Table Talk with Chef Bruce Aidells

The Sausage King shares how he learned to cook.

Bruce Aidells arrives at his culinary expertise by way of aPh.D. in biology, which he earned at the University of Californiaat Santa Cruz. Ultimately, biological research couldn't competewith good food, and Aidells exchanged his lab coat for a chef'stoque at Poulet, a popular Berkeley, California, restaurant andcharcuterie. He has authored several cookbooks, including The Complete Meat Cookbook, Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book, and Bruce Aidells' Complete Book of Pork.

Who shaped the way you think about food?
In a way, my parents did in that I had a negative reaction tomy mother's cooking. But because I grew up in ethnically diverseLos Angeles and because my family always ate out on Sundays, I gota chance to taste many different cuisines. I also credit JuliaChild's TV show for teaching me lots of exciting new techniques anddishes.

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Whom would you like to have cook for you?
Madhur Jaffrey, Nancy Oakes (my wife and chef/owner ofBoulevard Restaurant in San Francisco), Christopher Lee (formerhead chef of Chez Panisse), and Michael Wild (owner of Bay Wolf inOakland, California).

Who was the most influential person in your life?
My grandmother, a great natural cook who loved to feedpeople.

What do you wish you had in your kitchen?
Someone to clean up and do all of my prep. And an indoor firepit and spit roaster.

What's your most indispensable tool, cookbook, or piece ofequipment?
My industrial-powered meat grinder and my old butwell-seasoned cast-iron pans.

What is your favorite dish?
Indian curries, especially eggplant, cauliflower, orlamb.

What's your favorite indulgence?
Crispy pork skin from Chinese roast pig, Chinese roast duck,Italian sausage pizza, and warm berry pie with homemade icecream.

What's your favorite restaurant?
In San Francisco-Boulevard, Chez Panisse, and my neighborhoodPakistani curry-and-kabob house, called Kabana.

What food or food trend do you think is overrated?
Fusion, which is usually confusion; foams and gels.


California cuisine is out. Cajun is waning. Southwest is still warm. What will be next in the ever-turning treadmill of trendy regional foods? Could those of us who sit in the middle of the corn and soybean belt dare hope? Is it time for Midwest food to get its due?

Certainly several factors point in that direction, most important of which are the fine chefs and food producers who are finding the gumption to speak out more often and let the country know they are here. Another reason is the high quality of foodstuffs here.

''The Midwest has the most varied agriculture in the country, next to California,'' said Justin Rashid, owner of American Spoon Foods in Petoskey, Mich., during a recent panel discussion entitled ''Midwest Culture: An Oxymoron?'' at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. ''The best tomatoes in the world are grown in the Midwest, and they`re consumed in the Midwest. They are very seasonal and that`s why people in other areas don`t know what we have here.'' Rashid is admittedly biased, having grown up in the Midwest. And now he is entrenched in a booming food business that makes use of wild fruits, mushrooms and other products of Michigan.

But after Rashid explained that the foods grown in the upper Midwest have a more concentrated flavor because of the high-in-mineral soils left by the glaciers, another panel member took exception to the whole notion of a Midwest food culture.

''It will be a matter of time, perhaps thousands of years, before we have a Midwest food culture,'' said Jonathon Mark Kenoyer, a former chef and now an assistant professor of anthropology at U. of W. The area is composed of so many different ethnic groups that it will take centuries to homogenize the cuisine enough to call it a Midwest cuisine, Kenoyer said. He went on, further upsetting the audience of food writers and students, by characterizing food in the Midwest as being traditionally ''bland, not exciting, mainly because the people have not been exposed to more exciting flavors.''

Kenoyer can be partly forgiven his opinions-he grew up in India, where exciting can`t begin to describe the flavor of the food.

It`s harder to forgive Harvey Levenstein, though. Levenstein is a professor of history at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and author of ''Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet''

(Oxford University, $21.95). Levenstein told the group that the history of Midwest cuisine is reflected in cookbooks:

''The Northeast was the center of American cooking into the 1920s, but then Chicago became a much more important food center in the mid `30s. Midwest food became the new American food-pork, beef, corn, roast turkey-reflected in the cookbooks and magazines of the day. That was the heyday of Midwest food and it reached its pinnacle in the `50s. But by the late `60s, it was undermined by ethnic invasions and has been going downhill ever since.''

Although these scholars think the importance of Midwest cuisine is gone, the best thing to happen to today`s Midwest cuisine is that we are beginning to talk about it. More discussions like the one in Madison are asking the question, ''What is Midwest cuisine?'' The more we talk about it, the more we, and the rest of the country, will discover what it`s all about.

If cooking outdoors is a pleasure for you, not a chore, then take a look at one of the bargain books of the season: ''Barbecuing, Grilling & Smoking'' (California Culinary Academy Series, $7.95). The large paperback is chock full of recipes and useful tips on starting charcoal fires, cooking over campfires, how to marinate meats before smoking them, and how to make a dry spice rub for grilled meats. Recipes range from ethnic, such as Thai barbecued ribs and smoked ratatouille, to all-American, such as bourbon chicken and bread pudding. The book was written by Ron Clark, Bruce Aidells, and Carole Latimer.

The 3d annual Hotel Sofitel Amateur French Cooking Contest is looking for original French recipes from amateur cooks. If you enter and win the cookoff finals, Sept. 25, at the Hotel Sofitel Chicago, you could win a grand prize of a trip for two to Lyon, France, where you will participate in the Nov. 19 Hotel Sofitel Trophee des Amateurs Gourmands, an international competition.

To enter, submit a detailed recipe for an original French 4-star quality main course to serve four. Deadline for recipes is Sept. 1. Sofitel chefs will evaluate and narrow entries to six finalists, who will participate at the cookoff. Dishes will be judged on originality, taste and presentation. Call 678-4488 for entry forms and contest rules.

Despite the drought, there are berries to be had at area U-pick farms. A guide to where to pick them and other fruits and vegetables can be picked up for free at the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service offices at 5106 S. Western Ave. and 11033 S. Michigan Ave. To order the guide, ''The 1988 Directory of Illinois Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Markets,'' write a check for $1.50 payable to the University of Illinois and mail it with your return address to the extension service office at 5106 S. Western Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60609.

Congratulations to Frontera Grill`s Rick Bayless on his recent award as one of America`s Best New Chefs. Food & Wine magazine presented the award last week at the magazine`s Food & Wine Classic conference in Aspen, Colo. Bayless was the only Chicago-area chef so honored among the 10 winners. His profile will appear in the August issue of the magazine.

If you have news of food events or discoveries around town, please send it to Carol Haddix, Food Guide editor, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

Episodes from 1999

It's a Latino Christmas complete with recipes, traditions and stories from Esmeralda Santiago, editor of the newly published, Las Christmas. Cheesemonger Steve Jenkins says thinks farmhouse cheeses from England for the holidays and Jane and Michael Stern are buying their holiday breads from Bantam Bakery in Connecticut.

124: Holiday Sipping and Gifting

If you've been listening to the Splendid Table for some time, you know that our resident wine maverick, Joshua Wesson, is not only knowledgeable but quite outrageous. You might recall that Josh is the one who suggested Twinkies as the appropriate accompaniment to Asti Spumante, and his book, Red Wine with Fish, alarmed the traditionalists. He's back this week with some thoughts on fortified wines such as port and, predictably, has his own take on this wine so perfect for holiday sipping and gifting.

123: Food, FIlm, and Cooking

Legendary filmmaker Ismail Merchant of Room with a View and Cotton Mary fame has three great passions ­ film, food, and cooking ­ and he's with us this week to share tales of filming and feasting. Ismail is renowned in the motion-picture community for the weekly curry suppers he prepares for cast and crew. Try the recipe for Ismail's Incredibly Instant Chicken, created during the filming of A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries. It's from his new book, Ismail Merchant's Paris.

122: Of Basques and Bagels

We're on the road this week, first to Europe and the beautiful mountains straddling the border between France and Spain. The Basques who inhabit this area are some of Europe's most fascinating people. Mark Kurlansky, author of The Basque History of the World, introduces us to Basque life and culture, a subject he's researched for 25 years.

84: Christmas in Naples

We're heading to the quintessential Christmas town, Naples, Italy, with Arthur Schwartz author of Naples at Table. Arthur shares recipes form the edge of Mt. Vesuvius! Master of Wine Mary Ewing Mulligan talks us through the myriad of wine magazines on the racks, we talk to a Stilton maker in England, and our roadside warriors Jane and Michael Stern are mail-ordering Buffalo from Wyoming!

121: Minimalist Thanksgiving

It's our annual Thanksgiving show and minimalist cook Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything, has streamlined a luscious feast you can prepare in three hours, start to finish, with nary an "instant" or packaged ingredient in the entire menu. Mark shares his recipes for this fast and fabulous dinner: roast turkey with bread stuffing and sherry gravy, sweet potato home fries, cranberry-orange relish, green beans with lemon, and pear, gorgonzola and mesclun salad. Jane and Michael Stern suggest a diner in Maine for post-holiday repast, wine wit Joshua Wesson says the side dishes you serve should dictate the wine you pour, food historian and author of The Story of Corn Betty Fussell explains why corn should be designated our national food, and we'll hear about Tofurky, a vegetarian option for your feast.

