Friday, December 17, 2010

Kwanzaa Fake

While admitting that I haven't seen the Chanaukah cake debacle that Food Network's host Sandra Lee got herself into, I will say that from the onset of the clip below, Lee hasn't got the foggiest clue for what she's doing in her infamous Kwanzaa Cake episode. The poor cake in the clip (not the one shown above, which is actually what the cake should look like) is truly a helpless pile of ridiculousness, slathered together in despair, then cluelessly showered with a downpour of nonsense nuggets.... Period.
However, Denise Vivaldo, who created the infamous Kwanzaa Cake recipe for Sandra Lee, confesses her sins in the Huffington Post, just before whisking herself out of the country on a trip to Thailand (and out of the range of mobs of angry black people carrying pitchforks, no doubt): "I can honestly say Ms. Lee had nothing against African Americans or Jews. She just has incredibly bad food taste." (Hmmm...I hear you, Denise.)
Anyhow, in the inimitable words of my favorite bad boy chef and curmudgeon, Anthony Bourdain: "The most terrifying thing I've seen is Sandra Lee making a Kwanzaa cake. Watch that clip and tell me your eyeballs don't burst into flames. It's a war crime on television. You'll scream. " (The bad boy nails it, once again.)

Okay, enough said. Watch the clip. Enjoy. And have a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Affordable Gifts for the Kitchen

Yes, I have no doubt that the $500 home sous-vide machine is going to get a lot of oohs, aahs, and thank yous come Christmas morning. But really, it's certainly true that you don't have to break the bank to surprise the home chef with useful tools, such as one of the mainstays of my own kitchen, the handy-dandy stainless steel mixing bowl (pictured above).

Anyway, read more here, and learn.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Worst Meals Ever

So what truly is the absolute worst meal you've ever had?

Each of these videos below claims to document the "worst meal ever," starting with a monstrous pizza debacle, then going on to a trucker eating instant noodles in his workplace cafeteria, to an awful "creamy cola chicken" dish by You Tube's One Pot Chef (love his videos, hate most of his recipes... what can I say?).

Oh, and just for the record, my worst meal ever would have to be a curried lamb dish gone completely wrong. (And, um, we'll just leave it at that for now.)
Anyway, check these out:


Friday, November 19, 2010

Alton Brown's Deep Fried Turkey

Anyone who reads this blog already knows what a huge fan I am of Food Network's Alton Brown. Without questions, for me he's the absolute "Bill Nye The Science Guy" of foodie facts. (Okay, I agree, you had to at least have been born between the late '80s and very early '90s to even know who that is.) I also can't imagine any food lover not becoming a lover of molecules, neutrons, electrons, you-name-it, after listening to just one of Alton's thorough explanations of how things cook -- and why things basically are the way they are.

But in the 3 video clips below, for me Alton also gives you the most sensible and helpful pointers I've heard to date, on "deep frying" your Thanksgiving bird. (Totally minus the 4-alarm blazes, calls to 911, and screaming sirens from your local fire engine company, of course!)

Anyway, watch these clips...and have a SAFE and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Video On Toast, Anyone?


Okay, remember that awesome music video a few years back with these guys on treadmills? Anyway, I find this new music video concept of theirs even more totally cool and innovative, given the sheer amount of time and effort alone that probably went into it.

Using a laser cutter and thousands of slices of toast, OK Go created a music video animated entirely from images of toast for their latest single, Last Leaf. In a word... Toasty! (Love those guitar images.)

Check it out in this clip:

Last Leaf

OK Go | Myspace Music Videos

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bill Clinton... Ate Here

Taking its place amongst numerous industries struggling to stay afloat, it's no secret that the restaurant industry is finding it just as tough to keep rear ends in seats these days.

But with dining out at an all time low, the New York Times reports on the marketing mojo made available to restaurants, simply by being paid by a visit from former president Bill Clinton. The current buzz is, "He is doing for restaurants around the world -- what George Washington once did in America for places to sleep."


Some restaurant owners (and their customers) are even calling it: The Clinton Bump.

