This #$!% Has Got to Stop: Part Two

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[Ideas welcome, and we will credit you: mark@markbittman.com]

Hard to believe: McCormick, who’s brought us spices since its inception in the late 19th century (though I suspect the quality was considerably higher then) has a new bad idea: Recipe Inspirations.

What is this? A recipe card with a not-especially-great-sounding recipe – like Shrimp Pasta Primavera – with ¼ ounce of spices, pre-measured and bubble-packed individually, so that you can be “inspired” to cook dinner, and not bother to buy or store or measure spices. For a mere two bucks. Of course, you probably have at least three of these spices already – in this case garlic, onion, and black pepper – and you can buy what’s probably a year’s supply of higher quality versions of the other two for less than four dollars at someplace like Penzey’s. Or a supermarket.

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Posted in Spices

Mac and Cheese, Tainted

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By Edward Schneider

There were mousseron mushrooms where I was shopping the other day, and in very good condition, too. The plan had been to make macaroni and cheese for a few friends (and, unbeknownst to them, to clear our fridge of odd scraps of cheese that had been hanging around a little too long), and these pretty, tiny, flavorful mushrooms furthered that plan very neatly.

You probably don’t need me to tell you how to make macaroni and cheese. For this one, though, I’ll tell you that I cooked the whole mousserons right in the béchamel sauce base, along with some chopped speck (smoked dry-cured ham, Italian in this case), then proceeded as usual. Continue reading

Posted in Recipes

Sunday Supper: Meat-y Paella

[This week I wrote about peas (and offered up some recipes) in my column Kitchen Daily. My feeling, in general, is that frozen peas work just fine in many applications, and throughout most of the year, so there’s no reason to get hung up (or feel guilty) about using them. Of course if there’s any time you’re going to use fresh peas, this is it (as long as you don’t mind shelling them). That’s especially true if you’re going to serve them solo, but, really, for a paella? I almost always use frozen and neither I nor (I think) anyone else knows the difference.]

Meat-y Paealla

Makes 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

[Adapted from How to Cook Everything]

Far from a major production, basic paella is a simple combination of rice and other good stuff; terrific Sunday night dish and a staple in coastal Spain for centuries.

3 1/2 cups any stock or water

Pinch saffron threads

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces Spanish chorizo or other cooked or smoked sausage

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/2 dry white wine

1/2 cup tomato puree

2 cups short- or medium-grain rice, preferably paella rice or Arborio

1 cup peas (frozen are fine)

1 cup peeled shrimp (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Warm the stock with the saffron in a small saucepan. Put the oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the chicken until deeply browned on both sides, then add the onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the chorizo, paprika, wine, and tomato purée; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice, scattering it in the pan as evenly as possible, cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s shiny, another minute or two. Carefully add the warm stock  and peas and stir until just combined, then tuck the shrimp into the top before putting in the oven.

3. Put the pan in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 15 or 20 minutes. Check to see if the rice is dry and just tender. If not, return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes. If the rice looks too dry at this point, but still isn’t quite done, add a small amount of stock or water. When the rice is ready, turn off the oven and let it sit for at least 5 and up to 15 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with parsley. If you like, put the pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

Posted in Recipes, Spanish

Mint Juleps, the Wrong Way

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By Kerri Conan

I spent most of Derby Day in the herb garden under the wide brim of my manky sun-block hat, transplanting seedlings into containers. Our first year in the house, we made the mistake of putting peppermint in a worn out wooden barrel. By the end of the season sprigs and roots had bust out the seams and now, more than a decade later, we have a nice little mint patch alongside the deck.

As I wrapped up the day’s work my husband Sean mixed up the first mint juleps of the season—in honor of the race of course, and to celebrate that the herb has somehow managed to be pleasantly prolific without taking over the whole property. There’s a lot to be said for wrong turns. Continue reading

Posted in Cocktails

Eating Pho, Thinking Banh Mi

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Today I leave San Francisco. The eating has been terrific, though I’m well aware that flying out of New York, hitting the ground with a list of restaurants, a few selected targets, and a crowd of people I want to see is not exactly “daily life.” What if I approached New York this way? Might be interesting, though I’d never get any cooking done. (And I’d turn into Sam Sifton.)

