I get an especially acute case of agita at the thought of a mortar and pestle.
It's easy to discount water's importance in the kitchen. After all, it has no flavor, and more often than not, it's left off ingredient lists, making it seem like an afterthought. Yet water is an essential element of almost everything we cook and eat, and it affects the flavor and texture of all our food.
I always turn to Wendell Berry for inspiration on food, community, agriculture, and, well, just being a human.
As a student of Alice Waters, the patron saint of salad, I'm no stranger to the art of lettuce washing.
I love the look of delight on my guests' faces when I serve them a bowl of olive-oil aioli alongside roasted potatoes or a grand Nicoise salad.
While other stone fruits grow tender on the surface as they ripen, apricots take an alternate path to maturity, softening from the inside out.
Does anybody like being recognized? I understand that it's my job. I'm grateful about people who are moved enough by the work to want to say something. But I mourn the loss of anonymity.
Very early in my culinary career, while helping another cook prepare the staff meal, I stirred some chopped raw garlic and herbs into a bowl of leftover lentils. The atonement for this sin was so extreme that I've never repeated it: After being chastised, I spent the next 20 minutes fishing out the minuscule pieces of garlic.
At home, Mom served us turkey breakfast links that she got at the health-food store. But whenever we went out for breakfast, she let my brothers and me order pork sausages (though, inexplicably, not bacon).
There's a certain kind of dark-crusted sourdough bread I'm incapable of resisting. A sixth sense alerts me anytime I veer within a three-block radius of a bakery offering tangy country loaves with mahogany crusts. Without fail, I'll make my way inside and buy one, even if there's already half a loaf growing stale on my countertop.
Salt's relationship to flavor is multidimensional: It has its own particular taste, and it both balances and enhances the flavor of other ingredients.
I love a Yorkshire pudding. It's basically pancake batter that's fried in beef fat and puffs up; it's like you can't go wrong.
Jessica Battilana has been my kindred cooking spirit for more than 10 years. Our careers as cooks and writers have taken us through the same Bay Area restaurants, bakeries, magazines, and newspapers.
Growing up, I thought salt belonged in a shaker at the table and nowhere else.
Like all Iranian kids, I grew up feeling strongly that the best part of dinner was tahdig, the crisp, golden crust that forms at the bottom of every pot of Persian rice - and sometimes other dishes, too.
I grew up in San Diego with immigrant parents, before the food blogs, before this kind of celebrity chef culture we know now.
There are two proper ways to use garlic: pounding and blooming. Neither involves a press, which is little more than a torture device for a beloved ingredient, smushing it up into watery squiggles of inconsistent size that will never cook evenly or vanish into a vinaigrette. If you have one, throw it away!
A successful shrimp boil requires layering ingredients into the pot so that everything is done cooking at once. A carefully timed choreography dictates the order in which ingredients are added to ensure no one has to eat raw potatoes or chewy shrimp.
At some point during every cooking class I teach, I do my signature move: dramatically add handful upon handful of salt to a large pot of boiling water, then taste it and add even more.
While a pot of boiling water may not offer the char or smoke of a grill, it does give the cook an advantage when it comes to seasoning food.