Turkey Stock: Oven Method

November 29, 2009


Illustration by Pierre Lamielle

At a reader's request I'm reposting on how to make perfect stock, by slow cooking it in the oven.  It's a very low-maintenance, easy way to make stock—just stick it in a low oven and forget about it. I'd meant to post on Friday but the weekend has gotten away from me, and now most people have either discarded their carcass (sadly) or put it to use.  But there may be a carcass or two hanging around.  Also, since this method works with a chicken carcass as well, any time of the year, and because Pierre sent me two turkey illustrations, better late than never! (Pierre has just published a funny, fun, thoroughly unique cookbook, called Kitchen Scraps: A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook.  Congrats Pierre, excellent work!)

Turkey Stock: Oven Method

Put all the turkey bones in a pot. The more meat left on them the more flavor your stock will have. You may want to break them apart so that they fit more efficiently in the pot. Cover them with an inch or two of water. Put the pot in the oven and turn the oven to below 200 degrees (180 degrees is best). Leave them in the oven for at least 8 hours and as many as 16 (I don't think you can over cook this stuff; beef bones, you can, the stock can get overly boney).  Remove the stock from the oven and add to the pot:

2 large Spanish onions, cut up

4 large carrots, cut up

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon pepper corns, cracked with a s saute pan (optional)

5 or 6 cloves of garlic (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)

several sprigs fresh parsley and thyme (optional)

Bring to a simmer on the stove top, then turn the burner to low and cook for an hour on the stove top, or return the pot to the oven for a few more hours.

Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or once through any kind of strainer, then again through kitchen cloth.  Chill, remove the fat from the top.  Freeze in pint deli cups.  Or make the following very easy soup!

Turkey and Leek Soup

This is a simple soup that shows how easy good food is when you have some fresh stock around. Leeks make everything better!  Use the leek tops in your stock if you have them; use only white and pale green part of the leek in your soup.

3 or 4 leeks well-cleaned root end and dark leaves discarded, halved and cut into half-slices.

2 tablespoons butter

Salt to taste

6 cups turkey stock

2 cups left over turkey, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups croutons (preferable homemade, sauteed in butter or olive oil till crispy)

Saute the leeks in butter over medium low heat until very tender, 30 to 45 minutes.  Season them with a three finger pinch of salt (or two). Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the turkey and bring it back to a simmer.  Serve garnished with croutons.

Serves 4 to 6

Recent Comments
11:22:54 AM by Eric: Got some wings and made stock on wednesday. Super easy, turned out fantastic. Tastiest thanksgiving gravy ever. 180 in the oven was way easier than k...
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Happy Thanksgiving!
Grateful for good food and good cooks

November 26, 2009

Illustration by Pierre Lamielle

I'll never forget the way the words rang in my head, what, four or five years ago, Judy Rodgers, chef of Zuni Cafe in SF: why is this the beginning of the eating season, she asked, why isn't this a holiday about cherishing our food, about saving it, about putting it up before winter so we don't starve, about sharing it?  Thanksgiving should be about being with people we care about, about paying attention to what we have so that we don't waste it, so that we make more of it, so that everyone has it.

So as I spend a happy day in the kitchen, I'll be thinking about the time I live in, a time of unprecedented thoughtfulness about food and where our food comes from.  It's a lucky time to be a chef, to be a cook, to be someone who loves good food.

I  would be grilling my turkey today if my daughter hadn't demanded that I roast it.  I love grilling a turkey.  It may be the tastiest way of cooking a turkey.  It requires continual attention, which is a good thing, unless you've got a million other dishes to cook, vacuum the living room, set the table, maybe even shovel the front walk, who knows?  So I'm roasting this year, and not stuffed.  Doing a "dressing." Leeks and mushrooms and lots of herbs and celery and some turkey stock and fat from the cooking turkey.  Turkey cavity will have onion lemon and herbs.  I'll also be making green beans with almonds (easy to finish at the last minute).  I always have some kind of corn, symbolic for me. My dad's cranberry sauce.  Donna's making the mashed potatoes because she loves to.  Epi from On the Rise bakery, a wonderful edible garnish for the table.  Friends are bringing pecan pie and pumpkin pie.

