Homemade Yogurt Mistakes

12th Jun 2008

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Before I start detailing this ridiculous project, I’d like to point out that I fail in the end.  There is no great yogurt recipe hidden in here, no surprising technique that changes everything.  I tried some methods, some reasonable and some quite stupid, and none of them worked.  I just want to make some respectable yogurt at home, and I’m hoping some of you can help.

I thought this would...

Our First Year at the James Beard Awards

9th Jun 2008

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For those who didn’t catch our incredibly late Sunday post , we were both live bloggers at the 2008 James Beard Foundation Awards.  See those all access passes?  We could essentially go anywhere we wanted to at Lincoln Center.  To check out the trouble we got into, visit the James Beard Live Blogging Site .  There you’ll find a nice recap of us chatting with Nancy Silverton about he...

The James Beard Awards

8th Jun 2008

Beard_medal_3 Join us tonight at the James Beard Foundation Awards.  Nick has only just flown in from flooded Indiana and we're off, clad in tuxedos to see what we can see and eat as much as we can.  We'll be among the guest bloggers bringing you live coverage throughout the night.

Check us out live here starting after 6:00pm EST.

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Au Pied de Cochon

4th Jun 2008

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Montreal is famous for a dish called poutine, which we sampled heavily the weekend we visited, in which crispy frites are salted, tossed with pillowy, tender cheese curds, then smothered in rich brown gravy. A dish, suffice it to say, to be eaten with a fork.  At Au Pied de Cochon , Montreal's cult restaurant where gluttony and excess have become signature sins, they include all of tho...

Poutine, My Heart Loves You But Its Arteries Don''t

2nd Jun 2008

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When Elin went to Montreal a couple years ago, she sent me an email with only a photograph attached, a picture with her mouth open, eyes closed, and a forkful of French fries covered in gravy.  The subject of the email said simply, "Poutine," and I knew that one day we would travel to Montreal where I could try this dish myself and experience the delight that was apparent on her face.

As if...

"Apartment Charcuterie" at Whole Foods Bowery

30th May 2008

We've done our fair share of charcuterie projects on this site and enjoyed every minute of it.  There have been successes , and there have been failures , but all in all, it's some of the most fun we've ever had making food.

Wholefoods_2 I'm beyond thrilled to report that on July 24th, Whole Foods Bowery in New York City will be offering a class for all interested in learning the...

New Orleans (Faraway, So Close): The Sad Tale of File Gumbo

28th May 2008

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I can't remember exactly where the conversation began, or why we suddenly started talking about New Orleans, but for about 5 minutes last Friday Night I waxed poetic about the Crescent City.  My interest has been explored before , but apparently my chatter seemed especially interesting that night.  I suppose I could have been because my friend Hal had never been, and I took umbrage. ...

The Young Man and the Cocktail

The perfection introduction to mixed drinks.

23rd May 2008

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Over the past year or so, Nick and I have developed a kind of unhealthy obsession with cocktails -- some could argue literally.  We've quietly stocked our cabinets with liquers, liquors, bitters; our fridge doors are weighed down with vermouths (yes, they should be refrigerated ) and simple syrups; a regular supply of rye whiskey, bourbon and gin comes and goes, mixed with a recurring stoc...

Blend Your Salsa: A Tale of Two Salsas

Moving beyond pico de gallo into real authentic territory

21st May 2008

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I thought I knew everything there was to know about salsa.  Tomatoes, garlic, onions, jalapenos, lime juice, salt.  Chop, mix, serve.  It’s an enormous pain, but the alternative (jarred salsa) just doesn’t compare.  Taking the time to chop is a noble pursuit.

That was until Blake visited last weekend.  What he threw together in a matter of minutes turned blood red and clung to every chip l...

Bourbon Tour 2: Wild Turkey and Maker''s Mark

16th May 2008

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It's a tale of the old and the new.  Of the high and the low.  It's Wild Turkey and Maker's Mark , two bourbons I love, but couldn't be more different from each other.  The Turkey is a high rye bourbon made to grip your taste buds and warm your insides, while smooth and seductive Maker's Mark is the gentleman's choice, somewhat conservative and much more expensive.  Feeling guilty th...

Guanciale, Or How to Hang a Pig Jowl in Your Living Room

The other Italian bacon.

14th May 2008

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It took me almost a month and calls to half the butchers in New York before I could get my hands on a pair of pig jowls.  Here’s the problem: they want you to order the whole head.  And while I had a wonderful time watching pot-roasted pig heads go ferrying by my table at the Spotted Pig , when it was under the tutelage of British chef Fergus Henderson , the thought of lugging a 40...

New York Farmers'' Market Report

6th May 2008

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Check out my recent post over at Serious Eats , a rundown of what's appearing now in New York farmers' markets.  I visited both my local market in Fort Greene , Brooklyn, as well as the largest, most popular market in New York in Union Square (above).

In addition to the ubiquitous ramps , I also spotted asparagus, nettles, rhubarb, young garlic, spinach , and other hardy...

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

5th May 2008

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This weekend for brunch we made some huevos rancheros from start to finish.

