Tag Archives: recipes

Barbecue, Bar-b-que or BBQ? Finally, a definitive answer.

Capital F for French toast but not for french fries; it’s sloppy Joe but bloody mary; wheat germ—two words; wheatgrass—one. Who decides this stuff?!

I’ll tell you who: the Associated Press. It’s the world’s largest news organization, operating in 121 countries, and what it says goes. If it’s being written for public consumption, the AP Stylebook is the final word in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage. For more than 50 years, it’s told us when numbers should be spelled out (one through nine unless it’s an age or percentage), whether it’s United States or U.S. (abbreviate when it’s an adjective), and that white (lowercase) is preferable to Caucasian (capitalized). And this year, the AP Stylebook features its first-ever Food Guidelines section.

It’s a big deal. Really.
The stylebook is the gold standard for journalistic publication. It means that food writing is recognized, legitimized, and welcomed into the ranks of established AP journalistic specialties like business and sports. It also standardizes and codifies food writing; we are told that equipment and techniques should always precede ingredients in the text of a recipe (in a nonstick pan over medium heat crack 2 eggs…), and now we know when to say the garlic is minced and when we should call it chopped.

If that wasn’t enough of a big deal already, we are also told unequivocally that Parmesan is a style and Parmigiano-Reggiano is a cheese; Crock-Pots (uppercase, hyphenated) are always slow cookers (little s, no hyphen), but slow cookers are not all Crock-Pots; and Broccolini™ is a brand name. And the barbecue entry offers this:  The verb refers to the cooking of foods (usually meat) over flame or hot coals. As a noun, can be both the meat cooked in this manner or the fire pit (grill). Not barbeque or Bar-BQ.
That settles it.

What a boon for foodbloggers (yes, one word) everywhere.

The 2011 Edition of the AP Stylebook is available in book form and as a mobile app.

On June 13 at 2:30 p.m. ET, AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch will host a live chat to solicit feedback and answer questions about the new edition. You can join the chat at twitter.com/APStylebook.


Posted in cyberculture, food knowledge | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Gwyneth versus Martha: Battle of the lifestyle gurus.

Two frosty blond celebrities. Two accomplished, ambitious, multi-tasking moguls.

Martha—the one we hate to love.
We roll our eyes at the laborious detail of her recipes, instructing us to bundle our asparagus with braided strands of chive, and arming us with stencils, X-acto knives, and a carpenter’s level to decorate cookies. We know that our chives, braided or otherwise, will never come from the herb garden  just past the cutting garden but before you get to the apiary.

But this is a woman who paid her dues. She’s the child of working class Polish immigrants who commuted to college from her aunt’s apartment. She’s a self-taught cook who built an empire from a little catering business that she ran out of her basement. She’s had a troubled marriage, a difficult child, and did a stretch in federal prison. We’re intimidated by the manic perfectionism and envious of the lifestyle, but we never begrudge her one smidgen of her success.

Gwyneth—the one we love to hate.
Hollywood dad, movie star mom, a posh and fabulous early life of exclusive schools, A-list family friends (Steven Spielberg is her godfather!), and vacation villas in Spain. She’s blond and willowy with a killer wardrobe, some not-too-shabby romances (Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt) before the rock star husband, and an Academy award while she was still in her 20’s.

And now she’s a food and lifestyle brand.
If you’re not acquainted with Gwyneth’s sideline, to bring you up to date: she dined her way across Spain, star chef (and friend) Mario Batali at her side, for a PBS television series; she started an online lifestyle magazine called GOOP, in which she instructs us to “nourish the inner aspect;” and she just published a cookbook.

The obvious problem is that unlike Martha with her ethnic striving and transparent self-reinvention, Gwyneth is not herself relatable, and she compounds the matter through blinkered entitlement that renders her incapable of relating to us. Her cookbook is packed with examples of her cluelessness, and its high-profile, celebrity-stacked launch and best-seller status set it up as a target for snarky critics who’ve made a sport of locating its most unintentionally funny line (sample: “I first had a version of this at a Japanese monastery during a silent retreat…”).

Her rundown of kitchen essentials includes Global knives (their smallest 3 in. paring knife retails for $60), a Vitamix blender ($400 for the low-end model), and a le Creuset Dutch oven (discounted to about $250 if you don’t care what color). Gwyneth allows that in a pinch you can substitute bacon for duck prosciutto, and brown rice syrup can stand in for agave nectar, but plenty of her ‘essential’ ingredients will have you scouring specialty stores, digging deep in your wallet, and wondering what the hell to do with an opened bottle of $40 ginger liqueur.