I did a local radio show yesterday with two chef restaurateurs I really respect and like, Doug Katz and Jonathan Sawyer, and Doug was talking about how he does his small-farm-raised birds. It's kind of a combo braise roast and it makes so much sense, but does have a big sentimental drawback.  He removes the legs and braises them in stock and vegetables and roasts the breasts. It would be a great strategy at home.  Sweat plenty of veg in a roasting pan, add the legs and enough wine and stock to come three quarters of up, bring it to a simmer on the stove top, then put the rest of the turkey on top and roast it.  This way you end up with succulent tender legs and thighs and can control the doneness of the easily overcooked breast. And you've made some more delicious stock in the process.

But part of the ritual of thanksgiving is seeing this whole roasting bird. So I intend to present the bird when the breast is done, then remove the legs and finish them in the roasting pan with the vegetables and stock.  And finish the rest of the dishes while the breast rests.

How ever you're cooking your meal, don't panic and don't stress, enjoy the process. Today is not about perfect food.  This, holiday we all share, is about appreciating food, about sharing it, about being with friends and family, about giving thanks for the present with hopeful thanks for the future.

A final thanks to Pierre, who created the above illustration.  I met him in Vancuver at a signing. He was a young cook and artist whose playful illustrations in his first book, Kitchen Scraps, a fun illustrated cookbook, I really admire.  Thanks Pierre.

To all, Happy Thanksgiving.

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10:25:00 AM by Mark Bernstein: Julie -- I agree about the Chicago 3-1-2 biscuits. So good, and so easy! I just made the 3:2 pasta tonight, to much acclaim....
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Thanksgiving Gravy:
Make Stock Today or Tomorrow

November 23, 2009

Stock cloth straining
Photo by Donna

I wrote this very same thing last year: for delicious turkey gravy on Thursday, make a quart of rich turkey stock today or tomorrow.

Here's what my plan is.  I'm roasting a chicken for dinner and I'll also throw into the oven two fat turkey wings  and cook them till they look delicious enough to eat.  I'll put them in a pan and cover them with water (I may add the chicken carcass—haven't decided yet.  The wings I bought weigh about 3 pounds (and cost less than $4).  I'll pour in at least that much water, probably more, enough to cover them by about an inch of water in a snug pan.  I'll bring the water to a simmer, then put the pan uncovered in the oven set low, 180 degrees or so, overnight.  They can go for as little as 8 hours like this or sixteen, doesn't matter so long as the water isn't simmering, is hot but still.

Tomorrow, I'll add a large onion, two fat carrots, a handful of garlic, a couple bay leaves, a tablespoon of peppercorns, cracked, and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.  I'll bring it back up to a simmer then put it in the oven for an hour.  Then I'll strain it, twice.  First through a colander or basket strainer, then through a cloth.

I buy inexpensive handkerchiefs for the kitchen. I hate to buy cheesecloth that will be used once and discarded. Not only are they washable, handkerchiefs also have a finer weave than the stuff you find at the grocery store and so work better.

I'll chill this stock, remove the layer of fat on top.  On Thanksgiving it'll be ready to go.  While the turkey is roasting, I'll make a roux with rendered turkey fat and use that to thicken the gravy while the turkey's resting.

If you're the one making Thanksgiving dinner, start now and stay ahead of the game.

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Brussels Sprouts

November 19, 2009

Brussells Sprouts

Photos by Donna

How many of you thought that Brussels sprouts grew in the ground like little cabbages?  Or like me, never really thought about how they grew until you were forced to consider it?  Last Friday, Thomas Keller flew to Cleveland to promote Ad Hoc At Home, a paean to family-style cooking, and among the many things we talked about were ways people can improve as cooks, such as being more organized (mise en place!) and shopping better.  As Thomas has always said, "If you've got better ingredients than I, then you can be a better chef." One of the ingredients he happened to mention was Brussels sprouts—eat them in season.  The very next day at my farmers market, there they were. So I had to buy.  Had to.

113_0008 Brussels sprouts are delicious—if you cook them right.  If you overcook them, they get mushy and sulferish.  I like to halve them if they're big, so that the outsides don't overcook before the insides are tender, and serve them boiled and buttered.  Another great way to serve them is to shave them on a mandoline and saute them (they cook really fast this way).  In Michael Symon's new book, Live To Cook, they're deep-fried, then tossed with a walnut vinegrette (an awesome preparation; nuts go really well with Brussels sprouts).  And in Keller's book, they're are paired with kohlrabi and butter-braised radishes for a hearty vegetable side dish.