The day before, we cooked a pound of the inimitable Rancho Gordo midnight black bean according to the instructions given by Rick Bayless : in a dutch oven, cook them with about 8 cups of water, two tablespoons of lard (or bacon drippings, or vegetable oil) and a chopped onion--bring to a boil, th...

Hamine Eggs: The Search for the Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

A different method for hard boiling eggs.

30th Apr 2008

And what better place to find proof than Harold McGee?  His On Food and Cooking had a whole section on long cooked eggs.  He calls them “an intriguing alternative” which can be cooked for anywhere between “6 to 18 hours.”  Still no recipe, but I’m finally on to something.  The most interesting aspect about the process is what happens to the flavor, which he says generates “flavo...

Polenta, Where Have You Been All My Life?

24th Apr 2008

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Polenta is only water, salt, and cornmeal, unless a cook chooses, in the style of risotto, to finish with a knob of butter or a hill of Parmesan cheese.  It is one those dishes so simple, its execution can be lackluster or transcendent, depending on who makes it.  What happens when these three things are combined is anyone's guess.  The result can be like cornbread blended with water, a sou...

Why Wylie Dufresne Made Me Eat American Cheese

21st Apr 2008

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“American cheese (processed cheese)”
-Wylie Dufresne, describing the type of cheese he likes on his burger

I haven’t exactly made my peace with American cheese .  I still don’t like it cubed, melted in grilled cheese, or laid across a deli sandwich.  I’m not that into reliving my childhood and, really, actual cheese always tastes better.  I thought that was the end of it...

On Stewing Hens and Coq au Vin

16th Apr 2008

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A few months ago I was wandering the poultry aisle at my food coop looking at the bewildering number of options for a roasting chicken.  As the words free-range and humane--proclaimed on every package--began to lose their meaning, I came across a pile of frozen, gangly-looking birds with their long necks still intact.  The label, announcing this new product, read “Amish stewing hens.€..

Edna Lewis''s Fried Chicken

9th Apr 2008

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In the midst of deep frying chicken last week I dreamt of Loretta Lynn .  This happens only occasionally, and usually is musical in nature, but this time I had an image of her pan frying chicken in a large iron skillet.  Sure enough, I found some rather hilarious commercials of her pawning Crisco on YouTube .  How wonderful, I thought, that the amazing country singer never had...

Some More Obscure Food Magazines

8th Apr 2008

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Recently I was talking to a friend about food magazines, who figured I would know of some good ones. I offered the obvious choices— Gourmet, Saveur, Bon Appetit —but she quickly stopped me.  “I’ve read those,” she said.  “They don’t really do much for me.”

I asked her why, and the conversation ended up being about how bored this person was by the big, storied food magazines that we're a...

The Ultimate Fried Chicken (Sort Of)

2nd Apr 2008

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I am not sure where these urges come from, but last week I just had to have fried chicken.  For no obvious reason, I dreamt of perfectly crunchy batter and moist meat.  This was all quite odd.  I’ve got enough roast chickens stuck in my head around to keep me occupied for months.  But fried chicken?  I can't even remember the last piece of fried chicken I'd ever had.

Instead of heading over...

Turducken: Live Poultry to Culinary Grotesque to Epic Stock

25th Mar 2008

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My friend Matt's email arrived in my inbox, forthright and serious.

"This coming Saturday, March 22, a turducken will be assembled and cooked in my apartment...in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Beginning at about 12 or 12:30, the birds will be deboned, the stuffing will be made, and the ingredients layered and sewn up...resulting in the creation of a delicious culinary grote...

Chicago Eats

20th Mar 2008

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I'm definitely not the first to point this out, but Chicago has some great food.  You know, with all the high accolades for their inventive restaurants and classic comfort foods, and the fact that they are hosting this year's Top Chef , I have nothing new to add.  It's just that over the past weekend Abby and I managed to fit more good food into our bellies than we had any right to do...

Making Brooklyn Bloom

14th Mar 2008

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Photo from Flickr user Flatbush Gardener

I didn't see this coming.  I didn't imagine that suddenly, aged 25, living in a city, I'd want to be a gardener.  Gardening does not seem cool.  Nobody thinks gardeners are trendy.  It's as old and musty a hobby as any.  Yet there I found myself this past Saturday, spending seven hours of my weekend at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden , where a larg...

Charcuterie Tales

10th Mar 2008

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Time to play catchup.  Blake has been on the forefront of this curing business for awhile now and I just couldn’t stand back while he was slicing off hunks of his own fresh bacon and duck prosciutto .  I picked up a duck and a pork belly and got to work.

It might seem a little redundant to document two projects that Blake has already covered, but in all fairness, these are d...

A Worm Eats in Brooklyn

6th Mar 2008

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A couple weeks ago, I left work promptly at 5pm to head to the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library near 10th St. in Greenwich Village.  There, along with over 40 other people, I learned how a person in New York can buy worms, keep them in a container in their apartment, and feed them food scraps .  The morning of the class, which I'd stumbled upon at the web site of the...

Fresh Corn Tortillas: Worth the Wait?

