HTCE Fast: Cheddar Waffles with Bacon Maple Syrup

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

These cheddar waffles are an addictive mix of sweet and savory. They bake up crisp and rich like grilled cheese sandwiches, only with the classic flavors of breakfast on top.

Vegetable oil
6 slices bacon
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup grated)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup maple syrup
Pepper

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Good Riddance to the Foam Take-Out Carton

Strike another blow against so-called convenience and bring back the paper coffee cup with the Greek columns: foam cups and other polystyrene foam packaging, even packing “peanuts,” are going bye-bye in New York City.

They’re already banned, or will be, in over 100 jurisdictions in the United States, including the District of Columbia; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Minneapolis and San Francisco, and some 90 other municipalities in California. But the New York City move may signal the death knell for the stuff most of us call by its common (and technically misapplied) name, Styrofoam.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Food Politics

HTCE Fast: Jambalaya des Herbes with Shrimp

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

To accommodate Catholics who were abstaining from meat during Lent, a vegetarian version of gumbo with lots of greens—gumbo z’herbes—was often served in New Orleans. This recipe takes the same approach with another bayou classic, jambalaya.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
2 green bell peppers
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 large ripe tomatoes (1 pound)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 pound peeled shrimp
Hot sauce for serving (optional)

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Posted in Recipes

Let’s Address the State of Food

The state of the union, food-wise, is not good. The best evidence is that more than 46.5 million Americans are receiving SNAP benefits — formerly food stamps — a number that has not changed much since 2013, when it reached its highest level ever.

Even if you allow for fraud, which barely exists (imagine being so desperate that you’d risk imprisonment for $130 a month; I doubt you can), the number would be far higher if everyone who was eligible knew it, if pride and stigma were not issues and if it were easier to enroll. Still, 15 percent of the nation is bad enough; it’s roughly equivalent to the population of Spain.

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HTCE Fast: Ricotta Dumplings with Spinach and Brown Butter

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

There is no homemade pasta faster to whip up than ricotta dumplings. The only part that requires patience is cooking them in batches so you don’t overload the pot. It’s worth the short wait, though; these are downright luxurious.

Salt
6 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups grated)
2 eggs
2 cups ricotta cheese
Pepper
3/4 cup to 1 cup flour
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 bunch spinach (1 pound)

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Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

Let Them Eat Foie Gras

The lifting of the California ban against selling foie gras (the hyperfattened liver of geese or ducks, brought about by overfeeding the live animals) is pretty much a nonissue, except to point out that as a nation we have little perspective on animal welfare. To single out the tiniest fraction of meat production and label it “cruel” is to miss the big picture, and the big picture is this: Almost all meat production in the United States is cruel.

The sale and production of foie gras was prohibited in California in 2012. Though the ban was widely ignored — foie gras was served for free in many restaurants and sold illegally in others — it’s now legal to serve it. (Production remains banned.)

But so what? Foie gras is among the most overrated of luxury ingredients, ranking right up there with caviar and truffles. Done right, all three are delicious, but we can call them rich people’s food, and as such they’re not that important except to chefs who want to impress rich people or rich people who want to be impressed.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Uncategorized

HTCE Fast: Spaghetti and Drop Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

The most time-consuming part of making meatballs is rolling them. The solution? Don’t. Just use two spoons to drop little mounds of the mixture into the hot skillet. (Skipping the rolling also prevents you from overworking the meatballs until they get tough.) Leave them alone to brown beautifully on the bottom while you start building the tomato sauce around them.

Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces ground beef
6 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups grated)
1 bunch fresh parsley
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
Pepper
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 pound spaghetti

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Planet Plant

Mushroom Leek Saute

Whether you follow the habits of “sexy A-listers” or march to your own drum, consider eating more fruits and vegetables in 2015. You don’t have to become a vegan or vegetarian, or even make an official “resolution.” Just shift the balance of calories in your diet away from animal foods and toward plants. Assuming you also avoid junk food, you’ll be doing both yourself and the planet a world of good. If you need more guidance and some recipes, see my books VB6® and The VB6® Cookbook. Here’s an example of what I mean—a steak topped with loads of caramelized leeks and mushrooms.

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Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

Hens, Unbound

The most significant animal welfare law in recent history — California’s Prop 2 — takes effect today. The measure, which passed by a landslide vote in 2008, requires egg and some meat producers to confine their animals in far more humane conditions than they did before. No longer will baby calves (veal) or gestational pigs be kept in crates so small they cannot turn around and, perhaps more significantly, egg-laying hens may not be held in “battery” cages that prevent them from spreading their wings.

The regulations don’t affect only hens kept in California. In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that extended the protections of Prop 2 to out-of-state birds: You cannot sell an egg in California from a hen kept in extreme confinement anywhere. For an industry that has been able to do pretty much what it wants, this is a big deal: It bans some of the most egregious practices.

Posted in Uncategorized

HTCE Fast: Warm Escarole and White Bean Salad with Poached Eggs

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

This cousin to the classic frisée au lardons — with its luscious poached egg on top — substitutes white beans and Parmesan for bacon, and, believe me, it’s a fair trade.

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
1 large bunch escarole (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) (If you can’t find escarole, spinach works too.)
4 cups cooked or canned white beans (two 15-ounce cans)
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons white vinegar
4 eggs
4 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 cup grated)

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