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Talking About Turkey.

Culinary expert Shirley Corriher, author of "Cookwise," (William Morrow) a practical guide to culinary mysteries and the science of cooking. Corriher is a food writer and a contributing editor to "Fine Cooking" magazine.

21:19

Other segments from the episode on November 24, 1997

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, November 24, 1997: Interview with Shirley Corriher; Interview with Madeleine Kamman; Review of the Leon Sash Trio's album "I Remember Newport."

Transcript

Show: FRESH AIR
Date: NOVEMBER 24, 1997
Time: 12:00
Tran: 112401np.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Cookwise
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest Shirley Corriher cannot only give you recipes for a great Thanksgiving dinner, she can explain the techniques and chemistry behind the recipes. Corriher is the cook many restaurant and test-kitchen chefs call to explain why a recipe is failing and how to fix it. She's a former biochemist who's now a contributing editor of Fine Cooking magazine and author of the new book "Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking."

I asked her to explain some of the principles that would help us make a better turkey.

SHIRLEY CORRIHER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, FINE COOKING MAGAZINE AND AUTHOR, "COOKWISE, THE HOWS AND WHYS OF SUCCESSFUL COOKING": Well, my absolutely favorite thing to do with turkeys and with large roasting hens, and I've even done it with shrimp, is to soak them in brine. Now, this is a -- what I do, say, with the large hen, I would use like a full cup of salt.

Now, with the turkey, the smaller turkeys, I'd go with a cup and a half of salt and put them in a large container that I could cover it with ice water, and keep it in the refrigerator overnight. Then before you roast the turkey, you want to rinse it very well -- get all the surface salt off. And it is astonishing how much juicier turkeys are prepared in this way.

And they weigh birds, you know, before and after brining, and they gain weight significantly and you can certainly see it in the incredibly juiciness.

GROSS: Now what principles determine how long to cook a turkey and what temperature to roast it at?

CORRIHER: Well, now, I think anybody you ask is going to have a different answer on this. And I'd certainly advise people if they have a system that has worked, stick with it. Some things to remember: the leg and thigh meat has to be cooked to a higher temperature than the breast, and this is a real problem. Those legs and thighs actually taste metallic and slimy if they're not cooked over 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

And then the breast of a hen, which is the broad expanse that gets the most heat, usually, that starts drying out anywhere from 155 up. It's getting dryer and losing more moisture.

So, what I try to do is arrange it in the pan so that I can actually move the whole pan and the bird over to one wall, so that that hot wall -- so that it's near the hot wall of the oven to get that leg and thigh cooked well. And then I divide time and then I push it over to the other wall so that other leg and thigh gets some extra heat on the cooking time.

I think everybody's oven varies dramatically and it's just impossible to, you know, give correct times, I believe, and temperatures. We can talk a little bit about temperatures. I like to start at very high temperature and then turn the oven down for slower cooking. I want to get the outside hot -- you know, get things really going -- and then turn it down so that it cooks more slowly to stay juicy and tender inside.

So I would say -- I would actually start a bird, maybe 450, 475. And if the bird's not too big, I start it breast down and then do these to both sides, and then flip it over.

GROSS: You are an advocate of a good thermometer. How do you use the thermometer when you're roasting a turkey?

CORRIHER: Well, you want to try to be careful not to touch bone. So, I like to insert either -- you -- by -- insert it once in the thigh and try to get into the fleshy area, and go down so that, you know, at least an inch or so of the thermometer shaft is in the bird. And now, this is with one of the little read -- some people -- and now, on the breast, I insert it there also. So I like to check both places -- check the temperature of the leg and thigh and check the temperature on the breast.

Now, the big fat-based thermometers go into the bird, and I would say they would have to go into the breast portion of the bird and can remain in during the whole cooking time. The important thing to remember is that that temperature is going to increase after you take the bird out of the oven. So be sure to get the bird out before it reaches your maximum temperature.

GROSS: But wait -- why is the temperature going to increase after you take it out of the hot oven?

CORRIHER: Oh, because -- see the outside of that bird was super-hot, and that heat is still being conducted from layer to layer to layer inward, and a big turkey could increase easily 10 degrees after it comes out of the oven. So, you want to be sure to get it out 10 degrees before you really want it.

GROSS: What temperature do you look for?

CORRIHER: Now -- we're -- we're -- the FDA absolutely insists on 180 degrees. So, this would mean get it out at 170. I think the breast is way too dry -- that -- and I'm willing to take my risk, personally, to go, you know, a little lower on that. I hate to cook a turkey breast over 160.

GROSS: And you've never been sued by your guests.

LAUGHTER

CORRIHER: They've all survived, thank goodness, Terry.