My favorite way to cook them is to boil them—how do you know when they're done? taste them!—and shock them in ice water, then saute them in bacon fat with lardons.  The below would make an awesome Thanksgiving side dish, cook the sprouts and render the bacon in the morning, finish them last minute  Any way you cook them, cook them now—now's the time.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Roasted Red Pepper and Pine Nuts

1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved

1/4 pound slab bacon cut in 1/4-inch lardons

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, diced

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

red wine vinegar to taste

Cook the sprouts in voluminous vigorously boiling water until tender.  Drain them and plunge them into ice water till they're thoroughly chilled, then drain and hold in paper-towel lined bowl (covered and refrigerated if not cooking right away).

Cook the lardons in a large saute pan over medium low heat till the fat's rendered and they're beginning to get brown and crisp. Turn the heat to medium high, add the sprouts and cook them till they're heated through and have developed some color.  Add the red pepper and pine nuts, toss to heat through, season with salt, pepper a few splashes of vinegar.

Serves 4

Recent Comments
04:15:24 PM by JRPfeff: This is a tremendous recipe. This was our only Thanksgiving dish without leftovers. We made it with some slight mods, oven roasted the sprouts inste...
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Donna's Calendar
(and an announcement)

November 18, 2009

Photos by Donna

I got really lucky when I fell in love with Donna in the wee hours of the new year 1988 Mary Frances's kitchen in Palm Beach.  She'd been shooting that night, and would continue shooting, but little did she know that 21 years later, she'd be photographing food for me.  Thanks to this blog and the people who read it, she now shoots food with alacrity, so I thank  those who have encouraged her. You've helped me!

At the request of a few of her admirers she put together a calendar with some of her favorite images.  If we'd had our acts together and done this early enough to print a thousand, we could probably have reduced the price, but as it is, she's printing them via Apple.  For more info, see her blog.

Now, an announcement.  Next week, I'm hoping next week, on Monday if I'm lucky, I'll be relaunching a new design of this site.  This is just a bit of forewarning for those who don't like shocks to the routine.  I'm losing the red banner, that's the main thing, but there will be other changes as well.

And finally, congratulations to Thomas Keller, chef de cuisine Rory Herrmann, and the rest of the family who have opened today Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills.  Rory is a great cook and chef (his dad's the well-known character actor ed—first role was the pipe smoking law student in Paper Chase) and if I lived in that fine, soulful city, I'd be eager to head there for some oysters and a steak frites and an enormous zinfandel.  Anyone who goes, please let me know how it is!

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How To Make Pretzels

November 16, 2009


Photo by Donna

My obsession with pretzels began with olives and the lye, but I was only moved to actually figure pretzels out after a comically disastrous demo at the Fabulous Food Show on Saturday.  (Before the demo, hanging out with Symon and Jonathan Sawyer, I mentioned my demo and said, "It's a no brainer, it's so simple nothing can go wrong." Symon clutched his bald head and shout, "DON'T SAY THAT!!!")

Half my demo was on baking and making a 5:3 bread dough into several products, and I also wanted to bake gougeres, cheese puffs, so I went early to make sure the ovens were cranked. I was assured by the very efficient woman running that stage that it was.  Thirty seconds into the demo, I went to put a loaf that had risen into the oven, and realized it was stone cold. It went down hill from there.  Bread that didn't bake, fritters that didn't cook through, pate a choux flying all over the place. A real mess.  Even the pretzels, baked backstage, came out albino.

For my atonement, and to prove to myself that I hadn't entered an alternate universe, I re-made pretzels. The whole point of my demo was to show that fundamental preparations such as dough and batter have infinite variations. A basic batter can be turned into pancakes or spicy corn fritters.  A basic bread dough can be a country-style boule, a pizza dough, or even pretzels.  Certainly you can bring all manner of additions, tweaks, flavorings, and nuances to your cooking, but the fundamental preparations have a basic structure, described by a culinary ratio, and if you know that ratio you're free to improvise. (Here's the book, essential reading for all cooks!)

For example, to those who have embraced ratios, I can simply say, to make pretzels, mix a 5:3 bread dough, shape pretzels, brush with a lye solution, add salt, bake you're good to go.

