This blog is a stream of consciousness collection of posts in which I document my various successes and failures in the kitchen. I also include the recipes.
Why I did this
I have always cooked a lot, and have usually enjoyed it. My cooking has generally been fine, with a few big successes and equally as many horrible disasters (one day I’ll post about the first brisket I made: doused in Sriracha and baked uncovered), but I never had any larger principles guiding it. Then, in November of 2020, I bought Samin Nostrat’s book Salt Fat Acid Heat (https://www.saltfatacidheat.com/) and it changed my cooking life by teaching the “why” behind many food combinations and the “how” behind many techniques I simply didn’t know (what butter looks like when it has reached the right temp for sautéing) or that I ignored (making a proper emulsion). Since then, I’ve been on a cookbook-buying tear, and now spend my weekend mornings casually leafing through them for learning and inspiration, and my weekend afternoons and evenings are spent practicing. This blog is documenting that process and sharing the recipes I’m discovering along the way. I’m writing it mainly so I’ll have a catalogue of these recipes somewhere, but I figured I’ll share the love while I’m at it for anyone else who may be interested.
What you’ll find here
I include recipes here because this blog is how I’ll remember what I cooked and how. So please, use them if you like–that’s why they’re here. That said, you may not get much out of this because I’m not going to write down detailed instructions. I don’t generally follow recipes closely when I cook anyway, but I do (now, at least) pay attention to the techniques I’m using while I cook. The recipes are pulled from a variety of cookbooks, and some are my own creations. I will always include links to the original source, or, if from a cookbook, a link to the book and the page where you can find the recipe.
As I mentioned above, this whole thing started when I read Salt Fat Acid Heat. This book is perfection, for me at least. It is not a cookbook so much as it is a “how to cook” book. The recipes are not detailed, but that doesn’t matter if you read the first 3/4 of the book that teaches the techniques and the “why” of the concepts on which her recipes are built. You also have to practice those techniques (I made lots of mayonnaise and boiled eggs in the first couple of weeks). Around the house, we refer to Salt Fat Acid Heat as “The Good Book,” and “The Bible.” Blasphemous, I know. I read it daily in the beginning, and now I refer back to it at least 3-4 times a week. In the book, Samin kept mentioning Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, where she trained. So of course, I eventually bought Alice Waters’ Art of Simple Food (https://www.amazon.com/Art-Simple-Food-Delicious-Revolution/dp/0307336794). Also more of a “how to cook” book than a cookbook. Do yourself a favor and go ahead and buy vol. I, II, and “My Pantry.” Thanks to Alice Waters’ books, we are now building a a backyard garden!
After devouring the Waters books, I somehow I stumbled on Cal Peternell’s “12 Recipes” (https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Recipes-Cal-Peternell/dp/0062270303). I adore Peternell’s book because its instructions are easy to understand and very forgiving (for one salad dressing recipe he says, “if you have an emulsion, great! If you don’t, also fine! It’ll still taste good.). It is also just a very sweet documentation of a dad happily cooking with his family, so it’s a joy to read in addition to being informative.
All of these folks cooked together at Chez Panisse, and it is evident in their books. By reading their books together and constantly referencing them, I feel like I’ve accidentally taken a cooking course with three expert chefs in which the lessons naturally build on one another. I didn’t mean to structure my learning that way, but it has been accidentally very beneficial.
All of this is a long way to say, you should probably at least read Salt Fat Acid Heat if you’re going to get something out of these recipes I’m posting. If you really want to do yourself a favor, get the Waters and Peternell books as well.
Stuff here is Kosher
We generally keep kosher in our house. That is, we don’t eat pork, shellfish, or other non-kosher meat. We also don’t mix meat and dairy. I’m not at all a fan of using the fake kosher dairy substitutes (I’m looking at you, Rich’s Whipped and Tofutti) because they are full of unhealthy garbage. I’ve had some success with using Oatly products, but I generally just avoid recipes that involve dairy and meat together. I attempt to substitute other cured meats for bacon and ham (usually pastrami), but it’s never as good as the real thing, so be warned!