GROSS: They've all survived.

LAUGHTER

OK. My guest is Shirley Corriher and she is a cook, a food writer, and an expert on the science of cooking. Her new book is called Cookwise.

Now, for people who want to make, say, an interesting potato dish...

CORRIHER: Yes.

GROSS: ... for Thanksgiving. What would you recommend?

CORRIHER: Well, my grandmother's old-fashioned grated sweet potato pudding is sensational. It's totally different from any of the modern sweet potato dishes. You grate the sweet potatoes raw and actually what you do, you can do it in a processor just with the chopping knife, and chop it with quick on-offs until the pieces are small like rice.

And you stir these raw chopped sweet potatoes with a cup of brown sugar and a cup of half-and-half or cream. My grandmother used, you know, her whole milk on the farm. And two teaspoons of dry ginger and I think a little salt and, if my memory -- oh, a tablespoon of cornmeal and one egg. And stir this together and bake.

It's a deep brown and a very unusual texture, but it's a truly old, old dish. I know some of my students make it every year for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and one took a big plate over to a nearby nursing home. And she said one of the little ladies who was in her 90s, when she started eating it, the tears rolled down her cheek. She said: "you know, I haven't had this dish since I was a little girl."

So it is a truly old, but traditional holiday preparation.

GROSS: My guest is Shirley Corriher, author of the new book Cookwise. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

My guest is Shirley Corriher. She's an expert on the science and techniques of cooking.

Let's get to baking -- a lot of baking happening for the holidays. You write in your new book that you made terrible cakes until you understood the principles behind how cakes rise with baking powder and soda. What were you doing wrong and what's the right way to do it?

CORRIHER: Well, I didn't realize this, but baking powder and baking soda -- they don't make a single new bubble. All they do is enlarge bubbles that are already in the batter. And this makes that creaming step -- where you cream the butter and the sugar together -- this makes that step vitally important because you're beating all the air bubbles in your cake in right there.

And see, I had never paid any attention to that step. I just barely mixed the butter and the sugar and threw the eggs and the rest of the ingredients on, and zip, zip, zip and my cakes were flat as a flitter. I did notice when I worked in a restaurant that the pastry chef there would put the butter and sugar on and leave it on the mixer for what seemed liked ages while she ran around doing other things.

And then she would finally come back and add the eggs and the other ingredients. And her cakes were a mile high. But it's these bubbles in the fat that are really crucial for good volume.

GROSS: Well, I'm going to stop you first. So another words, the baking powder or the baking soda expands the bubbles that are already there.

CORRIHER: That's correct.

GROSS: So they'll -- the baking powder, baking soda is only going to do its job if it has bubbles to work with.

CORRIHER: That's right. And that's why those bubbles in the fat are so important.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. OK. Well, I interrupted you. Go ahead.

CORRIHER: Another big problem is the amount of baking powder or baking soda.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

CORRIHER: One teaspoon of baking powder almost perfectly leavens a cup of flower; or one-fourth teaspoon of baking soda leavens a cup of flower. And there are many recipes out there that simply have too much leavener in them. And what happens, the bubbles get big, big, big and huge, and then pop -- and there goes your leavening. So, your muffins or your cakes fall.

And this is just the opposite of what you would think. You know, something has fallen, you think, eh, maybe I needed more baking powder. But this is not the case, so you might check your recipes. You know, there -- you can allow some air. You can go up to 1 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, but there's some recipes out there that 1 1/2 cup little muffin recipe has a teaspoon of baking powder. That's fine. But then a teaspoon of soda, and that's enough for four cups of flour.

So, you've got enough for five cups of flower there and those muffins are going to fall and be practically unleavened.

GROSS: An interesting cooking paradox. To help us understand how dough behaves, and how breads and cakes behave, tell us something about gluten and how it works.

CORRIHER: Yes, whenever you add water to flour and stir, there are two little proteins -- glutanen (ph) and goliaten (ph) and they grab water and each other and form these springy, bubble-gum like elastic sheets of gluten. And sometimes, you want this gluten and sometimes you don't.

Whenever you're doing something that you need strength, like a strudel, you want these strong elastic sheets. Whenever you're doing yeast products, yeast oozes out a little liquid and the minute it hits a bubble in the dough, it releases carbon dioxide gas, which blows up so these bubble gum sheets of gluten are perfect to be inflated. You know, it blows...

SOUNDBITE OF BLOWING

On the other hand, if you want something tender -- you know, you want a tender pie crust or tender muffins or tender cakes -- you don't want this gluten. And there are several ways that you can prevent it. You know, the traditional way of making a pie crust, you take fat and put it directly on the flour. This is no water present. And what you're doing, you grease these little proteins so that when you do add the water, they're so greasy they can't grab water and each other and hook together.