Read more about it here

Friday, October 22, 2010

School Lunch Line: Redesigned

There's a plan in the works toward rethinking the design of the school cafeteria, guiding students toward making better choices simply by changing the way their options are presented.
For example, increase the healthier choice of having a salad by moving the salad bar right in front of the cash registers? Sort of the "reverse logic" of putting the candy bars at the supermarket checkout lines, so parents and kids can wolf them down while thumbing through the National Enquirer and Us Magazines they have no intention of buying, or....
Anyway, replacing the traditional lime Jell-O, mystery meat, and greasy curly cheese fries aside -- I'm just dying to see the plans for a makeover of the quintessential "lunch lady." Botox? Trendy baseball cap instead of a hair net? Contact lenses? Lunch lady uniforms courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana? Hmmm....
In any event, read more about it here

Friday, October 15, 2010

Anthony Bourdain's Extreme Cuisine Novel: Get Jiro

The popularity of extreme cuisine aside, with more and more authors having success at publication through penning graphic novels, this particular writing genre is also becoming really popular with readers (and publishing houses too) lately.

And the latest buzz is that my all-time favorite bad boy chef, author, and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain is working on a graphic novel about food. The Eater notes that Vertigo, the publisher of the upcoming book, has just publicly confirmed that a book is in the works.
Bourdain will be writing in collaboration with novelist Joel Rose, along with illustrations by artist Langdon Foss. Here are some of the details:

GET JIRO! is a futuristic action thriller that takes America’s newfound obsession with exotic cuisine to a manic, violent extreme. It takes place in a world where food and the secrets of how to prepare it are the source of all power leading master chefs to fight over Jiro, a mysterious top-notch sushi chef with ideas of his own.

And just as a reminder folks, the title is Get Jiro...not Get Gyro. So if you were expecting sliced lamb, a creamy Greek tzatziki sauce, and pita pocket bread to show up somewhere in the storyline, you just might be a little disappointed.

Kudos, Chef Bourdain. Can't wait to dig into this one, and see how Jiro (and your other extreme cuisine characters)...mix it up.

Friday, October 08, 2010

For The Food History Buff In All Of Us

Mooley, the Taft White House Cow(or is it Pauline, the replacement cow? Mooley died in 1910)

Historical food facts are a beautiful thing. Take for instance, President William Howard Taft, and the cow(s) he was said to have owned, and actually let graze on the White House lawn. (What a fun time tour guides must have had back then -- warning tourists to watch out for the "cow pies.")

And yes, I really have often wondered about certain presidential food facts, such as the Baby Ruth candy bar and its alleged connection to Grover Cleveland's infant daughter, Ruth, and what some of out nation's presidents may or may not have like to see on their breakfast plates.

And what about President James Madison's wife, Dolly, and her apparent "discovery" of America's favorite junk food, ice cream? Did you know:

Legend has it that in the nineteenth century, a freed slave named Sallie Shadd went into her family’s catering business in Wilmington, Delaware. Sallie achieved fame among the free black population for a new dessert sensation she created with frozen cream, sugar, and fruit. When Dolly Madison heard about this new dessert, she supposedly travelled to Wilmington to try it. Mrs. Madison must have loved it because a “magnificent pink dome of ice cream” was served at President Madison’s second Inaugural Ball in 1813, and ice cream often appeared as the official dessert on the White House menu.


So if you're both a historical buff as well as a consummate foodie (like me), please take a look at this wonderful blog by Suzy Evans, Ph. D. called, The History Chef.

Amazing stuff. Kudos, Suzy!

Friday, October 01, 2010

25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

Most chefs I've met have been very vocal, especially when it comes to the topic of food.

But having said that, what about some of those pesky questions we've always had on our minds as restaurant patrons -- but never dared to ask? For example: Do restaurants recycle the bread basket? Are most of us bad tippers? Food Network Magazine surveyed chefs across the country — anonymously — to find out everything we’ve always wanted to know.

Chefs are pickier than you think.
Liver, sea urchin, tofu, eggplant, and oysters, of all things, topped the list of foods chefs hate most. Only 15% of chefs surveyed said they’d eat absolutely anything.

Still, chefs hate picky eaters.
More than 60% said requests for substitutions are annoying. Some of their biggest pet peeves: When customers pretend to be allergic to an ingredient, and when vegetarians make up rules, like "a little chicken stock is OK." (Yeah, right, along with "a little sausage in that Thanksgiving stuffing won't hurt," or make them look like the total bunch of hypocrites they are, or, um... Okay, nevermind.)

Man, better make that chef down.
Also, did you know that most chefs cook when they're sick and injured, and some have reported even missing parts of their fingers? No? Then read more about it here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Healthier Foods For Pudgier Pets

Dog and cat lover that I am, I guess I wasn't surprised to hear that our canine and feline friends are battling the bulge more and more these days, same as we human pet owners have done since time immemorial. And just as human waistlines have ballooned, it seems that so have the physiques of our pets. Some poor dogs have packed on so many pounds they can barely get in and out of the car on family trips. (Jeez…I know that feeling! Er... about the poor dogs, I mean.)

