Welcome! Here you'll find quotations on food and cooking chosen by Catherine of Albion Cooks
Michael Pollan on Eating Food
"Eat food. Though in our current state of confusion, this is much easier said than done. So try this: Don't eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. ...There are a great many foodlike items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn't recognize as food (Go-Gurt? Breakfast-cereal bars? Nondairy creamer?); stay away from these."
— Michael Pollan, Unhappy Meals, New York Times Magazine, 1/28/07
Thomas Schnetz & Dona Savitsky (Dona Tomas) on Toasting Fresh Chiles
"The ideal way to toast fresh chiles to get the best flavor and the most even blistering would be over a wood fire, but this isn't always practical for home cooks. Toasting fresh chiles over a gas burner can impart the flavor of the heat source, which isn't exactly desirable, and deep-frying can infuse the flesh with too much fat, leaving the pepper greasy. After elimiating these options, we recommend simple panfrying as the best way to toast fresh chiles.
At our restaurants, we will sometimes toast 20 to 30 fresh chiles at a time, so we use a large grill. Your best bet at home is a comal, small griddle, or cast iron skillet. Heat your pan over high heat and grease the surface with a light coating of nonstick spay or brush it with a little oil. Decrease the heat to medium and place the chiles on the hot surface. They should crack or pop a few times, and the ridges of the chiles will begin to blacken.... After the skins have been blackened, place the chiles in a paper or plastic bag for about 20 minutes."
— Thomas Schnetz & Dona Savitsky, from Dona Tomas
Jamie Oliver on Kitchens that Work
"If you can, it's always nice to have your sink near or in front of a window for good light and a bit of a view whilst doing the washing-up."
— Jamie Oliver, Jamie's Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook
Chris Reeve on Basil Folklore
Basil Folklore: It was believed in Greek and Roman times that to have a good basil crop, you'd have to yell loudly and swear when you were planting the seeds. Today, in French, there is an idiom for ranting which translated literally means "to sow the basil".
from Chris Reeve on Henriette's Herbal Homepage
George Orwell describes the kitchen at the Hotel X.
"The kitchen was like nothng I had ever seen or imagined — a stifling, low-ceilinged inferno of a cellar, red-lit from the fires, and defeaning with oaths and the clanging of pots and pans. It was so hot that all the metal-work except the stoves had to be covered with cloth. In the middle were the furnaces, where twelve cooks skipped to and fro, their faces dripping sweat in spite of their white hats. Round that were counters where a mob of waiters and plongeurs clamoured with trays. Scullions, naked to the waist, were stoking the fires and scouring huge copper saucepans with sand. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry or a rage."
— George Orwell, from Down and Out in Paris and London
Michelle Bernstein on the creation of Chocolate-Painted Fois Gras
"I didn't have a very firm grip on the terrine mold, so instead of lifting it, I only succeeded in pulling it off the shelf. It eluded my slippery fingers and tumbled down past my widening eyes, right into the bowl of chocolate sauce, where it bobbed for a moment, like a ship with a hull breach taking on water, and then proceeded to sink into the murky depths.
As I reached in after it, my colleagues rushed over to help me try to save it — a difficult task. Had the terrine come straight from the fridge, it would have been hard and cold, and easy to wipe off. But softened as it was, and warming even more thanks to the chocolate, it was beginning to leach out into the sauce. Tan globules were bubbling up to the surface, turning the chocolate into a mocha-colored nightmare.
I gingerly retrieved the unmolded terrine from the sauce and laid it out on my station. The other cooks and I stood over it in our chocolate-spattered whites, trying to decide how to save our patient. The first step was to halt the melting and preserve its shape, and we worked on it furiously, smoothing it over with spatulas and our fingers.
I was panicked beyond words. "
— Michelle Bernstein, from "Two Great Tastes" in Don't Try this at Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs
Linda Carucci on Basil Pesto
"To help preserve the bright green in the fresh basil, chill the olive oil before adding it to the food processor. (The cold oil mitigates some of the heat from the processor.) Some cooks add a crushed vitamin C tablet or a little ascorbic acid to preserve the color. Others pour a thin layer of oil on top of the pesto before storing."
— Linda Carucci, Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks