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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Even the most experienced cooks, gardeners or not, stand to learn a great deal from The Art of Simple Food II.
Above: Beautiful lettuce photo from Shutterstock.com.


In reviewing Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food II, I returned to its predecessor, The Art of Simple Food, published in 2007.  I’d recently been immersed in multi-step recipes with complex techniques and arcane ingredients. And while flaming cognac, blanching salt pork, and messing around with shrimp paste are all highly diverting, The Art of Simple Food reminded me that all are unnecessary when a delicious meal is desired. 


One only needs a basic kitchen: iron skillet, a knife, a heat source, and some food: a vegetable, a protein perhaps a piece of fruit. Et viola: dinner.


 


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Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014
As Alzheimer's pulls Wolfert away from us, we are made doubly aware of the history she brings to the table with every dish. We don't want to lose that history.
Above image from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2013)


I have before of me an original edition of Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. Written in 1973, this book put Moroccan food on the American map, or more accurately, into American mouths. One need only read Gael Greene’s introduction to realize how very spoiled we’ve become, 40 years later. Greene, invited to Wolfert’s New York apartment to taste from the cookbook-in-progress, writes about what to bring:


Blockquote“Do I bring flowers? Wine? Bonbons? No, I bring cilantro (green coriander) because fresh cilantro is the badge of our friendship.  (She can’t buy it in her neighborhood. I can. A friend would not cross town without cilantro.)”blockquote


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Thursday, Feb 6, 2014
Mussels are an inelegant if delicious food. Serve this to your nearest and dearest with nary a thought to table manners.

Mussels in Cider comes straight from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella’s Kitchen, a cookbook I go on about, but it sees a lot of action in my kitchen. Forget Lawson’s recent bout of public scrutiny: the woman can cook. I’ve never had a recipe of hers go awry, even when baking, my weakest point in the kitchen. And Mussels in Cider, as she puts it, is a recipe that “doesn’t begin to convey the luxe-for-less-time gloriousness of the feast”.


I actually test drove this recipe on a time-crunched Saturday night, but “Saturday night test drive” lacks alliterative punch. But Lawson is right: the results far outweighed the crazed five minutes of prep (truly, I was frantic) and the one pot I needed to wash afterward. I used Price Edward Island mussels, which my fishmonger sold cleaned and debearded.  Five dollars worth amply fed two.


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Monday, Jan 13, 2014
I have a New Year's confession to make. I did not burn, scorch, mangle, or ruin. My sin was much worse. I threw out perfectly good food.

In the many food blogs that appear to be overtaking the internet, one never sees a mistake.


Nobody, it seems, in their perfectly appointed kitchens, has ever charred a chicken, torched a tomato, or just plain ruined a recipe. Nosiree, everything out there in internetland is gorgeous, parsley-flecked, and perfectly ready to eat.


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Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, December 3rd, chef Judy Rodgers died of cancer. She was 57 years old.

Rodgers was famed both for her restaurant, San Francisco’s beloved Zuni Cafe, and the award-winning cookbook she wrote in 2002, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.


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