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.


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

El Chapulín

We don’t drink a lot of hard liquor, but when we do, we’re definitely tequila people. I’ve gained a reputation for making a pretty great margarita. Which leads to the obvious rut — what else can we do with tequila besides margaritas?

El Chapulín

El Chapulín

Because I like high quality ingredients in everything I make, we have a good collection of liquor — artisans small-maker rums from the Caribbean and Havana Club rum smuggled in from Cuba (via Mexico) just for mojitos; fine handmade Kentucky bourbons and peaty aged Scotch; and at least five or six different special tequilas, many you can only get in Mexico. More

The Pressure’s On

After three months reducing my salt, I went triumphantly back to the doctor to check my blood pressure, sure that my elimination of kim chee, olives and anchovies and my new snacking regiment of walnuts would’ve done the trick. I hoped my blood pressure wouldn’t now be too low!

“Still the same,” she said. “I guess you’re not that sensitive to salt.”

The Omron 10 Series

The Omron 10 Series

How could this be? And then she broke the bad news: She wanted to try putting me on a low dose of blood pressure-reducing medicine. More

Cinco de Skinny Girls y Mayo

My friends and family (and probably quite a few of my blog readers) know that when it comes to food, I’m a theme-and-holiday geek. Oftentimes as a holiday approaches, various people will reach out to me. “So,” they’ll say, “What are you guys up to for St. Patrick’s Day?” They know full well what we’re up to, and are angling for an invitation.

The stuff Cinco de Mayo dreams are made of.

The stuff Cinco de Mayo dreams are made of.

One of my favorite “reason-to-cook-and-drink-ethnic” holidays is upon us — Cinco de Mayo. Much like St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a holiday that’s more popular with Yankees than it is back in the home country. It’s the day everyone is Mexican! Also like St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a convenient excuse for those who would drink in excess to head for their favorite watering hole. For us, Cinco de Mayo — again, like St. Patrick’s Day — is an opportunity to celebrate the food and drink of the holiday’s culture. If we drink too much, it’s not on purpose. More

Just Another Tequila Sunset

Long a beer and wine (and sometimes saké) man, I’ve recently taken to tequila.

I’ve always drank tequila, in the form of a margarita or the occasional shot. But it wasn’t until I was well beyond my freewheeling 20s that I discovered good tequila — sipping tequila. More

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