Larks’ Tongues in Aspic

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What did you listen to when you were young? And do you still play the same records? Looking back, I may have been indicted as excessively broad, as wantonly eclectic for its own sake: Experimental jazz, baroque classical, LA punk, progressive rock (whatever that means), and lots of metal, a scattershot gang of vinyl finery parading across my turntable.

A Nicoise Salad in Winter, and The Rules

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Perhaps Will Shakespeare lived in Northern California and craved a salad in winter when he spoke of those days, green in judgment and cold in blood; or maybe I'm just projecting because, as recently as yesterday, I was talking about this salad I had made, borne of winter crops, which still I took to be a very-nearly-classic Salade Nicoise, but for the outrage of tomatoes in absentia, and it got me thinking: What, really, constitutes the One, True Thing, the Nicoise that casts its shadow on the wall?

A Salade Nicoise in Winter

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The degree to which this - a Salade Nicoise, sans tomates - is, in fact, a Nicoise salad remains debatable. What is incontrovertible is that, while I won't eat out-of-season tomatoes, I'm not waiting around until next summer for the league leader in salads-as-meals, and this, my Jack Frost version extant, still tastes damn good.

A nearly perfect French fry, from the oven

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The extraordinary potato: A poisonous, inedible plant whose tuber provides one of the world's most critical food sources and is equally at home in a Michelin-star kitchen as it is in a McDonald's fry basket. Is there any food that is simultaneously simpler and more spectacular than a perfectly french-fried potato?

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Upgrades

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With less than 36-hours until the feast hits the table, I'm sure we all have too much to do and not enough time in which to do it, so today's is a post with a purpose: Fast, easy, small little things you can do to elevate some of your Thanksgiving Day standards - mashed potatoes, green beans, glazed carrots, cranberry sauce, stuffing - from the delicious but possibly tired to a more lively yet still traditional level.

Cooking for Date Night, Naughty ‘n Nice

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Whipped cream for dinner, because Saturday night, with any luck at all, means date night. Date night - at least around our house - is at least as likely to mean a raid on the wine cellar and a bag of tricks from the farmer's market as a babysitter and a night out on the town, because we live in a sleepy wine country town where most of the bars shutter their doors around the same time my kids shut their eyes...

Giants Win, Garlic Fries Fail.

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Anthony Bourdain once wrote - I believe I'm paraphrasing Kitchen Confidential, but I can't find the citation - that anyone who cooks with pre-minced garlic should be sentenced never to taste fresh garlic again, and I have to agree: I adore garlic, but the stuff in the jar is just plain nasty and, unfortunately, it is all over the inexplicably famous Garlic Fries at AT&T Park.