4th Mar 2008

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Corn tortillas are my comfort food.  I use them as carrying cases for simple, satisfying meals and I use them a lot.  They are a mainstay on my lazy Sunday breakfasts and always around when it’s time for a feast.

Part of that comfort factor comes from having them in my fridge at all times.  While not as resilient as Twinkies, they can hold up for a time if properly wrapped in the fridge. ...

The Gateway Stock: What to Do With Leftover Roast Chicken

29th Feb 2008

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As a cook, I've been rather reluctant to prepare homemade stock.  I give the usual litany of excuses: too much hassle, not enough time, not cost-effective.  I keep a little jar of Better than Bouillon in my fridge door (one chicken, one beef, one vegetable) and I've always got instant stock whenever I need it, in small quantities or large.   I don't have to worry about it going off, beca...

Bourbon Tour 1: Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve

26th Feb 2008

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I took a little break from food this past weekend, turning my back on all the pieces of meat curing in my stairwell (I’ll get to those later in the week), and set off for the rolling hills of Kentucky to sip the best bourbon I could.  I’d been blabbering on and on to my brother-in-law about the stuff for well over six months now and it was about time to actually see where it all came from...

They Came, I Ground, We Ate: Which Cuts Make for the Best Burger?

How to make a better burger at home.

21st Feb 2008

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Grinding meat may seem like an exercise for those with too much time on their hands, or those overly devoted to doing things from scratch--which I am.  But I'm here to argue that there are more compelling and more logical reasons for doing so: for one, the meat will taste better.  You'll also know where it omes from, unlike with a styrofoam tray from the grocery store, which is likely the su...

Pasta Cacio e Pepe: Are Fancy Pastas Worth It?

14th Feb 2008

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Do fancy ingredients make better meals?

Over the last couple years, with a great deal of enthusiasm, I've learned to cook more skillfully.  I spend all sorts of time reading endlessly about technique, ingredients, and recipes, and I cook almost every day.  I think my cooking has improved.  I've developed good instincts.  I know that a roast chicken needs to be very dry before it goes in...

Beef Jerky Hijinks

12th Feb 2008

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Sometimes you just have to start.  I have been wanting to make beef jerky for a while now, but had always stumbled on how I was to actually dry out the meat.  I don’t have a smoker, and it didn’t sound like any of the other methods were going to work.  But hey, I thought, cowboys did this; I can do this.  So I bought some lean beef, sliced it thinly, and coated it with some salt, onion...

Adventures in Homemade Bacon

Make your bacon at home.

8th Feb 2008

The bacon most of us know it is made from pork belly, but there are also variations made from other cuts, notably the cheeks and jowl, which makes guanciale --a porkier tasting, fattier cut that's a staple in properly-made Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Bucatinia alla Amatraciana . Hog jowls are difficult to find, though, especially because a butcher would probably need to order an entire he...

Crisp-Skinned Roast Chicken, via Baking Powder

6th Feb 2008

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Sometimes I can’t even follow my own train of thought.  I was buying some butcher's twine at a kitchen supply store because I figured it was time to learn how to truss a chicken.  I had skated around the issue for a year or so because Barbara Kafka had told me not to worry about it.  She said it was unnecessary and even detrimental to the cooking process.  But maybe that was just for her...

Fennel-Cured Salmon Part 2: Out From the Deep

4th Feb 2008

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It didn't look pretty.  After two days in the fridge, my fennel-cured salmon looked something like a disaster.  A lot of the liquid had somehow seeped out of my protective covering.  This worried me because that meant the brine didn't probably coat the fish during the cure.  It might not be done. How would I know if it worked?

Ruhlman said to give it a touch.  "The salmon should be fir...

Two Ways to Preserve Meyer Lemons While They''re Still in Season

1st Feb 2008

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One of nature’s gifts in winter is citrus.  While the tomatoes are mealy, the lettuces limp, and all of us hardly in the place to get excited about more root vegetables, our brightly colored friends fly in from warmer climes to shine a little light.  Citrus fruits become larger, juicier, and more fragrant during the winter months when their true season begins.

Among citrus fruits, Meyer lem...

Fennel-Cured Salmon

30th Jan 2008

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Sparked with inspiration by Blake’s duck proscuitto , I procured Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie and dug in.  Don’t let anyone fool you; it’s intimidating stuff.  Curing food is the exact opposite of the cooking I’ve become used to.  I love to take fresh ingredients and then cook them quickly, without much fuss.  This process, hopefully, highlights the good quality of i...

Welcome to Our New Design!

29th Jan 2008

The last couple weeks have been slow posting around here, and that's because we've been doing some much needed housekeeping--as you can probably see.  We've started from scratch with a brand-new design that we hope will prove to be cleaner, more pleasant, and above all, functional.

With only an XHTML/CSS learning book , a text-editing program, and a wonderful little thing called Bluep...

Linguine with Clams from the Babbo Kitchen, via Bill Buford

From his memoir Heat

24th Jan 2008

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My favorite passages from Bill Buford's Heat are set in the Babbo kitchen, when he describes with fear and awe the wonder that is a busy restaurant kitchen at dinnertime-- tickets flying, steam vaporizing, oil popping. Orders arrive faster than they can be made; you are perpetually behind. The heat, of course, is unbearable-- like a shimmering wall when you enter the kitchen. Sweat...