120: Simple Cheesemaking

This week we're learning to make simple fresh cheeses such as ricotta, crème fraîche, and cream cheese with the proprietor of the New England Cheesemaking Company. Jane and Michael Stern take us to the Affy Tapple Factory in Chicago, and Martha Gill, author of Modern Gifts, has some unconventional ideas and recipes for gifts from your kitchen.

119: French Legends

We're meeting the woman behind the great French chefs this week. Award-winning author Dorie Greenspan talks about what it's like to work with the likes of Daniel Boulud and Pierre Hermé, two French legends. Jane and Michael Stern recommend a place for sustenance after an all-nighter in Pittsburgh you've heard of heirloom vegetables, well, we've a look at heirloom cattle and grocery guru Al Sicherman challenges Lynne to a canned tuna tasting.

90: Dining Out with the Critics

Restaurant critics can make or break a restaurant. Today we've a behind-the-scenes look at how a restaurant critic works with Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, authors of Dining Out, Secrets from America's Leading Critics, Chefs and Restaurateurs. The Sterns take us to Portland for coffee and Corby Kummer, author of The Joy of Coffee, tells us how to case out an espresso bar.

118: Cooking Time is Family Time

We're heading into the kitchen with our kids with the help of Lynn Fredericks, author of Cooking Time is Family Time. Jane and Michael Stern fill us in on the Midwest Turtle Phenomenon, wine wit Joshua Wesson tells us about the nouveau nouveaus—no need to wait for Nouveau Beaujolais, there's plenty more out there—and kitchen designer Deborah Krasner gives us her take on kitchen cabinets.

117: The Gourmet Prescription

The low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet fad seems to never end, but are we destined to eat slices of plain turkey the rest of our lives? We talk with Deborah Chud, M.D. and author of The Gourmet Prescription, a book devoted to flavorful low-carb cooking. The Sterns take us to St. Louis for the St. Paul Sandwich, minimalist cook Mark Bittman talks octopus, cheesemonger Steve Jenkins tastes cheeses from the Franche-Conte region of France, and Master of Wine Mary Ewing Mulligan wants you to set up a wine tasting at your next get-together.

88: Tips from the Tea Authority

Imagine drinking a cup of Gun Powder Temple of Heaven or Curled Dragon Silver Tips! This week, it's Tea Authority Bill Waddington, a man who determines what kind of tea you'll like by the kind of apples you like to eat! The Stern's take us to Clark's Outpost in Texas for BBQ Brisket, and we check in with Wine Mogul Joshua Wesson about wine bargains in 1999.

116: Going Through Changes

America's beef has changed, so why hasn't our style of cooking? We go to Bruce Aidells, author of The Complete Meat Cookbook, for some guidance. Jane and Michael Stern take us to Sedona, Arizona, for apples and talking deer we talk with Nora Pouillon, owner of Nora's in Washington D.C., Americas first certified organic restaurant naturalist, and poet Diane Ackerman has a physiological view of the truffle, and grocery guru Al Sicherman conducts a peanut-butter tasting with Lynne.

92: Springtime in Paris

The tables are setting up outside on the boulevards of Paris it's time to start planning a spring trip! This week it's a guide to Paris Cafe Life with Daniel Young, author of The Paris Cafe Cookbook. Jane and Michael Stern are breakfasting in La Jolla, California (great breakfast and "long,tan legs" according to Michael), and wine wit Joshua Wesson has great wine bargains from South Africa.

114: Culinary Anthropology

We're finally putting the term "fusion cuisine" to bed this week with culinary anthropologist Elizabeth Rozin, author of Crossroads Cooking. Jane and Michael Stern take us to Nellie's Chili Parlour in Los Cruces, NM minimalist cook Mark Bittman joins us with ideas for streamlining our evening meal, and kitchen designer Deborah Krasner critiques wood-fired ovens.

113: Healthy Perspectives

We have a fresh perspective on food and health with Nina Simons, author of A Spoonful of Ginger. She has some recipes for us with health-giving properties. Jane and Michael Stern introduce us to Charlie the Butcher in Buffalo, New York the food maven Matthew Goodman explains egg creams, and award-winning cheesemaker Jonathan White tells us a tale of autumn milk.

112: Salting for Science

Our favorite food scientist, Shirley Corriher, author of the bestselling book CookWise, joins us with new research on maximizing flavor. Try a little salt to bring out sweetness. Jane and Michael Stern discover the Big Timber Sundae in Montana, Mary Ewing Mulligan advises us on Muscadets, and tea expert Bill Waddington demystifies tisane.

81: Dining with DeNiro

We're talking with award-winning restauranteur Drew Nieporent about what it takes to run a successful restaurant and co-own a business with a celebrity. (Robert DeNiro is Drew's partner!) New York Times columnist Marian Burros talks about food in the ྖs, Jane and Michael Stern take us to the Kansas City stockyards for great steak, and Master of Wine Mary Ewing Mulligan has returned from a visit to Scotland—Islay to be exact, with a wine lover's interpretation of Scotch.

111: Have Some Dim Sum

Over the past decade Americans have become devotees of dim sum, those tasty little morsels that originated in the Chinese province of Canton during the Han dynasty. Evelyn Chau, author of Have Some Dim Sum, explains the ritual and etiquette surrounding this unique eating experience and offers tips on how and what to order from the carts offering a mind-boggling array of delights from which to choose. Jane and Michael Stern debunk the notion that good, inexpensive food cannot be had in California's trendy Napa Valley with their report from the Model Bakery in St. Helena. In the world of cheese, there are some irrefutable givens as Steve Jenkins reveals in his cheese precepts. Author and naturalist Diane Ackerman has some thoughts on food and thrill seeking, and Lynne shares her recipe for satay, a popular Malaysian street food. We'll have another trivia question and the phone lines will be open for your calls.

109: Light Basics

We've a conversation with the Queen of Tasteful Low-Fat Cuisine, Martha Rose Shulman, author of best-selling Mediterranean Light and her most recent—Light Basics Cookbook. Martha shares a summertime recipe for grilled marinated swordfish. The Sterns take us to Sholl's Colonial Cafe in Washington DC, and the Vinegar Man has opened a vinegar museum in South Dakota.

71: The Edible Schoolyard

We're taking a road trip this week, to the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California, home of the Edible Schoolyard. It's a program begun by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame, an effort to teach children about food, culture, and the earth, with a garden that was started in their schoolyard. Jane and Michael Stern take us to Quechee, Vermont, for stellar roast corn with a secret ingredient.

108: Wood-Fire Cooking

All you campers listen up: John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger, authors of License to Grill, join us with advice on wood-fire cooking. No more freeze-dried, at least for one night. Wine wit Joshua Wesson wants us to reconsider German wine. Joshua swears great bargains are to be had, and conductor Christopher Hogwood pinpoints the precise moment English food went awry.

106: American Appetite

What makes a dish American? We've a look at American cuisine with Leslie Brenner, author of American Appetite: The Coming of Age of a Cuisine. Road foodies Jane and Michael Stern take us to the Ridgefield Ice Cream Shop for the 4th, Hoppin' John Taylor has the last word on fried chicken, and grocery guru Al Sicherman and Lynne taste BBQ Sauce, just in time for your family picnic.

80: The Scents of Eden

We're exploring the Spice Islands and the spice trade with Charles Corn, author of The Scents of Eden. The Sterns take us West, to eat East ! They've found great Chinese Food in Butte, Montana,, and, if you're really gonna do it, Chef Ken Hom has some advice for traveling and eating in China.

105: Manifold Destiny

Innovative cooking techniques are the subject today with Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller, authors of Manifold Destiny, a book about cooking on your car engine! The Sterns are sippin' malts and shakes at the Nixon Pharmacy in Mobile, Alabama, and cheesemonger Steve Jenkins reignites the battle of the sexes with his views on female cheesemakers.

74: The Barbecue Bible

We're taking at look at the world's oldest and most universal cooking method—grilling, with Steve Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible. Steve visited more than 25 countries researching this book. Look for Steve's recipe from Afghanistan for onion water lamb chops. The Sterns take us to Idaho for a bowl of soul and stumpmaster and grocery guru Al Sicherman and Lynne do a spaghetti sauce tasting.

102: Party Season

Between graduations, weddings and reunions, party season has struck! We've got advice from a woman who loves to give a party, Abigail Kirsch, caterer and author of Invitation to Dinner. The Sterns take us to a surfer sushi bar, legendary cooking teacher Marian Cunningham is back with lesson two of her three-part series on learning to cook composer Christopher Hogwood explains the English Tea and Master of Wine Mary Ewing Mulligan deciphers wine ratings.

