Cook - Read - Eat - Drink
Note

My new cookbook from Chronicle is here! Sustainable Fish ONLY. Really.FISH: 54 SEAFOOD FEASTS.

MY BOOKS

Amazing Chicken!
Thighs and Whole Birds.
(Who needs a boneless breast when you can have a thigh?)
Easy. Fresh. Tasty.

The Times of London: The World's Best Chicken Recipes!

The New Steak!

55 steak recipes in 4 chapters: American Steak, Bistro Steak, Latin Steak, and Far East Steak. There are also more than 90 side dishes, which means every steak and sauce combination is paired with a couple of sides for a complete plate that balances flavor, texture, and style. Photos by the very talented Penny De Los Santos.

*Elissa Schappell* writes in the March issue of Vanity Fair:
"The recipes in Cree LeFavour's The New Steak will bring out the beast in shy carnivores and spur tenderloin-holics to tattoo her name on their rump roasts."

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Here are links to stray thoughts, foods, drinks, recipes and lusts.

THOUGHTS, RECIPES, OPINIONS....

Wednesday
Mar192014

FISH: James Beard Award Finalist

I'm surprised and honored my most recent book, FISH, has been named a finalist for a James Beard Award. As anyone who has ever written a cookbook knows, the job centers on the physical work of shopping, picking, measuring, weighing, chopping, dicing, julienning, mincing, mashing, slicing, ricing, spinning, peeling, mixing, scraping, shredding, beating, roasting, broiling, toasting, sauteeing, frying, baking, braising, melting, caramelizing, browning, drying, marinating, brining, smelling, tasting (how much have I missed?!) while scrawling each detail of the process onto the grease-stained pages of a notebook with the help of a dull pencil (that's me, anyway). Later, the messy words and numbers are ordered, checked, put in a document on my Mac and wonderful people, in my case Sarah Billingsley, my editor at Chronicle Books, and the rest of the talented people there, turn the digital file into the material and (at Chronicle, anyway) beautiful object we recognize as a cookbook. (Well, there's nothing very material about the Kindle version, but in any case.) It's a weird job, really, but it's pretty great work if you can get it.

My reward is hearing from people who like my book and, most important, have cooked from it. There's a kind of magic at work in vicariously guiding someone you've never met to cook a meal you know well. Perhaps it's simply the trick of turning such an elemental process as cooking in my own kitchen surrounded by the cozy familiarity of kids, plants and pets into words that result (I hope) in a delicous meal prepared by a stranger in a kitchen far, far away. In short, I'm so pleased to be lucky enough to do what I do. The nomination is a prize in itself, particularly as it comes from others who write and cook for a living.

Tuesday
Nov052013

My Verdict on High-Heat Cooking Oils

Any cooking in the 400 F plus range requires an oil with a high smoke point, but which one? I've done some reading and changed my dirty, chemically refined, peanut oil ways. You will now find me in the organic aisle, picking through the tasty range of USDA Certified Organic Oils labeled "Medium to High Heat" or "Very Hight Heat." Each one has a cute little graphic on the back of the bottle showing a gauge with the needle pointed in the red range.

Why the fuss? The problem with non-organic oils isn't so much how the plants were grown, important as that is. What matters is how the oil is extracted and then refined to render it suitable for high temperature cooking. Whether it's canola, safflower, sunflower, avocado, almond or apricot - all oils with extremely high smoke points, by the way- all that chemical extraction and the processes used to essentially bleach the oil are pretty nasty. Hexane, one of the more charming chemicals Julia Roberts battled as Erin Brockovitch in the film of the same name, is one of the chemicals used to refine commerical high-heat oils. Worse - or just as bad, anyway - when oil gets really hot the compounds in it breakdown, presumably including the chemical residue used to extract and refine it, releasing free radicals into the oil and into the air. Breathing and eating these degraded chemicals is not good for you. Obviously I'm not a scientist but the facts on this issue seem pretty clear: Look for that goofy but helpful little gauge on the back of the bottle and stick to USDA Certified Organic oil. 