GROSS: What about sugar? That plays a part, too, doesn't it?

CORRIHER: Oh, yes. Now, sugar has a major role. Sugar actually will combine with each one of these little proteins and you get a sugar protein compound and another sugar protein compound and you don't get any gluten formed. So with yeast doughs, you may have noticed that there are not any really, really, really sweet doughs. Most of them have sweet, gooey fillings, but the dough itself is limited. You can only put a tablespoon of sugar per cup of flour in a yeast dough or you start losing volume dramatically.

On the other hand, sugar in pie crust, muffins, and cakes serves as as tenderizer. It helps prevent the strong elastic sheets of gluten from forming.

GROSS: Do you have a favorite apple pie recipe that would be simple enough to describe on the radio?

CORRIHER: My -- I'm afraid my apple pie recipe is complicated. But let me just give a simplified. And see, with a double-crusted pie, what happens -- the apples are full of water, so they are leaking water like crazy so that's going to make the bottom crust soggy. And then with all this liquid in the hot oven, you've got lots of steam. That makes the top crust soggy. And the apples shrink dramatically.

So, you've got this huge hole between the apples and the crust. So what I do to solve the problem is just bake the bottom crust empty. And I think that Thanksgiving, you should consider that maybe you need a little help. If time is short, use a store-bought crust. But bake that bottom crust crisp and dry, and then you can put a dough circle on a slight domed top, and I do a -- turn a -- a large stainless steel bowl upside down, and spray it with nonstick spray and put a dough circle on. And you can cut it with simple slits or you can decorate it with vines and leaves -- you know, whatever you're up to -- and bake that.

So the top is totally crisp and dry. And then I make the filling in a big pot on the stove. And I make a lot of filling. You know, I'll use 10 big apples and maybe 14 little apples. We're talking about a lot of filling. Then I can pile this filling up really, really high in the crisp crust and put the little -- put the dome on top, just add it later.

So you can -- there are all sorts of variations and you can do it, actually, with bought crust so that you don't have to totally kill yourself.

GROSS: This sounds very good. I just have one question for you.

CORRIHER: Mm-hmm?

GROSS: When you're doing the dome top...

CORRIHER: Yes.

GROSS: ... and you're baking that separately, how do you get the size right? 'Cause isn't the size going to change a little bit as it bakes or not?

CORRIHER: Well, the -- I go with a 12-inch dough circle and it doesn't seem to matter if I go with at least a 10-inch bowl and -- but -- you -- anywhere from a nine- to ten-inch stainless steel bowl, measuring across the top. That will give you a really nice domed top.

And the great thing, it cuts like a dream because, see, you don't have that big gap between the apples and the top. Because you pile those apples high, really high, so they fill up the dome. And so you're sitting that dome down, squishing it right against the apples.

GROSS: And then the top and the bottom crust bake together? They...

CORRIHER: They -- no, you don't bake it again. You simply...

GROSS: Oh, right.

CORRIHER: ... assemble it.

GROSS: How did you get into the more scientific, analytical end of cooking?

CORRIHER: Well, I started out as a research biochemist for the Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee. And I worked in biochemistry also at the U.S. Vitamin Company. But my former husband and I started a boys private school. So, I had 140 teenage boys that I fed three meals a day for 11 years.

So, I got an awful lot of heavy-duty cooking experience. And friends -- and I used to go to cooking classes whenever I could -- and if something was wrong during the class, after class, I'd explain to the teacher what had happened because frequently from my science background, I knew exactly what to do to prevent that disaster.

So soon, people all over the Southeast were calling me with their cooking problems. And I didn't always know the answer, but as a good researcher I knew how to get the answer. So I would go to the literature, you know, locate someone who was an expert in the field, and call them. And I think these experts are always willing to share their knowledge if you're polite and don't take up much of their time -- have a very specific question.

So through the years, I have received calls from, you know, oh hundreds and hundreds of people in the food business. I answer calls for test kitchens, for home cooks, for magazine editors, book editors, food writers. And I always learn, many times I can answer their question instantly, but many times there's that, you know, one that's maybe fascinating. But I always learn so much myself from investigating the questions that I don't know.

GROSS: So what are you going to be doing this Thanksgiving? Are you cooking or are you guesting?

LAUGHTER

CORRIHER: I'm probably going to be guesting. Christmas, I know, I'll be cooking and I'll have to have the sweet potatoes because my children don't consider it a holiday without that. Another great family tip I'd love to pass on...

GROSS: Please, yeah.