72: Back To College

For those headed back to college, we've some advice from wine expert Joshua Wesson on matching fast food with wine! Yes, there is an ideal bottle to be had with a Domino's Double Cheese and Chinese take-out. Joshua is the reigning expert of $10 or less finds! Jane and Michael Stern take us to Chicago's Polish Neighborhood for funeral food, and Kitchen Designer Deborah Krasner wants us to welcome red worms into our pantry!

101: Cantonese Kitchen

Grace Young, author of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, takes us into the Cantonese home of her childhood the Sterns take us to the Brick Pit BBQ in Mobile, Alabama the mother-daughter team of The Dreaded Broccoli Cookbook join us to talk pantry momentum singer Patti LaBelle shares her soon-to-be-a-classic potato salad recipe and legendary cook and teacher Marion Cunningham, author of The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, begins her three-part series on learning to cook.

100: Slow Food

Journalist Corby Kummer fills us in on Slow Food, an organization who believes in doing good by eating well Jane and Michael Stern take us back to Chicago for gold coast hot dogs the bestselling author of Under a Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes, tells us tale of a trip to Venice kitchen designer Deborah Krasner wants us to think about our four senses when working in the kitchen and Lynne samples salt with Grocery Guru Al Sicherman in their monthly tasting.

64: Wine Auctions

It's a look at wine auctions with one of the country's foremost experts, Fritz Hatton of Christies U.S. Wine Department (http://www.christies.com/wine). Who buys Andrew Lloyd Weber's wine cellar? Our wanderers, Jane and Michael Stern, hit the road and head west toward the Grand Canyon, and Master of Wine Mary Ewing Mulligan gives us the rules on the basics, like how full should a glass of wine be filled?

98: Wines of Washington State

The wines of Washington State have soared into prominence in a relatively short time due, in part, to the unique growing conditions and varied microclimates that give the region its potential to become one of the greatest fine wine producing areas in the world. Our guest, Lorne Jacobson of Hedges Cellars, will fill us in on these reasonably priced wines of exceptional quality. Our road food duo Jane and Michael Stern have entered the fray in yet another culinary controversy—clam chowder. Whether it's heavy cream, light cream, no cream, or tomato-based, they'll have the word on where to find the best of each variety. Fruit-obsessed David Karp has found a "fruit zoo" and he's back with a report, and culinary minimalist Mark Bittman streamlines Thai curries with his recipe for shrimp in yellow curry.

96: What Happened to Waffles?

We're getting a culinary travel tour of India with award-winning author and tour guide Julie Sahni. The Stern's answer the question, "what ever happened to waffles?", Master of Wine Mary Ewing Mulligan has Napa Valley travel tips and Mark Bittman has advice on streamlining our life behind the stove, with a recipe for braised lamb shanks.

53: Seeding for the Harvest

The calendar might not say it's spring, but gardeners have been studying seed catalogs and dreaming of the harvest for months now. Even if your "garden" is only a potted tomato plant on a terrace, you'll want to tune in this week when William Woys Weaver, author of Heirloom Vegetable Gardening, takes a fascinating look at the history of heirloom vegetables and shares some of his seed sources. When the subject is vegetables, Jane and Michael Stern head to an outdoor market in Birmingham, Alabama and a certain diner that serves up an incredible offering of nearly four dozen vegetables, all farm-fresh and cooked Southern-style! Our Master of Wine, Mary Ewing Mulligan, fills us in on Viognier - the latest white wine craze Lee from Portland tries to Stump the Cook, and Lynne shares a recent find at the Miami airport and takes your calls.

95: Languedoc

We're taking a look at one of the largest wine growing regions in France this week, not Burgundy, not Bordeaux, but Languedoc with Pierre Noique. Great values are to be had! Our guide is wine merchant Pierre Noique who gives us his favorite picks of Languedoc bargains. Think bottles in the $8 to $13 range! Jane and Michael Stern have had another New England Epiphany. It's Simon Pearce this time and, yes, it's in Vermont. They'll stop by with the details. Minimalist cooking sage and award-winning author Mark Bittman is back with some thoughts on braising and a streamlined recipe for braised and grilled lamb shanks. Architect Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live wants us to re-think our dining rooms and tells us why.

93: Garlic, Garlic, Garlic

Americans now eat nearly 2 pounds of garlic a year, and botanists believe that garlic was one of the first plants to be cultivated by man. Linda and Fred Griffith, authors of Garlic, Garlic, Garlic, join us with lore, medical breakthroughs, and recipes for The stinking rose. The Sterns take us to the land of country-music stars and biscuits and gravy—The Loveless Café in Nashville, Tennessee—cheesemonger Steve Jenkins stops by with an explanation of cheese varieties and tea expert Bill Wattington gives us the lowdown on green teas.

58: Basics of Olive Oil

It's a basic course in olive oil this week with Rolando Beramendi, founder of Manicaretti, an importer of high quality Italian food products. Extra-virgin, cold-pressed, estate bottled - Rolando explains it all and gives us a buyer's guide to getting the best oil for our money. Our dynamic dining duo, Jane and Michael Stern, discover a fine country ham in Virginia cheese expert Steve Jenkins shares his spring cheese picks and our grocery guru, Al Sickerman, talks Peeps!

91: A Trip to the Wine Cellar

We're taking a trip to one of New York City's finest wine cellars, at a restaurant called Patroon. With the wine cellar comes its caretaker, the Sommelier. It's a glimpse of one of the most intimate relationships in the restaurant business, chef and sommelier. Jane and Michael Stern take us to The Peanut Shoppe in Mobile, Alabama, and Lynne and grocery guru Al Sicherman taste canned tomatoes who will win—Hunts, Contadina, or Muir Glen?

57: To Make A Great Pinot

It's a look at winemaking with David Bruce of the David Bruce Winery. David makes award-winning Pinot Noirs. FYI, it's no small feat for an American winemaker to make a great pinot, it's considered by the industry to be one of the most difficut grapes to master. David tells the secret behind his great bottles—a rather ancient technique! Jane and Michael Stern take us to Vermont, again! This time off Route 132 in Sharon, home of Brooksies, and Master of Wine Mary Ewing Mulligan answers the age-old question —does the glass you serve your wine in really matter?

89: Secrets to Cold Season

Cold season is upon us, and rather than heading to a drugstore—think about heading to your cupboard for apple cider vinegar, peppermint and thyme! Judith Benn Hurley, author of Healing Secrets of the Season, joins us with some seasonal home remedies. The Sterns have advice on San Diego street food and we check in with Specialty Produce Expert David Karp in the field, the orange groves of California!

87: Losing It

This is the week most of us start a diet, and next week is the week the depression and guilt kick in! Why don't diets work? We're taking a look at the Great American Diet Scam with Journalist Laura Fraser, author of Losing It. Jane and Michael Stern take us to Green Bay, Wisconsin, for the best chili in the States, Steve Raichlen of Low Fat/High Flavor fame gives a list of 5 must-haves for the lowfat pantry, and kitchen designer Deborah Krasner talks kitchen lighting and Grocery Guru Al Sicherman and Lynne do a sour cream tasting.

Morsels & sauces

Adapted from Cookbook #39: The Nero Wolfe Cookbook (1973)

Recipe: Planked Porterhouse Steak

If I continue to eat meals like this, I will begin to look like Nero Wolfe. Nero Wolfe? you say. Allow me to introduce you, if you are not yet acquainted. Mr. Wolfe is the corpulent, New York City detective who solves all of his cases between the hours of 11 and 1 or 2 and 4, because he is otherwise occupied with tending his prize orchids or eating his prize meals, cooked by none other than the Swiss chef Fritz Brenner.

Around our house, Nero Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin are not to be trifled with.

If you love eating and you love reading, then you need to get your hands on a Nero Wolfe book. And there are plenty of them. Rex Stout penned some 33 novels and 39 short stories. In fact, the husband owns most, if not all, of the books. For some time he was on the search for copies of the books, and he rummaged through every used bookstore in San Francisco and Berkeley. A few years ago, I came upon a gold mine of first edition hardbacks--in, of all places, Galena, Illinois--and the husband received the summary delight of a stack of books for his birthday. Perhaps part of the reason that the husband likes the books so much is that he fancies himself to be the fast-talking, cheeky Archie Goodwin. Archie has an almost palpable respect for Wolfe's genius (the brilliance evidenced by the fact that Wolfe solves most of his cases in the comfort of his custom-made chair ) but also a healthy and humorous respect for Wolfe's very particular peculiarities (which include an insistence on yellow silk pajamas, a refusal to be touched, the stipulation that beer be drunk in a glass rather than from the bottle, a rhythmic pushing in and out of his lips when he closes his eyes to think (and solve the case), and an avowal of the merits of broiled corn over boiled corn). Perhaps the husband fancying himself as Archie is a good thing, as I see just a little too much of myself in Nero Wolfe. If I had my druthers, I would stay behind my desk all day to read books, drink beer, and construct (bogus) theories on intersections between art, literature and food.