*Sorry, grapesdeed oil, the go-to oil of many chefs, just doens't have all that high a smoke point.

Friday
Jan182013

Fresh FISH.

I head for Maine tomorrow and I'm bringing my advance copy of FISH: 54 SEAFOOD FEASTS, which comes out in September from Chronicle Books. (It looks a lot like my previous book, POULET, but it has a couple of blue fish on cover rather than a big red chicken.) There are few food pleasures to mach eating fresh seafood while looking out over choppy waves, hair still wet and skin salty from an icy dip. After a soggy, gray New Jersey summer, I'm ready.

Dinner day one, something easy like Museels with Cream, Saffron and Angel Hair, Garlic Toast and Grapefruit-Fennel Salad. (I might skip the grapefruit, given the season, and make a Tomato-Fennel Salad instead. My garden is busting with Sungolds.) Lunch day two or three will be New England Cod Chowder with Blue Corn Griddle Cakes and Cherrry Tomato-Parsley Salad and at some point I'll definitely sneak in a night of Fish on a Stick with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, Dan Dan Noodles and Watermelon-Cucumber Salad. There will also be a taco night involving Cenote Fish Tacos with Tomatillo-Radish Salsa and Cilantro Corn. 

Do cookbook writers really cook out of their own books? I do, all the time. I know and trust the recipes and they've been written to please me. I just scan the ingredient list to refresh my memory and go. I don't need to follow my own instructions because I just cook as I always cook and it matches the recipe. Amazing.

Thursday
Jul122012

How to Remove the Membrane on Your Ribs and Other Pork Rib Advice

Summer. Rib Season. The best ones you eat might just be the ones you cook yourself.

I'm partial to a baby backs, which are smaller and relatively lean. So-called St. Louis style ribs or your basic spare ribs are bigger and fattier. Fat is a always a good thing when it comes to meat. Whatever you choose, what really matters is where your pig came from, what it had to eat, and how fat it managed to get itself before it was all over. Sure, you can add flavor in the form of smoke from your hardwood fire and you can add flavor in the form of rubs, marindades and mops. But no matter what you do, the flavor of the meat itself will come through. Buy the freshest, best quality meat you can find. Anti-biotic-free is always better than "natural," which means preciesly nothing. USDA certified organic is the gold standard. Knowing your farmer is pretty great, too.

When you cook ribs, the key is long and slow heat. The low temperature (200 F.) slowly breaks down the connective tissue in the meat between the bones. (You can cook them at 200 F. in the oven or on the grill/smoker or you can use a combination of the two by cooking them for a few hours in the oven and moving them to the grill.) It's difficult to overcook spareribs, but it is possible to dry out baby backs in under 5 hours. Just watch and wiggle. Your ribs are tender when you can pull one off with your fingers. 

I love to make Asian style ribs with a marinade that doubles as a mop made of fish sauce, soy sauce, chili paste, peanut oil and ginger. Throw on a handful of chopped cilantro before serving. I also like to empty out my spice cabinet with improv dry rubs that might including paprika, smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, celery seed, ancho chile powder, chile flakes, a pinch of sugar, plenty of salt and a load of black pepper. I coat my ribs with a slick of peanut oil after I cover the meat with my rub.

Be sure to remove that pesky memebrane on the underside of the ribs. It keeps the rub or marinade from penetrating the meat on that side. It's shiny, very thin, and difficult to see. Obviously visible to you or not it's almost certainly there because it's never removed by the butcher except in really great butcher shops. I don't have one of those near-by and I bet you don't either. Here's how to do it yourself.

 

Sunday
Jun172012

Block Party Kimchi Dogs with Bolted Cilantro Blossoms

There's nothing like a kimchi hot dog for spicy, fatty, deliciousness with an icy beer. If you've never had one, make one. Simple hot dog bun, mayonaisse (crucial), grilled or pan-cooked all-beef dog, even layer of kimchi (Tobagi is a good brand), squiggle of Sriracha, dots of ketchup, finish with cillnatro leaves, (Or use blossoms and leaves if you've got a bolted cilantro in your garden.)