Crêpes Alone. The title captures the dual thrust of this issue's feature essay: (1) a focus on crêpes themselves as a delicious alternative to pancakes, and (2) the rich sensory and sensual pleasures that crêpes offer the solitary breakfaster. Key to both: an appreciation of the few simple ingredients required and an awareness of the virtues (and limitations) of the necessary (but modest) equipment used to make them. There is also a separate (if shorter) essay on buckwheat crêpes and an anthology of illuminating historical and contemporary quotations. Elsewhere in the issue:a review of Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, and a visit to the No-Name Diner, where the Professor produces a roll of herbswurst tablets and shares his revamping of a dish of beef and onions he encountered at Moody's Diner in Waldeboro, Maine.
The Seductions of Celery. Think about celery and what usually comes to mind is a useful but not especially compelling vegetable, best used as a background note to stews or a crudité to serve alongside a dip. But properly prepared, celery can dazzle the taste buds — and we provide the recipes to prove it. Memories of My Mother. Sitting down to write about my mother for her funeral service, I experience a flood of unexpected memories — from her use of aluminum foil as a universal wrap to her patiently and elaborately built salads, her delight in ice cream novelties. Also in this issue: notes on cutting or leaf celery; a meditation of “chicken flavor” — the prime mover of commercial chicken broth; and an introduction to a brilliant Italian food writer and one of his dishes — mussels with zucchini and potatoes.
Random Receipts: Dill Pickle Soup. Actually, it's a rich-tasting potato soup with the mouth-livening kick of salt-brined pickles, be they kosher dills, garlic, or (our own favorite) half-sours. Griddle-Baked Oatcakes. Some particularly delicious stone-ground Irish oat meal leads to our inventing a simple and easy-to-make oat meal griddle bread — just the thing for breakfast with butter and honey on a cold winter morning. Hummus, Hold The Pita. We snatch hummus from the appetizer platter, surround it with garlic-infused pan-roasted vegetables, and turn it into supper. Plus, a review of two pamphlets by a native chef on Carolina down-home cooking and a visit to the No-Name Diner.
African Cooking. The lowly peanut teaches us the many delicious strategies used by subSaharan cooks to make use of whatever produce and meat offered that day by the local markets. We also discover the popular African street snack akara, a simple but extremely tasty fritter made of black-eyed peas, that has followed the African diaspora through the Caribbean and Latin America. And more.
The Plank / Scrambled Eggs. An accidentally encountered chapter in a forgotten cookbook changes the way we broil steaks (and other meat) in our oven. Then into scrambling eggs, where we discover there are more methods for doing this than you can shake a whisk at. Plus, we drop by the No-Name diner, where Greg is putting together a radio ad for the No-Name Pea Soup Cook-Off.
Simple Cooking Then and Now. This is our 25th anniversary issue, and in it, John looks back at what he's learned (and failed to learn) over that time, and ponders whether the phrase "simple cooking" has any resonance for today's cooks. Also, some recipes that traveled the distance with us.
Economy Gastronomy. Some of the essays in this issue deal with attempts to make appealing recipes affordable, others deal with attempts to make affordable recipes appealing. Among the dishes described: shrimp ceviche, zucchini stuffed with savory rice, a thick potato and bok choy soup, a slow-cooked pot roast made of lamb shoulder. No-Name episode, with recipe for Hen-House Hash.
Food Book Review Issue. In this issue, Raymond Sokolov's The Cook's Canon gets a quizzical examination, with shorter reviews and recipe samplings from several interesting new cookbooks, including La Cocina de Mamá, The Eater's Guide To Chinese Characters, The Breath of a Wok, and A Taste of Cuba. Plus the latest on the Sichuan peppercorn ban.
Pasta with Anchovies—Preserved anchovies, garlic, parsley, hot pepper, olive oil—we ring the changes to fine-tune a classic pasta sauce, sharing some tasty variations along the way. Plus, a paean to fasolia gigantes, a gentle giant of a dried white bean from Greece that is eaten as an appetizer or made into a delicious casserole. No-Name episode, with recipe for Triple Ginger Ice Cream Threat.
Wok Fragrant —Why real Chinese turn their noses up at Chinese-American restaurant fried rice, and what we can do about it (make our own!). Also, “Cooking mi).dnight,” a collection of Chinese comfort-food rice dishes, what happened to Szechuan peppercorns, and an amazing book on Asia and rice.
Mister minestrone —We propose giving this old war-horse some respect by going back to the traditional recipes and see how craft and fresh vegetables make a spectacularly flavorful soup. Also, Alec cooks supper for the Professor, and a reader remembers her grandmother’s dish of soup and onions.
