An easy way to cut through all of that fat and salt is… a huge pile of pickled carrots, daikon, and cabbage. Plus a creamy cilantro dressing with lots of green flavor, a fluffy cloud of cilantro greens, and an extra lime wedge to push it over the top and into #flavortown.
Ok, let’s talk salt and acid… two of the most important tools in your cooking arsenal. They bring simple ingredient to life. They transform any dish from “meh” to “WOW.” This dish, a basic red-braised pork from the cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, is a perfect example. It’s flavor profile comes primarily from shaoxing rice wine (acid) and two kinds of soy sauce (salt + #umami). And of course, slow cooking — which is a HUGE flavor factor in and of itself.
This simple Persian spiced veggie dip is another great example of flavor in action. Plain yogurt is gussied up with a few herbs and spices, but nothing extravagant. When it comes to layering flavor it pays to be smart about what you’re creating. You need to add only what works well together… without muddying the flavor.
The key is to LEARN TO SALT YOUR FOOD. When your food is salted enough, a taste should elicit a physical reaction when you taste. It should feel like a *zing* that you can feel viscerally — deeply in your palate and throat, and even sometimes in your fingers and toes.
Let me be the one to tell you: there are SO many winter vegetables to enjoy. Broccoli! Sweet potatoes! Brussels sprouts! Carrots! Beets! All sorts of hardy winter greens, like chard and kale!
Cooking is a practice. Like meditation, like baseball, like playing the piano. It’s not something you can pick up and immediately be good at. Sure, some people find it easier than others, but for EVERYONE it is a practice that gets better over time.
Panettone is one of the most popular Christmas breads sold all over Italy (and the United States) during the holidays. It originated in Milan around the fifteenth century and has been the subject of much lore. A commonly told story of how this bejeweled bread came to be goes something like this: A young nobleman falls in love with a baker’s daughter named Toni. He disguises himself as a pastry chef ’s apprentice and creates the tall, fruit-studded bread to present to Toni, calling it “Pan de Toni.” The bread is a success in the bakery, and the father blesses the marriage. This easy panettone bread is a quick alternative to the 2-day prep time of traditional panettone recipes.
I recently got a request from one of my readers, Mackenzie. She asked: “I was wondering if you could do a Christmas themed email? Like, baking tips so we can bake cookies for Good Ol’ St. Nicholas. One of the biggest problems I have while baking Christmas sugar cookies (or really any cookies) is trying to keep them from falling into a big crumbly mess after I bake them. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! Other than that, maybe some tricks that you use when baking.” Ask and you shall receive, my dear. Here are some of my best Christmas cookie tips and tricks.
A few years ago I sat down to eat dinner with a friend of mine, a stew she’d spent all day making. She took the first bite. The look on her face was priceless. It was a combination of shock, confusion, and “what the hell just happened??” She coughed hard, so I took a bite to see what the commotion was all about. Within half a second my eyes started to water and I, too, began to cough.
Not long ago, I worked with a student who was CRAZY about macaroni and cheese. Like, this woman said she could happily eat nothing but mac and cheese for the rest of her life. (Honestly, I love it that much, too!) The problem was, she could not make the dish to save her life. Every time she tried she either ended up with a burnt clump or a lumpy, separated mess. She was super bummed that she could not seem to make her favorite dish.