Humble Paella

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.29.49 AMI was once accused by Catalans near Valencia — which is the home of paella — of knowing nothing whatsoever about paella, and of making at best what they called “arroz con cosas”: rice with things.

Fine. My culinary heritage is so limited that almost everything I make is an adaptation. But my rice with things is better than just about any other I’ve had in the United States. And to make real paella, you probably should start with a wood fire; anything else is a compromise.

Anyway, paella really is just rice with things — as is risotto, as is pilaf. There’s a technique to it, and it’s pretty straightforward, and by applying that technique to a variety of ingredients in a variety of ways, you can make something that really approaches great paella, even if a Catalan might scoff at it.

Read the rest of this article here, and get the master recipe here.

Posted in Recipes, Spanish

Mark Bittman: Two-thirds Vegan and a Handful of Other

by  for The Huffington Post

Okay, I’m shallow. Nothing excites me more than when someone tosses a new idea for chicken at me that sounds easy, healthy and quick. New ideas for vegetables make we weep — in a good way. Cooking is about much more than throwing stuff in the oven and waiting for dinner to emerge. It’s about lifestyle. Culture. Fun. Creativity. Time.

Mark Bittman makes everything seem not only acccessbile, but easy. He uses ingredients that we actually have, or that are at least available within a few miles of most urban or suburban cooks. Nothing obscure, nothing fussy that you need to order online because it’s simply unavailable in a major metropolis. Bittman understands that many home cooks are distracted, can barely tell the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon (if they have the measuring spoons at all), and crave simplicity. At the same time, he knows that we want something new, a twist on what is familiar, but with a flash of Different.

Read the rest of the article here.

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Slow Food

Lost in the Supermarket

Last year, it seemed, every book about food that crossed my desk — other than those about cooking, of course — seemed to have one of two titles: “How I Moved to Brooklyn and Became a Roof-Gardening Butcher” or “The Gluten-Free Diet Saved My Life, and It Can Save Yours.”

This year is different; the books are variations on the title “How Big Food Is Trying to Kill You.” We have “Salt Sugar Fat,” my Times colleague Michael Moss’s epic description of the manipulation of processed food to make it even more palatable and addictive tomorrow than it was yesterday, and how the industry is well aware of how destructive of public health this manipulation truly is. We have the excellent “Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America” by Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch, which details the takeover of our food system by that same crew of corporate cynics.

And we have the cleverly titled “Pandora’s Lunchbox,” by Melanie Warner, a freelance (and former Times) reporter, which is so much fun that you might forget how depressing it all is. This is in part thanks to Warner’s measured, almost dry but deceptively alluring reportorial style, but it’s also because the extent to which food is  manipulated – and therefore, consumers as well — is downright absurd . There are more Holy Cow! moments here than even someone who thinks he or she knows what’s going on in food production could predict.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Farming, Food Politics

Win a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

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My new book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good, goes on sale April 30th. To celebrate its release, I’m giving away 10 cast-iron skillets graciously donated by Lodge.

Preorder your copy of VB6 (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound), then email veganbefore6@gmail.com and tell me why you’re interested in trying it out. I’ll read through them and pick my 10 favorites.

Only emails received by Monday, April 29th, will be eligible to win.

Posted in Events

Cooking Up Some ‘Chokes

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

VB6, On Sale April 30th

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I’ve spent the better part of my adult life thinking about food, but it wasn’t until six years ago when my doctor suggested I become a vegan — or face dire health consequences — that I began to seriously confront my diet.

Yes, I liked vegetables and grains, but as a food writer it was unrealistic to give up meat and dairy for good. VB6 was my compromise. I’d become a part-time vegan. From the time I woke up until 6 p.m. I’d eat a strict vegan diet: no animal products, no processed foods —not even white bread. For dinner I’d eat whatever I wanted.

A month later I’d lost 15 lbs. My cholesterol and blood sugar levels were down. My sleep apnea was gone. I felt good. So I kept it up. Then I wrote a book about it.

VB6 outlines the philosophy and principles of this diet, and digs deep into the science behind why it works. Eating this way will not only improve your own health, but the health of the planet as well, and VB6 includes more than 60 recipes to get you started on the right track. I hope you’ll give it a try. And if it works for you like it did for me, let me know. Tell your friends about it. Feel great and help others do the same.

You can pre-order VB6 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indie Bound.

Posted in Mark Bittman Books

Slow Food Quickens The Pace: My Interview with Carlo Petrini

AMSTERDAM — It may be that Slow Food’s original focus on taste and the quality of food — on gastronomy — simply seemed too narrow, and therefore elitist. But at least since its “Puebla Declaration[1]in 2007, Slow Food has become a force to be reckoned with, probably the only international organization that integrates concerns about the environment, tradition, labor, health, animal welfare … along with real cooking, taste and pleasure.

Slow Food was founded by Carlo Petrini, who remains its president. He was a food writer when he launched a protest in 1986 against the opening of an enormous McDonald’s branch (more than 400 seats) in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna (better known to Anglophones as the Spanish Steps) — the first McDonald’s in Italy. More than 20 years before the coining of the term “locavore” and “the Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Petrini saw the battle as being against the industrialization of food, and now, a generation later, he was clearly prescient.

Read the rest of this article here.

Posted in Slow Food

Dim-Sum Leaves China: Recipes from State Bird Provisions

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I first ate dim sum in 1968 at Nom Wah, on Doyers Street in New York’s Chinatown. (The place is still there.) The appeal of the service style was immediate and tremendous — why couldn’t every meal be an uninterrupted stream of small, exotic dishes brought to you on a gleaming (or at least functional) cart? I’m quite sure that I said, either on that visit or one of the frequent ones that followed, “Someone needs to do this with non-Chinese food.”

Tasting menus and tapas bars came close, but nothing quite captured the spirit of the dim-sum cart. Until last year, when State Bird Provisions opened on Fillmore Street in San Francisco.

Read the rest of this article and get the recipes here.

Posted in Chinese, Recipes

Gnocchi: 4 Flavors, 4 Sauces

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A phrase often used (overused, really) to describe well-made gnocchi is “light as a cloud.” It’s not an especially instructive description for a piece of real food, and for cooks hoping to try their hands at gnocchi for the first time, it can be downright daunting.

It’s true that gnocchi requires a bit of technique, but achieving that cloudlike texture — “light” is perhaps a simpler, less intimidating word — isn’t actually that difficult.

Read the rest of this article, get the recipes, and watch the video with Mario Batali here.

Posted in Italian, Recipes