The Case for Cooking With Vinegar

By an unfortunate set of circumstances, characterizing a person or thing as “sour as vinegar” implies negative traits. It may stem from the French origins of the word vinegar, vin aigre, meaning “sour wine”—an unfair assumption that all vinegar is made…

By an unfortunate set of circumstances, characterizing a person or thing as "sour as vinegar" implies negative traits. It may stem from the French origins of the word vinegar, vin aigre, meaning “sour wine”—an unfair assumption that all vinegar is made of bad juice. I can tell you for a fact, the best vinegars in the world are made of superlative ingredients, and fermented with intention. The outcome: a bright pantry staple that accentuates any food it touches.

Having worked in many restaurant kitchens, I couldn’t count if I tried the number of times I’ve heard a chef say, "If a dish is missing something, it probably needs acid." With this in mind, I wrote a book called Acid Trip, in which I traversed the globe learning how to make myriad vinegars, as well as cook with them. I’d be lying if I said I found one steadfast rule for how to use vinegar, aside from the belittling option to use it to clean.

Read More >>

Bagels Have a Hole Lot to Learn From English Muffins

In high school I worked at a pizzeria called Capriccio in Croton-on-Hudson, one of those hamlet towns in Westchester, New York. It established my benchmarks for what makes a good slice: thin and airy with a well-cooked crust; sufficiently sauced, but n…

In high school I worked at a pizzeria called Capriccio in Croton-on-Hudson, one of those hamlet towns in Westchester, New York. It established my benchmarks for what makes a good slice: thin and airy with a well-cooked crust; sufficiently sauced, but not too thick a layer that the slick of sweet, slightly acidic tomato impedes the cheese from adhering to the dough. It’s a simple set of dictums from a reputable source.

Be it myth or legend, most New Yorkers believe the city’s pizzas and bagels are superior because of the soft water. The majority of that water comes from the New Croton Dam—the thing my hometown is most famous for—which, upon completion in 1906, was the tallest dam in the world, and the third largest hand-hewn structure after the Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China. Holding nearly 20 billion gallons of water amongst 1 million cubic yards of masonry, it’s quite a feat to behold. I grew up sledding the snowy banks by Croton Gorge Park, set downstream from the spillway where the flowing waters burble by.

Read More >>