Short-Order Sundays

Photos and story by Kerri Conan

My husband, Sean Santoro, and I make a big deal out of Sunday brunch together. Only we never eat the same thing. I recycle vegetables, soup, or salad from the night before as a base for poached eggs. (Mark’s recipe is unfussy and un-vinegary.) And Sean always makes himself bacon and something—an omelet or other eggy thing cooked in the pan drippings—and fruit, which I save for an afternoon snack, what with all the roughage going on already. Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Treat Your Veggies Like Meat

Text and photos by Emily Stephenson

The best cooking tip I’ve been lucky enough to ever receive came from a pastry chef, who has been a nearly life-long vegetarian. Strangely, this technique involves meat and not dessert.

I was eating dinner at her home, which included the most delicious roasted vegetables; I asked how she does it. Her elegant answer: “I’ve never understood why people don’t treat vegetables like meat.” After prodding for elaboration, I got the secret: get your pan screaming hot before adding anything to it. Continue reading

Posted in Produce

Homemade Lasagne and Mozzarella

Story and photos by Mark Bittman

My partner Kathleen and I made lasagne (each sheet is a “lasagna”; lasagne is plural), the other night. I never thought it was the kind of thing you needed much of a recipe for, unless you were making a fancy, sort of béchamel-and-mushroom kind of thing. But a) we’d been making fresh pasta with some regularity and b) we had some ricotta and some potential mozzarella from Caputo Brothers. (Which might consider changing its name to Caputo “Family” given that the family member on their videos is Rynn Caputo, a woman.)

Anyway. Kat is a lasagne expert, I think it’s a pretty easy thing, a friend’s dog had died (actually two friends’ dogs had died in the same day, but to one I sent flowers because she’s too far away for a lasagne), we had these cheese curds and some local (Glynwood, in fact) spinach, tomatoes, beef, and eggs, and some really good flour from Community Grains and Wild Hive, both, so on a lark we decided to make the best possible lasagne. Continue reading

Posted in Italian

Making Wasabi Edamame

Story and photos by Pam Hoenig

I have been wanting to try this forever, and even got so far as to buy a bag of shelled edamame and throwing it in the freezer, where it has stayed for the last month or so. I finally got my break yesterday, and making them couldn’t have been easier.

I used a ten-ounce bag, just about 2 cups of beans. Defrost—the best way is to just run them under water then pat dry. Spill them onto a rimmed baking sheet and put them into a 400° oven until they start to get a bit crunchy/chewy and start to brown, which will take about 30 minutes. (If you want to get them really crunchy, dial the heat down to 350° or even 325°. At these lower temps, you can get the edamame drier before they get too brown. Check on them every 10 to 15 minutes after the first half hour—it might take up to an hour to get them to the degree of crispness you want, depending on the temperature you use). Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Recipes, Vegan

Troubleshooting Tortillas

Photos and story by Kerri Conan

A few weeks ago I had fun making tortillas with Mark. Inspired—and armed with a bag of local coarse-ground masa harina from Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm in Kansas—I immediately invested in a tortilla press. And then boom, right on cue Sarah Curry asked question on Instagram about avoiding lard in tortillas. (Add your own questions and see more responses with #askbitt.)

This month I’ve now concocted tortillas three ways: with lard, with no fat, and with a good-quality liquid sunflower oil. And I’m happy to report all work fine, though the ones without fat were less pliable, more crumbly, less chewy. So the answer is yes: You can replace the lard with another fat—or nothing at all. Continue reading

Posted in Reader Questions

Better Baking with Brown Butter

Photo by Romulo Yanes

Samantha Douglass asked on Facebook:

“I love the flavor that browned butter gives to…well, nearly everything. Since butter also has a functional purpose in recipes, I wonder about using it in baked goods. Does butter lose its shortening power once browned? Ought one substitute it only for a portion of a recipe’s butter or is it possible to substitute browned butter for all the unbrowned? Does browned butter solidify sufficiently to use in recipes requiring solid butter?”

You’d think butter couldn’t be improved upon, until you discover brown butter: It’s nutty, it’s toasty, and it makes anything taste better. So why not bake with it? No good reason: If you have a recipe that doesn’t include it, but one you think would be improved (or just nicely varied) with those deeper flavors, there are a few things to keep in mind. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

The Original En Papillote

Text and photos by Mark Bittman

When you’re buying fish in a strange place, it helps if both you and the person you’re buying it from know all about marine taxonomy, including the Latin for everything. Since this is almost never the case, you can run into the kind of situation I was in last week in Dominica, where I was told what was pretty clearly some kind of jack was a salmon. When I said, “That’s not what they call a salmon in the rest of the world,” another fishmonger intervened and said it was in fact a blue runner. When I later looked online at pictures of blue runners, I found that indeed they are a kind of jack, but not the jack that I’d bought and had filleted.

As they say: Whatever. It’s a fish. With an unreliable grill and novel fuel—a kind of wood that burned slowly but not especially hot—I thought the fish needed some protection, some kind of en papillote situation, or it was going to stick to the grill grates like it had been superglued. I thought about this while slow-grilling some beautiful garlic, green onions, and “seasoning chiles,” which look like habaneros but are mild enough to eat, almost like padróns. I had no foil, so that was out. I had no parchment paper, which is what we think of as the “real” en papillote wrapper, though I wasn’t certain that would work anyway. Continue reading

Posted in Grilling, Seafood, Travel

DIY Tahini and Hummus

Text and photos by Pam Hoenig

Over the years I’ve bought tahini—toasted sesame paste—to use in different dishes, and I’ve never been satisfied with it. It has always had a chalky texture and uninspiring flavor, even tasting a bit off, probably indicating it had been sitting on the shelf too long. So I decided to try making it myself. Turns out it’s not hard at all but you do need a food processor (a mini works great).

Continue reading

Posted in Recipes

Get Fresh with Fermented

Text and photos by Kerri Conan

They say fermented foods are an acquired taste. And I say the best way to hop that train to Funky Town – and get the zing without the dang – is to cut them with fresh ingredients.

One of my favorite combinations – and Mark’s – is sauerkraut and cabbage. Perfect with smoked sausage and fatty roast pork or tossed with egg noodles, these two forms of the same vegetable illustrate exactly how well opposites attract. The preserved cabbage contributes acidity and pleasantly musty flavors, while the fresh leaves provide bright grassy notes. Continue reading

Posted in Produce

Frying Favas

Photos and text by Mark Bittman

I bought some dried, split fava beans a couple of weeks ago, thinking I would make the crisp-fried ones you buy as a snack in various European countries, especially Spain, Portugal, and Italy (in my experience); you sometimes see them in stores here (especially Portuguese ones) as well.

Then I realized I didn’t know how to make them. It had to be one of two things: either you soak them, boil them, and then roast or fry them, or you just soak them and roast or fry them. The internet was no help–as usual, you get conflicting advice from sources you have no reason to trust–so I talked it over with Kerri, who had never done this with favas either. We’d both roasted cooked chickpeas until they were crisp (I love that; we have a recipe for it in the Food Matters Cookbook), but these seemed different. Continue reading

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Vegan