October 5, 2015

une récapitulation

a recap

By my count, this is the 232nd time I’ve posted on this blog since it began on May 2nd, 2011.  That’s 232 weekly postings, each going live late Sunday evening. That makes this posting two shy of the four‑and‑one‑half‑year anniversary of the blog’s start. In that time I’ve learned a lot about cooking, photography, dishware, and myself. more »

September 28, 2015

macaron à l’ancienne

pistachio macaroons

In the fall of 2011, I was given the task of standing in line outside the newly opened, Madison Avenue edition of Ladurée, the Parisian macaroon producer. A few years earlier, I had visited the company store in Lausanne with a chef friend. He came to Lausanne for a haircut and to purchase a box of macaroons as a gift for a recipient I no longer remember. more »

September 21, 2015

gelée de tomates

tomato apsic

On October 25th, 2009, in Stockton, California, at about 12:15 pm, I ate tomato aspic for the first time. I had avoided it for over sixty years, but I didn’t even try to avoid it this time. I knew my time had come. It was tasty, but it was also a symbol of all that was bad about food from the 1950s. more »

September 14, 2015

macarons de cèpes

porcini macaroons

The date was October, 1994. It was my first trip to Paris. It was my first trip to France. It was a life‑changing eight days. Although it would be another three years before my true obsession with French food would start, this first visit definitely marked the end of my obsession with Chinese food. more »

September 7, 2015

truffe perdu

lost truffles

Some recipes work. Some recipes fail. Some recipes almost work. Some recipes that almost work can be repurposed. This is a story of a repurposed recipe. White chocolate is not my favorite chocolate, but as a delivery mechanism for sugar and fat, it’s not bad. I occasionally buy it and use it in my cooking. more »

August 31, 2015

brocoli parfumée au sésame huile

sesame-scented broccoli

I seriously cooked Chinese‑style food for only four years before I headed to the People’s Republic to eat the genuine article. I was part of a group from the US‑China People’s Friendship Association in the late spring of 1980. We were one of the first tourist groups to go to Xian. more »

August 24, 2015

pailles au fromage

cheese straws

One of the curious books I remember occupying the built‑in bookshelf in my father’s home office was The Americanization of Edward Bok. Opposite the title page was a photograph of the author. Below that was his signature. The photograph depicts a middle‑aged man with graying temples and hair parted slightly to the left of center. more »

August 17, 2015

le posset

a posset

In the eighth and final episode of the first season of the 2015 BBC costume drama Poldark, the central character’s sniveling wimp of a first cousin, Francis Poldark, sits at the head of the dining table in his ancestral home. He is unaware that he is showing the first symptoms of “putrid throat. more »

August 10, 2015

écorce de maïs

corn bark

I started drinking coffee when I was serving guard duty. The coffee was Nescafé. The place was the plain of Marathon, site of a decisive battle between the Athenians and the Persians fought in 490 BCE. The year of my guard duty was 1963. I was a Boy Scout, not a soldier. more »

August 3, 2015

macaroni et fromage à l’ancienne

old-fashioned macaroni and cheese

It’s going onto fifteen years since I first started looking at old recipes. My first venture only took me back to 1928, but by the end of the first year I was digging around in the 14th century. Now I spend much of my time reading books and manuscripts written in the eighteen century. more »

July 27, 2015

macarons de noix de coco au chocolat

coconut-chocolate macaroons

Here’s a simple question: “How many nickels are in a dollar?” I asked three students that question. Only one was willing to try to answer, and it took him three tries and a hint to get the correct answer. The students had already admitted that they had no idea about simple fractions and couldn’t do decimal math, even with a calculator. more »

July 20, 2015

crevettes et maïs bouillie

shrimp and grits

There are certain food words that, for me, always have a place associated with them. Say cioppino, and I think of San Francisco. Specifically, DiMaggio’s Restaurant in the Fisherman’s Wharf district and high‑school dates in the 1960s. Say artichokes, and I think of Castroville, the sell‑proclaimed artichoke capital of the world. more »

July 13, 2015

boulette de semoule

Roman-style gnocchi

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the meaning of “bane” is “a cause of great distress or annoyance.” For many years, gnocchi were the bane of my teaching. It was the one dish that I could count on students screwing up. It was the one dish that never seemed to work, even if the students followed the directions as they claimed they did. more »

July 6, 2015

cluster de macadamia

macadamia-nut cluster

According to the Hawaiian Host website, Ellen Dye Candies, its predecessor, was the first company to dip macadamia nuts into chocolate. The year was 1927. My parents travelled to Hawaii when I was in high school. They returned with a box of chocolate‑covered macadamia nuts for my father’s officemates. The year was 1962. more »

June 29, 2015

les pois

the peas

Roland Stofeth handed me a liter‑size deli container of blanched petit pois. Using kitchen sign language, he instructed me to peel each of the tiny peas. He then quickly left to eat his lunch while I faced the task of peeling what must have been a few thousand peas. Roland was a young apprentice in the restaurant where I was stagingmore »

June 22, 2015

le brevet d’invention

the patent

Eugene D. Gagliardi, Jr.,is an octogenarian inventor of meat products. His most famous product may be Steak‑umms, a method of restructuring thin slices of meat into steak‑like planks. I first heard about Gagliardi when a friend emailed me a link to an interview where he was demonstrating a novel, patented method of cutting a chicken breast to make the poultry equivalent of a blooming onion. more »

June 15, 2015

pouding des haricots

bean pudding

We first visited the Otowa‑san Kiyomizu‑dera in 1986. It’s more popularly known by Westerners as the Kiyomizu Temple. It’s located on the eastern edge of Kyoto although when it was founded in 778, the city was probably still to the west but a bit farther away. I’ve been back twice since my original visit, but I think the first was still the best. more »

June 8, 2015

rouleau de haricots à la vapeur

bean roll

What do Jackson Wonder, Black Calypso, Cannellini, Pinquito, Canario, and Baby Lima have in common? They are all varieties of dried beans. I recently received a box with one twelve‑ounce bag of each variety along with a baseball cap with the producer’s name on it. It was my prize for winning a recipe contest they sponsored on their Facebook page. more »

June 1, 2015

sandwich « ramen » au fromage grillé

grilled cheese “ramen” sandwich

A month or so before Yoshiko died, she suddenly stopped eating and drinking. She was in her nineties and had lived in a nursing home for many years. She was in good overall health, but her severe osteoporosis often made her extremely uncomfortable. Yoshiko also had dementia. I can’t say that she suffered from dementia. more »

May 25, 2015

pudding aux carottes

carrot pudding

It was the first old recipe that ever interested me. The recipe was called rafioli comun de herbe vantazati. It was ravioli filled with spinach or beet leaves, ricotta, raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The “sauce” was a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. The recipe was an adaptation of one from the fourteenth century. more »

May 18, 2015

un petit hamburger


It’s been over forty years since my one‑and‑only experience of eating a White Castle hamburger. It wasn’t a great experience. I remember buying a bag of six sliders expecting that there would be enough to share with my two friends. We all came away hungry and unhappy. At that point in my life, the first‑ever fast food joint and creator of the fast‑food hamburger gave all fast‑food joints and all the fast‑food hamburgers a bad name. more »

May 11, 2015

la purée de Robuchon

Robuchon's potatoes

I may be a fool. I may be the world’s biggest fool. I think I’ve found a way to simplify Joël Robuchon’s La Purée. Some people call Robuchon’s version of purée de pommes de terre mashed potatoes, but that is blasphemy. This dish is the mythical ambrosia that fed the gods of ancient Greece. more »

May 4, 2015

les gaufres de Miss Leslie

Miss Leslie’s waffles

Another week, another waffle. My toy is taking over my life. The machine worked better this week than at any time in the past, even with a recipe that is over 175 years old. Maybe I should leave the mini‑waffle maker a five‑star rating on Amazon and move on to a different category of dishes? more »

April 27, 2015

gaufres de pommes de terre

potato waffles

I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding. Thus wrote Abraham Kaplan in The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science in 1964. The phrase has been quoted in many ways since then. more »

April 20, 2015

le petit pain avec homard et beurre

lobster roll

It was my first encounter with lobster. It was on the plate of the person to my left. It was on the plate of the person to my right. It was on the plates of the people across from me at the long, communal table. Dave, a business acquaintance from Seattle, was sitting across from me. more »

April 13, 2015

mandarine confite

candied mandarin

The part we eat is called the endocarp. Each segment in the endocarp is a carpel. Each carpel is made up of small, individual juice‑filled follicles or hairs. Each follicle is an individual cell quite visible with naked vision. No microscope required. It’s quite easy to look at the individual cells of an orange before we slurp them up. more »

April 6, 2015

escargots croustillantes

crispy snails

The stuff was called Bug‑Geta, and I used it by the boxful. It didn’t seem to work, but I keep using it in between more ecological and pet friendly attempts to win my personal war with garden snails. I was trying to grow vegetables in a small plot of half‑hidden land in front of my house. more »

March 30, 2015

gaufres de poulet

chicken waffles

When I’m doing my happy dance in the kitchen, I get accused of having too much fun playing with my toys. Mostly I think of my varied and sundry tools as a valuable part of my kitchen life, but I guess one or two really are toys. Certainly my baby‑blue mini‑waffle maker qualifies as a toy. more »

March 23, 2015

biscuits de thé vert

green-tea cookies

I’ve often tripped over cultural traditions. Maybe not tripped. More like falling face down with a thud. It usually happens just when I think I have mastered a tradition. Then the traditions get tweaked or modified or scrapped or reinvented. I’m confused, but these things always confuse me. When I was small I was told it was not my place to question why. more »

March 16, 2015

soupe onctueuse d'avocat

creamy avocado soup

Why do Americans insist on putting a country in front of so many preparations? Why do we have to call a dish French fries or French toast, German potato salad or German pancakes, Polish or Italian sausage, or even Chinese chicken salad? Pommes frit or pain perdu sound so much nicer to my ear. more »

