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

The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Rocky Mountain Seitan

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I love Denver. First and foremost, a guy called me a “swell fellah.” You think that EVER happens in New York? No. “Good guy” maybe, but that’s not the same thing.

Denver is a tad generic, but the people are – as they are most everywhere in the West – from all over the place, generally friendly, and generally genuine. The weather is spectacular, or it has been whenever I’ve been here. The airport is essentially in Nebraska, but you can drive really fast so it only takes two hours to get into town. (This is an exaggeration but anyone who has flown in knows it can feel that way.) It takes an hour to get from curbside to the gate, too; this is the biggest airport in the country.

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Posted in Travel

HTCE Essentials App is Free

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The How to Cook Everything Essentials app is now available for free on iTunes. It includes over 100, well, essential recipes from the book, as well as some of the snazzy features that come with the full version. If you like Essentials, you can easily upgrade to the complete HTCE app (the entire book for $4.99).

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Dinner with Bittman: Bean and Potato Gratin

Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Bean and Potato Gratin

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 1 1/2 hours with cooked beans, largely unattended

This dish is based on boulangerie potatoes, a French classic that was traditionally baked at the local baker’s until the potatoes became meltingly soft and the stock reduced to a rich glaze. With beans, it could easily be a main course or remain a side dish.

Other beans you can use: pink or red beans.

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

3 cups cooked or canned white beans, drained but still moist

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 medium starchy or all-purpose potatoes, peeled

1 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock or water

3 tablespoons butter

1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Stir a tablespoon of the thyme into the beans, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Spread the beans into the bottom of a large baking dish and set aside.

2. Halve the potatoes lengthwise and slice thinly into half-circles. Lay the potatoes in overlapping rows to cover the beans. Pour the stock over the top, dot with pieces of butter, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the remaining thyme.

3. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is browned and glazed, another 45 minutes or so. Serve immediately or let rest for up to an hour and serve at room temperature.

 

 

 

Posted in Italian, Recipes

The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Pittsburgh

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Your reporter writes from a plane flying from Pittsburgh to Denver.

Last night I had the rare but not unprecedented privilege of having someone else cook my food for me. Not only for me, but for 60 of my closest friends, or at least 60 of my closest friends in Pittsburgh. And it was not only “someone” cooking the food, but my (actual) friend Andrew Morrison, who was the opening chef at Habitat, the topnotch restaurant in Pittsburgh’s new Fairmont hotel.

Andrew’s fairly straightforward but beautiful interpretations of some of the dishes from The Food Matters Cookbook reinforced my feeling that he’s not only ultra-competent but creative enough to have a brilliant future. Pittsburgh is lucky to have him and, from what I could tell in the few hours I was there, it’s a good place to be.

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Posted in Behind The Scenes, Travel

This Week’s Minimalist: Cheddar Biscotti

When it comes to biscotti, the process always stays the same, but the flavors never, ever, have to.

Posted in Baking

Dinner with Bittman: Roasted Chicken Cutlets with Bread Crumbs

Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Roasted Chicken Cutlets with Bread Crumbs

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes

This is the easiest way to give boneless, skinless chicken a tasty crunch. If you like, mix a handful of chopped nuts in with the bread crumbs; almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and  pistachios are all good, as are peanuts.

Other protein you can use: any cutlets—pork, veal, or turkey.

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, or melted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

1 cup coarse bread crumbs, preferably fresh, or panko

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or finely chopped nuts 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 1 1/2 boneless white-meat chicken (breasts, cutlets, or tenders), pounded to uniform thickness if necessary

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet with a little oil or butter. Combine the bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/4 cup of the parsley in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until well coated.

2. Dip one side of each chicken breast first in egg white, then in the bread crumb mixture, pressing down to make it adhere. Put each breast, crumb side up, on the baking sheet. If there’s any leftover topping, sprinkle it on top of the breasts and press down a bit.

3. Roast until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 20 minutes or more, basting once or twice with pan juices (to check for doneness, cut into a piece with a thin-bladed knife; the center should be white or slightly pink). Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve.

Posted in American, Recipes

The Food Matters Cookbook Chronicles: Toronto

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You might ask why I was eating a burger at all last night, and the answer is that simply, in this lovely little restaurant I was taken to in Toronto, the fish had no appeal – simply none. (And later, when I tasted that of one of my co-guests, I recognized that that had been the right decision, anyway.) I could have ordered vegetables but I had been eating them faithfully all day, and I was cranky. I could’ve ordered a big piece of meat but it felt hypocritical and wasteful. Maybe I should’ve gone to bed.

But after sharing a few unpromising appetizers, I begged the waitress for a really rare burger and she said, “When you ask for rare they make it medium rare,” and I said, “I know, that’s how it often is, and though I’d prefer it rare I don’t mind it medium rare, but if it’s medium I’m going to be unhappy,”  and she said, “Then you’ll be very happy.” And it came out well done. And I wasn’t unhappy at all, I just didn’t eat much of it. I ate fries and roasted beets.

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Posted in Behind The Scenes, Travel