Anyway, a 2009 national survey of veterinarians by the Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity found that 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats were overweight or obese. Those numbers revealed a 2 percent increase in dog weight problems from the year before, and a 5 percent increase for cats.

So this means that those of us who have stumbled upon the website for Nulo can be forgiven for thinking we'd taken a wrong turn into Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem. This particular site, just like all the other popular weight loss sites out there, is brimming with weight-tracking and meal-planning tools, fitness logs and the promise of "tasty, nutritious food" delivered "to your door." The only difference: Nulo is for pets.

Nulo founder and CEO Michael Landa launched the company in August after noticing an uptick in the requests his Los Angeles-based pet-care business was getting for medically qualified staffers.

The reason? Landa's clients' pets were getting fatter, sicker, far more susceptible to diabetes, arthritis – same as their human counterparts.

Interesting stuff. Read more here about the increasing problem of obesity in our furry friends, causing them to ask the very same age-old question: "Hey, do I look fat in this?"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Squeezing Made Easier

I admit that I just flat out adore lemons. From taking the smelliness off your hands after preparing your fish dishes, to kicking them up a notch after you've cooked them and put them on a plate, you have to agree, that if nothing else, these yellow and green (lime) little beauties are versatile.

So imagine how happy I was to stumble across Lékué's Luki Lemon Press, a worthy, and I must say, formidable competitor to the average, everyday Lemon Squeezer. Or, by simply using a little human hand and finger action to get the juices flowing.

PhotobucketBut by inserting a half of a lemon into this neat little gadget, you can squeeze the juice out of a bottom spout -- without seeds.

The design also includes a snap-shut spout for storage of your partially-squeezed lemon in the refrigerator.

$8.95 for a set of two at What a gadget. Love this one!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Burning A Few Cookbooks

In the wake of all the crazy rhetoric and nut ball threats of Holy Quran burning from a cult leader in Florida cloaked as a Christian pastor, the people over at Guardian UK's Word of Mouth blog have been wondering: Have there ever been any foodie tomes that really got your goat? In other words, a few that perhaps you wanted to accidentally drop over a lighted stove top because they were so awful?

Well, first let me say, that as a writer, book burning in any way, shape, or form, is something that to me, should never happen. How someone could take any book and destroy it, good or bad, is well... Look, I say, if it's that bad, then just don't read it. Period. But anyway, having said that, on the heels of its controversial list of the 50 best cookbooks of all time, the Guardian (not me folks, I said: The Guardian) ponders this question, as well as which cookbooks truly deserve to be burned.

And surprisingly, one of my favorite foodie books making it to the Guardian's funeral pyre, was Julie Powell's Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which was the inspiration for the recent movie by the same name, also garnering Meryl Streep an Oscar nomination. Hmmmm…

In any case, read more about some rather famous cookbooks making it to the burn list here

Friday, September 03, 2010

Better To Have Smaller Melons

I've heard this from several different sources recently, so it does seem that these days, a good watermelon also has to ship well, which means a thick rind and a uniform shape. It has to be small enough so people pushing shopping carts or carrying a simple hand basket in big-city supermarkets will buy it. And, it can’t have seeds. (After all, who has time for those in big cities?)

And of course, all of that describes small hybrid triploid melon beauties with names like Precious Petite, Sugar Baby, and Orchid Sweet. Word is, these are very likely the future for many watermelon farmers, even though they appear to be the heartbreakers for a lot of people around southwest Arkansas.
Known for both President Bill Clinton, Governor Mike Huckabee, and the gi-normous melons that are celebrated at its annual Watermelon Festival, this football shaped, seeded variety only grows in a handful of watermelon patches these days. They also seem to be a thing of the past in a modern day world where small is big.
Anyway, when it comes to choosing a melon, smaller…is better. Take a look:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Celebrity Food Endorsements: Pitching a New Low

It's probably true that after you complete a world tour, sell a few million records, or take a few walks on the Red Carpet, the obvious next step would seem to be putting your face on a condiment for burritos, burgers, pancakes, panninis, etc.

That said, here are some of the most: Ridiculous Celebrity Food Endorsements… ever. And I guess once you see products like Hulk Hogan's "Hulkster Cheeseburgers," you really can't think of him -- without picturing a big ol' frozen meat patty first. (There's a pun in there somewhere…I just know there is.)

