If you cook, you can’t avoid mess—or cleaning. Taking raw ingredients and transforming them with heat and fat is a chemical reaction, and the results are delicious food and greasy spatters. The downside of cooking is seldom discussed. So it’s no wonder Mark received an email from a new cook this week inquiring about his cleaning techniques. Here’s his philosophy from How to Cook Everything:
“As for me, I keep a spotlessly clean kitchen, [and] wash my hands about twenty times a day…It boils down to common sense: Don’t let your kitchen be a breeding ground [for bacteria]. Many experienced cooks and chefs are fanatical about cleanliness, and it works; that’s the best way to avoid food-related illness.”
He touches on the mantra in professional kitchens: “clean as you go.” Chefs are constantly cleaning because they are handling such a high volume of production in cramped conditions with a fixed set of tools. So you’re slightly better off at home.
But if you’re feeling bad that your kitchen doesn’t look like a spotless professional display kitchen, there’s more behind the scenes. Chefs have to be ready for the health inspector at any moment, and have a team of porters to wash dishes and cooks that scrub down every square inch of surface in the kitchen every night. Unless you run your family like a French restaurant brigade, you usually go it alone. Continue reading →
The winter CSA at Glynwood (located in New York’s Hudson Valley), in a good week, provides us with more winter vegetables than anyone other than a full-time vegan with the time to cook nonstop could handle. This means two or three types of cabbage, a gorgeous array of winter squash (some of which, like the spectacular fairy squash, are new to me), onions, leeks and other alliums, and, of course, roots: black and watermelon radishes, a variety of turnips, beets, potatoes, parsnips, carrots…what am I missing?
I like eating some of these roots raw—the best turnips taste better to me raw, there’s nothing like thin-sliced kohlrabi with a sprinkle of salt, I don’t have to tell you how good a carrot can be, and I love raw beet salad with vinaigrette. But there is a very practical limit to how much of this you can indulge in, and, as my friend Kerri once said to me when I went on a raw-vegetable binge, it is defined by your stomach’s ability to act as a juicer. When raw, these babies are not that easy to digest. Continue reading →
I’ve never made layered bars before and it ended up being a snap. A buttery dough with just a bit of sugar gets pressed into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan, then baked until the edges brown and pull away from the pan, about 15 minutes. Continue reading →
I made the Chocolate Chunk Cookies from How to Bake Everything yesterday in a ridiculously short amount of time. The dough took only 5 minutes to put together, then I stuck it in the fridge to tend to a (lovely) needy baby, pulled it out later that night after said child was sleeping, plunked rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets, baked for 9 minutes at 375 degrees, and was eating melty warm cookies (I did not abide by the “cool for about 3 to 5 minutes” instruction) almost immediately after I was done with dinner. Continue reading →
For years, I’ve talked about what I like to call “less-meatarianism” – an attempt to move away from the all-or-nothing mantras of dietary restrictions and think about incremental investments that we as eaters can make in a healthier and more sustainable food system.
Eating less and better meat makes sense from just about every perspective. At this point, we know that reducing meat consumption and eating more plant-based foods promotes better health (something the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are finally talking about, though not explicitly enough). Beyond our health, decreasing meat consumption could have far-reaching implications for industrial meat production and its practices that we know are damaging to our environment, our workers, and our animals’ welfare. Continue reading →
Here are a few words by Jose Oliva and the Food Chain Workers Alliance about the proposed new Labor Secretary, possibly Trump’s worst appointment yet (although given the others, that’s not for sure):
Andy Puzder is a completely unacceptable choice for Labor Secretary. An avowed enemy of restaurant industry reforms, his past is riddled with class action wage theft lawsuits, sexist remarks, and falsehoods that paint wage increases as ‘job-killers,’ minimum wage earners as entitled teenagers, and his own employees as lazy welfare recipients. His nomination threatens the incredible gains our members in the restaurant industry such as ROC United have made over the past eight years, including eliminating the subminimum wage and establishing One Fair Wage for all workers. Contrary to what Puzder and his associates at the National Restaurant Association would have you believe, restaurant workers are largely women and people of color, making as little as $2.13 per hour, and thus relying on tips to survive. As a result, they face disproportionate rates of poverty, discrimination, and sexual harassment. They deserve a Labor Secretary that believes, as Dr. King once said, that all labor has dignity. On behalf of the nation’s 21.5 million hard-working food-chain workers and the 12 million restaurant workers, the Food Chain Workers Alliance and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United opposes the nomination of Andy Puzder as Labor Secretary.
I was sitting at my desk at the Times 10 years ago when Jim Lahey – whom I knew only by reputation – emailed me: “I have a new method of making bread that requires no kneading and can give you professional results at home.”
I started baking bread in 1970, and, when my friend Charlie Van Over developed what I still believe is the best food processor method there is, I adopted that and never looked back. But Lahey’s invitation was intriguing, and, besides, Sullivan St. Bakery was a 10 minute walk from the Times. (Not, as you might imagine, on Sullivan Street, but on 47th Street.) Why the hell not?
It was a period during which the Times was experimenting with video, and I was one of the lucky guinea pigs. So on a bright November day (Jim insists it was election day 2006; I have no recollection), I walked over with two video people, we watched Jim do his thing, I wrote it up, the video people edited, and …. It became one of the most popular stories in the history of the Times.
That level of popularity was a peculiar confluence of events, but that bread recipe (which I used yesterday, and will tomorrow, barely unchanged from the original), has legs. That original description by Jim remains true, and literally millions of people now make bread according to Jim’s instructions.
A few weeks ago, just before election day 2016, I met two video people from Food & Wine at Sullivan Street (which hasn’t changed much) and we taped a reunion, with Jim commenting on and critiquing my technique (which evidently isn’t bad). You can watch (the extremely abridged version) here. As you can tell – we had fun.
My youth was dotted with pecan-crusted cheese balls, the hub of every respectable 1960’s aluminum party platter. The display varied from hostess to hostess—and competed for coffee-table real estate with full ashtrays and empty highball glasses—but relish trays were an obligation taken seriously. There might be devilled eggs and vegetables marinated in red wine vinegar and dried oregano. Cubes of salami and bacon-wrapped cocktail onions. We kids ate canned black olives we had stuck on our fingertips as we ran outside to play; the adults dragged a Ritz through the artichoke dip on their way to the bar.
Now, as an adult, I can hardly go a day without an assortment of piquant snacks, especially during the holidays. And my guests are frequently subjected to the same fate. But instead of confining the selection to a tray, I scatter little bowls and plates across the whole dining room table and call it “The Relish Spread.” Continue reading →