Quote from Intro:

"Anyone can cook, and most everyone should. It's a sorry sign that many people consider cooking 'from scratch' an unusual and even rare talent.
In fact, it is a simple and rewarding craft, one that anyone can learn and even succeed at from the get-go."
-Bittman, HTCE

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pound Cake

Recipe: Pound Cake
Page: HTCE p. 906
Rating: ***-**** (depends on purpose; plain pound cake rates *** but a plain cake as a base for more flavorful glazes or cake soaks would be a ****).

Before I tell you my impressions of this cake, it's worth knowing the background from which I'm rating it. When I got married, I was instructed that my dear hubby liked ONE particular cake for his birthday; I refer to it as "The Pound Cake." Why? It's his grandmother's recipe and calls for mixing the batter for a full 20 minutes. I won't tell you how many cheap mixers I've burned up over the years on this admittedly delicious pound cake.

This year, since it's not for his actual birthday, I thought I'd clandestinely substitute my buddy Mark's version. Why? I figured that, in the spirit of his book, Mark would have me do something benignly simple and would tell me if mixing it for 20 minutes was really necessary. I scanned the ingredient list: looked fairly similar but with less sugar. Worth a try. I did NOT read all the directions until I was ready to make the cake.

(sigh) Mark... have you let me down? WHY are you having me mix the egg yolks in one at a time with the mixer, mix in the flour by hand, and then, with "freshly cleaned" beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold those egg whites into the VERY thick cake batter thoroughly and gently? The pro in this: I'm not going to burn up my mixer on egg whites.

The con? The cake is fairly dry. Good flavor and crust, but dry. It would definitely make a terrific base for the glazes mentioned (we're trying the orange one tomorrow), but I will continue making "The Pound Cake" in years to come for the birthday boy. Mark's version was a bit too labor intensive to justify the loss in texture I've come to love from "The Pound Cake."

I would like to point out, however, that my buddy Mark agrees with me in one key area: pound cake is great toasted with butter. To those that scoff in horror at eating cake for breakfast, let me merely point out that there is the same amount of sugar in this cake as there is in most "muffins" or "quick breads." There are more eggs and thus, more protein. What could be a better breakfast? Mark's version is nice and dry and will soak up lots of butter. Mmmmm.... I can hardly wait for breakfast!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chicken Cutlets Roasted with Tomatoes

Since boneless/skinless chicken breasts are relatively good for you and they are on sale frequently, I am often looking for new and delicious things to do with them. This recipe fits that bill. I thought the flavors were great (tomato and cumin with EVOO) and my husband also agreed. We ate this over polenta and it was a really good backdrop to highlight all the flavors in the meat. Another plus is that since the oven temp is so high you can make it from start to finish in less than 30 minutes.

HTCE p.672


I had never had polenta when I first made this recipe so I don't know what to compare it to, but I do know this: my 2 year old son LOVED it!! I remember being shocked because he has texture issues, but I also remember him having two whole bowls of it.

I found this recipe when I was looking for a side to go with Bittman's "Chicken Cutlets Roasted with Tomatoes" and together they were fantastic! This is a very easy side to make, so if you are looking for something last minute and you have cornmeal, reach for this recipe.

At the end of this recipe is one of my favorite Bittman features: the list. In this case there is a list of "14 Dishes to Serve on Top of Polenta" (p.486 or p.544). I don't know that I would like to eat polenta all by it self, but if makes an excellent base dish that other proteins or vegetables can be served on top of.

HTCE p. 485-6
HTCEV p.544 

Here is a full recipe with Parmesan and Sausage

Vanilla Pudding (Variation: Butterscotch Pudding)

This is a really good pudding. I tried to make this pudding before and since I was scared to let the pudding come to a boil (as instructed in step 2) the pudding was more of a chocolate soup. Tasty, but not pudding.

So here is my advice for this recipe. When making the cornstarch original recipe you have to let the pudding come to a boil. Bittman suggests that this will take 5 minutes, but for me it took closer to 8 or 10. For cornstarch to thicken correctly it must be heated past 203°, so really boiling in this recipe is necessary.