Not that Martha has escaped criticism. She’s plenty unapproachable for her steely manner and mania for perfection, and her elaborate, intensely detailed holiday meals with their hollowed-out-gourds as soup bowls and wreaths of 12,000 hand-strung cranberries have always been ripe for parody. She built an empire that is a testament to her ideal, and she’s the obsessive striver who personally sweated every detail.

By contrast, Gwyneth is building a testament to Gwyneth—to her own tastes and sensibilities. To her credit, she has fantastic style. It’s earthy but sophisticated, elegant and playful; but she is no less insufferable for it.

She’s also seen as a carpetbagger who gains entry to rareified lifestyle spheres through birthright and famous friends. It’s doubtful that she’s ever hand-strung even a single cranberry, although she was once given a cooking lesson with Jamie Oliver as a birthday present.

Could Gwyneth ever be the next Martha, or will her achievements forever be seen as celebrity dabbling? Time will tell.
Oh, and I hear that Eva Longoria has a new cookbook….



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With Little Fanfare, Google Rolls Out its Recipe Search Engine.



One out of every 100 Google searches is for a recipe.

Since Google executes about one billion searches each day, that adds up to 10 million recipe queries a day. A day.
Did you think the Google juggernaut would sit back and let specialized searches like Allrecipes and Epicurious chip away at all that traffic? […]

Posted in cook + dine, cyberculture | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mincemeat Pie: Because you can never have enough desserts with meat in them.

image via SomeeCards


Mystery meat… or is it?
Mincemeat leaves us with more questions than answers.

In theory, mincemeat pie’s got a lot going for it: it’s sweet and savory; your entrée and your dessert all rolled into the one dish. It appears at holiday time amid a veritable minefield of culinary missteps— think bone-dry turkey, mini-marshmallow sweet potatoes, and doorstop fruitcake. Still, nothing receives the seasonal snubbing and drubbing of mincemeat pie. […]

Posted in Christmas, dessert, food knowledge | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Geekiest Beer on Earth


Open source beer?

You’re already using open source software.
Maybe you’re running a Linux-based operating system or web browsing with Mozilla Firefox. Wikipedia is your go-to for open source content. This blog runs on the open source WordPress blogging platform. It’s called open source because the source code is right there for anyone to learn from or tinker with, and you don’t have to pay a royalty or fee to the license holder. […]

Posted in beer + wine + spirits, cyberculture | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Talk Turkey to Me


Put down that phone!

The Thanksgiving Talk-Line is so old school.
The real action this Thanksgiving will be on laptops and smart phones. Even the Butterball phone line ladies will be twittering.

Online search volume for cooking tips and recipes starts to build in early November, reaching a fever pitch by the week of Thanksgiving. Last year, in the days leading up to the holiday, 785,000 people searched for turkey recipes on allrecipes.com; by Thanksgiving Day, the site was logging one million page views an hour. The volume is so great that cooking sites build their server capacity around that single day, seldom needing more than 50% during the rest of the year. […]

Posted in food knowledge, holidays | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Ugly, Unloved, Unappreciated

Oh, grow up!
Do you have an allergy? Do you object on political grounds?
No? Then shut up and eat your vegetables!

It’s time to stray outside of your comfort zone of carrots, green beans, zucchini, broccoli, and spinach. You will encounter unfamiliar tastes, odd textures, and the occasional aroma of feet. But there will be no pouting, food phobias, or knee-jerk reactions. These are vegetables for grown-ups, so act your age.



Posted in food knowledge, vegetarian/vegan | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Eating in the Majors: Food and Baseball

Protoast™team toasters image via MLB.com Shop


Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball

 [cultural historian Jacques Barzun] 

Can we make that heart, mind, and stomach?
The ceremonial first pitch, the seventh inning stretch, peanuts, beer and hot dogs—food is right up there with the grandest of baseball’s tradition.

Jacques Barzun’s statement is as apt today as it was a half century ago when he first made it. Baseball continues to resonate deeply within us, striking that mystic chord of memory. It has always encapsulated so much of American life and history, from racism to immigration, urbanization, labor disputes, and substance abuse. Baseball’s issues have always been our issues. And so it is now with food. […]

Posted in diversions, recipes | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Some Very Strange Cookbooks


Two truisms:
There’s no accounting for taste;
Everyone has a cookbook inside of them.

Put them together, and you end up with some very strange cookbooks.

The Narrowly Focused
If it’s marginally edible, no doubt there’s a cookbook singularly devoted to it. And it doesn’t always taste just like chicken.

There’s the Eat-a-bug Cookbook (33 ways to cook grasshoppers, ants, water bugs, spiders, and centipedes) and a mini library of marijuana cookery. There are cookbooks for fans of Twinkies, and the Testicle Cookbook, a new, English language translation of a Serbian best-seller focused on the beloved, local delicacy. Who wants seconds on the testicle goulash?

