of them this year - not a few of them at the 10th annual National Buffalo Wing Festival. Some people eat nothing else. Alton Brown steams his. But will any of them be more delicious than these Sriracha Garlic Wings?
Un Petit plat pour l’Homme (A Small Dish For Man) is a cute animated short by Corentin Charron which looks at dining in space. [via]
Edward Behr is the editor and publisher of The Art of Eating, (named for MFK Fisher's book), a well-regarded food magazine. [more inside]
America's Test Kitchen Super Quick Video Tips: "Test Kitchen wisdom distilled into eminently watchable video clips" of no more than a minute or two long, including tips for meat (how to make the most perfect bacon ever - how to quickly defrost meat - how to dry-age steak at home) to coffee (how to make pour-over coffee - how to fake a latte at home) and wine (the fastest way to chill wine) to pizza (flattening dough and baking a perfect thin-crust pizza ) and general kitchen tips (is your knife sharp enough? - do you really need to buy regular olive oil? - how to quickly soften butter and soft cheese). And there's Ask the Test Kitchen quick video tips as well (what's the best way to peel eggs? - how do I store brown sugar?).
Now I agree that to some people using half a kilo of chocolate to make 12 biscuits may seem excessive. But I can tell you I don't put a price on alleviating human suffering. - Nigella Lawson [more inside]
The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends is a short documentary by Jay Cheel whose subject is summed up by its title. You can see other short films by Cheel at his website. The main protagonist of the doc, Gerry Eng, a.k.a. Reed Farrington, has been the subject of many Cheel films, such as Cooking with Gerry, Cooking with Gerry #2, Poutine, A Very Gerry X-Mas and Reed's House.
Pancakes - You have until Saturday, May 19, to make an ugly one.
io9 asks the question: When and Why did Science Fiction drop the ubiquitous "Dinner in a pill" device?
Undoubtedly, at some point in your life, a recipe has told you to brown or caramelize some onions for 5-10 minutes. As many frustrated cooks have found through experience, this step of the recipe is a damned lie. In fact, the now-ubiquitous suggestion of 5-10 minutes isn't even a remote approximation of the amount of time it takes to brown an onion; Alton Brown and Julia Child weigh in on the matter, suggesting that the task can take anywhere from 45 minute to an hour. [more inside]
Harvard's Science & Cooking class - a collaboration between eminent Harvard researchers and world-class chefs - featured a series of public lectures from scientifically-minded A-list chefs, including Ferran Adrià (of elBulli), Wylie Dufresne (from wd~50), Grant Achatz (of Alinea), White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, and Nathan Myhrvold .
Each bite brought a delicate balance between pleasure and pain—deliciously peppery flavor, bought at the price of having your mouth feel like you’d swallowed fire. But the pain was a good pain, somehow. It forced you to slow down and experience each bite, and that’s a rare experience these days. No one mindlessly gobbles Sichuan hot pot, simply because it’s physically impossible to do so without powerful anesthetic.
Pie a la Apple - a recipe for completely edible, single serving apple pies made out of the apples themselves. [more inside]
You have only 128 days left to eat at Charlie Trotter's eponymous restaurant in Chicago. [more inside]
The Pressure Cooker Makes A Comeback. "Pressure cookers are exploding—in a good way—into home and restaurant kitchens. I discovered the joys of pressure cooking last year while reviewing Modernist Cuisine, the 2,348-page encyclopedia of avant-garde cuisine by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold. He argues that pressure cookers are the perfect vessel for making stock, and he's right. Pressure cooking extracts more flavors from the primary materials and keeps them in the pot, where they condense back into a rich, full-bodied liquid. I was blown away by the chicken stock I made the first time I used a pressure cooker. But I didn't stop there. I followed a few of Myhrvold's other suggestions and soon discovered that pressure cookers make superior, stir-free risotto—cooked through, but with a pleasant hint of resistance—after just five-and-a-half minutes at pressure. Braised short ribs are similarly sublime, fork tender without being mushy, and bathed in a broth with an intense, concentrated beef flavor. They went from being a Sunday afternoon project to a supper I could prepare after work on weeknights. Emboldened by success, I even went so far as to pressure cook a surprisingly moist lemon-mascarpone cheesecake." [more inside]
Food Network Magazine's 100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of All Time) goes beyond the basic "taste-as-you-go" kind of advice (though it's in there). [more inside]
Fresh tofu in Japan is far better than it is anywhere else, and the tofu in Kyoto is generally held to be the best in the country. This is generally attributed to the skill, refined court and/or temple-influenced culture and the quality of the local water. ... During my week in Kyoto, I was able to pursue one family business’s vision of what tofu should be from beginning to end. [more inside]
Classic seafood and fish recipes, from a time when it was cheap and plentiful, and often cured in salt.