In all of the Nero Wolfe narratives, food plays a role, for Wolfe refuses to do business from the dining room table. Thus, the dining room becomes a place of respite and reflection. However, often Wolfe is bickering with Fritz over the proper saffron (Iranian or Spanish--the wrong kind can ruin a meal) in the confines of the kitchen or Archie is sneaking out to eat a corned beef sandwich (something not permitted in Wolfe's brownstone). Some of the mysteries directly involve food (I even taught "Murder is Corny" in my Literature of Food class) while others merely mention it. Nonetheless, it is obvious that Wolfe is both gourmet and gourmand, and food becomes part of his ability to place order on the world.

Allow me an extended quotation to give you a sampling of Rex Stout's writing and to set the recipe for last night's dinner. In Too Many Cooks Nero Wolfe is giving a lecture entitled Contributions Américaines à la Haute Cuisine to Les Quinze Maîtres (a group of 15 of the finest chefs in the world).

Upon hearing the title of the talk, Jerome Berin, the chef at Corridona in Sam Remo, snorts: "Bah! . There are none. I am told there is good family cooking in America I haven't sampled it. I have heard of the New England boiled dinner and corn pone and clam chowder and milk gravy. . Those things are to la haute cuisine what sentimental love songs are to Beethoven and Wagner."
"Indeed." Wolfe wiggled a finger at him. "Have you eaten terrapin stewed with butter and chicken broth and sherry?"
"Have you eaten a planked porterhouse steak, two inches thick, surrendering hot red juice under the knife, garnished with American parsley and slices of fresh limes, encompassed with mashed potatoes which melt on the tongue, and escorted by thick slices of fresh mushrooms faintly underdone?"
"Or the Creole Tripe of New Orleans? Or Missouri Boone County ham, baked with vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire, sweet cider and herbs? Or Chicken Marengo? Or chicken in curdled egg sauce, with raisins, onions, almonds, sherry and Mexican sausage? Or Tennessee Opossum? Or Lobster Newburgh? Or Philadelphia Snapper Soup?" (7)

While I neither escorted the planked porterhouse with fresh mushrooms nor whipped up a batch of Tennessee Opossum, I did make an incredibly decadent dinner. Rest assured that the cookbook has recipes for all of these mentioned (yes, even the opossum), and if you like your literature and dinner to intersect, you should rush out to your local used bookstores to begin your own search for Rex Stout mysteries and this cookbook.

On the final note, Nero weighs a seventh of a ton (or 286 pounds) while I still have a ways to go, this meal certainly shifted me a pound closer. (By the way, I did not eat the entire steak. But the husband did.)

1 Porterhouse steak, two inches thick [we clearly used two, and they were not that thick]
2 cups mashed potatoes
1/4 cup melted butter
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
6 slices lime

1. Procure [!] a porterhouse steak of fine-grained texture, bright red in color and well-marbled with fat. Trim off the excess fat and wipe with a clean cloth. Grill the steak over a hot charcoal fire for three minutes on each side.

2. Take a well-seasoned oak plank which has never been washed but which has been kept scrupulously clean by being scraped with a dull knife and wiped with good olive oil. Lay the steak on the plank, surround with a border of fluffy mashed potatoes, and put in a hot (450 degree) oven. After nine minutes, brush the potatoes over with half the melted butter and salt and pepper the steak.

3. Return to the oven for five minutes, remove, paint with butter, sprinkle with parsley, garnish with the slices of lime, and serve at once.

Holly Rudin-Braschi

Holly is the author Grill Power. Now in its second edition, Grill Power has sold over 50K copies. In addition to being a music instructor, Holly is a veteran professional cooking instructor and certified health fitness and nutrition lecturer, and journalist. She has inspired people of all ages to realize their fitness potential through her high-energy Feasting in the Fast Lane™ corporate presentations, radio and television shows, and publications.

Holly with Cathy Lee Gifford
at the Mall of America in Minneapolis

Holly dances Turkish cabaret bellydance
style at Rakkassah West Bellydance
Festival in Northern California.
Click to see Holly dance.

Certified Fitness Professional, Educator and Corporate Lecturer: An American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certified instructor, Holly also teaches Zumba® and Sharqui™ Belly Dance Workout www.sharqui.com

Holly has combined her unique combination of culinary, nutrition and fitness knowledge to create Feasting in the Fast Lane™, a high-energy series of over 20 lectures that shows Americans how to achieve their fitness potential through healthy eating and exercise. A sought after speaker by major corporations and universities throughout the United States, Holly has been a wellness presenter at companies such as Apple Computer, 3M, Chevron, the IRS, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed, Motorola, National Semi-Conductor, Pacific Gas & Electric, and State Farm Insurance, among many others.

Holly and Yellowstone National Park Executive Chef Jim Chapman during an interview for her article “Rocky Mountain Cuisine” published in the Greek magazine Real Food.

Food and Fitness Journalist: Holly has written for a variety of national and international publications. As a freelance journalist her articles, which focus on such topics as food, fitness, nutrition, and travel, have appeared in magazines and newspapers nationwide (e.g. Cooking Light, Prevention Magazine) and has been represented by the New York Times News Syndication Services.

She has interviewed and written about Chefs Jacques Pepin, Anne Willan, Martin Yan, Sam Choy, Bruce Aidells and many others. Holly’s assignments have included trips to Alaska, Montana National Parks, Hawaii, Norway, Germany, Greece, French Canada and many other destinations. Previously, as fitness editor for ten years for the American Egg Board’s and USDA’s Rediscover Eggs, a quarterly newsletter for seniors, Holly interviewed the nation’s most eminent health and fitness professionals and fittest seniors including President Jimmy Carter. Early in her career, Holly wrote a weekly culinary column, for the San Jose Mercury News for over 4 years.

International Cooking Instructor: In addition to being an expert on grilling, Holly is also an authority on using small cooking appliances (food processors, blenders, microwave and convection ovens) to make international cuisine attainable for both beginning and expert cooks, as well as for children.

During her 20+ years as a professional cooking instructor, Holly has taught a wide variety of topics at professional cooking schools including Sur La Table, for special organizations including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, and at public schools and colleges. Her range of classes include Heart Healthy Cuisine, Grilling, Chocolate, Northern Italian, Jewish/Kosher, Mexican/South West, Asian/Chinese, French, Hors d’oeuvres, Brunch, Holiday, and Children’s Cooking Classes.

Holly presents Grill Power to President Jimmy Carter when she was a judge at his Plains Peanut Festival cooking contest

Media Personality and Spokesperson: Holly sold over $10 million in products on QVC and the Canadian Shopping Channel as an on-air guest. Combining her culinary, health/fitness and musical expertise with her engaging, high-energy personality, Holly appeared on TV, talk-radio shows, and trade shows nationally and internationally. Her presentations in both English and French aired nationally on Canadian TV (including the show “Shopping Bags”) and radio. In addition, Holly presented in Greek with Vefa Alexiadou, the Julia Child of Greece, on Greece’s Number-1 rated Morning Show via satellite from Athens to four continents. On TV, Holly worked closely with famed television chef Martin Yan as his personal assistant. Holly also appeared weekly on television in Austin, Texas, in a five minute Feasting in the Fast Lane™ segment which she produced for KXAN-TV’s “Saturday First Cast,” a local news/magazine program.

Recipe Developer: Holly has developed heart-healthy recipes for major food and appliance manufacturers and distributors that appeared in product cookbooks, hangtags and point of purchase displays, and on their web sites. She has created hundreds of recipes for Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc., DaVinci Gourmet Syrups, Morinaga Foods, manufacturers of Mori-Nu Tofu, Petaluma Poultry Processors (Rocky the Range Bird) and Protein Technologies, Inc., the soy products division of DuPont, Salton, Meyer Cookware, and Cutco. She was also a contributing editor to the Mori-Nu Tofu Times, writing articles and developing recipes for this trade publication and web site.

Fried Chicken

I made fried chicken today. It turned out ok but not exactly what I was looking for in flavor. I started out by brining legs and thighs in salt water for about 2 hours. I was told that this would make for plump juicy chicken that is seasoned throughout.

I then combined 3 cups of buttermilk in a bowl with 3 tbsp chipotle hot sauce, ceyenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked hot paprika, salt, and pepper. In another dish I had salted flour for dredging. I'm not interested in the egg and breadcrumb steps, we don't like batter, just crisp skin.

So I removed the chicken from the brine and patted them dry. I did not rinse off any of the brine. I then dipped each piece in the spicy buttermilk and dredged through the flour shaking off any excess. I layed them down on a cookie rack and let them dry and firm up for about 1/2 hour.

I heated peanut oil in my dutch oven on the stove top to 350 and popped in a couple of garlic cloves. I then fried the chicken for 12 minutes and drained it on paper towels letting it rest for at least 5 minutes before we devoured it. This was my first time brining and I don't mind it but I'm not sure what it added. It didn't taste salty at all and I don't think the brine really penetrated. Should I have brined it over night or would that have made it salty? Also, eventhough I used all those spices the crust was not spicy at all. It had a nice flavor but it wasn't not and spicy. What can I do to get a kick to my chicken?

