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Archive for the ‘sauces’ Category

The summer of 2011, I was in Southwest France for the first time, about to start a stagiere at the Michelin stared restaurant of Chef Dany Chambon, Le Pont De l’Ouysse. I’d met him the previous fall at a food and wine event in Bangkok and when he offered to come work in his restaurant, I did. It changed my life. For the first few days, I stayed in a little b&b in the tiny town of LaCave. The owner was a very opinionated woman, who proceeded to tell me much of what I knew about French cooking, particularly that of the Dordogne Valley, was wrong. I kept my mouth shut and let her lecture me because I found it amusing but one morning she proudly presented a cookbook with a strange padded cover and declared it the best thing ever. It was by Yotom Ottolenghi, a strange name I’d never heard of and couldn’t pronounce. I took the book up to my room that night and never looked back. That book was Plenty.

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So I’ve just returned from France, particularly the Southwest region, where I spent the better part of this summer and I’ve come back energized and filled with all kinds of ideas. My weeks were filled with cooking, a lot of eating, a lot of cold rosé, good friends and twice weekly market visits. One day I walked into my friend Kate’s kitchen to the most delightful smells. In the oven were pans of the beloved Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes, slowly roasting in a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Later, she slipped the skins off, packed them into jars and water processed them for longer storage. Just a normal everyday occurrence for her but a light bulb went off in my head. The woman is a genius.

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Marcella Hazan, often described as the Julia Child of Italian food, has written some remarkable cookbooks. I own several and they have never steered me wrong. When I needed a lasagne recipe, not being a lasagne fan, it was to Marcella that I turned. It was a remarkable lasagne. Sadly, she passed away in 2013, crushing my dreams of taking one of her cooking classes but she left behind quite the legacy. I’ve been reading about her butter tomato sauce for years yet have never made it. Like many things that receive endless glowing reviews – Harry Potter books, Mad Men, LaLa Land, Chik-Fil-A – I tend to run the other way. If everyone is enthusiastically waxing on and on about something I become suspicious. Misguided? Probably. Cynical? Certainly. This tomato sauce was definitely one of those things. Just four ingredients? How good could it be? How many tomato sauce recipes does one really need? I was pretty sure I was fine. How wrong I was.

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