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Kim Severson and Julia Moskin on 'Cook Fight'

Kim Severson and Julia Moskin on 'Cook Fight'


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The New York Times authors discuss their new cookbook

Kim Severson and Julia Moskin spent years working next to each other at The New York Times’ Dining Section, but their competitive natures came out when their colleague Frank Bruni challenged them to a cooking duel. While debating how best to serve a $50 dinner party, "I was talking about how I would do it," Moskin says, "and she was talking about how she would do it, and Frank said 'Why don’t you guys just get it in print?'" The subsequent article became one of the most shared items on The New York Times’ website and so the article turned into a series, the result of which is the new cookbook Cook Fight.

To hear more from the authors about the book and which recipes of each others’ they like to cook, watch the video above and then pick up the book for whomever in your life you like to fight about cooking with.


Kim Severson and Julia Moskin on 'Cook Fight' - Recipes

Spend a long weekend writing about food this summer with New York Times food writer Kim Severson in the rustic luxury of Alaska’s Tutka Bay Lodge .

Kim will guide us as we use personally meaningful recipes as prompts to craft short food memoir essays with potential for publication. We will also consider salmon, a food that is deeply evocative for Alaskans, and its connection to family, community and place.

Writers will work alongside chef and food writer Kirsten Dixon aboard The Widgeon II, Tutka Bay Lodge’s re-purposed crabbing boat turned cooking school.

Aside from writing, participants will enjoy cooking demonstrations, foraging and a seafood-related Kachemak Bay boat tour. Hiking and yoga optional.

Kim Severson is a New York Times domestic correspondent covering food trends and news across the United States. She was previously the New York Times Atlanta bureau chief and, before that, a staff writer for the Dining section of The Times. Since she arrived at the Times in 2004, she has pushed the food beat in interesting directions and onto Page One. She previously wrote about cooking and the culture of food for the San Francisco Chronicle, after a seven-year stint as an editor and reporter at the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska.

Ms. Severson has won several regional and national awards for news and feature writing, including the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for her work on childhood obesity in 2002 and four James Beard awards for food writing.

She has written four books, “The Trans Fat Solution,” “The New Alaska Cookbook,” a memoir called “Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life,” and, in 2012, “Cook Fight!” a collaborative cookbook with fellow New York Times food writer Julia Moskin.

About Tutka Bay Lodge:

One of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, Tutka Bay Lodge is located at the end of a 7-mile fjord off the southwest coast of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula near the seaside community of Homer.

The main lodge and six guest cabins are set on a piece of remote coastline and connected by a wooden boardwalk raised above the beach and ocean. Guests feel completely immersed in the Alaska wilderness, yet they have all the comforts of home around them and five-star service in addition to the thrilling soft adventures of Alaska (fishing, kayaking, hiking, bear viewing and more). Tutka Bay Lodge is owned by Within the Wild Adventure Company, run in partnership by Carl and Kirsten Dixon and their daughters, Carly Potgieter and Mandy Dixon.



Workshop dates are July 21-23. Cost for food, lodging and instruction is $875 and includes water taxi transportation to and from Homer.

Rooms are double-occupancy. Payment in full is required at time of registration and is refundable up to 30 days prior. To reserve a spot or ask questions, email me.

There are two subsidized spots available for enrolled, degree-seeking university students. To apply for one of these, please send an email with a bio, a writing sample and a paragraph that describes your recipe and why it is meaningful to you by May 15.


Kitchen Battles

&ldquoThis isn&rsquot some macho throw down,&rdquo Moskin told PW. In fact, Severson and Moskin are the best of friends, rather like an old married couple that know each other&rsquos strengths and weaknesses as well as they do their own. Their skills as writers and cooks shine through Cook Fight&rsquos collection of essays and recipes, making this book just as enjoyable to read as it is to cook from.

Severson and Moskin recently shared their thoughts with PW on everything from friendship to Frank Bruni to pho.

For most of us, fighting in the kitchen usually results in an upset stomach or seething hatred of the other person. Is that the case with you two?

KS: No! Have we ever annoyed each other?

JM: No. The one time we did have a fight it wasn&rsquot even over food.

KS: That&rsquos right. I just got all sort of Italian, like, &ldquoYou&rsquove got to have my back at all costs.&rdquo It was all about friendship.

JM: The fight construct [of the book] is sort of playful and I hope people don&rsquot think this is like Death Match.

KS: It&rsquos like a good debate more than actual fighting. Unless you think I&rsquom wrong, Julia. Tell me!

