Eat, Work, Love: Aarón Sánchez Up Close and Personal | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Episode 401
January 15, 2021
Originally aired on January 3, 2020

Eat, Work, Love: Aarón Sánchez Up Close and Personal

Eat, Work, Love: Aarón Sánchez Up Close and Personal

We chat with superstar chef Aarón Sánchez about finding food, finding love and finding himself. Plus, we discover the history and nuance of the martini cocktail; we share our recipe for Norwegian salmon; and Dan Pashman makes a case for picky eaters.

Questions in this Episode

“Do you have any suggestions for making a wonderful homemade ketchup?”

“I went to a decent butcher and saw “Dairy Tenderloin” on sale for $7.99/Pound. I cut some up for Kebobs, which were marinated in a Mediterranean mixture for 8 hours and finally grilled over charcoal. The final dish tasted all right but I noticed a couple of the kebobs had a livery taste/texture. So, I’m wondering: 1. What’d I do wrong? 2. Can I prevent the liver flavor? 3. Is there something about the Dairy Tenderloin that contributes to this flavor?

“I have recipes for brown bread that call for baking or steaming in a 1-pound coffee can. Since coffee no longer comes in 1-pound cans and I can’t find any in kitchen stores or online, what do you suggest?”

“I’ve been using my mom’s recipe for pumpkin rolls for a few years, and I have been experimenting with making the recipe my own. However, we both struggle with the same part of the recipe - the bread. I’m currently using regular flour, but it cracks so easily when taken out of the pan or in rolling. What can do to make a stronger bread that won’t crack so easily when taken out of the pan or rolling it?”

“Do you know anything about the flavor compounds in maple syrup and maple sugar being affected by high heat during baking?”

Milk Street Radio - Aaron Sanchez

Christopher Kimball
Hi, this is Christopher Kimball. Thanks for listening to Milk Street radio. You can go to our website 177milkstreet.com to get our recipes to stream or a television show or to get our latest cookbooks. Here's this week's show. This is Milk Street radio from PRX. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Today we're chatting with Aarón Sánchez. He's chef cookbook author, also judge on chopped and master chef. He's well known for his modern approach to Mexican cooking, also for encouraging and promoting Latino chefs.


Aarón Sánchez
You know, I can't tell you how many times I go to restaurants, in all my travels and inevitably, you know, somebody from Latino descent comes from the kitchen and says, Can I get a photograph? Can I talk to you, you know, because you represent us. So now the message and the mission has changed so much from when I started.


CK
Also coming up, we share a recipe for Norwegian salmon, and later on Dan Pashman defends picky eaters. But first, it's my interview with Robert Simonson, who writes about cocktails, spirits bars, and bartenders for the New York Times. his new book is called the martini cocktail. Robert, welcome to Milk Street.


Robert Simonson
Well, thank you.


CK
The Martini cocktail, a meditation of the world's greatest drink with recipes you write, when a youthful waiter brought you one to your table. You describe it as the cocktail had an unappetizing lukewarm look to it. It made me shudder, mustering up a starchy hauteur I didn't know I possessed, I turned to the poor waiter and said, quote, excuse me, but I think this is undrinkable. So for starters, you take martinis seriously!


RS
Yes, I even took them seriously back in 1991. When I really didn't know anything about them. That's when that incident occurred. And I just knew instinctively that you should take a martini seriously, and you should worry about how it's made.


CK
So what was wrong with it?


RS
It wasn't cold enough. Yeah, I watched it get warmer from across the dining room. So indeed, when I researched this book, that was one of the main things that I was reminded of that more than any other cocktail, the martini needs to be ice cold.


CK
So I'm an old fashioned fan. And there's the sweet there's the bitters, the amount of ice a lot of things to talk about. a martini is a relatively simple concept. Is that why it's such a classic?


RS
I think it's a classic. And that on the surface, it's simple. But within that simplicity, there's a lot of complexity. You only have three ingredients, you have gin, and vermouth, and classically orange bitters. And then you just have the twist to worry about or, or an olive. But people forget that. gin is an incredibly complex spirit. It has many, many botanicals in it, and vermouth is even more complex. So when you put those together, you're tasting a lot of things. Anytime you have a well made Martini. You're probably tasting 15 or 16 things at once. And I think that is part of what keeps people fascinated.


CK
So let's assume I'm a beginning bartender, you're giving me a lesson, I'm making the perfect Martini. What are the things you absolutely have to do right? And what are the things you absolutely do not want to do wrong?


RS
I would say a couple things that are very important. One is to stir it a long time over ice to get that proper chill, you do want it to be cold. And you also want it to be diluted. This is a very strong drink. So you want it to spend a little time on the ice. Because water, like every cocktail, is actually part of the recipe. Another thing I would stress is that you should stir at Martini as opposed to shake it. They'll both end up cold. But there is no reason to shake a martini because there's no citrus in there, there's no milk or egg or anything that's difficult to integrate. It's it's straight alcohol, and you just need to stir it.


CK
Let's do the history. So the first time the recipe shows up is probably in the 1880s, something like that. But you have a wonderful chapter about lies, lies and more lies about origin stories. Could you just take us through some of those fictitious origin stories?


RS
Sure. A couple of them have it been born on the west coast. One says it was born in the town of Martinez. And a lot of people think that the martini evolved from a similar drink called the Martinez. And so the city of Martinez says this is how this happened. And then there is another theory that took place in New York City at the Knickerbocker hotel, which still stands in Times Square. This took place in the 1910s. And supposedly the drink got its name because the bartender’s first name was Martini. I go into some depth in the book as to why none of the theories actually make any sense. But they continue to have a life. It's because people don't like a vacuum. You know, they want there to be an origin story of the martini.