The Mystery of Salt-Packed Anchovies

21st Jan 2008

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Quality ranges considerably; the worst come in a brine or packed in oil (often rancid); the best anchovies tend to be packed in salt, are worth seeking out, and can be delicious by themselves.

- Michael Ruhlman, [ The Elements of Cooking A to Z ](Paupered Chef - Salt-Packed Anchovies )

On one of my last Brooklyn weekends before the big move to the Mid-West, I spent most of my time...

A Night of Broiled Pizzas So Hot, Things Shattered

18th Jan 2008

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What's more fun than a make-your-own-pizza party?  Not much.  My friend Austin was in town from Providence, Rhode Island, where he teaches Spanish, Latin, and mythology.  Often when we get together it's an excuse to do a lot of cooking.  Throughout college he would make Nick and me ridiculously good brunches with fresh chorizo, eggs, and breakfast potatoes, and occasionally expose us to hi...

Cheese Making Part 2: Yawn, I Made Ricotta

14th Jan 2008

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After I miraculously created a ball of mozzarella from a gallon of milk and some powdery substances, I declared it a miracle and couldn’t wait to do it again.  And true to my plan, I tried to make it twice since that date and failed bitterly both times.  Much could have gone wrong.  I believe the first failure happened because I used cheese salt instead of citric acid at a crucial ste...

2007 Wrap-Up: Favorite Posts

11th Jan 2008

Nick:

A Paupered Week in Flatiron
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

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I miss Flatiron.  Of all the neighborhoods in Manhattan that I dearly, truly miss, this one has to be first.  I suppose that was because I walked through it everyday for about a year trying to find something new to eat.  I knew every street corner, every bodega, and every cart.  I had a whole hour w...

2007 Wrap-Up: Books of 2007

10th Jan 2008

These are books not necessarily published in 2007, but discovered in the last year.

Blake:

Charcuterie_2 Charcuterie - Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Of any other food book I read this year, this one was the most pragmatically enabling: there was no excuse for not participating in the great culinary art of charcuterie.  It wasn't enough to admire those who make salami, or cold-smoke their own...

2007 Wrap-Up: Slow Posts

8th Jan 2008

While Blake was jetting across the globe last year, I was nestled up in my nice, big apartment in Ohio.  Between planning a wedding and Abby going to grad school, we didn’t have much free time to do much of anything on the weekends.  Which is fine by me. I spent much of the year in the kitchen waiting a long, long time for things to cook.

The spark came from the Perfectionist about how...

2007 Wrap-Up: Writing Elsewhere, and The Paupered Chef in 2008

7th Jan 2008

Elsewhere

As a new year begins, we mostly try to think forward to what's to come.  But January is also the time for us to look fondly back, to two years ago this month, when we started this website with very little idea of what we were doing.  Though our last year-in-review-posts didn't make it up onto the site until March , this time we're on the ball.  It's been a very interesting year, with...

2007 Wrap-Up: Travel Posts

7th Jan 2008

I've done more traveling this year than any other on record.  And what better way to really dig into a place and gracefully breach the tricky tourist barrier than by eating where the locals do?  It's often the reason Elin and I get on a plane in the first place, and if it's not, then much obsessing is done anyway. We conduct research so that no meal will be wasted, no chance for pleasure los...

New Year''s Eve in Five Parts

2nd Jan 2008

Welcome to 2008! Abby and I spent New Year's Eve constructing the ultimate meal.  We spent a small fortune at Whole Foods and walked away with a lot of shellfish and a fillet mignon or two.  Since we weren't going to some fancy black tie event, we felt okay about spending more money than we would for a weeknight meal.  We sort of had a carte blanche to create whatever we could dream up.  He...

Cheese Making Part 1: 30 Minute Mozzarella

17th Dec 2007

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I had read about making cheese--like a lot of people, I assume--in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle .  It had never really occurred to me that cheese could be made easily at home, but once I read the passage where they made mozzarella in 30 minutes, I rashly bought the recommended kit .  And a three days later I had a bright yellow box from the New England Cheesemaking...

Elkano Restaurante in Getaria, Spain: "El Mejor Pescado en Mi Vida"

12th Dec 2007

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"No, no, no!" our waiter was saying, dashing across the room to our white-tableclothed table, where we were sitting in front of a grilled Turbot. I was politely transferring a portion of the fish's glistening meat to my plate with two forks.

"It's very important to us," he began to explain, almost out of breath, while taking my fork and knife, "to eat with our hands."  He picked up the fis...

Three Tapas Bars in San Sebastian

11th Dec 2007

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We were in a tiny silver Citroen, maps strewn all over the dashboard, Elin in the passenger seat, me driving us in circles (literally, around the roundabout over and over) trying to get us to the correct highway and out of Madrid.  Elin was reading Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island during our trip--and while overall she couldn’t help but write him off as a mostly unfunny curmud...