My other thought is that while I thought the butterscotch flavor was outstanding at the beginning of this recipe (I was tasting through out), I chose to use my very best vanilla at the end and the flavor frankly out weighed the delicate butterscotch flavor that I had created in the beginning. Lesson learned here? Use vanilla like the recipe calls for, but don't reach for the "good" vanilla, instead use the cheap stuff.

HTCE p.950
HTCEV p.884
Full Recipe, just substitute brown sugar for white sugar


I thought it might be fun to share a teeny bit about the chefs who are creating these reviews (hoping that our fearless blog administrator, Bridgette, will be okay with this idea :) ).

I always like to know what kind of cook is recommending recipes: is he/she feeding a large family? a single person? coming in after a long day's work? generally picky? likes to try new things? Etc.

So, here's a wee bit about me (Betsy) and the kind of environment in which I'm testing these recipes and giving them a thumbs up or thumbs down:
  • married to her best friend/love of her life for 7.5 years
  • mommy to three exuberant and active children: almost-3-year-old twin boys; 4-year-old daughter
  • stay-at-home mom (kids are home all day, too)
  • hubby frequently gets in late from work and we have to reheat his dinner
  • working on a fairly conservative budget for groceries
  • hubby and I love ethnic food; our children do, too, and are particularly fond of Asian food
  • I really enjoy cooking, but don't want to spend all day, every day doing it--especially given my three children running around
  • I also place a high priority on feeding my family unprocessed/commercially prepared foods when possible; to that end, I bake a lot of bread, cook my own soup, make my own pizza, etc. when feasible--this means we eat more simply now, but it's still tasty!
  • before this blog began, I'd started compiling a list of the recipes I'd tried from HTCE and a quick rating. Here's that list. Someday I may rate them all in more detail here.
  • I've owned HTCE for exactly one year (bought it in January, 2009) and cooked from it more than any other cookbook this past year (of the 40+ that I own).
  • I "discovered" it at a friend's house while I was babysitting for her. It was the first edition. I borrowed it and tried out a few recipes (like the biscuits!!). Then, I spent some time perusing the 10th anniversary edition at Border's, trying to decide if I really needed another cookbook. What swayed me were the extensive section on beans (rare in most cookbooks), the many charts and tables, and the overall simplicity. I'm so glad I took the plunge and bought it!
One final note: Bridgette and I are in complete agreement on this. We use Bittman for our normal, everyday cooking. It's perfect for that. If I want a showstopper recipe, I'll use one I've already tried and liked, perhaps, but I'm more likely to turn to America's Test Kitchen or one of my Southern Living cookbooks. Those are more "company food." (They're also more complicated, more expensive, more fussy, and so forth.)


Recipe: pizza dough and various variations
Page: HTCE 178, HTCEV p.724
Rating: *****

I only use Bittman's pizza dough recipe now and make it often. It's easy to work with if you're not in a hurry. When he says "let it rest," then you should do just that. It will make two good-sized thin crust pizzas for me easily.

We top it with all kinds of things. We've left it bare and grilled it. We've gone the basil/fresh tomatoes/slivered garlic route and loved it. (Actually I served this an appetizer/accompaniment to his quiche for a ladies' lunch that Bridgette was at--she'll agree: you can't stop eating it!) We haven't had a variation or a pizza yet we DIDN'T like from this book. I'd like to try the Alsatian version that's loaded with bacon and onions. MMMM

A note: if making this by hand, it helps to warm up the water and add the oil and water together. I've made this by hand and with the food processor; it's easier with the food processor, but very doable by hand, too.

So, pizza dough: *****

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

One of the first things I made with this cookbook, these tomatoes are a great side dish to almost any meal!

For this I used half mozzarella and half monterey jack, a little extra garlic and I actually only had three tomatoes to spare. So I did the whole recipe, and then we ate the extra filling as a side dish the next day.

I would be eager to try any of the variations listed: Red Peppers, Zucchini and Acorn Squash stuffed with different grains and cheeses.

HTCEV p. 398
HTCE has a "Tomatoes Stuffed with Sausage and Rice" p. 369
Full Recipe (of the meat version)

Classic Pot Roast

This recipe is exactly what it claims to be: classic! Sure you could probably go in your kitchen and whip up a pot roast (if you've ever made one before), but if you want to get consistent results use this recipe. It is what we are having for dinner tonight!