CK
So the truth is it just sort of arrived in the 1880s in a bartenders manual, but nobody really knows how it got its start.


RS
I think it's likely that it was probably invented by a number of bartenders at the same time. The critical ingredient in the early martinis was vermouth. vermouth was not a common thing in the United States. At that point, it was imported and drunk in Italian communities and large cities in the United States. But it was not common. Starting in the 1870s 1980s, we saw a lot more vermouth in the United States. And bartenders have always been very creative people. So when you have a new ingredient, you start putting it with other ingredients and see if you can come up with a new cocktail.


CK
You must care deeply about the brand of gin and vermouth.


RS
Well when I make it a martini, I tend to lean towards the London dry brands that have been around a long time. Labels like Beefeater and Tanqueray, and Plymouth gin, and Bombay gin. If you're spending more than $40 on your bottle of gin, you're you're probably doing it wrong. And it's even harder to spend a lot of money on vermouth. vermouth is dirt cheap.


CK
So would you view me, people like me, who are old fashioned aficionados as sort of cocktail knuckle draggers. Because it sounds to me like you're saying and I understand the martini is a very subtle drink. But when you get to a sugar cube and a bunch of bitters in an old fashioned, it's not as subtle as the martini. So the martini is that the apex of the pyramid for subtle cocktails?


RS
No, no, I would never say that. I actually wrote a book in 2014, called the old fashioned. So obviously, I have as much affection for the old fashioned as the martini. And there's there's nothing nothing knuckle dragging about ordering that drink. There's a lot of sophistication in that drink.


CK
Now, someone was telling me the old fashioned called the old fashioned because it was the original mixed drink. Is that right?


RS
The original name for the drink is the whiskey cocktail. The whiskey cocktail goes back to like the late 1700s. And it was just whiskey and bitters and sugar and water. And then you flash forward to the 1870s 1880s. And bartenders are trying to improve the drink. And they're putting in a touch of absinthe, putting in a touch of Curacao, you know, thinking that they're making a better drink. And the customers got tired of this. And so they started asking for an old fashioned whiskey cocktail. Later that became abbreviated to just I'll have an old fashioned.


CK
Oh, that's interesting I've heard that rumor for 20 years, and you cleared it up. So So finally, I go to a bar and I order Martini. Do you just order Martini? Or do you actually offer more information?


RS
You should offer more information, but you don't really have to. Because the moment you order a martini, if it's a good bar, you're going to get the questions anyway. And the first thing the bartender is going to ask you is gin or vodka. And then he's going to ask you up or on the rocks and Olive or Twist, because the bartender doesn't want to get it wrong and have to make it over again. Right. But when I go into a bar, I just like, you know, I cut through all that and I say I'd like a gin Martini, three to one up with a twist. It doesn't take much time.


CK
Robert, thank you so much for being on Milk Street. It's been a great pleasure.


RS
It's been a lot of fun. Thank you so much.


CK
That was Robert Simonson, author of the martini cocktail, a meditation on the world's greatest drink with recipes. It's time for my co host, Sara Moulton, and I to answer your culinary question. Sara is of course the star of Sara's weeknight meals on public television. also the author of home cooking one on one.


SM
So Chris, before we take the first call, tell me about your first food memorie as a child.



CK
My first fascinating food memory from my point of view was making I was eight or nine years old, I baked the chocolate cake with seven minute icing. It was either out of joy or it was out of Fannie farmer it’s one of those classic books we had lying around. We only had three cookbooks in the house at the time. And it was my first real you know, baking project,


SM
how did it come out?


CK
The chocolate cake actually came out pretty well. You know, this was not a box mix. This is all from scratch. And the seven minute icing, which you know is a little dicey to make, came out like snot. I mean, it was just like snot and so I carried on, you know, unperturbed as Julia would do I iced the cake and brought it out. And this is a great case of why there are times when parents should lie to their children. Because it started my career. Well, I mean, my parents said it was a great cake, everything else. And I was so proud of myself. And that actually was was a moment when I really thought, you know, I really like baking and cooking. And if they'd said, Look, what is this snot on this chocolate cake? I’d be an accountant. Yeah.


SM
Oh, dear. Well, that's a good story.


CK
See so lying or a white lie sometimes is just fine. Okay, let's take some calls.


SM
Welcome to millstreet. Who's calling?


Emily
This is Emily from Virginia Beach.


SM
Hi, Emily, how can we help you today?


Emily
Well, I was wondering if you had any suggestions for making just a really wonderful homemade ketchup, my father in law's birthday is coming up. And he loves ketchup. I can't emphasize that enough. So I thought that would be a great thing to get for him because he is a man who has everything. So if you have any suggestions, that would be great.


SM
Well, I do have some suggestions. I'm just concerned about one thing, which is as somebody who is a ketchup lover myself, I used to drink it out of the bottle when I was a kid, literally, we don't know everything they put in it. But we do know they put tomatoes, sugar in some form. I think it could be corn syrup, vinegar, salt, spice. But I think we sort of like ketchup the way it tastes. It's one of those silly things. So you're going to make something that's going to be probably much more designer and much more interesting and probably much more depth of flavor and probably much less sweet. Are you sure he's still gonna like it?