JM: No, and it really wasn&rsquot fighting. It was more that we had competing ideas. And competing instincts and competing notions. And just a fair amount of snark.

You come from markedly different backgrounds, yet have become very close &mdash&ldquowork wives,&rdquo as you put it. What drew you together?

KS: We got thrown into the [New York Times] Dining section. Julia was already there and I came in from San Francisco. We were sitting close to each other, and here we were, two people who shared this love of cooking and food.

JM: There&rsquos a little bit of a foxhole mentality in the dining section, like we all need to stick together. Frank Bruni was sitting between us, and he was the restaurant critic and &mdashhe would say this himself&mdashhe was not much of a cook. He wasn&rsquot all that interested in all these endless conversations that Kim and I would have about lasagna. He was not among the family of people who get that you can talk about lasagna for 48 hours without stopping. That&rsquos what brought us together. We would just stick our heads up over the cubicle. Also, Kim had all these experiences I hadn&rsquot had, like eating at Ruby Tuesday&rsquos.

KS: Julia had never actually been to a suburb before! She was fascinated by all things suburb.

JM: And she was raised in the suburbs. And in the Midwest. And she has the Italian mother thing. I very much am born and raised in Manhattan, and named after Julia Child. My parents are great cooks but they learned to cook from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We had very different spheres of information and it was both helpful and also at times, totally mystifying to find out what the other person knew and didn&rsquot know.

KS: I needed Julia to help translate New York for me. I remember my parents were coming and I was going to go pick them up at the airport. She just looked at me like I was crazy and said: &lsquoYou&rsquore going to pick them up? No, no, no. This is not what you do. You get a car service.&rdquo

JM: Right! Who does that?

KS: I was also fascinated by those super-sugar-y nut carts because they always smelled so good to me when I came and visited. She would just shake her head at me and say &ldquoThose are horrible, but go ahead.&rdquo But she also showed me that the dirty water hot dog&mdashthe street hot dog&mdashis a good thing. She kept me from being such a rube on street food in New York. The other great thing about Julia is she knows the history of every restaurant, every chef and which dish came from where.

JM: Which is really annoying for most people. I walk down the street and I&rsquom like &ldquoIn 1987 there was a restaurant there that served risotto.&rdquo

KS: I couldn&rsquot get enough. It was like being with the popular girl in New York.

Each of you brings a different style and approach to cooking. What do you admire from the other&rsquos skill set?

JM: I think my main talent is I like to do a lot of research and I like to steal recipes from other people that I think are very good. I have a nose for a good recipe. Whereas Kim is actually likely to be out there cooking and testing and trying new things.

She put a recipe for pho as one of her recipes in the book and I thought, &lsquoWell that&rsquos completely insane. Who would make that at home?&rsquo Well, you know what? People do! People are really curious. And as we know from our work as food writers, young people are really branching out. I tend to be really too tame and Kim tends to be a little more out there.

KS: The point you make, and I think it&rsquos true, is that the kids today, they can make kimchee at home but they can&rsquot make a dinner for people. They can&rsquot just whip up a nice little dinner out of something they have in the &lsquofridge. People have great cooking skills but they don&rsquot know how to cook. We&rsquore not trying to teach people to cook, but we are trying to show them how to put things together in a way that is not too tricky or challenging. We just want to get a good dinner on the table most of the time.

JM: These are not things that we learned because we have some special access to chefs&mdashalthough I think our editor was a little disappointed about that&mdashthese are really just things that we learned from each other, that we learned from our moms, that we picked up from cookbooks. The fact is that while we were working on this cookbook, we were both working these sort of insane jobs. We both have small children and partners and parents, and this cookbook is a document of those years and of a life that sometimes seems unmanageable. We used each other and bounced our lives off each other in a way that produced this book.

It seems the take away from this book is that it&rsquos worth taking the time to cook and eat well. Why does good food matter to you?

KS: I think that we learn everything at the table. You learn how to share. You learn how to leave something nice on the platter for the next person. All of us has that heartfelt need to nourish ourselves and when you do it with someone else you build community. I don&rsquot drink any more so I have to get my pleasure where I can, and there&rsquos just something special about sharing something delicious with someone. There is just no better way to build a bond with someone.

JM: And also, we&rsquore both mothers and read all the research. There&rsquos that pressure about the family dinner and ultimately it&rsquos important to both of us that we convey that when you&rsquore reasonably good at cooking&mdashand you don&rsquot have to be great at it&mdashit is fun.

What do you say to the person who wants to eat better, but who is afraid of boiling water?

