Win a Copy of The Food Matters Cookbook

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Grub Street is giving away a copy of The Food Matters Cookbook. All you need to do is email them “what dish or favorite food matters most to you and why, in 200 words or less. Humor and originality tend to score big with…Grub Street editors, so please attempt to bust [their] sides as best as possible.” The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Monday, October 11th. Good luck!

Posted in Events, Mark Bittman Books

Dinner with Bittman: Quick Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Quick Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread

Makes: 1 loaf

Time: About 1 1/4 hours, largely unattended

A super all-purpose bread that’s heartier and more flavorful than most, and relatively light for a 100 percent whole grain bread. It also makes excellent sandwiches, especially when toasted.

Oil or butter for the pan

1 2/3 cups buttermilk or yogurt or 1 1/2 cups milk and 2 tablespoons white vinegar (see Step 2)

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup molasses

1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8- × 4-inch or 9- × 5-inch loaf pan.

2. If you’re using buttermilk or yogurt, ignore this step. Otherwise, make soured milk: Warm the milk gently to take the chill off—1 minute in the microwave is sufficient—and add the vinegar. Let it rest while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Mix together the dry ingredients. Stir the molasses into the buttermilk. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients (just enough to combine), then pour into the loaf pan. Bake until firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

 

Posted in Baking

Dinner with Bittman: Simplest Dal

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Simplest Dal

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes, largely unattended

The most basic dal, the staple dish of India. It’s almost always nicely spiced and becomes creamy if you add butter or oil. Dal is usually eaten hot, but you can also serve it at room temperature or even cold, to spread on toasted wedges of pita.

Other beans you can use: brown lentils, yellow split peas, split mung beans without skins (moong dal).

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and picked over

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 cardamom pods

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

2 cloves

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 dried ancho or other mild dried chile (optional)

Salt

2 tablespoons cold butter or peanut oil (optional)

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt, butter or oil, and cilantro in a saucepan, add water to cover by about 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and keep cooking to the desired tenderness.

2. The lentils should be saucy but not soupy. Remove the cloves and, if you like, the cardamom pods (they’re kind of fun to eat, though). Stir in the butter or oil if you’re using it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with cilantro and serve.

 

Posted in Indian, Recipes

When it comes to school lunches, America is the third world

Brazil’s presidency appears likely to be headed for a runoff. But this NPR story has me wondering why a country that many Americans consider “third world” can do so much more in the world of school lunches than we can.

When I first heard that kids got rice and beans every day, I thought “That’s progress right there.” Because from a nutritional standpoint, rice and beans would be preferable to most U.S. school lunches, which are now being seriously discussed as contributors to obesity, or at the very least as a failure when it comes to countering it. Not surprisingly, when you look at them.

Yet according to the NPR piece, Brazil has mandated that 30 percent of the food for school lunches be purchased from local farmers, which has not only help stablize the farmers’ income but improve the kids’ diets. Now the rice and beans are augmented by fresh vegetables and local meat. Are you telling me we can’t manage to do this here? It’s a matter of politics and will.

Posted in Food Politics

Less-Meat Mondays: Cannellini with Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

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By Freya Bellin

With the end of summer we must grudgingly say goodbye to peaches and berries, but I happen to love fall produce.  One of my favorites, the Brussels sprout, is a kind of vegetable underdog.  Over the past few years it seems to have made the transition from rejected to revered, and I love finding recipes that would bring even the most hesitant of sprout-eaters onto the bandwagon.  This is one of those recipes.  The sausage (I used an Italian chicken sausage) and red pepper flakes add nice heat to the dish, and shaved Brussels sprouts make it light and salad-like. This is essentially a meal on its own, but I bet it would taste great over polenta or farro.  I opted to serve it in a bowl with a big hunk of onion and olive focaccia to help soak up the juices.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Cannellini with Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Sausage

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes with cooked or canned beans

Cannellini beans with garlic and sausage are admittedly hard to beat (there’s a reason you see it everywhere). But shredded Brussels sprouts are a welcome addition to this classic combination; if there are still Brussels sprout haters out there, this will convert them. Serve this dish, with its beautifully flavored pan juices, over cooked grains like farro, bulgur, or cracked wheat, or a couple of thick slices of toasted bread.

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Red chile flakes, to taste

Salt and black pepper

1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded in a food processor or roughly chopped

1⁄2 cup white wine or water

2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained

1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, crumble the sausage into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally to break the meat into relatively small bits, until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chile flakes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for another minute or so.

2. Add the Brussels sprouts and wine to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the sprouts are tender but still a bit crunchy, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are heated through, just a minute or 2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve.