It's that lye solution you have to know about.  I found that one teaspoon per cup of water worked fine. It's a powerful base and can burn just as well as an acid so be careful when working with it. I've made them by brushing the lye on but yesterday I gave them a 15 second soak in a hot, but not boiling solution, then salted and baked them.  The heat and water gel the surface that then becomes a beautiful brown with that distinctive pretzel flavor.  According to McGee, the lye "reacts with carbon dioxide in the oven to form a harmless, edible carbonate." McGee also notes that commercial pretzels are sprayed with a 1% lye solution, baked, then dried till crunchy, and that you can also simply use baking soda to achieve the same result you get from lye. How much baking soda, I don't know—anyone who wants to experiment with baking soda using the method below, I'd love to know your results. (Calling del Grosso!)

The following recipe will make about 10 pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

20 ounces of flour (about 4 cups)

12 ounces water

1 or 2 teaspoons dry yeast (I use 3 grams)

2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use 12 grams)

4 teaspoons food grade lye dissolved in a quart of water

vegetable oil or spray

very coarse sea salt (or kosher salt) as needed

Mix the flour, water, yeast and salt until you have a smooth elastic dough. Cover it and let it rise to about double it's volume, 2 to 4 hours depending on how much yeast you've used.  Beat it down manfully to release the gas and redistribute the yeast.  Divide the dough into roughly 3-ounce portions.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Roll the portions into a cylinder about ten inches long. Cover them with a towel while you prepare the lye and ready your non-reactive baking sheets (it's best to use a non-reactive surface; don't use aluminum, the lye can do funny things to it).  Heat the lye solution in a pan that will allow you do dip your pretzels and retrieve them with a wide, slotted spatula. Coat your baking surfaces with vegetable oil.

After the dough pieces have rested for 10 minutes, roll them out into 25-inch long cylinders. To make the pretzel shape, lift either end, make one complete twist, then fold them over into the traditional pretzel shape. (If this proves too difficult, shape them as you wish, keeping in mind they'll double in size.)

When the lye solution is hot, just below a simmer, dip each pretzel in the lye solution for 10 or 15 seconds, then remove to your baking pan. Repeat with the others, sprinkle them with salt and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

There's no end to the fun when you know the basic bread dough ratio!

Recent Comments
09:40:44 AM by Bob delGrosso: Since I see that others have already dealt with the question of how much baking soda to add the the water Id like to add something to Michaels rationa...
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Ad Hoc At Home:
A NYTimes Bestseller?!

November 12, 2009

Photos by Deborah Jones

Ad Hoc at Home, Thomas Keller and company's latest cookbook has just been published and it is his most accessible and warmest book in that it presents food that is quintessentially American, meatballs and noodles, fried chicken, ice cream sandwiches and pineapple upside down cake.  It's also a book that should appeal especially to home cooks. Thomas speaks to what he thinks are the most important kitchen issues facing home cooks, such as how to organize your space, the tools that are important.

Ad Hoc at Home--Jacket As I was typing the last sentence, and generally trying to gather my thoughts, an email from Thomas dropped, congratulating everyone.  The book is number 7 on the New York Times bestseller list. Fifty-dollar fatties often dismissed as coffee table decor don't typically make that list. That says a lot about the book's immediate appeal!

Yes, I love the food in this book. The fried chicken recipe has changed the way I see all brines.  I love cool new techniques the Ad Hoc team has come up with, like the potato pavé (above); the potatoes are cut thin, cooked like scalloped potatoes, cooled and then cut into "pavés" that are fried on their sliced or crenelated side, making them especially crispy.

Writers for the LATimes and Wall Street Journal have been a tad churlish when they came across recipes that took them a long time [editorial intrusion.. LATimes food editor Russ Parsons took me to task in an email for my use of churlish; he's right—is he ever wrong?! not that I'm aware of! seriously!—churlish was indeed inexact...I was reacting not to the criticism so much as the notion that anything that takes time is ipso facto not home cooking, which is what the book bills itself as...this is the kind of thing that happens when there's no copy editor to ask questions of the writer, and I should have been more precise, thoughtful, etc., but this certainly has given me an idea for a future rant about quick and easy...]  Well, yes, some recipes do take time, even homey ones (and that time, I would add, is part of their deliciousness).  But there are others that are delicious and easier than you'd expect from Keller (such as marinated strip steak, cod with parsley, cornish hens, blueberry cobbler and apple fritters), because sometimes quick and easy is exactly what you want.

But what I want to do here, because I can, is to call attention to the non-Thomases who made this book happen who don't typically get much attention.  I'm thrilled that they put a group shot in the book, because these big books are truly group efforts.