Emily
That was going to be my follow up. Maybe simple is better.


SM
Let me just say that at this time of year, I would go with canned tomatoes, Italian plum, canned tomatoes, that you would use to make a really nice tomato sauce. And also some tomato paste as well to boost it, chop them up. Cook them with some onion and garlic and then take a bunch of spices, put them into cheesecloth, tie it up and put it in so you can lift it out easily but cinnamon all spice, cloves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and just simmer it for a bit with some a little bit of brown sugar, a little bit of cider vinegar. I think there's a good recipe on Epicurious and then remove the cheesecloth bag of spices, puree the whole thing and then see what the consistency looks like. And if it's not thick enough, then simmer it down. And don't forget the salt.


CK
Years ago, someone who worked for me worked on a homemade ketchup recipe. And I distinctly remember, this is one of the few times when we just failed. There's certain products that actually are ideal in their national supermarket state people


SM
People become addicted


CK
Or Angostura bitters. I mean, there's a few things that there's really no point. I guess the question is, is there something else he loves in food like vinegar? Is there some other product you could make homemade? Where you could actually make something better than store bought? Or is ketchup his one and only condiment of choice?


Emily
Ketchup is his funny thing? He'll get it at a steakhouse even. And we just tease him about it. But well, that's okay too


CK
Look, I would just make it. It’s not going to be the same as what comes in the bottle. So the fact that you went to all this trouble of research, I think is terrific. I mean, it's a great gift. I would just do it. If it's not perfect. Who cares? You took the effort?


SM
Yeah,I think it shows love. Yes. And that's what matters.


CK
One thing before we go, I do remember cloves was an essential element in the recipe. And I think she actually steeped cloves in oil or something to get that flavor. So when you do it, I think that was the one thing we found the cloves were kind of a key ingredient, but you know, just make it and he'll love it. Just do it.


Emily
Okay, awesome. Thank you guys.


CK
Take care, Bye. Welcome to Milk Street, who's calling?


Mike
Hi, it's Mike.


CK
Hey Mike, Where are you calling from?


Mike
Traverse City, Michigan


CK
Okay, how can we help you?


Mike
Several months ago I bought- there’s a new butcher I wasn't familiar with and they had what they call the dairy tenderloin. Three and a half pounds and cryovac sealed wrapping. You know so I asked the butcher Is this any good? And he said well that’s what we use to make our kebabs And the neat thing was it was like $8 a pound. So three and a half pounds 30 bucks, brought it home, cut it up and used about a pound and a half to make kebabs marinated in a Mediterranean mix. hot grill to medium rare and went to eat it anticipating you know a great meal and it wasn't, that's why I'm calling. It ended up having a livery liver taste texture


CK
Shocking. I mean, dairy cows Four or five years old, she stopped producing or older and then they're sent off to the slaughterhouse because there's money in that. Compare that to an 18 month old or maybe two year old but fairly young, let's say Angus or something else, beef cattle. They are grained up in the last few months, their diets are better. They’re younger. The breed is better for meat than a dairy cow, which is bred for milk production. So basically, it's totally different meat.


SM
And traditional beef. The majority of it in this country is finished the way Chris explained with grain, which is not really all that normal for that animal, but it gives it it fattens it up,


CK
I think beef finished with grain tastes better than pure grass fed anyway, grass fed is gonna be a little stronger.


SM
Well, that's that's where I'm going with this. I think dairy cows are grass fed. So


CK
silage fed. Yeah, yeah.


SM
And you know what, you might want to have this conversation with your butcher. Yeah. What I wanted to say was one way to get around livery taste, which we used to do when I worked in a restaurant with venison was to soak it in milk. Like overnight


CK
Can I make a suggestion, I think you should buy like, go to Costco or one of those places. Get a tenderloin, and then buy his dairy beef tenderloin and just do a taste side by side. Yeah, I think you'll see a huge difference.


SM
I think he already has, clearly.


CK
I mean, I think it's just because dairy cow versus beef cattle,


SM
Right. Yeah.


CK
One last thing the round in my opinion, it always tastes livery. I don't like I don't like the round. Yeah, I think it's just it's dairy meats. Yeah, that's just not going to be great and grain finishing with grain really does make a better product.


Mike
So finishing with grain is a better solution.


SM
It's not good for the environment though.


CK
I've raised my own beef Angus, and I've raised them fully grass fed and then finished with grain. I can tell you the fully grass fed is tougher and stronger. It's an acquired taste.


SM
Definitely. I will agree. It's definitely different taste


CK
I would just stay away from the dairy beef


SM
or if you do it, soak it in milk overnight.


Mike
So next time I'm in the area, I will quiz the butcher. Okay.


SM
Well, thanks Mike. Very interesting topic.


Mike
I appreciate your help. Thanks. Bye, bye.


CK
This is Mill Street radio. If you have a cooking question, please give us a call 855-426-9843 one more time 855-426-9843 or email us at questions@millstreetradio.com. Welcome to Milk Street Who's calling?


Maxine
Hi, this is Maxine.


CK
Maxine, Where are you calling from


Maxine
Bridgeport, Connecticut. I'm originally from Rhode Island and we always had probably not very good but brown bread in cans, along with the b&m baked beans in camp when I was growing up. And I really wanted to make it and I opened up recipes recently, and they all call for a one pound coffee can. And I went looking for that and realized coffee doesn’t come in one pound cans anymore. So I started to hunt for a substitute, but I was wondering what you would suggest


CK
I've actually made this recipe a few times


SM
You should explain to everybody what brown bread is


CK
It’s a steamed bread. It's a sweet- it has molasses and raisins. Yes.