I pretty much follow the exact recipe, except that I shorten the time that you soften the vegetables because I like my onions, etc. not to dissolve during the cooking. I usually just add water in the first liquid step (wine or water) and then beef bouillon in the second, although today I had chicken broth on hand.

I think the rosemary/tomato variation looks really good, but that is for another day!

HTCE p.742

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Simplest Dal

I wanted to replicate the lentil soup from our favorite Greek restaurant but this recipe needs a few adjustments, or maybe I should choose one of the other lentil soup recipes from this book. I will try this again but I'll make these adjustments:
  • double the garlic
  • reduce the cardamom pods to 1
  • omit the mustard seeds
HTCE p. 433
HTCEV p.600

Update: I just found this article written by Bittman about Dal.  Here is the recipe that goes along with the video in the post.

Simplest Whole Roast Chicken

I decided to try this recipe so we would have something for sandwiches instead of all the chemical and salt-laden meats we had been eating for lunch. Well, this was too good for sandwiches! It never made it on a slice of bread. I used the basic recipe adding a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Easy and ready in an hour.

HTCE p. 644
Full Recipe (with lots of variations)

Potato "Nik" Variation: Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

I love Latkes! They are so easy to make and a great way to eat potatoes! Not that there's anything wrong with all of the other ways to eat potatoes, this one is just a little different.

The recipe was good although I would suggest adding some carrots into the mix as a good way to add a vegetable to the meal. Chives or green onions would be another good addition. I served these the traditional way: with sour cream and applesauce (the top two garnishes Mark lists with the recipe).

HTCEV p. 349-350
HTCE p. 345 (This is not Potato "Nik", but Potato Rösti with a Latke variation)
Full Recipe

Baked Macaroni and Cheese (Personal Variation: Old Fashioned)

So Bittman has a baked macaroni recipe in this cookbook that is good, but it is no show stopper. Before I tried this recipe I had another baked macaroni recipe that I think is just to die for (literally and figuratively). I was pleased when I realized that my recipe was just a version of his, with slightly different ratios of ingredients, but the same exact method!

Here is my list of ingredients (I've written them in the left margin of my cookbook so that I don't have to keep that other version around anymore):
  • 1 1/3 cup cream or half and half
  • Salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (why would you want to use low fat here?)
  • omit bay leaves
  • 1 pound penne
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick and 2 tbl) butter(I told you it was to die for!)
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 10 oz. grated cheese, I like White Cheddar
  • Can omit Parmesan (but when is less cheese a good thing?)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh (p.876)
The only changes to the method are these:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 instead of 400.
  2. No changes.
  3. Melt only 1/2 of the butter. After you add the cheese add the cream.
  4. Top the bread crumbs with remaining butter cut into small pieces. Bake for 30 minutes and let stand for 5 before serving.
If you bring this dish to a pot luck I guarantee you will not bring any home and that for you might be a good or bad thing!

HTCEV p.460
HTCE p.508

Sourdough Pancakes (Variation of Everyday Pancakes)

Recipe: Sourdough Pancakes (Variation of Everyday Pancakes)
Page: HTCE p. 812
Rating: ****

Since I have a sourdough starter that needs feeding and using up during the week, I thought I'd give the sourdough pancakes (p. 812) a whirl.

I'm not sure how to describe these: very chewy and dense with a texture similar to that of good French toast made from French bread. They're very good and you could use a number of toppings on them other than syrup: fruit syrup, peanut butter, honey, etc. Leftovers hold up well, too. If you wanted to try to recreate one of those decadent breakfast sandwiches that use pancakes as the "bread," then these would be a good candidate. We really liked them and will make them often. They're not a true substitute for regular pancakes, though, if you're in the mood for the usual light and fluffy-soak-up-as-much-syrup-as-possible pancakes.

Question (I constantly question the editing of this book since there are definitely some errors)

Bittman says to halve the milk, flour, and other ingredients. That would make the amount of milk needed for the sourdough variation 3/4-1 cup. But, when he's giving the mixing directions, he says to add 1/2 cup of milk. That's what I did, but my batter was much thicker than the thin batter he described. Perhaps I should have added half of the milk, meaning 3/4-1 cup, not 1 half cup? I liked the pancakes a lot, but next time I may add the extra milk and see what the texture is like--they might not be as chewy.

