How to Bake Everything: Name Your Cookie

Text and photos by Kerri Conan

When asked the defining question “Stones or Beatles?” I say Kinks. Given the choice between Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip, the answer is “Fig Bittmans.” So that’s the first recipe we’re featuring from Mark’s newest cookbook How to Bake Everything.

For such fancy-looking cookies, the scenario is supernaturally simple: Make the dough (which calls for brown sugar to give the crust a lovely caramel color and flavor). While it rests in the fridge, soften dried figs (I used a mixture of Black Mission and Turkish) in orange juice; purée. Mark has you divide the dough into four pieces so it’s easy to handle, then roll and fill.

Transfer each folded log to an ungreased baking sheet—seam side down—and into a 375dgF. When you open the oven door to check on them the first time, you’ll be amazed at how they’ve puffed up. And the fragrance! Cut them into “Bittmans” while they’re still a little warm and you can hear the crunch.

For a pro-like look I trimmed most of the ends (and ate them!). The combination of fig, orange, and vanilla is way better than anything out of a box. And you get at least two-dozen cookies in one batch so they’re hardly any more time consuming than other cookies. They’ll keep for a week in an airtight container but won’t last that long. So if you want to pace yourself, wrap a few in sheets of wax paper and freeze them in a bag. Then you can defrost a package in the microwave and eat them warm for breakfast. Just saying.

The recipe follows so you can try a batch, too. They’d be terrific for a Halloween party.

You can find the recipe here.

Posted in Baking, Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

How to Bake Everything on the Today Show

How to Bake Everything is now on sale, you can buy it here.

 

Posted in Baking

Announcing: How to Bake Everything Tour

How to Bake Everything—a five-year work in progress, a book that brings the spirit of How to Cook Everything to the generally most intimidating segment of life’s most pleasant “chore”—hits stores this week (you can obviously buy it online too, right now). In celebration, you can find me on TV, radio, and the Internet discussing the book and answering baking questions:

TODAY, 1 pm ET / Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC / (Streaming here)

ALSO TODAY, 2:30 pm ET /Live Q & A, Twitter

Wednesday, October 5th, 8:30 am ET / The Today Show, NBC

Thursday, October 6th, 4:30 pm ET /Facebook LIVE with Food52

Tuesday, October 11th, 6:00 pm PT / Interview, Tom Douglas Radio (available online) / Seattle, WA

Thursday, October 13th, 10:00 am PT / Interview, Forum on KQED (available online) / San Francisco, CA

And I’ll be signing books and answering questions in many cities, maybe even yours:

Wednesday, October 5th, 7:30 pm / In Conversation with Rick Nichols / The Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, October 6th, 7:30 pm / In Conversation with Peter Meehan of Lucky Peach / Words Bookstore, Maplewood, NJ

Sunday, October 9th, 2:00 pm / In Conversation with Amy Scattergood, LA Times Food Editor / Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, October 11th, 7:30 pm / In Conversation with Steve Scher / Town Hall Seattle, Seattle, WA

Thursday, October 13th, 7:00 pm / In Conversation with Margo True, Food Editor of Sunset Magazine / Jewish Cultural Center of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Friday, October 14th, 3:00 pm / Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas / Berkeley, CA

Sunday, October 16th, 2 pm / Book Signing at Market Hall Foods / Oakland, CA

Posted in Events, Mark Bittman Books, Uncategorized

Eggplant Parmesan for the End of Summer

Text and photos by Pam Hoenig

I know that it’s officially fall but with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I prefer to think that summer is still with us. It certainly looks that way in my local market, which is overflowing with beautiful produce, including these lovely lavender eggplant I decided to put in my basket. My husband had been asking for eggplant Parmesan for a long time (he still talks about the eggplant Parmesan his friend Dominick “Spike” Candido made when they were in college together). My idea was to do a freeform, unbreaded, version on the grill. Continue reading

Posted in Produce, Recipes

You Can (Quick) Pickle Anything

Text and photo by Emily Stephenson

Having a jar of quick pickles in my fridge makes my weeknight cooking both easier and more interesting. It’s a two for one deal: you get something delicious and crunchy that goes with almost anything, and you are 90% of the way to a finished dish. They’re a cinch to put together and will last throughout the week, at which point you can choose another vegetable to pickle.

