Cooking and Gadgets

Sometimes we post letters that one of us receives just because they're so hilarious and on-point. That's how we feel about Don Seigel's response to Tracy Newman when she invited him to hear her play at Genghis Cohen.

Tray,

ImageRegrettably, we won't be able to make the show on Saturday night. I forgot that I invited my father-in-law over that night for dinner and the Pacquio fight. We will, however, catch you the next time you are there, or somewhere else.

As far as my cooking, I have discovered the absolute delight of the slow cooker. We've had one for years, but I never used it until a few months ago. Since then I have picked up a wonderful cookbook with recipes designed specifically for the slow cooker from Williams-Sonoma.

Yesterday, after dropping Julian off at school in the morning I returned home to make a Cuban Chicken. I cut up a chicken into eight pieces and browned the pieces for ten minutes in three tablespoons of olive oil and salt before placing them into the cooker.

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perfectomeletteI was never a fan of the omelette until I tried the one at Petit Trois, Chef Ludo Levebvre’s LA-based French bistro. It is quite rich and intense - thanks to a very generous helping of Black Pepper Boursin cheese - yet light and creamy, just melting in your mouth. What other cooks call an omelette is just a dry, tasteless, overcooked travesty compared to this version. It is a simple plate of food perfectly crafted each and every time. Chef Ludo has exacting standards in the kitchen and he expects his cooks to make it the same, classic way plate after plate.

We aren’t overly talented in our kitchen, so we figured this dish would be relegated to our sporadic visits to the restaurant. Lucky for all of us, in his new video series, Ludo à la Maison, he shares the recipe and shows you how it’s done. Now you don’t have to live in LA to enjoy the Perfect French Omelette. The Boursin is a must - though thankfully widely available and inexpensive - and most kitchens should readily have the other ingredients on hand - butter, eggs, salt, pepper and chives. Only six ingredients. Totally easy, right?

After watching the video a few times - he talks you through it, but it’s still sort of freeform - we gave it a try and did, for two amateur cooks, a pretty good job. Yes, it took two of us. There were some tense moments in the middle when it looked like it was too wet and was going to color before it set, but we managed to keep it from browning (a super big no-no) and properly wrapped it. While not perfectly pretty, it disappeared from our plate as quickly as the true version does. Success!

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divinebrine.jpgIf you look in the dictionary under the word "impatient" you’ll most likely see my picture a few rows down. My disdain for playing the waiting game is a big reason why I don’t pickle, bake, brew or preserve too well, although I have aced the sauté, grill, and fry like nobody’s business. So you can imagine my dilemma when I first learned about brining meat. There were numerous knuckle biting moments when I had to accept that soaking meat for what seemed like an eternity really did yield a more flavorful, juicy bite. I may not have learned to deal with sitting around doing nothing, but I have certainly surrendered to the divine brine.

Brining is soaking poultry or pork in salted, seasoned liquid prior to cooking. It’s similar to marinating, but this process actually changes the texture of the meat. And it’s very simple. Depending on the brine and the cut of meat, the process can occur overnight or in as little as a few hours in your fridge–and the results are spectacular. The meat is juicy and flavorful, seasoned from within. And the best part happens when you grill: you’ll get that desired smoky char on the outside with a tender, moist texture on the inside. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time achieving both when I grill if I don’t brine.

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redsnapperFish seldom make a midweek dinner, but that shouldn't be a reason not to make this quick and easy recipe tonight. Most people think fish is too fussy to prepare and cook, so it's usually made on rare occasion. However, fish should be eaten at least twice per week for their many nutritional values including omega-3 fatty acids.

What better way to add fish to your diet than by using the easiest of methods, baking. With one fish per person, this recipe works well for a quiet evening alone or a rowdy dinner party among friends. Enjoy a healthy meal in well under a half an hour any day of the week.

Red snapper is one of the most popular fish. It's flavorful, flaky, and tender. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that is complemented by many spices and fresh herbs. This recipe features the flavors of lemon and tarragon, with lemon adding a hint of citrus and tarragon lending an anise flavor. On the outside the fish is sprinkled with saffron for a unique flavor and earthy aroma.

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benedettocavapasta.jpgI come home from work, I’m exhausted from running around shopping and cooking, but wait! It’s not over! I have to shop and cook for dear Mom. But there are those days that the thought of stepping foot in another food store / ethnic grocery / supermarket / even, yes, even a farmers market is more than I can bear. And in a really stupid move I didn’t bring anything home from my restaurant Angeli in a take out box. But wait! Now I remember, I have my secret stash of it’s simple stupid ingredients waiting for me in the pantry.

First I make myself (if it’s over 75 deg) a Gin and Tonic or (if it’s over 90 deg) a Michelada. Aside for drink recipe – Take out a big glass. Fill it with ice.  Add a healthy squeeze of fresh lime or lemon, some squirts of Tapatio or Tabasco, Worchestershire or Soy Sauce and some inexpensive light beer. Gulp and wait till your temperature drops and you feel like someone cracked an egg on your head.

Ahhh, now I feel better. It’s time to make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio garbage style. I always have (or try to) a couple of pounds of Benedetto Caveliere’s Spagattoni around. You can only buy it at Williams-Sonoma and it’s shockingly expensive, but worth it just for moments like this.

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