Or perhaps, Danny DeVito (pictured above) hawking Limoncello liqueur, guaranteeing you'll be plastered and bash George W. Bush every time you make an appearance on ABC's The View. (Loved how Joy Behar outed Danny's partying the night before with George Clooney in that episode!)

In any case (and if you're ready) see some of the best of the worst celebrity food pitches here

And in case you never saw that episode of a slightly "impaired" Danny DeVito on The View, here it is (he even briefly mentions his Limoncello pitch product here):

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hate To Cook's Golden Anniversary

Fifty years after the original publication of The I Hate to Cook Book, it's been updated, revised, and re-released this summer (pictured here), with its publisher hoping to find a new generation of homemakers who appreciate the Kraft cheese, Campbell soup and "alcohol included" recipes that made it beloved among millions of rebellious housewives in the 1960s and 1970s.

It's also interesting to note that the original 184-recipe book, by Peg Bracken, was way ahead of its time, even though it was written with a premise that was then considered downright sacrilege. Bracken simply contended that cooking is not as joyful as the women in TV commercials standing in front of a hot stove in high heels and pearls made it look, and that it should be done as quickly as possible, preferably with ingredients that were already in the cupboard.

This also made the original book itself somewhat revolutionary in its time, ranking way up there with other 1960s "rebelliousness" like birth control pills and public bra burning. Oh, we women were mischievous "scamps" back in those days, weren't we?
Peg Bracken, Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinem, et al...we salute you.

Meanwhile, go on out and grab a copy of this re-release. It's definitely a classic bookshelf keeper.

Read more here

Friday, August 13, 2010

Big Mac, With A Side Order Of Zocor

A new UK study (although probably one of dumbest ones I've heard to date) would like to offer you a pill, with your next McDonalds' order. It calls for fast food joints to distribute (for free) the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, taken by 24 million Americans to prevent heart disease and strokes, to offset the effects of a fatty meal. In other words: Want a little Lipitor to go with that shake?

The researchers, at Imperial College London, concluded that the cardiovascular toll of a daily meal consisting of a Quarter Pounder with cheese and a small milkshake would be neutralized by a statin pill served as a side order. The findings of the clinical trial, which involved 43,000 participants, will be published Sunday in the American Journal of Cardiology. "In terms of your likelihood of having a heart attack, taking a statin can reduce your risk to more or less the same degree as a fast-food meal increases it," a lead researcher told reporters. And providing the pills would cost less than 7 cents per customer, about the same as a packet of ketchup.

But then again, for me, the question would be this: Can they really dispense a drug like this in a fast food joint -- without a doctor's prescription? Because if they can, sounds like very soon British pharmacists will be posting signs in their windows pointing their patrons -- to the nearest Micky D's.

But the seemingly more sensible British Heart Foundation, stresses that the drugs are not a "magic bullet," and recommends exercise and a healthy diet as the best bet for staving off heart problems, in these Reuters reports:

2 Ways to Lower Your Child's Cholesterol Without Statins
How to Know if Your Child Needs a Statin

(And no doubt, the shortest answer would be, don't serve your kids these fast food meals at all, opting for some healthier carrots and greens, replacing that shake with fruit or yogurt, or...)

Anyway, read more here about fast food joints dispensing drugs in order to make that Big Mac you just wolfed down more healthful here

Friday, August 06, 2010

Jeremy Irons: Mad As Hell

To promote its new campaign addressing world hunger,, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Administration has chosen actor Jeremy Irons to appear in a video evoking a raging take off on newsman Howard Beale (played by the late Peter Finch pictured above) in the classic 1976 film Network.

The UN campaign is an online petition for governments to address the problem of world hunger. Signatories can track their impact as friends sign up via Facebook and Twitter. And in the promotional video for the petition, Irons urges us in the Network tradition to go to our windows and scream "I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not going to allow 1 billion people to go hungry."

Interesting stuff, as well as nostaligic for many of us.

Check out the video clip here and let your own voice be heard:

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Bar's Open


Well, sort of…but not quite.

Sorry, folks, but I just HAD to share this one, while also filing it under my "mucho cojones grandes" file.... For real.

It seems a homeless man allegedly broke into a California bar and served drinks to unsuspecting patrons all weekend long -- before the police came calling.

The bar, called the Valencia Club, had gone out of business for some time and its liquor license had expired, police said this week.

