Recently, I’ve noticed fondue sets, including a pot, table stand with burner and color-coated forks, are being sold in cookware shops and online again. I say “again” because a couple of times in my past, serving fondue was all the rage, and I loved serving this to my family and friends.
For years, I’ve served dishes that were spontaneously created from my refrigerator or made with food—sometimes slightly dried or in need of trimming—that otherwise might get thrown away. My kids ate countless minestrones, chilies and even tossed salads that were never the same from one version to the next. The fact is, I disdain wasting food, plus I think those bits can add style, texture, color and taste.
My first quiche was a voluptuous open-faced tart with smoky lardons, Gruyère and golden strands of sautéed onion baked in custard. It was called a Lorraine, and I was seduced. Later, I learned it was a misnomer according to the French society that defined quiches, saying that only bacon should be in the seasoned custard. With cheese added, it becomes a Vosgienne (referring to the Vosges region of France); sautéed onions in the mix make it Alsaçienne. But Lorraine became the familiar name for many of these savory tarts.
After my family’s annual Easter egg hunt, mom often deviled those colorful little ovals that had been hidden in our backyard. She’d peel and cut them in half, mash the yolks with mayonnaise and minced celery, and spoon the mixture back into the whites. While fairly pedestrian, they were a beloved fixture at our family picnics and barbecues, usually sprinkled with paprika to garnish.
Macaroni and cheese is as American as hot dogs, burgers and apple pie. You would be hard-pressed to find a citizen in any part of the country that has not spooned up the creamy cheesy dish at least once, with most developing a fondness or downright addiction for the rich dish in early childhood. For many parents, the pasta and cheese dish was the original easy-to-make, nutritious fast food that the whole family could enjoy in just a matter of minutes.
Back in the day, the best way to find great restaurants was to look for the parking lots with the most cars. It’s still a good idea to keep your eyes peeled on parking lots, but these days smart shoppers look for parked food trucks with the longest lines for a taste of the new and unusual.
Top chefs sometimes man the busiest food vending vehicles selling creative dishes at discounted prices. Make no mistake, those with grilled cheese, which can be replicated at home, are not serving your mother’s version.
So, your foodie friends are forming a monthly dinner club to share meals and newfound recipes. The fun couple brings the dessert. The couple paying off that La Cornue rotisserie gets the main dish. The guy with the wine frig chooses the wine. That means you bring the… oh, come on… salad.
Crockery crowned with a blistered dome of cheese and bread arrives straight from the broiler. The best French onion soup is never ladled from a pot; it’s crafted into a layered experience. Excavating through the Gruyère, the first spoonful of still-too-hot onion slivers are unveiled. The steam’s herbal notes emerge, along with a hint of the wine that is sweetening the slurp-worthy bone broth.
Eyeing the choices arrayed under glass at cheesemongers’ shops is our favorite kind of virtual travelogue. The trail leads through whole nations of dairy art from French Epoisses and Italian Gorgonzola to Spanish Manchego and California’s Redhawk Triple Crème from Cowgirl Creamery. We may eye British Cheddar, but cheeses imported from neighboring Mexico? Not so much. Continue reading →
I have this vivid childhood memory of seeing a man eating pie with cheese at a restaurant. I remember thinking: Why would anyone choose to crown their apple pie with stinky old cheese when they could have a scoop of ice cream melting on top?
My primitive taste buds thankfully evolved and over time I became a food critic and cheerleader for handmade pie in America.
“Soup is cuisine’s kindest course. It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability, as the five o’clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.” — From “The Soup Book” (1949) by Louis P. De Gouy
Many folks enjoy recipes. Being able to duplicate a dish correctly makes them happy.
I am not one of those cooks.