SM
And it's got a mix of flowers. It's quite good. It's very moist.


CK
You could use there's lots of 14 ounce cans out there. Tomatoes come in 14 ounce cans, lots of other things. Coconut milk, right, you could use probably three of those would probably work. You might use a 28 ounce can of tomatoes that would probably work as well. You could probably even steam it in a regular loaf pan. I don't know what the size of the pan would be depending on your recipe but a loaf pan would probably work but I would try 3, 14 ounce cans that probably would do it then you have three cute little mini breads


SM
What about a pudding mold the good old fashioned pudding mold?


CK
Yeah. I just did buy because I got in this kick of making Turkish coffee and you buy ground coffee for that and I did buy a can of ground Italian coffee


SM
Was it a pound though.


CK
It looked like it was about that size and I think it was a metal can it was a yellow metal can I think they might exist out there


SM
I think they do, they're just not a pound, so if you're working with a smaller can you have to figure out how much less you're going to add since you're steaming it.


CK
Well the 14 ounces still do it. I think there's actually a recipe you can get for that on serious eats. You know search for that on serious eats I think there was a recipe for that.


Maxine
And I also when I was fooling around with recipes, I tried to make it in the instant pot and it was fabulous. It worked great there just 45 minutes on high pressure


SM
That’s good to know


CK
And was it in a can in the instant pot?


Maxine
Yeah, I tried it in a one quart Pyrex baking dish. And that was fine, but I didn't like the shape. So then I you know, just like you said, started fooling around with vegetable cans, different sizes. But the Instant Pot was just 45 minutes You know, instead of two hours,


CK
Yeah, we just did a book of recipes for the instant pot. And first everyone in the kitchen was like, come on, we don't really want to do this, you know. And at the end of the project, we all just fall in love with it. So, you know, we actually made pasta in the instant pot. I'm going like this is nuts


Maxine
I’ve made everything in it


CK
You know, it's a slow cooker. It's a pressure cooker. It also sautes in it, you know, it's a stovetop, but you can do everything in it, and it forces you to organize your meal prep, and it's pretty good. So I'm a convert. Alright, Maxine, thank you so much.


SM
Thank you, Maxine.


Maxine
Thank you. Bye, bye!


CK
You're listening to Milk Street radio. Up next, we chat with Chef Aarón Sánchez, that and more after the break. This is Milk Street radio. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Chef Aarón Sánchez is well known for his appearances on master chef and chopped, as well as for his restaurant in New Orleans, Johnny Sanchez. His new memoir is Where I come from: life lessons from a Latino chef. Aaron, welcome to Milk Street.


AS
Well, thank you for having me. Delighted to be here.


CK
You know, I really loved your book for a lot of reasons. But one of them is there's a theme in here a subtext about death. You lost your father when you were 13. You want to tell us a little bit about him? Because he sounded like a pretty interesting guy.


AS
Yeah, he was. He was well ahead of his time, he was from a town called Valentine, Texas, which I think in its heyday probably had a total of 200 people. His mother, my grandmother was of American Indian descent, she actually was illiterate. And his father Fransisco, he actually had worked on the railroad on trains for about 50 years doing everything from laying track to actually working on the trains themselves. So to say they came from humble means is maybe even an understatement. But the fact that he excelled and decided to move to the big city at that time, which was El Paso, Texas, to go seek out higher education, and make for a better life, I think says a lot about who he was. And you know, he was very soft spoken, but had enormous amounts of presence and stature. And those summers with him in El Paso were just magical.


CK
Your mother was different in some ways. She had a catering business packed you a van in 1984. Drove to New York. And she had an interesting way of making she talked about getting to know the right people giving parties. Tell us a little bit about her.


AS
Yeah, you know, my mom has always been someone that is extremely ambitious and very, very focused on what her goals are and what she wants to get accomplished. She always wanted to have her name in lights. So I think she started cultivating her love for food at the ranch. I started to think you know what, people are interested in our food, they're interested in my story. And she knew better enough to get the most influential people in a room and have them remember her name. That's what she'd always say to us. And, and that's the still that's still the advice I give to young people nowadays who want to get their name out there. You know, make a shortlist of people that are movers and shakers in the industry. You know, send them some food or invite them over to your house and cook for them and ingratiate yourself to them. And then that's how you'll start to you'll start to be known.


CK
So there's a point of your book I really like. You were filming in Oaxaca it was Dia de los Muertos. You at night climbed up a hill with some camera equipment. And it wasn't so much about the food. But it was the notion that it came to you at the time that the dead the people who've passed are still with us.


AS
Absolutely. You know, I think part of being Mexican and growing up that way is that, you know, I'm very clear in the book that death is not a somber occasion, it's something to be celebrated. So going and rediscovering the chapter of my culture and Oaxaca and understanding that it's okay, you know, to have someone go and they're going to still be with you, and then you can hang on to the best parts of them. I thought that was something so insightful and very provocative for me at a time when, you know, I wasn't necessarily really developed yet


CK
Well, you recount in painful detail.Those years when you're trying to get your act together and you're 16 you go down and cook for chef Prudhomme. And there are a couple great stories. You made a vinegar badly. But I love it. I love it when you were messing up and the chef came up and said What's her name? I just- do you want to tell that story? That's a great story.