Even in that crowd, Natural Harvest stands out. The back-of-the-jacket blurb says it best:

Semen is not only nutritious, but it also has a wonderful texture and amazing cooking properties. Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic. Semen is inexpensive to produce and is commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants. Despite all of these positive qualities, semen remains neglected as a food. This book hopes to change that. Once you overcome any initial hesitation, you will be surprised to learn how wonderful semen is in the kitchen. Semen is an exciting ingredient that can give every dish you make an interesting twist. If you are a passionate cook and are not afraid to experiment with new ingredients – you will love this cook book!

Food for Every Mood
Sometimes, the occasion calls for something truly special. Every meal is an event when you cook from the Eating in Bed Cookbook or a volume from the Cooking in the Nude series (although Cooking in the Nude: For Barbecue Buffs seems particularly ill-advised). Looking for less romance and more action? Try the unabashedly pragmatic Cook to Bang. And when the whole affair is best forgotten, maybe that’s the time to whip out a copy of Cooking to Kill: The Poison Cook-book.
Why would anyone want to dance with the stars
When you can cook with them.
Coolio, Regis Philbin, Gwyneth Paltrow, and two of the Real Housewives from the Bravo TV franchise (notably, both have ‘skinny’ in the book title) have cookbooks. Hard rocker/NRA spokesman Ted Nugent penned Kill It and Grill It, and Roger Ebert, unable to eat for four years now (since undergoing surgery for jaw cancer), published a cookbook last month.  Strange bedfellows? Maybe; but policy wonks can choose to Dine Liberally with the Democrats, Eat Like a Republican, or go bipartisan with Politics and Pot Roast.
While most celebrities write cookbooks for the media attention. Dorothea Puente penned hers as a legal defense for her life sentence. Charged with killing nine of her elderly boarding house residents, she claimed that her recipe collection, Cooking With a Serial Killer was proof of her innocence (Why would I spend money fattening them up if I was going to kill them?). Alternatively, you can cook like a savior with perhaps the ultimate celebrity cookbook: What Would Jesus Eat.

WWJT—What Would Julia Think?


Posted in diversions, recipes | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Architecture for the Taste Buds

SpaghettiPipette Rigate

Bow Ties, FarfalleReginette


Pasta is a marvel of geometry and construction.

It’s architecture for the taste buds. Long or short, thick or thin, smooth or ridged; each shape is a unique construction of form and consistency designed to capture and absorb sauce differently. The classic pairings—linguine with clams, spaghetti and meatballs, cavatelli and broccoli—have persisted in the Italian culinary repertoire because of their ideal expressions of taste. It’s what the Chinese call kou gan: the harmonious interplay beyond flavor that we translate as mouth-feel.   […]

Posted in food knowledge, recipes | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Egg Safety: How to Boil an Egg

image courtesy of Bella Irae


Soft-boiled, sunny-side up, over-easy, gently poached.
Uh uh. Not these days. Runny yolks are out. Hard-boiled is the safest way to go.
And you think you know how to boil an egg, but I’m here to tell you that you can do better. […]
Posted in food safety, health + diet | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Edible Stay-cation

image via Betelgeuse


You haven’t booked your Michelin tour yet?

That’s right, Michelin, publisher of the eponymous hotel and restaurant guides, bestower of stars to the crème de la crème of restaurants worldwide, is now booking culinary vacations. The drool-worthy itineraries include cooking classes with renowned chefs, wine tastings in celebrated cellars, and of course plenty of Michelin-starred dining.

Are we forgetting something?

Oh yeah; time and money. But don’t despair. With a little online browsing, you can find recipes and ingredients for any and all of the world’s culinary traditions. […]

Posted in recipes, travel | Tagged , | 6 Comments

8 Great Microwave Tricks


They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but I’d cast my vote for convenience.

When it comes to convenience, it’s tough to top the microwave oven. It is entirely redundant in our kitchens. It does nothing more than duplicate cooking processes that are nearly always better-performed by other appliances, yet 95% of us have one. […]

Posted in appliances + gadgets, cook + dine | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Rumors of their Death have been Greatly Exaggerated

 image courtesy of EAT ME DAILY 

Cookbooks have not just survived the online onslaught, they have thrived.

The recession gave cookbook sales a boost by taking us out of restaurants and putting us back in our home kitchens. We had the manic sales of any title penned by Julie or Julia. And then there were the chart-topping holiday sales of both Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio and Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.

Reading on the internet is a skip through cyberspace. We compose our own narratives as we wend our way through Googled results. Those of us who read traditional cookbooks find it unsatisfying because we know that, like a novel, a cookbook has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The author’s voice is in our heads even when there is little prose strung between the recipes. […]

Posted in cooking, recipes, shopping | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Sandwich by Any Other Name

Customer in French restaurant: Do you have frogs’ legs?
Waiter: Yes Sir.
Customer: Then hop into the kitchen and get me a ham sandwich!