HTCE p.812
HTCEV p.201
Full Recipe

Sourdough Bread

Recipe: Sourdough Bread
Page: HTCE p. 858
Rating: *****

We make the sourdough bread weekly.

Pros: EASY, CHEAP, TASTY. It also keeps well for a while; this is a common trait of sourdough breads compared to standard yeast breads and is a nice feature--it enables you to bake the bread earlier in the day or the day before you want/need it and it's still excellent.

Cons: Bittman doesn't follow through on his promise in the first paragraph for telling us how to make the bread more "flavorful" (i.e. more sour).

I make mine in the food processor like he instructs, beginning originally with his directions for creating the starter. I'm aware that this isn't a "true" or "pure" sourdough since he adds yeast to his starter. Nonetheless, it is a sourdough starter, regardless of its purity in the minds of all the sourdough aficionados out there. I feed the starter at night, leave it in the processor overnight, dump half back into my quart Mason jar, and use the remainder for bread, just like he says. I think I add more flour than called for, but it makes an enormous loaf. I frequently add white whole wheat flour when I make the actual bread, so it doesn't rise quite as high as the picture shows. I always keep the salt and yeast the same, even if I end up adding more flour.

This bread has a very mild sourdough taste--it's getting a tiny bit more sour as my starter ages, but it's not nearly as sour as the sourdough bread you might buy at Panera. It's a leisurely bread to make--hard to do on the spur of the moment, but easy to work into your usual routine. It really takes mere minutes in the morning to add the flour/salt/yeast and then mere minutes later in the day to form a loaf. Because it rises so slowly, you can pretty much forget about it until it's convenient. No rushing home from the store, worried that your bread over-proofed.

I've made rolls and loaves out of it. We use it to go with soups, for toast in the mornings (superb with butter and honey), for sandwiches (great pb&j!), and so forth. I've even tried the sourdough pancakes, but I'll save those for another post :).

Highly recommend this, especially if you're trying to go healthier and more frugal. Sourdough bread is better for your blood sugar than yeast bread, and this bread is super cheap since there isn't any added oil, honey, milk, and so forth.

HTCE p. 858
HTCEV p.710

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Smoky Black Bean Soup

Recipe: Smoky Black Bean Soup
Page: HTCE p. 137
Rating: ***

Again, Bittman to the rescue at 5:00 (I really don't do this every night...).

Anyway, Smoky Black Bean Soup (p. 137) is not bad. I used water, 2 cans of black beans with their liquid, the dried chipotle, and subbed 2 t. cumin for the chili powder. The verdict? I'll make this again, but I like my long-cooked Cuban Black Soup better. I think this was a little thin--maybe cut the liquid down? The chipotle doesn't make it too spicy--partly because it's put in there whole. The soup is pretty basic, but it's a nice, quick bean soup stand-by since it really is ready in less than 30 minutes.

Basic Wild Rice Variation: Wild Rice with Chestnuts

This is one I tried for Thanksgiving and it was a total flop! It was fun to roast the chestnuts and get them out of their shells (something I'd never done before) but the rice didn't cook all the way. Maybe I should have tried the easier way to cook rice, but I was going for fancy. This one called for vegetable stock instead of water and told me to check the rice mid-way through cooking. Now I may be one of those people who never cooks rice on the stove, but I know you're not supposed to lift the lid! So I lifted, the rice wasn't done, wasn't hot enough, I added more broth and boiled it too much so the bottom burt and I had already added the chestnuts so they turned to mush.

It was good so I would probably want to try again, but I may just use my rice cooker this time. :)

HTCEV p. 567
HTCE p. 494

Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

This is the potato salad without eggs (because frankly I forgot to add them). 

My husband is not a fan of mayonnaise based salads and since I love potato salad (and frankly all things potato) this created a problem in our marriage. Enter Bittman and this wonderfully flavorful potato salad that does not include mayo. This salad instead uses the mustard vinaigrette from page 201 (HTCEV p.763) and it is so good! The best part is that it does not require refrigeration and you could bring it to a picnic and not worry about it tasting gross or going bad.

I do add an two eggs to the boiling water (Simple Addition #8) so that the eggs and potatoes boil and cook together. Simply delicious!