The good thing was that the chicken was cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside, very juicy on the inside without excessive breading. But how do I get more flavor into the chicken meat all the way down to the bone?


Brining makes a twofold contribution. The salt keeps the chicken moist, while the acid tenderizes. Some sort of sweetener is a common component to balance the salt and to improve both the moisturizing and "power" the diffusion. 2 hours is enough time to brine chicken already cut in pieces -- if the brining solution is sufficiently concentrated. If you felt the brine did not add to the overall saltiness of the dish, it was undoubtedly too weak for the amount of time. So? What was your brine?

The reason your chicken didn't have enough seasoning was because you didn't season it enough. The most efficient place and time for seasoning is directly on the skin or meat, before dipping. The extra seasoning from the dips is helpful, but much harder to control.

You can get some flavor into the chicken with the brine, and additionally take away some of the less pleasant flavors. One of my favorite brines is seasoned buttermilk. Another is limeade fortified with tequila and salt.

I suggest brining your chicken in something wonderful to begin with then wiping the chicken and seasoning it then dipping the chicken either in flour-buttermilk-flour, flour-egg-flour, or simply buttermilk-flour (as you did) -- with all of the dips well seasoned. Nothing gets "just" salt.

Now if you liked the texture of the chicken you had, you'd go (a) brine (salty/sweet/acid) (b) wipe (c) season (d) seasoned buttermilk dip (e) seasoned flour dip and, (f) as before.




You can get a lot of flavor in the chicken by brining or other forms of marinating. You need enough salt and acid (and sometimes sugar) to make it happen though. You still haven't said what your seasoning concentrations are. You can't use the same amount of seasonings in a 2 hour brine as you'd use on the skin for broiling and expect anything much to happen.

Marinades and brines asides, season the chicken at the surface, and season every dip. That's "layering." The most important layers are the skin and the crust. Salt and hot pepper are a little tricky, because you don't want to go overboard. Other strong spices (garlic for instance) are easier to control, using your senses of sight and smell.

I shouldn't be giving too many recipes away anymore, but see what you think about this:

2 chickens cut in serving pieces

2 quarts commercial limeade, divided
1/2 cup table salt
1/2 to 1 cup inexpensive tequila
2 onions quartered

1/2 cup salt
3 tbs paprika (preferably smoked)
3 tbs coarse, freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp dried)

1-1/2 cup buttermilk, divided
2 tsp hot sauce, divided
Enough rub for visiblity

3 cups flour
Enough rub for visibility

Make the brine by peeling and quartering the onions and breaking them into pieces. Add them to half the limeade with the salt. Bring to the boil, allow to simmer for a few minutes, then stir to make sure the salt has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for half an hour. Add the remaining ingredients, and the chicken (cut into pieces). Brine, covered in the refrigerator, for at least 3 hours and as long as overnight.

Remove from the brine, and dry thoroughly. You may rinse or not, it won't make much difference.

Put the dry chicken in a large bowl, and season with a tsp or so of hot sauce (optional) and generously sprinkling it with rub. (How much rub? Be aware that the rub is almost half salt, the chicken is already half salted from the brine, this layer will carry about 3/4 of the seasoning -- and limit yourself accordingly.) Toss the chicken with the seasonings.

Set half the chicken aside, cover (or bag) and store in the refrigerator).

Add enough buttermilk, about 3/4 cup to the bowl with the remaining chicken, to thoroughly moisten. Toss the chicken to coat it. Add enough hot sauce so the buttermilk will be barely tinged and toss again. Add enough rub so that it's just visible (about 1 tbs) and toss again.

Put half the flour, along with 2 tbs of rub in a bag, shake to mix. Shake the chicken, two or three pieces at a time in the flour until well coated, then allow to sit on a rack so the excess flour falls off while the rest adheres and sets. Allow to sit 15 minutes before frying.

While the first batch of chicken is frying, milk and flour the rest in the same way.

(I'm not going to give frying directions since you seem to have that down. One suggestion though is that you replace at least half your frying oil with lard. Lard has a much cleaner and less assertive taste than oil or vegetable shortening, adding much less to the product, and allowing the chicken to make its presence better known.)

PS. This recipe is original with me. If you want to share or post it elsewhere. please attribute it to me, Boar D. Laze. It would be a kindness if you would also mention my (eventually) forthcoming book, COOK FOOD GOOD: American Cooking and Technique for Beginners and Intermediates.


Founder of Cheftalk.com

The salt keeps the chicken moist? I do not believe this is the intention of salt in a brine. It is the liquid introduced by the addition of salt in a brine that keeps the meat tender. Salt by nature in a brine removes liquid and in this case I believe salt opens up the pours and allows for more liquid to enter the meat which helps keep it tender.

While I feel this is an excellent method for a roast bird I would never brine a fried chicken. It is the introduction of the high heat and the steam that is created by the breading that makes the chicken moist and tender.

An excellent example of a brine is when you make bacon. Salt removes all of the water out of the bacon and seasons at the same time it does not make the pork belly tender at all it actually firms it up. It is the same when you cure a piece of salmon the salmon does not become tender with the addition of the salt cure it becomes more firm because the liquid is removed from the meat.


There is a terrific sidebar in Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly's book The Complete Meat Cookbook that explains how and why brining works for flavor and moisture. It's attributed to Janet Fletcher, a food writer from San Francisco.

Here's a quote from the article:

I'm sold on the process, but not for roasting a turkey at Thanksgiving. The problems are two fold- 1)the drippings are very salty and thus make an overly salty gravy if you're not careful and 2) the brine also infuses the skin with water so that the turkey skin never becomes crisp during the roasting process. Rubbery skin is gross.



FoodnFoto, that's incorrect. And McGee knows better.

Diffusion is the natural effort to balance solutes in a solvent. In this case, salt and water. (sugar too)

Osmosis is a special type of diffusion that's important because it works kind of BACKWARDS across a semipermeable membrane (cell walls). Solvent flows from LOW concentration of solute to HIGH concentration of solute. Just the opposite of normal diffusion.

In the case of a brine, water flows out of the cell which is lower in salt than the brine. This acts to raise the salt concentration in the cells even though no salt is being added. Just removing water.

There are other things going on as well however that have nothing to do with osmosis.

Brined meat weighs more after brining than before, usually around 10%. So where is this water weight coming from if cells are dumping water?

I've not seen this adequately explained to my satisfaction. Cook's illustrated says that the higher salt concentration denatures protein creating webs to hold back the water. However, the protein under discussion is in the cells so I don't see it holding back much water. If it were holding back water, osmosis would stop.

However, the osmotic water loss and denaturing explain the stiffness Nicko noted.

My opinion is that normal diffusion is at work getting flavored brine into the interstitial spaces of the meat. Not in the cells. Then as the cells contract and achieve osmotic balance, Some liquid is squeezed out while other liquid in those spaces is trapped.

Sugar also triggers osmotic responses. But is mostly used to balance the salty flavors.

Acid doesn't power osmosis or brines. While it does diffuse, it's not something that cell walls transfer significantly


Founder of Cheftalk.com

My point is that Salt is the impetus or catalyst for creating an environment for moisture and tenderizing but it is actually the liquid that is introduced that does the job of creating a moist and tender product not the salt.

I could be wrong but that is what I thought was at work.


My understanding of the process, which is actually pretty detailed from a bio-chem standpoint, is much like Phil's. Nicko, I'm sorry if I was inexact in my language and gave the impression that my thought was that salt itself actually moisturized the meat, rather than helped to power a diffusionary process whereby the meat went to the heat with more moisture than it would have otherwise started.

Returning to Phil's discussion -- the question of whether a signficant amount of osmosis takes place and the brining solution is actually absorbed across cell walls is one which is open and in debate. While my own level of biology and bio chemistry knowledge is not enough for me to form a strong opinion, it is sufficient to read the literature such as it is (this is not something which has recieved much serious research). The weight of authority seems to be with Phil as opposed to Food-N-Foto's source -- that is, trans-cellular osmosis is not a significant contributor to the amount of fluid absorbed compared to interstitial diffusion. Remember though, the jury isn't completely in.

Again, I apologize for any loose language which may have made my understanding and transmission of others' informed opinions unclear.

However interesting, the diffusion/osmosis debate is not particularly important to a home cook. The point is that a brine requires sufficient concentration to work well, and a brine which is appropriately concentrated across the three axes of salt, sweet, and sour will work more efficiently than a uni-axial solution. Furthermore, a brine will efficiently work to carry other flavors including aromatics to the meat.

To the extent much thought went into developing the Margarita Brine it was originated for smoke-fried chicken (i.e., pieces which are lightly smoked before breading and frying) and a smoked/grilled chicken for barbecue competition which also received a homemade lime marmalade glaze.