 

Posted in Italian, Recipes

The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Minneapolis

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I spoke at the Healthy Food Summit in Minneapolis Thursday and Friday, to mostly large, hyper-friendly, and ever-thoughtful crowds. My hosts Mindy Kurzer and Tim Kenny did a terrific job of organizing the packed two-day affair, and made me feel completely at home. Dinner Thursday was cooked by the talented and wonderful local chef Lucia Watson and her crew; Lucia also introduced me that night, so nicely I blushed.

Tim is director of education at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a spectacular 1000-plus acre operation about half an hour from downtown Minny. He does fantastic work teaching kids the value of gardening, about which he is passionate.

And how about these cucurbits?

Now: Off to Philly, DC, Miami, and St. Louie.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Travel

Sunday Supper: Stir-Fried Beef with Onions and Ginger

Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Stir-Fried Beef with Onions and Ginger

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes, plus time to freeze the beef

Onions, beef, and ginger are an almost holy combination; the synthesis is simply delicious. Other cuts and meats you can use: pork, preferably from the shoulder or leg (fresh ham); lamb, preferably from the shoulder or leg; boneless chicken; shrimp.

3 /4to 1 pound flank or sirloin steak or other tender beef cut

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

2 large or 3 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced or grated

fresh ginger

1 /2cup beef or chicken stock, or water

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce or soy sauce

1. Slice the beef as thinly as you can, across the grain. It’s easier if you freeze it for 15 to 30 minutes first. Cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over high heat until it smokes, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the onions. Stir immediately, then stir every 30 seconds or so until the onions soften and begin to char slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper, then remove them; keep the heat high.

3. Add the remaining oil to the pan, then the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the ginger; stir and immediately add the beef. Stir immediately, then stir every 20 seconds or so until it loses its color, just a minute or two longer; stir in the onions. Add the stock, hoisin, and remaining teaspoon of ginger; let some of the liquid bubble away and serve immediately, over rice.

 

Posted in Chinese, Recipes

Dinner with Bittman: Pasta Frittata

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Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Pasta Frittata

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes, including cooking the pasta

This is a perfect way to use leftover pasta, instantly lovable and easily varied; add whatever fresh herbs you like or use grains, bread, or potatoes instead of pasta (see the variations). And you don’t even have to use long pasta; try this with rigatoni for more chew.

1/4 pound spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, or other long pasta or about 1/2 pound cooked pasta

Salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or extra virgin olive oil

5 eggs

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped parsley or fresh basil leaves (optional)

1. If you’re using dried pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until barely tender, somewhat short of where you would normally cook it. Drain and immediately toss it in a wide bowl with half the butter or oil. Cool it a bit.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the remaining butter or oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Beat the eggs with some salt and pepper in a large bowl, then stir in the pasta with half of the Parmesan and the herb if you’re using it. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low. Use a spoon if necessary to even out the top of the frittata. Cook, undisturbed, until the mixture firms up on the bottom, 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Bake until the top is just cooked, about 10 minutes more. Remove and serve hot or at room temperature with the remaining Parmesan.

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Posted in Italian, Recipes

Dinner with Bittman: Pan-Roasted Swordfish with Gingered Pea Puree

Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Pan-Roasted Swordfish with Gingered Pea Puree

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Mint and peas are a springtime cliché, and you can go that route here, but I think ginger is a more interesting counterpoint. Pan roasting begins with searing the steaks on the stovetop, then transferring them to the oven. 

Other seafood you can use: salmon, tuna, or halibut (steaks or fillets).

2 cups fresh or frozen peas

Salt 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped pancetta, guanciale, or bacon (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

About 1 1/2 pounds swordfish steaks

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons butter

1. Heat the oven to 500°F. Cook the peas in boiling salted water until tender, just a couple of minutes. Drain them, then plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well while you cook the fish.

2. Put the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. If you’re using the pancetta, add it now and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has rendered some of its fat. Raise the heat to high and add the fish; sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on one side, 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and transfer to the oven.

3. Mash the peas—you can use a potato masher, an immersion blender (add a tiny bit of cream or water if necessary), or a food processor—along with the ginger. Reheat with the butter, adding some salt and pepper if necessary.

4. When the fish is done—after 5 to 10 minutes of roasting (a thin-bladed knife will meet little resistance when inserted into the center)—transfer it to a plate, along with the pan juices. Spoon a bit of the pea purée onto each of 4 plates and top with a piece of the fish. Serve immediately.

 

Posted in Recipes, Seafood