Jessica Tom

eater, cook, writer

  • Website
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Favorite foods: Candied nuts, eggplant of almost any preparation, grilled whole fish, bouillabaisse, durian, grapes, dacquoise, chocolate souffle. I don't eat a ton of meat, but BBQ will often slay me.
  • Last bite on earth: Hm, make that a last sip. Something very strong.

Win a Scholarship to the International Culinary Center's Craft of Food Writing Course in NYC

Mark Bittman is a master at distilling the essence of a recipe. There are some writers who build up -- who transport you to other lands and eccentric minds. But Bittman brings you to yourself, your home, and your own competence. In his writing, food isn't a one-time project. It's an ongoing instinct.

Ask the Critic: What's NYC's Best Seafood 'Shack' Cuisine?

Also BLT Fish Shack.

How to Make Almond Milk, How It Compares to Soy Milk

Lee, tell us what we can do with the leftover almond solids!

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Non-Guac Ways to Eat Avocados

Mash avocado + dark rum + granulated sugar. My Mom had it growing up in Madagascar drizzled with vanilla extract. Yes, it's as good as it sounds.

30th Birthday FAMILY dinner in NY?

How Did Macadamia Nuts Find White Chocolate?

Here's my theory... The macadamia is the fattiest nut. And white chocolate is the fattiest chocolate (all cocoa butter and no cacao solids). So I imagine the universe facilitates these marriages of fat and fat.

Grilled Kale

I love this idea. Might be interesting to grill a meatier green, like a thick slice of cabbage, too.

Mooncakes, peach buns, long-life noodles...Fav symbolic foods?

Oops, not a Big Mac, a McDonald's hot fudge sundae. Here's what my family ate this Mid-Autumn Festival: . Mooncake, medicinal soup good for when you have "too much BBQ", sea cucumber, abalone. Lucky "harvest food" that's nothing like Thanksgiving food.

Mooncakes, peach buns, long-life noodles...Fav symbolic foods?

@arkytrojan - Wow, great article. Old tradition meets new health-consciousness meets timeless status-seeking. Can you imagine paying income taxes on your mooncakes? And I knew they had a lot of calories, but not 2.5x more than a Big Mac.

Bake the Book: 'The Cookiepedia'

I made green tea madeleines: Astringent & cleansing & buttery all at the same time.

Mooncakes, peach buns, long-life noodles...Fav symbolic foods?

@milkyway4679 - I mean foods that "mean something" beyond their ingredients and preparation. ie: Lentils bring good fortune on New Year's (Italian), dyed red eggs represent the renewal of life at a baby's 100-day birthday party (Chinese). I think a turkey counts -- it represents the abundance of the harvest? coming together at the table?

I suppose I like these foods because they illuminate how food can be more than just fuel. They can also carry our hopes, dreams, traditions, etc.

Fresh Black Figs...Now What?

Hm, mash with a tiny bit of bittersweet amaro and serve with cheese and crackers.

Or braise with rabbit, mustard, and shallots:

What are the foods you've taught yourself to like?

@jedd63 - Right, the best things in life require some effort.

What are the foods you've taught yourself to like?

Yes, I agree! As Jeffrey Steingarten says in THE MAN WHO ATE EVERYTHING (in his distinctive J.S. way):

"By closing ourselves off from the bounties of nature, we become failed omnivores. We let down the omnivore team. God tells us in the Book of Genesis, right after Noah's flood, to eat everything under the sun. Those who ignore his instructions are no better than godless heathens."

Behind The Scenes At Dolce Vizio, The Tiramisu Bar In Manhattan

I love tiramisu, too. And I wonder about other soaked cookie desserts, too, like banana pudding with nilla wafers?

But what about a madeleine clafouti, or a chocolate chip cookie ricotta terrine? A snickerdoodle sabayon? I know there are lots of amaretti desserts. So many good cookies to stew!

Trompe L'oeil Dishes You Can Make at Home?

@dbcurrie @philandlauren Depends what you want out of your dining experience. If you want to be nourished and comforted, then there’s no place for foolery. But sometimes you might want to be surprised, challenged, disoriented. Essentially it’s like going to an amusement park: Do you want to relax on an inner tube? Or get lost in the hall of mirrors?

Trompe L'oeil Dishes You Can Make at Home?

Oh wow, these are devilish. Don't believe everything you eat!

Mooncakes, peach buns, long-life noodles...Fav symbolic foods?

I'm a sucker for story. This Monday is the Chinese Moon Festival, when one of the chief priorities is eating mooncake -- a very rich pastry typically filled with lotus seed paste and a salted duck egg representing the full moon.

I love this type of lore and am curious about other cultures and traditions, when food is not about taste per se, but edible wishes for luck, riches, long life. Sometimes food is just food. But sometimes it connects with something deeper.

What are your favorite symbolic foods?

What are the foods you've taught yourself to like?

At the risk of sounding like an amateur, here goes... the first time I had yuzu, I thought it objectively tasted bad -- rotten and musty, like a moldy lemon.

And the first time I had a great olive oil in Italy, I thought it tasted like soap.

My taste buds were saying, "No, no, no." But my mind was saying, "You know you should like this..." What are the foods you've made yourself like? (I like yuzu and assertively-flavored olive oil now, but for a while, I faked it until I made it.)

Oyster Rockefeller, Crepes Suzette...Favorite retro foods?

I recently went on a cruise on the Celebrity Summit and loved the food. Not because it was super high-quality (though it was better than you'd expect), but because of all the retro foods I've read about but have never been able to order at restaurants because they're so dated.

I'm talking Beef Wellington, Lobsters Thermidor, Baked Alaska, Peaches Melba. So unmodern, but so chic. Here's an overview of the classic-but-passe foods I had on the ship:

What are your favorite retro dishes?

What's your secret kitchen "cheat" tool?

Mine is this salad chopper I got from Pampered Chef: It's like a double-scissor-spoon. Sometimes I don't like chopping with a knife, so I just cut. So sue me!

I'd never bring it out when I'm having guests over though. I'm curious -- What's the kitchen tool that you can't live without (but would never admit to using)?

Trompe L'oeil Dishes You Can Make at Home?

I love it when chefs serve trompe l'oeil dishes -- things that look like one thing, but are another. Think Wylie Dufresne's carrot and coconut "sunnyside-up egg." I'd love to bring that sense of play and whimsy into my own kitchen.

I like the idea of mushroom macarons (mushroom caps as the "meringue", cheese as the filling), but am looking for other ideas. I think it'd be a lot of fun to do a trompe l'oeil dinner party. Any ideas for a full menu?

Scooped: Honey Mustard Ice Cream

We all love honey mustard, and just because it usually appears on a turkey sandwich or on a hot dog doesn't mean that it won't also make a great dessert. This ice cream is a great combination of sharp and sweet, with the richness of the custard base cut by the honey's depth and the vinegar of the mustard. More