Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet


By Freya Bellin

There’s no joking here with the superlative in the title of this recipe. It is truly the easiest salad ever. And what’s even better is that it’s also the most versatile. There are endless ways to vary a basic vinaigrette (see suggestions below), so you’ll never get tired of experimenting with flavors. My favorite addition is about a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard to the recipe below.

These salads do well mixed with other ingredients, too, like extra veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc.). I really like combining both beans and grains into one salad and serving that over mixed greens—it makes for an easy lunch to pack. I find that I need a little more dressing for the grains than the beans, since they absorb the liquid. It’s worth just making extra dressing if you think you’ll use it within a few days. Homemade is so much better than the bottled stuff. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Halibut Steaks with Creamy Saffron Sauce


Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

You can use the stand-alone sauce in this recipe with any simply cooked fish (steak or fillet), though I especially like it here, with the gentle butter-poaching technique and a delicate-tasting fish like halibut.

Other seafood you can use: any thick white fish steaks or thick fillets, or scallops or shrimp. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood

Giant Quinoa “Tamale” with Tomatillo Salsa


By Freya Bellin

This recipe may sound like a far cry from a traditional tamale; here, there are no corn husks, no dough, and no meat. But somehow the flavor and consistency of a real tamale is achieved. I will admit that mine definitely didn’t come out as the instructions suggested it would. You need to really grease the pan if you want the mixture to emerge in loaf form. Adding a little fat to the quinoa, either in the form of cheese or a little oil, might have helped the quinoa layers set and stay together better. Of course, it will taste just as good if it spills out into a giant pile, as did mine, but appearance-wise it will be lacking some elegance. 

No matter—this dish was delicious, if not beautiful. The cheese layer melts in the oven and the outer edges of the quinoa crisp up nicely, although the real highlight for me was the tomatillo salsa. As mentioned below, it could be reserved and used for other dishes as well. The tomatillos are pretty sweet, and you can adjust the spiciness depending on the pepper you use. Make a little more than the recipe calls for; you’ll want to have some extra. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Mexican

Roasted or Grilled Asparagus


Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Asparagus are terrific when blasted with high heat; if you haven’t had them browned, you’re in for a new treat. If you have a grill going, you should really try grilling them; thick spears, especially, are wonderful this way (thin ones are good too, but you have to be especially careful not to let them fall through the grill grates). If the grill is not on, roast them. They’re amazing this way, especially with butter. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Just Released: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian App for iPhone and iPod Touch


The How to Cook Everything Vegetarian app for iPhone and iPod Touch just went live. I must say, it’s totally great. You can buy it here, browse the full family of How to Cook Everything apps here, or keep reading for details other than “it’s totally great.” If you already have, and love the book, this app will become it’s well-traveled companion.

From the press release:

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is now available as an app for iPhone and iPod Touch. This seminal work contains more than 2,000 meatless recipes and variations—plus ample cooking, shopping, and ingredient information—making this app every bit as useful as its predecessors, How to Cook Everything for iPhone and iPad.

Like the incredibly popular How to Cook Everything apps, which have had more than half a million downloads, the new app on vegetarian cooking features enhanced search capabilities, shopping lists, timers for every recipe, and featured recipes (updated weekly). Similarly, too, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian can be used anywhere, anytime, online or offline. It’s the ultimate app companion to the ultimate vegetarian cookbook.

Features of the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian app include:

·       Intuitive filters that pinpoint searches by multiple ingredients,

        techniques, or styles

·       Access to how-to illustrations and detailed reference information

·       Customizable shopping lists and personalized favorites lists

·       Built-in timers and a settings option for integrated metric display

·       Cooking inspiration with Bittman’s Picks, Menu Ideas, and weekly new

        featured recipes

·       Printing and emailing option for recipes and shopping lists


Posted in Mark Bittman Books

Smashed Potato Salad with Escarole


By Freya Bellin

In this dish, ultimate comfort food meets veggies, and they get along pretty well. Mashed potatoes are classically very buttery, but this version doesn’t suffer at all in the absence of milk or butter. The olive oil flavors the potatoes nicely, and although you don’t want to over-smash the potatoes in this dish, I was able to achieve a really creamy consistency, dairy-free. The greens add color and make the salad a little lighter, while the lemon offers a bright, springy, and zesty touch. The citrus is lovely but quite pervasive, so I would start with half a lemon’s worth of juice and add more to taste. I tossed in some salt and lots of extra black pepper at the end, which helped cut the lemon if you find it’s too strong. For those who like spice, try sprinkling red pepper flakes or cayenne on top. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

Fast French Bread or Rolls


Makes: 3 or 4 baguettes, 1 boule, or 12 to 16 rolls

Time: About 2 hours, largely unattended

This bread can be made by hand or with an electric mixer, but the food processor is the tool of choice and will save you tons of time. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Baking

Coconut and Brown Rice Pudding


By Freya Bellin

It is difficult to be patient with the aroma of coconut milk slowly simmering in the oven, but patience is both required and rewarded by this rice pudding. I love the idea of using brown rice in this recipe. It’s healthier, for one, and adds a nuttiness and texture that you can’t get from white rice. The coconut milk makes the pudding rich, a little exotic, and much more flavorful than regular milk would. I used light coconut milk, which is pretty drastically lower in fat than the regular kind, and it was still quite rich. The single cinnamon stick I used made a huge flavor impact, proving that a little seasoning can go a long way.

Watching the pudding cook, it looked like soup for most of the cook time, and then seemingly suddenly looked more like rice, so don’t be discouraged if it seems to be taking a while for the rice to absorb the liquid. I couldn’t resist eating some straight out of the oven, and while it does thicken up nicely when it cools, I enjoyed it most while warm, with raisins tossed in at the end. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading

Posted in Baking

Coconut Macaroons


Makes: About 2 dozen

Time: About 45 minutes, plus time to chill

1 cup sugar

3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

3 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula or your hands.

2. Use a non-stick baking sheet, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make the pyramids, wet your hands and scoop out a rounded tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of one hand. Using your other hand, press in gently on both sides of the mixture, bringing the macaroon to a point. Continue pressing with your thumb and forefinger on both sides until you have an even shape. For cubes, start as you would for the pyramids, then gently press equally on all sides, turning the macaroon to square off each side. You can use a butter knife to gently smooth the sides of the pyramids and cubes if you like. For balls, roll the mixture between your palms gently until round.

3. Place each macaroon about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake until light brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before eating. These keep well in a covered container for up to 3 days.


Posted in Baking

Real Popcorn


By Freya Bellin

You may be wondering why you’d need a recipe for something as simple as popcorn, but follow any of the variations below, and you’ll see that popcorn need not be simple—at least not in flavor. As with most pre-packaged foods, microwaveable popcorn doesn’t allow you much control over its seasoning. When you pop plain corn kernels, however, you have the freedom to add as much or as little salt, oil, or anything else, as you like. It tastes cleaner and fresher than anything you can get in a package.

It turns out that popcorn is the perfect “nosh” food for entertaining, especially when you can make it gourmet. I tried three variations: sautéed garlic, curry powder, and truffle salt. The truffle salt by far was the biggest hit. Note that seasonings like minced garlic won’t stick well to the popcorn unless they’re both hot. In general, though, as long as you’ve used enough oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your pan) the extra ingredients should stick fine. The popcorn tastes best hot, so only make as much as you’ll eat in a day. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in American