Every month, chef Scott Conant’s restaurants sell nearly 10,000 orders of his spaghetti with tomato and basil. Conant attributes the dish’s massive popularity to its classic simplicity. “It always goes back to the same thing—the old da Vinci quote: ‘Simplicity is the ultimate luxury,’” he says. “Nowadays, no matter what else I put down in front of people, they always tell me that simple spaghetti was the best part of their meal. I definitely think it’s the sum of its parts: we use all fresh tomatoes whenever possible, we use very little canned, if any. We use quite a bit of olive oil, which we infuse with garlic and basil and crushed red pepper, almost like a tea. Then we strain out those ingredients and put the oil directly inside the tomatoes. We only cook the tomatoes for 45 minutes. The fresh pasta that we use has a little semolina inside so that texture is another very important component.” He finishes the pasta with butter, fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, basil, and more of the infused oil. “All of those are little things,” Conant says. “But when you put them all together in balance, that’s the key.”
F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.
I love pistachios, and I’ve been addicted to Setton Farms’ Pistachio Chewy Bites ever since they first crossed my desk. There’s not much more to these not-too-sweet nutty snacks than pistachios and dried cranberries, and the pistachios are super fresh and crisp because they come straight from the farm. Texture-wise, the bites remind me of Turkish delight that’s jam-packed with nuts—that’s how great the chew is. And happily for me, they’re individually packed so I’m a bit less inclined to eat too many. http://www.settonfarms.com/pistachio-chewy-bites.php
Pop star Kelly Clarkson on the best mushrooms of all time and the "hippie" way she drinks her fair-trade coffee. Read more >
Noted Halloween fanatics Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka made headlines last week for their family's impressive, adorable Alice in Wonderland costume ensemble, which became an Instagram hit to the tune of almost 100,000 likes. Since then, Harris has posted a couple of shots of the prep for his and Burtka's annual Halloween bash. Here, F&W's look at last year's edition of their over-the-top event. Read more >
Getting a chef to pick a favorite cookbook is like asking a parent to choose her most-loved child. But F&W pressed great cooks around the country to reveal their top picks of all-time.
Chef: Michael Cimarusti
The Book: Le Livre de Michel Bras by Michel Bras, 1991
“It was one of the first serious cookbooks I got when I was just 22 or 23,” Cimarusti says. “I was lucky to get it when it came out—it’s out of print now, and would probably cost more than $700, if you can even find it. I didn’t speak much French at the time, but it had a big impact. It was the first time I’d ever seen a Japanese knife, the first time I’d seen his vegetable-driven cooking. The idea of using what surrounds you, his whole aesthetic completely changed the way I thought about food.”