David Hughes, of Level Design in St. Helena, is responsible for the cover illustration and the easy warm visual tone throughout the book.  He set a great stage for the photography and recipes.

P_275_grilled_asparagus-00504Dave Cruz is the chef de cuisine of Ad Hoc.  He's the one I worked most closely with when writing the headnotes for the recipes. He is an enormously thoughtful, curious, articulate chef—really impressive and I felt lucky to be working with him so closely.

Susie Heller is the woman who develops, tests and makes sure all the recipes work in book form, with her right arm, Amy Vogler; these two labored with Dave Cruz and Thomas and other chefs from Ad Hoc in Susie's home on every single recipe, a painstaking, critically important job.

And I never have the right words to completely describe the excellence Deborah Jones brings to the photography.  She always makes the point that it's her good fortune to work with such talented chefs.  True enough, but the chefs typically refer to her with the prefix "the amazing." Hard to disagree.

The French Laundry Cookbook was where it all began for me, and I'm nostalgic for that one, but this Ad Hoc at Home is surely the most valuable of Keller's cookbooks for the home cook. It's out of the park.

Picnic-04057 Here's the team—each one deserves individual congratulations.  Clockwise from the bottom left: in black, the amazing Deborah Jones, David Hughes the designer, Dave Cruz, Ad Hoc chef de cusine, Jeff Cerciello director of casual dining for Keller's restaurants (and lead chef on Bouchon), me, Amy Vogler, Thomas Keller, Susie Heller (and Thomas's dad's dog, Aussie).  No writer was ever more lucky than I to work with such pros.

More links:

Excellent NPR profile of Keller: "Skippy [peanut butter] is really that flavor profile I'm looking for"

Kim Severson's profile of Keller in the NYTimes, discussing his relationship with his dad, from whom he was estranged for years but with whom he shared a deep and affectionate relationship late in his dad's life.

(And if you're in Cleveland, don't forget to see Thomas at the Fabulous Food Show.  Thomas and I will be on stage for a conversation on food and cooking Friday at 7 pm.  I'll be back the following day to sing the gospel of Ratios, Saturday at 2:45, and Michael Symon will be doing food from HIS new book Saturday and Sunday.  See the complete schedule of all the chefs here.)

Update: Here's the video made by the publisher of Thomas talking about the kind of food that's in the book:

Recent Comments
09:36:50 AM by Jim Shaffer: Love the book--the first cookbook Ive ever had that makes me want to start with Recipe #1 and cook my way through it rather than picking and choosing....
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Open Sky: A New E-Commerce Idea and Company

November 09, 2009

OScloud1 This summer I received an email from a company introducing itself as an e-commerce start up that wanted to return us to the way we used to shop: personally. Founded by John Caplan (who helped to start, then worked as CEO of Ford Models), and a few other innovators, it sought people with a particular passion and voice to recommend products that they personally loved. I sensed immediately that it was a fantastic idea and embraced it.

I receive thousands of emails each month, many from strangers asking what kind of knives they should buy or where can they get this or that product I've mentioned in a post.  Now there is a way for me to connect with those people on a broader scale and to recommend all kinds of products that I personally love.

Here's why I think Open Sky is such a great idea. Earlier this month, my son James was home with the flu (all's well now, thank goodness!). I scoured netflix for thrillers or sci-fi flicks that both a 10-year-old and his father would love. There was no search function for this. But I went to my local video store, VidStar, explained the situation to a guy named Joe behind the counter, who took me to his personal shelf and handed me a dozen movies that fit my requirements.  I chose three, they were awesome and I went back for three more a few days later.

This is an increasingly infrequent experience in our WalMart-Amazon world, one that Open Sky hopes to make less so by asking individuals to create small "shops" comprising products they themselves love and use. There are shops for gardeners, for fishermen, for bird watchers. It's an expression of the Long Tail theory.

Just last week, a reader of my books and blog wrote to me saying she had had enough worrying over E coli and wanted to start grinding her own meat.  She doesn't have a standing mixer so I sent her to the grinder I recommend on Open Sky.

This is my shop for kitchen tools—and everything in it is something I either own and use or covet myself.  Want to make a proper quiche?  I've got the ring mold you need.  What's coolest about Open Sky, though, is that I tell my colleagues at Open Sky that I want to offer something unusual, something most people don't know about, and they find a way for me to offer it through Open Sky. For instance, I found a great magnetic knife holder to hang my knives on (they're made from gorgeous woods so are not only beautiful, they also won't ding my knives) made by a small company you've probably never heard of.  Now you have. The company is Bench Crafted and the knife holder is called Mag-Blok, and if you want a space-efficient way to store your knives, I highly recommend it. It's also a really cool, affordable gift (it's not like you see these things all over the place).