JM: What Laurie Colwin said: Start small. Start with one thing. Start with beef stew. Get a recipe from someone that you trust. Then follow the recipe. That&rsquos a big place where people go crazy. Sometimes people get overly ambitious. Start small. It can be a great simple dish. You don&rsquot have to run around putting cinnamon in it and wowing people with your knowledge of the chipotle. Start with the basics.

What would be your desert island meal from the other person&rsquos repertoire of foods?

JM (to KS): Gingersnaps are not a meal. [The book features a recipe for otherwordly bacon-fat gingersnaps.]

KS: I&rsquom not choosing the damn gingersnaps! I still come back to that tomato soup that you made, and your warm gougere. Those are two beautiful things. She&rsquos really got this mac &lsquon&rsquo cheese thing down, too. And these brown butter shortbread that I made the other day are really super-great. And then also the snappy green beans with the garlic and ginger. I never really liked the caramelized corn thing as much as you did -- it&rsquos okay -- but those frickin&rsquo corn fritters. She has really good corn fritters.

JM: The scalloped tomatoes definitely. And her pork braised in milk and cream, which raised all my weird ancestral kosher hackles. It just sounded so strange and it&rsquos so good. I don&rsquot know if I told you this Kim, but my sister made it the other night and&hellip

KS: Did she love it?

JM: She told me &ldquoI&rsquom on Team Kim.&rdquo I told her she can like one of your dishes, but she can&rsquot be on Team Kim. Oh, and that ginger cake recipe is excellent. That would make me happy. That is my desert island meal.


CookFight

You will need to start the brining process two days ahead.

Average user rating 0 / 4 Reviews 0 Percentage of reviewers who will make this recipe again 0 %

Bacon-Fat Gingersnaps

Amazingly, the New York Times fashion critic, Cathy Horyn, is also an accomplished cook and intrepid baker. The equivalent would be if I, a food writer, were also a sleek fashion plate with a deep bench of vintage and modern pieces. This is certainly not the case, so I find her extremely impressive. She claims that these cookies are a Swedish-American tradition in her hometown of Coshocton, Ohio, but I feel they are the cookie equivalent of Paris Fashion Week: a modern, edgy take on a classic. They are truly remarkable, with a robust and smoky undertone that sets them apart from other gingersnaps.

Average user rating 4 / 4 Reviews 8 Percentage of reviewers who will make this recipe again 75 %

White Bean Soup with Chive Oil

This creamy soup, served in tiny cups and bright with chive oil, is easy to make and serve. Kids will like the little cups and the crazy green swirl. Adults will appreciate the healthfulness and the flavor.

Average user rating 2.5 / 4 Reviews 7 Percentage of reviewers who will make this recipe again 83 %

Chive Oil

Editor's note: Use this chive oil to make White Bean Soup with Chive Oil from Kim Severson and Julia Moskin's cookbook, CookFight.

Average user rating 0 / 4 Reviews 0 Percentage of reviewers who will make this recipe again 0 % View “ Chive Oil ”

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White bean soup with chive oil, from "CookFight." (Ecco Press)

This creamy soup, served in tiny cups and bright with chive oil, is easy to make and serve. Kids will like the little cups and the crazy green swirl. Adults will appreciate the healthfulness and the flavor.

Ingredients:
2 cups dried Great Northern or other small white beans, rinsed and picked over
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 large tomato, halved, seeded, and chopped
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
8 garlic cloves, chopped
11 cups homemade chicken stock
or canned low-salt chicken broth, or more as needed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chive Oil for drizzling (recipe follows)

Put the beans in a large pot, add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches, and let soak overnight. Drain.

Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leeks, tomato, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add the beans, chicken stock, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add the half-and-half, then add more chicken stock to thin the soup if needed, and reheat the soup if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into espresso cups and top each with a few squirts or a drizzle of chive oil.

Chive Oil Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh chives
1/2 cup canola oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Fill a bowl with ice cubes and water. Blanch the chives in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain immediately and put the chives in the ice water. Drain, wrap in paper towels, and squeeze out the excess water.

Put the chives in a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend for 2 minutes strain through a fine sieve. Transfer the oil to a plastic squeeze bottle if you like. The oil can be refrigerated for up to a month bring to room temperature before using.


No customer reviews

Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com

I pre-ordered this cookbook from Amazon so I could get my greasy fingers all over it as soon as it hit the market and it's everything I was hoping for and more. The recipes are fantastic, as I expected, but I find that I've been reading it almost like a novel. The stories that accompany the Cook Fight recipes are personal and make this so much more than just another cookbook. Julia and Kim are such different people but you get a glimpse into their lives and personalities and by the end of it you feel like they're friends. My personal life feels far removed from NYC and working for the Times, yet when Julia talks about having her first child and the bewilderment and the breastfeeding and the solace that comes from just getting the fudge out of the house and eating a cookie that becomes way more than JUST a cookie, well, that resonates with me. As a mother, as a human being, as someone who takes pleasure and comfort from food. It's more than just a cookbook at that point for me and it's a fabulous cookbook.