Three Tapas Bars in Madrid

6th Dec 2007

As I mentioned, Madrid is a city easily covered by foot (at least, the city center is--I’m sure the outer boroughs, so to speak, are worth exploring), which leaves a visitor quickly able to see the Prado, Plaza del Sol, and any other major tourist destinations in an afternoon.  What’s left is to submit yourself to the ebb and flow of Madrid’s infectious lifestyle: eating, drinking, and neve...

Madrid With an Insider

Crawling the streets in search of ham and beer

3rd Dec 2007

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We arrived at the ultra-modern Madrid airport terminal half-asleep, legs in need of a stretch, eager for what we imagined might be a giant, country-wide cocktail party.  The Spanish tradition of tapas awaited (or, as we would later call them in San Sebastian, pintxos , our American tongues unsure how a “t” can be pronounced before an “x," the result a squished noise that sounds l...

The Duck Prosciutto Emerges

A results of a simple dry-cured meat project revealed

28th Nov 2007

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About ten days after I hung a salt-cured duck breast in the vestibule of my garden apartment, wrapped in cheesecloth and suspended by kitchen string in a little tent of wooden dowel rods, I retrieved it, unwrapped it, and laid it on a cutting board in my kitchen.  It was my first attempt at curing, my Duck Prosciutto .

The flesh had taken on a dark red, almost black color on the outside...

Gorgefest Saturday

Manhattan. 1 day. 9 Restaurants.

26th Nov 2007

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I hadn’t been to New York since my exodus in July and I returned with a plan.  I wasn’t going to waste any moment visiting attractions, or seeing a Broadway play.  I lived there for two years, so it felt right to walk back in and get to what I spent most of my time doing: eating.  And with the Paupered Chefs reunited for the first time in half a year, it really wasn't that hard for ou...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 3, Carnitas on the Run

Killer tacos and no-corn-syrup Mexican Coke

17th Nov 2007

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With the time change and a long flight ahead of us, we have to leave by 4pm just to arrive home in New York at midnight (Correction: arrive in Newark.  I'm never doing that again).  With a morning left and having had scarce time to explore Olympia itself, we asked Scott exactly what to do with the remaining hours.  “Well, there’s this Mexican taco truck,” he said casually.  And it wa...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 2, Seattle is Actually Sunny

16th Nov 2007

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The one plan we made before we arrived in Seattle was hang out in Pike's Place Market, a giant, touristy market on the waterfront that specializes in seafood.  Though other places were recommended, we only had a day and didn't want to miss it.  We also wanted to eat lunch there, and it quickly became obvious where we would eat: a place called Matt’s in the Market, the unanimous recommendat...

A Weekend in Seattle and Olympia: Day 1, Coffee and Street Food

15th Nov 2007

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I didn’t realize it until I’d checked my bag, removed my shoes, been frisked, walked onto the plane, stowed my baggage, sat down, belted up--until the plane itself had taken off--that a flight to Seattle is not a couple hours away.  No, it’s on the other side of the country, over the Northeast, Midwest, the giant state of Nebraska, past both Dakotas and Montana--over five hours by plane...

Pizza Hack Revisited: Broiling Your Pies

11th Nov 2007

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Earlier this year, Blake and I stumbled upon an astonishing pizza making technique - one that allowed us to create restaurant-worthy pies at home using nothing but a cast iron skillet and an oven.  The cast iron skillet was warmed over high heat on top of a stove, while the broiler was preheating.  Then the skillet was turn upside down, the pizza put on top, and then stuck underneath a p...

Risotto alla Milanese

8th Nov 2007

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Back when I was writing about corn risotto and the magical risotto pancake , I was kicking around the Internet trying to discover exactly how to make one correctly.  Recipe after recipe called for a very specific risotto preparation, one I'd never even heard of, something called Risotto alla Milanese, or Milan-style Risotto.  It's flavored with chicken or beef stock, a simplified base of...

How to Hack Up a Bunny

5th Nov 2007

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I bought the rabbit by mistake.  I was procuring a nice free-range chicken when I saw a whole rabbit at the local poultry counter in the North Market.  I gawked when I saw that the price was about $2 a pound.  The skinny little critter could be mine for under $5.  I hadn’t the slightest concept what I’d do with it, but when faced with such remarkable prices, why even worry?  Quicker t...

Beginner’s Charcuterie

1st Nov 2007

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There are two kinds of cookbooks: some I buy and use, and others I buy and admire. I plan for the former, but end up doing the latter.  I have cookbooks about offal , bread-making , and curing meat , but I’ve yet to order beef bones to roast . I have a copy of the River Cottage cookbook , which tells you how to deliver a lamb, dig for scallops, grow carrots, make bacon, and...

Ohio-Local Chili: How Much Can You Leave Out?

28th Oct 2007

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I torture myself with spicy food.  This can take form in many various cuisines and dishes, but they all have one thing in common: unbearable heat.  It’s not that Abby doesn’t like food with spice in it, it’s just that I usually push things way too far.  Like I imagine people do with certain dangerous drugs, I plan an evening when I’m home alone with nothing to do and nowhere to go...

The Proper Way to Cook a Hot Dog?

A nice technique for cooking hot dogs at home.

