This Month on #BittmanTopics: Grilling

Whether you’re cooking it, eating it, growing it, or reading about it, food brings people together. Welcome to #BittmanTopics: a place where we can all share ideas about a different food-related topic each month. In case you missed the first installment, here’s how it works, and here’s what we talked about in April.

Photo by Francesco Tonelli for the New York Times

Photo by Francesco Tonelli for the New York Times

For many of us, May is a transitional month: it starts as spring and ends around Memorial Day, often with heat and humidity. Grills are coming out of hibernation; I’d like to hear what you’re doing about that.

There is nothing more iconic than the burger, and there’s no denying that the grilled burger is pretty tasty. But there are lots of ways to venture beyond the basic, whether you’re doing it for taste or because the true cost of a cheeseburger is so high. You don’t even need meat: I’ve been doing the less-meatarian thing for a while now (and even wrote a book on it), and most of these 101 fast recipes for grilling are vegetarian. Have a look.

Photo by Sam Kaplan for the New York Times

Photo by Sam Kaplan for the New York Times

Meanwhile, what’s your favorite—or most unexpected—thing to throw on the grill? How do you cook vegetables outside? Do you cut back on meat when you’re grilling, or go (forgive me) whole hog? Whether you’re a grillmaster or a first-timer, join us this month on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below with #BittmanTopics. And keep an eye out for details about a tweetchat, which I’ll be hosting later this month thanks to Natalie Shrock’s suggestion on Facebook.

Looking Back: Spring Produce on #BittmanTopics

I introduced #BittmanTopics a few weeks ago as a way to share ideas. We started—unsurprisingly, maybe—with spring produce, and were happy to see all your thoughts here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Regardless of the stage spring is at in your nabe, by the looks of it we’ve all been eating well.

Below are some comments and photos that you might find interesting. (Don’t worry; I had to look up murcotts, too.) Check back here on Monday for May’s theme.

Photos by @globalgirlcanada at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Photos by @globalgirlcanada on Instagram

“Spring ‘Succotash’…peas, favas, asparagus, spring onions, young carrots. We’ll be sick of this dish just as soon as some others take their place at the table!!!”
-Arden, markbittman.com

“Spring here means harvesting the fava beans, turning the stalks & leaves into the soil to prepare the beds for tomatoes and sharing the shucking & pealing of the favas with a few neighbors. Then enjoying green caviar for dinner. #suburbounty”
-Armelle Vanazzi Futterman, Facebook

“One neighbor is harvesting morels from his yard and another neighbor has an impressive spread of water cress growing in our valley’s spring. I am eyeing the morels, gathering wild onions for stock, putting dandelion greens in everything and eating as much rice, watercress and pecan salad as I can. I use a walnut oil vinaigrette and add some corn and edamame for heft. If there isn’t time for a salad, the watercress is delicious all by itself. The bright, peppery leaves scream Spring.”
-Anna Lingo, markbittman.com

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Photo by @nestwife on Twitter

“Favorite 20 minute spring produce dinner – chard sautéed with green garlic, stirred into scrambled eggs, served with murcotts #onepictureisworth140characters”
@nestwife, Twitter

“I grow in the southeast, zone 8b in high tunnel, so my seasons are a bit mixed up. This past winter we grew an English pea called ‘Willet wonder’ that we harvested as immature young pods and discovered they’re even more delicious than green beans when simply steamed and add a bit of butter and salt. Plus, they just kept coming. I didn’t see this suggestion to grill them until after the season was over, but I’m keeping it in mind for next year. http://ourfourforks.com/grilled-sugar-snap-peas/”
-c. hennes, markbittman.com

“I have a pizza crust recipe to use when I have a little of this and that for veggie toppings and a scone recipe when I have just a few berries or fruits. I’ve made some things so many times I don’t use a recipe anymore, and know what kinds of things I can substitute. The main idea behind seasonal eating is flexibility and developing a taste for new things. When I find a recipe that allows creative substitutions I save it. When I have a lot of some ingredients I oven roast and freeze. I currently have a lot of red cabbage and I’m looking for ideas.”
Carolyn Hennes, Facebook

“Mint. Mix ¼ cup of fine shreds with a cup of Greek yogurt and put it in lentils; on beets; fresh fruit; pancakes. Mint Julips are nice too.”
-Jacqueline Chama, markbittman.com

Photo by @thevillagegravy

Photo by @thevillagegravy on Instagram

Posted in Bittman Topics, Produce

HTCE Fast: Korean-Style Chicken and Vegetable Pancakes

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Korean pa jun are a delicious take on scallion pancakes: fluffy, crisp, and loaded with all sorts of vegetables. Add ground chicken to the mix and dinner is served.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus  more as needed
8 ounces ground chicken
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 scallions
1 carrot
1 small zucchini
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Continue reading

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Produce, Recipes

Taking the Mystery Out of Cardoons

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Cardoons are clearly related to artichokes, but in no way do they rank as highly, and that’s just the way it is.

Posted in Produce, Recipes

Watermelon All Day Long

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You don’t need an expert to tell you that watermelon is just about the most refreshing thing you could possibly eat in the middle of summer, and that the first and best way to “prepare” it is to just cut it up and devour it, letting the juice drip down your face and spitting the seeds (more on these in a minute) as far as you can.

When the weather is clammy and the watermelons are juicy and sweet (and cheap), it makes sense to have them on hand pretty much all the time. And that means there may be instances when your innate creativity (or boredom) might drive you a little further. Luckily, there are many worthy and refreshing things to do with watermelon that are somewhere between simple slicing and full-blown cooking.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Cocktails, Produce

My VB6 Pantry Essentials on Food52

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This week, I‘m is serving as a Guest Editor at Food52. I chose a Wildcard winner, answered questions, and have been sharing recipes from my new Cooking Basics app.

Today, I outline the five pantry staples that are essential to go Vegan Before 6.

Read the list of pantry essentials, here.

Photo by James Ransom

Posted in Produce

Spring, Loaded

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 10.09.17 AMWhen you think of spring rolls, you probably envision the kind that are served as an appetizer at nearly every Thai restaurant in this country, a tangle of sometimes-identifiable vegetables rolled in a thin wrapper, deep-fried and served with a sweet dipping sauce.

But spring rolls go far beyond that. They’re found all across Asia, with wrappers, fillings and cooking techniques that differ from one country to the next. Fresh spring rolls, sometimes called summer rolls, are a staple in Vietnam. Most typically, they’re made of rice paper filled with rice vermicelli, cooked meat or shrimp, raw vegetables, basil, cilantro and mint. They’re wonderful, a rare combination of substance and light.

Read the rest of this article, here.

Posted in Produce, Seafood, Thai, Vietnamese

I Heart Artichokes

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.25.04 AMTrue story, from the wedding of two friends, circa 1977: The bride’s father, a louche sophisticate, and perhaps needless to say an alcoholic, asked of the groom’s grandmother, a Russian immigrant of peasant stock, “Isn’t eating an artichoke just like sex?” There was, as you can imagine, no reply.

The artichoke has always inspired such lyrical flights. Is it not the most versatile of vegetables as well as the most miraculous? Is it not incredible that this thistle keeps its treasure so well hidden and protected that people can spend their lives blissfully eating only the outer leaves, never getting past the choke to the heart?

Rhetorical questions, I recognize. But once you know how to handle an artichoke, it will pretty much do your bidding, providing you with salads, sautés and remarkable centerpieces that are unique in just about every respect.

Read the rest of this article here and see the video here.

Posted in Produce, Recipes

Cooking Up Some ‘Chokes

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Posted in Produce, Recipes