But the suspect, somehow got into the California establishment in the Penryn area of Sacramento Valley last week. He reopened the bar using beer he bought from a nearby store.
The man allegedly started with a six-pack of beer and used money he received to buy more alcohol.

He kept the bar open for 4 days (yes, you heard me…4 days) serving about 30 customers a day, authorities said.
He was so successful that a local newspaper did a story about the bar reopening.

Unfortunately though, (for him, anyway) he was finally busted when a detective went to the bar to determine if the man had obtained a liquor license. When he couldn't provide one, he was arrested and charged with burglary and selling liquor without a license.

A large amount of alcohol and cash was also confiscated from the bar. Talk about "enterprising." Sort of makes you wonder how a smart guy like this – could ever be down on his luck or homeless in the first place.

In any case, catch more of the story in this clip:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Webcams: Eyes On Gulf Coast Seafood

Needless to say, the recent oil spill in the Gulf has had us all wondering: Is the seafood we’re seeing (and buying) at our local fish markets safe?

Well, the state of Florida seems to have put forth an effort to do something to help promote public awareness about the availability of seafood from its own waters. Webcams have been placed at several seafood harvesting, processing and retail sales locations around the state to show that "Florida is in business." The seafood establishments being featured are located in the Panhandle Gulf Coast region: Pensacola, Santa Rosa Beach, Tallahassee, Destin and St. George Island. The webcams are operational only during normal business hours for each establishment. Some cameras might be turned off at the time you are viewing. If so, you can visit again during the establishment's business hours, to view the webcam activity.

Webcams. Yes, that’s right. So now if you're curious about what local seafood is being caught and sold, now you can take a glimpse before you head to the sandy beaches of the Florida Gulf coast. You can survey selection and price. And yes, you too, can be a real seafood counter "insider."

Read more here:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cocktails That Pack A Punch, As Well As The Pounds

Just as many of us cocktail lovers might have already guessed, not all poolside drinks are created equal. From margaritas to pina coladas to screwdrivers, to Long Island Iced Teas, The Daily Beast ranks 21 drinks based on which fit a summer diet—and which stretch our ample backsides a swimsuit.

Summertime tends to produce a spike in drinking—poolside cocktails, backyard barbeques, after-work mixers. And while food tends to make us more calorie conscious, meaning, that you don't need a nutritionist to tell you that you'll most likely be wearing that hot fudge sundae you just scarfed down across your hips and thighs tomorrow—drinks still remain a rather menacing puzzle. After all, it's only a drink, right? Liquid, not solid. Therefore, how many calories could there really a glass.

Well, to see which cocktails are truly low-cal, and which pack on the pounds, check it all out here:

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Answer's On The Apron

These days who needs iPad apps for cooking guides, when all you have to do... is slip on an apron?

SUCK UK has the non-digital solution: Apron Cooking Guides. These are printed aprons with handy cooking reference such as cooking times, roasting times, numeric conversions, freezing instructions, defrosting times, and a cooking glossary. And in a word (well, okay, two) they're not only clever, but amazing. (Yes, I've already ordered one, got it, love it.)

And to really make it user friendly, the information is printed upside down so that it can be viewed right side up by pulling up the bottom of the apron.

By the way, lots of other cool gadgets at this site, so rest assured, browsing through it when you have a chance…won't suck. (Hey, gotta love that "Throw and Grow" flower grenade thingy on the main page.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Perfect Firestarter

I've seen many a backyard barbeque argument start over it, and have even seen a few backyard "male bonding" sessions totally disband over it.

So this Fourth of July weekend, I've decided to let Elizabeth Karmel, author of Taming the Flame and creator of website (don't you just love it!), demonstrate the *right* way to light a charcoal grill with firestarters and briquettes.

Happy 4th and happy grilling!

Friday, June 18, 2010

South African Wines and the World Cup

Soccer fever is also running high in South Africa's wine country these days. And with it, there's an overall spike in sales, to countries competing in the tournament.
And there is no doubt that South African wines are benefiting from the World Cup.

In previous decades, South Africa's isolation during the apartheid years held back both innovation and international expansion in the wine industry, but since the dawn of democracy the country's wines have become far more palatable and are increasing in popularity around the globe.

South African winemakers now say that they can compete with the rest of the world but at home, the situation has been more complex.

