Monday, November 30, 2009

On Your Newsstand Now

Just a tiny, ahem, personal promotion: the December issue of Ladies' Home Journal carries a reprint of my essay on my obsession with sprinkles, which originally appeared in The New York Times in October 2008. (Note that the photo here is of the November 2009 LHJ -- I couldn't find one of the December cover, which features Nicole Kidman.) The LHJ piece is titled "Sugar on Top," but the NYT version is "For This Baker, the Cookie Is a Canvas." I'll put a link in the column to the right here, or you can pick up the magazine to see it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The First Thanksgiving
What's cooking? Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

This year, my son and daughter-in-law -to-be are hosting their first Thanksgiving. Her family will be joining them, but we’ll be in Texas, so I’m not there to help, which pains me, as I count group cooking as one of the most fun activities. Desperate to contribute, I sent cookies.

What cook doesn’t remember that maiden voyage? My first attempt was fraught with anxiety over the bird in particular, so more than anything that year, I was thankful for the turkeys with those little pop-up thermometers that tell you when the meat is done. And in that vein, I recommend to my DILTB (and to any other anxious cooks) the excellent op-ed piece in Sunday’s New York Times, “Thanksgiving Recipe: Just Chill,” which more elegantly elaborates on something I’ve told many of my friends over the years: Most people – especially those who cook regularly – are just happy to have a meal that someone else prepared. And as for doing it all yourself, you need to keep in mind that the people on Top Chef and its ilk have not only years of training but – and this is important – ASSISTANTS. Moreover, someone else went out and bought the ingredients. Think of Giada and Martha and Rachel and Mario (who I really feel I know on a first-name basis), and just imagine how many choppers and slicers and dicers they’ve got making ready in the studio. Now, don’t you feel better?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Bit of Cranberry with Your Pinot
What's cooking? Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir

My current favorite cranberry sauce recipe calls for two cups of pinot noir. You can get a buzz just from the fumes as it cooks.

In addition, however, I almost always have to make that classic relish – from cranberries and oranges and sugar – regardless of what else is on the menu. When I was little, probably in elementary school, my Aunt Marcy – long known as the cook in the family – began a tradition of letting me help her make it every year. Those were the days before food processors, so we used a big, clunky meat grinder – the kind that clamp onto the table and then drip juice all over the floor. At least, that was the way it went when I helped. Somehow, I managed to keep my fat little fingers out of the grinder part, which seems like nothing short of a Thanksgiving miracle to me at this point.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Desserts R Us
What’s cooking? Rustic Pear Galette

A friend and I drove down to San Antonio this weekend, to the Culinary Institute’s Texas campus for a one-day seminar on baking desserts. I got less from it than I had hoped – after the fab two-day courses this summer in basics and hors d’oeuvres (see August 28 and September 3 postings), I had some idea that this one would transform the way I think about desserts.