In the few days since I made this batch of pickled fennel, I have: chopped up the fennel and mixed it with rice, along with some of the pickling liquid and olive oil; added the fennel to blanched fresh cranberry and green beans and dressed the mixture with pickling liquid, olive oil, and herbs; chopped the fennel and added it to a salad, and used the pickling liquid to make the dressing; eaten the pickles with cheese and crackers; added them to a sandwich. Continue reading

Posted in Produce, Recipes

Crumb Together: Making the Most of Leftover Bread

Text, Photos, and Video by Kerri Conan

No one likes to waste incredible bread, especially me and my neighborhood baker Taylor Petrehn. Since he and his brother Reagan opened 1900 Barker in Lawrence, Kansas, last year—dangerously just two blocks down the street—my husband, Sean, and I have been enjoying perfect croissants, meticulously sourced and brewed coffee, and at least a loaf of bread a week. And I find ways to use every crumb.

Continue reading

Posted in Baking

Smoke Your Own: The Cheese Edition

Words and Photos by Pam Hoenig

I know you can buy good smoked cheese in most every supermarket. And I love the typical kinds—cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, mozzarella. But what about other cheeses—would smoke add or subtract?

I’ve experimented with grilling cheeses, putting them directly over the fire—in the protective embrace of a cast iron pan (like provolone for the classic South America asado appetizer, provoleta) and right on the grates, like halloumi, paneer, and queso de freir. For this exploration, I wanted to try wetter, softer cheeses, grilling them indirect, surrounded with wood smoke.

At the cheese counter, I settled on a French feta, a rich goat cheese, and bocconcini. Then I had another thought: Could I infuse smoke flavor into ricotta? Into my basket went a container. Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Recipe for a Better Food System

For the last year I’ve been working with my friend Ricardo Salvador and the Union of Concerned Scientists, strategizing about our so-called food system and making healthy food affordable for everyone.

One upshot of this is a recipe video series called, appropriately enough, “Recipe for a Better Food System,” which connects great recipes to even better food policies.

The first video uses peak season tomatoes to get us talking about the people who get those tomatoes (and all our food) to our tables, and the reality of their working conditions. You’ll learn something, I hope, and maybe get some ideas for dinner.

You can also find the video on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ blog.

Posted in Farming, Food Politics, Recipes

And Now: How to Bake Everything

9780470526880_hres

When I started writing How to Cook Everything in 1994, I had no idea it would become a franchise. Now, 20-plus years, many thousands of recipes, and five doorstopper books later, I realize the initial title—which was sort of tongue in cheek—should have told me something.

With How to Bake Everything, the newest installment, I’ve taken what has become my expected (one could say “well-known”) approach—flexibility, improvisation, and variations—and applied it to over 1,000 sweet and savory recipes. Modesty aside, if you want to learn how to bake, this is the place.

Many people believe that you’re either a cook or a baker, that cooking is an art and baking a science, that one is left brain and one is right brain. Nah. Even if you identify as a “cook” and have never considered yourself a baker, baking has plenty to offer you, and, with the exception of a few fancy pastries, its rules aren’t nearly as ironclad as all that. Besides, baking is, at its very core, communal; you don’t make a cake unless you’re planning to share, and we celebrate almost every one of life’s milestones with one.

It is true that the skill sets are slightly different, but if you can cook, you can bake, and that means everything, from real puff pastry to chocolate soufflés to vegan brownies to whole grain pancakes. And, with just a little experience under your belt, you can decide for yourself which baking rules to follow, which to break, and how to put together a sweet or savory treat to fit with your diet, timeline, or whatever you happen to have in the house at that very moment.

How to Bake Everything comes out October 4th, but you can pre-order your copy now.

Thanks for all of your support over the years, and happy baking.

Posted in Baking, Mark Bittman Books

Doggie Bag Dinner

Text and photos by Kerri Conan

By the second bite of the first meatball I knew the mountain of perfectly sauced fresh spaghetti dominating the bowl was coming home with me for frittata. I’m actually lying: I knew before the menus arrived at the table. Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Italian