AS
Yeah, well, I think if we're talking about death being a reoccurring theme, I think me and my pursuit of women throughout my life is also another recurring theme, anytime I ever really got distracted was because I was chasing a girl. And in this case, you know, this is pre cell phones, pre all that. So you would essentially meet somebody on the street and you'd say, look, I will meet you here at the same time tomorrow when I get done. And maybe we can carry on getting to know each other better, or whatever. And I was very excited to see this young girl that I've met the day prior. And I circumvented fixing a sauce or vinegar to go and see this girl on time, I wanted to be prompt because I didn't want that opportunity to get away from me. So chef Paul caught me on my BS, he made me do it over again. And he knew the motivation was trying to go see a girl. So from that moment on, I never took a shortcut in the kitchen ever again.


CK
It gives us some idea of what that what that work is like. Because for someone who's never worked in a kitchen, the hours and the amount of prep. I mean, it's brutal. You're opening shrimp all day, you're you're chopping onions, give us some sense of what that's like.


AS
Yeah, I mean, for anybody that wants to get into our industry to understand it, it's not a glamorous one to say the least, you're going to be asked to do menial tasks, you're going to be asked to do things that seem repetitive and redundant. But I can say wholeheartedly, there's a reason behind all of that. I loved it. I thought the pressure of the kitchen and being part of this group of people that were misfits, and, and sort of this pirate crew, I thought it was so cool. And I never shied away from hard work. So for me, it seemed like something completely natural. But it's it's tough. And not it's not for everybody.


CK
So tell me about your restaurant, Johnny Sanchez, tell me about your food. We know where you came from in terms of food. But where are you now in terms of how you cook?


AS
Yeah. You know, when I was a younger chef, in my early mid 20s, I had this grandiose ideas of maybe reinterpreting Mexican cuisine, like very much what Enrique Olvera is doing at Cosme. And, you know, all these really sort of avant garde Mexican chefs who have made the trip north of the border and setting up shop here in the States. And then, you know, kind of went in and started feeling comfortable in my own lane and understanding, you know, I came up with some really iconic dishes that really spoke to my style. And then as I started to accumulate this following and have this repertoire of dishes, I started to understand that you know what, it's not about trying to create something new every night, and try to push the creative envelope necessarily, you got to remember that you're a businessman as well. So I think Johnny Sanchez, I wanted this restaurant to be a Mexican restaurant that celebrated Louisiana ingredients. But it's not a fusion restaurant. So we're not putting a Louisiana dish right next to a Mexican dish. So that's really the essence of the restaurant. It's fun, vibrant, you know, we have a strong emphasis on tacos. But coming back to full circle, like, you know, I've talked about a little bit of that idea of having big kind of elegant Mexican food. And now I'm, I'm more attracted to like my grandmother's cooking, and bringing it full circle.


CK
Yeah, it's it's sort of, I guess, early on in your career, you're going somewhere, but you're not there. And as you get older, you actually get there. And you like where you are? Is that a fair comment?


AS
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I, to be honest, I never thought where I am now. And all the different things that that I've been very blessed to do, was going to be a result of just cooking. You know, my dream always was to have my own restaurant, be the captain of my own ship and be able to cook the food that that spoke to me. Now, you know, I'm, I'm this Latino representative of every cook in the kitchen, in America. You know, I can't tell you how many times I go to restaurants, in all my travels. And inevitably, you know, somebody from Latino descent comes from the kitchen and says, Can I get a photograph? Can I talk to you, you know, because you represent us. So now the message and the mission has changed so much from when I started.


CK
Books have been written recently about the end of the second American restaurant revolution. And now people say, gee, you know, it's gotten so expensive, and it's hard to find good people. And it's just a hard, hard business. What do you say to that?


AS
I mean, we can do a whole other podcast just on this. But, um, I remember RW Apple, you know, the great writer for The Times. You know, he said something very funny. He was like, you know, you've never met bigger complainers than restaurantours. You know, or chefs you know we’re not busy because it's Rosh Hashanah or whatever. You know what I mean? It's like, we have the marathon and he said just cook delicious food and people will come. But you know, the biggest shift I saw on just you know, when I started out, you can go to, you know, a realtor and see a fledgling restaurant that had what you would call FF and E, furniture, fixtures and equipment. And you will have all these nuts and bolts already in the restaurant and you you can make your own little sort of world happen. But now the problem is that those restaurants that once were restaurants are being demolished and turned into a Chase Bank or turned into a Duane Reade pharmacy. So if you're a young cook that wants to strike out on your own, you need enormous capital and resource.


CK
And isn't the restaurant business a fairly, you know, quote, unquote, low margin business and it kind of hard to get your nut back with that kind of investment?


AS
Yeah, extremely difficult, because what's happened is a corporatization of restaurants. So now you have big restaurant groups, taking over the little guys. And you know, at your best at your best, you're taking 6% profit home in your pocket, you know what I mean? It really is a passion project. It's not something that you can necessarily get rich at very quickly.


CK
So you've been enormously successful, you've had a hard start, like a lot of people have in this industry. What's next?


AS
Well, we're going to continue to cultivate the Aarón Sanchez scholarship, which is my nonprofit, my opportunity to plant seeds for the for the next crop of Latino chefs that we really want to carry the torch. I guess the next project that I'm very excited about really sort of wanting to do is maybe like a Food and Wine Festival that's featured just Latino talent. So bringing those clips from Oaxaca up to the States, and giving them the platform that they deserve, and really bringing in those those very specific, very cultural dishes that need to be known about. So I really want to bring that to the masses.


