Fernand Point was not one of your gym-going, globe-trotting, Ph.D.-equipped chefs. He was a roast-chicken-for-breakfast-eating, two-bottles-of-Champagne-at-lunch-drinking, big fat (no way around it) guy, the stereotype of the mid-20th-century French chef and almost without question the most influential of his time.
His time was on either side of World War II, and his place was La Pyramide, about a half-hour south of Lyons, often considered the mecca of French cuisine. During the war itself, he fed refugees from the north and then closed for six months rather than feed the occupying forces. His lifestyle was legendary, as was his cooking. (His wine cellars, too — though they were overseen by Mme. Mado Point. They had their share of great Burgundies and Bordeaux but also brought respectability to Rhone wines, even the still-overlooked whites. Mme. Point also ran the restaurant after her husband’s death in 1955, by most reports brilliantly.) Everyone ate at La Pyramide, or wanted to. Half the great French chefs of the next generation — men like Bocuse, Chapel, Outhier and Vergé — trained under him.
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I couldn’t think of a better way to conclude my three-day stint on the Today Show than cooking chocolate mousse with Matt Lauer. All of the essential cooking techniques that I demonstrated this week (plus many, many more) can be found in my new book, How to Cook Everything: The Basics.
For my second day this week on the Today Show, I cooked stir-fried beef with basil and chiles, and herb-rubbed roast pork. Get the recipes here, and check out out all the cooking techniques you need to know in my new book, How to Cook Everything: The Basics.
I was on the Today Show this morning (the first of three days in a row) demonstrating vegetable cooking techniques from my new book, How to Cook Everything: The Basics. For me, the easiest way to think about it is to group vegetables into three categories: greens, tender vegetables, and hard vegetables. You can cook the vegetables within each category pretty much the same way, so once you learn a few basic techniques, you’ll be able to cook any vegetable you can think of. Check out the video (above) and a simple recipe from each category here, and stay tuned for techniques for cooking meat (tomorrow), and desserts (Thursday).
By Daniel Meyer
Yesterday, in my capacity as occasional co-tester of Mark’s recipes, I wound up with a duck. My responsiblities to this bird were fairly light: scribble down the easiest way to cut it up, roast the carcass with some vegetables, and make stock. Easy enough.
After stashing the legs and a breast in the freezer, straining the stock, and nibbling on the vegetables (soft and slick with duck fat) for lunch, I was left with a single boneless breast and a roasted/simmered carcass. I picked the meat from the carcass, scored and salted the breast, and put it in the fridge (right next to the container of day-old white rice.) Fate sealed. Duck fried rice for dinner.
I started with the breast, skin-side down, in a cold skillet over medium-low heat (the modest and gradual heat gently renders out the fat without burning it.) It took about eight minutes to crisp the skin, then three or four on the other side to cook the meat to a rosy pink.
With the breast resting under foil on the cutting board, I added some of the meat pulled from the carcass and cooked it in the rendered fat until chewy and crisp (essentially duck carnitas, a dish worthy in its own right.) After the crisping it all went very quickly: I added sliced carrots and celery and cooked them until just pliant, then the rice until barely browned, minced garlic and ginger until fragrant, and finally a beaten egg until scrambled (salting everything to taste along the way.) I sliced the duck breast over the top of the rice and that was it.
All in all, this was one of the more indulgent and satisfying dishes I’ve made in a while. There are probably a million things to do with duck that’s now in the freezer, but my best guess is that I’ll just wind up making this again.
A couple of representatives of the Federal Trade Commission, evidently stung by my column last week (in which I called the agency “spineless”), scheduled a phone call to remind me that the F.T.C. doesn’t have the ability to pass legislation that determines how Big Food markets to children.
I knew that. But that doesn’t mean the F.T.C. needs to praise the industry for its ridiculously transparent self-regulation scheme. Here’s Jon Leibowitz, agency chairman, quoted in The Times: “The industry’s uniform standards are a significant advance and exactly the type of initiative the commission had in mind when we started pushing for self-regulation more than five years ago.”
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So last week I wrote about oatmeal, now I’m cooking it.
Thank you to everyone who has read the Minimalist column. It has been thirteen wonderful years of cooking and thinking about food. Here’s to many, many more (and some champagne for the road.)
My friend and colleague Gabe Johnson has shot and produced every single Minimalist video (more than 200.) Here he describes his favorite one to shoot (and more importantly to eat.)