All Posts By Jonathan Milder

Steak Myths: 3 Rules Not to Follow

by in How-to, July 23rd, 2014

Steak is not like other foods; it is sufficient in itself, or very nearly so. Add salt and heat (fire preferably), and you have something no culinary sleight of hand can improve on. Does a steak need a recipe? Heck no. But recipes abound, and with them come all manner of tips, tricks and techniques, most of which diminish your likelihood of cooking a great steak. Read more

Cocktail Guides

by in Books, Drinks, May 13th, 2014

Cocktail GuidesWhether you’re planning a cocktail party or just desire a good, strong drink, it’s nice to have a solid cocktail book to turn to. Here are three Food Network Kitchen favorites that’ll serve you in good stead in times of need.

The Craft of the Cocktail, Dale DeGroff (2002)
From the man widely credited with reviving interest in classic (pre-Prohibition) American cocktails. Dale educates, instructs and amuses in equal turn here. All bases are covered: Techniques are lavishly illustrated; spirits are usefully broken down and brands recommended; and cocktails are typologically organized, their histories winningly recounted. Since its publication, The Craft of the Cocktail has become a bible for bartenders professional and amateur alike. It remains essential.

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Tailgating Cookbooks: A League of Their Own

by in Books, January 15th, 2014

Tailgating Cookbooks: A League of Their OwnWhether you’re a fan of the game or just of game-day food, there’s no denying the appeal of football cuisine. For this month’s recommendations, I set out to assemble an all-star lineup of the best of Food Network Library’s tailgating cookbooks. I fast found myself slipping down a rabbit hole into a vast and unfamiliar world of community cookbooks devoted to collegiate tailgating — a world where the NCAA begins to look like one massive Junior League that’s as devoted to recipes as to pass receptions.

It was amazing how numerous these cookbooks turned out to be (ripe terrain for a collector, for sure). To name just a few: Tar Heel Tailgating (University of North Carolina), Purdue Alumnus Tailgate Recipe Cookbook, University of Texas Longhorns’ Cookbook, Teatime to Tailgates (Kansas State University), Rocky Top Saturdays (University of Tennessee) and my favorite (in title, at least) Let the Big Dawg Eat (University of Georgia).

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Cookbooks for Grill Jockeys, Pit Bosses and Other Flame Tamers

by in Books, July 9th, 2013

Cookbooks for Grill Jockeys, Pit Bosses and Other Flame TamersYou can smell it in the air: millions of long-dormant grills being lit in observance of the rites of warm weather, bright sunshine and long days. ‘Tis the season when our nation smells of wood smoke. ‘Tis summer: the happiest time of year, as far as I’m concerned.

This time of year is also the most delicious. I am 100-percent convinced that nothing served in any restaurant ever tastes as good as food that you, yourself, cook outdoors with friends on a sunny day. Nothing. No competition. This is not to say that everything that comes off a grill is perfect. The experience, however, is perfect, replete, enough.

For this month’s cookbook recommendations, I’ve rounded up four books that approach live-fire cooking from a variety of angles — from grilling to barbecue to smoking and everything in between. Some of these, like the Jamisons’ Smoke & Spice, are long-established classics; others, like Adam Perry Lang’s Charred & Scruffed, are relative newcomers well on their way to achieving similar status. All are full of valuable instruction and fantastic recipes. So whether you’re a novice grill jockey or a seasoned backyard pit boss, the following four Food Network Library favorites will have you all fired up this summer.

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Cookbooks for the Graduating Class and Other Kitchen Freshman

by in Books, May 30th, 2013

Cookbooks for the Graduating Class and BeginnersCookbooks are not the first place one turns to for humor. Funny cookbooks do exist: Peg Bracken’s classic The I Hate to Cook Book (1960) is one; Amy Sedaris’ more recent — and terrific — I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2006) is another. But most cookbooks assume people can’t handle too much humor with their how-to. Fair enough.

Cookbooks for rank beginners, however, make up a well-established subgenre that plays by its own set of rules. Rule #1: Keep ‘em laughing. Cookbooks for novices specialize in a very specific form of comic hyperbole, playing up the presumed ignorance of their target reader (usually a recent graduate or a bachelor) who is posited as either starving or idiotic, or both a hapless sloven who has just barely mastered the arts of chewing and swallowing. These books are easy to recognize by their titles: The Bachelor’s Guide to Ward Off Starvation, Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen, and my personal favorite, Your Shirt Is Not an Oven Mitt! (All three, I’m proud to say, have a home in the Food Network Library.)

