I have a deep affinity for crackers. Not gourmet varieties, or even homemade, but good old plain Jane everyday crackers, be it Captain’s wafers, or saltines, and especially any kind that comes two-to-a-pack.
I don’t think anyone needs a reason to like crackers but my fondness, I am certain, begins with my childhood memory of inexpensive family restaurants and sit down pizza joints that bring cracker baskets to the table instead of bread. I love the cracker basket and who in their right mind doesn’t? They hold something for everyone after all. Remember those crunchy breadsticky thingys, the sesame rounds, or the oblong townhouse crackers shaped like flattened capsules all wrapped up, by twos, in cellophane.
Wandering along my merry way as we do in life, I eat crackers. I eat crackers without much thought. I eat Club crackers wrapped in thinly sliced bacon and then baked, I learn it is okay to drink a martini with saltines topped with pickled bologna and American cheese because they are a match made in heaven, I will never forget having Georgia cracker salad and realizing it is nothing more than a tomato, mayo, whitebread sandwich on steroids, and my favorite, I use all kinds of crushed crackers as croutons for my salad. To this day every time I walk past a stick of butter I can’t help but want to drag a saltine down the length of the stick before popping it into my mouth, the perforations at the edges of the cracker leaving the soft butter to look like a perfectly raked zen garden. Continue reading “The Wonder Of Store-Bought Crackers”
Great barbecue is about the cut of meat, the smoke, the rub, and the sauce. But just because sauce is only one part of the equation, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be excellent. In fact, barbecue sauce should be so delicious that you can use it for much more than simply dipping or brushing. Continue reading “Memphis Style Barbecue Nachos”
Spring always seems rushed. It’s as if we spend months climbing a mountain called winter, and when we finally reach the peak, we’re so grateful that we run as fast as we can down the other side — past spring and directly into summer. It’s even true for the vegetables we’re attracted to — the fleeting cool weather crops that are harvested and eaten before spring has truly begun. Continue reading “Poulet á l’ Estragon (Chicken Tarragon)”
A whole roast duck is as satisfying to eat as it is pretty on the table; while foie gras is a rich man’s food and confit is pure comfort, a delicious seared and crispy-skinned duck breast is one of the real luxuries of eating.
Duck is versatile, but quirky to cook. And when something is unusual, people tend to keep it at an arm’s distance in a that’s my crazy uncle sort of way. But I’m here to say that it is simple to prepare; no matter which cut you’re preparing, cooking duck comes down to two things: rendering off the fat, and getting the skin crispy. Continue reading “The New Steak (+ a Recipe for Duck Teriyaki)”
Chef Leichte spun on the balls of his feet. A millisecond ago he was heading forward, and I was following him. Now we are face to face, and he pokes my chest with his finger. “Commit!” he says in a raised voice, his chef’s toque rising from his head and towering above me like the leaning Tower of Pisa. “Quit asking all these questions and cook! Commit to the recipe; if it fails, we will fix it, but realize you will probably learn more from your mistakes than if I coddle you through the process.” Continue reading “Tips for Reading Recipes (& Chinese Style Honey Hoisin Sticky Ribs)”
While it might not be haute cuisine, chopped meat is surely economical, flavorful, and versatile. From meatballs to croquettes to tacos, it can do it all and can do it with ease. It is an uncomplicated ingredient, often interchangeable, and more often than not is a beacon signaling out comfort food to anyone within range.
Take for example chopped steak: it is nothing new. Salisbury steak for instance has been around since 1897. Named after a doctor, Dr. Salisbury, who created it. Salisbury was also a believer in a low-carb diet, fancy that. Continue reading “Recipe Reclamation: Bringing Back Chopped Steak”
I like repetition. It guides me from one task to another. Like how in the morning I’ll make my wife’s coffee exactly the same way and take it to her while she is getting ready for work before making my own. Then I’ll pack the kids’ school lunches, followed by preparing breakfast, and every Tuesday, … Continue reading The Virtues of Routine and Braised Cabbage
I use a pair of kitchen tongs and quickly flip a steak, pull back to let my hand cool for a split second before diving in again behind the safety of the tongs to flip another. The hair on my forearm recoils from the heat. Even with a long pair of kitchen tongs I can’t bear the sting of the glowing coals like I used too.
I have lost my commercial kitchen hands. The hands that could take the heat without flinching, the same hands that could grab thermonuclear plates, or could move steaks around on a grill without ever noticing the heat. The heat abused hands that were once this line cooks badge of honor.
The wind shifts, a wisp of white smoke blows back. My eyes catch a little before I can turn and shut them. The smoke underneath my eyelids stings and my eyes begin to water. Continue reading “Grilling: Tips, Skirt Steak and more…”
I was given an assignment and just like in high school I have blown it off. I procrastinated. In all actuality if this was school, the PR company my teacher, well, I failed with a big fat F.
Because my parents taught me right from wrong, I am going to complete my homework and turn it in. It is the right thing to do. I expect no mercy from the teacher. None.
I crack open a bottle of wine and pour a glass. What, that is what I would have done in high school, just kidding mom and dad. I never would have done that in high school. I was more a Jack Daniels and Coke kid. Did I just say that out loud? Continue reading “The Troublemaker Blend 6”
If I didn’t already have a list of reasons I need lots of herbs in my life, Italian Salsa Verde (green sauce) alone would be enough to convince me. It’s delicious on almost anything. Take my dinner tonight: salsa verde is outstanding on steak and takes long-cooked kale up a notch. And when I got a little on my baked potato with sour cream, it was no longer a plain old baked potato. It was sublime. Continue reading “Using Herbs with Abandon”
Everyday my diet pushes further in a vegetarian/vegan direction. I don’t know if it is because I am older, my tastes changing, or maybe I am I just tired of all the same foods I have spent life eating. If I really think about it, which I am prone to do, I don’t think I … Continue reading Lentil Cakes, Red Onions and Sweet Potato Fries
A wonderful blend of deeply caramelized onions, spicy tomato broth and creamy chickpeas. Khatte Channe, as it is know in India, is traditionally served with a flatbread but as it is cooked in this recipe it has lots of sauce so it makes sense to serve it with simple steamed rice and some sort of … Continue reading Chickpeas in a Spicy Tomato Gravy
What thrills me the most about potato cakes like this is the crispy top and creamy interior. If you use good potatoes the flavor is unbeatable and if you are creative you can even layer the interior with things like roasted garlic, wilted onions, green onions or even chopped frozen broccoli that has been thawed … Continue reading Potato Cake
These burgers are great bun or no. The key here, at least for me, is not to use breast only ground turkey which really dries out but a combination of ground thigh and breast. Read the labels on the packages carefully. Lemon parsley butter is a natural for these. While you make more butter then … Continue reading Turkey Burgers with Lemon Parsley Butter
The only way buttermilk will go to waste is if you if you have a lack of ideas for using it and because of this don’t. It can hang out longer then regular milk because of the live culture but it will eventually go bad. This dressing alone can be used as a base, … Continue reading Pickled Green Onion Ranch
Serves 4 Smothered chicken makes for a comforting Sunday dinner. It’s the kind of dinner that will bring the kids back on Sundays after they have left home to be on their own. The combination of peppers, onions and celery (known as the trinity in cooking) is very warming and homey. It is a great … Continue reading Smothered Chicken
I like this bread because it uses leftovers. What do I mean by leftovers? My girls don’t like heels and crusts. Sure I could force them to eat them, could throw them out or I could trim them off and save them for other uses. I could make bread crumbs or, for instance, I could … Continue reading Daily Bread