You know that thing where you buy two big bunches of broccoli for dinner one night and then you only end up using one bunch so the other bunch sits in your refrigerator in a plastic bag for a week? And then, one week later, you look at it and kind of feel sorry for it and don’t want to throw it away but at the same time it’s kind of limper than it was one week earlier: less Jessica Rabbit, more Jessica Tandy? Here’s something you can do.
Cooking without a recipe. How do you do it?
You start with ingredients. My favorite way to do that is to open my refrigerator to see what’s there: on Friday night (when Craig was working late and his parents were flying in from Seattle) I saw carrots, I saw celery, I saw onions. I decided to cut them all up into big chunky pieces.
Italians, please look away.
Everyone else, here’s something that I made up last week that was so good, I think you should make it too. I used leftover ingredients from the Haddock chowder I’d made the day before and, in using them, I did what Tom Colicchio’s always talking about on “Top Chef”–I developed lots of flavor through careful cooking. Let me show you what I mean.
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.
Infomercials rarely inspire awe, and yet I vividly remember watching a commercial for a handblender–this was back in the 90s, I think–that showed a glass jar filled with eggs and oil; then the hand blender plunged in, the host pressed a button, and magically it became mayonnaise. It was like watching a David Copperfield special only better: while I couldn’t make the Statue of Liberty disappear, I could buy a handblender and make mayonnaise in a jar. The only catch: I hated mayonnaise. So a handblender I didn’t buy.
I love cranberry sauce. You can keep your stuffing, your gravy (blech!), as long as you give me my cranberry sauce, I’m happy.
What’s astonishing to me about cranberry sauce is how insanely easy it is to make. The idea that people open a can of that gelatinous mound of cranberry goop is mind-blowing to me. If you buy a bag of cranberries (and Ocean Spray pretty much has them in every grocery store this time of year) and add them to a pot with sugar and a splash of water, turn up the heat, you’ll have a cranberry sauce in five minutes. It’s really that simple.
I’ll let you in on a blogging secret. We bloggers want you to click all over our blogs because every time you click, we make $0.001 and, eventually, that adds up. (That’s why all successful food bloggers ride around in Porsches or, in my case, the subway.)
So it’s a fairly significant fact that in this post about salsa verde I am not going to link to the salsa verde in my archives, the one that I made in September 2010 (and that you can easily find by searching in the search box). That’s because, now that I’ve made that same recipe in a mortar and pestle, I disavow the old method. A mortar and pestle is the only way to do it.
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.