26th Oct 2007

By Blake Royer I hardly ever cook hot dogs at...

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I hardly ever cook hot dogs at home--it's the kind of food that I buy on a street corner in a rush.  On the way to a concert. When I don’t have more than 5 minutes for lunch. When it’s three days before my paycheck and rent's due.  Two bucks on a street corner, less than that if I'm lucky to be near a Papaya King (or Gray's Papaya ),...

Abby’s (Almost) Local Apple Butter

21st Oct 2007

By Abby Parker

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Although it seems odd because I will soon be married to the food-loving Paupered Chef (Nick), I was a very picky eater as a child.  I did not just abhor the typical foods, but also disliked peanut butter, all carbonated beverages, and even bread.  Other than McDonald’s, only one food item made me excited to eat: my mother’s yearly batch of apple butter.  I would even...

No-Knead Bread, One Year Late (Plus, How to Make Your Own Butter)

19th Oct 2007

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About a year ago, a phenomenon swept through the food blog world : with a little planning and an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, the novice baker could make a nice crusty loaf without kneading the bread.  Without shaping the loaf.  Without doing much of anything, really.  It was a supposedly foolproof bread recipe for the laziest of amateur bakers, and countless food blog posts confirmed...

Localvore Short Ribs

17th Oct 2007

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As you may or may not remember, I’m attempting to go somewhat local. Click back to Week 1 to see how it got started.

We’ve written about short ribs twice before and I’ll be honest in saying this isn’t the master recipe.  Part of the problem is that both previous recipes were really Blake’s babies.  It was his pot and his enthusiasm that spurred the effort.  While I was ther...

Week 2: We Feasted On Cheese!

14th Oct 2007

lake erie creamery

I was worried about lots of things when I began this little local adventure , but none stumped me more than cheese.  I’d simply never had any local cheese that I cared to have again.  I thought it was just going to be something I’d have to skip on along with avocados, limes, and olives (the latter is killing me!  Really, why can’t there be groves of olive trees straddling the Ohio...

Table for Two: Fergus Henderson at The Spotted Pig

11th Oct 2007

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The chef Fergus Henderson, owner of the London restaurant St. John , known for his kooky demeanor and round, large eyeglasses, came to New York this week to commandeer the kitchens of two Manhattan restaurants, Savoy and The Spotted Pig , offering patrons a taste of his nose-to-tail cooking .  Reservations at Savoy went off the offering in two shakes of a pig's tail; the r...

The Plate

9th Oct 2007

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Due to some really bad planning on my part, I didn't have the lead picture of yesterday's localvore post.  But I have it now.  Here are all our rules laid out officially on a paper plate.  The plate was xeroxed and sent to me.

Yes, we did call ourselves local-yocals.  Yes, we did repeat the spices commandment.  Yes, the last rule does dictate that Nikki must bring a local date to each gat...

Localvore Week 1: I Tried. I Failed. I Bought Butter.

7th Oct 2007

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It came to us late in the evening some time in early September.  A few bottles of wine down and numerous beers under our belt, we decided that we would try to eat all locally for a month.  While not exactly a novel concept, it felt noble.  We’d help Ohio farmers and eat well in the process.  We toasted to the prospect and ceremoniously wrote the rules out on a paper plate.

Those rules and r...

I Invented a Risotto Recipe and Figured Out What to Do With the Leftovers

3rd Oct 2007

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The other day I was watching Iron Chef and Lidia Bastianich was a judge on the show.  I'd never seen her in this role, and, frankly, it was scary.  The woman is a strange blend of passion and unsmiling seriousness.  Generally people who love food are laid back and groovy, and enthusiasm is usually tempered with a good dollop of sheepish self-consciousness: "I know I'm obsessed, and it m...

What Is This Mysterious Pizza Called?

1st Oct 2007

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Perhaps spurred on by Blake’s admittedly tasty-looking pickle butter , I finally caved in and decided to write about one of my favorite snacks.  Though a tad less refined, and even a bit shameful, it’s something I absolutely adore.  I wish it were more interesting.  But it’s simply a thin crust pizza with a fried egg on top.  Not exactly a revelation, but it’s quick and surprisin...

The Pickle Butter and Ham Sandwich

26th Sep 2007

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Lately I've been making this sandwich over and over again.  I don't know why.  It's nothing that unusual: ham, bread, sometimes cheese.  I've made it with the shrink-wrapped lunchmeat from my corner bodega; I've made it with thinly sliced Bayonne ham from the charcuterie .

The secret is in this invention I've taken to calling pickle butter.  I don't think I invented it; I think I r...

Adventures in Jam-Making

20th Sep 2007

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I’ve never made jam before, and haven’t had that much desire.  It seemed a lot of work, and prone to failure.  Sterilizing jars, crushing fruit, learning the right ratio of sugar to pectin so that the end result is the right consistency—these things could be avoided by paying a few dollars for some nice important preserves from France.  No harm done.

The other day a little blurb from the ve...

