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

Less-Meat Mondays: Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho with Feta

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By Freya Bellin

[Starting this very moment I’ll be posting a recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook every Monday afternoon. Some of these recipes will include “less meat” than we might be used to, and others no meat at all.  In conjunction with these postings, Freya Bellin has gallantly volunteered to (slowly) cook her way through the book while photographing the recipes and commenting on them. Without further ado, let Less-Meat Mondays begin. MB]

I know it’s now officially fall, but with the farmer’s market still overflowing with peaches and tomatoes, I couldn’t help but turn to gazpacho, a traditionally summery soup. For this gazpacho, I used a combination of about 4 cups watermelon, 2 heirloom tomatoes, and 2 peaches. The recipe says you can substitute peaches for the tomato or the watermelon, but I figured, why not use all three?  Good thing I did: it ended up being one of the lightest, most refreshing dishes I can remember eating. 

You can’t exactly taste the individual fruits in this non-traditional gazpacho, but the watermelon lends its texture and the peach its sweetness. Make sure you include the toppings and garnish with this one. The salty feta adds great texture and super-fresh basil offsets everything beautifully.  If you’re entertaining, make sure not to garnish too far ahead of time, as the feta starts to sink. Recipe adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho with Feta

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes, plus time to chill (optional)

The combination of cool watermelon and tomatoes with feta is as good as it gets in the summer, and just about as easy. One simple variation: use peaches instead of the watermelon or the tomatoes—it’s great either way.

1 garlic clove

1 small watermelon, or a section of a larger one, about 3 pounds, flesh removed

from the rind, seeded, and cut into large chunks

2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste

Salt and black pepper

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh basil or mint, for garnish

1. Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop it. Add the watermelon, tomatoes, and lemon juice, with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. You have two choices here: chunky or smooth. It all depends on whether you turn the machine on and leave it on, or just pulse a few times.  Add a few ice cubes, one at a time, just enough to keep the machine working, and blend or pulse until smooth or chunky. Put the gazpacho in the fridge to chill a bit if you like, up to several hours.

2. Just before serving, taste the gazpacho and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed (remember you’ll be adding feta, which is usually salty). Pour the gazpacho into 4 bowls, top with the feta, drizzle with a few drops of olive oil, garnish with the herb, and serve.

 

Posted in Mexican, Recipes

Sunday Supper: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Seems like mac’ and cheese weather (more or less). Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

One of the most popular recipes in the original How to Cook Everything, which I attribute to too many people growing up with what the Canadians call “Kraft dinner.” The real thing is rich, filling, delicious, and dead easy. You can change the type of cheese you use: Try blue cheese, goat cheese, smoked Gouda, or even mascarpone. Or mix in some crisp-cooked chunks of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, about 1/2cup.

Salt

2 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)

2 bay leaves

1 pound elbow, shell, ziti, or other cut pasta

4 tablespoons (1/2stick) butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

11/2cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or Emmental

1 /2cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

1 /2cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

2. Heat the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand. Cook the pasta in the boiling water to the point where you would still think it needed another minute or two to become tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.

3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk, and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar or Emmental and stir.

4. Pour the sauce over the pasta, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 ×13-inch or like-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. (You can make the dish to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day; return to room temperature before proceeding.) Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve piping hot.

 

Posted in American, Baking

Dinner with Bittman: Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula

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Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Warm Chickpea Salad with Arugula

Makes: 4 side- or 2 main-dish servings

Time: 20 minutes with precooked beans

Chickpeas frequently get the salad treatment throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. My version is a panorama of these recipes that includes ginger, garlic, and cumin. After the seasonings are cooked and the beans warmed, the dressing is finished in the pan and tossed with arugula leaves, which wilts them just slightly. Serve small portions as a side salad or appetizer or add the optional hard-cooked egg and make this a light meal.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups cooked or drained canned chickpeas

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

4 cups arugula leaves

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 hard-cooked eggs, quartered (optional)

1. Put the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, garlic, and cumin and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the ginger and garlic are soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir in the chickpeas until hot and coated in the oil and seasonings, about 3 minutes more.

2. Remove from heat and with a fork, stir in the vinegar, honey, and 1 tablespoon water. Mash a few of the chickpeas as you stir to add texture to the dressing. Put the arugula and red onion in a large bowl and toss with the warm chickpea dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately, garnished with hard-cooked eggs if you like.

 

Posted in Middle Eastern, Produce