Category Archives: Great Finds

Biscuits With A Little Something-Something

Magnificent biscuits with a novel ingredient.
Magnificent biscuits with a novel ingredient.

These crispy-all-over, supremely decadent tasting biscuits are unlike others.

Because they have a novel ingredient that you might just guess from my cheeky photo.

Yes, duck — as in fat.

There’s no butter or shortening in these babies. Just a generous amount of lavish duck fat along with buttermilk.

This fabulous biscuit recipe is from “Still We Rise” (Clarkson Potter, 2023), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Erika Council, creator of the Southern Souffle blog and chef-owner of Bomb Biscuit Co. in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward historic district where Martin Luther King Jr. was born.

As she writes, this book embodies the “gospel of biscuits,” the heritage and heart these rounds of little more than flour, fat, and dairy have carried over generations, especially among Black home-cooks who proudly perfected them for their families.

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Aperture — (E)State of the Art

The 2022 Aperture Chenin Blanc. (photo by Carolyn Jung)
The 2022 Aperture Chenin Blanc. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

At Aperture Estate in Healdsburg, discover art all around — from what’s in the bottle, to what’s adorning the walls, to where visitors sip these beautiful Bordeaux-style wines.

After all, winemaker and founder Jesse Katz is the son of famed photographer Andy Katz, whose photos have graced the album covers of the Doobie Brothers and Dan Fogelberg, and who has published 15 photo books.

Andy Katz’s work has brought him to more than 90 countries. And it was on many of those travels with his father, especially to France, that inspired Jesse Katz’s passion for wine-making.

The sleek building that houses the tasting room. (photo courtesy of Aperture Estate)
The sleek building that houses the tasting room. (Photo courtesy of Aperture Estate)

In fact, the winery takes its name from the aperture of a camera lens, which controls the amount of light that hits the camera sensor that affects the exposure of the image. In that vein, Jesse Katz likens what he does to “shedding light” on what Bordeaux varieties grown in its 120 acres of estate vineyards in cooler areas of Sonoma can be like.

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In the Mood For Hot Buttered Rum

A new love affair with an old favorite.
A new love affair with an old favorite.

Pardon me while I lounge in front of this roaring fire.

With a plush throw wrapped around me.

And my feet snuggled inside way-too-cute, furry white bunny slippers with the floppiest ears.

OK, maybe not. But sipping this soothing warm drink sure makes me feel as if I’m doing all of that.

When’s the last time you had a “Hot Buttered Rum”?

Me? I can’t even remember.

What a shame that is. Because once you take a sip, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been enjoying more of these regularly.

I thank Toni Tipton-Martin and her new book, “Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs & Juice” (Clarkson Potter, 2023), of which I received a review copy, for reminding me of the pleasures of this cozy drink.

The culinary journalist and editor-in-chief of Cook’s Country magazine has used her expertise and passion for historic research to write a book that pays homage to Black drinking culture through the ages by spotlighting its hospitality, creativity, and longevity.

You’ll be thirsting to make everything from “Strawberry Wine,” “Coffee Liqueur,” and “Pomegranate-Demerara Rum Punch” to “Pineapple-Lemon Highball,” “Absinthe Frappe,” and the clever, non-alcoholic “Cosmockpolitan.”

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Michael Symon’s Throwback American Goulash

Michael Symon's homemade version of Hamburger Helper.
Michael Symon’s homemade version of Hamburger Helper.

One taste of this one-pot dish sends me back to my elementary school days.

When my best friend and I would feel so grown-up whenever we had the rare chance to cook dinner for ourselves when our parents were out.

We’d grab wooden spoons like microphones and pretend we were stars in our own cooking show.

As we hungrily and proudly dug into the comforting dish we had put together with our own wit,

Granted, Hamburger Helper wasn’t the most ambitious dinner to make. But we didn’t care. We loved the taste and the sense of freedom it gave us.

“American Goulash” is a fresher, homemade version of that nostalgic store-bought product that is just about as fast and easy to make, too.

Only this version is by Michael Symon, the James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur, and Emmy-winning television personality known his Food Network shows and co-hosting ABC’s “The Chew.” I also had the distinct pleasure of helping judge a cookie baking contest in San Francisco with him many years ago, and he is a hoot to be around.

This recipe is featured in his latest cookbook, “Simply Symon Suppers” (Clarkson Potter, 2023), of which I received a review copy. This is his eighth cookbook.

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Eric Ripert’s Halibut-Mushroom Casserole

An elegant halibut dish fit for a restaurant but so easy to make at home.
An elegant halibut dish fit for a restaurant but so easy to make at home.

If there was ever anyone qualified to write a masterful cookbook on seafood, it is Eric Ripert.

After all, the renowned chef is co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City, the absolute mecca of seafood that holds three Michelin stars and has held four stars from the New York Times for more than three decades.

What’s incredibly refreshing about his “Seafood Simple” (Random House, 2023), of which I received a review copy, is how easy and doable these recipes are.

These recipes are absolutely made for the home cook, with many of them calling for little more than a handful of ingredients and only one page of instruction. Try your hand at “Tuna Carpaccio with Ginger-Lime Mayonnaise” (made with store-bought mayo and ginger juice that only requires grating it, then squeezing out the juice); “Salmon Wrapped in Collard Greens with Beurre Rouge” (a sauce that’s simply red wine reduced, then swirled with butter); “Fish Fingers” (a favorite of his son’s that is breaded in panko and served with ketchup); and “Shrimp Skewers with Green Curry Sauce” (with the shrimp skewered with pineapple chunks and grilled).

There’s also expert advice, as well as detailed photos, on how to skin a fish, clean shrimp, split a lobster, shuck an oyster, and remove pin bones from salmon.

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