The Minimalist: Exit Stage Right


Today I’m bidding farewell to The Minimalist. It’s been thirteen wonderful years (almost 700 columns.) I may be leaving the Dining section (there might be some return appearances,) but I’m not travelling far. Starting next week I’ll be writing in The Times opinion pages (and in a new blog there as well,) and beginning in March in The Times Magazine (plenty of recipes, most Sundays.) Check back throughout the day for some bonus links.

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Roasted Beets get a Japanese Twist


By Freya Bellin

Beets happen to be delicious simply roasted on their own, but the spice mixture in this recipe really livens them up. It’s hot and citrusy and goes quite well with the natural sweetness of the beets. The headnote below mentions that you’ll have extra spice mixture, and you most certainly will. Sprinkle on a small amount at a time to cover the beets and add more as needed; it was much spicier than I expected it to be. I also highly recommend trying out the honeyed walnuts mentioned in the variation. The honey downplays the spice of the seasoning a bit, and the nuts add a nice crunch. 

If there’s one thing I learned from cooking this dish, it’s that peppercorns and sesame seeds are nearly impossible to grind by hand.  A spice or coffee grinder help tremendously. Your hands will thank you. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Japanese, Produce

The Best (and Simplest) Potato Salad


Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes, plus time to cool

To me, the best and simplest potato salad is made of just-boiled potatoes dressed in a freshly made vinaigrette. If you’re in a hurry, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl, then just add the potatoes. Parsley and chopped onion are easy, flavorful additions.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in American, Recipes

The Minimalist: Whole-Grain Pancakes

Whole grains add tenderness and great flavor to pancakes.

Posted in American, Recipes

Hippie Rice


By Freya Bellin

The 60s may be behind us, but this recipe is sure to please your nostalgic inner hippie. It is undeniably healthy, and the ingredients work together in a really unique and flavorful way. Nutty brown rice is sweetened by raisins, complemented by sunflower seeds, and balanced out by fresh broccoli. I love the heat that the red chile flakes add, and toasting the sunflower seeds adds a lot of flavor. The raisins get nice and plump when mixed in with the warm ingredients, and while they may seem out of place with broccoli, they’re really an excellent sweet accent. Next time I would actually increase the measurement to about 1/2 cup.

Its being a one-pot dish is big plus. You toast the sunflower seeds, cook the rice, and steam the broccoli all in the same saucepan. Just be careful not to add too much water with the rice, otherwise the rice and broccoli can get mushy. Better to err on the side of too little and add more as you go. The result is a hearty side dish that’s special enough that you’ll be excited to serve it, but also simple enough that you can add it to your weeknight repertoire. The olive oil and lemon juice that are added at the end create a nice, simple dressing, and I added a bit more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pretty much any protein—simply seasoned chickpeas would work, or up the hippie ante with tofu, mentioned below.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in American, Vegan

Grilled or Broiled Chicken Kebabs


Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes, plus time to marinate

Well-seasoned grilled or broiled kebabs will make anyone a convert to dark-meat chicken. You can use chicken breasts here too, but watch them closely so they don’t overcook and dry out.

Other protein you can use: turkey thighs; pork or veal shoulder, steak, or loin; sturdy fish like swordfish or salmon. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in American, Recipes

The Minimalist: Fazzoletti with Chunky Pesto

If the idea of undertaking fresh pasta at home makes you want to cry, you may need a pasta handkerchief.

Posted in Italian

Chickpea Tagine with Chicken and Bulgur


By Freya Bellin

I’ve had several variations of tagine, but this one is easily my favorite, thanks to spot-on seasoning and the unusual addition of bulgur. This spice blend is deliciously aromatic, filling my kitchen (not to mention the hallway leading up to the apartment) with an irresistible sweetness. The raisins plump up beautifully and complement the cinnamon and ginger. The chicken thighs become super tender from being browned and then braised.  Yet the real winner for me was the bulgur. It makes a great hearty base for the other ingredients and manages to absorb all the flavors of the stew. My only suggestion for varying this recipe would be to add a dash of cayenne pepper to the spice blend for a little heat and contrast to the natural sweetness. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

Muffins, Infinite Ways


Makes: 12 medium or 8 large muffins

Time: About 40 minutes

The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in. But those little muffin cups allow for a lot more potential variation, depending on what you do at the last minute before baking.

Anything goes when it comes to varying this master recipe.  See the variations below for more ways to spike the recipe. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Baking