Steak au Poivre: Real Cheap and Kind of Authentic

First was the rather easy substitution of bourbon for the cognac

17th Sep 2007

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I tend to spend way too much time researching what I'm going to eat.  Nearly every recipe is cross-examined against other works I have, just to make sure I'm doing things correctly.  But I was on to this recipe the moment I saw Alton pull out his steaks.  I didn't check if this was the authentic way to make this, I just went for it.

What could cause me to go into such enthusiastic fits?  S...

Some Say New Haven Has America''s Best Pizza

13th Sep 2007

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Ever since writing about New York pizza and our travels from borough to borough on an insistent quest for the best possible pie, a steady minority of nagging naysayers have quietly made their case in a different direction.   No matter how many subways, buses, or ferries one takes, they say, you'll never find the best pizza in New York.  That's because it's in New Hav...

The Not-So-Humble Hot Brown

9th Sep 2007

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I’ve been gathering cook books by whatever method I can...and beggers usually can’t be choosers.  I borrow nearly anything I can lay my hands on.  I owe lots of money to the library.  And whenever I get to head home I usually make it out with an armful books my mom hoarded over the years ( I promise I’ll return them!).  One of those was The Louisville Courier-Journal Cookbook.  By a...

Cheap End-of-Summer Tomatoes and Stale Bread? Make a Bread Salad

5th Sep 2007

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I don’t think I can ever tire of the holy trinity comprised of tomatoes, basil, and carbohydrates.  Whether it’s a straightforward pasta of raw tomatoes in olive oil with basil tossed with spaghetti, a bruschetta on grilled bread, or with fresh mozzarella and some balsamic or red wine vinegar—it always tastes fresh, simple, and surprisingly hearty.

Sometimes around the end of summer, or the...

Fastest Roast Chicken

3rd Sep 2007

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I’m not sure why I never thought of this technique before.  The biggest problem I have with most of the chickens I roast is that the white and dark meat are done at different times.  It’s the great paradox of whole roasted chickens: they should probably be roasted separately.  To get the dark meat done I usually have to dry out the white, or dig into a wing when I know it probably shoul...

Risotto-style Pasta: How to Make Dried Pasta Taste like Fresh

29th Aug 2007

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I’d venture a guess and say that there’s nothing I cook more than pasta.  For someone as devoted to simple cooking with simple ingredients as I’ve become, there’s no dish more fitting and open to invention, nor in possession of a learning curve that’s forgiving at first, but can take a lifetime to master.  It’s easy enough to make a tomato sauce and boil some pasta—college stud...

Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower

27th Aug 2007

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Before this point in my life--some 24 years in--I’d never willingly eaten cauliflower.  Sure, it'd been sneaked into some of my dishes.  But I know for a fact that it has not played an integral role in any dish I’ve ever made.  A quick scan of our directory reveals only 1 mention of its name, and that was for a curried cauliflower dish that we didn’t even cook!  One of Blake’s form...

Crab Cakes On the Cheap

23rd Aug 2007

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On my way home from work every day, I walk down Lexington Avenue and risk the smell, squeeze, and auditory onslaught that is the Grand Central station subway stop.  I never get to see the beautiful, soaring interior of the actual terminal , which looks like a starry night's sky.  No.  Only the passage where everyone else shoves into this awful, grubby stairway under a Strawberry clothing...

Hard Shell Tacos: A Reunion

22nd Aug 2007

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I eat a lot of tacos.  I keep a pack of corn tortillas around at all times.  Thanks to folks like Rick Bayless, I’ve even branched out to mushroom and swiss chard tacos, huevos rancheros, shrimp, and the granddaddy of them all, our very own Fish Tacos .  Glorious, ethereal fish tacos.

This is all rather strange coming from someone who only ate hard shell tacos for the first 16-17 years...

New Dog, Hot Dogs, and Lots of Mustard

19th Aug 2007

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We don't usually have hot dogs on Sunday night.  I've got nothing against the sausages, but Sunday night is usually dedicated to my more adventurous cooking escapades.  You know, Shrimp Etouffee, and other meals that take hours and hours.  But tonight was going to be different.  We needed some time, so we planned ahead and got perhaps the easiest comfort food to prepare.

Why such a hurry? ...

Fresh Fish Ohio Style (by way of Indonesia)

15th Aug 2007

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I wondered often about what I'd have to give up, culinary speaking, when I moved from New York to Ohio, but most my fears have proved to be unwarranted.  There is a fantastic farmer’s market and utterly divine regional specalities (try Jeni's ice cream!).  But fish has been hard.  Most of the stuff in grocery stores looks decent, but it has been previously frozen and thawed at the store....

How to Make Pad Thai

13th Aug 2007

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Part of the reason I bought a wok in the first place was because I read the excellent, thorough, and inspiring post at Chez Pim called "Pad Thai for Beginners." It made a mysterious dish of the takeout world suddenly, approachably attainable.  Every step was lovingly explained, each ingredient inspected.  Pad Thai could be mine.

With a wok bought, seasoned, and oiled , I set off...

When Cheaper is Better: How to Season a Wok

10th Aug 2007

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Usually, when you're buying cookware, the rule is this: spend more for better quality.  Sure, those big boxed sets of cheap, thin pots and pans at IKEA or Target are tempting, in that pre-packaged, one-stop-shop sort of way: but how good can you really do with pots and pans that average out to $5 a piece?  Your sauces will burn, your food will stick, you'll be unable to simmer anything becau...

