More Cheese, Please. Wait! That’s Enough!!!


When I was a kid we used to get pizza with extra cheese; I get it. Cheese is gooey and fun; against the sauce, it’s very very nice.

Of course that was real mozzarella, not flown in from Naples but at least made in Little Italy.

Now we have this, two awful pizza chains putting as much cheese (and bacon, why not) as can possibly fit on their pizzas. The cheeses – in Papa John’s case mozzarella, “parmesan,” romano, asiago, provolone, and “Fontina” – no doubt are indistinguishable from each other. (The quotes because those two cheeses, at least, are DOC in Italy and there is really only one Parmesan, made in Parma, and one Fontina, made in the Val d’Aosta, and everything else is a shabby imitation.) They’re made god knows where and how, but no doubt at least half of them would qualify as “pasteurized processed cheese food.”

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Posted in Food Politics

Quinoa Tabbouleh


By Freya Bellin

This take on tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern classic, is quite versatile. While herbs still remain the star of the show here, the recipe includes a variety of less traditional ingredients (olives, beans, nuts). During the colder seasons, you could try replacing the tomatoes with a variety of roasted root vegetables, like sweet potatoes or parsnips, or roasted squash. Anything roasted will add a nice smoky flavor too. As mentioned below, pretty much any leftover or vegetable will work.

Quinoa is a great substitute for the traditional bulgur; being very high in protein, it makes this salad a bit more filling. The lemon juice and scallions add a nice brightness. Since the herbs really are the main ingredient, try to get them as fresh as possible. The more fragrant, the better. I filled a pita with Quinoa Tabbouleh, hummus, roasted eggplant, and caramelized onions to make it a meal.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

Mock Lattice Pie

How’s this for an easy Thanksgiving dessert? (Use apples or pears instead of berries.)

Posted in Baking



Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Time: 15 minutes with precooked chickpeas

The Middle Eastern classic has become daily fare for many Americans, whether as a dip or a sandwich spread. Make it as garlicky, lemony, or spicy as you like (try it with smoked pimentón or Aleppo or other mild Middle Eastern pepper); I love it with lots of lemon juice.

If you’re serving it as a dip, you may need to add more bean-cooking liquid, water, olive oil, or lemon juice to thin it. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Middle Eastern, Recipes

45 Minute Turkey, and a Few Other Things


Busy week: the Times put together a fun complilation of old Minimalist videos all related to Thanksgiving. Tara Parker-Pope (thank you) wrote a Well column about The Food Matters Cookbook, and included some sustainable Thanksgiving dishes; interviews with me appeared on the Parents website and Bygone Bureau (watch for good things by Darryl Campbell), and I did apple turnovers on Today. (Best line: Lauer: “This is kind of labor intensive.” Bittman: “We’ve been working for all of 90 seconds.”)

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Baked Curried Rice with Apples and Coconut


By Freya Bellin

This dish is wonderfully flavorful, blending sweet-tart apples, nutty brown rice, and spicy coconut curry.  As promised, it really is hands-off, and the results are fantastic.  By cooking the dry rice before adding liquid it becomes extra nutty, plus it gets well coated with the curry- and ginger-infused oil.   The coconut milk is subtle but crucial to the creaminess of the dish, and the shredded coconut adds a nice toasty element throughout.  Once mixed in, give the apples some time to soften up—they will cook significantly and taste best when warmed all the way through.  You can certainly play around with variations on this recipe, maybe swapping out the apples for raisins or pineapple, or some combination.  Try topping it with plain Greek yogurt for extra creaminess.

I did some improvising with the cooking technique in this recipe, and instead of using an oven-proof pan, I cooked everything in a large skillet up until it was ready for the oven.  At that point, I transferred it to a small glass Pyrex dish and covered it with aluminum foil.  The dish still came out great, so don’t be deterred if you don’t have the right cookware.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Baking, Produce

We Asked Walmart. It Answered.


Last week I wrote about Walmart’s recently announced $1 billion initiative to begin sourcing more produce from local small- and medium-sized farms. (In the U.S. it aims to double the amount of local produce it sells, to 9 percent, by 2015.) I suggested that the company had not been entirely forthcoming about the details of its plan, and consequently posed a handful of questions for the world’s largest retailer.

I wanted to know some basic things: how Walmart defines “local”; whether it intends to pay small farmers full value for their produce; and if the new initiative might end up running any farmers out of business.

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Posted in Food Politics

Pan-Cooked Salmon with Lentils


Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 1 hour

Salmon and green lentils are an excellent combination.  Err on the side of undercooking the lentils. You want them to have an almost nutty texture. Other seafood you can use: trout, shrimp (both of which will cook more quickly, so make the sauce first), or scallops. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood