Mark Bittman’s New York Times column, “The Minimalist,” is one of the most frequently clipped parts of the paper’s Dining section. For Bittman’s millions of fans who regularly pore over their clippings, here is reason to rejoice: A host of Bittman’s wonderfully delicious and easy recipes, 350 in all, are now available in a single paperback.
In sections that cover everything from appetizers, soups, and sauces to meats, vegetables, side dishes, and desserts, Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times showcases the elegant and flexible cooking style for which Bittman is famous, as well as his deep appreciation for fresh ingredients prepared with minimal fuss. Readers will find tantalizing recipes from all over, each requiring little more than basic techniques and a handful of ingredients. Cold Tomato Soup with Rosemary, Parmesan Cups with Orzo Risotto, Slow-Cooked Ribs, Pumpkin Panna Cotta—the dishes here are perfect for simple weeknight family meals or stress-free entertaining.
Certain to appeal to anyone—from novices to experienced cooks—who wants to whip up a sophisticated and delicious meal easily, this is a collection to savor, and one destined to become a kitchen classic.
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MARK BITTMAN is the author of the blockbuster Best Recipes in the World (Broadway, 2005) and the classic bestseller How to Cook Everything, which has sold more than one million copies. He is also the coauthor, with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, of Simple to Spectacular and Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef. Mr. Bittman is a prolific writer, makes frequent appearances on radio and television, and is the host of The Best Recipes in the World, a 13-part series on public television. He lives in New York and Connecticut.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
COLD TOMATO SOUP WITH ROSEMARY
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
TIME: 15 MINUTES, PLUS TIME TO CHILL
Good tomatoes are bursting with potential. The difference between consuming a tomato out of hand and slicing it, then sprinkling it with a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil, is the difference between a snack and a dish. And the great thing about tomatoes is that it takes so little to convert them from one to the other.
In this instance--though not always--peeling and seeding the tomatoes is worth the effort. To do so, bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut a small X on the smooth (flower) end of each tomato. Drop them into the boiling water. In about thirty seconds, you'll see the skin begin to loosen. Immediately remove from the boiling water and plunge into a bowl of ice water. When they're cool, peel, then cut them in half through their equator. Squeeze and shake out the seeds. (For best flavor, do this over a strainer and recombine the reserved juices with the pulp.)
Use fresh thyme (1 teaspoon), dill (1 tablespoon), basil (1/4 cup), parsley (1/4 cup), chervil (1 tablespoon), chives (1/4 cup), or a mixture of herbs to make this even better; garnish with fresh herbs, too, if you like.
2 slices good-quality stale white bread, crusts removed
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1 cup chicken stock or ice cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Soak the bread in cold water briefly; squeeze dry and combine in a blender with the tomatoes, rosemary, and garlic (you may have to do this in 2 batches). Add the ice cubes if using them. Turn on the machine and drizzle in the stock. Turn off the machine and pour the mixture into a bowl.
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add lemon juice to taste. Chill and serve.
ROAST SALMON STEAKS WITH PINOT NOIR SYRUP
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
TIME: 30 MINUTES
I first had this mysterious, dark, extraordinary delicious sauce in the fine Seattle restaurant called Brasa, when it first opened. It’s a kind of gastrique, a relatively simple sauce based on caramelized sugar that is markedly complex.
Note that if the sugar turns black and begins to smoke, you have burned rather than caramelized it. Throw it out and start again, with lower heat and more patience this time. And if the caramel sticks to your pan and utensils when you’re done, boil some water in the pan, with the utensils in there if necessary. The caramel will loosen right away.
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups Pinot Noir
1 fresh rosemary sprig, plus 1 teaspoon chopped
4 salmon steaks (about 1/2 pound each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of butter
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick and with rounded sides, and turn the heat to medium. Cook without stirring (just shake the pan occasionally to redistribute the sugar) until the sugar liquefies and begins to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully add the wine. Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the caramel dissolves again. Then add the rosemary sprig and reduce over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy and reduced to just over 1/2 a cup, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper, then put it in the pan; immediately put the pan in the oven. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn the salmon and cook for another 3 minutes. Check to see that the salmon is medium-rare or thereabouts (it should be) and remove it and keep it warm, or cook for another minute or two if you like.
3. When the sauce is reduced, stir in the balsamic vinegar and butter and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook until the butter melts, add some salt and pepper, and remove the rosemary sprig. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve over the fish, garnished with the chopped rosemary.
Combine 2 tablespoons shelled raw pumpkin seeds and about 2 tablespoons dried porcini pieces in a coffee or spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder. Press some of the mixture in to the top (nonskin side) of each of the fillets and cook as directed.
Combine 1 tablespoon coriander seeds or ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon while or ground cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds or ground cumin, and I teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (grind all together if necessary). Press some of the mixture into the top (nonskin side) of each of the fillets and cook as directed.
MAPLE BREAD PUDDING
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
TIME: ABOUT 1 HOUR, LARGELY UNATTENDED
Use good white bread for this, and don’t bother to remove the crusts: the different textures make it more interesting.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 pound white bread, cut or torn into chunks no smaller than 1 inch in diameter
1 cup milk plus 1 cup cream or a total of 2 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup maple syrup or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Small grating of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
1. Butter a 10- or 12-inch soufflé or baking dish and put the bread in it. Cut the remaining butter into bits and combine it with all the other ingredients; pour over the bread. Submerge the bread with a weighted plate and turn the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. When the oven is hot, remove the plate (scrape any butter back onto the bread) and bake until the pudding is just set but not dry, 45 to 60 minutes. The top will be crusty and brown. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with our without whipped cream.
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