Breakfast Risotto

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Is there any dish with more rules attached to it than risotto? Watch any episode of Top Chef where someone tries to make it, and you’re bound to see someone packing their knives and going home. There are rules about the kind of rice you use (Arborio vs. Carnaroli), what kind of stock you use (dark stock, light stock) and the consistency it should have when it’s done (toothsome? pliant? mushy?). These rules matter if you’re cooking on television, but at home these rules go out the window: I’m here to tell you that risotto is a cinch to make–you can even make it with water! (something I learned watching Lidia Bastianich)–and, best of all, you can make a really good one, with bacon and egg and cheese, for breakfast.

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Birthday at Bestia, Dinners at Chez Emily, The Hart and the Hunter & The Coconut Club

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When you look at these pictures, you’re not going to believe me when I tell you I’ve been on a bit of a health and fitness kick lately. That’s right: five days a week at the gym, salads, chicken breasts, the works. My strategy, though, is to reward myself on weekends and birthdays and at dinner parties–haha, I know you’re rolling your eyes–which is how I can justify what you’re about to see. Because last week I turned 35 and Craig surprised me with dinner at a restaurant I’ve been dying to try ever since I first heard about it: Bestia in downtown L.A.

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A Healthy Farmer’s Market Buffet

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A few weeks ago, for the Golden Globes, I did something I’d never done before: I served health food to a crowd. Now when I say “health food,” I don’t mean the punishing kind that makes you weep with displeasure (tofu on a bed of undressed arugula or something like that); I mean the kind of food that actually makes you feel good, light, refreshed, well-fed but not sick. In other words, the total opposite of the kind of food I normally serve to a crowd (see: chili, lasagna, Sunday gravy, etc). How did this all come about? It started at the farmer’s market.

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Sauce Week Recap

Well hey there: did you have a good Sauce Week? I’d say it was a big success but then again maybe I’m biased. Here’s a recap of all the posts that made up our week:

Rib-Eye Steak with Sauce Béarnaise
Espagnole Sauce: My Culinary Everest by Diana Fithian
Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc Sauce (Or: Don’t Tell Your Doctor) by Steve Johnson
Gina DePalma’s Fonduta by Gina DePalma
What’s Your Favorite Sauce Recipe?
Pesto Trapanese by Dara Bratt
Pesto By Hand by Alex Dickson
Scallops and Cauliflower with Caper-Raisin Sauce
Trinidad Harvest Hot Sauce by Tim Artz
Making Your Own Hot Sauce Will Change Your Life by Matt Morris
Amanda Cohen’s Grapefruit Beurre Blanc by Amanda Cohen
Peter Dale’s Pecan Muhummara by Peter Dale

That’s all folks! Thanks to everyone who participated and for making this week so very saucy.

Peter Dale’s Pecan Muhummara

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[Our final Sauce Week post comes to us from Chef Peter Dale, of The National in Athens, Georgia. Take it away, Peter!]

I first had this dish in Jordan several years ago, and it was served as a dip with hummus. You can certainly do that, but I like using it as a sauce. It works particularly well with lamb, but would also be great with chicken and a meaty fish like swordfish.

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Amanda Cohen’s Grapefruit Beurre Blanc

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[Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen isn’t just one of the best chefs going today, she’s also a fantastic writer. Here’s her take on a sauce you met earlier this week, only with her unique twist. Take it away, Amanda!]

It’s not one of French cuisine’s mother sauces, nor is it a “daughter” sauce, but it is my favorite sauce and it was actually invented by a woman (Clémence Lefeuvre) so that already puts it one up on fussy old Escoffier. It’s beurre blanc (white butter) sauce and it will rock your world.

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Making Your Own Hot Sauce Will Change Your Life

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[My friend, filmmaker Matt Morris, offers up his own take on hot sauce, “an easier one” he points out after reading the post below this. Take it away, Matt!]

I recently moved to the Napa Valley, a land of such abundance that it’s almost impossible to visit a friend without leaving with large sacks of produce, dozens of backyard eggs, and cases of wine in tow.

In order to keep this food from going to waste, you must find ways to preserve, pickle, and can. Most people who regularly cook never think to make their own condiments, which isn’t that difficult and always significantly tastier than store bought. But which condiment stands above them all?

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Trinidad Harvest Hot Sauce

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[When I wrote my cookbook, I had the pleasure of meeting and cooking with Tim Artz, the self-described “Sultan of Scratch” who grows and cooks almost everything that he eats. One of his signature specialties is hot sauce; and here, in this post, he describes his love for the stuff and offers up an original recipe. Take it away, Tim!]

I love hot and spicy foods. I crave bold and lively flavors. Not to say that I don’t care for mild, savory and nuanced flavor, but given a choice, I would opt for hot.

I never experienced any hot foods as a kid growing up. Maybe the hottest thing I ever had was some red pepper flakes sprinkled on a slice of pizza or some cherry peppers on a hoagie. I remember all of my first truly zesty bites: hot mustard on an egg roll in a Chinese restaurant, Indian curry when the first Indian restaurant opened in my home town in Pennsylvania, and the cayenne peppers my dad decided to start growing in his garden while I was a university student.

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