Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Nectarine Blackberry Crisp

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Wow, that’s a mouthful, but you have to admit it sounds good. I got the idea from the New York Times Cooking newsletter; Kim Severson was guest writing it for the day and she mentioned a trick she learned from our mutual friend Bill Addison who learned it from Nancy Silverton (how’s that for a game of telephone?). The trick is this: when making a cobbler or a crisp, brown some butter, scrape in the seeds from a vanilla bean and then stir the whole mixture in with the fruit. As far as ideas go, this is right up there with E = mc2. (How do you get the 2 up there? Where’s Einstein when you need him?)

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Cutting Board Graduation

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There comes a time in every home cook’s life when you bid farewell to a favorite cutting board and replace it with something better. My cutting board, for the past five years (or longer), has been a neon green rubber affair, one that I purchased at Williams Sonoma after getting knife lessons at the Union Square Cafe for my first book. The advantages were pretty clear: you could scrub the hell out of it and it wouldn’t warp. You could even throw it in the dishwasher. It was big, sturdy, and, most importantly, didn’t damage your knife. I loved how versatile it was (oh no, I’m talking about it in the past tense). You could put raw chicken on it and you didn’t have to worry about salmonella seeping into the pores. You could put several vegetables on it at once and still have room to maneuver. It really was a thing of beauty.

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Scallop Chowder

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When Rebecca Charles of New York’s celebrated Pearl Oyster Bar first taught me the recipe for her scallop chowder, I asked if it was possible to substitute milk for the cream. She looked at me like I was crazy. “Why would you want to do that?” she asked. Good question.

This recipe (featured in SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS, a great holiday gift!) is one of the simplest, most comforting winter foods you can possibly make. Turns out, it’s all about the cream which has the remarkable ability to take on whatever flavors you heat it up with. In dessert, that flavored mixture becomes ice cream; here it becomes chowder.

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Operation: Pie Rescue

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When I write about pie on my blog, it’s usually for comic relief.

Apparently, my friend Morgan thought it was hilarious when I wrote about my “Patched-Together Rhubarb Pie.” It’s true: I’m comically bad at rolling out pie dough. (Though Pim’s latest post “One Pie Dough To Rule Them All” makes me think I’ll have to give that technique a whirl.)

Even when I get the rolling-out right, though, things go wrong. Case in point: the blueberry pie I made last week.

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How To Make Your Own Lobster Rolls

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There’s a lot of hubbub in New York, lately, about lobster rolls. Apparently there’s a glut of lobsters (see this New York Magazine article) and new lobster shacks are sprouting up all over the city. My loyalty, as always, belongs to Pearl Oyster Bar which makes the best lobster roll I’ve ever had. But did you know that its chef, Rebecca Charles, once taught me how to make her signature lobster roll for a video Craig and I did for Serious Eats? And did you know that, since then, I’ve made several more lobster rolls–always marveling at how easy it is? Because it is, indeed, very easy. And with lobsters really cheap right now in New York ($5.99 a pound at Citarella) this may turn out to be something you’ll want to do at home too.

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How To Cook Fish (A Musical)

Dear Readers, I am so proud to share with you my latest Food2.com effort: “I Can’t Cook Fish,” a musical co-starring my friend Lisa and Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar. For anyone who’s written me before saying you’re nervous to cook fish at home, this video’s for YOU!

If you liked it, please head over to our page on the Food2 site, give us a good rating and send the video to all of your friends! And if you haven’t seen our other videos–Homemade Pasta, The Omelet Episode, or Perfect Steak–please watch those too.

Special fish musical thanks must go to Joshua Hume (my collaborator and director), Ricky Marson for arranging the music, Lindy Groening for the awesome artwork, Ben Rasmussen for his choreography, the dancers–Chelsea Bonosky, Alana Isiguen, Alyssa Maksym–and, of course, Rebecca Charles, for sharing her fish recipe and her singing voice!