May 6, 2010


Delicious! A Novel

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills. MORE


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History in a Glass: Sixty Years of Wine Writing from Gourmet

Published: 2006
Author: Ruth: Reichl

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

Published: Spring 2007
By: Shizuo Tsuji
Introduction: MFK Fisher
New Introduction: Ruth Reichl

Remembrance of Things Paris: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet

Published: 2004
Editor: Ruth Reichl

The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life

By: Angelo M. Pellegrini
Foreward: Mario Batali
Editor: Ruth Reichl

The Anatomy of Dessert

Published: 2006
By: Edward Bunyard
Foreward: Michael Pollan
Introduction: David Karp
Editor: Ruth Reichl

Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet

Published: 2002
Editor: Ruth Reichl

The Gourmet Cookbook

Published: 2004
Editor: Ruth Reichl

Life á la Henri

Published: 2001
By: Henri Charpentier and Boyden Sparks
Introduction: Alice Waters
Editor: Ruth Reichl

Cooking with Pomiane

Published: 2001
By: Edouard de Pomiane
Introduction: Elizabeth David
Editor: Ruth Reichl

Clémentine in the Kitchen

Published: 2001
By: Samuel Chamberlain
Introduction: Ruth Reichl
Editor: Ruth Reichl

Katish: Our Russian Cook

Published: 2001
By: Wanda L. Frolov
Introduction: Marion Cunningham
Editor: Ruth Reichl

High Bonnet: A Novel of Epicurean Adventures

Published: 2001
By: Idwal Jones
Introduction: Anthony Bourdain
Editor: Ruth Reichl

The Supper of the Lamb

Published: 2002
By: Robert Farrar Capon
Introduction: Deborah Madison
Editor: Ruth Reichl

Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century

Published: 2001
By: Laura Shapiro
Introduction: Michael Stern
Editor: Ruth Reichl

The Passionate Epicure

Published: 2002
By: Marcel Rouff
Introduction: Jeffrey Steingarten
Editor: Ruth Reichl

Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery

Published: 1996
Introduction: Ruth Reichl

The Measure Of Her Powers: An M.F.K. Fisher Reader

Published: 1999
Introduction: Ruth Reichl
Editor: Dominque Gioia

Mmmmmmm….A Feastiary

Published: 1972
Editor: Ruth Reichl



Dreaming of Uni

May 1, 2010

Lying in bed with my foot above my heart, I've had a lot of time to think about what I'd be eating if I were anywhere but here.  At first I thought about pork belly.

These days it's hard to find a modern restaurant that doesn't serve the stuff. David Chang kick-started the trend, at least in New York, by slipping fat chunks of pork belly and slim slices of cucumber into pale buns slathered with hoisin. This seductive combination of sweet, salty and smooth catapulted this hitherto cheap meat into instant fame. Before long we were being offered slabs of uncured bacon on every menu.

Gordon Ramsay flattens it. Jamie Oliver roasts it with vegetables. Emeril glazes it with tangerines.  Dan Barber cures it with cumin, coriander and fennel. Eric Ripert likes it with skate, and Daniel likes it in his burgers. April Bloomfield smokes it. Alain Ducasse candies it. But last week, a waiter offered me pork belly braised in Coca Cola, and that was it for me.

So I've been dreaming of sea urchins. They're the sexiest seafood-thorny, fragrant and complex. With their intense orange color and soft, sensual texture, they're the kind of food that a chef can have his way with.

David Pasternak at Esca, is a more is less kind of guy, and I've been thinking about the way he serves them -simply on the half shell. Dave likes to add olive oil, but I think it's unnecessary. David Chang, a more is more kind of guy, nestles them into a froth of whipped tofu, hiding chewy little balls of tapioca in the bottom of the bowl. It's a meditation on texture, three kinds of soft in a single bite, and I'd give anything to be eating that right now.

Michael White's sea urchin bruschetta at Marea layers rich onto richer, hiding little piles of fluffy orange roe beneath a slick layer of melting lardo. It's the ultimate surf and turf so ridiculously delicious it's almost impossible to eat without a twinge of guilt. I'd like some right now please.

The uni panino at El Quinto Pinto  – a slim ficelle slathered with butter and slicked with mustard oil – would also make me very happy. The bread is crisp and warm, the sea urchins cool and creamy, the mustard oil just a bit of zing at the end of your tongue. I think it's the best sandwich in the city.

I've been dreaming about uni chawan mushi at Sushi Zen too. Toshio Suzuki emphasizes the wobbly softness of sea urchins by cradling them inside the slight tightness custard and tucking a few creamy ginko nuts and some sweet shrimp in among them. Spooning it up is a wonderful way to make any day seem better.

But while I'm fantasizing, why not go for Eric Ripert's  surely sea urchin linguini?  He melts the roe into butter, tosses it with linguini, adds a bit of parmesan and a touch of pepper, then tosses caviar on top. I can almost taste it.

So what if I can't walk for a week?  I'm eating virtual food – and having a very fine time.

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The Present Rules

April 18, 2010

“Don’t buy me flowers anymore,” my mother said when I arrived at her house with a bouquet of Lilies of the Valley. It was her birthday, and I’d looked everywhere to find her favorite flower. “They’re only going to die. It’s so depressing.”

Mom’s birthday was last week; she would have been 102.  I spent the day missing her – and being grateful that I didn’t have to think up any more presents.  Because once she’d lain down the present rules, things got very complicated. What do you get for someone who:

  1. Says she has too much stuff and doesn’t want one more thing cluttering up her house.
  2. Will buy her own books, thank you very much.
  3. Never once wore anything purchased by anyone other than herself.
  4. And has very little interest in food.

Despite item number four, if you’re me, you cook.  The question is, what?