In any case, I’m staying in the Tenderloin – generally accepted to be the least attractive of the core neighborhoods. But it does have one very strong advantage: there are more Vietnamese restaurants per block than anywhere I’ve ever been except Vietnam.   Continue reading

Posted in Vietnamese

iApp Winners Announced

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We got twenty-two (really good) comments about technology and cooking; these are our five faves. If the winners would kindly email their email addresses to mark@markbittman.com we’ll get you links for your free app right away.

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Posted in Events

Coming Home to Roost

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By Cathy Erway

A little over a year ago I stood amidst a swarm of chickens at Queens County Farm Museum. They were attracted to my brass boot buckles, so I was told, and I was frankly a little frightened by them. Until then, the only time I had encountered chickens that closely they’d been on my plate. As they pecked relentlessly at my feet, a bobbing whirlpool of auburn, those Rhode Island Reds taught me my first lesson about the social science of chickens: the flashiest are often at the bottom of the pecking order.

This year, on Mother’s Day, I became a part-time mom to a small flock of heritage breed hens. There are four in total, and they were raised at a farm in upstate New York from chicks to the roughly one and one-and-a-half-year-olds they are now. One lays pastel blue-green eggs, one has iridescent black plumage. The flashiest one, a Silver Spangled hen named Yoko, seems to have found herself at the bottom of the pecking order, the poor dear. But there’s plenty more drama to play out, which I just can’t wait to see.   Continue reading

Posted in Farming

Want Sustainable Sushi? Follow the 4-S Rule

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By Casson Trenor

I was recently interviewed by a CNN team who wanted to know about sustainability in the sushi industry. This video clip is me explaining what I call the “4-S rule” – a simple if somewhat crude guide to eating in a more sustainable fashion at the sushi bar (oh, and a small correction to CNN’s byline – I am a co-founder of Tataki Sushi Bar, but I don’t actually own the restaurant.)

Basically, there are four adjectives, each starting with the letter S, that form the eponymous rule. If you bear these descriptors in mind while you order, you can markedly diminish your environmental footprint at that meal. It’s not a perfect system – there are exceptions to each of the four “S” words – but by and large, it will help you eat sushi more sustainably. Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Seafood

My Ikagai

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By Pam Anderson

[Pam discusses reasons for living. See more of her musings – and her daughters’ – at ThreeManyCooks. – mb]

Emails with video links and “You HAVE to see this” usually trigger my delete key. So I’m not sure what made me click and watch Dan Buettner’s presentation based on his book, Blue Zones. (It’s twenty minutes long—eternity in web-time! But I was captured.)

Blue Zones refers to unusual spots on the globe where people tend to live a long, long time. And Buettner and his team of social scientists set out to discover why. What do they have in common? He features one in Sardinia, Italy, another Seventh Day Adventist group in Southern California, but it was the zone in Okinawa, Japan that caught myattention. Continue reading

Posted in Japanese

Leftover Boiled Beef Day Two: Miroton

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By Edward Schneider

OK, it’s two days later. Time for more leftover boiled brisket, this time in the form of miroton. Like ropa vieja, miroton contains onions and takes advantage of both the meat and the broth it generated when it was simmered. Other than that, they could hardly be less alike.

Ropa vieja uses shredded meat, one of whose virtues is that it’s slightly chewy. For miroton (etymology unclear, by the way), you slice the meat thin across the grain, as though you were going to make a sandwich; one of its virtues is that it is very tender. In ropa vieja there are several vegetables; none predominate. Onions are (almost) the main ingredient in miroton; one could probably make a plausible version without the meat, not that I’d want to try. While ropa vieja doesn’t need an acidic element (a dash of something sour doesn’t hurt, though), miroton requires vinegar, enough to make you cough as you add it to the onions.

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Posted in Recipes