HTCE p. 189
HTCEV p.68

Asian Greens, Chinese Restaurant Style

Recipe: Asian Greens, Chinese Restaurant Style
Page: HTCE, p. 266
Rating: ****

Once again, I discovered a gem of a recipe when I turned to Bittman's Red Book in desperation. We were having an Asian meal and I wanted a side dish. I made my trusty Chinese Cucumber Salad which everyone loves, even though my cukes were looking a bit puny. I tasted the salad 10 minutes before dinner would be ready and realized that the cukes didn't just look puny... they were AWFUL. Help?!

Open the fridge: a few carrots, some unnamed Asian greens from the Chinese store, and some Napa cabbage. Hmmm...

Open the Red Book: "Asian Greens, Chinese Restaurant Style" (p. 266). AND, it was "fast." Perfect.

The verdict? A definite winner and will be a faithful repeat in our house. That oyster sauce which I'd bought for some other Asian recipe a while back? It's the secret ingredient! It must be in everything at the cheap Chinese restaurant around the corner! Beef and broccoli--definitely in that dish. It's a salty, thick condiment that really is one of those hard-to-put-your-finger-on Chinese restaurant tastes.

And the kids and hubby? Loved the greens. I used the leftovers the next night in a stir-fry.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fruit-and-nut or Vegetable-and-Nut Bread Variation: Pumpkin Ginger Bread with Hazelnuts

For Thanksgiving I made the Pumpkin Ginger Bread with Hazelnuts variation of this recipe. It should really be called a "cake" and not a "bread" but it was so incredible! I am not a giant fan of nuts inside breads and desserts, but the hazelnuts were flavorful and a good addition to the bread.

I used orange juice as the juice in the recipe and it worked well. For this one, you also use the pumpkin raw, which was a little challenging to grate but not too difficult.

The only critique I had of this variation was I wished for more ginger but I'll just remember to do that next time. Overall this was a nice bread to accent a wintery meal.

HTCEV p.291-292
HTCE p. 843
Full Recipe (without this variation)

Stir-Fried Vegetables

One night I found myself needing to empty the fridge of some extra vegetables before they went bad. What better way to use them all than to stir fry them all together!! Vegetables shown: spinach, carrots, onion, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, and mushrooms. This is one of the most colorful dishes I have ever made! I just used Mark's advice and cooked the harder things first and added the softer things at the end. I started with the sesame oil, instead of at the end as the recipe suggests, but finished the dish with soy sauce and white rice.

I like my vegetables a little crunchy, so I didn't let them cook as long as I could have, but If you're using frozen or fewer crunchy vegetables, you could adjust the time as needed.

7 Seasonings or Crunchy Bits to Add to Stir-Fried Vegetables:
Here I added some walnuts because that was what I had. What a great idea! They added just a little bit of flavor and yet another pleasant crunch.

HTCE p. 241
HTCEV p.242-243

Tomato Soup Variation: Wintertime Tomato Soup

After stocking my pantry with most of what Mark suggested in the beginning of the book, I found myself coming home on a cold day desperately looking in my pantry for soup. The opening line in the recipe referring to the deep dark days of January were very appropriate, as was the soup! Hearty and flavorful, this is definitely one I will reach for again on another cold day.

For the recipe, I used the dried tomatoes and the canned and although the dried were pricey, they were well worth it! The dried tomatoes really enhance the flavors of the soup and make you forget you're eating canned tomatoes - something I'm usually not a fan of. Although I planned on using the leftovers in the Elegant variation - which puts your chunky soup into a blender and adds cream - every night the smell of the original had me coming back for more! This is definitely a hearty soup you could add beans or meat to if you needed some more protein.

HTCE p. 130
HTCEV p.113-114

Bittman Saves the Day (or Dinner, at the very least)

Recipe: Spaghetti with Butter and Parmesan
Page: HTCE p.506 (table p.976) HTCEV p.447
Rating: *****

I could probably write a post with a similar title nearly every week, but tonight is a stellar example. I find out at 5:35 that my husband won't be home until 7 AND we won't be meeting the neighbors at the local Mexican joint for dinner. This is not my hubby's fault; he works in a top secret building some days (and often doesn't know in advance) and there is no phone/cell phone/email access there.