CORRIHER: My mother made the best gravy imaginable.

GROSS: Yes, I should ask you about gravy. Go ahead.

CORRIHER: Well, I thought -- I watched her and I thought I knew exactly how she did it. But what I missed all these years was that she would take out one or two cups of the raw dressing mix, you know, before when she mixed it up and put it in the pan. She would save one or two cups and add that to the gravy to thicken it. And it was marvelous. You know, it -- you don't realize it's there, but the gravy has then all the wonderful flavors and the -- you know, sage and herbs and onions and celery that you had in the dressing, you know are in there.

And it's just a wonderful touch.

GROSS: So when you said that your mother added dressing to the gravy, she would add some of the stuffing to the gravy?

CORRIHER: Yes, the raw stuffing before it's baked...

GROSS: The raw stuffing. OK.

CORRIHER: ... the raw stuffing, which you know, is composed of the bread crumbs and herbs and onion and celery. So she would put that raw stuffing into the drippings and -- or the gravy -- and it would thicken so much nicer than just cornstarch or flour alone.

GROSS: Well, I want to wish you a very happen Thanksgiving.

CORRIHER: Well, thank you and I certainly wish everyone good luck with their turkey and cakes and pies.

GROSS: Shirley Corriher is the author of Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking.

I'm Terry Gross and here's a recipe from King Curtis.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, SINGER/MUSICIAN KING CURTIS IN PERFORMANCE)

Today's special is Memphis soul stew
We sell so much of this, people wonder what we put in there
We're going to tell you right now
Gimme about a half a teacup of bass

SOUNDBITE OF BASS

Now I need a pound of fatback drums

SOUNDBITE OF DRUMS

Now give me four tablespoons of boiling Memphis guitars

SOUNDBITE OF ELECTRIC GUITARS

It's gonna taste all right
Now just a little pinch of organ

SOUNDBITE OF ORGAN

Now gimme a half a pint of...

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Shirley Corriher
High: Culinary expert Shirley Corriher, author of "Cookwise" a practical guide to culinary mysteries and the science of cooking. Corriher is a food writer and a contributing editor to "Fine Cooking" magazine.
Spec: Books; Authors; Food; Cooking; Cookwise
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1997 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1997 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Cookwise
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: NOVEMBER 24, 1997
Time: 12:00
Tran: 112402NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: The New Making of a Cook
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:35

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

We're still eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day, but a lot has changed since 1971 when Madeleine Kamman published the first edition of her book, "The Making of a Cook." The book taught Americans how to apply classic French cooking techniques to American ingredients. Kamman has updated it to take into account Americans' changing tastes and health concerns.

Kamman grew up in France and moved to America with her husband in 1960. She's since run her own restaurants and cooking schools and hosted a PBS cooking show that ran from 1984 to '91. She now runs the School for American Chefs in the Napa Valley.

I asked her about some of the ways she thinks American eating has changed since the 1971 edition of her book.

MADELEINE KAMMAN, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF A COOK," AND "THE NEW MAKING OF THE A COOK: THE ART, TECHNIQUES, AND SCIENCE OF GOOD COOKING," FORMER PBS COOKING SHOW HOST, DIRECTOR, SCHOOL FOR AMERICAN CHEFS": Major ways is a complete lightening of the textures of food by removing a lot of fat out of it for medical reasons, and for reasonable reasons, too, presenting it in a very different manner. Some people continue to be very, very plain, simple -- letting the food speak for itself. Mostly professional do decorations that can be outrageous.

On the nutritional way -- nutrition as really we see the large amount of focus, and I think it is a very good thing, because we used too much fat and too much butter before.

So I have insisted in this book that it be made in a reasonable way, preaching moderation in the consumption of everything, not only the amount of food one eats. You may have noticed that the recipes are small recipes, rather than very large recipes, with portions that are reasonable, and especially the fat be controlled so that one eats a larger amount of unsaturated fat supplemented by a small reasonable amount of saturated fat.

GROSS: Take us back to 1971 when your book first came out. What were some of the thoughts and eating styles that you tried to tie into then?

KAMMAN: Well, this was the time of the dying classic French cuisine. What happened is that it goes back to the time of the war, and to find out what happened with the cuisine nouvelle, it goes back in the 1940s -- the late 1940s and the early '50s in France. We had -- during the war years had absolutely nothing to eat. It was so dire that we ate very, very weird things.

We hunted rabbits with a noose and things like this. I've done this myself. I regret it immensely, but it was a question of survival. And we became, all of us, very, very lean -- so lean that we were very thin and not very appetizing to look at. We did not look good.

