Food For Thought

Food For Thought

From KNKX Public Radio

"Food for Thought" with critic Nancy Leson airs Wednesdays on KNKX. Her slice-of-life food commentaries air the third Wednesday of each month; on subsequent Wednesdays she joins Midday Jazz host Dick Stein for a tasty Q&A.More from Food For Thought »

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Food For Thought: Kitchen Cool Tools

Sometimes the simplest kitchen tools are the most useful. One of my favorites is an old rubber mallet I picked up at the auto parts years ago. I use it for pounding meat. It was cheaper than the "official" flesh whackers sold in kitchen stores and way easier to handle than the frequently suggested substitute, a cast-iron skillet.

Food For Thought: Dos and Don'ts For Dining Out

"All the chefs think they know how to season your meal," complains Nancy Leson about the disappearance of salt and pepper shakers from restaurant tabletops. That's never bothered me. Mainly because I think the chefs do know how to season my meal. But for those who want it saltier, Nance has the solution: Bring your own. That and other restaurant-going tips and tricks, dos and don'ts in this week's Food for Thought .

Food For Thought: Mom Food Memories

"Well, Nance," I reminded Nancy Leson . "Mother's Day is Sunday – let's talk about some mom food." Since Nancy actually is somebody's mother I wanted to know not just what dishes her mother made, but also the ones she thought her son would remember. First her own childhood favorites.

Food For Thought: 21 Kitchen Tips And Tricks

Nancy Leson and I love sharing cooking and eating tips and tricksm, but we don't always see things the same way. Nance says we agree to disagree. I say we agree to each think the other is wrong and say so. This week we rattle off 21 of our favorites — including two that could save you a trip to the emergency room.

Food For Thought: Fakin' Bacon

So Leson emails me a link to a Bon Appetite recipe which claims to make mushrooms taste like bacon. In the subject line she writes "Methinks this has an FfT in it." Methought the same.

Food For Thought: Sniff, Memory!

Nothing evokes memory like smells. Nancy Leson says one whiff of mint, and she's suddenly 6 again. My ticket to 6 is a strong snort off a box of Crayolas. Try it sometime.

Food For Thought: Day Of The Dumpling

A slight touch of pneumonia got in the way of the dim sum feast I'd planned with my visiting sister Debbie and niece Jen, both ace cooks. Fast forward a year and we were ready to roll (wrappers) again. Naturally, Nancy Leson came to share the cooking and eating. The one thing I knew we'd have to make was Mandy Lee's crystal shrimp with shrimp oil and cashew butter flavored mayonnaise. After all, the stuff's made with shrimp heads!

Food For Thought: Nancy's Speed Pickles

Nancy Leson was more into pickles than I was this winter. "Late last fall, when the last of the local peppers were at the farmer's market I snagged some gorgeous red jalapenos and I pickled a small batch," she said. Nance says she continued to make them through the winter and has used them on everything from sandwiches to salads. "And," she adds, "that salty, sweet pickling brine makes a great vinaigrette." The brine recipe is from Marisa McClellen's " Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches ." Searching for the perfect pickle to top sardines? Nancy says go Thai.

Food For Thought: Restaurants Where Familiarity Breeds Contentment

Hi. Nancy here. I recently read an article about the joys of being a restaurant regular and the tears inevitably shed when your favorite restaurant hauls out the "closed" sign — for good . It got me thinking about the places I hit on a regular basis, and what it is about those particular restaurants that turned me into a regular in the first place. Stein nailed it when I brought up the subject on this week's Food for Thought . "Proximity," he said. Bingo. If I have to schlep across town to get to a place, no matter how much I love it, I won't go too often. If a restaurant's nearby, it's got a big leg-up. Or in the case of Stein's go-to joint: eight legs. His favorite Mexican restaurant, Vuelve a la Vida , is identifiable by its signage and known — to him and his wife (the lovely and talented Cheryl DeGroot) — as "The Smiling Octopus," thanks to its happy logo of a sombrero-wearing cephalopod. They go there on Thursdays, aka "Chile Rellenos Night" when, says Stein, "The only question is

Food For Thought: Sear Your Steak Before or After?

Traditional lore says sear your steak first then finish it at a lower temperature. I recently tried J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's "reverse sear" method, which saves the sear for last and liked it. Nancy Leson's approach is sear first, oven second..

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