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Food (179 posts)
So when Rebekah was diagnosed with celiac disease—an autoimmune condition that requires you to scrupulously avoid eating gluten—it was a deep blow. Bread and pasta were immediately off the table, but so was birthday cake at office gatherings and the cookies-and-cream ice cream at a neighbor’s dinner party. When it came time to pick our wedding cake, our options narrowed to a precious few (though we found a place that knocked it out of the park). And when our foodie friends came in to town last year, obsessed with trying out the cookies and pies at a hot new bakery, the only thing Rebekah could buy was a tiny tub of artisanal butter and then watch while everyone moaned over the buttery pastries.
Sure, gluten-free baking recipes exist, but most of the fava-bean flour and xantham-gum experiments we tried were arduous, and the results disappointing (“Is this cupcake supposed to look gray?”). And how do you figure out how to swap wheat flour for tapioca and rice flours in Grandma’s rosemary loaf?
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On the average evening, my joy of cooking has turned into a duty of cooking. It's not that I don't love cooking—and all the eating that goes along with it. But in the relentless parade of roasted chickens and broiled fish and meat loafs (all family dinner standards) I just can't approach the activity with the same zest. I need some inspiration. I need some old fashioned, spaghetti-sauce splattered fun, something that goes beyond throwing the boiled pasta on the ceiling to see if it's done.
Imagine my surprise when I found out on Time.com that brilliant famous chefs need this too. Luminaries like Mario Batali, Tom Colicchio and David Chang paired up with the band One Ring Zero, which turned their recipes—word for word—into songs. The chefs picked their own musical styles, from classic rock (Michael Symon) to Mexican banda (Aaron Sanchez) to rap (Chris Cosentino), creating a hilarious ode to all things musical and culinary. A CD of the songs comes packaged in a book by Black Balloon called The Recipe Project, edited by Oprah.com's own Leigh Newman, which includes all the recipes (you can actually cook the dishes), plus interviews with the chefs (David Chang dishes on childhood violin lessons), original playlists by chefs, and essays on food and music by every kind and stripe of writer. But perhaps John Besh, the New Orleans chef, put it best in the video by Time.com as he sang along to his own recipe for shrimp remoulade, "Why didn't I think of this?"
These tree nuts, which are in season now, aren't terribly popular with Americans (our per capita consumption is less than an ounce per year, compared with a pound per person per year in Europe, and 2 pounds per person in Asia). There are many reasons to try them though: They're sweet, have very little fat and are cholesterol- and gluten-free. Roast them or try them in this filling soup. If you can't find dry-packed roasted chestnuts at your local market, try Kalustyans.com.
These mini-cabbages are another seasonal food that fall on the low end of the popularity scale. If you think you don't like them, this article explains why--and gives ways to tame their astringency and bring out there inherent (really!) sweetness.
A Meal with Your Eyes Closed
Dans le Noir, a "dining experience" with locations around the world, comes to the U.S. this month, with a new restaurant in New York. Diners eat in complete darkness, guided and served by either a visually impaired or blind staff. Just how different does food taste when you can only rely on your senses of taste, touch and smell? Try it yourself this month, by eating dinner with a blindfold on. To get the full experience, have someone else prepare the meal for you, so you're totally in the dark (pardon the pun) as to what's on your plate.
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* For toy-lovers: The mother of all Hot Wheels tracks. (Devour)
* NPR investigates how we become sports fans, and even if you're consistently getting your heart broken by the team your father saddled you with as a child, take comfort in the fact that "sharing a team with your dad is a point of connection for both sons and daughters." (Krulwich Wonders)
* If sports never caught on with you, but you still want your dad—or uncle or brother or husband—to open up, here are nine easy ways to connect with the men in your life. (Oprah.com)
* "Picture the coolest brasserie in your hometown, that’s what this is. It’s the hottest-looking restaurant in this town. We have to get rid of a few stigmas attached to the word volunteering and making a difference."—Jon Bon Jovi on the pay-what-you-can restaurant his foundation has opened in Red Bank, New Jersey. (Grub Street; Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation)
The Fall Peanut Butter
You could easily mistake the menu from Chef Stella's in Summerville, S.C., for an ice cream parlor. It makes peanut butters flavored with fruits like blackberry, black currant, kiwi and strawberry; as well as spreads that draw inspiration from frozen dessert classics such as praline, coconut and coffee (actually, Chef Stella uses espresso in its peanut butter for an even bigger punch). But it's the subtly-flavored Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter we're loving right now, perfect on top of pancakes or waffles.
The Sweet Tooth's Peanut Butter
There are a number of white chocolate peanut butters on the market, but we've fallen hardest for Nutty's Old Fashioned White Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter. (And we're apparently not alone: The company makes more than 12 flavors, from date walnut to mint chocolate chip, but white chocolate is its bestseller.) Nutty's, located outside Dallas, melts white chocolate into freshly milled peanut butter while it's still warm, lets it cool, then adds more white chocolate chips. The result is sweet, smooth and delicious.
The Maximalist Peanut Butter
Saratoga Peanut Butter Company's Adirondack Jack is like trail mix in a jar. A 50/50 blend of almonds and peanuts gets amped up with sweetened cranberries, sunflower seeds, honey, flax seeds and cinnamon. Surprisingly, though, it isn't overly cloying. And if you're going to eat any peanut butter straight out of the jar, this is it. No pretzels, bread or crackers necessary.
Simmer it for scent.
Skip the honey and lemon juice, and make your own autumn air freshener: Put them in a pot of water, add some cinnamon and simmer on the stove (refill the water if it evaporates).
Brew apple tea.
Follow this simple recipe, which consists of peels, cinnamon, honey and lemon juice.
Jar some apple jelly.
This will take a few hours, but the sweet and tart jelly makes a lovely fall hostess gift. You'll need the peels and cores from 15 to 20 medium-sized, tart apples; a box of dry pectin; and lots of sugar. Here's a recipe.
Make apple dirt.
Peter George, executive chef of 360 the Restaurant in Toronto, uses this sweet mixture as a rub for chicken, turkey or fish such as salmon, pike or halibut. You can also sprinkle it in Thanksgiving stuffing, or add it to stuffed pork loin. Here's how: place about a cup and a half of peels on a baking sheet and cook in a 250-degree oven for an hour or two, until golden brown and crispy. Grind them to a powder with a mortar and pestle, mix them with 4 teaspoons of cinnamon and a quarter cup of sugar, then grind again.
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