There aren’t many tools that get to make an appearance in the kitchen at breakfast. Apart from your basic pots and pans, most breakfast favorites don’t require all that much — and they rarely require appliances. But the blender is different.
Just in case there was anyone still out there mistaking me for some sort of domestic diva, or even a moderately skilled at being domestic, you should know that it has taken until the spring of the year 2016, nearly a full decade after starting a food website where I’ve had the brass to coax others along in the kitchen as if I had some sort of innate greater understanding of it, for me to learn how to use my broiler. Prior to
consulting experts reading my oven’s manual um, Googling it a few months ago, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why other people managed to broil things whenever they needed for as long as they needed but mine shut off after 4 minutes. It turns out that cracking open the oven door keeps the temperature from getting so high in the oven that it goes into a panic a shuts off, freeing me fulfill my lifelong fantasy of setting all my food on fire.
I’m only a little bit joking. Last summer, trying to return to a level of normalcy in the weeks after bringing the sweetest potato home from the hospital, Alex and I spent a week Netflix binging on the first season of Chef’s Table and I fell head over heels for cooking I will probably never experience in my life, that from Francis Mallmann, the Argentine chef whose specialty is wild, open-fire cooking — everything over wood fire, usually in an open pit, on cast iron planchas and parrillas, and sometimes in the ashes too. And his food looks out of this world — even something as simple as a cheese toast made with a log of goat cheese you can get at your local Stop & Shop is transformed in a griddle over open flames into a crisp, golden-brown crusted melt that I would climb through a television screen to get at. The episode ended and I declared it time to get a fire pit. My husband cited fire codes and other pesky side effects of living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I sulked.
Fear of the unknown is a common facet of human nature, and that’s definitely true when it comes to what we eat. So it’s no surprise that the popularization of sous-vide cooking has been met with a degree of suspicion. In fact, I’d be surprised if every historical food innovation hadn’t been met with similar resistance. Perhaps at some point in the hazy days of prehistory, there was an Ogg or Grok who expressed skepticism about that newfangled stuff they called fire.
Happily, despite the science-y trappings of sous-vide cooking, it doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand how it can be done safely.
You know you’ve got yourself a party when the scalloped potatoes show up at the table. With its layers of cream and potatoes, and then more cream and more potatoes, all baked until bubbly — well, I would be hard-pressed to think of another dish that pairs comfort and elegance quite so perfectly. Here’s how to make this classic dish for your next dinner party.