March 9, 2015

thé aux champignons

mushroom water

Sometimes you don’t realize that your journey has come to an end until you’ve been at your final destination for a while. Plus, your final destination may not be where you intended to go when you started your journey. This happened to me recently, but before I tell you about it, let’s discuss mushroom essence. more »

March 2, 2015

gâteau au yaourt sans yaourt

yoghurt-less yoghurt cake

Gâteau au yaourt is a French tradition dating all the way back to, maybe, 1950. At least that what one reference that no longer shows up on the Internet said. Different websites describe it as being so easy that even a child can make it, or being child’s play, or being the first recipe taught to French children. more »

February 23, 2015

champignons en croûte

mushroom rolls

A sign of laziness is using a food processor to “dice” mushrooms for a duxelles. The results can hardly be called a dice, and the practice lacks a certain Zen. There is a certain feeling of satisfaction that comes from producing a uniform dice from something as irregular and friable as a common mushroom. more »

February 16, 2015

un écrou pour toutes les saisons

a nut for all seasons

It was like the drugstores common to movies from the thirties and forties. Besides serving as a pharmacy, Bryan Drug House had a lunch counter, a supply of greeting cards, and various candies, ranging from Whitman Samplers to Hershey bars, for sale. It was located in the center of town, directly across West Main Street from the old Nathanial Rochester Hotel. more »

February 9, 2015

pouding de kaki

persimmon pudding

I went to the market today to buy some persimmons. I was looking for the non‑astringent type such as the Jiro or Fuyu varieties, both common in my usual markets two days ago when I last went shopping. Today, all I could find were the Hachiya variety, the traditional astringent persimmon available in my area. more »

February 2, 2015

champignon mariné

marinated mushroom

Mrs. W was a whack‑job—a true nut case—my first sixth‑grade teacher. She was actually, probably just going through some sort of a breakdown. She had decided to eschew the standard curriculum, and instead, we spent our days doing art projects and going on field trips. On one of those field trips, I visited my first mushroom farm. more »

January 26, 2015

flan aux œufs et fromage

cheese custard

The denaturing of protein and its subsequent crosslinking is fundamental to cooking. Every time you prepare a dish of scrambled eggs, that’s what you’re doing. You mechanically denature some its many proteins when you beat the egg. Then, as the egg warms in the pan, thermal denaturation occurs. At about 60 °C (140 °F), the proteins begin to crosslink and form a gel that traps water droplets in a newly created protein mesh. more »

January 19, 2015

tarte à la crème de vin

wine-cream tart

Don’t ask Wikipedia for a list of pies. The list will be too long to fathom. Still, what are the most common pies in America? Apple certainly. All types of berry and other fruit pies. There’s banana‑ and coconut‑cream pie? In the fall, pumpkin pin. At other times, sweet potato pie. more »

January 12, 2015

champignons tirés

pulled mushroom

There was this one patient in the late 1980s that had ignored a ruptured appendix. Apparently, he just sat on his front porch drinking beer and hoping that the pain would go away. By the time he was brought unconscious to Rochester General Hospital, his sepsis was so bad that edema had formed throughout his body. more »

January 5, 2015

gésier rôti

seared gizzard

“Do you fret your gizzard?” That’s a question that Dr. Johnson may have asked you if you seemed apprehensive. In the literary world, there seems to be an illusion that we have a body part called a gizzard. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on June 17th, 1668, “I find my wife hath something in her gizzard that which waits an opportunity of being provoked to bring up. more »

December 29, 2014

mousse de cheesecake au beurre d’arachide

peanut-butter cheesecake mousse

Some are good. Some are bad. Some are great. Some are so bad that I want to put my fist through my monitor. I have a love‑hate relationship with cooking videos. As much as I hate most of them, I’m still attracted to them like the proverbial moth. In the past I’ve mentioned two YouTube series, Cooking with Dog and Ochikeron (Create, Eat, Happy), that I subscribe to and watch on a regular basis. more »

December 22, 2014

tomates demi-secs

half-dried tomatoes

Taillevent didn’t write recipes for you or me. Irrespective of the fact that he was writing his recipes in the first half of the prior millennium, or as has been suggested, that he was dictating the recipes since he probably was illiterate, his intended audience was most likely his employer. His purpose was to provide a record of his cooking. more »

December 15, 2014

biscuit salé de riz et nori

nori-flavored rice crackers

Many food items are intumescent. Add the right heat, and they swell and become less dense. The cooked and dried pasta I used in my macaroni and cheese presentation is an example of intumescence. What causes the expansion is straight forward. When the pasta is cooked, cross‑linked starch molecules trap water droplets. more »

December 8, 2014

soupe de melon

melon soup

My mother insisted on serving me cantaloupe even though I hated it. The more often she served it, the more I hated it. I guess she thought she could win me over. Today, if I’m served a dish with even a single piece of cantaloupe in it, I send it back to be remade. more »

December 1, 2014

poulet riz

chicken rice

Good afternoon, folks. This plate of chicken rice from Maxwell Food Centre is pretty well known around the region after the SingTel Hawkers vs [Gordon] Ramsay competition. Of course, food lovers like me would definitely head down to try. Beware, the queue was long and the shop [Tian Tian, stall 1‑10] attracted tourists too. more »

November 24, 2014

bouillie de pop-corn

popcorn grits

I’m always getting polenta and pancetta confused. Not the actual materials but the words. I think it was in the 1990s when I first repeatedly encountered the words. I was using pancetta in a frisée salad that I learned early in my French cooking days, and polenta was showing up on restaurant menus with increasing frequency. more »

November 17, 2014

« gum drops » de orange sanguine

blood-orange gum drops

In his 1915 obituary for the dwarf actor Marshal Pinckney Wilder, Elbert Hubbard ends a paragraph where he described Wilder as having a sound mind locked inside of an unsound body with the sentence: “He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade‑stand.” Supposedly, this line is the original version of the common aphorism: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. more »

November 10, 2014

poulet au marmelade de épine-vinette

chicken strips with barberry marmalade

Is it the rectus femoris or the abductor magnus? According to Vaughan’s Notes on the Osteology and Myology of the Domestic Fowl from 1876, some anatomists consider the muscles to be the same and some consider them to be different. One friend thinks it may be the semimembranosus. I know it’s probably not the vastus externus since the muscle seems to be internal in the thigh. more »

November 3, 2014

pickles à la chaux éteinte

lime pickles

In early June, 1969, I quit school. I had just completed my second year at Rochester Institute of Technology, and my third year of college. Ever since I was first abandoned at the door of kindergarten class in 1953, a challenge I accepted somewhat stoically, daily attendance at school was never the high point of my day. more »

October 27, 2014

biscuits sablés de Douglas

Douglas' shortbread cookies

Today I spent way too much money on a cookbook. I think that at $500 it’s my most expensive book purchase. Even my 18th‑century French cookbooks come nowhere close in cost. The most I had previously spent was $420 on Modernist Cuisine, and that purchase has, for the most part, been disappointing. more »

October 20, 2014

haricots soufflées

bean biscuits

It’s been a Puccini sort of day. Giacomo Puccini has been in my head all day by way of my headphones. I’m currently on a writing binge, and I can’t write without filling my head with music being sung in a foreign language to block outside sounds. At the moment the music is Puccini’s 1880 graduation exercise Messamore »

October 13, 2014

mariné zeste de pastèque

pickled watermelon rind

Pickle as a noun meant the kosher dills from a local German delicatessen. Pickled as an adjective meant herring in sour cream. Both were part of my childhood, introduced to my palate by my Bavarian‑born mother. At the same time, watermelon indicated a very hot day when we’d eat outside rather than in our hot kitchen. more »

October 6, 2014

ambroisie de pêche

peach nectar

Ambrosia is the nectar of the gods, or at least that’s how I remember it being described a long time ago in a class dealing with Greek myths. The memory is very faint. It was some time in elementary school. All those gods and their petty grievances made no sense at all to little me. more »

September 29, 2014

œufs brouillés parfumés aux cèpes

porcini-scented scrambled eggs

The afternoon in 1955 that my mother’s first television was delivered, my brother and I tried to watch Rin Tin Tin through a screen full of snow. (The roof antenna had yet to be installed.) I’m sure it was shortly thereafter when I saw my first cooking program, or at least my first cooking segment on some morning show. more »

September 22, 2014

carpaccio d’agneau

raw, sliced lamb

Lisa has some very tasty loins. Perhaps I should explain? Lisa is a ewe, but that in itself doesn’t explain everything. As I previously wrote, I periodically purchase a lamb from a rancher an hour south of where I live. He slaughters and dresses the lamb early in the morning. I pickup the carcass within a few minutes of him finishing, and then drive it to the school where I teach the occasional knife skills and butchery class. more »

September 15, 2014

biscuits « Oreo »

“Oreo” cookies

In 1824, Charles Caleb Colton wrote: “Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery,” and we’ve been stuck ever since with similar phrases to excuse our copying the work of others. In my estimation, no other field has as much copying as cooking. Whether imitating, duplicating, mimicking, simulating, or outright plagiarizing, to say that copying isn’t commonplace in cooking is to deny that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. more »

September 8, 2014

rouleau de fromage

cheese roll

The modern concept of east‑west cooking, later supplanted by fusion cooking, has been around at least since the 1970s. In one sense, it has been around forever. When an ethnic group migrates to a new area, they tend to adapt their cooking methods and recipes to locally available ingredients. The result is a fusion of sorts. more »

September 1, 2014

hamburger de poulet

mini-chicken burger

In August, 2013, I spent a bit over a week in Japan. My main reason for being there was to learn about and make a few Japanese knives. (A two‑part article about my trip can be found here and here.) Whether home or away or far away, I’m always thinking about whether something I’m eating or watching being made would make a good amuse‑bouche, intermède, or mignardisemore »

August 25, 2014

les bonbons de Martha Washington

Martha Washington candy

Martha Washington didn’t make chocolate‑covered candies. Chocolate is not an ingredient in any of the recipes in either of the manuscripts now given Martha’s name. Other ingredients of these modern candies were also missing from the recipe collections. Dried coconut wasn’t quite yet making the trip to Northern Virginia. Sweetened condensed milk, wouldn’t exist for almost another century. more »

August 18, 2014

bouffées de thon et algues

tuna puffs

For me, as a typical west‑coast, middle‑class kid, the iconic dish in the 1950s was a tuna casserole prepared from a can of tuna, a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup diluted with milk, and a 12‑ounce package of egg noodles. Before baking, the casserole was topped with crumbled potato chips. more »

August 11, 2014

gluten de blé braisé avec cinq-épices

five-spice braised wheat gluten

When I seriously started cooking Chinese food in 1975, there was one ingredient that I would run across in certain cookbooks that I had no interest in finding or trying. It only appeared in cookbooks written in China for a Chinese audience, and I was lucky that many of these books had been translated into English in Hong Kong and thus were not Americanized in any way, including removing ingredients not available in America. more »

August 4, 2014

mousse de carotte séchée

crispy carrot foam

I recently have had the opportunity to eat at a number of modern, high‑end, hard‑to‑get‑a‑seat‑at restaurants. These have been great meals full of attractive dishes and exotic ingredients. For the most part, everything was tasty. A few times, some of the dishes seemed to be on the menu more for effect than taste. more »

July 28, 2014

palmier de parmesan

parmesan palmiers

Pity the poor palmier! It’s an orphan. No one claims to be its mother or father. No one stands up and says: “I made the first palmier.” Many sources claim that it came about early in the twentieth century, but none give a traceable reference. The earliest mention I can find in my books is in the 1938 edition of Larousse Gastronomiquemore »

July 21, 2014

faux boules de pain azyme

fake matzo balls

If the average Jewish mother making matzo balls for her family Seder is a sprinter, my mother was a matzo‑ball marathoner. In the 1950s and into the 60s, she’d prepare the matzo balls for the local temple’s community Seder. This usually meant making between 900 and 1000 matzo balls for a single meal. more »

July 14, 2014

panna cotta au sésame noir

sesame-seed custard

There are certain brands for which I can accept no substitute. Heinz Ketchup is the first that comes to mind. There’s no other ketchup that tastes as good on a hamburger or fries. I feel the same about Best Foods Mayonnaise. The latest addition to my “no substitutes list” is Roland Classic Coconut Milk. more »

July 7, 2014

boulette des crevettes

shrimp dumplings

After 18 hours of flying and 6 hours or so in three different airports, we arrived. It was about two in the afternoon when we plopped on our beds. After an hour of napping, we headed into Singapore’s 35 °C (95 °F) air made heavy with the near 100 percent humidity. We didn’t stray too far from our hotel, but we did take the escalator underground at the nearest subway station to purchase our EZ‑Link cards so we could use the city bus network to get around town. more »

June 30, 2014

confit de saumon

barely cooked salmon

I’ve attended the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery each summer since 2008. I’m told by outsiders that the food and accommodations were atrocious when the Symposium was at St. Andrews College. Now the food is mostly great, and the rooms—if you know what to ask for—are quite nice. The nicest meal was, I think, in 2009 when Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons prepared the Saturday evening meal for the attendees. more »

June 23, 2014

pleurer les bébés

cry babies

I like old recipes. Maybe it’s an ego thing. Like I know something you don’t. Old recipes work for me. I know that when a recipe calls for pounding the sugar in a mortar and then sieving it, the recipe is from a time when sugar was purchased in solid loaves or cones. more »

June 16, 2014

crêpe des haricots au fromage blanc de chèvre

“King of the Early” crepe with goat cheese

I first encountered socca walking through the vieille ville (old town) in Nice in the mid‑90s. During one twelve‑month period I saw the chickpea pancake in numerous small cafes near Cours Saleya many times, but each time I was there, my traveling companions didn’t want to try the socca. To this day, I still have not eaten it. more »

June 9, 2014

salade de lapin

rabbit salad

With a pair of toothed forceps I would lift the belly skin to separate it from the underlying muscles. Then with a small pair of scissors, I’d start cutting along the rabbit’s midline in a cranial direction from near the pubis until the midpoint of the ribs. I would separate the skin from the underlying muscles by sliding my gloved hand between the two, breaking any of the small membranous connections that tenuously connected them. more »

June 2, 2014

mochi de thé vert

green-tea mochi

At one point in the 1980s, I was flying close to 200,000 miles a year: All on United Airlines and all domestic. This meant that I was spending more time in the air and in airports than I was at home. When I looked back at the end of one year, I had spent 40 weekends on the road. more »

May 26, 2014

pain au fromage

cheese buns

It’s a cliché now to talk about the world becoming smaller due to the Internet, but this simple recipe is a good example. It apparently started as a challenge from a Brazilian website called Rolê Gourmet to the Japanese website Cooking with Dog. The challenge was to prepare Brazilian cheese buns called pão de queijomore »

May 19, 2014

beurre de Rangemore

Rangemore butter

To want to know all but to know so little. That’s my problem with Rangemore Butter. The recipe for the preparation appears in the July 17th, 1939, edition of The Times, the big one from London. This seems to be the only printed recipe in existence for Rangemore Butter. Here’s all the paper had to say. more »

May 12, 2014

yokan au beurre d’arachide

peanut butter jellies

Azuki beans. Red beans. Red‑bean paste. Everywhere. Can’t be avoided. Not my favorite red thing. I’m not a big fan of azuki beans or the red bean paste fashioned from the beans that is used as an ubiquitous filler in many Japanese sweets. Therefore, I’m not a fan of the traditional Japanese sweet called yokanmore »

May 5, 2014

poulet « nanban »

sweet and sour chicken

Most often, marinating doesn’t live up to it’s reputation. In the 1960s it was touted as the savior of tough meat. It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. Most meat marinade recipes I encounter have soy sauce in them. At slightly greater than fifteen percent salinity, I wouldn’t be surprised if the soy sauce had some brining effect. more »

April 28, 2014

fromage au curry

curried cheese

I ate dinner by myself at the town’s only Chinese restaurant. It was my last night living in Las Cruces, and I had already said all my goodbyes. Early the next morning I would leave and never return. It had been a long nine months since I left home for my first year of college. more »

April 21, 2014

biscuit à la milanaise


For my mother, it was the dessert version of “taking coals to Newcastle”. Maybe I should say she “brought firewood to Newcastle”? When she and my father ate at the best restaurant in town, she brought homemade cookies for the two of them to eat for dessert. She also brought extra cookies to give to the kitchen help. more »

April 14, 2014

« tokoroten » de bœuf

beef-flavored gelatin noodles

Across the door on each side of every truck was written: “Find a need and fill it!” It was the slogan of the sand and gravel company that occupied a long, narrow stretch of land between my hometown’s main road and the railroad tracks. Somewhere along the gravel road of life, I adopted a similar attitude. more »

April 7, 2014

cake pounti auvergnat

Auvergne-style quiche

I didn’t plan to make a quiche. I didn’t even plan to make a custard. In the end, I did both. I thought I was making a cake. The recipe called for a cake pan. The recipe included flour, eggs, and baking powder. There wasn’t much milk in the recipe. When I cut off the first slice, I could see that the crumb was smooth and dense. more »

March 31, 2014

vin rouge aux épices

spiced red wine

The date was Friday, September 29th, 2006. The place was the Hostellerie Saint‑Georges in Gruyères, Switzerland. The chef handed me six brown, one‑liter bottles and instructed me to empty them into the large Staub cocotte on the induction burner. At first, I didn’t know what was in the bottles. Their shape reminded me of the chemical bottles I used in the darkroom in college. more »

March 24, 2014

tuile de fromage et de cacao

cocoa-cheese wafer

When we last left the subject of roasted, peeled, and ground cocoa beans the thought was: “This preparation will require more work”. The cocoa‑cheese wafers were not ready for prime time. With a little rehearsal and a touch of rewrite, the show is ready to premier. The cocoa beans I used were produced by Claudio Corallo the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe off the coast of Africa. more »

March 17, 2014

algues mijoté

simmered seaweed

Hijiki is really a neat sounding word! The Latin equivalent Sargassum fusiforme is not so much fun. Both names refer to a brown sea vegetable harvested on the coasts of Japan, Korea, and China. By the time I purchase it in its dried form, it resembles small, black twigs. Even after rehydration, it doesn’t look particularly appetizing. more »

March 10, 2014

fondant au noix de coco

coconut candy

I drove back and forth across the country four times between August of 1967 and May of 1969. It was actually between Menlo Park, California, and Rochester, New York, a distance of 2,750 miles. The first trip took four days. The last trip took just under two days. Except for traveling through Pennsylvania and New York, the entire trip each time was made on Interstate 80. more »

March 3, 2014

tapenade de fèves de cacao

cocoa-bean tapenade

It was our annual walkabout. We do it on the first nice Sunday of each year. Although we live just a couple of blocks from our small downtown, when we go there we drive to the store or restaurant and don’t really see the area from ground level. The walkabout is different. more »

February 24, 2014

farce de dinde

turkey stuffing

I was thunderstruck. It just wasn’t fair. What would I do now? I had come to this market to purchase two loaves of traditional San Francisco‑style sourdough bread. These are long loaves made by old‑time bakeries. These are not artisan breads by the modern definition, but they are nonetheless very good. more »

February 17, 2014


baked custard cake

A controlled burn sounds like something relating do the management of forests rather than cooking. Usually it does. If we think about it, there may be no flames, but the surface of food goes through a controlled burn in many different preparations. The process of searing is a means of controlled burning the food surface. more »

February 10, 2014

salade de poulet

chicken salad

Chinese cooking was always straight‑forward for me. Prep a pile of ingredients. Modify them in one of forty or so ways, sometimes once, sometimes twice. Finish with a seemingly endless, and at the same time limited, array of sauces. Serve hot, or warm, or cold. The rules I followed were quite simple. more »

February 3, 2014

poulpe frit

fried octopus

Like the names of many Japanese dishes, takoyaki (たこ焼き) is easy to dissect. Tako (たこ) is the term for octopus and yaki (焼き) means grilled. Takoyaki is a street food made from minced octopus scraps, pickled ginger, minced green onions, and a variety of other items depending on the cook. The solids are mixed with a batter and cooked in a special griddle so the final shape is that of a sphere. more »