CK
The co host of this show is, as you know, Sara Moulton. And you had a great line about Sara, you were thrilled to meet her years ago. He said, in fact, Sara could have been your mom if your mom was a food TV star and one of the most important professionals of regeneration. So I was kind of touched by that because you recognized how important she's been in the food world.


AS
Absolutely. I hold her in the same esteem as someone like Alice Waters, and Nancy Silverton of my mom, these very, very iconic women that really changed the way people think, and feel about food. And Sara is somebody that always since I was young, I always really just brought me into her warmth. You know, she's just her presence and her humbleness and her unbelievable ability to make things taste delicious, has always been a huge source of inspiration. And, you know, women feature so prominently in this book, all these women who have played such pivotal roles in my life.


CK
Aarón, it's been a real pleasure having you on Milk Street. Thank you.


AS
You are a scholar and a gentleman, and I appreciate the time and interest. Thank you so much.


CK
That was chef Aaron Sanchez. His memoir is where I come from life lessons from a Latino chef. You know, avoiding shortcuts is Aaron Sanchez’s, his most important life lesson, there simply is no substitute for hard work. But that phrase hard work is often misunderstood. It's really not your job or your kids or your chores. It's what you choose to do beyond the routine. It's what pushes you above and beyond. Margaret Mead once said, I learned the value of hard work by working hard. That's not just good advice for a chef, it's good advice for life. It's time to chat with Lynn Clark about this week's recipe Norwegian salmon. Lynn, how are you?


Lynn Clark
I'm great, Chris


CK
You know, one of our editors just got back from Oslo, not me, just like to point that out. And he had a dish salmon that was fabulous and incredibly simple. Now we've done salmon a dozen different ways over the years. But this was better, as I said simpler. It's salted and then cooked for just six or seven minutes. So we brought the recipe back. How do we get started.


LC
So the salt is the key here, we took a two pound center cut piece of salmon, we rub together some kosher salt with some fresh dill and we rub that in our hands just to kind of break down the dill. Dill is pretty delicate. So you can do that by hand and coat the fish with the salt mixture and put it in the refrigerator for about an hour.


CK
And that denatures the protein which means it tightens up the protein of the fish so when you tasted it side by side with a piece that was not salted, the piece that was salted was firmer, had a much better texture. It was a really very nice


LC
Right which kind of allows you to cook it a little bit less. So this goes into 350 oven. It cooks for a little over 10 minutes because it's a pretty big piece of salmon. And then we take it out of the oven and cover it with foil tented with foil to lock in some of that heat to continue cooking for about eight more minutes.


CK
And is that it is it served with a sauce of any kind or you're done.


LC
It's really super simple and delicious. We serve it with some extra fresh dill, some lemon wedges and some really great quick pickled cucumbers. The balance between the fatty fish and these tangy cucumbers is really something I'd never thought of but it works so well.


CK
So this goes into the category of old dog new tricks. There is a better way to cook salmon so Norwegian salmon, it's salted, it sits, it goes into an oven for about 10 minutes and it has a lovely flavor. And the dill also goes great with it. Thank you.


LC
You're welcome, Chris. You can get this recipe for Norwegian salmon at milkstreetradio.com


CK
You’re listening to Milk Street radio. Coming up Dan Pashman makes a case for picky eaters. We'll be right back. This is Milk Street radio. I'm Christopher Kimball. Next up Sara Moulton and I will be taking a few more of your cooking questions.


SM
Welcome to Milk Street. Who's calling?


Ashley
Hello, this is Ashley from Ohio.


CK
How are you?


Ashley
I am doing wonderful. I'm so excited to talk with you two today.


CK
Well, let's see if we can help you. So what's the problem?


Ashley
So my mom and I have had this family recipe for pumpkin rolls, since I can remember. But the problem that we come across every year is cracking. And I've tried so many different solutions. And I just can't figure out how to get it to stop cracking when I unroll it to put the cream back inside. So I was wondering if you had any advice?


CK
So we're talking about a cake roll here, right?


Ashley
Yes, a cake roll.


CK
Do you try to roll it up pretty much soon as it comes out of the oven. Or do you let it sit first,


Ashley
I used to let it sit. And that was the first solution I tried. So I will bake it for about 15 minutes. And then I pull it out and I've started to I used to flip it. But now I don't even flip it out. I just roll it right in that parchment and then I let it cool.


CK
Okay, check. Number two, are you using all purpose flour or cake flour.


Ashley
I've used all purpose flour.


CK
You might try cake flour because most cake rolls often call for cake flour because it's lower gluten and might be more flexible and easier to roll. The last is you might add an extra egg or so eggs will make a more pliable cake roll less prone to cracking because there's more fat in it. And go to cake flour. And that might. I mean I love cake rolls. And you're right. This is a little tricky, but if you do those two things, you're doing the right thing by rolling it up right away. But cake flour and add an egg. Sara?


SM
I don't know what's wrong here. But I completely agree.I know. You're right.


CK
What? Stop the presses. We have agreement here at Milk Street.


SM
Hey actually you’ve made us agree. Thank you thank you.


CK
Well try that but it sounds like a great recipe. But yeah.


SM
What's the filling?


Ashley
Oh yeah, I do a cream cheese powdered sugar filling inside and it's so good. And it tastes great. But now I want it to look as great as it tastes.


SM
I hear you. Well. Hopefully that'll work. Will you let us know?