The stories behind the recipes are as good as the recipes and the recipes have all been stellar and I've made a bunch. The milk braised pork was insane (the UPS guy caught me in the kitchen guzzling the leftover reheated sauce directly from the container - happy shame). The fiery sweet potatoes graced a Thanksgiving table this year. The domino potatoes, the cornflake chicken (I want to dip and dredge pretty much everything this way now), the salmon and cucumbers and raspberry vinaigrette, the apple pie. And the bacon fat gingersnaps have literally changed my life. I think of this recipe as my personal litmus test for future boyfriends and friends. They really were so good that my eyes rolled back into my head. I had a mouthgasm people. It was salty luscious bacon fat making sweet love to molasses and they made a tender, hauntingly sweet, beautiful little baby that I want to eat as much as humanly possible. If you can't get on the bacon fat snap train with me (vegetarians excluded) then I honestly just don't know what to do with you. Just get out.

Every recipe in Cook Fight looks intriguing to me, the variety is fantastic and the challenge aspect of the book is just fun. No recipe looks over fancified, even the fancy challenge. Everything not only looks like something I want to put in my mouth, but it also looks realistic enough for me to actually make and enjoy doing it. My spawn (6 and 9) have enthusiastically embraced and eaten every recipe so far. My BFF (aka my life wife) and I have started Sunday night Cook Fight challenge dinner parties. We pick a theme and pick team Kim or Julia and we cook, we eat, we laugh and we love. Really all the very best parts of life.


Cook Fight By Kim Severson and Julia Moskin

This is going to be a biased review. It has to be. I am in love with Kim Severson’s work. I always have been. When I read her first book, Spoon Fed, I think I sent her the longest email I have ever written. The book touched me in so many ways. When I heard there was another book coming, I can tell you I was so eager to get a copy. And this new book – Cook Fight – does not disappoint. (I am no one to judge but I don’t care for the title much but I loved the book itself!).

The book is based on a really fun and inviting concept: two food writers and cooks duel each other in the kitchen.They take each other on at the Farmer’s Market, show off their skills at cooking dinners and of course, see who does best with a tight budget.

It is a book that will get much use in the kitchen with all the easy recipes, cooking tips and wonderful sidebars

Here is a fun little recipe that I really loved:

Fiery Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from the recipe by Kim Severson and Julia Moskin

Recipe reprinted from Cook Fight (Harper Collins)

5 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 cup coconut milk
1 heaping tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 375°.

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake potatoes on a baking sheet until very soft, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash.


Cookfight! Kim Severson vs. Julia Moskin

The concept of COOKFIGHT is incredibly fresh. New York Times journalists Kim Severson and Julia Moskin, who also happen to be best friends, choose a theme (dinner on a budget, for example) and then compete to see who can make the best meal. The results of their efforts fill the pages of this book a book so chock-full of winning recipes, I’m not sure which one I want to make first. Ok, that’s a lie, I know which one I want to make first but it means I’m choosing sides in the Cookfight. (Don’t tell Kim, but it’s Julia’s pasta with roast chicken, currants and pine nuts.)

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to the New York Times building (my first time!) to interview Kim and Julia about their book. Instead of a lengthy 20 minute interview that meanders in all directions, I decided to pose various Cookfights to them to watch them duke it out. Coke vs. Pepsi, Mounds vs. Almond Joy, etc. The results are in the video below but if you have a job where you can’t watch videos at work, I’ve broken it all down for you underneath it with comic book speech balloons that recreate the conversation.

ROUND 1: COKE VS. PEPSI

ROUND 2: IN-N-OUT BURGER VS. SHAKE SHACK

ROUND 3: MOUNDS VS. ALMOND JOY

ROUND 4: VANILLA VS. CHOCOLATE

ROUND 5: GUY FIERI VS. PETE WELLS

ROUND 6: GRITS VS. POLENTA

What say YOU readers? Where do you stand in these important food battles? Let us know in the comments! And make sure to pick up a copy of COOKFIGHT the next time you’re in a book store. It’s entertaining (as you can see from the above) and makes you very, very hungry.