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Quatro for Cinco — Cookbooks

by in Books, Holidays, April 27th, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Cookbook RecommendationsA quick history lesson: Cinco de Mayo was born on the fifth day of the fifth month of the year 1862, when General Ignacio Zaragoza, with the support of local civilians and Zacapoaxtla Indians, led 2,000 poorly equipped Mexican soldiers to victory over 6,000 French cavalry and infantrymen at the Battle of Puebla. Though Zaragoza’s success was short-lived — the following year, French forces swept through Puebla en route to Mexico City, where they managed to overthrow the still-young Mexican Republic — his victory lives on in Mexico, where Cinco de Mayo is a minor national holiday, primarily observed in Puebla and Mexico City. And also more obscurely but perhaps more passionately, in the United States, where in recent decades Cinco de Mayo has morphed into a major festival of Chicano culture.

It’s with this latter, domestic incarnation in mind that, for this month’s cookbook recommendations, I have plucked some choice morsels detailing the remarkable contributions of Mexican-Americans to regional cooking in the United States. So, just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here is a virtual tour of Mexican-influenced border cooking — from Tex-Mex to Cal-Mex, with a stop along the way in Santa Fe, N.M. — in four cookbooks that beautifully sketch the cultural wellsprings from which these regional cuisines were born.

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Cookbooks for Good Eggs

by in Books, Holidays, March 18th, 2013

Cookbooks for Good EggsIs it possible to ascribe narcissism to a foodstuff? Do ingredients have egos? Is there vanity in a vegetable? The curious world of single-subject cookbooks suggests “yes!” Broccoli, did you really need an entire book? Hemp, wouldn’t a magazine feature have sufficed? Foods on sticks, where is your modesty?

Eggs are another story. There is no egotism in an egg book, not when you consider the crucial role eggs play in nearly every aspect of cooking, from breakfast to dinner, sweet to savory. Yes, eggs deserve a book — books! And books they’ve gotten. One online source lists 405 cookbooks on the subject.

At the Food Network Library, we keep a mere half dozen, but each is so wonderful in its own way that we just had to share. Here are four favorites from past and (recent) present: the best, the most-charming and the most-beautiful egg books from Food Network’s shelves.

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Cookbooks for Cold Months

by in Books, February 18th, 2013

Cookbooks for Cold MonthsI’m the librarian of the Food Network’s library. I am looking for winter, but struggling. I see Mindy Heiferling’s A Taste of Spring, Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking and Rick Rodgers’ Autumn Gatherings. Nowhere do I find winter.

This seems odd. Without the luxury of hibernation, I find that we’re forced into the kitchen during winter — if only in search of warmth or light. Our kitchens slow down to the pace of a simmer, larders get rooty, meats get more stew worthy. Winter may be low season in the farm cycle, but it is high season for cooking. Winter’s true harvest is to be found in the kitchen.

Cookbooks may pretend to have an aversion to winter, but don’t believe them. To find winter, look for it in bowls. Because bowl foods, literally and spiritually, physically and metaphysically, radiate warmth. Cold hands like a warm bowl. And the soups, stews, braises and other slow-cooking one-pot dishes that belong to bowls are the foods that truly deserve the name “comfort food” (everything else is the comfort of nostalgia).

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What’s New? Make Some Room for These Food Items in 2013

by in News, January 2nd, 2013

GochujangFood Network Kitchens have come up with their annual list of the top food trends that will define 2013. Last week, Jonathan Milder shared 2013’s Trailblazing Chefs and Blazing-Hot Flavors. Today, he’s listing the 10 items you should have stocked in your pantry and refrigerators for the upcoming year.

1. Artisanal hard cider (the boozy stuff!) is the new craft beer.
2. Sweet potatoes are the new potatoes.
3. Paleo is the new gluten-free (gluten-free is the new low-carb).
4. Roasted seaweed is the new kale chip.
5. Carrots are the new kale.
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Trailblazing Chefs and Blazing-Hot Flavors — 2013 Predictions From Food Network Kitchens

by in News, December 23rd, 2012

Blazing Hot Flavors - 2013 Food Trend PredictionsFood Network Kitchens have come up with their annual list of the top food trends that will define 2013. Check out some of the trends here.

1. Pop “Culture” — Is fermentation poised to be the new yoga? Beer, miso, yogurt, kombucha and their kin will multiply in 2013. Chefs love fermentation because it’s the ultimate source of complex flavors (it’s what makes grapes into a glass of wine), marketers love selling “live active cultures,” health nuts appreciate probiotics, and DIY-ers are learning that it’s easy to get into.

2. Heat Seekers — With jalapenos and chipotles now as common as meat and potatoes, the search for spicy satisfaction will lead us to seek heat in new places. The mass market is getting on board with Doritos taco shells, Sriracha popcorn and Spicy Pizzeria Cracker Jacks, while chefs are exploring warming Aleppo pepper and numbing Sichuan pepper.

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