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FlavorUpdated 12:00 a.m., Thu October 26, 2017
When properly cooked, fennel develops a satisfying, deeply savory sweetness.
I am often fascinated by the kinds of foods and flavors that some people may love while others refuse to eat them. We call such ingredients “acquired tastes,” because those who love them optimistically believe that, prepared properly and served under the right circumstances, anyone can develop a craving for them. Not every taste, of course, can be acquired that way. I doubt, for example, that repeated exposure would win many converts to... READ MORE
If you’ve ever hung out in a restaurant kitchen or been seated close enough to one to witness the chefs in action, you’ve probably heard the head chef repeatedly calling out “Fire!” Rather than sounding any kind of alarm, the command actually means that the time has come for a particular dish to be cooked so that it will be ready to serve along with the rest of a particular table’s order — all part of the system that keeps a restaurant ...
After five decades of cooking professionally, one of the most important secrets I’ve learned for making people feel a meal is memorable — whether it is eaten in a restaurant or at home — is to add special little touches. Garnish a pasta dish with fresh herbs, quickly saute fresh fruit compote to serve over ice cream or alongside cake, or offer flavored butter instead of a plain spread, and your guests will be blown away by your creativi...
Having grown up in a town in southern Austria that was less than an hour’s drive from the Italian border, I sometimes feel like I’m almost as Italian as I am Austrian. That may certainly help explain why I love to include pizzas and pastas on the menus in many of my restaurants, including my flagship Spago and even two Italian-style restaurants in Las Vegas: Lupo (which means wolf) and Cucina (kitchen).
Food lovers talk a lot about “secret menus” at their favorite restaurants (usually fast-food places) that clue people in on all sorts of special variations they order — only if they know about them. But even at fine restaurants, like my original Spago in Beverly Hills, there are secret items that anyone with the inside knowledge can ask for. One of the biggest secrets is the fact that, whether it happens to be on the day’s menu or not, ...
We’re just days away from the beginning of autumn on the calendar, even though the warm days of Indian summer that arrive with fall and often stay through October can sometimes make us feel like the season hasn’t changed yet. Still, I don’t usually rely on the calendar or the weather to tell me what season it is. One stroll through the farmers market, and I know fall is here.
In 1983, after opening my restaurant Chinois on Main in Santa Monica, California, I was proud to play a part in the culinary revolution known as Asian fusion. That term refers to combining traditional Asian ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques with those of other cuisines, particularly Western ones. At Chinois, our Asian fusion naturally placed a special emphasis on California cuisine, with its celebration of local in-season ingr...
All across the country, people are at a transition point in their dinnertime habits. We’ve finished summer’s easygoing days, when the evening meal might mean grilled burgers and hot dogs or a quick bite out before a movie or maybe the children heading off in different directions for dinner at friends’ homes. It sometimes seemed as if the family dinner table was a forgotten piece of furniture.
Even though autumn is three weeks away, most Americans think of Labor Day weekend as the end of summer. Family vacations are over, children are starting school, and grills are being readied for one more grand meal cooked outdoors.
We’re now in the middle of a part of summertime known as “the dog days.” Although that term began in ancient Rome to signify the time when Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, rose in the night sky, most people today associate it with weather so hot and sultry that dogs and humans alike lie down panting, unable to move.
We professional chefs can sometimes feel the pressure of having to come up with new, delicious dishes that will get people talking and make them excited about returning to our restaurants. After all, if we served just the same old familiar recipes, their attention might turn elsewhere.
As I often like to say, we eat with our eyes first. Food that looks beautiful without being too fussy starts your mouth watering in anticipation. And by contrast, if good ingredients have been well prepared, only to be presented in a way that looks unexciting, you may get less pleasure from the whole experience.
Among summertime’s signature vegetables, eggplant sometimes seems like it doesn’t get its fair share of attention. Tomatoes are the seasonal superstars, filling farmers-market stalls with all their many-shaped, multicolored variety. Zucchini can dominate through sheer numbers, especially if you grow them yourself. And then there’s sweet corn, the outdoor favorite at picnics and barbecues.
In my early years as a chef, one of the most basic, and best, lessons I learned was to taste ingredients raw. Experiencing even a little bit of food in its uncooked state is a perfect way to get a sense of its flavors and textures so you’ll always keep in mind the inherent qualities you want to highlight in the finished dish.
Yes, I have to admit it: I played a part in the great sun-dried tomato craze of the 1980s. Guests at my original Spago location above Hollywood’s Sunset Strip could enjoy sun-dried tomatoes on pizzas, in pastas and salads, and as part of the sauces or garnishes for grilled or sauteed foods. From their gemlike, deep-red color to their chewy texture to their almost candy-sweet flavor, they were irresistible. But while sun-dried tomatoes c...