The Swedish Chef (Muppet Wiki) is the incomprehensible preparer of foodstuffs for The Muppet Show. A rather literal variation of the Live-Hand Muppet concept, the Swedish Chef is a humanoid character, with human hands rather than gloves. An annotated list of every televised appearance of the Swedish Chef is after the fold... Børk! Børk! Børk! [Click here to view the thread translated fully into Mock Swedish] [more inside]
For Super Tuesday, sardonic food writer Michael Procopio presents an excellent Rick-Santorum-themed cake recipe. [more inside]
In [the USA], buying a good over-the-counter nasal decongestant requires picking a card from an empty spot on the shelf, taking it to the pharmacist, handing over your driver's license, and getting it from behind the counter. Only the larger drug stores bother. Meth, on the other hand, is apparently easier to come by. So here (PDF), from the the wonderfully named Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry, is a paper on how to make Sudafed® from Meth.
These people in the midwest, they wouldn't know a bagel from a donut. They only saw a bagel if one fell off a truck. Four professors were dissecting it before they found out what it's all about.
Hiya Freddie baby, give me a dozen...my life's blood, without bagels what is a day? Yah make it a dozen assorted. Dat's it, give me the garlic, the sesame, the onion, give me them all baby, that's it! They're still handmade eh? Hot Bagels! Wait a second let me PAY yah! Here you are, kid. Thank you. Have a good day.
This is the perfect recipe for those of you who like to enjoy a big bowl of macaroni and cheese for dinner and absolutely nothing else. It’s beautifully flavored, creamy, cheesy, and with the smokey bite of crisp salty bacon on top?? Oh man, you guys are in for a treat — I’m not even kidding. It’s amazing. (previously)
Noma's Chef Rene Redzepi, whose dishes include Vintage Carrot and Chamomile; The Sea; and Asparagus and Spruce, on the science of deliciousness and the importance of using local ingredients. [more inside]
Kitchen Nightmares shows Gordon Ramsay helping restaurants make miraculous turnarounds. Ramsay helped relaunch Austin, Texas's El Greco, but the restaurant still ended up closing. Some people are saying that Ramsay's interference may have been the final nail in the coffin for the restaurant.
If you don’t use the right potatoes, the right oil, and the right fryers, well, you get french fries. And that’s the reason you don’t find Belgian fries anywhere. [more inside]
Black Chefs' Struggle For The Top With the restaurant industry booming and chefs becoming celebrities and wealthy entrepreneurs, few blacks are sharing in that success, and as young black men and women enter the profession they are finding few mentors or peers. [more inside]
Energetic consequences of thermal and nonthermal food processing. Or, as discussed by Discover Magazine, Why Calorie Counts Are Wrong: Cooked Food Provides a Lot More Energy. (N.B. second link references a video of house mice eating a baby albatross alive.)
Chef Sanjay Thumma (vahrehvah.com) wants to teach you how to make pretty much any Indian dish you can think of.
He does not cook like you do. But I would like an invitation for dinner: Cajun Stuffed Pork Chops with Bacon [more inside]