Dorie Greenspan’s Mustard Bottle Vinaigrette

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When food icons have food blogs, you need to read them.

That’s certainly true of Dorie Greenspan’s blog. Her posts, like Dorie herself, are wise, witty and warm. And they’re full of good advice–like where to get pastries in Paris or how to whip up begger’s linguine–but the advice that’s stuck with the most was her advice, last April, to use the last remnants of mustard in the jar to make a vinaigrette.

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French Onion Soup

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The idea of a secret ingredient is a funny one. I think it’s based on a modern American notion of shortcuts; the idea that instead of working hard to be successful, you can win the lottery or appear on a reality show or read the Cliff’s Notes and still pass your A.P. English exam (I did that actually: sorry, Hester Prynne). This American obsession with getting everywhere as quickly as possible, to FastPass your way to accomplishment, doesn’t translate well to cooking. Which is why, I think, so many Americans don’t cook. They’d rather fast food it, or frozen dinner it, than stand over a stove. And when they do stand over the stove, they want “quick tips” and “30 minute meals” and the magical, secret ingredient that’ll propel their dinner to greatness. But the truth is no one ingredient can propel your dinner to greatness; greatness comes with patience and practice, over time.

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