But when the food came back in 1946 to '47 -- everything was back in full production, as a reaction against those lean years, we started to eat enormously, and we all put on a terrible amount of weight. That was all right for the teenager. I was a teenager at that time, but some of the adults started to look a little funny, which is not the case generally in France.

And that's the time one started to talk about dietetics in France. And the idea slowly went from the doctor's office to the people. From the people, it passed through this new generations of chef. So, what happened is that the food for two reasons -- dietetic and also economic -- started to really simplify itself.

So at the time I published the first book, you have noticed that all the recipes are really full of butter and cream. And this is quite amazing that -- I look at it now and I say: "oh my goodness gracious, why did I do that?" This was celebration food. This was not food that you would eat every day. All the recipes in the old book are mostly celebration recipes.

GROSS: So in the new book, your recipes are a lot leaner than they were the first time around.

KAMMAN: Indeed, yeah. Indeed -- and I was not the only one. You remember Mrs. Child's book -- it was nice rich cooking and it represent some of the old cuisine that we kept as celebration. Meanwhile, the chefs were working finally to lighten everything on the restaurant table.

GROSS: Now you came to France from the United States in the early 1960s, and you say that when you came here, you started using French cooking techniques with American ingredients.

KAMMAN: Yeah. That was a brand new world, you know. I came in 1960 exactly the 15th of February, and I went to the store and I looked at things, and I couldn't find anything with which I was familiar. I could not recognize the cuts of meat, because cuts of meat are not cut in the same direction. In Europe, we follow the length of the long muscles to make the cuts -- the roast, the steaks, and so on. Here, it's cut across the grain and it's really not quite the same.

So it took me a little while. So one day, I roasted a pot roast and I was not very successful until my husband explained to me what a pot roast was. This was the very beginning of the large production of food that is produced -- mass produced -- and that was the very beginning of the convenience food. The convenience food came almost on my heels, literally. I arrived in this country, and the convenience food arrived within two year after me.

And I looked at this and I said this is really funny. It has a funny taste. So I decided that there were other things that I could use that didn't have that taste and I was going to work with them personally -- create the relationship between the sweet potatoes; between the beautiful squashes that we had here; between the different vegetables that I did not know.

I never ate corn before I came to the United States. We don't eat corn in Europe. It's for fodder most of the time. And even to this day, if they eat corn, they get it out of a can. It's really interesting.

So I had to recreate the complete new classic cuisine using American ingredients. And I really enjoyed it. It was very, very nice.

GROSS: I know that you're working on a poultry book now.

KAMMAN: Yes, I am. Yeah.

GROSS: And I've read a lot of alarming things about the contamination of uncooked chicken...

KAMMAN: Yes, it's very...

GROSS: ... the bacteria that a lot of uncooked chicken has. And I'm wondering what you do at home or at a restaurant to take precautions when you're working with chicken.

KAMMAN: Well, when I came from Europe, I looked at those chicken and people would wash the chicken and I would say: "are you crazy? Nobody washes a chicken." And I didn't wash the chicken 'cause I wasn't used to wash it.

And then all of a sudden I realized that the moisture -- the more I read on sanitation -- the more I realized that the moisture on the skin of the chicken is fatal, because it allows bacterias to develop. Where the French chicken that I had been raised with were very powdery dry -- the skins are very, very dry. There is never an ounce of moisture on a French chicken. The skin is like velvet. You can pass your hand on it, it feels like velvet and completely dry.

So whether this is better or not, and the techniques they use are better than ours, I'm sure they have the same problem because it came when chickens started to be raised 5,000 in a cage, you know. And they pick at each other; they hate each other; they don't have enough space. They are like people. If somebody is with you too close, you get upset.

Well, the chickens get very upset. I went to visit a chicken center and one day a man was raising chicken at a free range. And those that were free range and had much more space could go out through a window during the day and pick at worms outside in their beautiful yard full of nice grass. They were much better looking than those that were not free range chicken.

So there's all kinds of things that are done. There are good chickens in America most definitely, but there are some that get contaminated because something happens on the way, most of the time.

GROSS: I feel like I'm becoming a little crazy when I prepare chicken at home. You know, I wash my hands every time I touch it.

KAMMAN: Well, you should wear gloves.

GROSS: I should wear gloves, huh?

KAMMAN: Mm-hmm. I think the vinyl gloves are very good...

GROSS: Uh-huh.

KAMMAN: ... when you touch chicken and fish, if you can.

There is another thing that you can do, is to wash the chicken, obviously, but the best thing is to marinate it in lemon juice and a little salt. It just discolors a little bit the meat outside, but it sterilizes the meat outside. And the skin is much better for consumption. Furthermore, it makes it nice and mellow and it tastes good.