What satisfies like a sandwich?

.At its most basic, a sandwich is two slices of bread enclosing a filling. Those fillings can be hearty, refined, exotic, or homey. The sandwich is a blank canvas on which to paint the colors and contours of the world around us.

The sandwich canon expands with each new wave of immigration. The format is flexible enough to absorb them all, crystallizing the flavors and essence of each cuisine. […]

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5 Foods to Try. Don’t be afraid!


Try something new

Stretch those culinary muscles. New food experiences can satisfy your soul while they perk up your palate.

Step out of your culinary comfort zone, but not too far

We are not talking about chancy mouthfuls, unless that’s your thing. This is not about the macho challenge of Anthony Bourdain-style extreme eating. We know that offal is trendy right now, but it’s not for everyone. That special maggot-enhanced Italian cheese? No shame in taking a pass.

This list will ease you gently into the unfamiliar. Deliciousness is paramount. […]

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Are You a Food Geek?

image courtesy of Consumer Eroski

In the world of geeky niches, Food Geeks are a little more socially-acceptable than Gamers and Gadget Nerds but not as cool as Music or Movie Geeks. At least according to Gizmodo’s Socially-Acceptable Geek Subgenre Scale Gallery. Food Geeks have a middling rank between top-of-the-heap Finance Geeks (Math Nerds turned cool… who’s getting a wedgie after calculus class now,  jocks?) and the bottom-dwelling human/animal fantasy-hybridists known as Furries.

Food Geeks should not be confused with Foodies

Foodies talk about past and future meals while eating the current one. They know the pedigree of the eggs they eat and […]

Posted in cooking, recipes | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Weigh Your Options

Gadget Love

Do you get a little weak in the knees in a cookware store?  If you’re like most of us, your love for kitchen gadgets knows no bounds. Cherry pitters and fondue pots, rice steamers and egg separators,  presses for garlic and sandwiches, grinders for coffee and spices— no gizmo is too esoteric or uni-tasking to lust after.

First the bad news: with all that kitchenware overflowing your drawers and cupboards, you’re missing a most essential piece of equipment. The good news: you get to buy a new gadget.

A scale will make you a better cook. Recipes work better when you weigh the ingredients. Measurements depend on how you purchase, store, and scoop dry ingredients: a cup of flour can weigh anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces. If a recipe calls for 4 cups of flour, without a scale you can end up with as little as 16 ounces or as much as 24 ounces. That means your main ingredient could be off by as much as 50%.

Even if you’re not a baker, a kitchen scale makes measuring quicker, easier, and cleaner. A good scale will have a repeatable tare function that reports the net weight of each ingredient as it’s added in sequence. You can measure and mix in one bowl without dirtying a single measuring cup.

What to look for

Measurements should be precise. The scale should update instantaneously so that you can see the changing measurement as you add ingredients.

The display should be easy to read and  switch between metric units and U.S. pounds and ounces.

Need more bells and whistles? Take a look at these:

For smaller tasks, try a measuring cup or measuring spoon with a built-in digital scale.

The Rhianna combines a digital scale with an ipod dock and speaker system.

The Breville Ikon scale adds a kitchen timer and temperature probe.

Old Will Knott Scales maintains a folksy website, human phone-answerers and order-takers, and stocks an enormous selection of kitchen scales.

Posted in appliances + gadgets, cooking, gadgets | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Joy of (Online) Cooking

Where do you look for culinary inspiration?

Online recipe collections are giving traditional cookbooks a run for the money. More and more of us are bypassing the cookbooks in our own collections and turning to cooking blogs and websites. The web has the advantage of immediacy, with an infinite number of recipes at your fingertips. And the web wins out in searchability; no back-of-the-cookbook index can rival the encyclopedic search terms of an online recipe database. […]

Posted in cooking, recipes | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Girl Scout Cookies in Cyberspace: Tweeting your way to a merit badge

Forget about using PayPal. Girl Scouts don’t sell cookies over the internet.

The 2009 Girl Scout cookie season was a rough one thanks to one very wired Brownie. 3rd grader Wild Freeborn posted a YouTube video in which she made a cookie sales pitch in all her adorably fidgety, 8-year old glory. Other scout troops cried foul, fearing that Wild’s tactics would poach customers from their territories. When the Girl Scouts pulled the plug on her video, Wild took her story to the media. She made the rounds of the morning news shows, appeared on the cover of Newsweek, and in the pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. […]

Posted in cookies, Web 2.0 | Tagged , , | 3 Comments
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