The Maven

Can life get any better than a sunny day at a tiny restaurant in an obscure  Northern Italian town? Perhaps. I could be cooking. Or browsing the local markets. Or talking history, culture and the price of tea in China with the locals.

Join me as I explore what the world has to offer where food meets culture.

 

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    Entries in mark bittman (10)

    Thursday
    Mar032011

    Oatmeal: Five ways

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Wednesday
    Feb232011

    How to Make Oatmeal ... Wrong

    By Mark Bittman, The New York Times

    There’s a feeling of inevitability in writing about McDonald’s latest offering, their “bowl full of wholesome” — also known as oatmeal. The leading fast-food multinational, with sales over $16.5 billion a year (just under the GDP of Afghanistan), represents a great deal of what is wrong with American food today. From a marketing perspective, they can do almost nothing wrong; from a nutritional perspective, they can do almost nothing right, as the oatmeal fiasco demonstrates.

    One “positive” often raised about McDonald’s is that it sells calories cheap. But since many of these calories are in forms detrimental rather than beneficial to our health and to the environment, they’re actually quite expensive — the costs aren’t seen at the cash register but in the form of high health care bills and environmental degradation.

    Oatmeal is on the other end of the food spectrum. Real oatmeal contains no ingredients; rather, it is an ingredient. As such, it’s a promising lifesaver: oats are easy to grow in almost any non-extreme climate and, minimally processed, they’re profoundly nourishing, inexpensive and ridiculously easy to cook. They can even be eaten raw, but more on that in a moment.

    Like so many other venerable foods, oatmeal has been roundly abused by food marketers for more than 40 years. Take, for example, Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal, which contains no strawberries, no cream, 12 times the sugars of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and only half of the fiber. At least it’s inexpensive, less than 50 cents a packet on average. (A serving of cooked rolled oats will set you back half that at most, plus the cost of condiments; of course, it’ll be much better in every respect.)

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Jan262011

    Mark Bittman's 25 all-time favorites

    I adore the ground Mark Bittman cooks on. Seriously, I have his cookbooks and constantly refer to them, practically ignoring all the others that I’ve collected over the years. Bittman is down to earth real about food and how to incorporate good, healthy food into our everyday diets.

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    From his New York Times column:

    Picking 25 favorites out of more than 1,000  recipes from The Minimalist — the last weekly column appears this week — is an awesome task. But each of these, listed in order of appearance, represents something special either to me or to regular readers of The Minimalist, or in a couple of cases — most notably Jim Lahey’s bread — to a wider audience. It’s a list that will make you want to cook, I think. What are your favorites?

    RED PEPPER PURÉE The first Minimalist. Check out the roasting technique; it works. (Published Sept. 17, 1997)

    CHICKEN UNDER A BRICK So popular that a group in Santa Cruz, Calif., made a T-shirt that reads, “We love chicken under a brick.” (Oct. 22, 1997)

    PEAR, GORGONZOLA AND MESCLUN SALAD Not my invention, but truly a ’90s classic. (Nov. 19, 1997)

    SPAGHETTI WITH FRIED EGGS Made this the other night; insanely easy and soothing. (March 10, 1999)

    BRAISED SQUID WITH ARTICHOKES Braised fish, artichokes, sometimes potatoes, always garlic and powerful olive oil; that’s Liguria. (April 28, 1999)

    PASTA ALLA GRICIA The basis for some of the simplest and best pasta dishes I know. (Nov. 8, 2000)

    PUMPKIN PANNA COTTA The headline on this Thanksgiving column said it all: “No Time for Crust? Who Needs It, Anyway?” (Nov. 22, 2000)

    WATERMELON AND TOMATO SALAD A Jean-Georges Vongerichten special; especially good with feta. (July 24, 2002)

    45-MINUTE ROAST TURKEY Many readers swear by this one. (Nov. 20, 2002)

    CRISP-BRAISED DUCK LEGS WITH AROMATIC VEGETABLES
    This has many of the qualities of duck confit — but no fussiness. (Dec. 25, 2002)

