The Relish Tray Spreads Out

Text and Photo by Kerri Conan

My youth was dotted with pecan-crusted cheese balls, the hub of every respectable 1960’s aluminum party platter. The display varied from hostess to hostess—and competed for coffee-table real estate with full ashtrays and empty highball glasses—but relish trays were an obligation taken seriously. There might be devilled eggs and vegetables marinated in red wine vinegar and dried oregano. Cubes of salami and bacon-wrapped cocktail onions. We kids ate canned black olives we had stuck on our fingertips as we ran outside to play; the adults dragged a Ritz through the artichoke dip on their way to the bar.

Now, as an adult, I can hardly go a day without an assortment of piquant snacks, especially during the holidays. And my guests are frequently subjected to the same fate. But instead of confining the selection to a tray, I scatter little bowls and plates across the whole dining room table and call it “The Relish Spread.” Continue reading

Posted in American, Cocktails

Get Bitt and a Giveaway

As I hope you’ve heard, I’ve published a new cookbook: How To Bake Everything. Its goal (sort of as usual in this series), is to teach you how to bake … well, many things. Simply, reliably, and well.

Equally exciting, I also just released the pilot episode of my new podcast, Get Bitt. If you’ve ever wondered what a day in my life is like, Get Bitt provides the answer: I cook, I interview a couple of folks, I feed pigs on Glynwood farm (where I’m living), I wisecrack. Many think it’s a hoot.

In listening to it, I’ve noticed that I say the word “awesome” a lot. (I’m going to stop, soon. Right after this.) So I’m announcing a contest—an awesome contest. Listen to the pilot episode of Get Bitt, and count how many times I say “awesome.” The first 20 correct responses will get a signed copy of How To Bake Everything.

As a bonus challenge, I offer you this: The pilot also features two very obscure American garage rock songs from the ’60s. The first person who can figure out the name of each song and the band that recorded it will get a complete signed Everything collection. (That’s five big fat books!)

The podcast is embedded below. Email your responses to Contest ends on December 23rd and winners will be notified shortly thereafter. Enjoy, and good luck!

Posted in Mark Bittman Books

Thanksgiving in the Rearview Mirror: Turkey Gumbo

Text and photos by Pam Hoenig

At our house on Thanksgiving, side dishes may switch in and out but two things remain constant: turkey is the main event; and there is always apple, pumpkin, and pecan pie on the table.

The menu for the next day is also set in stone. For the last fifteen years, we have invited friends to our house for turkey gumbo and an eclectic assortment of communal leftovers. It’s a guaranteed good time; everyone has successfully navigated Thanksgiving and can really relax and kick off the holiday season.

Making the gumbo has become kind of a meditation. First thing in the morning, I get the stock going, breaking the carcass into pieces, adding onion, celery, black peppercorns, and water to cover generously. Bring just to a boil, dial the heat down to a bare simmer, and let it do its thing on the stove for three hours or so. Once it cools down a bit, strain, then strip all the meat from the bones. This gets put in a bowl, topped up with additional turkey that was cut off the carcass before it went in the stockpot. Continue reading

Posted in American

Recipe for an Affordable Food System

By Mark Bittman

This Thanksgiving let’s stop and really give thanks for the food on our table, and for those who bring it to us, who are in disproportionate numbers among those Americans who can’t afford this necessity. About one in seven Americans relies on food stamps through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)—including 13% of food workers—and we know the program only reaches a portion of those who are eligible; countless others struggle to afford good ingredients every day.

Making good food more affordable is a widely shared priority; despite our political differences, most Americans are united in the belief that our children should not go hungry. Yet when we talk about solutions, we too often confuse affordable food with cheap food. While this may seem like semantics, it’s not—what we’re really talking about is the ability to cover the true cost of what you need to buy. Continue reading

Posted in Food Politics

Those Crazy November Tomatoes

Text and photos by Kerri Conan

Maybe you are lucky enough to get local vine-ripe tomatoes in autumn. In early-freeze zones (like where I live, in Kansas), the bounty of summer would have been replaced weeks ago with hardy roots and squashes. Except this year: As of last Saturday, all sorts of heirloom tomatoes still dotted the landscape. In my excitement, I’ve been greedy.

With shortened days and less intense light, November fruit in mid-country latitudes tend to be starchier and potentially mealier than the juicy July tomatoes. They can also have a sour, almost fermented taste. And of course they look pretty beat up. All you have to do is coddle them a bit. Literally. Continue reading

Posted in Produce

How to Bake Everything: Buttermilk Biscuits

Text and photos by Emily Stephenson

One of my favorite ways to use a big, exhaustive cookbook is to flip to the index and figure out how to make use of an ingredient I’ve already got. This week, it was about a cup of buttermilk, and I turned to How to Bake Everything.

I wanted to make something that wouldn’t require a trip to the grocery store, which made whittling down my options easy: no Buttermilk Pie or Bars because I didn’t have cream to make a custard, no cakes because I don’t own an electric mixer (no way I’m going to cream the butter and sugar by hand!), and no cookies because I had less than a stick of butter in the fridge. What did that leave? After about 2 minutes of narrowing down, only one option: Buttermilk Biscuits. Continue reading

Posted in Baking

Smokin’ Good Spaghetti Squash

Text and photos by Pam Hoenig

I admit I’m vegetable averse. Growing up, if my mother had let me, I would have limited my consumption of produce to peas (frozen, of course), baked potatoes, and corn on the cob, which for many years I made my mother cut off the cob for me—sorry about that, Mom! Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Grilling, Produce


Text and photos by Kate Bittman

To say I was nervous about making homemade pasta would be a gross understatement. I put it off for as long as I possibly could, and judgment day loomed large. I had the KitchenAid attachment, 4 ingredients (flour, salt, eggs, and beets to color it), and I was (not) ready to go. Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Italian

Thank You, Farmer

Text and photos by Kerri Conan

November opens the season of gratitude and giving. Seems like the first toast should be raised to celebrate our farmers. Mine—the good folks in and around Lawrence, Kansas—grow the amazing food I’ve eaten and written about all year. If you’re lucky, you know yours, too.

Now on the cusp between tomatoes and rutabagas, let’s all take a moment and say, “Thank you, Farmer” for all our meals past, present, and future.

Thank you for taking risks. So I can, too! Continue reading

Posted in Bittman Topics, Farming, Produce

How to Bake Everything: A Little Chocolate Goes a Long Way

Text and photos by Emily Stephenson

This tart was so awesome it was gone by the time of writing this post, and I’m ambivalent about chocolate. I am not the type of person who loses her mind over chocolate cake, or chocolate ice cream, or unadorned chocolate. I will eat those things, of course, but they are not my first dessert choice. Enthusiasts, please stay with me.  Continue reading

Posted in Baking, Mark Bittman Books, Recipes