The Japanese Make the Best Things

Sometimes I think the Italians make the best things. And then I change my mind, and decide it’s actually the Mexicans who make the best things. Other times, I’m pretty darned sure it’s the Japanese.

This is one of those times.

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Of course, it all depends on what you are talking about. If you’re discussing cheese, for example, it’s hard to make a case that anyone does it better than the French. More

Shortcuts

I’m one of those fancy chefs who serves small portions, treats the plate like a canvas and uses flowers and ingredients you’ve never heard of. But I’m also a fan of shortcuts.

Many of the world’s best chefs will readily admit to resorting to shortcuts when they’re cooking.

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While we were staying at the Casa Tres Coronitas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last October, I asked the house chef, Marilu, to show me how to make her famous salsa. She was giving me a lesson and it was nothing out of the ordinary — tomatillos, onion, garlic, chiles de arbol, salt. And then she reached into the cupboard to pull out her “secret ingredient” — Knorr powdered chicken bouillon. Sure enough, when I tried it at home (with the bag of Knorr powdered chicken bouillon Marilu picked up for me at the supermercado), it contributed a salty umami depth that was missing before I added it. Couldn’t have been the MSG, could it?? More

Brody’s Big Adventure

My pal, Richard Brody, picked me up on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Bentley Avenue at 11:07 a.m. on a Monday morning. We were going shopping.

Brody and his ramen

Brody and his ramen

What I was doing on that particular corner without a car is a whole other story of broken struts, the Culver City green line and a client of my other, more lucrative life. But it is what Brody and I were doing that is of interest for this blog, as it has everything to do with food. More

Good Gadget, Bad Gadget — The Annual Summer Post, 2014 Edition

Around about this time each year, I get emails from the likes of Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table touting their wonderful selection of summer grilling “must haves” at up to 50% off. Last year an email from Sur la Table even included the recommendations of “Jenn the Gadget Girl,” whom I tried in vain to prove or disprove the actual existence of.

The emails always seem to arrive when I’m scratching my head about what to blog about, and in that way are like a gift. And this year, they did not disappoint.

Adding to my already formidable collection of “Good Gadget, Bad Gadget” posts is this summer’s grill edition, which as usual is heavy on the “bad gadget” side… It’s hard to believe that in a product lab somewhere on earth, people are actually dreaming these things up. More

Little Things Mean a Lot

I was thinking the other morning, as I was writing out a recipe for this blog, about how I often use qualifiers when listing ingredients. For example, rather than saying, “1 tbsp. butter,” I will say, “1 tbsp. fresh sweet cream butter.” Or instead of “salt,” I will recommend “flaky sea salt, such as Maldon.”

Gorgeous pyramid crystals of Maldon salt

Gorgeous pyramid crystals of Maldon salt

It’s because little differences in ingredients can mean a lot. Especially in simple dishes that utilize only a few ingredients. More

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