    SICHUAN CHICKEN WITH CHILIES Overcook the chicken, overdo the chilies, you’ll be happy. (Sept. 3, 2003)

    BLACK COD BROILED WITH MISO Yes, you can do this at home. (April 14, 2004)

    STIR-FRIED CHICKEN WITH KETCHUP Perhaps the highest and best use of ketchup. (May 12, 2004)

    CORN SALAD WITH SOY AND TOMATO Soy and tomato is a marriage made in heaven; the corn adds crunch. (Aug. 17, 2005)

    PARSLEY-HERB SALAD Think of parsley as a green, not an herb, and you get the idea. (Sept. 7, 2005)

    SOCCA (FARINATA) From my first taste of this, I’ve been an addict. Best made at home. (Oct. 19, 2005)

    STIR-FRIED LAMB WITH CHILI, CUMIN AND GARLIC
    As soon as I tasted this, in Flushing, Queens, I knew I had to make it. (Sept. 20, 2006)

    NO-KNEAD BREAD
    My most popular recipe, and it isn’t even mine. Credit Jim Lahey. (Nov. 8, 2006)

    SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH SHRIMP I know of no dish that exploits the texture of shrimp better. (Jan. 17, 2007)

    PERNIL
    Just the other day, a guy stopped me on the subway and said, “Your pernil is terrific.” It’s not really mine, but I made it that weekend, and it is terrific. (Jan. 2, 2008)

    SOUTH INDIAN EGGPLANT CURRY If you are an eggplant fan, this will really turn you on. If you’re not, this will make you one. (April 2, 2008)

    BRAISED TURKEY Cooked this way, turkey will remind you of pork. (Nov. 12, 2008)

    FENNEL AND CELERY SALAD
    My wife’s staple. Try it with toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts. (Nov. 26, 2008)

    MEXICAN CHOCOLATE TOFU PUDDING
    What? Yes. (May 20, 2009)

    MORE-VEGETABLE-LESS-EGG FRITTATA Just enough eggs to hold it together. One of those transformative recipes. (July 15, 2009)

    Tuesday
    Oct262010

    Freaking brilliant:'How to Cook Everything' app for your mobile phone

    This is simply the best damn app on my entire phone. Bar none. It’s total wowza! If you are a cook, or would even like to be someday, and have an iPhone -

    YOU NEED THIS APP!

    I downloaded this today, and played through it for nearly an hour, and it just simply rocks. I’m deleting any other food/cooking app that I might have. Mark Bittman - New York Times food editor and cookbook author - scores a home run with this. It’s all you’re gonna need.

    This is the only cookbook you need on the fly!

    Everything you love about the cookbook: 2,000 recipes and recipe variations; 400 how-to illustrations; hundreds of menu ideas; and Mark Bittman’s straightforward cooking advice for simple good food. Plus more…

    “The search and shopping list capabilities and cross-referencing alone make the HTCE app invaluable, but when you consider it has every single recipe and variation that you’d find in the big red book it becomes unbelievable.”Mark Bittman

    Honestly, I can’t think of anything he’s forgotten or left out. And the interface is so well thought out - and I’m saying that from a developer standpoint - you can tap seamlessly from the main menu page, to recipe suggestions, to technique, to twists on the basic recipe to your shopping list. It even has a timer function built into the recipes!

    You will use this in the grocery store, the housewares store and continue to use it right into the kitchen.

    For a freaking $4.99.

    The search engine for recipes is so intuitive and well designed - taking you from quick and easy, make-ahead and vegetarian suggestions to key ingredient to flavor profile.

    Does the recipe you’ve chosen call for a poached egg? If you don’t know how to poach an egg, no worries - there will be a link to How-To. The beauty of the technique and steps on all the recipes is that they’ve been pared down to the essentials - usually just three steps - with built in kitchen timers embedded right in the steps.

    This app truly makes full use of the features we’ve come to love about our iPhones.

