Whatever, Martha

Last week, Martha Stewart caused something of an uproar in the blogger community when she said, in an interview with Bloomberg TV: “Who are these bloggers? They’re not editors at Vogue magazine…I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create kind of a popularity, but they are not the experts.”

She’s since backtracked; a wise move considering that her empire includes an entire network of bloggers with MARTHA STEWART plastered prominently on their pages. At first I was offended by her off-the-cuff remarks, now I’m mostly amused. This was a telling, unguarded moment for Martha and one that reflects the vintage, bespoke bubble she’s living in with her dogs in Connecticut.

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Breakfast Crêpes with Eggs, Bacon and Cheese

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Our first weekend in the new apartment and it was my mission to make breakfast. I’d carried a box of foodstuffs from our old refrigerator to the new refrigerator so as not to waste anything and that box contained perishables like eggs, bacon, butter and milk. In my pantry, I had flour, sugar and salt. What could a person make with these things that wasn’t boring? A vision came to me, a vision of a nun on a beach dancing the hoochie-coochie. But then another vision came to me: Crêpes!

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A Cook’s Nightmare and A Cook’s Dream

Watching Martha Stewart on Hulu while doing the New York Times crossword puzzle (don’t be too impressed, I barely got four answers) I had a distinct memory of her having Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on as guests. So I went on to YouTube and sure enough the clip you see above surfaced. I love the moment when Martha’s whisking with Julia and Jacques peering over her shoulders; it is, as I quote Martha saying in this post’s title, both a cook’s nightmare and a cook’s dream. If only most of us could be so lucky.

[Update: there’s a whole battery of videos on Martha’s site of her cooking with Julia and Jacques. Now I know how I’m spending the rest of my afternoon.]

European-Style Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Once I was at Murray’s Cheese with David Lebovitz and he stopped to admire the butter from Vermont.

I’ll confess, up to that point, I hadn’t given butter that much thought. For years I’d been buying Breakstones–you know, the kind that comes in the red box–and using it pretty universally. But then, after David talked about baking with Vermont-style butter, I began to wonder: “What would happen if I switched up the butter in my baking? How would that change things?” It took a few more years before I put that question to the test.

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A Sour Cherry Coffee Cake In Winter

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Most food blog posts are meant to inspire, but this one is meant to mock.

Yes I am mocking you! When sour cherry season rolled around last June, did I, like you, stuff myself silly, popping every last sour cherry into my mouth until I had none left? No, sir, I did not. Like a smart little squirrel, I pitted my sour cherries and then popped them on to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Look, I even took a picture….

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Pfeffernussen, Orange Sables & The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie of Your Dreams

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The Baking Bug isn’t a ladybug, it’s a wasp: once it stings you, you’ve been stung.

Such has been the case with my friend Josh Hume, director of my show on Food2 and a recent convert to the world of baking. He loves it. He calls himself Man Martha because of his love for Martha Stewart’s recipes and, most recently, he represented me at a Bon Appetit Magazine blogger bake-off. (Check out his bouche!) It’s no surprise, then, that Josh approached holiday baking this year with a fervor; not only did he bake cakes for several friends’ birthday parties (big, elaborate cakes) but he planned an enormous Christmas cookie exchange and assigned each person a different cookie to bring. My assignment? Pfeffernussen.

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Fun with Toasted Almonds (Toasted Almond Gelato & Toasted Almond Raspberry Blondies)

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Hi everyone, my name is Toasted Almonds. You might not think much of me–I know nuts aren’t the most beloved of foods, and toasting? It sounds like a waste of time, right?–but I’m here to convince you that I’m a worthy addition to your cooking repertoire.

My brother, Plain Almonds, is a nice guy and all, but between you and me? He’s a little boring. For example, he underlines words that he doesn’t know when he reads, then he makes flash cards and studies them later. That’s Plain Almonds for ya. But me? I’m a wild man. When I read, I doodle inappropriate pictures in the margins of the book. Like last week I drew pictures of toasted, skinless hazelnuts in the margins of “Crime & Punishment” and Plain Almonds got so mad! He told me I was trail mix the next time I tried a stunt like that.

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How To Roast A Duck

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Certain foods are meant to be cooked at home: roast chicken, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs. Other foods are meant to be eaten out: steak tartare, sushi, a flaming baked Alaska. Sure we can make those latter foods at home, but often times they’re not worth the hassle or the danger (raw steak at home? setting cake on fire? I’ll let a pro handle that, thank you).

Duck, I’d wager, is something most of us eat out. We expect the skin to be crispy and for there to be some kind of glaze. It’s a fancier food unless we get it in a Chinese restaurant and then it becomes a mysterious food: how do they make this duck taste so good? And why, when I try to make duck at home, does it either bomb dramatically or make me sick or both?

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