January 27, 2014

liqueur de lait

milk liquor

I wonder if she were alive today whether Mom would agree with those modern folk who long for old‑fashioned milk sold un‑homogenized in glass bottles and delivered to one’s door. We had such a service prior to when my family moved from Redwood City to Menlo Park in 1957. Milk delivery had been a twice weekly event in the old house, but when we moved, Mom started buying milk in cartons at the grocery store. more »

January 20, 2014

« manju »

filled pastry

When is manju not manju? Manju is a popular dessert in Hawaii, but I’d guess that most Japanese would not recognize it as manju in Japan, its country of origin. It is even different than the manju I can buy here in California. Hawaiian manju is similar to Japanese manju, but still significantly different. more »

January 13, 2014

poivrons farcis

stuffed peppers

By the time I led the group of tourists up the dark staircase to the second floor above the only hardware store in Chinatown, I knew that I would be dealing with the usual mixture of personalities. There would be the woman that complained about the “dirty” surroundings. There would be the man that had to have a Diet Coke immediately after sitting down. more »

January 6, 2014

pudding à la banane

banana pudding

Me: “Here’s a new mignardise to try.” Wife: “Looks like poi.” Me: “Doesn’t taste like poi.” Wife: “What is it?” Me: “Just try it.” Wife: “Should I use my fingers?” Me: “Maybe it’s poi!” When I looked at the little dish with the gray, sticky stuff in it, I thought, “Gee, it does look like poi. more »

December 30, 2013

rillettes de deux porcs

potted meat from two pork cuts

Some dishes have names that inspire whimsy or simply start my gastric juices flowing. Potted meat is not one of those dishes. That’s why I’ve always had an issue with rillettes, the French dish that is usually translated into English as potted meat. Rillettes sound delicious and exciting, potted meat sounds like something akin to pet food. more »

December 23, 2013

saucisse et poivron

sausage and pepper

I had to eat something for dinner other than French food. After traveling around southern France for a couple of weeks I needed a change. I needed something with hot spices. I needed a different flavor palette for one meal. It’s not that I don’t like French food. I do. Very much. more »

December 16, 2013

pain de banane

banana bread

For most of my primary school days, Mom packed me a lunch. The contents were usually a sandwich and a piece of fruit. When I entered high school and individual bags of chips became available, one would be added. The sandwiches were fine, and the chips were always a welcome addition. more »

December 9, 2013

tartare de coquille Saint-Jacques marinés

scallop tartar

Seigi Uncle was an irascible old coot I knew as a fanatical lover of beer, especially Bud Light. He spent most of his life on Maui and didn’t trust people from the mainland. He also didn’t trust whites. He most certainly didn’t trust white mainlanders like me that didn’t have an appreciation for Bud Light. more »

December 2, 2013

crevette en saumure

pickled shrimp

I’d hold them up and say, “What’s the difference between these two bottles?” In response I’d get answers that varied from blank stares to genuine attempts to discern a difference other than what the titles on the bottles declared. This was an audience that generally thought of soy sauce as the little bottle with the red plastic top that was omnipresent on the tables of cheap Chinese restaurants. more »

November 25, 2013

mochi de framboises

stiff-and-sticky raspberry pudding

I like the flavor of raspberries, but generally, I don’t like raspberries. I hate the seeds. I hate when raspberries are sour rather than sweet. I hate how expensive raspberries are. I hate how fast raspberries go bad. I hate dishes made from whole raspberries. I hate when recipes call for raspberries. more »

November 18, 2013

cube de bœuf cru

raw beef cubes

Recipe names have been a problem for me since the days that I started cooking from cookbooks. So although the problem isn’t new, it has become exasperated by current cooking trends where a modern dish is named after the dish that inspired the new version, but the link is tenuous. I’m guilty of the practice as much as anyone. more »

November 11, 2013

magret de canard mariné

pickled duck breast

Universal education is the cornerstone of democracy. And the recognition of this fact may be called the great American contribution. But in our society the fullest self‑realization depends upon a well balanced knowledge of scientific facts, upon a rounded culture. Thus education, properly conceived, is a preparation for intelligent, ethical, and contented citizenship. more »

November 4, 2013

petite crêpe de hollandais

Dutch baby

My mother was out of her mind. She never acted this way before. It was so unlike her. I was just turning twelve when it happened, and I didn’t understand the significance of the event. Today, everything is much clearer. I think I now know why she did what she did. more »

October 28, 2013

quenelles de foie

liver dumplings

Berta Guggenheimer was born in Munich on March 4, 1887. In 1904, at the age of 17, she was sent to Vienna for a year to learn how to be a “proper young women.” While there, she recorded what she learned in a series of bound notebooks. Some entries were just private thoughts and a few were pen and ink drawings. more »

October 21, 2013

animelle d’agneau frîte

fried lamb testicle

“Do you want the testicles, too?” the rancher asked me. Without thinking I replied, “Sure.” Two hand‑sized lumps of glandular tissue were added to the black‑plastic garbage bag that already held the heart, liver, and kidneys from a lamb that my students would soon name Ludwig. I’d wanted to cook testicles since in 2005. more »

October 14, 2013

gaufre de Belgique

Belgium waffle

It’s the worst earworm I’ve ever had. Now, a half a century after I first heard the song, it can still haunt me for hours. From what I’ve read, I’m not alone. Songfacts suggests that It’s a Small World is the greatest earworm of all time. Just to write about it now, I have to blare loud melodies through my headphones so I don’t start humming that wretched tune. more »

October 7, 2013

cornet de bœuf fumé

smoked-beef cornets

A few⁄some⁄many⁄most people of a certain age—mine—can look back at who influenced their early cooking experiences and point to James Beard. He was certainly a part of my cooking in the early 1970s. Long before I was aware that Julia Child was more than the weird lady on my scratchy black and white television—I bought my first color television in 1974 with money from the CIA—I had a small trade paperback book by James Beard called Hors d’Oeuvres and Canapésmore »

September 30, 2013

omelette japonaise

Japanese omelet

I was mesmerized. I must have watched the woman simultaneously handle eight makiyakinabes for at least an hour. Gazing through an opening in the shutters, I was glued to my spot outside her shop. It was on one of Kyoto’s well‑traveled food alleys. I didn’t know if she was aware of me. more »

September 23, 2013

velouté de pistaches

pistachio soup

“Use the force, Luke. Let go, Luke.” And so the disembodied Obi‑Wan Kenobi telepathically instructs Luke Skywalker just before Luke destroys the death star in the concluding moments of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (which I’ll always know as the original Star Wars movie). I often tell cooking students to use the force. more »

September 16, 2013

poivrons cerises farcis

stuffed cherry peppers

I feel genuinely lucky that my mother only served stuffed bell peppers once or twice when I was growing up. To this day, the thought of her over‑baked green‑bell peppers stuffed with a dry‑tasting and not very flavorful mixture of converted rice, ground beef, and tomato sauce makes my skin crawl. more »

September 9, 2013

écrevisses rapide

quick crayfish

Do crayfish feel pain? I don’t know. They have a nervous system that controls both voluntary and involuntary movements, but do they feel pain? I couldn’t find an online source that discussed crayfish pain. I have no answer. Why is it important to me? I don’t know, but I began to wonder about it in 1997. more »

September 2, 2013

« cheesecakes » deux façons

cheesecake two ways

Knees shaking, arms stiffly at my side, I started: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent…” I was in front of my eighth‑grade class. It was my turn to recite the entire “Gettysburg Address.” Everyone had to do it. There were no exceptions. About once a month, our teacher, Dr. more »

August 26, 2013

betteraves demi-secs

half-dried beets

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind is a memory of eating strained beets at a very, very young age. Why strained beets? Why not pureed beets? Why beets? Maybe they were called strained beets because in the old days, one of the methods used to puree foods was to force them through a strainer or a sieve. more »

August 19, 2013

tartare de thon

tuna tartare

I get really pissed off at times when I’m out for dinner. There are a number of things that can foul my temperament such as poor service or unpleasant fellow diners. The thing that bothers me the most is when a dish misses the point so badly that it still vexes me the following day. more »

August 12, 2013

beignets d’Okinawa

Okinawan donuts

Auntie Miyoko’s andagi are the best, or so my wife claims. I haven’t had Auntie Miyoko’s andagi for almost 30 years. I guess I’m more partial to Mrs. Tomashiro’s, but since she died a number of years ago, there’ll be no andagi shootout. Andagi are balls of fried dough, similar to a plain cake donut, that originated in Okinawa. more »

August 5, 2013

olives farcies à l’envers

inside-out stuffed olives

It was on another summer trip to the Trinity Alps that I learned about olive groves and Jaguars. Starting in 1953, once a summer my father would pile the family into his Chevrolet, except for 1957 when for some reason he switched to a Buick Special. We would head north from the San Francisco Bay Area. more »

July 29, 2013

langue d’agneau en saumure

pickled lamb’s tongue

Every time my mother‑in‑law walked by my cutting board that winter, the first words out of her mouth were, “Is that tongue?” This wasn’t a polite question. She would spit out the question with a wrinkled nose and as much disgust as she could muster. Any foodstuff that she didn’t recognize, and even a few that she did, would provoke the question. more »

July 22, 2013

gelée d’huile d’olive

olive oil gelatins

The professor flashed an equation on the screen. The audience erupted into applause. Not wild applause, but applause nonetheless. It happened every week. Sometimes the audience would applaud spontaneously, and sometimes they required a little prompting. The occasion on November 26th, 2012, was part of the Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series that was just completing its third year at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. more »

July 15, 2013

« lollipops » de fromage blanc

cheese lollipops

What do you give a chocoholic for Christmas? In 1981, I selected a chocolate Easter bunny for the occasion. It worked. Three years later we were married. But I’m getting ahead of the story. Earlier in the year, I start jogging three times week with a group at the local YMCA. more »

