Cooking and Gadgets

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Given my love of sugar and horror, its no surprise that the first cookbook I used was by Mary and Vincent Price. It was called A Treasury of Great Recipes. Long before you had the countless husband and wife teams traveling and writing about the places they've eaten, you had Mary and Vincent Price, of all people, with photographs and anecdotes told in what is clearly Price's voice.  Charming and funny, he was a wonderful raconteur and gourmand.

The first thing I made from that cookbook was an Apricot Mousse. My mother would make it and put it in these adorable little ceramic pots with lids on them and called them pot de crème. That's why, when I went to look up the recipe, I though I'd hallucinated the whole thing because that wasn’t how it was categorized in the cookbook. But it enabled me to take a walk down cookbook memory lane. It was bittersweet to gaze upon my dusty volumes of Gourmet's compendiums. So sad. But, I digress.

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From the New York Times

cellphonecooking.jpgThe tech revolution has been a long time in coming to the kitchen. Our coffee machines are so advanced that they can practically drive us to work, but Internet-controlled toasters and Web-enabled refrigerators became punch lines.

One high-tech cooking tool, however, has transformed the kitchen lives of many Americans: the cellphone. It has become the kitchen tool of choice for chefs and home cooks. They use it to keep grocery lists, find recipes, photograph their handiwork, look up the names of French cheeses, set timers for steak and soft-boiled eggs, and convert European or English measurements to American ones.

“It taught me to cook, really,” said Kelli Howell, a college sophomore in Chicago, of her Nokia phone. Its photography, Internet and instant-messaging capabilities let her consult with friends, family and online sources as she got started in the kitchen. “I e-mailed about 20 pictures of a vegetable lasagna to my sister’s phone while I was making it,” she said. “And then I I.M.’ed with my mom about the topping.”

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atelier-des-chefsI was recently invited to join a Master Class in bread making at the L’Atelier des Chefs school in London. It is really a wonderful concept – a wide variety of classes are guided by expert chefs who have top restaurant experience and a great desire for teaching and sharing their knowledge. They have two locations in London - Oxford Circus and St Paul’s - and more in France and Belgium. Offering diverse cuisines and skill levels six days a week, it’s easy to find one that’s right for you. Prices range from just £15 (for their signature Cook, Eat & Run class which promises to teach you to cook a delicious main course in just 30 minutes) to £144 for their four hour Master Class.

My class was held on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the St Paul’s location, and I was joined by six other eager-to-learn students. It was an eclectic bunch, all ages with mostly beginner to intermediate cooking skills. There was a mother and her teenage son, who seemed less than thrilled to be there; a handsome bearded fellow from the northeastern part of France; two baby boomer types, one woman eager, the other somewhat timid; and a hip twenty-something guy, there on his third visit who shared rave reviews about his previous experiences. We were greeted warmly by the receptionist who presented us with new aprons (to keep as a souvenir) and led us to our classroom. The courses are conducted in a bright state-of-the-art kitchen with a large stainless steel work station which we gathered around to meet our instructor, Chef Daniel Stevens. Initially I had visions of Hell's Kitchen with some fire breathing Gordon Ramsey type instructor who would bark orders and humiliate us for any culinary mistakes

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From the Huffington Post

charcoal-grill.jpgThe flame war between charcoal grill purists and gas grill hotheads burns brighter than the debate between Mac and PC users. You should read some of the slop slung on the barbecue message boards. On second thought, don't. Let me try to sort it out for you with a few inflammatory thoughts.

Grills are used mostly for three types of cooking:

1) High heat direct radiation cooking when the food is placed directly above the heat source for things like steaks.

2) Indirect heat convection roasting for things like whole chickens and roasts when the heat source is off to the side and the food cooks by warm air circulating around it.

3) Indirect heat smoke roasting for things like ribs when the warm air is heavy with flavorful hardwood smoke.

Let's see how each fuel performs at these tasks and all the other factors.

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An excerpt from the latest Simon Hopkinson book "Second Helpings of Roast Chicken" published by Hyperion.

linguine.jpgNot only do I find the word linguine the most attractive to pronouce: lingweeeeeeneh – I also reckon its shape is one of the most appealing of all pastas when wrapped around the tongue. Curiously, linguine is a rare pasta within the indexes of most of the reputable Italian cookbooks I have, but when I finally found a brief description, the gist of it seemed to suggest flattened spaghetti. And, in fact, that is exactly what it is: not as wide as fettuccine or tagliatelle, but a bit thicker than trenette. And trenette is often understood to be the most favored pasta for dressing with pesto.

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