The year after the Lilly of the Valley disaster, I baked Mom a cake. It seemed like a reasonable solution; after all, she could invite people over to share it. I even brought along a few candles.

Mom called a few days later. “I’m adding cakes to my list of forbidden gifts,” she announced. “It was delicious, but it was so much work! I decided to invite a few people over for dinner, since I already had the cake. And since it was a large cake, I ended up having ten people. So please, no more of that.”

“Okay,” I said, “no cake.” The next year, after a great deal of deliberation, I decided to bake her a giant brioche. She’s always been partial to those rich buttery rolls; in fact we once had a cat named Brioche. I delivered it – and waited for the inevitable phone call.

Sure enough, brioche had joined the no-gift list.  “It was wonderful,” she said, “but do you have any idea how much weight I’ve gained?  Please don’t do that to me again.”

I spent the following year worrying over what to make Mom for her birthday. In the end I was certain that I had the perfect solution. One early April morning I showed up at her door with a gallon of homemade chicken stock, neatly packed into two-cup containers ready for the freezer.

“That,” she said the following week, “was the best present anyone has ever given me.  It’s a great comfort to know that it’s there, just sitting in my freezer. Let the storms come; now I feel ready for anything.”

Mom’s no longer eating chicken soup, but every year on her birthday, I make a memorial batch. Then I find someone to give it to; it really is the perfect present for just about any occasion.

Recipe for Chicken Stock

Cover 6 lb pounds of chicken parts with about four quarts of cold water in the tallest pot you’ve got. Add a spoonful of salt, and bring to a boil.

Skim off the froth. Add 1 whole onion, unpeeled, a rib of celery and a carrot. Toss in a handful of peppercorns, a few sprigs of parsley and a bay leaf. Let the pot come back to a simmer, turn heat down very low, and let it cook at a bare burble for about 4 hours.

Strain. If you’re fussy about clarity, strain again through damp paper towels.

Chill overnight, or until the fat has solidified into a stiff white cap on top. Remove it.

Divide into small containers. This will keep well in the freezer for a few months.
Makes about 2 quarts.

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Congee Morning

March 8, 2010

Sun pouring through the window. Lone boat on the river. Woke up to the scent of the chicken stock I made last night while we were sleeping through the Oscars. What I want is a walk along the river in the early morning wind, and a comforting bowl of congee when I return.

There is nothing easier to make than the classic Chinese breakfast. It is basically rice slowly cooked with lots of liquid. I like to use arborio rice, although it’s not traditional, and any kind of rice you happen to have on hand will do. The ratio is about 1 cup of rice to 8 cups of liquid; I think it tastes best with chicken stock, although you can certainly use plain water. Put the rice and liquid in a pot, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot and let it simmer for an hour. Stir it once in a while. The result is a thick, creamy porridge, a canvas for flavor. What you choose as garnish is completely up to you, but to me a julienne of ginger is essential, as is a little shot of really good soy sauce. Peanuts and scallions are nice, and shredded chicken or shiitakes are lovely too. But this morning? I’ve got some leftover chiles in black beans that will provide the jolt of electricity I need on this late winter morning.

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Snow Days and Stew

February 26, 2010

Up here on the mountain we feel utterly alone. It’s a silent white world, flakes swirling down from the sky, piling up, obliterating every edge. Snow hugs the house in a soft embrace.The cars have vanished into huge humps. The driveway is impassable; the rest of the world fallen away.

It is easy to imagine coming down, when it is all over, to discover everything changed. Ten years might have passed in the storm. Or the clock moved backward while we were sleeping. Strange how quickly we become disoriented when robbed of the familiar.

Two days ago the power failed. No internet, no oven, very little light. Too distracted to work we roamed the house, feeling fragile, worrying about frozen pipes and running out of wood. Unable to concentrate I did what I always do in a crisis: I cooked.

Nothing is so soothing as the scent of a stew in a cold house in a cold climate. I made ragu. I made toasted cheese sandwiches and enormous salads, racing to use the vegetables before they wilted in depression. I took the bones from the freezer and transformed them into stock.  But it was the boeuf bourguignon,which filled the house with the rich purple scent of wine and onions, that finally made us feel better. It was like a promise that the snow really will end. Some day.

Beef, Wine, Onion stew

Take as many onions as you feel like chopping and throw them into a casserole with a bit of butter and a couple of strips of bacon, cut into little squares. Add a couple of carrots, cut into whatever size you consider edible. Cook them together until they are fragrant and just a bit golden.  Add a few cloves of garlic, smashed, to the mix, and any herbs you happen to have on hand; thyme is nice, as is parsley, although personally I’d stay away from tarragon and rosemary. When they’ve all turned soft, add a squirt of tomato paste (it adds a touch of sweetness), stir for a minute or so and put the entire potful into a bowl to wait.

Melt a splash of oil and a pat of butter in the same pan. While it heats take a couple pounds of beef, cut up for stew, and pat it dry.  Salt and pepper the cubes, then toss them in a bag with a bit of flour and shake until they look like they’ve been dusted with snow. Cook the beef in flights – it hates being crowded in the pan – until beautifully brown, and then set aside with the onions.

When all the beef has browned, deglaze the pan with a good glug of brandy. Return the beef and vegetables to the pot, cover them with most of a bottle of decent red wine and throw in a stalk of celery and a bay leaf if you’ve got them. Simmer gently, partly covered, for three or four hours.  The aroma will fill your house and make you very happy.

Just before serving saute some mushrooms, quartered in a nice amount of butter for about ten minutes, adding salt and pepper at the end.  Toss them into the stew and taste it.  If it needs salt, pepper or more wine, add it.

I like this with simply boiled potatoes, but you could just serve it with a loaf of bread.  In my house this will feed about four people, but on a really hungry day I could eat it all by myself.

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