July 8, 2013

rouleaux de bœuf avec la sauce fumé

beef rolls with smoked dipping sauce

It was in the early 1960s when my mother “discovered” the concept of marinating meat. For our family, cooking steaks meant getting the broiling pan dirty and smoking up the kitchen. The result usually required a bit of exercise to chew. My mother knew little about cooking and although she often achieved her cooking goal of medium to medium rare, the concept of resting a steak was something she had never heard of. more »

July 1, 2013

fondant au caramel


What if we called it a different, not so polite, expletive that starts with an “F”? Do you think people would love it as much? Fudge sounds like a curse imposed by a censor. It doesn’t sound like what an honest person would say when they make a mistake. The first batch of fudge is believed to have been a mistake that happened somewhere in the Northeastern United States in the second half of the nineteenth century. more »

June 24, 2013

« pastrami » sur pain de seigle

pastrami on rye

My bologna has a first name, it’s O‑S‑C‑A‑R. My bologna has a second name, it’s M‑A‑Y‑E‑R. I love to eat it every day, and if you ask me why I’ll say, ‘Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B‑O‑L‑O‑G‑N‑A! Twenty years before that commercial hit the airwaves, my mother was sending me off to school with bologna sandwiches. more »

June 17, 2013

pourpre de patate douce

purple sweet potato

Why would an otherwise normal 36‑year‑old woman rush out of her hotel room late at night in her nightgown to buy a sweet potato? Here’s what happened. On November 8th, 1985, my wife and I checked into the Kyoto Central Inn for a three‑night stay. This was day fifteen of an eighteen‑day trip to Japan. more »

June 10, 2013

les petits gâteaux de nombreuses saveurs

little cakes of many flavors

Cupcakes are the libertarians of the food world. Even if they look the same as the others in the box, each is an individual meant to be the snack of only one person. Cupcakes aren’t team players. Neither are the people who consume them. No one shares a cupcake, especially children. more »

June 3, 2013

œufs de hareng sur toast

herring roe on toast

Great swirling schools of herring converged in San Francisco Bay this month, drawing fishermen, sea lions, harbor seals, and thousands upon thousands of birds looking to fatten up for the winter. The menagerie of wildlife is a sign that the bay’s once spectacular herring runs, which collapsed four years ago, are returning to their former glory. more »

May 27, 2013

fromage frit

fried cheese

My love of cheese started during the third week of October, 1999. I was at the Michelin one‑star restaurant Hostellerie de Vieux Moulin in Bouilland, France. Before the dessert was served, the cheese trolley, or chariot à fromages, was wheeled to the table. This was no simple cart with a small platter of cheese. more »

May 20, 2013

sorbet à la mangue

mango sorbet

I hate kitchen gadgets. I like kitchen tools. What’s the difference? Tools are useful and gadgets aren’t. This is my opinion. Most sensible people disagree. Most dictionaries define gadget in a neutral to positive sense. “A small mechanical device or tool, esp. an ingenious or novel one.” I prefer the less than positive, tertiary definition from the Oxford English Dictionary of “an accessory or adjunct; a knick‑knack or gewgaw. more »

May 13, 2013

carottes confit au cumin

carrot salad

The chef motioned me over to the largest plat à sauter I had ever seen. It was made of aluminum and appeared to be about a meter (3 ft) in diameter and 15 cm (6 in) high. It had two handles, but I wondered if it could be moved when it was full of fat, as it was now. more »

May 6, 2013

gâteau de Savoie au parmesan

parmesan sponge cake

Being that my father couldn’t butter bread, it was surprising that he was excited about going to a new restaurant where the main selling point was that it cooked your meal right in front of you with an Amana radar range. The evening was sometime in the early 1960s and took place at a new, Mexican‑style restaurant located about 8 km (5 miles) north of our home. more »

April 29, 2013

crêpes japonaises

pancake sandwiches

My first trip to Japan lasted less than 24 hours. That’s not much time to see a whole country, let alone a city or two. I saw only one street. In the late spring of 1980, I was on my way to China. My itinerary had me arriving late in the evening at the New Tokyo International Airport—now officially renamed Narita International Airport—and leaving mid‑afternoon the following day. more »

April 22, 2013

oignon rôti

roast onion

The smell was the first thing to alert me: vaguely biological, somewhat antiseptic, but mostly just obnoxious. At first, the source was simply a bundle of heavy‑duty plastic which, being dirty and having been folded and unfolded many times, looked cracked and semi‑opaque. The guy had pulled it from his trunk where it was buried under a pile of dirty clothes and miscellaneous car paraphernalia. more »

April 15, 2013

salade tricolore

tri-colored salad

So here I sit with a perfectly ripe Hass avocado and a perfectly ripe fuyu persimmon. As much as I appreciate the flavor of each separately, it seems like they would go super good together. But the pale green of the avocado next to the warm orange of the persimmon is not appetizing. more »

April 8, 2013

diamants de cristal

crystal diamonds

I could live very nicely if I never again heard some chef or cooking teacher repeat “cooking is an art, baking is a science.” They commonly follow‑up the statement with how cooking uses recipes and baking uses formulas, as if the name given to the preparation prescription separates science from art. more »

April 1, 2013

miso-cuit steak

miso-seared steak

I love food hype, and I’m fascinated by the idiots that believe it. I once heard one type of food hype called the Detroit effect. Take any food item and add a city’s name to the beginning, and it will sound like a better product. That is, except if the city’s name is Detroit. more »

March 25, 2013

« lollipops » de lard

bacon lollipops

This bacon thing has gotten out of hand. Don’t get me wrong. I love good bacon. It’s just that it seems to be showing up in places other than sitting next to my eggs or resting between some crispy lettuce and ripe tomato. Whether in ice cream, a cocktail, muffins, or a s’more, it seems that bacon, or at least its flavor, is showing up just about anywhere and everywhere. more »

March 18, 2013

mousse à la menthe

mint mousse

My first choice for a title was mousse de magie (magic mousse). Why so? Because I’ve discovered a recipe that can make a mousse out of any ingredient that can be made into a syrup. Here’s what brought this about. For the past couple of years, I’ve been faithfully watching the public lectures from the Harvard University Science and Cooking Series. more »

March 11, 2013

poulet et le jaune d’œuf

chicken and egg yolk

In my fifty years of cooking I have mastered many techniques. Topping eggs is not one of them. When I walked into La Folie in San Francisco to stage for a couple of weeks, topping eggs was the first task given me. I never got good at it. I noticed that other workers didn’t seem to do any better. more »

March 4, 2013

spaghetti au pesto

spaghetti with pesto

Most recipes don’t work! At least, that’s been my experience with recipes from the “molecular gastronomy” genre. Even in their most prescriptive form, recipes are only an approximation of the true cooking process. It is the cook’s good fortune that most preparations have a generous portion of leeway. One cup of flour is never ever exact, and an approximation is usually good enough. more »

February 25, 2013

caramel à la fleur de sel

salted caramel

Sometimes you just have to. You have no choice. You couldn’t change your mind if you wanted to. You’re stuck. I know I was. Or at least my spatula was. It was stuck to the bottom of the saucepan I had just used for making caramel candies. But I had no choice. more »

February 18, 2013

cannelés salés au saucisse et fromage

popovers with sausage and cheese

Cannelés can be a mystery. Although there is evidence of their popularity in the southwestern France in the nineteenth century, they seemed to have died out until being revived in the last third of the twentieth century. Now they are easy found in most pâtisseries, and even a few souls attempt them at home. more »

February 11, 2013

cœur d’agneau

lamb heart

When I first saw him—I would later learn that his name was Larry—he was hanging from a tree by his Achilles tendons. His body was still quite warm. He had only been dead for about an hour. His carcass had been stripped of its viscera, and the main organs lay a few yards away in a metal bucket. more »

February 4, 2013

petits tartes au ganache

ganache-filled tarts

Ganache is a perfect food both in taste and texture. Made with good chocolate and good cream, it can be appreciated without any other flavors or combined with other ingredients for a different sensation. It can cover the top of a cake or reside hidden in a robe of tempered chocolate and still work its magic. more »

January 28, 2013

truite fumée

smoked trout

I caught my first fish, an 8‑inch long trout, on the South Fork of the Trinity River in Northern California in the summer of 1953. I used a nylon drop line with a salmon egg impaled on my hook. I was five years old. It was my first time fishing. It was my last time fishing. more »

January 21, 2013

gésier de canard confit

preserved duck gizzard

In the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages; and even bright chanticleer himself lay sprawling on his back, in a side‑dish, with uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask while living. more »

January 14, 2013

pudding de maïs

corn pudding

Alternate introductory paragraph one: I couldn’t eat corn without those things. They were plastic with two spikes on one end that, when inserted into a corn cob, made it possible for my chubby little hands to hold the hot, buttered cob. The plastic parts were yellow and molded to resemble a corn cob, albeit one that was quite flat. more »

January 7, 2013

raviolis disparition

disappearing ravioli

As a participant in the 2012 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking, I often found myself at odds with my fellow symposiasts as to what constituted wrapped and stuffed foods, the subject of that year’s event. I held to a narrow definition that interpreted the term only as a verb, whereas others seemed to bend the definition wildly to suit their own needs. more »

December 31, 2012

gâteau de viande farcies

stuffed meatloaf

The inmate was instructed to combine five pounds of ground turkey with chopped onions, dry breadcrumbs, eggs, and a variety of dried seasonings. The mass was shaped into a loaf form on a baking sheet. It was baked at about 350 °F (177 °C) until the internal temperature, when measured with an un‑calibrated thermometer, exceeded 160 °F (71 °C). more »

December 24, 2012

petite crème au chocolat blanc

white-chocolate custard

Out of control! That’s how I’ve often been described. I’ve been told that I need a filter for my mouth. I think about the cardboard sign that I had on my wall when I was in elementary school: “Be sure brain is engaged before putting mouth into gear.” Regrettably, I striped my gears a long time ago. more »