Shrimp Etouffee: How to Waste Time Happily

6th Aug 2007

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I just watched Emeril make shrimp etouffee in about 10 minutes.  I’m sure some of that time was saved thanks to the precut vegetables, pre-made stock, and carefully placed commercial breaks.  But it was still a little disconcerting to see him whip up a slow moving dish with such manic energy.  He made it look quick and easy, which can't be said about this one.  Not only does this version...

(Raw) Milk in Maine

1st Aug 2007

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Ever since I started reading about "raw" milk, I've wanted to try it.  Illegal in New York and most states, raw milk has a strange mystique about it: proponents claim that unpasteurized milk has remarkable health benefits , is drinkable by even the most lactose intolerant people , and tastes twice as good as the milk you're used to.  Once you drink your milk raw, they say, you'll begi...

Fried Pickles, Busch Light, and Other Adventures in Fine Cuisine

29th Jul 2007

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A glistening can of Busch doesn’t excite many culinary possibilities in my mind.  Had we not been tempted by fate, that sad can of piss-beer probably would have sat undisturbed in the fridge for a long, long time.  But the events were right for a breakthrough.  I feel safe in saying that this little can of beer fulfilled its highest culinary possibility.

It was the last thing I expected to...

In Portland: A Revelation on Fore St.

23rd Jul 2007

Right above Standard Baking Company , where we had the fantastic bread , lies Fore St .  An unassuming front door opens out into a open, lofty, yet warm room with charming leaden windows lining the back and sides.  On one side of the restaurant is an open kitchen , with seating nearby.  There is also seating along the outside of the restaurant, where they sat us, thankfully, next to...

In Portland: A Menu Based on Duck Fat

23rd Jul 2007

I should apologize before I begin, because what I write about Portland is no doubt going to sound like a tourist ad.  After just a few days spent there, it became one of my favorite cities.  It has a number of things on its side: proximity to the water; an industrial, scruffy charm; a relaxed, West Coast vibe; and above all, more than a couple world-class restaurants.

Hugo's , for example, i...

A Weekend in Maine, Part 3: Acadia, Blue Hill, and Belfast on the Way Back to Portland

20th Jul 2007

After some disappointing lobster rolls , the raw beauty of a national park was just what we needed.  We drove into Acadia after dark, paid for a campsite, pitched our tent, and fell asleep immediately.  The sun rose hot and early, and I woke up squinting.  For a few minutes I thought we were going to start the day at 5 in the morning, but then I was able to pull the hood from the sweatshirt...

A Weekend in Maine, Part 2: Lobster Rolls on Route One

18th Jul 2007

After we left Portland , we didn't have much of a plan.  We knew we needed to arrive at Acadia National Park, about 150 miles away, by nightfall.  On the list was, of course, lobster.  We also wanted to see the famed L.L. Bean store.  A friend had insisted we see a place called Popham beach, and we also wanted to visit Blue Hill, where E.B. White used to spend summers.

Armed with page after...

A Weekend in Maine, Part 1: Arriving in Portland

17th Jul 2007

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Elin and I decided to go to Maine because the fate of our relationship hung in the balance.  She had never tasted lobster, ever , having made an admirable promise in early high school to keep it that way until she got to Maine.  For her, the first experience of something is infinitely important.  It should be carefully orchestrated, fully appreciated, the best it can be.

Of course, Main...

Really Ugly Green Beans Changed My Life

12th Jul 2007

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Before beginning even the most basic of recipes, I usually consult a few dozen cookbooks and online sources to make sure I’m not missing some essential technique I’d skipped the previous dozen or so times I made the meal.  It's a compulsory action, one that drives other people nuts, and very often myself.  But I just want to make absolutely positively sure that I'm doing something that r...

In a Parking Lot in Red Hook, Brooklyn

12th Jul 2007

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At the Red Hook Community Farm, a farm literally on top of a parking lot. Read here , and see here .

The Paupered Chef in Print

11th Jul 2007

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Washpost

Our first-ever print article is published in The Washington Post today !  It's about what to do with all those leftover herbs in the fridge. If you can get your hands on a print copy, it looks quite good on the page, too. Enjoy!

South Africans Teach Us a Proper "Braai"

10th Jul 2007

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Last weekend, some of Elin’s friends that she met while getting her master’s degree in England came for a visit.  Max and Chris are both from South Africa.  They spent a long weekend with us and we did our best to show them our way of life in New York—playing the good hosts.  Often, guests find New York overwhelming, or they find the idea of it overwhelming.  “Where do I start?”...

O Hi O: What I''ve Done On My Summer Vacation

9th Jul 2007

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It's been a while.  I know.  I'm sorry.  But I haven't been lounging around, skipping work, or shunning the internet.  Hell, I haven't even really been on vacation.

What I have been doing a lot of recently is driving.  It took well over 500 miles to get an aging car to the Midwest.  The car promptly threw a fit when we parked it in the driveway, overheating then leaking, until we had to g...