Tortilleria Nixtamal

Yesterday I made a journey I’d been putting off for a while.

Actually, it wasn’t even a journey I knew I could make. See, for my cookbook, I needed to track down fresh corn masa. I wasn’t sure where in New York I could get that until I read this excellent post on the Cooking Issues blog which details Dave Arnold’s attempt to make fresh corn tortillas in the French Culinary Institute kitchen. Dave ultimately finds fresh corn masa at a place called Tortilleria Nixtamal in Queens.

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Italian Plum Oatmeal

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The idea of a natural sweetener isn’t a concept that resonates particularly well with my family. “Can you pass the Equal?” “Is there a Splenda?” These are words you will hear often if you ever eat with my mother or grandmother. And when I put that brown “raw” sugar packet in my coffee? I may get scolded with: “Why do you have to use sugar? It’s fattening!”

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Three Ways to Follow Me

So you may have noticed I haven’t been updating the blog as much lately. That’s because I owe my book on April 15th! That date is creeping up quickly. In the meantime, there are three excellent ways to keep up with my goings-on: #1. Twitter. Do you follow me there? You should, I’m lots of fun. Check me out: @amateurgourmet; #2. My newsletter. Here’s this week’s, in case you missed it (click here) and if you enjoy it, you can subscribe here; finally there’s the newest and latest way to follow me, #3. My Facebook Fan Page. Click here to “like” and follow my new stream of updates.

Let’s Talk About Lettuce

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I started cooking seven or eight years ago, maybe even a little further back, and it was around the time that people stopped buying whole heads of lettuce and started buying lettuce, pre-washed, in those little plastic tubs. The tubs, which are now omnipresent, have labels like “Spring Salad Mix” and “Herb Salad Mix” and they cost, usually, around $5. And like many of you out there, if I wanted to make a quick lettuce salad, I’d grab one of those tubs, pay my $5, bring it home, dress it up and call it a day.

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Kings of Pastry

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My hands flew to my face several times last night.

It was 1:30 AM and I’d made a mistake. At midnight, exhausted after testing four recipes, I loaded up “Kings of Pastry” on AppleTV just to see if it was something I wanted to watch. To say that I was immediately hooked would be a profound understatement; I was so engrossed, that by 1:30 my heart was beating so fast and I was biting my nails so nervously, there was no way I’d ever get to sleep.

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Pickle Juice & Chili Salt in Your Beer

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

As a Jew, I’m not quite sure who St. Patrick is or why he has a day; I’m more familiar with St. Schlomo and his afternoon where you eat chopped liver and call your grandmother, but that’s neither here nor there. What is here and there is that some of you (many of you?) will be drinking beer today, and I’d like to tell you about something that I experienced involving beer last Saturday during a meeting of the “Bad Movie Club.”

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The Hot Dog at Katz’s Deli

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There was a time in my life when I couldn’t conceive of going to Katz’s Deli and not ordering the pastrami.

That would be like going to France and eating pizza; or going to the world’s best sushi restaurant and asking them to cook your fish. Go to Katz’s and not order pastrami? You’ve got to be kidding! Only the other night, after we saw our friend Cary’s movie “Jane Eyre” (Cary went to film school with Craig), we found ourselves at Katz’s Deli and I was very hungered. And the line for pastrami was oh so long. Reader, I got a hot dog.

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Purple Peruvian Potato Hash

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A good argument to be made about the farmer’s market is: if you really believe in it, and go there to support farmers and local, sustainable agriculture, you should patronize it all year, including those rough months of winter.

That is a good argument but, unfortunately, a rather impractical one. I mean when it’s bitter cold out, I can barely get myself out the front door, let alone 14 blocks north and 3 avenues east to the farmer’s market. In my own defense, though, when the weather turns nice? I’m there in a heartbeat.

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