Cooking and Gadgets

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The TEN THINGS (even if you don’t cook) to keep in your KITCHEN at all times (so you can make yourself something decent to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner) even if you only shop for real food once a month:

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cacio-e-pepe-300x225-1My friend Gianni — one of the original Fat Boys – called me today. He’s been buried in work for a couple of weeks and we haven’t been much in touch.
“Mikey, I had the cacio e pepe at Eataly last night. You gotta try it; it’s the best cacio e pepe I’ve ever had.”

This was at 2:00 in the afternoon and it was raining. I had kind of settled in for the day.
“Life is short, man. Have I ever led you astray in terms of a plate of pasta? This is the stuff of legends.”

“I’ll meet you at the subway in ten minutes.”

Gianni, of course, was dead on about the pasta. We ate at the bar, so that we could watch the guys work the pasta station. Also because the tables were full. I sipped a primitivo; he had rosé. We shared a cauliflower, fennel, celery root and Asian pear salad – all sliced trasparente — which cleansed our palates and sharpened our senses.

Then came the spaghetti cacio e pepe and I must say, Gianni was not blowing smoke. This was a first-rate bowl of pasta, which, by the way, we did not share. Neither of us feels particularly comfortable nor genetically directed toward that concept. We each had our own privately owned and controlled bowl.

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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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From the LA Times

perfectsteak.jpgAh, the first warm days of summer, when some mysterious force compels even the most hapless cooks to start a fire and burn some meat. Walking around my neighborhood last weekend, the smell of flaming beef fat was everywhere.

It made me wonder: Really, how hard can it be to grill a good steak?

You shouldn't even need a recipe. Take a good piece of meat (bright red color, nice flecks of white fat inside the muscle, not just around it, at least an inch thick), season it simply (salt and pepper, that's it) and put it on the grill over a moderately hot fire (not too hot or it's "Towering Inferno" time — when you can hold your hand about 5 or 6 inches over the grill for four or five seconds, that's right).

Beyond that, it's all detail. But, as in anything, those details are exactly what make the difference between good and great. Fortunately with a steak dinner, they're really pretty simple, even if they can be a bit geeky.

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My first cookbook at the ripe old age of 3 was the Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls, a first edition. We had a little people size table with four chairs, a miniature china dish set, silverplate flatware and a nice tablecloth with candlestick and a vase. In my mother's kitchen we both had a set of children's size Revere Ware pots and pans along with a set of small size baking pans. It must have been my Mother's Suzuki method of teaching us how to cook and dine.

I enjoyed cooking from this book because it was my first but I didn't like all the recipes that called for package mixes. So, after a deep conversation with my Mom about you can't call it cooking if you open up a package she agreed to get me The Joy of Cooking. Butterscotch brownies and miniature pies were my specialty...

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