The Elements of Chili

A recipe for Texas-style chili.

30th Jan 2009

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Diced instead of Ground Meat
I had stopped using ground beef a few years back, after watching a Good Eats episode. The reasoning makes sense.  When ground beef is used, the fat either needs to be drained off immediately, or needs to be skimmed off the day after when all the fat has accumulated at the top.  But if you use chunks a lot of the juices stay inside, leaving both the chili less...

Ragù alla Bolognese

Because fresh pasta deserves a sauce this good.

20th Nov 2008

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Once I figured out how to make fresh pasta , I waited all of 12 hours before I set out to create my own Ragù alla Bolognese.  It was a goal of mine ever since watching an episode of Heston Blumenthal's TV series In Search of Perfection .  The premise of the show is for the acclaimed chef to reexamine some stodgy British classics by going back to the roots of the original dish.  His f...

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.€..

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...

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...

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...

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...

Cooking in a Bag: Cod with Mussels and Saffron-infused Wine

25th Apr 2007

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I’ve only recently reached a point where I’m ever so slightly bored with cooking. Don’t worry--it’s only a very subtle, mild boredom, easily fixed. But it’s there, and it’s a stage I’m sure many cooks experience periodically. What compels me to make the same old dish again? And even if I use new ingredients, isn’t it still the same technique? I’m a qualified saute-er, I can braise successfull...

Short Ribs Finally Worth Writing About

19th Mar 2007

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The most well-documented failure on this website was the first time we cooked beef short ribs .  Tough, sinewy, and ugly--a big fibrous brick of protein fastened onto a sled of white bone by tendons and mysterious pieces of grizzle.  Short ribs are the beef equivalent to a Salman Rushdie novel: willfully difficult, at times indecent and gross, but after an extended period of histrionic o...

The Mean Green Brussels Sprouts

1st Dec 2006

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These are called Brussels sprouts, and unless you had some especially mean parents growing up, this might be your first time together.  Even I, who had been force-fed green beans for the first 10 years of my life, never had to touch them because my dad hated them so much.  I don't think I'm the only one.  I've never seen them on a menu, and have never been confronted with them at a friends...

My Birthday Dinner

17th Nov 2006

Birthday_21 I (Blake) turned 24 yesterday and, in celebration, my girlfriend thought up and orchestrated a gorgeous meal of French provincial food.  From the surf to the turf, we ate, drank, and otherwise acted like shameless hedonists.  Since I'm groggy and barely awake this morning, and don't much feel like working very hard, I'll just put up some pictures and perhaps post the recipes some other time...

Skirt Steak with Haughty Green Beans

30th Oct 2006

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I had no idea.  Abby and I are staring at this picture of skirt steak with string beans with mouths agape, salivating over the chance to make this fine meal , when we notice that nowhere in the ingredients are those beans listed.  We double check, and then wonder what it was exactly that we were looking at.  All they they had was something called haricot verts.  "I'm not sure what that...

Because You Can Throw Just About Anything In the Pot with Mussels and It Will Taste Glorious

19th Oct 2006

Leek_mussels_7 Every time I go to a grocery store and, while making my merry way down the produce aisle, I see leeks, a little jolt of suspicion and hesitation runs through me.  My shoulders tense up a little, my eyes get shifty, and I keep walking.  What are those giant, oversized green onions?  What steroids have they been fed?  Are they from a Jonathan Swift novel?  And why do these arm-length veget...

Artichoke Heart Risotto

26th Sep 2006

Library_4806 On Sunday night, I was subconsciously looking for a kind of willing-the-weather-to-change activity.  After a cool week of light sweaters and no sweating on the subway platform, Saturday and Sunday heralded the return of muggy weather, which was very unwelcome.  The threat of rain provided sufficient justification for me to hole up and read and watch movies all weekend (save a trip to Bensonhu...

Grill Week Day 2: New Territory for Mussels

29th Aug 2006

P1010020_1 To make a grill week interesting, you have to move beyond the basic hamburger, steak, boneless skinless chicken breast, and the occasional fish.  We've done steak twice before , and as we espoused during the Shake Shack Alternative week , we're not big fans of the charred-on-the-grill burger (naysayers and defenders, feel free to comment away).  Leave that business to dad. So,...

The Good Life: Zucchini Crostini, A Frozen Rabbit, Easy Summer Pasta, and an Olive Oil Fruit Dessert

26th Jul 2006

Img_2037 It began when my friend Glen T. Tremaldi, who runs a community garden in Boerum Hill, informed me of his zucchini overstock.  "You should see the zucchinis I picked. The size of your calves," he said.  And he wasn't joking.  They were the size of melons.  Then he related something about a frozen rabbit that was bought some time ago from a butcher on Court St., who had divided it up into ser...

Kafka''s Herb-Roasted Chicken

How to roast a chicken at 500 degrees

4th Jun 2006

High heat has its positives and negatives, but one thing for sure is that it definitely tastes much different than whatever the Joy of Cooking will throw at you.

In fact, one of the only downsides is that this recipe is easy to the point of being rather boring.  For the busy this is a godsend, but we cooked it with some much more challenging melting potatoes , that upped the ante on the fat...

How to Throw a Successful Tapas Party

In which we find a wildly handsome Spanish man

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Step 1: Find a Spanish Man.

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Step 2: Find a Spanish Ham.

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Preferably, a wildly handsome Spanish friend with a hunk of Spanish ham that his mother sent him.  Jorge had looks.  And he had the ham.   What follows is an evening of many, many stages that included overcoming fears of anchovies, quail eggs, and two romantic party members who ate their share, doted on each other, and c...