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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Pasta with Chickpeas, Bacon and Spinach

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We did a very smart thing this weekend: we invited friends over for dinner on Sunday night which forced us to finish unpacking and get our new place in order. Worked like a charm. By early Sunday evening, all of our boxes were unpacked, our furniture was properly placed and all of the lights were plugged in. We have our master list of things to get (extra towel hook for the bathroom, drain stopper for the sink) but all in all, we’re pretty remarkably set up for having only moved in a week ago. Only one question remained: what to make for dinner?

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The Top 5 Instructional Cooking Shows You Can Watch Online

Yesterday, buried in my post about Vegas Uncork’d, was a mini tribute to Mary Sue Milliken and a rant about how Food Network, and Food TV in general, no longer features shows with deeply knowledgable, seasoned chefs with a flair for instruction. Then I realized it hardly matters because most of those shows I loved (love) are available online. So what follows are five shows, all watchable right now, that I consider the very best in recorded cooking instruction; shows I go back to again and again because every time I watch them, I learn something new.

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Socca (An Italian Beef, Cabbage & Potato Casserole)

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What’s the heartiest dish you know how to make? Chances are, this is heartier.

Picture it: a pestata (or paste) is made with lots of garlic, sage, rosemary and olive oil. That paste is used to flavor sliced red potatoes and cubed beef shoulder which get layered in a giant casserole with cabbage. Then the remaining pestata is mixed with white wine, poured over the mix, which has been dotted with butter. Into a hot oven it goes for 2 1/2 hours, after which the whole thing is topped with grated Fontina cheese and returned to the oven for it to bubble and brown. I told you this was hearty.

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Postcard from Eataly (10/9/12)

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If my ears are made of ashes today, that’s because they’ve never burned harder than they did on Tuesday night when Lidia Bastianich–one of my food world heroes–introduced me at the first of two Eataly dinners we’re doing to launch my new cookbook. (The 2nd dinner, on November 9th, still has seats available here.) The whole night was surreal. Before the guests arrived, Ann Bramson, Artisan’s legendary publisher, came by to toast the book with me, Judy (my indefatigable editor) and Molly (my impressive publicist who arranged for this whole dinner, as well as all the dinners coming up). Then came the guests, friends and family, including my beaming parents.

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Lunch with Lidia Bastianich (and my dad)

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It’s my fault, really. My parents were in town and my mom asked me, early in the week, if I’d babysit my dad for lunch on Tuesday while she met some of her friends. I said, “Sure.” Then, the day before, I received a confirmation e-mail from Lidia Bastianich’s publicist reminding me of a lunch scheduled at Lidia’s restaurant Felidia the next day. I’d RSVPed for two (I was going to bring a more talented photographer friend (why? see picture above)) and so, after some clever thinking, I decided to take my dad.

“What is this again?” asked my dad when I told him about it. “Who is this person?”

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