Last night at the Astor Center
in NYC, Food52
’s Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs along with Charlotte Druckman announced the winner of their cookbook contest, The Piglet. Nora Ephron (writer and director of Julie & Julia
) made the final call
, picking Seven Fires
by Francis Mallmann
with Peter Kaminsky over Canal House Cooking
by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton. But the most interesting part of the evening was a panel discussion that included finalists Kaminsky, Hirsheimer and Hamilton, as well as Hamilton’s sister Gabrielle, the chef/owner of Prune
(whose collection of essays is due out next fall) and Peter Meehan, who co-wrote Momofuku
with David Chang
. That's when things heated up. The panelists debated food photography (“Styled food shots make me furious,” Gabrielle Hamilton said) and the importance of “cookability” (bringing attention to the infamously complicated Momofuku
recipes). They also discussed the motivation for writing a book. Meehan suggested that he and Chang were not focused on the commerce end of the equation, to which Gabrielle Hamilton smirked, “Oh, that’s just the ‘David Chang shtick.’” But his comment begged the question: Is writing a cookbook a labor of love (Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton claim they wrote their cookbook for themselves—"We both laughed when our copy editor mentioned the reviews that would come in.") or a way to expand a brand and hopefully make some money? Kaminsky closed the night by saying, “The best food writing should make me want to taste the food.” It’s a fair bet that each of these cookbooks accomplishes this, and more.
I have finally tasted what real chili is after testing Tom Mylan’s Chili with Guajillo and Ancho Chiles and Hominy recipe, from the new December issue. This chili is a deeply flavored bowl of red, beefy goodness that I could not stop eating. There are no tomatoes and no beans—just whole dried chiles, soaked and pureed, plus ground meat, onion, garlic and cumin. Tom adds corn flavor with hominy and a bit of cornmeal to thicken, but I was loving the dish even before I added the corn elements. It has a lightness to it that makes you feel great. I think powdered chiles, tomatoes, beans and bacon are distractions (and give me indigestion).
So without these other elements, the type and combination of dried chiles used are crucial. You want a blend of rich, sweet and hot—the best trio is anchos, guajillos plus just one of the spicy New Mexicos, and all are widely available. I am lucky to grow my own. Every year, I am always amazed at how productive my potted pepper plants are. My garden was bursting with assorted peppers and chiles in late summer, and I’ve just finished putting them up. I pickle the orange and yellow ajis, roast and freeze the poblanos and pimentos, and dry the sweetly hot corno di toro rossos, good-and-hot aji Colorados and long red Koreans. I will use a combo of those to create my own blend. Now that I know there is a chili I can eat and enjoy, I will be making Tom’s recipe all winter.
Michael Symon was in town last week, and that’s exciting. The F&W Best New Chef 1998 and winner of the first Next Iron Chef back in 2007 was here with his new cookbook, Michael Symon’s Live to Cook. So there we were, hanging out at the Breslin, eating beef-tongue sandwiches and baked beans in pork fat. It was the perfect place to pore through Symon’s book, which includes a magnificent list of the Five Things You Should Never Buy (p. 23)—boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lean turkey bacon and butter substitutes are all there—and delicious-sounding recipes like beef-cheek pierogies (p. 45) and mushroom-stuffed, brick-roasted chicken (p. 198), plus details on making bacon and pancetta (p. 98). For more on the cookbook, I couldn’t do better than eatmedaily.com’s terrific synopsis.
© Donna Turner Ruhlman
Chef Michael Symon shows off his legs.
Want to be the next Hosea
? You could fill out an online application
to be on Top Chef
Season 7 or, better yet, show off your sparkling personality and glistening chef knives in person at one of the open casting calls
, which run until the end of this week.
Find more recipes from Top Chef winners here
What can someone like me, a girl living in Queens, NY, possibly learn from a bunch of Park Avenue socialites with names like Muffie Potter Aston? A lot, I learned, after I read Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations
, a new book by New York Times
columnist Florence Fabrikant; it's a compilation of recipes and entertaining tips from some of the city’s most celebrated hostesses and members of The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
(proceeds from the book will go to the center). Here, a few surprisingly down-to-earth tips from high society that I'll actually adopt:
1. Be worldly—follow the Swedish tradition of eating birthday cake for breakfast on your birthday.
2. Drink a cocktail before party guests arrive—it'll loosen you up and make you a better hostess.
3. Be a gracious and unflappable hostess, unperturbed by spilled wine or a crying child. Note: See #2, which will help.
4. Lottery tickets make great place cards—that’s one way to make it to Park Avenue.
5. Note for next year: Hand out to-go wine cups for parents accompanying trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Interesting article on Yahoo today (by way of AFP) about Diageo Chateau & Estates's apparent decision to get out of the Bordeaux market and what's likely to happen to Bordeaux prices as a result. Necessary reading, if you drink or collect Bordeaux!
A month before the New York City Marathon, I clocked in a gluttonous seven-hour day of eating at NYC’s Eleven Madison Park (a leisurely lunch, followed by a lengthy dinner). A waiter overheard me speaking about the marathon, and soon, I found myself talking running strategies with a handful of staff members. I knew chef Daniel Humm was a serious runner, but it’s quite possible that Eleven Madison Park may have the most athletic staff in the city. While Humm had to
bow out of the 26.2-mile race due to an injury, manager Jordan Salcito did him proud by clocking in at 3:37:05, which qualified her for April’s Boston Marathon.
Here, Salcito’s highs and lows.
Low: “The walk to the UPS trucks after the finish line to pick up my things. At
that point, the adrenaline was gone and my legs had become cement blocks.”
High: ”My husband, wine guy Robert Bohr, sprinted out of nowhere with a bottle
of Clif Quench at mile 24. That, and 'Eye of the Tiger' on repeat, kept me
going strong those last two miles. Post-race, Robert had made a reservation at Blue Hill Stone Barns where we opened a jeroboam (a 4.5 liter bottle) of 1980 Gruenchers from Domaine Dujac.”
Cru has been my favorite fancy New York City restaurant since it opened. And now I think it’s about to become my new favorite not-so-fancy place. As Florence Fabricant reported in the New York Times’ Diners Journal blog, Todd Macdonald is Cru’s new chef (once upon a time he was sous chef there). And he’s installing a whole new menu that will be more accessible and less expensive but still wildly compatible with Cru’s extraordinary, and now lower-priced, wine list. Maybe even more so. Macdonald is hugely wine savvy: His parents are the kind of foodies whose vacations in France mean hanging out with Burgundian winemakers and eating at least one three-Michelin-star meal a day. Macdonald has even set his own wine recommendations for the dishes he’s just put on Cru’s menu. Crispy octopus with roasted sunchokes, caraway and celery = Grüner Vetliner; fig-stuffed quail with farro and stewed leeks = Volnay. Can he possibly know more about pairings than Cru’s wine superheros Robert Bohr (partner) and Roy Welland (owner)? I’ll just have to go to Cru to find out.