My usual practice is to put the chicken in buttermilk with a heck of a lot of salt, some hot sauce, and fruit "nectar," and leave it in the fridge for a few hours before reseasoning, flouring and frying. I feel that buttermilk enhances the flavor and brings enough acid to the party to do some tenderizing. I also feel the salt makes enough of a contribution to continue using it. I'm not the only good cook in the world -- or for that matter on this thread. As far as I'm concerned, our different methods are intriguing and fun.

Is brining a good technique for fried chicken? Yes it is. Is it a necessary component in the same way as say flour? No. Feel free to try the recipe, to use the brine for other purposes, or not at all. My recipes are evolving expressions of how to produce reliable, straightforward food. If you want stone tablets, look elsewhere. But, do give the brine a try before judging the results.

All About Dinner Simple Meals Expert Advice

These are the dishes that Stevens loves most, the ones her students clamor for: an Arugula Salad with Peaches, Basil Vinaigrette and Sunflower Seeds an elegant Creamy Parsnip-Leek Soup a Butter-Poached Shrimp with Fresh Tomatoes and .

Author: Molly Stevens

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

A Finalist for the 2020 IACP Cookbook Award A Finalist for the 2020 James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award (General) The Atlantic "Best Cookbooks of 2019" • Washington Post "Cookbooks That Inspired Us in 2019" • Christian Science Monitor "Best Cookbooks of 2019" • NPR "Favorite Books of 2019" • WBUR Here & Now "Best Cookbooks of 2019" An award-winning cookbook author and cooking teacher answers her most-asked question: What do you make for dinner? Like most of us, Molly Stevens has no team of prep cooks, no vast pantry, and no one paid to clean up her home kitchen. What she does have are delicious, time- tested recipes made from easy-to-find ingredients, collected for the first time in All About Dinner. These are the dishes that Stevens loves most, the ones her students clamor for: an Arugula Salad with Peaches, Basil Vinaigrette and Sunflower Seeds an elegant Creamy Parsnip-Leek Soup a Butter-Poached Shrimp with Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic and an Apple and Triple-Ginger Crisp. Building on the foolproof clarity of her previous cookbooks, each recipe is designed to impart solid kitchen skills while encouraging home cooks to expand their personal repertoires by mastering everyday favorites like simple pasta, hearty stew, and tempting savory and sweet snacks. A gorgeous collection of balanced meals, packed with flavor, All About Dinner will entice busy cooks back into their kitchens.

Best Books for the BBQ Lover

Ten years ago when I started my BBQ and grilling website, AmazingRibs.com, it was because there were no good books on barbecue. Now, each new season brings at least three or four good ones (mine will be out May 10).

Any outdoor cook can always use more tips and techniques and recipe ideas, so here are some of my favorites. To see my entire list of favorite cookbooks with more detailed reviews, click here.

The Food Lab, Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt
We'll start with a book that has very little barbecue or grilling in it, but the concepts you will learn can go from the kitchen to the backyard easily. Published in 2015, it is the best cookbook in my collection of more than 400.

I am a huge fan of Kenji. We are brothers by different mothers. He went to MIT, worked in top restaurant kitchens, worked in the test kitchens of Cooks Illustrated magazine and TV, and is the most popular contributor to the extremely popular website, SeriousEats.com. This New York Times Best Seller is much like his SeriousEats articles: Funny, informative, fascinating, creative, and precise. Kenji understands food science and culinary arts, two specialties that rarely inform a single cook at the same time. A self-proclaimed nerd, you will want to make sure you have on hand a digital thermometer, a digital scale, and a sous vide machine will come in handy too.

He starts with explaining energy and heat transfer, covers pots and pans and knives, and all the basic tools of the trade. The chapter on frying alone is worth the price of admission. Then there are the recipes. He focuses on the beloved American classics and shows that often the traditional methods can be improved upon. His 2 minute foolproof Hollandaise sauce is a revelation.

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint by Chris Lilly
Chris Lilly is the Executive Chef of one of the nation's classic old joints, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, in Decatur, AL. He is also the head of the restaurant's much decorated competition team, winner of more championships than he can count.

Most barbecue chefs have a pretty small repertoire, limited to the classic Southern barbecue canon, ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, sausage, and sides like beans, cornbread, and slaw. Yes, they're all there in this superb book, but Lilly also includes fun riffs on Caribbean Jerk Pork, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, and beyond. There is also a version of Big Bob's famous white chicken sauce, but he clearly felt restrained from giving away the restaurant's secret recipe, and frankly, I think my reverse engineering of the ingredients comes closer to the real deal. If classic Southern Barbecue is your goal, this is the one book you need.

Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang
Perry Lang is a serious classically trained chef, a veteran of Le Cirque and Daniel, and, as the proprietor of Daisy May's BBQ USA in NYC and as a competitor on the barbecue circuit, he knows a lot about barbecue and grilling.

This book shows off his macho cooking philosophy and several clever concepts, chief among them, board dressings. He mixes oil and minced herbs on the cutting board and then cuts the meat rolling it around in the herbed oil. So simple, but this is a super way to add flavor to grilled foods, and I use it often now that he has taught me how. Scruffing is his word for what I call gashing, a technique for roughing the surface of meat to create more surface for marinades to penetrate and for more browning.

Pleasantly, his attitude is very laid back, informal, educational, and fun. His standard "Four Seasons Rub" is simply salt, cayenne, black pepper, and garlic salt. He is photographed at work not in his professional kitchen dressed in chef's whites, not at poolside in the Hamptons, but in T-shirts on cheap grills, usually a Weber kettle, in what appears to be a humble back yard. I see this book as a source of ideas and inspiration more than a cookbook of recipes.

America's Best BBQ by Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk
This wholly wonderful book is meant as a cookbook, as described in the subtitle "100 Recipes from America's Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses, and Restaurants". But it is much more. Davis and Kirk probably have visited more barbecue joints than anyone I know, and they know the good stuff from the bad. For this book they have picked some of the best barbecue restaurants, describe them, and share a recipe. I have used it more than once as a reference when I hit the road, and they have never steered me wrong.

Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
Franklin Barbecue in Austin is widely considered the best in the world and people stand in line for hours to get in. He got to the pinnacle the old fashioned way, patience and skill. He uses massive old school offset pits, logs, and fire control. Franklin shares his secrets for building and maintaining a fire that produces clean smoke, and how to prepare the classic meats of the Texas barbecue canon, beef brisket, the meat that made him famous, beef ribs, and pork spare ribs. He throws in turkey breast, four sauces, and three sides. But if you crave the simple excellence of Texas barbecue, salt and pepper only, no sauce, brilliant meat standing on its own, this is the manifesto. It is clearly written with a wry sense of humor typical of Franklin, and his infectious smile runs cover to cover.

Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook
Very few people know barbecue and grilling like Ray Lampe and he's got a room full of trophies to prove it. The former truck driver from the Chicago are writes just as he speaks, friendly, unassuming, and with an understated wit. Nothing snobby about Dr. BBQ. His tips on technique and tools are scattered throughout the book.

Weber's Time to Grill by Jamie Purviance
Chef Purviance has another winner for Weber. This one has the 200 plus recipes divided into two categories, "Easy" and "Adventurous", pretty much 50/50, and you don't need a Weber to cook them. Everything is neatly organized from rubs to marinades to appetizers to desserts (yes grilled desserts) with color coded sections, icons of fish and pigs, etc., and flaps on both front and back covers to bookmark pages. In addition, there are several useful references to cooking temps and times, and a great section called "prep school" with step by step photos of how to cut up onions and peppers, devein shrimp, butterflying a chicken, and more.

The Prophets of Smoked Meat, A Journey Through Texas Barbecue by Daniel Vaughn
Daniel Vaughn knows Texas barbecue so well that in 2013 Texas Monthly magazine hired the Dallas architect to write about the subject full time. He's the only guy who might have a better job than mine. The book takes us along with Vaughn and his photographer as they taste their way across the state to truck stops in the dessert and chic restaurants in the metropolitan areas in search of the truth in Texas barbecue. In all, their hegira took 35 days, covered 10,343 miles, and made stops at 186 joints. Along the way we meet the characters and artists who set the state's signature food apart from any other state and he enlightens us on the various styles and his favorites.

The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today's Meat by Bruce Aidells
Bruce Aidells has chops. Literally and figuratively. He has been a working butcher. He founded a sausage company and I'll bet you've seen Aidells Sausages on your grocery shelves. He sold the company. He married a chef. He's had his own TV show. His byline appears regularly in the food mags. And now this.

The Great Meat Cookbook is a thorough compendium on all things meat, 630 pages worth. Not just superb recipes, both classic and creative, but up to the moment introductory chapters explaining meat labeling and grading. He writes intelligently on the legal meanings and culinary implications of such terms as "grass fed", "natural", and "organic". There are photos of all the common cuts of meat and then some. The recipes don't limit themselves to common cuts. He includes bison, goat, leftovers, and, no surprise, sausages and cured meats.

The Cook and the Butcher: Juicy Recipes, Butcher's Wisdom, and Expert Tips by Brigit Binns
Brigit Binns is simply amazing. She is the author of more than two dozen cookbooks, many of them for Williams-Sonoma, including this one. She knows so much and is so inventive.

