Archive for December 2006

Bourdain promises to shoot an episode of "No Reservations" in Cleveland after Ruhlman's nagging baiting. Promises "DEEP shit, my friend."

A perfect bite of foie gras
How's that foie gras ban going in Chicago? The city has sent warning letters to nine restaurants believed to have served foie gras but issued no citations. And Mayor Richard Daley called it "the silliest law" the City Council has ever passed. Chefs are openly serving it and some are even hanging their warning letters on their walls. [via Ruhlman]

The government declared Thursday that food from cloned animals is safe to eat. "Officials said they don't think special labels are needed, although a decision on labeling is pending." I sure hope they decide to label the cloned animals. Regardless of how you feel about the issue, it seems like you should be able to make an informed decision as a consumer.

Aerial view of Buche de Noel
My bùche de Noël on Christmas Day

A more detailed article about yesterday's decision to allow food from clones animals: F.D.A. Tentatively Declares Food From Cloned Animals to Be Safe. "Cloning is too expensive to be used to make animals only to then grind them into hamburger or even to milk them. Rather, farmers and breeders are cloning prized livestock so they can then be used for breeding using more conventional means of reproduction...most food from cloning would come from the sexually produced offspring of the cloned animals."

Christmas Dinner side dishes

A photo of the Christmas Dinner I prepared for friends and family. Missing from the photo is the delicious roasted goose, which was further down the table. I ordered the goose from Mike at Tamarack Hollow Farm back in September and picked it up at the Union Square Greenmarket the Wednesday before Christmas. I simply roasted it and didn't even bother to baste it while it was in the oven. It was moist and rich in flavor, simply wonderful. To accompany it, I made David Leite's celery root gratin, green beans with shallots and vermouth, mashed sweet potatoes, and caramelized apples, which cooked in goose fat, cinnamon, lemon juice, sugar, and Calvados. Oh the whole meal was so yummy, I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it. The goose and apples was my favorite part. I might want to make that every Christmas from now on!

What are ten (give or take a few) ingredients that are handy to always have on hand to cook a good meal? Looking for suggestions over at

Speaking of New Year's Eve: Are You Going Out for New Year's Eve Dinner? If so, where?

The Scottish celebration of Hogmanay takes place on New Year’s Eve and for centuries ranked above Christmas in the Caledonian calendar. Change up your routine and learn how to celebrate Hogmanay. Why not prepare grouse on a bed of oniony skirlie followed by clootie dumpling for an authentic Scottish spread? (I don't know what half those words even mean, but it sounds interesting.) I was wondering what to do for New Year's Eve, I think Hogmanay may be the answer!

This is the year everyone discovered that food is about politics and people can do something about it. Between Wal-Mart announcing plans to sell organic, the numerous E. coli outbreaks, and the continued rise of farmers' markets, 2006 may just be the year of a great food awakening in the United States. I hope so.

My partner in Serious Eating, Ed Levine, will be on ABC's Good Morning America tomorrow morning, December 26th. He'll be discussing New Year's food ideas. Also don't miss the flaming "yule" log over at Serious Eats today. Doesn't look quite like the bùche de nöel I made!

From the reader mail bag:

I was wondering if you have any experience trying to make a good General Tso's sauce for either chicken or tofu. I have done some searching of my own but feel that the recipes seem a little boring. Granted, it is a very generic (though popular) food item on a Chinese menu, but I was just hoping you might have come across a recipe or tried one yourself which made the food a little more exciting. I tend to prefer the sauce a little less sweet as well, but that's just me. Any feedback, advice, or creative thinking would be appreciated if you have the time.

I don't. Does anyone else? I don't do much Chinese cooking at home.

Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your HomeToday's better-late-than-never gift suggestion is a book you should be able to pick up at your local bookshop: Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. Surely you're looking for something for that person who's not sure how to organize his or her kitchen? Martha's "Golden Rules for Kitchen Organization" will solve that, and many other problems your recipient probably didn't even know s/he had. For obsessive homekeeping advice, Martha Stewart is your gal. $27 at, prices may vary at your local bookstore.

Grant Achatz has made the use of pure scents - complementing the taste of food with items used for their smells alone - a hallmark of his inventive cuisine. "This year, for instance, rosemary branches began appearing on Alinea’s tables as centerpieces, only to become aromatics when, midway through the meal, they were placed into holes in the restaurant’s specially designed terra-cotta serving pieces, which were heated to 400 degrees." When I ate there last spring, I was served black cod on a pillow that released the scent of orange as it deflated. It was spectacular.

Photos by Matt Armendariz
Photos by Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz explains how he creates beautiful food photos like those seen above. Of course he's got great gear, but he says natural light is best. This is my downfall: lighting. I never have enough good natural light when I need to shoot food -- usually because it's dinner time and I'm just about to eat it! His good tips will certainly help me.

For bakers everywhere, especially during the season of fruitcake and gingerbread, the distinct spicy, earthy flavor of unrefined cane -- the taste of cane syrup, brown sugar and molasses -- is irreplaceable. That rich sweetness is one of my favorite things about holiday desserts. Mmmm....molasses...

Weiner Dog Screen Printed Shirt
It's the last day for gift ideas from handycraft site Etsy and today's selection is this awesome Weiner Dog Screen Printed Shirt! Alas, there's only one in stock, but it looks like they'll have more so maybe this is one of those "gifts" you just order for yourself. Who wouldn't want a t-shirt with this worried little weiner on it? I know I'd love one. $19.00 from Etsy. And next week, gifts procrastinators can (hopefully) pick up locally.

Can an upstart fry pan that costs a quarter of the price of All-Clad come from the kitchen-supply shop and reach the top? Over at Serious Eats, I pit two frying pans against each other to determine whether expensive pans are necessarily better. I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments, so please feel free to share at the end of my article.

What happens when you limit yourself to spending $30 on food, for the entire month of November? You lose 18 pounds in one month, drink only water, and learn a lot about yourself and other people. Evan went Hungry For a Month and blogged about it every day. Wow.

Today's final gift suggestion contains neither a picture nor a link, because it's more of a rough idea. And that idea is cheese! Why not go out and buy someone a hunk of some really expensive lovely cheese (Coach Farm's triple cream goat cheese comes to mind, or Humboldt Fog) that they'd never buy for themselves? For the price of a DVD, you can give someone a delicious treat they'll remember long after its been digested. And who doesn't love cheese?

That wraps up not only my gift suggestions but also probably my posting around here for a while. Family arrives in town tomorrow and I've got a Vermont goose waiting for them in my fridge. In addition there's a bûche de nöel to be constructed and many tasty side dishes to be prepared. Updates next week only if the mood strikes. If it doesn't, I'll see you back here in 2007.

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