    Love a recipe you’ve found, but want to save it for later? No worries, tap the Save to Favorites. Want to shop for the ingredients right now? No worries there either - just tap the recipe into the Grocery List or send it via email to the person doing the shopping.

    How great is that? This is an iPhone app on steroids. It’s one - or several - steps ahead, knowing exactly how people need this information presented, and how they will use it now or later.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in the grocery store - looking at some great thing that is on special - wanting it, but wondering how to cook it. I’ve messed with other similar apps, trying to dredge up basic information on a recipe before I buy, but they’ve all been completely lame - until now, until the How to Cook Everything app by Mark Bittman.

    What would I change or want that isn’t here? A wine component. I’d love to be able to go through the wine section of a store and have a damn clue.

    I have most of Mark Bittman’s cookbooks in my kitchen - and they are my bibles. This is the logical extension of those.

    Here’s the link to iTunes for the How to Cook Everything app.

    Developers should take note of this app. It will rock their world.

    -maven

     

    Wednesday
    Oct132010

    Comfort soups for autumn that are one-pot wonders

    These are the kind of soups that I just adore. Simple, honest ingredients simply presented in a classic healthy manner. This is the hallmark of New York Times food writer and cookbook author, Mark Bittman, one of my favorites if you look at my cookbook collection.

    On top of the elegant simplicity of these soups, they’re healthy. Meat - or in this case, bacon - plays a supporting role to add flavor and depth. The technique is one that you should absolutely have in your quiver - braising. This is where you extract every ounce of flavor from the veggies to intensify the flavor and then add the liquid. Pan roasting the butternut squash with apples is another one of my all-time favorite techniques - add the white wine after roasting.

    Finally, notice that Bittman varies the textures even within a single ingredient. Beans - some mashed and some whole. Squash, done with the same idea. This is so much more interesting both visually and from the standpoint of texture.

    Wednesday
    Mar242010

    Make your food last longer

    Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Saturday
    Jan092010

    American food supply less than safe. Time to become an activist.

    I know I’ve been complaining about this for a long time, but how many kids need to be sent to the hospital before we do something?

    Take a look at the statistics with European food supplies and ours. Theirs are safer, due to being locally grown by small farmers. We’ve allowed the Bigger Is Better mindset to takeover, thanks to Big Agribusiness and we’re sicker for it. And, it’s costing a fortune in back end care.

    When will we get a clue about first, giving the USDA the teeth to do their job? Second, stop subsidizing Big Agribusiness and start buying locally … or at least regionally?

    The food supply in our country is completely out of control, and it’s making us sick and fat.


    Watch CBS News Videos Online

    Click to read more ...

    Thursday
    Sep032009

    Mark Bittman: Salad dressing for dummies

    This is exactly how I’ve been doing salad dressing for the last 20 years. And I haven’t bothered with buying it for at least half as long.

    It’s simply too easy to make it fresh and healthy on the fly.

    Thursday
    Aug062009

    Recipes for a quiet, no drama kitchen from Mark Bittman

    This is how I cook and how I encourage the Maven&meddler readers to cook. Quit with the uptight, precise measurements. Free yourself up to be creative and really, intuitively, understand the ingredients and process. Unless you’re baking, the exact measurements won’t really matter.

    Believe me, you’ll be a better cook for it.

    Sunday
    Nov162008

    Simple, quick drizzle sauces for pasta or meat

    By Mark Bittman TODAY recipes updated 9:01 a.m. PT, Fri., Nov. 14, 2008

    Nothing could be easier or more versatile. All you have to do is boil some pasta or rice or broil a piece of chicken or fish, then get this going while it cooks. I’ll start you off with the base recipe — a kind of warm vinaigrette — and a handful of variations, but no doubt you’ll soon come up with even more ideas.

    • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
    • 1 tablespoon minced onion, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, or lemongrass
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or mild vinegar, like balsamic
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1. Put the oil or butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is warm or the butter is melted, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens (turn the heat down if it starts to color), a minute or two.