December 17, 2012

gnocchi aux trois fromages

three-cheese gnocchi

Although I always tell my students that they should read every recipe three times before starting, I’m definitely guilty of not following my own advice. Case in point, on page 274 of the fifth volume of Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine is a recipe entitled “Crispy Goat’s Milk Ricotta Dumpling.” The recipe is listed as having been adapted from one by Wylie Dufrense of the restaurant wd~50, in New York City. more »

December 10, 2012

roue de saumon

salmon wheel

Given all the fish in the ocean, it hard to believe that there is such a small variety available at most markets. Even with the limited selection we face today, it’s nothing like it was when I was growing up in the 1950s. I don’t know if the absolute number of fish species available was less back then, but I know that not many of them made it to our family’s dinner table. more »

December 3, 2012



Beat some egg whites together with some sugar. Form into shapes and dry them in a warm oven. What could be simpler? Maybe that’s why meringues have been around for a long time. It may be that the earliest recipe for a meringue, at least in the form of a cookie, can be found in the notes of Lady Elinor Fettiplace. more »

November 26, 2012

soupe aux brocolis

broccoli soup

I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli. When George H. W. Bush made his now‑famous pronouncement at a news conference on March 22nd, 1990, broccoli farmers were up in arms, but I think there were lots a folks quietly agreeing with him. more »

November 19, 2012

sushi de bœuf

beef sushi

I don’t like teaching sushi classes. It’s not that I can’t, I just don’t like to teach them. Students come with the expectation of being able to quickly duplicate the efforts of their local sushi provider. If their provider is their nearby supermarket, they can often come close, but if they want to produce a result similar to a high‑end purveyor, it’s not going to happen. more »

November 12, 2012

kumquat gazéifiée

carbonated kumquats

It’s been about two years since I bought my ISI Gourmet Whip Plus, or whatever fancy name it had when I bought it. It’s a type of siphon bottle similar to a seltzer bottle. If you frequented soda fountains 50 years ago, it’s the type of container that whipped cream was spritzed out of for banana splits and ice cream sundaes. more »

November 5, 2012

œuf dans un nid

egg in its nest

This may seem like a skipping record—do people even know what that means any more? This is the fifth time I’m writing about using miso to pickle some food item. The original idea of doing misozuke came from a series of postings in April, 2011, on Playing with Fire and Water. more »

October 29, 2012

concombre et radis

cucumber and radish

Pickle is a fascinating word. As a verb it means to preserve food in vinegar, brine, or a similar solution. As a noun it can mean the results of the above verb, or the solution the noun was pickled in. As a synonym, the noun can mean plight, predicament, mess, difficulty, trouble, dire⁄desperate straits, problem, quandary, tight corner, tight spot, jam, fix, scrape, bind, hole, hot water, or even a fine kettle of fish. more »

October 22, 2012

crème brûlée

burnt cream

In front of my cooking classes, I’ve often said that “Life is a custard!” It’s sort of a stupid thing to say, but it gets everyone’s attention. What I mean is that there are so many things that we prepare where we use egg protein to solidify some liquid, either partially or completely, and thus make a custard. more »

October 15, 2012

œuf diable

deviled eggs

Get a street map of the San Francisco Peninsula. In Palo Alto, find the intersection of University Avenue and Alma Street. Using that as the center, draw a circle with a five‑mile radius. Or even better, draw an ellipse with a major radius of five miles and a minor radius of one. more »

October 8, 2012

travers douce

sweet baby back ribs

In the fall of 1974 and the following spring, I had a peculiar ailment. For a six‑week period each season, I has “sick” every Wednesday from 9:30 in the morning until 12:30 in the afternoon. I told my employer that I had a doctor’s appointment. That was partly true. I had an appointment but not with a doctor. more »

October 1, 2012

cubes des raisins sec et amandes

almond-raisin cubes

Every time I see that red box I get a visceral feeling of hate and loathing. The smaller the box is, the stronger my feelings. I can’t help it. I hate those little red boxes of raisins. It’s not the design of the box, its color, or the image of the ever‑cheerful maiden in a fanciful outfit. more »

September 24, 2012

cocktail aux crevettes rose

shrimp cocktail

During the 1950s, it seemed that every Sunday afternoon my parents would hustle my brother and myself into the family Chevrolet—in 1957 there was a Buick for a year—and make the drive from our home in Redwood City to my father’s parent’s place in San Francisco. US101 was a two‑ and four‑lane road with stop signs and signals in those days, not the multilane freeway it is today. more »

September 17, 2012

croustillant de pomme de terre

caviar and fromage blanc on a potato chip

They were really too cute to pass up. There in front of me was a small box of fingerling potatoes from Fat Cabbage Farm that were small, even by fingerling standards. I didn’t have any idea what I would do with them, but I bought a handful anyway. They were just so cute. more »

September 10, 2012

kumquat farcies au fromage blanc

sweet-cheese-stuffed kumquat shells

We’d get up before dawn in order to beat the heat along U.S. Route 99, the old road that ran up the center of California’s Central Valley. For most of the almost 300 miles between Manteca and Mojave, a journey that today still takes almost five hours, we’d fly along at about 60 miles an hour with all the windows rolled down in either a big Chevrolet or Buick, depending upon which brand my father had purchased that year. more »

September 3, 2012

macaroni et fromage

macaroni and cheese

When I was growing up, few of our family dinners were memorable, at least for the food. My mother was an okay cook, and for the most part she cooked fresh food each day. There wasn’t the plethora of processed, convenience foods available to today’s homemaker. In the fifties and early sixties, TV dinners and frozen vegetables made up the bulk of convenience food on our table. more »

August 27, 2012

omelette Denver

Denver omelet

Cafés and coffee shops went through a culinary revolution late in the 1960s and into the 1970s. When you ordered breakfast, the selection of bread changed from white, wheat, or rye sandwich bread to house‑made muffins, country‑style breads, and bagels. Hash browns learned to share a new list of choices with home fries and various roast potatoes. more »

August 20, 2012

sablée de noix de coco

coconut shortbread cookies

My mother was known for her cookies. By today’s standards they weren’t fancy, but they were always tasty. Whereas as cookies available from the supermarket were either hard as rock and capable of withstanding a nuclear attack or mass‑marketed standards such as Fig Newtons, Oreos, Nilla Wafers, and Animal Crackers, my mother’s cookies were soft, crumbly, and handcrafted. more »

August 13, 2012

champignons mijotés avec de la sauce d’huître

mushrooms in oyster sauce

The only reason that I used to shop at Costco, and its predecessor Price Club, was that my wife had free membership through her work. When she left that job in the 1994, we evaluated the cost of a membership against our modest needs as empty nesters and decided that it wasn’t for us. more »

August 6, 2012

endive au « miso »

miso-cured endive

Endive—often referred to as Belgian endive to differentiate it from other vegetables called endive—is really a nothing vegetable! It has name problems: both as to what is the proper name and how to properly pronounce it. It doesn’t occur in nature and cannot be sold as a natural product. It is neither widely produced nor widely available. more »

July 30, 2012

pâte de fruit à la fraise

strawberry gumdrops

I have childhood memories of eating gumdrops, but I don’t remember what they tasted like. They were orange. They were cylindrical with a hemispherical top. They were encrusted with sugar crystals. I didn’t have them very often. Why do I try to remember those gumdrops now? Because sometime in the last decade, my interest was awakened. more »

July 23, 2012

une petite pomme de terre

a small potato

As he briskly walked by, the guy in slick, dark suit motioned for me to follow him. I’d never seen him in the kitchen before, but that wasn’t unusual. I had only been working there a few weekends, and each shift I saw new guys dressed in a similar manner. He entered via the swinging doors that the busboys brought the trays of dirty dishes through to my station in the dish pit. more »

July 16, 2012

« lollipops » de banane plantain

plantain lollipops

What the hell are plantains? I know what bananas are—at least the ones my mother used to put in my bag lunch for school. I’ve had banana splits, banana milkshakes, chocolate‑covered bananas, banana chips, finger bananas, and food cooked in a banana leaf. Bananas is one of my favorite Woody Allan movies. more »

July 9, 2012

segment de l’orange sanguine

blood-orange segment

If enzymatic peeling sounds like something performed by a licensed esthetician on your face, you’d be correct. If it sounds like something you could do yourself to citrus fruit, you’d also be correct. In both cases, exfoliation is the happening thing. I was first exposed to enzymatic peeling at the French Culinary Institute in January of 2011. more »

July 2, 2012

copeaux de poulet

chicken sandwich

Your Honor, I rise to speak on behalf of the much‑maligned boneless, skinless chicken breast. For years, people have described it as tasteless cardboard or as the Wonder Bread of protein. I would like to suggest that the problem lies not with this fine piece of galline substance, but with those to deign to denature its proteins and then ascribe their short comings to the basic nature the core material. more »

June 25, 2012

chips de chou frisée

kale chips

My name is Peter and I steal recipes. There. I’ve said it. I’ve admitted it. I’m now on the road to recovery. Of course we all do it. Some recipes are given to us. Others we copy out of magazines or from the Internet. Some we see on television or in a book. more »

June 18, 2012

financier aux noix de pécans et chocolat

chocolate-pecan bars

Once each winter, usually around Thanksgiving, my mother would make a kastanientorte, and each year, the whole family would look forward to it. A kastanientorte, at least my mother’s century‑old version she learned from her mother, is a cake made from just chestnuts, eggs, sugar, and a touch of vanilla extract. more »

June 11, 2012

carré de bœuf

beef short rib square

When I staged at La Folie, a Michelin one‑star restaurant in San Francisco, one of my daily tasks at the end of service was to fill two 4‑inch deep hotel pans with ice. I transferred any prepared sauces that remained on the line into either a one‑pint or one‑quart plastic deli container, and set the containers in the ice. more »

June 4, 2012

beignets de maïs

corn fritters

These days, izakaya restaurants are all the rage in Northern California. In Japan, these are drinking establishments that also serve food, generally small plates and often within a single theme, such as yakitori. In California, the food seems to be more important than the drink, which is not always the case in Japan. more »

May 28, 2012

une truffe d’arachide

a peanut truffle

I am a bit of a hypocrite. I decry people who produce foods items under names that, to me, don’t look anything like what I think the item should look like. Case in point: truffles. There are many commercial candy makers that sell filled‑chocolate candies as truffles because, I assume, they think these will sell better than if they called them something else. more »