Binns shares more than 100 recipes and, on almost every page, weaves through the book tips and quotes from butchers across the nation. The recipes are a mix of indoor and outdoor, and they are beautifully photographed by Kate Sears. What stands out is the creativity. The menu sounds like a 4-star restaurant, but the recipes are easily managed with the help of a good butcher, a well stocked kitchen, and the guidance of a great cook, like Binns.

For example, Steak Au Poivre. As Binns explains "This classic French preparation is a luxurious combination: the cooked meat, as tender as butter, is finished with a bracingly piquant and creamy pan sauce. While some recipes call for the peppercorns to be ground and pressed into the meat before cooking, I prefer to season the steaks simply, with a sprinkling of salt and black pepper, and to feature the green peppercorns in the easy pan sauce." Well every recipe I've ever seen says to coarsely crack the peppercorns, smask them into the meat, and then panfry. The problem is that you end up with serious pepper overload, you can barely taste the meat, and it is almost impossible to get a good flavorful sear with all those huge chunks of pepper holding he meat above the hot pan surface. That's one reason I quit making this dish. Until now. Binns' approach, which boils green peppercorns and uses them in a pan sauce of shallots, butter, Cognac, heavy cream, and beef consommé, is so much more sensible and elegant. Just like the lady herself.

The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional's Guide to Butchering and Merchandising by Kari Underly
The best teachers can address the novice and still educate the expert, and that is exactly what Kari Underly does in this fine guide. Aimed at protein pros, this book belongs on the shelves of any serious carnivore.

Underly is a third generation butcher and consultant to numerous merchants, universities, chefs, farmers, and trade associations, among them the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. This is the book that will settle those barroom arguments such as "what is the difference between a T-bone and a porterhouse?" Answer: Both have two muscles, the toploin, and the tenderloin, and on the porterhouse, the tenderloin must be at least 1.25" diameter. If the tenderloin is smaller, it is a T-bone.

There is a lot of inside baseball talk here aimed at chefs and butchers, including a chapter called "Cutting for Profit" where you can see how a butcher can calculate the resale price and profit margin of a large hunk. There is even a complete table of all the professional meat cutter's product names and descriptions with the names of the component muscles. This may seem superfluous for a backard cook, but this is knowledge that can help keep you from being fooled when cash is at stake when you are buying steak. The sections on knives, sharpening, safety, and cutting techniques are unique and useful to all.

Spiral bound so it lays flat, there are no recipes, just some generic cooking tips, but this is not a cookbook, it is a buyer's guide for buyers of all sort.

Hot Dog: A Global History by Bruce Kraig
A well regarded culinary historian and Professor Emeritus of History and Humanities at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Scholarly yet clever and entertaining, Kraig probably knows more about the history of the hot dog than anyone and he meticulously dismissed the many myths about the origin of the frankfurter, the bun, and its name. He does a good job of explaining how hot dog culture spanned the nation and even the world.

Hamburger America: One Man's Cross-Country Odyssey to Find the Best Burgers in the Nation [Book & DVD] by George Motz
George Motz has traveled the four corners of the nation to find the best and most interesting burger joints. Many are cultural and community icons, and Motz interviews the owners, writes about their burgers, and photographs the places beautifully.

The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh
Walsh is a cook, a cultural historian, and a heckuva writer, and he brings all his talents to this fun book. There's classic Texas chili, red and green, no beans allowed, as well as Cincinnati, loaded with beans and ground meat. He shares Detroit chili, the African American chili tradition, Tex-Mex, and more. Lobster chili, turkey chili, There's background info on chile peppers, chili powders, and much more. The recipes come with the story behind the recipe,and if you were ever tempted to enter a chili cookoff, you better start experimenting with these formulae long in advance.

Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes by Harold McGee
McGee is a food scientist and a columnist for the New York Times and author of the best general food science book ever, On Food And Cooking. This book is a (mostly successful) attempt to cover this academic subject in user-friendly fashion. McGee has a great ability to boil down a complex idea to very few words and bring clarity to the subject. The book is designed so readers can just dive in anywhere, so he often repeats things, almost word for word, from chapter to chapter. Lots of great tips.

Sausage Making

Author: Ryan Farr
Publsiher: Chronicle Books
Total Pages: 224
Release: 2014-05-13
ISBN 10: 1452101795
ISBN 13: 9781452101798
Language: EN, FR, DE, ES & NL

With the rise of the handcrafted food movement, food lovers are going crazy for the all-natural, uniquely flavored, handmade sausages they're finding in butcher cases everywhere. At San Francisco's 4505 Meats, butcher Ryan Farr takes the craft of sausage making to a whole new level with his fiery chorizo, maple-bacon breakfast links, smoky bratwurst, creamy boudin blanc, and best-ever all-natural hot dogs. Sausage Making is Farr's master course for all skill levels, featuring an overview of tools and ingredients, step-by-step sausage-making instructions, more than 175 full-color technique photos, and 50 recipes for his favorite classic and contemporary links. This comprehensive, all-in-one manual welcomes a new generation of meat lovers and DIY enthusiasts to one of the most satisfying and tasty culinary crafts.

Fresh Approach Cooking

Here is a (pretty much) comprehensive list! And the ones listed in RED, are my favorites.