Catch a peek at the subject of South African wine right now in this video clip:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Jacques Pépin, Columbia Commencement Day 2010

Recently here in New York, the late, great Julia Child's former partner, Chef Jacques Pépin stepped onto the podium at Columbia University, and graced it with his usual wisdom and style during their graduation ceremony.

Now standing in front of a captive audience with Ernest Hemingway looks (as well as a certain "bearded" elegance), Pépin shared his wealth of experience and passion as he told of his coming to America from France in the late 1950s. And of course, he spoke warmly of his time as a student at this very same prestigious university.
Pépin is a Columbia University General Studies graduate, who then went on to receive a Masters in French Literature from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. And, this is the first time he has ever given a commencement/graduation address.
Well done, Jacques. C'est magnifique! And super congratulations to the Class of 2010.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Terra Brockman: Live

Well, almost. From her own blog, Terra gives us her report of all the dish, glitz, and glamor of the 2010 James Beard Awards.
PhotobucketAnd word has it, that her book, The Seasons on Henry's Farm will be receiving some rave review in this weekend's New York Times Book Review. Stay tuned.


Friday, May 28, 2010

All About the Concept

Before I sign off completely (with visiting relatives) to enjoy this Memorial Day holiday weekend, I'd just like to share some of the truly awesome imagery of photographer Fulvio Bonavia's masterful book A Matter Of Taste, conceptualizing both food, and believe it or not, fashion accessories.

(Suddenly, that berry yogurt pie I planned for today's outdoor dessert is sweetly calling.)

Happy outdoor grilling, and have a terrfic weekend!

And please... let us never forget the brave men and women of our armed forces, who continue to serve our country each and every day with their own lives.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Small Portions

Taking the term "lean" cuisine to a whole new level, French artist Stephanie Kilgast creates miniature food models scaled down to 1/12th of their original size. From a tiny continental breakfast with a pair of croissants you could fit on a thumbnail (pictured above) to a Lilliputian-sized fish platter, her creations are nothing short -- of amazing.

See a slideshow with more bite-sized images. (Jeez, who knew that a full English breakfast could actually fit in the palm of you hand??)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fried Chicken: The Pioneer Woman vs. Thomas Keller

Considering that there are still some people left who wouldn't shy away from the dreaded F word when it comes to preparing chicken, keep in mind that there's a decision to make: Just how much trouble would you want really to go through in order to do it?

There are populist cookbooks that promise basic recipes for basic people. These take shortcuts and try to speed the process. Meanwhile, lots of fancy, big-name chefs write folksy cookbooks for the little guy, too. But it's a very specific sort of little guy they have in mind—the kind willing to toil for days on end just to get food on the table. Which brings us to the ultimate fried chicken "throw down."

Throwing down the gauntlet (or should I say greasy oven mitt) and representing the populists with a shaker of Lawry's seasoned salt, is Ree Drummond, the Oklahoma ranch wife best known for her chatty, open-hearted blog, the Pioneer Woman, in which she documents her daily life frosting cinnamon rolls and herding cattle. Published last fall, Drummond's best-selling book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks offers recipes for easy, family-style comfort food, like pot pie and cobbler.

In the other corner, with his fleur de sel and palette knife, hovers Thomas Keller, the perfectionist founder of hallowed Napa Valley restaurants, including the French Laundry. Keller's best-selling book, Ad Hoc at Home promises recipes for "doable" family-style comfort food, like pot pie and cobbler.

Read more here and see how it all plays out.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Book Sales: Gaffes, Black Pepper, and the Daily Grind


In these tough economic times in the publishing world, I think it's heartening to know that "gaffes" can still sell books. And, the more provocative and controversial the gaffe – the better the chance that books will literally fly off the shelves.
It seems such is the case that emerged in April in The Pasta Bible, urging readers to add "salt and freshly ground black people" to a recipe. Since then, sales of the Australian cookbook have almost quadrupled.
Last month a reader got in touch with Penguin Australia about the error in the cookbook's recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto, which in substituting "people" for "pepper" forced the publisher to send the 7,000 copies of the book at its warehouse to be destroyed. But far from putting readers off The Pasta Bible, the Bookseller reveals that sales after the mistake was discovered are up 275%.

And with international cries of everything from racism to cannibalism over what I see is nothing more than a costly "error" on a publisher's part, all I can say is: Staying "grounded" in the face of adversity? Priceless.