Another example. Every time I returned to the Culinary Institute of America, I brought home with me 4 or 5 of the side towels they sell and which all the students use.  They're really heavy duty sturdy towels, not for wiping your board! or dabbing your brow! as Chef Pardus told our class, "They're FOR GRABBING HOT THINGS!" I hate pot holders and oven mitts; I find them ugly and clunky and inconvenient.  I love these side towels.  They have many uses and I always have a stack folded and ready nearby.  I used to have to wait till I went back to Hyde Park to buy more.  Now I can order them from my own store!  I love it.

That's the first best part of Open Sky. The second best part is that they've found a way to match or better Amazon's prices.  Yep.  I don't know how they do it but they do.

I'm not the only one telling people what my favorite stuff is, so there's all kinds of variety available.  Shannon and Alison, who write the cooking with friends club blog, have their own "shop." Michael Laiskonis, the outstanding pastry chef of Le Bernardin and excellent blogger, has begun building his own product list.

This is a new idea, Open Sky, a new concept, as far as I can tell, a new endeavor.  It's only months old and they're still developing the company.  There are drawbacks.  Not all the products I want to be available are available. But the folks at Open Sky are working hard to change that.  Please check out the site and tell me what you think.  Pros and Cons.  What could be better, what did you like? If you buy those side towels, or anything else, I'd love to know if the process was easy?

Here's Open Sky's "About" page and here's its Mission Statement.

If you have any questions, please ask me!

Update: A comment was made that is important and should be addressed here.  The commenter writes: "As a cynic, I'm wondering if companies will be paying people deemed 'celebrity' to push their products. How are we to know if Eric Ripert really uses that Kitchen Aid mixer or if he's being paid to promote it?"

It's part of the Open Sky Agreement that "shopkeepers," as we're called, will NOT be paid by any of the companies whose products we recommend and we do not accept free products from anyone.  This entire venture is about integrity and transparency, without which it would die a quick death.

Recent Comments
02:44:19 PM by acide folique: Open sky is really a fantastic idea for E-commerce service.It will soon become mainstream trend on web.It will definitely change the way we buy or sel...
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Michael Symon's Live To Cook!

November 05, 2009

MS comp for MR blog_2
Photos by Donna

Been so busy and so behind I've yet to make this announcement!  Tuesday saw the publication of Michael Symon's debut cookbook—Michael's motto and M.O.—Live To Cook!  He does indeed, and I'm thrilled to write about it here.

Michael and april Before I went to the CIA to speak with president Tim Ryan about a book project, I introduced myself to Michael so that I wouldn't be going into the interview blind and stupid. He was friendly and helpful and I spent a couple nights in the tiny kitchen he happened to be working in (it was so small he and his sous chef simply stood in one place and cooked all night long, no room for another soul, nowhere to go).

He quickly made a name for himself there, and by the time his first restaurant, Lola, was a couple years old, he'd received a Best New Chef award from Food & Wine. That award gave him the credibility that allowed me to write about him as one of the three chefs in Soul of a Chef, and there I really got to know him and his wife Liz and the whole family.  That was what was so great about reporting that part of the book. Feeling like a part of his big exuberant restaurant family. (Above, he's with April Bloomfield before an SOS dinner at Lola.)

What I admired about him then is on full view in his book which I was honored to help him write: He's an ingenius cook, bringing huge flavors out of common ingredients, and creating complex meals with a simplicity that often made me do double-takes.

His Mac and Cheese (recipe below) is so popular, he can't take it off the menu at his restaurants, there's too much of an outcry when he tries.  Takes twenty minutes or so start to finish and is awesome.  And he's got the fabulous beef cheek pierogies and other signature dishes in the book.

But why I really love the book?  Pig ears.  He put his cripsy pig ears technique in here, and they are sooooo good.  Will I offer the recipe and technique here?  Can't!  Gotta buy the book for that one!

Another reason I love the book (and loved writing it): Michael is able to explore his culinary eccentricities, his love of coriander, the bench scraper, his no-knead egg-yolk pasta (for the sheep's milk ravioli, above).