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I pre-ordered this cookbook from Amazon so I could get my greasy fingers all over it as soon as it hit the market and it's everything I was hoping for and more. The recipes are fantastic, as I expected, but I find that I've been reading it almost like a novel. The stories that accompany the Cook Fight recipes are personal and make this so much more than just another cookbook. Julia and Kim are such different people but you get a glimpse into their lives and personalities and by the end of it you feel like they're friends. My personal life feels far removed from NYC and working for the Times, yet when Julia talks about having her first child and the bewilderment and the breastfeeding and the solace that comes from just getting the fudge out of the house and eating a cookie that becomes way more than JUST a cookie, well, that resonates with me. As a mother, as a human being, as someone who takes pleasure and comfort from food. It's more than just a cookbook at that point for me and it's a fabulous cookbook.

The stories behind the recipes are as good as the recipes and the recipes have all been stellar and I've made a bunch. The milk braised pork was insane (the UPS guy caught me in the kitchen guzzling the leftover reheated sauce directly from the container - happy shame). The fiery sweet potatoes graced a Thanksgiving table this year. The domino potatoes, the cornflake chicken (I want to dip and dredge pretty much everything this way now), the salmon and cucumbers and raspberry vinaigrette, the apple pie. And the bacon fat gingersnaps have literally changed my life. I think of this recipe as my personal litmus test for future boyfriends and friends. They really were so good that my eyes rolled back into my head. I had a mouthgasm people. It was salty luscious bacon fat making sweet love to molasses and they made a tender, hauntingly sweet, beautiful little baby that I want to eat as much as humanly possible. If you can't get on the bacon fat snap train with me (vegetarians excluded) then I honestly just don't know what to do with you. Just get out.

Every recipe in Cook Fight looks intriguing to me, the variety is fantastic and the challenge aspect of the book is just fun. No recipe looks over fancified, even the fancy challenge. Everything not only looks like something I want to put in my mouth, but it also looks realistic enough for me to actually make and enjoy doing it. My spawn (6 and 9) have enthusiastically embraced and eaten every recipe so far. My BFF (aka my life wife) and I have started Sunday night Cook Fight challenge dinner parties. We pick a theme and pick team Kim or Julia and we cook, we eat, we laugh and we love. Really all the very best parts of life.


Customer reviews

Review this product

Top reviews from Australia

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I pre-ordered this cookbook from Amazon so I could get my greasy fingers all over it as soon as it hit the market and it's everything I was hoping for and more. The recipes are fantastic, as I expected, but I find that I've been reading it almost like a novel. The stories that accompany the Cook Fight recipes are personal and make this so much more than just another cookbook. Julia and Kim are such different people but you get a glimpse into their lives and personalities and by the end of it you feel like they're friends. My personal life feels far removed from NYC and working for the Times, yet when Julia talks about having her first child and the bewilderment and the breastfeeding and the solace that comes from just getting the fudge out of the house and eating a cookie that becomes way more than JUST a cookie, well, that resonates with me. As a mother, as a human being, as someone who takes pleasure and comfort from food. It's more than just a cookbook at that point for me and it's a fabulous cookbook.

The stories behind the recipes are as good as the recipes and the recipes have all been stellar and I've made a bunch. The milk braised pork was insane (the UPS guy caught me in the kitchen guzzling the leftover reheated sauce directly from the container - happy shame). The fiery sweet potatoes graced a Thanksgiving table this year. The domino potatoes, the cornflake chicken (I want to dip and dredge pretty much everything this way now), the salmon and cucumbers and raspberry vinaigrette, the apple pie. And the bacon fat gingersnaps have literally changed my life. I think of this recipe as my personal litmus test for future boyfriends and friends. They really were so good that my eyes rolled back into my head. I had a mouthgasm people. It was salty luscious bacon fat making sweet love to molasses and they made a tender, hauntingly sweet, beautiful little baby that I want to eat as much as humanly possible. If you can't get on the bacon fat snap train with me (vegetarians excluded) then I honestly just don't know what to do with you. Just get out.

Every recipe in Cook Fight looks intriguing to me, the variety is fantastic and the challenge aspect of the book is just fun. No recipe looks over fancified, even the fancy challenge. Everything not only looks like something I want to put in my mouth, but it also looks realistic enough for me to actually make and enjoy doing it. My spawn (6 and 9) have enthusiastically embraced and eaten every recipe so far. My BFF (aka my life wife) and I have started Sunday night Cook Fight challenge dinner parties. We pick a theme and pick team Kim or Julia and we cook, we eat, we laugh and we love. Really all the very best parts of life.


Watch the video: Cockfighting Crackdown. The New York Times (July 2022).


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