I should mention that I have two 2-year-olds and one 4-year-old. They'd had a pretty good snack, but still... "What to have for dinner?" is suddenly an urgent question.

Sure, I could do pancakes or something breakfasty, but we've had NO veggies all day and I wasn't in the mood for eggs. Ergo, time to check out the top 30 minutes or less recipe list at the back (I had frozen peas and sweet potatoes as my veggie options). Ta da! Spaghetti with Butter and Parmesan. Perfect for a cold winter night. I threw in some frozen peas (I have real issues with needing some green on that dinner plate) and served with a side of sweet potatoes (cooked in the microwave). Time from recipe discovery to dinner on the table? Less than 30 minutes. Processed ingredients used? Nada. Kid-friendly? You betcha. Will hubby enjoy it when he gets home? Absolutely (I even saved some pasta water to add to his pasta when we reheat it).

Recipe Used: Spaghetti with Butter and Parmesan, p. 506
Rating: GREAT! (make sure to add generous salt and pepper; kids sucked it down and asked for more and they're not pasta fans....)

Incidentally, I should mention that I spent (wasted) 15 minutes trying to see if another cookbook had a better idea or even if there were better ideas in the Bittman pasta section. I should know by now that feeding my family, especially on short notice, doesn't have to be gourmet.... just healthy, tasty, and low stress.

List of Tried/Rated Recipes

This is a link to a post I'd started a while back for full tummies listing the recipes out of H2CE that I've tried. Click here to see a quick sum-up.

Crepes, Sweet or Savory

This is a great and relatively easy recipe. One of the things that I like the most about it is that you can easily half the recipe if you aren't serving a large crowd. Bittman even suggests a way to make them ahead of time, but I have not tried this. You can also make these for dinner and then save any leftover batter for the next morning.

In HTCE, there is a diagram on how to fold a crepe, but in Paris the french just folded them in half and then in half again. This made them easier to eat as you were walking down the street, but also the goodness collected at the bottom of the crepe making it better as you went along!

I found that the single recipe makes 14 - 18 little crepes or 7 giant ones (like the ones we got in Paris). For fillings we used variation #2 (Nutella) but we add bananas and for savory crepes we have egg and cheese filling to which we sometimes add ham.

To make these savory crepes just beat two eggs right before you are ready to cook the crepes. I have found that it is best to go ahead and salt and pepper the eggs so that you don't forget during cooking. After a crepe has cooked on the first side and you have flipped it add cheese (and ham) so that your eggs won't run everywhere. Then carefully spoon one or two tablespoons of beaten egg onto the crepe and fold one half over. Cook as directed and then flip. To tell when the eggs are done it is best to just poke the crepe with your finger. The crepe should not feel liquidy inside, instead it should feel quite firm.

We have these for dinner at least twice a month and they are great!

HTCE p.817
HTCEV p.196

French Toast Variation: Caramelized French Toast

Bittman's variation of French Toast called "Caramelized French Toast" is great! I just simply sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the bread after it was on the skillet and it made a nice crunchy finish.

HTCE p. 795
HTCEV p.177

French Toast

I know how to make French Toast but I get pretty inconsistent results since I do not use a recipe. I tried Bittman's recipe and found it way too wet for my liking. To make it again I reverted to my "red plaid" cook book and found that they used half the milk that Bittman used. Since I am using plain white sandwich bread I found that to be a much better consistency.

HTCE p. 794
HTCEV p.177
Full Recipe

Roasted Nuts with Oil or Butter

I used this recipe to bake pumpkin seeds this past Halloween and they turned out great. I tried three of the variations that are kind-of suggested here:
  • Olive oil with salt and pepper (really good)
  • Olive oil with a jamacian jerk seasoning mix (good)
  • Butter with brown sugar and cinnamon (great)
They were all delicious, but I loved the sweet nuts better than the other variations.

I did not toss the nuts in a bowl, but instead just poured the toppings into one of the aluminum foil wells that I made on my cookie sheet.

HTCE p.80
HTCEV p.323

Full Recipe

Table: 18 Variations of Vinaigrette

This is a great table for making your own salad dressings. When we buy salad dressing in the store it comes with so many extras including a ton of sugar and even MSG. With just a few ingredients you can make whatever vinaigrette you had your heart set on, without going to the store.