It's a chef's cookbook that doesn't talk down to the home cook but is completely home cook accessible. One of his old cooks said this to me, I've never forgotten it, and it remains true: "You know what I like about Michael's food? It's the kind of food you can do at home."  So true.  He got a Best New Chef award, and last year Best Chef Midwest from the Beard Foundation, by serving do at home food. That's what I love about his style and the food in this book.

Congratulations, Michael, the book looks fastastic!

Mac and Cheese with Roasted Chicken, Goat Cheese and Rosemary

from Live To Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen

Kosher salt as needed

1 pound dried rigatoni

1 quart cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

8 ounces goat cheese

2 cups shredded roasted chicken

Bring a pot of water to a boil (add enough salt so that it tastes seasoned). While it's heating, pour the cream into a large sauce pan, add the rosemary and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring it to a simmer, careful not to let it boil over.  Reduce the cream by about half.  Add the goat cheese and chicken and keep cooking it till the cream coats the back of a spoon.

Cook the rigatoni till it's al dente, about ten minutes.  Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce.  Toss the pasta in the sauce till the sauce resumes a simmer, then serve.

Serves 6 to 8

MS Book Cover_3

Recent Comments
05:44:43 PM by acide folique: Michael Symon is well-known personality.I am surprised when I read that he works in tiny kitchen to give us delicious recipes.I will soon approach to ...
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Cleveland November Appearances:
Don't Let Me Be Lonely!

November 03, 2009

Eddy ASpple Tree
Photo by Donna

The time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is one of the busiest of the year and in addition to a lot of work, I'll also have the opportunity to do several food and book related appearances.  Hope you locals will join me for some of them.

Fabulous Food Show, November 13-15

I'm very excited to be welcoming Thomas Keller to town.  We'll be at the Fabulous Food Show Friday, November 13th at 7 p.m., for an intimate conversation about food, cooking the meaning of life, and plenty of Q&A with the audience. Tickets are $60 bucks and INCLUDE a signed copy of Ad Hoc At Home. He's making a special trip just for the food show as he's in LA to open the new Bouchon on November 18th. Please try to make it out and welcome Thomas on this special trip (my ass is grass if no one shows!). Here's the purchase tickets link, just click the blue button for all fab food ticket sales and look for the Keller event.

The Fabulous Food Show goes on all weekend and includes Food Network stars and plenty of Cleveland chefs. I, too, will be on the Culinary Celebration Stage the next day, Saturday, Nov 14, at 2:45, singing "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," and demo-ing all manner of doughs and batters, talking about Ratios and how, when you embrace them, there's simply no point in fearing death.

I will then head over to the Big Boy's stage and hurl the leftover green tomatoes at Michael Symon as he demos favorite recipes and takes Q&A from the audience. Michael begins at 4:30 and will be signing copies of his awesome new book, Live To Cook after. He'll also be on stage twice on Sunday, check the schedule at for details on his demos and...the rest of your favorite Ceeeelebrity Chefs—with and without restaurants!

Bioneers Cleveland, November 6 - 8

Bioneers is a group of social and scientific innovators whose mission is to address environmental and social problems.  Food, as Michael Pollan said in his keynote address at this years main conference, is at the nexus of the most important issues we face today: health care, climate change, and oil-dependence. I'll be moderating the opening discussion of the conference following Pollan's taped address, with local food experts, this Friday, November 6, at CSU at 9 am.  The conference lasts all weekend, see details on tickets and registration here

Last But Not Least: My Library, Just Up the Street On Coventry, November 4

Tomorrow, Wednesday at 7 pm, is the last of a series of local author talks. Please come to what I imagine will be a very intimate gathering at the tiny Coventry library, where I'll be talking about writing and cooking and food and anything else you want to talk about. Hope you'll join the conversation. Jane from the lovely Appletree Books, around the corner from my house (an indy bookstore so retro it has no site, but here it is), will be on hand to sell books. Good time to get signed copies of Ratio for Xmas gifts for your favorite cooks!  Buy them from Jane or bring your own—hell, I'll sign anything, doesn't even have to be mine!

Fun month here and beautiful weather. Everybody should live in Cleveland!

Recent Comments
07:58:43 PM by acide folique: The episode of The Fabulous show with Thomas was really good one.I find some cooking tips and get to know some interesting information about him....
18 Responses


  • Michael Ruhlman headshot

    I write about many subjects in magazines and newspapers, but mostly in books and mostly about food, chefs, and cooking—issues also covered in this blog.
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