Read more here

Friday, April 30, 2010

Jamie's Revolution

From kitchen gardens to kids growing their own veggies at school, it's been really interesting (personally speaking) following Jamie Oliver’s healthier eating campaign on ABC’s Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Check out more of what Jaimie is up to in this video clip. World reknown chef, TV personality, and cookbook author, Oliver also once penned a book a few years ago about a simpler way to prepare food called: The Naked Chef. (I guess this is where I'll also add that I've met Jamie in person, and a more charming, knowledgeable, and likeable could not ask to meet.)

Take a look:

Friday, April 23, 2010

How To Cook Everything: Gone Digital

If you're an iPhone and iPod Touch user, you'll be pleased to know that the online food magazine, Culinate has partnered with John Wiley and Sons to bring one of my favorite cookbooks, Mark Bittman’s best-selling, boffo, award-winning, and amazingly useful How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition), into the hand-held digital age, with the How to Cook Everything app.
Actually, it contains all the book’s content — including 2,000 recipes and recipe variations — plus easy-to-use search and shopping-list capabilities that don’t require wi-fi. This app is truly useful anywhere, anytime; online or offline, it’s all there.
And here’s something really nice: apparently they're able to make it available for the introductory price of only $1.99 — less than the cost of your morning latte (or even your morning ride to work on the NYC subway system).
Finally, from what we've been hearing, this only the beginning of a whole string of awesome cookbook titles — old and new — that Culinate hopes to bring to the digital world.
Something else that's nice: they're also asking folks to tell them what you'd like to see make the move to the iPhone or other digital device, helping them to assemble a virtual bookshelf of your favorites.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Food Flags

No, seriously. (And yeah...I'll admit, this one's pretty obvious. Right? Kinda, sorta?)
Anyway, innovative, quirky, and looking like overall tasty fun, Whybin TBWA Australia and The Sydney International Food Festival cooked up a clever way to promote last year’s fest. They used iconic foods from the participating countries to recreate their flags. From the green-white-red of basil-spaghetti-tomatoes to the orange-white-green of tikka masala-rice-saag, the results are both appetizing and a little reminiscent of junior high school geography class.
Which brings us to this challenge: Can you correctly identify 12 of these international culinary flags?
Check them out here

Friday, April 09, 2010

A Sip From The Hip

Laptop in one hand, cellphone in the other? Oh, what to do, what to do now…with that pesky cup of joe??
Well, besides filing this one under my "Have We Really Gone Too Far?" file, this Beltclip cupholder that attaches a drink to your hip might just be the answer to this multi-tasking dilemma.
And on that same note, I also have to say, that while a holster for bottled water (or even beer or soda, for that matter) might make some sense, the idea of carrying a hot latte attached to your hip -- sounds kinda dangerous. In fact, the mere thought of a cup of hot Starbucks slowly oozing down my pant leg, for me, puts this kind of task juggling way up there on my list of things -- NOT TO TRY.
But in any case, if you're still interested, this little new-age gadget is only $4.95 -- and comes in a choice of 11 colors at

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Ultimate Peep Show

Yes, it's that time of year again (hard to believe, since we were just digging out from under 18 inches of snow just a short month ago!). And The Washington Post showcases the best marshmallow Peep dioramas from its annual contest-- including scenes from the movie Up and the children's book, Good Night, Moon.
Take a look, enjoy, and HAPPY EASTER.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fat Man In A White Hat

You'd have to agree that Bill Buford is interesting, in addition to being somewhat of an acquired taste for most people. Clearly, the New Yorker writer and former editor of Granta is said to fashion himself after Clive James, repeating words and phrases in dulcet tones for mesmerizing effects. But with his arms flailing like the blades on a high speed blender, enthusiasm certainly appears to be his intended goal.
So I'm guessing that's why the BBC has dubbed its latest foodie program as a Fat Man in a White Hat, albeit to mixed reviews (some good, others, well…not so good).
Some years ago, Buford started getting really interested in food. Really. So, he took a sabbatical from his day job and wrote a book (in the hallowed tradition of Anthony Bordain and Kitchen Confidential) called Heat about Babbo, an Italian restaurant in New York, where he worked for free in order to learn the ways of its celebrated chef, Mario Batali. He also visited some of the kitchens in Italy where Batali had his most formative experiences.
He then set out for France, the land of "the sauce." Basically, he was on the same experimental mission, only this time with lots more heavy cream and butter.
In any case, there are video clips at the program's official website, but, unfortunately, you can't view them if you are not in the UK. (Gee, thanks.) However, The Independent is slightly more upbeat in its review, but not with a few reservations.
Will talk more about the Fat Man here though, once I can get a glipse at a video clip that all of us Americans can watch.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bordeaux: Wine Tour de France

