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.

HTCE Fast: Korean-Style Chicken and Vegetable Pancakes


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

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Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Produce, Recipes

HTCE Fast: Hard-Boiled Eggs with Dijon-Paprika Mayo


Hard-boiled eggs with Dijon mayo have the flavors of deviled eggs without the hassle. Not sure why I never thought of this before now, but . . . they’re beauties.

4 eggs
Ice cubes
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika more for garnish
Salt and pepper

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Posted in American, Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

Introducing #BittmanTopics

Whether you’re cooking it, eating it, or following the policies around it, food brings people together. In that spirit, I’m introducing #BittmanTopics: a place where we can all share ideas about a different food-related topic each month.

Here’s how it works: at the beginning of the month, I’ll introduce a new subject. For the next few weeks, you can use #BittmanTopics to approach it from whatever angle you like—share related news and articles, exchange recipes and photos, ask questions and swap tips, or just weigh in. At the end of the month, I’ll compile my favorite photos, recipes, and comments (with credit to you, of course) in a post back here on my site and share on social media. Now on to the topic for April…

Photo by Yunhee Kim

Photo by Yunhee Kim

Spring produce. We all thrill to the first hints of spring at the market, like real peas, favas and strawberries. Eating locally, obviously, isn’t new: barely anything was shipped more than a couple of hundred miles until after World War 2. But even though most produce is available year-round, the word “seasonal” still has plenty of meaning. Even now, some of us are enjoying local strawberries while others are just getting those first few ramps.

What does spring produce mean to you? What’s local to you this month? What springtime ingredients and dishes are you cooking right now?

Photos by Jim Wilson

Photos by Jim Wilson

Here are some recipes and readings to get us going: light stews to transition from winter to spring, an updated take on spring’s signature pasta, and asparagus 12 ways. For dessert, two of the easiest strawberry dishes. (Careful with those Big Ag strawberries.)

Remember to get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below and share your favorite recipes, articles, thoughts and tips with #BittmanTopics. Check back in as often as you’d like and look for my favorites at the end of the month.

Posted in Bittman Topics, Food Politics, Recipes

Taking the Mystery Out of Cardoons


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

HTCE Fast: Shrimp and Tomato Paella


Paella need not be a huge ordeal; if it were called baked rice and shrimp in a skillet, you’d think it was a piece of cake—which it is.

3 1/2 cups shrimp or vegetable stock or water, plus more if needed
Pinch of saffron
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
Salt and pepper
1 pound peeled shrimp
3 large ripe tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups short- or medium-grain white rice, preferably paella or Arborio rice
Several sprigs fresh parsley for garnish

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Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Recipes, Seafood, Spanish

For Perfect Pasta, Add Water and a Vigorous Stir

Flavio Pasta

On a clear fall day in Rome, I was sitting outside at Flavio al Velavevodetto, a restaurant in Testaccio, in a neighborhood that was once the city’s slaughterhouse district and is now inhabited by both older working-class people and gentrifying youngsters. Flavio de Maio, an elegant, middle-aged businessman turned chef, sat across the table from me; a translator sat between us. I had come at the recommendation of a friend, the Rome-based journalist and historian Katie Parla, who told me that if I was looking for the epitome of Roman pasta, this was the place.

I had a question for Flavio: Why did he think that the simplest pastas of all — pasta alla Gricia, pasta cacio e pepe and pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino — were the darlings of Rome, appearing on nearly every menu?

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Grant Cornett.

Posted in Italian, Recipes

Spring’s Opening Act

Grilled Lettuce and Peas

Back in the ’80s, I resented the existence of Meyer lemons and anyone who championed them. Those groovy Bay Area people would write recipes calling for Meyer lemons, as if anyone could find them, and insist that a regular lemon just wouldn’t do.

Now I have a Meyer lemon tree growing outside my kitchen door. My friends come and take 10 at a time, and there are still 100 lemons left.

And actually, they are amazing, with an oily orange fragrance. But this isn’t a story about lemons. Rather, it’s about me, and Berkeley, where people leave boxes of Meyer lemons on the sidewalk because they have too many.

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Melina Hammer.

Posted in American, Recipes