May 21, 2012

aubergine braiseée

braised eggplant

When I was young, my family vacation always seemed to involve a road trip. From our home on the San Francisco Peninsula, if we headed to anywhere in the west, we hopped in the car and drove. To Los Angeles, we drove. To Tahoe, we drove. To Crater Lake, we drove. more »

May 14, 2012

aile de poulet de Buffalo

Buffalo wings

Food trivia is fun. I love the surprises it holds.  In the 1970s, German chocolate cake was popular amongst my circle of friends. Everyone thought that it originated in Germany, but the recipe apparently originated in Texas in the 1950s. The original name was German’s Sweet Chocolate cake because it was made with Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, a brand name for a particular baking chocolate that is now produced by Kraft Foods. more »

May 7, 2012

suprêmes de satsuma

satsuma segments

All my life I’ve been a collector. I’ve collected menus. I’ve collected matchbooks. I’ve collected English‑language Chinese cookbooks. I was once accused of collecting dust. One of my current collections consists of pithy little phrases related to food. One phrase in my thoughts more than the rest is, “Good ingredients, barely touched. more »

April 30, 2012

salade de coquille Saint-Jacques et d’oignons

scallop and onion salad

Coquilles Saint‑Jacques was a French mystery food when I was young. You would hear actors in movies order it in French restaurants. And I can still hear Julia Child pronouncing the words with her high‑pitched French accent and the two silent s’s. I do not recall ever seeing the full‑sized version on any menu at the fine San Francisco restaurants in the 1950s. more »

April 23, 2012

pementos de Padrón

padron peppers

Thursday night, June 23rd, 2011—my wife and I land at Aeroport del Prat and head for our hotel in Barcelona. For four nights, we’ll be based near the eastern corner of the Barri Gòtic, where Barcelona originated and where today tourists throng. This is our first trip to Spain, and we’ve come to see the highlights and eat. more »

April 16, 2012

chocolat noir et blanc

black and white chocolates

With a myriad of shell‑molded chocolates available from multiple sources in most towns—they certainly are popular—why go to the bother of making your own for a mignardise plate? For the challenge? To increase your personal skill set? Quality control? Flavor? Personalization? Customization? To kill an hour or two? To snack on the rejects? Satisfaction? Kudos? Illegal fillings? Unusual flavor combinations? Bragging rights? For me, the best answer is probably “satisfaction. more »

April 9, 2012

roulé de porc séché

dried pork rolls

It all started with bresaola. I had arrived in the old Swiss village of Gruyères to stage with my friend Frédéric Médigue. He was in his new position as chef⁄manager of the Hostellerie Saint‑Georges. I think the year was 2003, but it may have been a year later. The set‑up here was much different than his previous position where he was the chef⁄owner of a small hotel and Michelin one‑star restaurant in the village of Amondans in Eastern France. more »

April 2, 2012

mousse de foie d’agneau « Ritz »

lamb liver mousse on a “Ritz” cracker

“Everything tastes better on a Ritz,” or so the advertising slogan goes. When I was growing up, that certainly was the case in my home. There were only two types of crackers found in our kitchen pantry, Ritz and Triscuits. In those days, there wasn’t the various flavors and sizes of Ritz Crackers available today, or if there was, not in my mother’s kitchen. more »

March 26, 2012

flan coco

coconut custard

As a cooking teacher, I’m given at times to spouting aphorisms. One that I’ve said on multiple occasions is, “The whole world is a custard.” Think about it. It’s true. There are oodles of dishes in many of the world’s culinary traditions that involve solidifying some liquid with eggs, or parts of eggs. more »

March 19, 2012

pâtes de Parmesan

cheese noodles

Did you know that there is an International Culinary Tourism Association? Until a few years ago, I didn’t even know I was a culinary tourist, let alone there was an association for the likes of me. I think without realizing it, I’ve been a culinary tourist most of my life. I’ve never passed up an opportunity to visit a food processing facility—it was about fifty years ago that I visited my first cheese factory in Tillamook, Oregon. more »

March 12, 2012

tomate verte frite

fried, green tomato

Starting in the early summer of 2011, my visits to jail became regular. Prior to then, I was occasionally called upon to teach the inmates some knife skills, but a new grant arrived that provided enough funds so that each week there could be one class for the men and one for the women. more »

March 5, 2012

petite poire avec écume de vin douce

poached pear with sweet-wine foam

I starting cooking when I was eleven, but I didn’t know how to cook until I was past fifty. Those thirty years in between were spent faithfully following recipes. If I changed the original recipe, I carefully made notes so I could repeat my changes each time. Cooking always started with selecting a recipe before buying the ingredients. more »

February 27, 2012

ravioli de porc

pulled-pork ravioli

Mom emigrated from Germany at the age of 17. Dad was born in San Francisco to German immigrants who had met and married in San Francisco. Both my parents were Jewish, but their diet was totally secular except during Passover when matzos replaced bread on our table. There was no attempt by my mother to keep a Kosher kitchen, and except for the first night of Passover, one night was no different from the next. more »

February 20, 2012

huître au « miso »

miso-cured oyster

My history with oysters is rather brief. By the time I was 35, in the mid‑1980s, I had had just a few encounters. All with cooked oysters. All in the South. My first encounter was Oysters Bienville and Oysters Rockefeller at the lobby bar of the Hotel Saint Louis in New Orleans. My boss, the host of the evening although the bill probably wound up on my expense account so he could sign off on it without oversight from above, did the ordering. more »

February 13, 2012

tarte chocolat-noix de pécan

chocolate-pecan tart

Sometimes a new dish lays at the end of a single line of thought and other times it’s at the intersection of many. In the case of tarte chocolat‑noix de pécan, the lines of thought converged without quite crossing. One of the standard items on the mignardises plate at La Folie in San Francisco is a sort of soft, crunchy, chocolate‑toffee base with an equally thick layer of ganache on the top. more »

February 6, 2012

choucroute d’oignons

fermented onions

I wonder what went through the heads of a mid‑18th‑century, Bavarian nobleman’s children when they recited their catechism and came to the parts about sauerkraut, or what went through the minds of British sailors later in the century when they were told that they would eat sauerkraut to help combat scurvy. more »

January 30, 2012

salade des échalotes et fraises

shallot-strawberry salad

Other than maybe when I was a teenager and eagerly followed the misadventures of Little Annie Fanny, I’ve never been a fan of comic books or graphic novels. Likewise, I’ve never liked Australian aboriginal art or certain works by Jackson Pollack. What’s my problem? I like white space. White space is sometimes referred to as negative space, a term I don’t like because it sounds so … negative. more »

January 23, 2012

biscuits d’anis

anise cookies

As a cooking teacher “for hire,” I now find myself often teaching someone else’s recipes or curriculum rather than my own. When I started at the cookware store years ago, the classes I taught were based on my recipes. In these classes I could choose recipes that allowed me to sneak in lots of technique. more »

January 16, 2012

le gibson

the Gibson

My cocktail of choice is the Gibson. It is a libation often described as a martini with an onion instead of an olive. The International Bartenders Association official recipe has it also drier than a martini and shaken rather than stirred. I like mine even drier, only a drop or two of vermouth, or maybe none. more »

January 9, 2012

moules au sauce thaïlandaise

mussels in a Thai-inspired sauce

Fifty years ago, the tide pools at Moss beach were unregulated. Anybody could visit them and treat them however they wished. We would go as a family. My older brother would bounce between the rocks, stepping on all sorts of marine life. My father would wander elsewhere on his own. My mother, always at her paranoid best, would keep me close to shore where only the shallowest of tide pools were located. more »

January 2, 2012

gelée de « lemon drop »

lemon drop jelly shot

There’s a short exchange in the 1951 movie The Lemon‑Drop Kid between the notorious gangster Moose Moran, played by Fred Clark, and the swindler Sidney Melbourne, played by Bob Hope. Moran: Now that you’re feelin’ better, let’s talk about the ten grand you owe me. Melbourne: Oh, look Moose, all I’ve got is fifteen cents and a box of lemon drops…have one? more »

December 26, 2011

artichaut et mayonnaise

artichoke and mayonnaise

Artichokes are really an adult food. Their intense, earthy flavor is not something we pop out of the womb craving. The flavor is so strong it can effect everything else being eaten at the same time. And eating them can take a bit of patience when presented with the whole, immature flower. more »

December 19, 2011

salade de magret séché

dried duck-breast salad

In 1994, my wife and I made our first trip to Paris. It lasted seven nights, and one or both of us have returned, if only for a couple of days, every year since. On that first trip we were tourists attempting to hit all the main sites in a single trip. more »

December 12, 2011

sphères d’amandes

almond-date balls

My father used to describe himself as a pen and pencil salesman. This being the 1950s, it would have been easy for people to imagine him destitute on some sidewalk with a tin cup full of pencils, except for the fact that he wore a well‑pressed business suit, lived in a nice house in the suburbs, and always drove a late‑model Chevrolet or Buick. more »

December 5, 2011

lait de fenouil et gingembre

fennel-ginger soup

“Is it soup, yet?” is a famous line from a now almost forgotten soup commercial of the 1970s where a child comes into the kitchen, obviously coming from a chilly outside, and asks the afore stated question. The commercial implied that Lipton’s dehydrated soups were better than Campbell’s condensed soups because they took a bit longer to prepare. more »

November 28, 2011

cube de blanc de volaille

chicken cubes

Once or twice a year, I’ll teach the same class I’ve taught for years at the same local cooking store. Sometimes the class is called “Advanced Knife Skills,” sometimes “Basic Butchering,” and once it was called “You Be the Butcher.” No matter what the store calls the class, the curriculum has been the same. more »

November 21, 2011

raisins avec sauce au vin Marsala

grapes warmed in Marsala wine

Grapes are a like⁄dislike food for me. Not love⁄hate, just like⁄dislike. As a child in the 1950s, I ate grapes as Thompson Seedless table grapes (like), Sun‑Maid Raisins (dislike), and Welch’s Concord Grape Juice (strongly dislike). Nowadays, I have extended my fresh grape eating to the red flame variety in preference to the Thompson Seedless variety. more »