50 Chowders - Jasper White
All Around the World Cookbook - Sheila Lukins
Alinea - Grant Achatz
An American Place - Larry Forgione
Appetizers - Shane Osborn
Aquavit - Marcus Samuelsson
Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cooking, The - Max Jacobson
Art of Persian Cooking, The - Forough Hekmet
Asian Noodles - Nina Simmonds
At Home in Provence - Patricia Wells
Baking Bread at Home - Tom Jaine
Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades - Steven Raichlen
Basic Ingredients: The Tomato Cookbook
Basic Ingredients: The Mushroom Cookbook
Beard on Bread - James Beard
Best of Craig Claiborne, The - Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey
Best of Martha Stewart - M. Stewart
Bouchon - Thomas Keller
Boulevard: The Cookbook – Nancy Oakes, Pamela Mazzola, Lisa Weiss
Boy Gets Grill - Bobby Flay
Breads from the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
Brilliant Bean, The - Sally and Martin Stone
British Grub - Bryan Murphy
Cafe Beaujolais - Margaret S. Fox and John Bear
Cafe Vietnam - Annabelle Jackson
Cajun Cuisine – W. Thomas Angers
Cake Bible, The - Ruth Levy Beranbaum
Cakes - Maida Heatter
California Home Cooking - Michele Ann Jordan
Candymaking - Ruth A. Kendrick
Canyon Ranch Cookbook - Jeanne Jones
Casual Occasions Cookbook - Chuck Williams and Joyce Goldstein
Cat Cora's Kitchen - Cat Cora
Catch of the Day - Carol Cutter
Celebrating Italy - Carol Field
Charcuterie - Michael Rhulman
Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home - Charlie Trotter
Charlie Trotter's Meat and Game - Charlie Trotter
Charlie Trotter's Seafood - Charlie Trotter
Chasen's, Where Hollywood Dined: Recipes and Memories – Betty Goodwin
Cheesemaking Made Easy – Carroll
Chef for All Seasons - Gordon Ramsay
Chef Harry and Friends - Harry Schwartz
Chez Nous - Lydie Marshall
Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts - Alice Medrich
Chocolate and Vanilla - Sharon Tyler Herbst
Chocolate Bar – Lewis/Nelson
Cider: Making, Using and Enjoying - Proulex and Nichols
Classic Home Desserts - Richard Sax
Classic Indian - Rafi Fernandez
Cocktail Food - Barber, Whitford, Narlock
Cold Soups - Linda Ziedrich
Complete Book of Pork - Bruce Aidells
Cook's Book of Mushrooms, A - Jack Czarnecki
Cooking at the Academy - California Culinary Academy
Cooking in America - Pierre Franey
Cooking with Curtis - Curtis Stone
Cooking with The Dead, Recipes and Stories from Fans on the Road - Elizabeth Ziphern
Cookwise - Shirley O. Corriher
Couscous - Paula Wolfert
Craft of Cooking - Tom Colicchio
Crazy Water Pickled Lemons - Diana Henry
Cucina Ebraica - Joyce Goldstein
Cuisine of Mexico - Diana Kennedy
Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook - Ruth Berolzheimer
Daily Soup Cookbook, The - Leslie Kaule
Dessert Bible, The - Christopher Kimball
Desserts by the Yard - Sherry Yard and Suzanne Griswold
Dessert Circus at Home - Jaques Torres
Down To Earth, Great Recipes for Root Vegetables - Georgeanne Brennan
Easy Cuisine 3 & 4 - Editor, Jennie Chapman Linthorst
El Farol, Tapas and Spanish Cuisine - James Caruso
Enduring Harvests - E. Barrie Kavasch
Entertaining with a Japanese Flavor - Kiyoko Konishi
Entertaining with Madhur Jaffrey – M. Jaffrey
Everybody Eats Well in Belgium - Ruth Van Waerebeek
Fannie Farmer Cookbook - Marion Cunningham (13th edition)
Far East Cafe - Joyce Jue
Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, The New – Hagler
Favorite Restaurant Recipes - Bon Appetit
Fields of Greens - Annie Somerville
Fiesta Latina - Rafael Palomino
Finnish Cookbook - Ojakkannas
Fish and Shellfish - James Peterson
Fish Cookbook - James McNair
Flatbreads and Flavors - Jeffory Alford and Naomi Duguid
Flavor of Andalusia - Pepita Aris
Flavor of the South, The - Jeanne A. Voltz
Flying Sausages - Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
Food Network Favorites - Editors Meridith Press
Food of Southern Italy - Carlo Middione
Food to Die For - Patricia Cornwell
Foods of Japan, The – Editors
Foods of Vietnam - Nicole Routhier
French Chef Cookbook - Julia Child
French Laundry Cookbook - Thomas Keller
Fresh From the Farmers Market - Janet Fletcher
From My Mexican Kitchen - Diana Kennedy
Frozen Drinks - Bruce Weinstein
Fruits of the Sea - Rick Stein
Garde Manger - The Culinary Institute of America
Get Saucy - Grace Parisi
Great American Seafood Cookbook - Susan Loomis
Great California Cookbook - Kathleen DeVanna Fish
Great Recipes of Great Cooks - Editors of De Gustibus
Greens Cookbook - Deborah Madison
Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas - Craig Priebe and Dianne Jacob
Happy Cooking - Jacques Pepin
Happy in the Kitchen - Michel Richard
Healthy Kitchen, The - Rosie Daley
Heartland Food Society Cookbook - Barbara Grunes
Heirloom Vegetables - Sue Stickland
Herring - Leif Mannerström
Hollywood Du Jour: Lost Recipes of Legendary Hollywood Haunts - Betty Goodwin
Home Made in the Kitchen - Barry Bluestein
How To Cook Everything - Mark Bittman
Hungarian Cooking - Susan Dereskey
In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs - Julia Child
Indonesian Cookery - David Scott
International Deli Cookbook - Judy Zeidler
Irish Traditional Cooking – Darina Allen
Island Cooking, Recipes from the Caribbean - Dunstan A. Harris
Italian Cooking - Robin Howe
Italy, The Vegetarian Table - Della Croce
Jacques Pepin's Kitchen, Cooking with Claudine - Jacques and Claudine Pepin
Japan, The Vegetarian Table - Victoria Wise
Jewish Cooking in America - Joan Nathan
Joy of Cooking - Rombauer and Becker (1975 edition)
Joy of Pickling - Linda Zedrich
Judith Olney's Entertainments - Judith Olney
Key to Chinese Cooking, The - Irene Kuo
Kitchen of Light - Andreas Viestad
Ladle, Leaf and Loaf - Lisa Cowden
Latin American Vegetarian Cooking - David Scott
Latin Flavors on the Grill - Douglas Rodriguez
Laurel's Kitchen - Laurel Robertson
LB Books: Ginger
LB Books: Lemons
LB Books: Olives
Lean, Mean, Fat Reducing Grilling Machine Cookbook - George Foreman
Livebait Cookbook - Charlie Campion
Lord Krishna's Cuisine, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking - Yamuna Devi
Lost Arts - Lynn Alley
Low Carb Meals in Minutes - Linda Gassenheimer
Lucious Lemon Desserts - Lori Longbothom
Magnolia Bakery Cookbook – Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey
Making of a Cook, The New - Madeleine Kamman
Mastering the Art of French Cooking - Child, Beck, Bertholle
Memories of a Cuban Kitchen - Mary Randelman and Joan Schwartz
Mexican Kitchen - Rick Bayless
Mexico, The Vegetarian Table - Victoria Wise
Meze, Small Bites, Big Flavors from the Greek Table - Rosemary Barron
Millennium Cookbook, The. Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine - Eric Tucker
Moosewood Cookbook, The New - Molly Katzen
Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home - The Moosewood Collective
More Japanese Garnishes - Yukiko Haydock
Morimoto - Masaharu Morimoto
Naked Chef, The - Jamie Oliver
New Fish Cookery - James Beard
New Scottish Cookery - Nick Nairn
New York Cookbook - Molly O'Neill
New York Times Cookbook, The - Craig Claiborne (1961 edition)
Night Before Cookbook - Paul and Leslie Rubinstein
North Africa, The Vegetarian Table - Jen Morse
Olives Table - Todd English and Sally Simpson
Onions, a Country Garden Cookbook - Jesse Ziff Cool
Pacific Fresh - Maryana Vollstedt
Pacific Palate, Cuisines of the Sun - Alaina de Havilland
Pasta Made Easy - Michele Scicolone
Pasta Soups and Salads - Joanne Weir
Pastries From the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
Patio Daddy-O - Bosker, Brooks, Payton & Payton
Paul Bocuse in Your Kitchen - Paul Bocuse
Peace, Love and Barbecue - Mike Mills, Amy Mills Tunnicliffe
Pears - Linda West Eckhardt
Perfect Recipe, The - Pam Anderson
Pintxos - Gerald Hirigoyen
Pleasures of Slow Food, The - Corby Kummer
Polenta - Brigit Binns
Potato Experience, The - Lisa Tanner
Prime Time Emeril - E. Lagasse
Professional Baking - Wayne Gisslen
Professional Cooking - Wayne Gisslen
Pumpkin Cookbook, The - Nicola Hill, Editor
Red Hot and Green, 50 Spicy Vegetarian Recipes - Janet Hazen
Rice, From Risotto to Sushi - Claire Ferguson
River Cottage Meat Book – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Rolled, Wrapped and Stuffed - Janet Hazen
Roy's Feasts from Hawaii - Roy Yamaguchi
San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook, The - Editors Michael Bauer and Fran Irwin
Sauces - James Peterson
Savannah Seasons - Elizabeth Terry and Alexis Terry
Silver Palate Cookbook, The - Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (4th edition, 1982)
Silver Spoon, The - Editoriale Domus
Simple and Healthy Cooking - Jacques Pepin
Simple Art of Perfect Baking - Flo Braker
Simple French Food - Richard Olney
Simply Heavenly, The Monestery Vegetarian Cookbook - Abbot George Burke
Smoke Seafood, Florida Cracker Style! - Ted Dahlem
Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread & Scuppernog Wine – Dabney
Splendid Table - Lynne Kasper
Spreads, Toppers and Dips - Diane Rozas
Steak Lovers Cookbook - William Rice
Steaks, Chops, Roasts and Ribs – Editors
Street Food - Tom Kime
Sultans Kitchen, A Turkish Cookbook – Ozcan Ozan and Carl Tremblay
Sunday Suppers at Lucques - Suzanne Goin
Sunset Magazine Books: Breads
Sunset Magazine Books: Fish & Shellfish
Sunset Magazine Books: Hors D'Oeuvres
Sunset Magazine Books: Light Cooking
Sunset Magazine Books: Mexican
Sunset Magazine Books: Oriental
Sushi - Mia Derrick
Swedish Cakes and Desserts - ICA Test Kitchens
Sweet Melissa Baking Book - Melissa Murphy
Tante Marie's Cooking School Cookbook – Mary Risley
Tassajara Bread Book - Edward Espe Brown
Taste of Birmingham, II – Editors
Taste of Heaven and Earth, A - Bettina Vitell
Taste of Thailand - David Scott
Terrific Pacific - Anya Von Bremzen
Thailand, The Vegetarian Table - Jacqui Passmore
Top Chef - Chronicle Books
Turn it Up! 50 Fiery Recipes - Janet Hazen
Ultimate Chocolate Cake Cookbook - Pamela Asquith
Ultimate Mushroom Cookbook - Peter Jordan and Steven Wheeler
Vegan Cooking - Eva Batts
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World – Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
Vegan Delights - Jeanne Martin
Vegetables - James Peterson
Vegetables - Time Life Books
Vegetarian Bistro, The - Marlena Spieler
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone – Deborah Madison
Village Baker, The - Joe Ortiz
Vintners Table, The - Mary Evely
Way I Cook, The - Lee Bailey
Weekend Chef, The - Barbara Witt
Well-Seasoned Appetite, A - Molly O'Neill
Williams-Sonoma: Cakes, Cupcakes and Cheesecakes
Williams-Sonoma: Fish
Williams-Sonoma: Healthy Cooking
Williams-Sonoma: Ice Creams and Sorbets
Williams-Sonoma: Muffins and Quickbreads
Williams-Sonoma: Salads
Williams-Sonoma: Shellfish
Williams-Sonoma: Stews
Williams-Sonoma: Vegetables
World of Food - Paula Wolfert
Yan Can Cook Book, The - Martin Yan
Zuni Cafe Cookbook - Judy Rodgers

Watch the video: Geoffrey Zakarian Joins The Table (October 2021).