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I will take Jane Black’s do-gooder public service pieces over Mark Bittman’s smug moralizing any day. In the Washington Post, Black writes about healthy shopping classes taught at grocery stores across the country. In the New York Times, Bittman weighs …
Thank you, Pete Wells at the New York Times, for turning me on to a new pizza topping combination. Fennel shines as the star of this bold-flavored pie. Cook it into your sauce along with onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Nice and simple. A little red wine, a little chicken stock, and a healthy dose of sugar to bring out the fennel’s sweet notes. (I based this on a braised fennel fiasco I had years ago at the French Culinary Institute.) Spread the chunky sauce over your dough and cover with crumbled and cooked hot Italian sausage and aged cheddar cheese. The sweet fennel really sings when paired with that heat and that bite. In two weeks, this pizza pie has already had several encores.
I suspect that this is common: Often when I’m grocery shopping I zone out and go on autopilot. Flowers, apples, spinach, Muenster, and at the meat counter, hot Italian sausages (for pasta sauce), chicken thighs (for soup), and skirt steak (for salad). Last week, as I waited daydreaming for assistance, I took a closer look at the wares on display. And, boy, am I glad I did. At my Whole Foods I found beautiful pork belly, something I’ve never seen un-cured or -cooked before. Despite having no idea how to prepare it, I didn’t hesitate.
The food sections this week range from meh (baked beans cover story) to ick (squirrel gravy with a description of butchering the rodent that will make your stomach turn), so steer clear. Or maybe just read Pete Wells’ review of the vegetarian joint Dirt Candy, and if you missed it last week, his review of the new outpost of M. Wells at MoMa PS1. I would have loved to try their short-lived diner of decadence in Long Island City. Escargot nestled in bone marrow? Foie gras grilled cheese? Truly a moment in time. And don’t forget the rant it inspired in GQ–a must read.
So here’s a puzzler. Someone else in my household received a teaser copy of Cook’s Illustrated last week. I say “teaser” because it seems to have been created for promotional purposes alone. It’s got no month designation and strangely has a persimmon cover, similar, but different, to that on the November/December cover. Like I said, it’s puzzling. Especially since I do subscribe to the publication. For more insight into the oddity that is CI, read Alex Halberstadt’s profile of its bizarre founder/editor Christopher Kimball in the New York Times Magazine Food and Drink issue. This is the only piece worth a look in an otherwise dull issue and then only if you are already familiar with CI or Kimball. Charming fellow–enjoys making people uncomfortable and his mission seems to be taking the fun out of cooking. His magazine aims to find the definitive technique for any given recipe and tends toward hyperbole–the perfect pizza pie, for example.
It’s already gotten cold, and I’ve already cooked a couple of chickens, a batch of chicken soup, and some chili. At the farmers market this weekend I had every intention of getting a pork shoulder to braise. Instead, I bought a big bag of golden tomatoes–the last of the season–some onions, and some bacon for an end-of-summer tomato pie.
Bon Appetit’s October issue covers a topic near and dear to me: home entertaining. I got several great ideas from the editors, but they almost lost me with this weird punch recipe. Well, weird in that it calls for peaches, which have already disappeared from the market. Once I got past that oddness, there’s a great idea here. Andrew Knowlton uses a bundt pan to make a drink-specific ice ring for the punch. In this case fresh peaches and thyme, which is absolutely beautiful, but you could use anything–limes, pineapple, raspberries, or if it’s fall maybe…apples and cinnamon sticks.
For the record, I don’t really think recipes apply to me. Even when I bake–Think you can replace some of the liquids in banana bread with banana pudding? Nope. I follow them now only when I am testing for the Washington Post, because, er, that’s kind of the point.
As much as I like Food & Wine, it’s starting to feel like it’s getting regularly lapped by Bon Appetit. The September F&W has a blurb on Little Serow; BA has a full-page spread. F&W takes the “foraged with Rene Redzepi” piece to its logical, but sad next step: the “foraged with someone who foraged with Rene Redzepi” piece. BA on the other hand has a fun little piece from Adam Sachs where he writes about cooking for New York Times restaurant critics Pete Wells and Frank Bruni…and then they review the meal. Clever.
My household sees a lot of stir-fry. It’s an easy mid-week meal that uses a lot of vegetables and whatever fun stuff I’ve picked up from Hana Japanese Market in Adams Morgan. It’s like a symphony in harmony with those …