GROSS: So, how soon should you do that before cooking?

KAMMAN: About a half an hour before cooking. You just put lemon juice on it, and a little dash of salt, and let it sit with the lemon juice all around. And that will, you know, completely discard some of the bacterias, so you can handle it with your hand at that point, the same as you would wash a table top with lemon juice and salt, and then wipe it dry afterwards so that you decontaminate it.

You do the same to the chicken, and it doesn't damage the chicken. On the contrary, it gives it a nice texture and a nice taste.

GROSS: Now, this is how you wash table tops? With lemon juice and salt?

KAMMAN: Yes, I wash them first with soap and water and let them air dry; rinse them well and let them air dry and then I put salt and lemon juice to completely sterilize it, and then fresh water again. It's quite a little -- very careful. You have to be very careful when you wash those boards and those table tops.

I don't believe that I'm (Unintelligible) by bacteria. I am not, but it's good to take precautions.

GROSS: You also warn your readers about cross-contamination.

KAMMAN: That's the worst. That is really something that is not observed enough. And I can understand why.

GROSS: Explain what the problem is.

KAMMAN: The problem is the following: let's say that you have cleaned the chicken or a steak or anything -- removed the fat from the steak on a board. And you do not wash the board, and on the same board, you cook -- you take a piece of bologna and you cut it on the board and you put your slice of bread there.

The bacterias can jump from one to the other in no time. And they are going to develop in your sandwich or whatever you are doing, and you're going to get mighty sick, you know. So of course, you bring the contamination from one ingredient that is uncooked to one ingredient that is cooked. And that is fatal, really, because you can really poison yourself and not poison to the point -- understand me -- you're not going to die of it, but you may have a good case of a nasty stomach over it or nasty inside. And you don't want to have it if it's not necessary.

Furthermore, some people are very sensitive to it. Young children and very older person are not so resistant to it and they can get very, very ill.

GROSS: Now, we have Thanksgiving coming up. I'm wondering if you could maybe share a stuffing recipe with us.

KAMMAN: Well, yes, if you want. And I'll tell you what I do. It never goes into the turkey. Because if you put it into the turkey, you can make a mistake really fast. Making a stuffing means mixing all kinds of ingredients that should not be put in the turkey, then the turkey left stuffed without being baked. If you use a stuffing that goes into the turkey, number one you will not have a very good gravy because as the gravy -- as the turkey cooks, it loses its gravy inside of the stuffing and you're going to have less into your pan.

So I tend to do what my mother-in-law did, actually -- my husband's mother, she had a very lovely way of doing a stuffing. She would prepare a stuffing with the usual bread, either corn bread or white bread or rye bread, and onions, shallots, and all kinds of aromatics that she liked. And also a little bit of sausage, which made it really delicious -- a good sausage stuffing, and use one that has that good American taste of sage. I love it.

So what she did, she baked the stuffing under the turkey on the lower shelf. While the turkey was three-quarters done, she would put stuffing to cook in there. And since in France we stuff exclusively with chestnuts, which I love too -- the chestnuts are cooked before -- are three-quarters cooked before you put them inside.

So you still get the gravy, and the chestnut absorb a certain amount of it, but not the whole amount. But the bread stuffing will absorb every gravy that comes from the cavity of the bird. So, try to put it in a dish. You'll see, it's very different. It has a very nice taste because it's browned on the top and it's moist inside, and it tastes really good and you can still serve it with a portion of turkey.

And the meat of the turkey will taste better because you won't have to cook the turkey so long. You'll have to cook it to 180 degrees between the leg and the breast. This is quite essential to -- for resolve of this problem of bacteria.

GROSS: With your stuffing recipe -- for people who don't eat sausage, is there something you think we can substitute?

KAMMAN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, Yes. You can do substitution; that's no problem. You're going to make a Mediterranean-tasting one if you would like. It's very easy. You take the same bread crumb. You take garlic, parsley, mashed anchovy. You can put grated orange rind. You can put pine nuts. You can imagine all this yourself. You know, you do not have to follow a recipe. All you need is the technique for baking, so to say, a bread pudding? Eh? Since you put milk in it and you take this in the oven, it's a savory bread pudding, basically.

So if you don't want to do sausage, you don't put it. Like if people are vegetarian, you don't even have to serve them the turkey, you know. You can serve them the vegetarian stuffing all by itself and they are very happy. That's very nice.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Madeleine Kamman and she has just revised her 1971 book, The Making of a Cook. And the new Making of a Cook is much larger and takes into account more contemporary approaches to eating and to cooking.