If you happen to be in or around the New York City area, this very special Bordeaux wine tasting event will be happening at the Le Skyroom at French Institute Alliance Française, 22 East 60th St., Monday, March 29, 2010, 7 – 8:30pm
Price: $115
Tickets By Phone:
Tel: 646 388 6632

Tickets Online:
Bordeaux is among the most famous of French wine regions, with more than 6,000 châteaux. Featuring the ever-popular Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties, Bordeaux wines can also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec depending on each appellation d'origine contrôlée (terrior) and château.
Michael Madrigale, Chef Sommelier of Bar Boulud, will be on hand, presenting some of the most well-known Bordeaux appellations and offering his views on the classic refinement and the "Bordeaux" art of blending grape varieties. The wine will be provided by Clarendelle, from Château Haut-Brion.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Salty Dilemma

Question: Would you go out to eat at a restaurant where the use of salt has been completely banned? And we're not just talking on your table -- but by the chefs in the kitchen as well?

Well, if NY State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has his way, the only salt added to your meal will come from the chef's salty tears.

The Brooklyn Democrat has introduced a bill that would ban the use of salt in New York restaurants - and violators would be smacked with a $1,000 fine for every salty dish. (Okay, first the recently proposed tax on sodas with sugar in them, and now this. Um…can you say, just another way of the state sticking its gnarly little finger into the public's pockets? )

"No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food," the new bill reads. Hmmmm…

Anyway, and just in time in my opinion, some of Manhattan's top cooks have already started to blast the idea, saying the legislation lacks a certain hint of something.

"New York City is considered the restaurant capital of the world. If they banned salt, nobody would come here anymore," said Tom Colicchio, star of Top Chef and owner of Craft. "Anybody who wants to taste food with no salt, go to a hospital and taste that," he said.

Couldn't agree more, Chef Colicchio. Being health-conscious is indeed a conscious decision that patrons should decide -- for themselves. Thank you.

Read more here

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Real Julia Child

As many of you already know (lest I repeat it again) she was my muse -- and my goddess.

But it seems that just before this year's Oscar winners are announced on Sunday night, when hopefully Meryl Streep will walk away with the gold statuette for her portrayal of a bubbly, French spewing, and most-times effervescent Julia Child in Julie and Julia , many people now ask: Who was the real Julia?

Well, one person who certainly knows, is New York Times reporter, Joyce Purnick, who interviewed Julia Child during the meat boycott here in the U.S. back in 1973. And as Purnick reports in a recent Los Angeles Times article, interviewing the real Julia in her prime showed a side of her that the moviegoing public would barely recognize. The Julia she saw back then was a dour, straight-talking (in English), prickly, and generally impatient woman who Purnick admits she waylaid on the set at PBS Channel 13 here in New York, just after watching Julia teach America how to prepare a killer zucchini omelet.

But what happens after that presents quite a different perspective of this culinary icon, and, for the most part, in sharp contrast to the perky and effusive cries of "Merci!" and "Bon Apetit!" that we see in the recent Meryl Streep version.

Read more here

Friday, February 26, 2010

Nigella...In Wonderland

Nigella Lawson

In the latest film version of Alice in Wonderland, actress Anne Hathaway glides across the screen as the White Queen with a pearly grin that becomes a bit unsettling -- because it really appears to be somewhere between Glinda the Good Witch and The Stepford Wives, and according some folks...well-known British culinary queen, Nigella Lawson (pictured above).

At one point Alice's White Queen cheerily cooks up a magic potion that includes plenty of nasty ingredients (including some putrid-looking amputated fingers), and it turns out that was a hint to the real-life inspiration for the character, according to director Tim Burton. "There's this very beautiful cooking show host in England named Nigella Lawson and I quietly had her as my image for this character," Burton said, referring to the famous cookbook author and television personality sometimes referred to as the "queen of food porn." (, okay, Tim.)

In any case, Burton, who previously said that the Red Queen has a bit of Leona Helmsley in her, said Lawson's domestic goddess routine has an eerie edge to it at times. "She's really beautiful and she does all this cooking," he goes on, to say "but then there's this glint in her eye and when you see it you go, 'Oh, whoa, she's like really ... nuts.' I mean in a good way. Well, maybe. I don't know."

Anyway, take a look for yourself at the video clip comparison below, and you be the judge.