Off of this table I have made the Soy Vinaigrette many, many times. It is great on top of broccoli slaw with nuts and mandarin oranges. When I have it on hand I add the Pampered Chef Asian Seasoning to this vinaigrette for an extra kick.

HTCE p. 201

HTCEV p.763

Real Popcorn

I love, love, love this recipe. First of all it is a lot cheaper to pop your own popcorn then to buy pre-packaged microwave kind, and since there is a lot less packaging it is better for the environment too. Also, as Michael Pollan would point out, you'll eat less "junk" food when you have to go through the trouble of making it yourself (although, really this recipe is not much trouble)!

I had been popping popcorn and using the butter-flavored oil, but using this classic recipe has been so much better! I use vegetable oil to pop the corn but then I do use the melted butter to toss the popped corn. Warning for making this in the winter though: whatever bowl you will be tossing your popcorn in, you might want to pre-heat it as we had some butter re-solidify at the bottom of the bowl.

I have tired popping in olive oil, but I didn't find that it added any olive oil flavor, so I wanted to save my EVOO for other uses.

HTCE p. 81

HTCEV p.292
Full Recipe

What this blog is about!

I am currently recruiting avid Bittman users to review the recipes found in his How to Cook Everything (labeled HTCE) and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (labeled HTCEV) cook book. We will not be re-posting recipes, but instead we will leave feedback for each other on what recipes we have tried, what we have loved and what we haven't loved. While we review recipes we will include their title as post titles and the chapter in which they can be found as labels on each post. I'm also going to include an "essential" label that will allow the authors to tag the recipes they go to on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Also, if you have recently purchased a copy of this book, and you feel overwhelmed this blog will be a good starting point for you to start using your cookbook.

If you do not own one of Bittman's cookbooks yet, run (don't walk) to your local book seller and pick up this essential kitchen item!

"The" Cookbook

This is a re-post from my favorite things blog, but I thought it would be a good way to start this blog off!
My friend Betsy had recommended this cookbook to me and at first glance I was not interested at all! It had no pictures, few illustrations, and no nutritional fact information; all of which have been previous requirements of mine for a cookbook. But oh friends, let me just tell you about this cookbook! Since getting it for my birthday a week has not gone by that I haven't made something out of it and usually I cook out of it 2-3 times a week! The title describes perfectly what this cookbook is about: everything! Want to roast some potatoes and pork and then use the leftovers for fried rice? Mark will tell you how! Or what about crepes and banana bread? He's got that covered too.

Here are some features that make this book "The" book to have in your kitchen:
  • Over 2,000 recipes with tons of variations. As a matter of fact, I don't know if I have seen a recipe in here that doesn't have a variation.
  • Basic ingredients. All of the recipes that I have made so far did not cause me to run to the store! His ingredients are simple things that you already have around the house.
  • Well illustrated techniques. Want to quarter a chicken? It is all drawn out here step by step.
  • Essential recipes are highlighted at the beginning of each chapter to get you started. This is especially helpful for me on chapters like beans, which I have never cooked before this year!
  • Charts, charts, and more charts! This man loves his charts! My favorite one yet is one that outlines different types of vinaigrettes into their different parts: oil, acid, flavors, etc.
  • Variation on top of variation: One title of a list reads, "11 More Ways to Vary Grilled or Broiled Boneless Chicken" Not only do these variations give you good ideas, but you feel freed up to make your own decisions and substitutions without the fear of failure.
  • Only 7 out of 56 people on Amazon.com gave this book less than 5 stars and not a single one gave it just 1 star.
  • Chapter Titles are: Kitchen Basics; Sauces, Condiments, Herbs and Spices; Appetizers; Soups; Sandwiches and Pizza; Salads; Vegetables and Fruit; Beans; Grains; Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry; Meat; Eggs, Breakfast, and Dairy; Bread; Desserts
  • My favorite chapter is Vegetables and Fruit. For each vegetable and fruit that you can find at the grocery or farmers market he tells you how to pick the right one and then has several recipes on different ways it can be prepared.
Weather you are new to the kitchen, new to cooking, or just need some new ideas you need to add this book to your Christmas wish-list. My sister already got his vegetarian version for her birthday.