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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yogurt or Buttermilk Biscuits

Recipe: Yogurt or Buttermilk Biscuits
Page: HTCE p. 845 (HTCEV p694)
Rating: *****

I've made these so often, I don't even need the recipe. We LOVE these. They remind me of Cracker Barrel biscuits. I usually use 4 tablespoons butter, half whole wheat flour and add a bit more yogurt (I always use yogurt) than he recommends (I'm sure that's because the whole wheat flour soaks up more moisture). I love that he tells you to pat these out instead of rolling them out. Somehow, that little extra step saved helps. I often cut these into squares to save even getting out a circle cutter (read: drinking glass).

I've made the Baking Powder Biscuit variation as well as the Drop Biscuit variation--both are good substitutes, especially for savory biscuits to go with dinner. For instance, tonight I added 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, some garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon or so Italian seasoning; I combined the Baking Powder and Drop variations and had biscuits to go with dinner so easily! (And they were YUMMY.) In the main recipe, I've also left out the baking soda with no ill effects.

I've got the recipe on my recipe blog for those interested: "Cracker Barrel Biscuits"

Strawberry Banana Muffins (variation)

Recipe: Banana Muffins (variation of Muffins, Infinite Ways)
Page: HTCE page 832-833
Rating: *****

I love Mark's style. I feel like I'm channeling the minimalist plus talented substitutionist vibes and creating all kinds of wonderful things on the fly. The latest? the need to use up some very ripe bananas, some fresh strawberries, and some fresh strawberry puree. The recipe of choice to start with? The banana muffin variation under the regular Muffins recipe. I followed the banana-nut variation (including using whole wheat flour for half of the flour amount), left out the nuts, and added in about 1/4 cup strawberry puree plus about 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries. I used regular sugar instead of subbing in honey since the puree was already adding some extra liquid.

The verdict? I'm going to have to write this one down in the cookbook. My kids ate 3 regular sized muffins EACH for breakfast. That's terrific, especially when these muffins only have 1/4 cup of sugar or so per batch. I'm not sure the puree added that much. I might try these with fresh blueberries later in the summer when they're in season.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fast French Bread or Rolls

Recipe: Fast French Bread or Rolls
Page: HTCE p. 856-7
Rating: *****

This is the perfect French bread recipe. I routinely add 1/2-1 c. whole wheat flour to it, use bread flour for the remaining flour, and follow Bittman's instructions to a "T." I don't do anything special, don't let it rise in cloth, don't spritz it with water when I remove it from the oven, etc. Just the basic recipe: you cannot go wrong. Especially if you have a food processor, you won't buy French bread again. People consistently ask me for my recipe. Well, folks, this is the one!

A note: this bread is best the first day and good for French toast the next. Because there's no oil or sugar or anything like that in it, it will go stale quickly. Your best bet for future use: slightly underbake it and freeze it. Then, thaw, warm up/finish baking just before dinner, and you're good to go.