Go Fry an Egg. No, make that two. And don’t worry that they’ll finish you off (the health police have let them off the hook). We explore several ways to get them right and make them, well, special, with recipes from Spain, Egypt, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Also, “The Breakfast Chronicles” return with the grist on grits, sharing my preferred way to make them.
Real Italian. Amato’s in Portland, Maine: they claim they invented the Italian sandwich; I can only vouch that they perfected it. Read why I thinks so, and discover several other vegetable-intensive bread-fillers from around the Mediterranean. Elsewhere, the “Ruminative Cook” investigates what makes a Greek salad authentic (with recipes). Finally, to round things out, a review of Mediterranean Street Food.
Conflicted About Casseroles — Our own American vernacular casserole with its emblematic can of Campbell’s Soup: you can take it or leave it — or, like us, find yourself caught dithering somewhere in the mi).ddle. Plus a trip to the No-Name for a bowl of the Professor’s American Chop Suey.
The Laughing Nut — A personal exploration of the reasons for and the results of a lifetime addiction to pistachio nuts. Also, mashed potatoes reconsidered; a wintry take on briami, a Greek summery vegetable casserole; and the Professor’s recipe for a simple and delicious cottage peach cobbler.
Our Annual Food Book Review Issue — A lengthy consideration of Fuchsia Dunlop’s landmark Sichuan Cookery, as well as books on saffron, the tandoor oven, sundaes, trifles, Texas and Kansas City barbecue, Southern eateries, and two quite accessible chef cookbooks, with a generous sampling of recipes.
Pepper Pot Hot — An attempt to replicate Campbell’s canned pepper pot soup leads mysteriously but inexorably to an exploration of menudo, Mexico’s famed hangover cure, and thus from the suavely creamy and rich to the fiery and potently savory. The links between the two prove as compelling as they are accidental, and the resulting dishes are delicious.
Cod and Potatoes — One of the culinary world’s best flavor matches -- why it gets no respect and how you can set that right. At the No-Name, the Professor accidentally leaves his supper behind and sets off a frenzy of curiosity. Plus a letter from Norway, home of the mi).dnight sun and salted mutton.
Maximum Marmalade. Here at last is a way to make marmalade — orange, lime, lemon, etc. — that combines British acerbity with American deep citrus flavor. Plus fiore di finocchio, the intensely flavored pollen of wild fennel — we tell you what it tastes like, where to get it, and how to use it in your cooking.
The Reviewer and the Recipe. The case for not testing recipes when reviewing cookbooks—other things matter more. At the No-Name, the Professor reveals his recipe for chicken-fried steak. And, from a reader, an account of a real-life outlaw cook.
Sussing Out Satay. Bits of meat seasoned in a spicy marinade, skewered and grilled over charcoal, and served with a dash of luscious but mouth-prickling peanut sauce: we seek out all the secrets. And, at the No-Name, Greg reveals the recipe for Waldo’s secret hot-dog sauce.
Fast Food Nation—We take a long, hard look at this best-selling jeremiad and wonder if our national addiction to burgers and fries hasn’t been shaped more by a century of nagging do-gooders than by corporate manipulation. Plus a little twist turns zucchini into prime pasta material.
Our Readers Write. In pursuit of the perfect scallion pancake; a fly-by-day fish restaurant in Jakarta; instant brandade de morue; pizza discoveries in darkest Pennsylvania; childhood rituals of sandwich-making; learning about life from grill cooks; and more.
Bagna Caôda —We explore the history and various ways of making of this famous Piedmontese savory bath of anchovies, garlic, and cream. At the No-Name. the Professor shares his recipe for Guinness Beef Stew. And, for dessert, we uncover an unusual Piedmontese chocolate-hazelnut confection—part cookie, part cake.
Food Book Review Issue—Richard Olney’s Reflexions, Clifford A. Wright’s A Mediterranean Feast, Patience Gray’s Work, Adventures, Childhood, Dreams, Chris and Carolyn Caldicott’s World Food Café, mi).chael Roberts’ Parisian Home Cooking, and Colette Rossant’s Memories of a Lost Egypt.
Falafel—The national street food of Israel, crunchy nuggets of ground chickpeas and spicy seasonings, served in a pita—learn why the Israelis identify with this dish and how they make it, and what they put on it. Also, a review of The Oxford Companion to Food and a visit to the No-Name Diner, where hot dogs unexpectedly become an issue.
Two with the Flu—A delicious gingery dish of Asian noodles and chicken that comforts as much as it nourishes. Also, the Professor reveals the recipe for his beef-intensive meatloaf, and we start a new column devoted to rescuing recipes too good to lose from passed-over cookbooks.