And Madeleine Kamman has her own -- had her own PBS show. She's run restaurants. She teaches chefs. Let's take a short break and then we'll talk some more.

KAMMAN: Thank you.

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR.

Back with Madeleine Kamman, who has just updated her 1971 book The Making of a Cook.

I'm interested in your food autobiography. You grew up in France. What did your family cook when you were very young?

KAMMAN: Well, my mother was a working woman. The women in my family have worked since the First World War. I was brought up with extremely simple food that one could afford with a regular salary. That means that my mother would get out of work at noon and she would stop at the butcher, pick up steaks for the family. She would have potatoes always in the cellar -- go get the potatoes in the cellar.

I would peel them. She would cut them. She would fry them. She would cook the steaks. I would make the salad. And that was lunch. And we had the same meal at night. There was always a soup ready at night, which was made -- which I jokingly used to call "garbage soup" because it's all the cut out of all the vegetables of the week -- all the pieces of vegetables that don't look good enough to go on a plate. I'd keep them and I put them in a bag and I make a vegetable soup.

Everybody has their vegetable soup in France -- every night to this day. And in many families, one has soup, a piece of cheese, and a fruit and this is dinner. The big meal is still at noon, especially in the French provinces.

But things are getting a little more difficult now because everybody, really, works and there is more and more food that is prepared and the generations of now don't know the taste of home-made foods. However simple my steak may have been, it's interesting to realize that the steak was a weekday item because it was fat, or lamb chop or -- and chicken, which was the Brest chicken -- the beautiful chicken with the blue feet -- chicken and ham, whole ham, and roast beef or roast leg of lamb were for Sunday exclusively and for receiving friends and family.

This is what I ate -- not too many sauces. I had two espagnol sauce in my family. One was on my holy communion day and the other one was on my wedding day. Otherwise, we did not have the sauces. We had them when we went to the restaurant.

GROSS: You've said that during World War II when there was a food shortage that many French people resorted to things like hunting rabbits. Did you do that yourself?

KAMMAN: Yes. I did. My father and I went and put nooks between -- stretched piano wire between two bendable trees, and the poor little rabbit that would pass through that, because we have put -- we had put a lovely piece of carrot beyond that was very attractive -- lost his life as -- moving forward, the neck would be squeezed tighter and tighter.

But we had to do it. There were millions of rabbits in those forests. I mean, millions. You could see them cross the street. You know, the roads in the countryside?

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

KAMMAN: There were so many we didn't know what to do with them, so it was a good source of food.

GROSS: What did it do to your sense of food to actually hunt it yourself?

KAMMAN: Well, it removed the squeamishness that sometimes we have, you know. I used to go shoot pheasant with my father and the dog, and it was interesting. Or it was my grandfather and the dog. It was interesting to see the sharp -- what sharpshooters those men were. That was really nice. But I lost my stomach for it later. I lost my enthusiasm because, I don't know, it became as I got older -- first, I changed religion when I -- as I got older and there is such a respect of law in the religion of life, in the religion that I have chosen, that I would not do that anymore.

I am a vegetarian now.

GROSS: You're a vegetarian now.

KAMMAN: Yes, ma'am. I am.

GROSS: But you're writing a new book on poultry.

KAMMAN: Well, that doesn't matter. As a cook I have to be able to know how to cook everything. The fact that I'm vegetarian by choice doesn't mean that I should know my trade as a chef.

GROSS: But how do you feel if you -- if -- tell me more about why you're a vegetarian?

KAMMAN: Oh, I'm a Buddhist.

GROSS: Oh. So you don't want to consume meat, but it's OK for you to prepare it to test out recipes for the book?

KAMMAN: Well, of course.

GROSS: Right.

KAMMAN: And I even have to taste it.

GROSS: Right.

KAMMAN: Yeah, I have to taste it. It creates a little situation, but it's not dire because you know I'm not a Tibetan Buddhist where it's so very important. I'm a Western Buddhist and we don't -- if we have to taste meat, we taste meat. Very simply. I have to for my work so I do it and I've eaten meat for many, many, many years. I stopped it basically out of philosophy -- as I just said -- and also because of a cholesterol problem. So the two went very well hand-in-hand and it was very interesting to change completely.

GROSS: Are you going to have a vegetarian Thanksgiving?

KAMMAN: Oh, no. Oh, no. I'm not cooking it. I can't -- I can't impose my ideas, my wants, on everybody. So most of the time, I will have a tiny bit of turkey and a lot of the stuffing without -- and when you ask that a little bit of the stuffing be put away without the sausage in it, which is not very good for me, although I had some this morning.

