© Kirsten Strecker
Hot on the heels of F&W’s roundup of America’s best new pizza artisans, GQ magazine’s Alan Richman just released his list of the 25 best pizzas in America. After eating almost 400 pies at over 100 pizzerias in 10 cities, Richman concludes that “great pizzas aren’t made by great ovens; they’re made by great cooks.”
I couldn’t agree with him more. I’ve eaten my share of restaurant pizza but I have to say that my favorite pizza comes, without fail, from one of the greatest cooks I know—my grandmother. The dough is fragrant and yeasty; baked in a battered old pan, it turns crisp yet pleasantly chewy.
Recently, my grandmother upgraded from supermarket flour to slightly more expensive King Arthur Flour. The rest is intuition. I don’t have that intuition—at least, not yet—but I do have access to some amazing recipes from F&W:
Barring wildly eventful news, I'll be on the Early Show tomorrow (Saturday the 23rd) at around 7:50 AM, mixing up some great summer cocktails—particularly pitcher drinks—for people's Memorial Day weekend parties. Tangerine Collinses, Aphrodisiac Margaritas...all from our new book, Cocktails '09. It's that lawn-party time of year... —R.I.
John T. Edge's fascinating New York Times piece on the Sriracha chile sauce brand Tuong Ot Sriracha details its humble roots—founder David Tran used to grind the peppers from his brother's farm in Vietnam himself—to its now seemingly ubiquitous appeal. (It's sold at Wal-Mart and can be found in all types of restaurant kitchens, from those of superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and current Best New Chef Bryan Caswell to those of national chains like Applebee's.) Clearly, the article resonates with the F&W online team: Several of us have the bright red bottles at our desks (our web designer Jinny Kim even gave online executive editor Rebecca Bauer a 28-ounce bottle as a gift recently). Here, three great recipes that call for the fiery, garlicky, slightly sweet sauce:
Spicy Sriracha Chicken Wings “We always have a couple of extra bottles at home, because my stepson blows right through the stuff,” says F&W Best New Chef 1998 Michael Symon of the chile paste.
Soy-Glazed Chicken Yakitori Chef Dean Fearing's take on the delicious skewered meats he ate in a yakitori bar in Tokyo has a hint of heat from Sriracha.
Zee Spotted Pig Bloody Mary Anna Vanderzee's Bloody Mary for New York City's Spotted Pig gets extra heat from the chile puree.
Plus, more dishes prepared with Sriracha can be found here.
Anyone who knows me knows that I get headaches. I tried massage and acupuncture without much success. Then I found Dr. Mark Green, a neurologist who runs the headache medicine practice at Columbia University. He’s taught me that a big part of pain management is learning to eat properly to maintain what he calls “constancy of environment” (my body = the environment).
He had two key food-related lessons. The first: Graze. Eating frequent small meals keeps blood-sugar levels constant. For me, that means keeping a supply of fruit-and-nut bars in my handbag, like these cranberry-walnut bars.
The second lesson: Eat lots of complex carbohydrates, which keep me full longer and also maintain steady blood-sugar levels. That’s translated into hearty salads made with brown rice, wheat berries and barley.
Only recently did I find out that while I’m eating all these fruit-and-nut bars and brown-rice salads, Dr. Green—who is not only a headache genius but also a foodie—is dining his way headache-free all around New York City. He loves seafood at Taverna Kyclades in Astoria, Queens, dim sum at Golden Unicorn in Chinatown and the Latin pollo (rotisserie chicken) spots near Columbia's Medical Center in Washington Heights.
At least some companies are doing well during the recession: According to a recent Financial Times piece, sales of Kraft Mac & Cheese, Jell-O and Kool-Aid are soaring. Here, F&W's stellar takes on Kraft standbys:
Mac & Cheese: Five irresistible versions of mac-and-cheese like one-bite three-cheese mini-macs.
We tasted lots of smoky foods for our June roundup—so many, in fact, that they couldn’t all fit in the magazine. Here are three bonus extras, and some delicious ideas for how to serve them.
1. Salvatore Bklyn Smoked Ricotta: About six months ago Betsy Devine and Rachel Mark started smoking their ultra-rich ricotta, made with milk from Hudson Valley Fresh, an upstate New York co-op. Thirty minutes over cherry wood imparts an amazing toasted marshmallow flavor that complements the cheese’s creaminess. Devine and Mark say: “Fold it into pasta with plenty of black pepper and chile pepper or smear it on ciabatta with slices of speck and apples. For dessert, try stirring in a little sugar and use it as a dip for chocolate-covered graham crackers for fire-less s’mores.”
2. Snake River Farms Gourmet Franks: Made from American Wagyu raised outside Boise, Idaho, these dogs spend some time over hickory and alder wood and have an all-natural beef casing. They’re only mildly smoky but have pure beef flavor and a gentle, pleasing spiciness with a super snap. They’d be great grilled, topped with a quick relish.
3. Vanns Smoked Rice: This long-grain white rice, smoked mostly over red and white oak, smells like a fire pit, but when cooked becomes more nuanced and subtle, especially prepared pilaf-style with onions and chicken stock. It would add a fabulous depth to dishes like red beans and rice, jambalaya and gumbo.
"I’ve realized that the moments of literary eating I like best are the ones in which the characters suffer because of their food," posits Brit writer Geoff Nicholson in his recent New York Times essay, "Go Ahead. Spoil My Appetite." He then goes on to list some of the most horrific foods in the canon, like a "pinkish-gray stew" in George Orwell's 1984, "hideous English candies" in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, and fishy-tasting milk in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Is this a rare case of food masochism? If so, I'd love to hear about your favorite dishes from literature. Here's mine: Henry Perowne's fish stew in Ian McEwan's Saturday.
This morning I had had breakfast with writer Anna Watson. Anna used to be a peripatetic editor at the brilliant but sadly shuttered Culture + Travel magazine. These days the La Varenne–trained foodie has been spending her days in the kitchen, on a mission to try and eat extraordinarily well on a budget. She recently launched a new blog called The Recession Cookbook, where she shares her cost-saving strategies (steak dinner and a bottle of red for two for under $35), excellent recipes and genius ideas for turning leftovers into delicious meals. I know I’ll be regularly checking in for value-minded dinner party inspiration.
Our extraordinary features editor, Michelle Shih, is a terrific home cook. After telling me about making her own yogurt, I asked her to share. Here it is:
Lately, I’ve been on a make-your-own-dairy-product kick. Last weekend, I tried Maria Helm Sinsky’s ricotta recipe—delicious and as easy as she claims, though I forgot that the whey needed to drain for two hours, so I didn’t get her baked pasta on the table until 9pm. This weekend I was inspired by Harold McGee’s article in the New York Times about making yogurt. Over the years, so many people have raved to me about how good homemade yogurt is compared to the storebought stuff. But I was skeptical as to how easy it was until I read McGee’s piece.