The Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl


The other night, I cooked (well, chopped) for the first time in the apartment where I’m staying on the Upper East Side. Since I was cooking for just myself, I figured a salad was the right move. There was a cucumber, there was a box of cherry heirloom tomatoes, half of a red onion (sliced thin), a red pepper and a yellow pepper. The dressing had balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil. At the end, I crumbled blue cheese over everything. It was a good salad.

Only, while I was making it, I found it frustrating that the garbage can was a tiny one under the sink. I didn’t want to have to swivel and pull out the can to make the top go up ever time I wanted to throw away an onion peel or red pepper seeds. Which is when I recalled the famous Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl.

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A Summertime Farmer’s Market Feast (Green Goddess Heirloom Tomato Salad, Haddock Chowder & A Strawberry/Peach Shortcake)


At the start of my cookbook, I have a list of the ten most important over-arching lessons I learned cooking with the best chefs in America. One of those lessons is: “Put ingredients on display.”

There’s an explanation of that in the book, and I’ll wait for you to read your copy before I spoil that here, but consider this post a corollary to that advice. As you can see, after going to the farmer’s market last Monday, I put my ingredients on display in my kitchen…and that inspired a rather extravagant feast for my visiting friends Kim and Ben the next night.

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Hand Blender Salad Dressing


Ever since I made that 60 second aioli, I’ve been thinking a lot about hand blenders.

Ferran Adria, one of the world’s great chefs, uses a hand blender; that was his aioli recipe, after all. If a chef of his stature uses a hand blender, surely there must be something to it. Off the top of my head: it’s easier to clean than a regular blender. Whatever vessel you use for blending (a nice big jar, for example) can also be used for serving. Because you can move it around, you can make sure that you blend every last bit. It works better for smaller quantities. Plus: it’s kind of fun.

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Purple Lunchtime Salad & Cherry Tomato Quinoa Tabbouleh


Last week something unprecedented happened. I was having a new friend over for dinner and, after shopping at 3 o’clock and starting to cook at 4 o’clock, I found myself at 8 o’clock holding my cellphone and a text message from this new friend saying that he had a work emergency and wouldn’t be able to make it. I was left with a giant bowl of couscous, a whole roasted chicken, vanilla bean pudding (which I’ll blog about later this week) and, lucky for me, two undressed heads of radicchio that I’d sliced and refrigerated in anticipation of making a salad. Now that it was just Craig and me, we wouldn’t need the salad and that undressed radicchio would survive the night in the fridge and become next day’s lunch. As it turned out that lunch–a purple salad that I concocted with leftover chicken, red onion, raisins and toasted walnuts–was almost better than the dinner.

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Marinated Roasted Cauliflower Salad


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about sponges. Well: not actual sponges, but sponge-like behavior. Specifically the sponge-like behavior that occurs when you cook something–pasta, beans, vegetables–and then add them to an incredibly flavorful, incredibly potent mixture (a sauce, a dressing) allowing all that flavor to get sucked up inside.

This is why it’s always best to take your pasta out of the water a minute before its done and finish it in the sauce; it’s also why it’s best to toss boiled potatoes in a dressing for potato salad right out of the water–you went those pores to be open, to sponge up all that fatty goodness. And sucking up fatty goodness is precisely what I wanted the cauliflower to do when I set about making a marinated cauliflower salad.

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Glenn Cous Cous Salad with Albert Knobs of Feta (PLUS: Other 2011 Oscar Dishes)


You may have thought Oscar’s biggest upset last night was Meryl Streep stealing Viola Davis’s Oscar, but then clearly you weren’t at the Oscar party I attended. Our friends John and Michael invited us a week earlier and asked us to bring a dish that was a pun or play on words based on title or actor (last year, John made “Stanley Two-Cheese Dip”) and I treated the whole thing light-heartedly, polling my followers on Twitter (some good suggestions: “My Week With Maryland Crabs,” “Macarooney Mara”) before settling on the dish you see above, Glenn Cous Cous Salad with Albert Knobs of Feta.

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I Declare War on Frisée!

No one looks at a coil of barbed wire and thinks, “I would like to eat that.” Yet there are eaters among us who see a plate of frisée and think that very thought. Psychologists have a word for these people: masochists. How else to explain the inexplicable desire to consume razor-like stalks of pale green lettuce, each bite ravaging the inside of one’s mouth? It’s time for someone in the food world to stand up and expose frisée for what it really is: a sadistic trick of nature, seducing chefs and gardeners around the world with a hidden pheromone that creates the illusion that frisée is actually good to eat. I assure you, it’s not.

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Raw Kale Salad with Walnuts, Pecorino and Lemon


Say “raw kale salad” before serving dinner and you may not get the round of applause you were hoping for. That’s unfortunate, though, because raw kale–which, I should say here, is incredibly good for you–is so easy to dress up. I’ve had raw kale salads before, mostly at hip Italian joints like Franny’s in New York, but I’d never made one. Then last week I had some leftover kale (Tuscan kale, in fact) from a lentil soup that I love from my cookbook (just 8 more months ’til you can buy it!). I decided that, along with the leftover lentil soup, I’d serve up a raw kale salad that I would improvise on the spot.

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