LAUGHTER

You see how treacherous it can be to be away in the world by yourself. There is no good buddy to say: "come on, don't eat this. It's not good." But I don't know, I'll see what is on the table. I don't want to create a fuss. You know, it's not necessary and it's not going to kill me. Whatever my spiritual ideas are, if I eat a little piece of sausage or a little piece of turkey, I'm not going to upset everybody. Let them do what they want.

This is my younger son who's going to do this, and he's a past master at turkey. So I always like when he cooks because he cooks it better than I do.

GROSS: Actually, I think you give his recipe for turkey in the book.

KAMMAN: Yes, I do. Yeah, yeah.

GROSS: That's right.

LAUGHTER

You want to give us that recipe maybe?

KAMMAN: Oh, well, yeah. What he does, he cooks the turkey and then when the turkey is done, he either covers the breast -- seriously, so it doesn't continue cooking -- with paper. It doesn't transfer the heat to it -- or he simply removes the breast and keeps it and finishes the legs for another half hour.

And this way, the turkey is very good and either the stuffing will go in, but most of the time he will put the stuffing in for a certain amount of time, then he will finish baking it in a dish. It's must more complicated than I am and it tastes really good, you know. So, these are just ideas. I could not tell you exactly what he puts in everything because he won't ever, ever tell me. So, it's up to me to guess.

It's a good guessing game. I love that. Let's see what's in a dish, you know?

GROSS: Madeleine Kamman, I want to thank you very much for talking with us.

KAMMAN: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.

GROSS: Madeleine Kamman is the author of the new Making of a Cook: The Art, Techniques, and Science of Good Cooking.

Coming up: a jazz accordion player who swings. This is FRESH AIR.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Madeleine Kamman
High: Cooking expert Madeleine Kamman. She authored "The Making of a Cook" in 1971, and just updated her work to write "The New Making of a Cook: The Art, Techniques, and Science of Good Cooking." Both of her books aim to show American cooks how to prepare their own ingredients with French culinary techniques. Kamman is also a PBS cooking show host and director of the School for American Chefs.
Spec:
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1997 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1997 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: The New Making of a Cook
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: NOVEMBER 24, 1997
Time: 12:00
Tran: 112403NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: I Remember Newport
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:55

TERRY GROSS, HOST: Over the years, there have been a few jazz accordion players like Art Van Dam (ph), Met Matthews (ph), Angelo DePippo (ph), and George Shearing.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says you'd be surprised, but some jazz accordion players are actually not very exciting. And then there's Leon Sash.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, JAZZ ACCORDIONIST LEON SASH PERFORMING "PENNIES FROM HEAVEN")

KEVIN WHITEHEAD, FRESH AIR COMMENTATOR: Much of what I know about Leon Sash is that he came from Chicago and lost his eyesight when he was 11 in 1933; that he was a nightclub musician and made a few records -- and that he played jazz on accordion better than anyone I ever heard.

MUSIC RISES

I haven't heard 'em all, but I have heard a few. The accordion is not well designed for swinging. The physical rhythm of pushing and pulling the bellows is hard to escape, and the breath rhythm is short -- long, elegant phrases don't come naturally. Because of the physical effort, some players drag a little at fast tempos or avoid them outright. But Leon Sash is always on time.

MUSIC RISES

Leon Sash makes the accordion's shortness of breath work for him. His huffing phrases have the edgy thrill of hyper-ventilation. When he does play a longer line, it's like he's levitating. Now, the actual musical content can be pretty corny, especially for 1967 when the stuff was recorded. Sash's album "I Remember Newport" is now on CD from Delmark.

But transferred to accordion, even so-so ideas take on a new luster. He can play the corniest tune and make it something you never heard, and somehow echo both blues harmonica player Sonny Terry (ph), who could make the mouth-harp sound like a passing train, and the Harmonicats (ph).

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, JAZZ ACCORDIONIST LEON SASH PLAYING "MISTY")

The accordion has been rehabilitated in modern pop and improvised or composed new music, and there were always players to make your feet move in dance halls in Texas and Louisiana and Pennsylvania and everywhere else. But in jazz, where the accordion still hasn't made much headway, Leon Sash stands out for his mix of cornballism and casual virtuosity. He embraces the dowdy wheeze-box image even as he transcends it.

It's a winning contradiction.

GROSS: Kevin Whitehead is currently living in Amsterdam. He reviewed the reissue I Remember Newport featuring accordionist Leon Sash and his trio on the Delmark label.

Dateline: Kevin Whitehead, Amsterdam; Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest:
High: Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the new reissue "I Remember Newport" featuring accordionist Leon Sash and his trio.
Spec: Music Industry; Accordions; I Remember Newport
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1997 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1997 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: I Remember Newport
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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