How To Make Fried Chicken

The undisputed master of fried chicken here in New York City is Chef Charles Gabriel of Rack n’ Soul and now Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken (there’s a big article about it in today’s New York Times.) Chef Gabriel is such a master, it was an absolute privilege this summer to stand at his side in his Harlem kitchen watching him pan fry chicken the way it’s been done in his family for generations. What follows is our latest Food2 video, which not only gives you the recipe for Chef Gabriel’s legendary chicken, but also shows you my efforts to recreate it at home (with some comedy thrown in):

The only note I’ll add here is that, in the video, it doesn’t mention that Chef Gabriel also puts the spice mixture on the raw chicken too, so it gets seasoned on three levels: the chicken, the batter and the flour. I’ve now made this chicken several times and it really cant be beat.

How To Make Doughnuts

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who can delay gratification and those who can’t. The following video, our latest from Food2.com, explores this subject with two recipes for doughnuts; one for those who like slow authentic doughnuts (recipe courtesy of Emily Isaac from Trois Pommes Patisserie in Park Slope) and the other for those who like ’em fast and dirty (recipe courtesy of our friend Krisse, my director Josh’s wife (you can see her making them in an old post here)). These recipes are like mirrors; whichever one you choose will reveal the real person within. So which are you: slow and authentic or fast and dirty? Choose a doughnut and choose YOUR DESTINY.

How To Make a Chocolate Souffle

One of the highlights of making our Amateur Gourmet show for Food2.com, was the day we got to visit the kitchen of Le Bernardin–one of the nation’s, if not the world’s, great restaurants–to learn how to make a chocolate souffle from revered pastry chef (and blogger!) Michael Laiskonis. What follows is the video we made, with step-by-step instructions that result in a chocolatey souffle that’s as ethereal as it is delicious. Hope you enjoy! [For the full typed-out recipe, click here.]

How To Roast A Duck

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Certain foods are meant to be cooked at home: roast chicken, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs. Other foods are meant to be eaten out: steak tartare, sushi, a flaming baked Alaska. Sure we can make those latter foods at home, but often times they’re not worth the hassle or the danger (raw steak at home? setting cake on fire? I’ll let a pro handle that, thank you).

Duck, I’d wager, is something most of us eat out. We expect the skin to be crispy and for there to be some kind of glaze. It’s a fancier food unless we get it in a Chinese restaurant and then it becomes a mysterious food: how do they make this duck taste so good? And why, when I try to make duck at home, does it either bomb dramatically or make me sick or both?

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How To Make An Apple Pie

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Some of us have Oedipal complexes, others have Electra complexes, but very few of us have a complex based on apple pie. Allow me to lay on your therapist’s couch for a moment: I have a serious pie issue. My apple pie is inadequate–it comes from Martha Stewart–and though it often inspires a happy nod and a fleeting smile, it rarely induces the kind of exaltation that comes when Craig’s dad–who we’ll call “Steve” because that’s his name–makes his signature apple pie.

What is it that makes his pie so good? Why do my pies never measure up? On a recent visit to Bellingham, Washington–home of “Steve”–I decided to solve this mystery once and for all. What follows are the closely-guarded secrets of Steve’s Signature Apple Pie; a pie that I finally recreated at home to much acclaim–so much acclaim that I don’t need this therapy anymore. How much do I owe you?

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How To Cook For A Group

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Journeys of self-discovery are often internal; we go to the desert, we go to the beach, we go to the forest, and, in our solitude, we unlock secrets from the past, untapped desires, revelations about who we are and why we are the way we are. Other times, journeys of self-discovery are external: case in point, my trip to Cape Cod with Craig and his film school friends a few weeks ago. It was there in Cape Cod that I discovered something about myself, something that I didn’t really know: when it comes to cooking for a group, that ain’t my thing!