Ashley
Yes I can't wait to try it. It'll taste good either way, so I will happily make more.


CK
Okay, good. Take care. Yes. Bye. Bye. Thanks for calling.


CK
This is Milk Street radio. If you have a cooking question, we may in fact have the answer. Give us a ring 855-426-9843. That's 855-426-9843 or email us at questions@milkstreetradio.com. Welcome to Milk Street. Who's calling?


Madeline
This is Madeline.


CK
How are you? Where are you calling from?


Madeline
I'm doing well. I'm calling from Somerville.


CK
How can we help you?


Madeline
So I was wondering if you knew anything about the flavor compounds in Maple syrup and maple sugar being affected by high heat during baking.


CK
Which are you talking about maple syrup or maple sugar or both?


Madeline
I was assuming there might be something common to both because I have made two different kinds of cookies and once used all maple syrup as the sweetener and then once used an all maple sugar. And while baking I could smell maple and like the raw batter tasted like maple but the final product didn't have any sort of maple flavor.


CK
You know if you use maple syrup in a pie for example, we just did a brown butter Maple pie with a baker from Portland, Maine. And it was phenomenal and had a tremendous amount of maple flavor. I wonder whether when you smell chocolate you're cooking a chocolate cake. For example, baking a cake, when you start to smell chocolate in your kitchen, it is true you're losing the volatiles from the cake, and the cake is gonna have less chocolate flavor. So it may be that in a dry application like a cookie, the maple does, essentially the volatiles burn off, and you don't have much flavor residually with eggs and other things, maybe that actually bakes up differently because I know and in a pie, for example, maple syrup will be very strongly flavored.


SM
What kind of maple syrup did you use?


Madeline
It was maybe a, which I think,


CK
yeah, it doesn't have a ton of maple.


SM
The trouble is, in the old days, they had A, B and they even had C and A was at the beginning of the mapeling season. And it's the lightest of the maple syrups. These days, they have four levels of a, the one that you might want to look to cook with. And I'd still don't know if it would dissipate in a dry application. It should look black. Yeah, it should be really dark and really strong. You know,


CK
dark amber is the darkest one,


SM
it's the darkest and the maple syrup that's harvested at the very end of the season.


CK
There's not necessarily a season, although what happens is there's more bacteria in the lines, the trees are coming back to life. And that's that bacteria, that's the other stuff in the sap is what's actually making the syrup darker is one of the reasons. But I think there's another thing going on here, which is if you smell Maple in your kitchen during baking, there obviously was Maple flavor there. So I think there's something about dry baking versus pie, where you retain the flavor better and you get less burn off of the volatiles. But Sara is actually right buy the darkest colored syrup you possibly can for the most flavor. We need to test this. I think in cookies, you’re just not going to get much Maple flavor because it's going to burn off.


Madeline
I think also the maple sugar ones really didn't have anything and the ones with syrup, which is a little more moisture, did have some amount of flavor.


CK
Well maple sugar I probably has less Maple flavor than maple syrup per tablespoon is my guess too. It's more concentrated the syrup.


Madeline
I was thinking with the pie, the internal temperature it might not get as high.


CK
Well, that's true. The pie would be about 155 degrees internal by the time you're done and baking is going to get much hotter than that. Would you like a job? Excellent. Man. Well, we should call her next time.


SM
I know really. But meanwhile, we'll get back to you with an answer.


CK
Great call. Thank you man.


Madeline
Thank you so much.


CK
I think you hit on the answer. Thanks. This is Milk Street radio now it's time for some culinary wisdom from one of our listeners.


Lindsay
Hi, my name is Lindsay and here is my tip. Use tamarind concentrate which you can find in an Indian or Asian grocery store. To braise meat. It's really great with tomatoes and just add a couple of tablespoons of tamarind while bracing the meat and it adds a really nice, sharp, tang, like getting to a molasses flavor.


CK
If you'd like to share your own cooking tip on Milk Street radio, please go to 177milkstreet.com/radiotips. Next up, its regular contributor Dan Pashman.



CK
Dan, how are you?


Dan Pashman
I'm good, Chris.


CK
You sound good.


DP
How old are your young ones? Now? Chris?


CK
My son is year and nine months. Oliver,


DP
This is a pop quiz. I'm just testing to see if you know it has nothing to do with our segment.


CK
And do I know their names? Ricky has just turned nine months. So two and a half and nine months.


DP
So is the two and a half year old starting to exhibit signs of picky eating?


CK
No. He's always been a picky eater. It wasn't a development issue he was just born with now he won't even he'll just rejected it out of hand. If it comes within three feet of him and it doesn't look right. No, not happening.


DP
And were your other kids like is picky eating something that has frustrated you with with other children of yours.


CK
Well, I have six kids and I have to say none of them are particularly adventurous eaters. I'd say my my second oldest daughter was actually a professional baker for a while and she's she's quite adventurous. We took a trip years ago to Morocco and she's the one who ate the calf's brain. So So I would say at a six so far I have one.


DP
Okay, so I bring this up, Chris, because you know, I have two kids nine year old Becky and six and a half year old Emily. And they are they're very different from each other. But you know, as a parent of young kids, as I'm sure you know, a lot of parents get stressed about picky eating.


CK
Well, I actually I have to say just to interject here. I never did. My attitude was we cook one dinner. I mean unless they're two years old, but once they're of an age six or seven, we cook one dinner if you don't like it, have fruit. We always had apples and pears etc in the house and you could have fruit for dinner or have what we're having for dinner, but there wasn't, I didn't worry that they'd starve to death


DP
And if the children were not happy with those two choices, who had to deal with the brunt of that situation?