November 14, 2011

spaghettis de courgette

zucchini salad

My mother never met a zucchini she couldn’t turn into mush. My brother and I still talk about her tomato‑zucchini casserole, and not fondly, even though neither of us have lived at home for more than 45 years. There were certain vegetables that she just couldn’t cook, at least not more than necessary. more »

November 7, 2011

fumet de gambas au curry

curried-flavored shrimp broth

As a society we tend to remember where we were when major events happen that effect all of us. We know where we were when the World Trade Center came down, or if old enough, when JFK, RFK, or MLK were shot. Parents remember when their children took their first step or said their first word. more »

October 31, 2011

pyramides de breton

pyramid-shaped cookies

In the early autumn of 2000, my wife and I took a little trip, driving through the Loire Valley, Brittany, and Normandy. I had planned the trip so we would stay in hotels in cities located about 2 hours apart. We would spend a few days at each one while we saw the local sights. more »

October 24, 2011

filet mignon de canard

duck tenderloin

Every domestic bird has two. Without one for each wing, the wing wouldn’t work. When we open a package of chicken breasts, these maybe included, or maybe not. What is it? The m. pectoralis profundus, or as sometimes called, the pectoral minor muscle. In a chicken, it is sometimes marketed as a “chicken finger” or a “chicken tenderloin. more »

October 17, 2011

crème de pois chiches et pétoncle

chickpea puree and a scallop

On almost every trip I have made to France since 1997, I’ve purchased cookbooks and or cooking magazines. My trip in the summer of 2010 was no different. On this trip I bought a whole pile of little, inexpensive books, each with a few dozen recipes. What made this shopping trip unique was that all the books were on the same subject: apéros. more »

October 10, 2011

sorbet à la tomate

tomato sherbet

The one thing I miss in a modern dentist’s office is the old‑fashion spit basin—the one where the water constantly ran around in a circle, washing down the porcelain base, until it vanished into a black hole in the center. I intently stared at the basin for the most of each visit. more »

October 3, 2011

aile de poulet farcies

stuffed chicken wings

Last summer, when I was videoing the various steps required to cut up a chicken, I wound up using four or five dismembered chickens from the shoot. As each was cut into various portions, I had to decide what to do with the results of my knife work. Unlike professional shoots I’ve worked on, I didn’t want to just toss the chicken pieces onto the trash heap after their “15 seconds of fame. more »

September 26, 2011

« sandwich » au poitrine de porc

pork belly “sandwich”

I find the current pork belly craze both curious and bewildering. It’s curious because normally fat‑adverse people are eating this fatty morsel in fancy restaurants like it’s something exotic and unusual. Bewildering because this portion of the pig that was in the past reserved for the poor is now on the plates of the rich. more »

September 19, 2011

gingembre confit

crystallized ginger

As a young child, my impressions of San Francisco’s Chinatown were garnered from the back seat of a ’55 Chevrolet while my father would drive up Grant Avenue with out‑of‑town family in tow. There was also one cold winter night where my uncle took me to the annual Chinese New Year’s Parade. more »

September 12, 2011

millefeuille de crabe et pomme

crab and dried apple napoleon

Try as I might, I haven’t been able to find the French word for crabapple, which is what I wanted to call this amuse‑bouche. There is a the French‑Canadian pommetier, but my French friends would say that that’s not really French. Lacking a translation, I have to settle on a more traditional naming convention for this dish of nothing more than layers of dried apple topped with crab salad. more »

September 5, 2011

tartare d’agneau

lamb tartar

I’ve always liked the flavor of raw meat, and when given a chance to taste some muscle I haven’t had before, I will. When I butcher, I’ll sample bits of meat from different parts of an animal to see how different muscles really do taste differently. At times, the opportunity to taste has come in other ways than standing at a butcher block. more »

August 29, 2011

ghrieba aux amandes

North African-style butter cookies

During the ten‑year period I was traveling a lot to France, I routinely purchased the latest cooking magazines from the kiosk near my hotel in Paris or whatever city I was in, and for years, these magazines have been a major source of recipes for me. (Today, I’m stuck with a four‑foot high stack of old magazines in my office. more »

August 22, 2011

« lollipops » de pieds de porc

pig’s feet “lollipops”

Continuing with last week’s theme, if we can make a lollipop out of a disk of smoked salmon and cheese by inserting a paper stick into it, why not make one from a pig’s foot? I can’t think of a good reason why not. Especially since I was given three feet and a hock leftover from some super heirloom breed of pig that meant nothing to me—they were just feet. more »

August 15, 2011

« lollipops » de saumon fumé

smoked-salmon “lollipops”

The OED shows usage of the word lollipop back to the 1780s with a definition of something sweet on a stick. Since in modern times the wooden stick has been replaced by a paper one, I think the definition can be expanded to mean any edible item on a stick. I think it’s perfectly fine if we mound some fish and cheese on a paper stick and refer to it as a lollipop. more »

August 8, 2011

petits pavés au chocolat

brownie bites

I think my mother baked brownies occasionally, but I don’t have any definite memories of it ever happening. As an adult, I remember the brownies sold by a bakery around the corner from my house called Chocolate Tidal Waves. Those were so big, rich, and dense that they took two days to eat. more »

August 1, 2011

haricots verts au wasabi mayonnaise

green beans with wasabi mayonnaise

Haricots verts is French for green beans, but it also refers to a particular variety of green beans. Sometimes, my local produce vendor sells them as French beans. There’s a similar bean sold at a nearby farmer’s market as the filet variety of green beans. Whatever they are called, there is a world of different between haricots verts and a Blue Lake or a Kentucky Wonder green bean. more »

July 25, 2011

hareng mariné

pickled herring

One of the memories I have from my many trips to the Netherlands is standing outside on a very cold morning and eating raw herring filets. It was from a vendor that worked out of a small trailer by one of the waterways outside of Amsterdam. I purchased a paper plate with two very fresh filets on it. more »

July 18, 2011

tartes dattes

date tarts

When I staged at Le Château d’Amondans (Amondans, France) for 5 weeks in 2000, I quickly learned how much work it was to produce 4 pieces of mignardise for each guest each day. On the weekends, there would be wedding banquets for 200 to 250 people and each person had their share. One of the standard items on the mignardise plate in those days was a small tart that measured just 4 cm (112 in) across. more »

July 11, 2011

dofu d’arachide

peanut tofu

During the 25 years I almost exclusively cooked Chinese food, when it came to tofu, I always received a wide range of emotions from potential guests. Those who found it disgusting seemed to have no awareness of the myriad types available and methods of preparations. They would refer to tofu as flavorless with a yucky texture and explore the subject no further. more »

July 4, 2011

pâte de guimauve


I wonder how many kids being born today will have a memory when they grow up of eating marshmallows heated⁄melted⁄burned over an open fire? When I was a kid, everyone was either a Boy Scout or Girl Scout and you could build open fires almost anywhere. Today, Scouting, if kids partake in it at all, it is more about technology than the outdoors. more »

June 27, 2011

soda au gingembre

ginger ale

In 1960, as a 12‑year old Boy Scout, I travelled to Colorado Springs for the 5th National Jamboree. I wasn’t really sure what a Jamboree was, but my brother had attended one three years earlier in Valley Forge, and he seemed to enjoy himself. We travelled between California and Colorado by air in a United Air Lines DC‑6. more »

June 20, 2011

agneau à la mayonnaise

cold lamb with mayonnaise

Of all the muscles in all the barnyard animals that we commonly eat, the tenderloin is, at the same time, the best and the worst piece of meat that these animals have to offer. The best because it is the most tender, and the worst because it either lacks flavor or sometimes even has an off flavor. more »

June 13, 2011

huître et perle

oyster and pearl

One of the coolest things I ever saw was in the kitchen of Restaurant Patrick Jeffroy in Carantec, France. Chef Jeffroy took a handful of oysters, threw them in a device that looked like a steam autoclave from a dentist’s office, set the timer for 30 seconds, and pressed the start button. more »

June 6, 2011

petits madeleines


“And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine…” With that one little involuntary memory of a time forgotten, Proust forever associated himself with these traditional, French sponge cakes. Or so I’ve been told. Because for me, when I hear the name Madeleine, what comes to mind is Ludwig Bemelmans’s 1939 children’s story Madeline. more »

May 30, 2011

essence de tomate

tomato essence

At the 2009 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking, Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons prepared the Saturday evening meal for the attendees. It was quite something: eating 4‑star food sitting at the long tables of an Oxford University dining hall. The first course was a demi‑tasse cup of a clear liquid. more »

May 23, 2011

granité de citron « Meyer »

Meyer-lemon ice

I first became intrigued with fruit syrups when I started reading 19th‑ and early 20th‑century French cookbooks. It seemed that every book included a number of recipes for the variety of fruit available in those days. Then one day, I was “blessed” with a couple of shopping bags full of Meyer lemons. more »

May 16, 2011

magret de canard

duck breast

You’ve heard the saying, “When one door closes, another opens”? Many of my amuse‑bouche ideas have a relationship to that saying. Case in point, I was getting ready to leave the job training center where I teach periodically when the chef in charge of culinary studies stopped me and asked if I’d like a package of half duck breasts. more »

May 9, 2011

betteraves, caviar et crème

beets, caviar, and cream

The inspiration for this dish came from a recipe that I found at the Elle à table website called “Coco sushis de betterave et avruga.” The picture indicated hefty rectangles of purple toped with a layer of black caviar and two green chive sprigs. Reading the recipe I found that it was a beet aspic topped with imitation herring caviar. more »

May 2, 2011

amuse-bouches, intermèdes et mignardises

culinary doodads

To say that I intentionally intimidate people is to misunderstand my intentions. I invite friends for dinner in order to spend time with them in the manner I enjoy the most: over a shared meal. My guests know that dinner at my house will be a four‑ to five‑hour event and there will be more time spent in conversation than eating. more »

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