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  • A great chef pimps his name for industrial food

    Mario Batali is a great chef and restaurateur. I’ve never had the chance to eat at his celebrated restaurants Babbo and Del Posto, but I have eaten several times at Otto, his relatively modest pizza joint in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The food there is very, very good. (Try the gelato — especially the incredibly delicate […]

  • A sampling of recipes for Passover

    Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about meals that express our connection to and appreciation for the earth. In keeping with this theme, I'll start with Marge Piercy's new book, Pesach for the Rest of Us: Making the Passover Seder Your Own.

    Pesach

    My interest in seders (the meal served at Passover) started when I was in high school and worked as a "hostess helper" for families who were hosting seders. Having been raised Catholic, I had never experienced a seder before, and was deeply moved by the beauty and ceremony of it. As someone who loves food and ritual, I was especially interested in the foods that were assigned special meaning on the Passover plate.

    Recently, when I told my friend Rabbi Michael Feshbach that I was writing about this topic, he said, "The greens, which are the first item eaten, are seen as signs of spring. I think of the entire seder as the first multimedia teaching experience -- you tell the message, you smell the message, you eat the message."

    For all of these reasons, when I heard that Piercy was going to be in Cambridge doing a reading from her new book, I cleared my schedule so that I could go.

  • Beans, beans, good for your recipe

    In keeping with the recent topics of eating low on the food chain for environmental reasons (e.g., beans instead of meat) and cooking for a crowd, I dug out an old recipe for a curried red lentil soup with an apple cider or pear juice base, so I could double it to serve 10-12 people instead of 5-6.

    I've always been told that to double a recipe, you should double the basic ingredients but not the spices. What I do is adjust the spices by slowly adding small increments and tasting the results. The amounts that work usually do turn out to be less than twice the original.

  • How a cookbook renaissance heated up the sustainable-food movement

    In the postmodern United States, a cultural critic laments, “The pleasures of the table are rarely appreciated at face value.”      Speak truth to flour. A near-hysterical concern with health has replaced common sense, he continues, leading to all manner of dubious decisions: “Americans blithely drink sodas filled with artificial flavors and sweeteners, yet paste warning […]

  • Roz Cummins whips up Valentine vittles

    I don't know about you, but sometimes it just seems like more fun to have dinner with a group of friends -- those who are single and those who aren't -- on Valentine's Day than with just one person. Why? Well, let me put it this way: having dinner with just one person, no matter how beloved that person is, does not guarantee that your evening will be a romantic one.

  • Make your leftover Xmas sweets into something yummy

    In my experience, even a calm and pleasant holiday results in a house strewn with bits of paper, empty boxes filled with styrofoam peanuts, a guilt-inducing list of thank-you notes to be written, and a fridge full of leftovers. Here are three recipes for "recycled" holiday desserts that turn less-than-enjoyable ingredients into actual treats:

  • A Krafty concoction of hydrogenated goo gets its day in court.

    Do I live in an ethanol bubble? Yes I do, for another day or so.

    But I'm coming up for air for long enough to give the finger to Kraft, the world's largest branded food conglomerate, for ripping off and desecrating one of the world's greatest food items.

    Kraft's heinous Guacamole Dip contains about 2 percent avocado, which is a little like marketing a Martini with 2 percent gin and the rest, well, corn liquor (ethanol).

    A woman in California is suing Kraft, arguing that the "guacamole" claim fraudulently promised an avocado-based concoction, and instead delivered, well, industrial goo designed to look avocado-y.

    Does she have a case?

  • Two non-turkey recipes for the Thanksgiving feast

    Thanksgiving is a funny holiday. It's a weird mix of frenzy and sloth, gratitude and greed. What should be a fun and peaceful time spent with relatives and friends is often preceded by the chaos of having too much to do and too little time in which to do it.

    If you are the person responsible for cooking the Thanksgiving meal, you know that Extreme Grocery Shopping is the hallmark of the holiday. Simply getting your groceries home can be the stuff of nightmares if you live in a crowded city or suburb. Cooking the meal is a cakewalk by comparison.

    Every year as I approach the local Whole Foods in the days running up to Thanksgiving, I see couples in the parking lot dividing their lists in two, synchronizing their watches, and saying things like, "Commencing operations at Oh Seven Hundred! We reconnoiter in Spices and Baking Needs! Go! Go! Go!"

  • Two new photo books focus on food

    In the valuable new book Fields of Plenty: A Farmer’s Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It, author Michael Ableman rambles across the country in a VW van, visiting small-scale farmers to talk with them at the table and in the field. Vine and dandy. Photo: Chrissi Nerantzi. Not surprisingly, […]