Hasta La Pasta

Michael White Shoots for a Little Old School Industry Camaraderie Monday Nights at Osteria Morini

Cappelletti at Osteria Morini (photo copyright by Nick Solares, courtesy Altamarea Group)

Tonight, Michael White’s Osteria Morini (218 Lafayette Street) will kick off what the chef hopes will become a regular stop on the late-night culinary circuit: “Industry” pasta nights. The restaurant is offering all its pastas for $10 from 9:30pm until closing every Monday night. You’re supposed to mention that you’re in “the industry” but nobody’ll check your working papers or ask you for the secret handshake. So if you’re a toque on a night off, or enjoying an early push-off time on one of the quieter nights of the week, or just a pasta-loving New Yorker or visitor to our fair city who enjoys pasta, you might want to stop in and end your day with a bargain bowl of top-notch noodles, or carbo load for the long bar crawl ahead.

I spoke to Michael about this new promotion over the weekend and he says he started it in hopes of conjuring a little of the community he enjoyed as a young cook–he has especially fond memories of  late nights at Blue Ribbon–but which he feels has gone out of the biz in recent years. He’ll be on hand this evening, and I plan to drop in myself.

Andrew

Inside the Writer’s Studio

A Working Session Reveals Where the Chef Ends and the Collaborator Begins 

[Editor’s Note: In this post, the second of a two-part series about working on a cookbook proposal for Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook, we take you inside a working session. – A.F.]

Harold Dieterle, left, and Andrew Friedman, at Morandi restaurant, NYC

The other day, I shared a little about how the idea for my next collaboration, Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook, came about. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read that post before reading this one, to familiarize yourself with the book’s concept and structure.

Today, I thought it might be interesting to take you inside an actual working session, for two reasons: (a) to demonstrate how a cookbook takes shape, from inception to publication; this is the first collaboration I’ve taken on since relaunching Toqueland earlier this year, and I plan to track its every development here, and (b) after the confusion left in the wake of some recent newspaper stories about collaborating, I thought there’d be nothing like pulling back the curtain on the process to help clear up how things actually work, at least between one chef and one collaborator.

Two of the most important components of a cookbook proposal are the sample recipes and text. Herewith, the genesis of some material, in three steps:

STEP 1:

Harold emails me a recipe for a dish.

Here is the recipe for Ricotta Cheese, Acorn Squash Tempura, Truffle Honey, Sunflower Seeds, and Grilled Bread, exactly as it was received:

Tempura

All Purpose Flour 1 cup

Soda Water 1 pint

Put the flour & soda water in a bowl; mix vigorously with a whisk, then strain & reserve.

Acorn Squash- peeled, sliced 1/4in thick 1ea. / about 16 slices

Truffle Honey 2T

Sunflower Seeds-toasted 3T

Grilled/toasted Sourdough Bread- ¼ inch thick 8 slices

S&P tt **

Extra Virgin Olive oil 4 T

[** “tt” = “to taste”]

Preheat deep fry or large pot of oil to 350f. Coat the acorn squash slices in tempura batter. Remove excess batter and place in the oil for about 2 minutes or till golden brown. Remove from oil, season generously with salt & pepper and lay on paper towel.

To The plate;

Place 2 slices of bread on each plate drizzle each slice with olive oil, place ricotta cheese on each slice. Next drizzle truffle honey over the cheese, sprinkle sunflower seeds over the top. Finish by laying squash tempura over the top.

[NOTE: Harold also sent along his recipe for homemade ricotta and ways to vary/use it, all of which has been edited below. In the interest of space, I’m not including his version here; suffice it to say the level of detail and description was comparable to what you see above.]

STEP 2:

We conduct an interview based on the recipe.

Here’s the audio of our interview about both the dish and the ricotta cheese. I’m presenting the full, 7-minute dialog here for those interested in how all elements find their way into the text that follows, but you might well get the gist after a minute or two.

Harold Dieterle Interview – ricotta (April 13, 2012)

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Eureka!

After Months of Brainstorming with Harold Dieterle, A Cookbook Concept Emerges

[Editor’s Note: In this post, the first of a two-part series, we take you inside the process of developing of a new book project. This piece describes how a concept is devised; the follow-up, which I’ll run on Friday, will take you inside a working session, complete with audio of an interview and an illustration of how a chef-collaborator relationship works. – A.F.]

Right in Front of Our Noses: Everything We Needed to Know was Locked in Here (photo copyright by Andrew Friedman)

Every so often, somebody pondering a book idea asks me for advice. One of the questions that inevitably arises is how long it takes to write a book proposal, the document that literary agents circulate to editors and publishers in hopes of setting the project up with a publishing house.

“Writing a proposal only takes a few weeks,” I say. “The variable is how long it takes to come up with a concept.”

With very few exceptions, even the most well-known culinary celebrities need a solid concept to convince a publisher that their book is viable. Oh, sure, if you’re a big enough television star, you might be able to sell the flimsiest of ideas, or even enter into a blind book deal, with the idea to come at a later date. Generally speaking, though, a concept will make or break one’s publishing prospects.

I’ve collaborated on projects where the concept was evident from the get-go, restaurant books being the most obvious examples, along with those that grew directly out of a chef’s area of specialization, such as Go Fish, which Laurent Tourondel and I conceived while he was the chef of the posh seafood temple Cello. In cases where the concept isn’t as turnkey, my main goal is to come up with a concept that bridges what a particular chef does in his or her restaurant kitchen(s) with what home cooks do in theirs. Sometimes the answer reveals itself quickly; others it can take several frustrating months

As mentioned a few months back on this site, Harold Dieterle and I have been engaged in a sporadic dialogue about a possible cookbook project since last fall. It’s been a long and winding road: At first, we were going to write a Thai book since Harold has such a passion for it. But we succumbed to the commercial limitations of that notion, switched gears, and decided to write a more general cookbook. To put it in restaurant terms, we went from focusing on what Harold does at Kin Shop to what he does at Perilla.

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