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Tuesday Techniques: How To Make Jam

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Craig’s cousin Matt came to stay with us this past week and he and his friend (who also stayed with us) had a wild time. Out every night, hitting up the town, they’d wake up bleary-eyed every morning and ask me what Craig and I did the night before. “We, ummm, bought a keg and threw a block party,” I’d lie, ashamed of the truth: that I’d made dinner, we’d watched “The Wire” on DVD, and went to bed early.

And then any credibility I had as a vibrant young person went out the window when they came home one day to find me at the stove next to a pile of cherry pits.

‘What are you doing?” they asked, watching me sweat and stir.

“I’m making sour cherry jam,” I said.

They looked at one another and then back at me. “You’re making your own jam?” they asked, incredulously.

“Yes,” I said and suddenly felt my hair turn gray, my glasses slide down my nose, and my back hunch over. “Oh no!” I gasped. “Can it be? Do I have I.G.S.?”

I checked my symptoms online, consulted a web doctor, and my worst fears were confirmed: I’d caught the bug, and I wasn’t going to get better. Instant Grandma Syndrome. I was a hunched-over jam-maker, and “Golden Girls” reruns and early bird specials were to become my new way of life.

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How To Make Bland Pasta Better

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The pasta you see above may call to you and cause you to eat your computer screen, but don’t be fooled. Before I put that pasta through Amateur Gourmet Pasta Rehab, it was a bland, boring mess. Two ingredients came from the farmer’s market: fresh corn and basil. The corn, as I should’ve guessed this time of year, wasn’t very sweet (even though it was advertised as sweet corn). The recipe (which you can read here) came from Michael Chiarello who is that suave-looking guy on the Food Network. I don’t blame him for this pasta being bland, but–strangely enough–I do blame him for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Go figure.

So I’ve had this experience before: the pasta’s in the pot boiling away (in properly salted water) and you’re making the sauce and you taste the sauce and it tastes pretty excellent and then you take the pasta out just before it’s done to finish cooking in the sauce (an essential step, I think, so the pasta and sauce are united as one) and then once you’ve turned the heat up and let the liquid all evaporate (when the pasta and sauce are united as one, you should be able to drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the saute pan and just see the bottom of the pan) you taste and it’s pretty bland. That’s what happened with this pasta. Some might’ve fallen on their knees and screamed out, “Why!! Why, God, why!?” and then broke out into “Why God Why” from Miss Saigon but not me. Here’s what you do to make bland pasta better:

1. Add salt. Well, duh. But this is a tricky step. At this point, there should already be salt in the pasta (from the cooking water) and in the sauce itself because, before you added the pasta, you properly salted it. So if you add too much salt here, there’s no going back. So a light sprinkling, a stir and taste: better? Don’t overdo it, especially if you’re going to add cheese.

2. Grate lots of Parmesan or Pecorino into a bowl. I say into a bowl because if you do it directly over the pasta, it’ll quickly melt and you’ll forget how much you added. So I grate a big bowl full of cheese and then scatter the cheese over the pasta while it’s still in the pan, stir it through and taste. That’s key for pasta rehab: taste taste taste after each step! How does it taste now with the cheese? Less bland? Need more salt? After steps 1 and 2, salinity should not be an issue. The rest of the steps will just help with bumping up the flavor.

3. Grind some pepper over it.

4. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes over it.

5. Give it a drizzle of olive oil. Yes, that last step may seem strange but it’s a VERY Italian thing to do as I’ve seen Mario do it on TV, I’ve read Marcella Hazan’s instructions to do that and then, of course, Dominic DeMarco does it to the pizza at Di Fara. The cold olive oil provides an uncooked fruity olive oil finish to what should be, by now, a very delicious pasta.

Stir that through and taste again. How did we do? Use any of the ingredients in steps 1 through 5 to fix whatever problems your pasta has. If it still tastes bland, you must’ve done something really wrong. Maybe pasta isn’t your thing. Maybe you should take up knitting?