CK
There was no situation.


DP
So that worked every time?


CK
There were two choices. Well, I don't believe- we're not catering five different dinners every night. I mean, the idea of catering unless there's a nut allergy or something, of course, is a fairly modern notion back in the day, there was always a dinner.


DP
Right. No, for sure. I mean, I sort of have a lifelong dream to be a short order cook. I like the idea of like cranking out a bunch of different stuff in the kitchen. So I actually don't mind it, you know, like, on the weekends when I have the time, but I know that a lot of parents get stressed about picky eating kids. And so it's something that I've been exploring recently, and I found I've learned a couple of very interesting facts. First of all, by some estimates, half of all kids are picky eaters, in particular, between the ages of three and six. And so if it's half, does that even mean that they're picky? Or does that just mean that they're normal? And there's research that it may take 30 or 40 tastes of a food for a child to acquire a taste for it and learn to like it? I think often what happens is, you know, a kid tries something once or twice, they don't like it, the parent says, Oh, well scratch that off the list. I mean, I would not bite into a plain tomato until I was about 35.


CK
This is, this is a very deep, dark secret, Dan. Are you sure you want to put that out there?


DP
I think we’ve gotten to that point in our relationship Chris, where I’m comfortable enough sharing this with you.


CK
I won’t tell anybody. So so. So you're suggesting that parents in order to overcome picky eating, keep recycling those items that have been rejected initially? Because they might actually


DP
Yes, first of all, keep coming back to certain things, try them over and over again, it may, it may take a long time. That makes sense. But but the larger note here is, first of all, relax. As long as the doctor says that your child is getting enough nourishment and growing appropriately. There's really nothing for you to worry about. It's very common for kids to have a narrow range of things they like to eat when they're young. And in fact, think about it, Chris, it makes good evolutionary sense. I mean, the kids who are frolicking through the woods, and just eating whatever berry dropped in front of them, those kids weren't gonna last very long. The kids who are more naturally a little bit suspicious of new of new and unfamiliar foods, and only eat the things that they knew they liked, and that were safe, those kids are more likely to survive and thrive.


CK
That's true, that's probably true.


DP
But the other thing that I've been thinking a lot about Chris and I’d love to get your take on it is, I know that parents, you may not feel this way, Chris, because I know you are immune to the judgment of others. But some, some parents feel judged, that they're that there's an idea that they're doing something wrong if their kids don't eat all different things. And the flip side, there seems to be this idea that like, you know, I will see parents whose kids eat many different things kind of bragging about it as if they've somehow like succeeded as parents.


CK
Here's my take on parenting. I don't think you can really take credit or blame. I mean, unless you do something extraordinarily wonderful or stupid for the success or failure of your kids. I think you have to accept the kids the way they are, accept yourself the way you are. And if they become picky eaters, well, they certainly have an opportunity to not do that. I think you put in front of them as many different things as possible. And just relax. I mean, they're they're going to turn out, you know, at the end of the day.


DP
Well, and that's the interesting thing about picky eating. I mean, I have two kids, same two parents raised in the same household, you know, with the same food being served one of them will eat just about anything you put in front of her. One of them only wants mac and cheese. Sure.


CK
It's not your fault then.


DP
Thank you, Chris. This is this has been a great session.


CK
Dan, repeat after me. It's not my fault.


DP
It's not my fault. This is turning into goodwill hunting?


CK
Finally, I'm giving Dan Pashman advice. Dan Pashman. Thank you so much, love your kids, and don't worry about the fact they may be picky eaters, right?


DP
That's right. Thanks, Chris.


CK
That was Dan Pashman of the Sporkful. Earlier in the show, I spoke with Robert Simonson, author of the martini cocktail, and he made me think of the famous Harry Craddock, he was the bartender at London's Savoy Hotel in the 1920s. He also authored the famous Savoy cocktail book with over 700 recipes, which included the bunny hug, a mix of whiskey gin and absinthe. Craddock quipped about that drink quote, it should immediately be poured down the drain before it's too late. Those I guess were the days when cocktails and humor went together. You know, Nick Charles, the Thin Man and also cocktail jokester was once asked by his onscreen wife, Nora, if he was packing as he downed yet another Martini, he said, quote, Yes, dear. I'm just packing away this liquor. Now that's my idea of adult entertainment. That's it for today. If you tuned in too late or just want to listen again, you can download and subscribe to Milk Street radio, wherever you find your podcasts. To learn more about Milk Street, please go to 177milkstreet.com, there you can download each week's recipe, watch the new season of our television show, browse our online store, or order our latest cookbook, the new rules: recipes that will change the way you cook. You can also find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street and on Instagram and Twitter at 177 Milk Street. We'll be back next week and thanks, as always, for listening.


Credits
Christopher Kimball's milk street radio is produced by milk street in association with WGBH, executive producer Melissa Baldino, senior audio editor Melissa Allison, producer Annie Sinsabaugh associate producer Jackie Novak, production assistant Stephanie Cohn, and production help from Debbie paddock, senior audio engineer David Goodman, additional editing from Vicki Merrick, Sidney Lewis, and Samantha Brown, and audio mixing from Jay Allison at Atlantic public media in Woods Hole Massachusetts. Theme music by Toubab Krewe additional music by George Bernard egloff Christopher Kimball's milk street radio is distributed by PRX.

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