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Bittman bites again!
June 29, 2010 5:49 PM   Subscribe


 
So that is like 505 dishes, but he still doesn't know what to do with a bay leaf?
posted by fixedgear at 5:58 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you eat the whole sardine because it's good or because it's just too small to cut up and still grill?
posted by GuyZero at 5:59 PM on June 29, 2010


I like the idea of Bittman more than his recipes.
posted by Max Power at 6:00 PM on June 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm a fan of Mark Bittman's. I use his "How to Cook Everything" as my go to cookbook.

Plus, he seems like a decent guy- I met him a few times when he came into the BN I worked at near his home in CT- down to earth and pleasant. Which is more than I can say for many of the other author/celebrities I've run into over the years. I'm lookin at you, Maya Angelou...

Oh, and this is my first comment, ever. Although I've been reading MeFi since 2000 or so. Anyway, good to not be a lurker anymore.
posted by dave78981 at 6:03 PM on June 29, 2010 [17 favorites]


Bittman seems to really shine on quick meals with a few ingredients. He's not the go to guy if you like complexity.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:11 PM on June 29, 2010


Obligatory: Bittman haikus
(originally linked in this thread)

Now that that's out of the way: I love Bittman, just figured out how to use my new grill, and it's stopped raining for now in Seattle. So this is perfect timing, and now I'm hungry.
posted by lunasol at 6:12 PM on June 29, 2010


I meant to quote fixedgear's comment for context
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:12 PM on June 29, 2010


down to earth and pleasant. Which is more than I can say for many of the other author/celebrities I've run into over the years. I'm lookin at you, Maya Angelou...

You expected Maya Angelou to be down-to-earth and pleasant??
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:17 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


54. Buy shucked oysters....

What? I had no idea you could buy pre-shucked oysters. Seems a shame to miss out on the epic struggle between man and mollusc, as the latter resists conquest with all its glandy, stone-clad strength, and the former repeatedly stabs himself in the hand.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 6:25 PM on June 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


No, but the minimum I ever expected out of any customer was basic decency. Angelou strode through the double doors of the store with her five person entourage as if trumpets were fucking blaring for her. And when she made her way to the information desk, she couldn't even deign to talk to the person at the counter. She spoke to one of her entourage and then he talked to employee. It was ridiculous.
posted by dave78981 at 6:27 PM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


These are awesome guides for summer dinners. Anyone that can reduce really nice meal concepts to a tweet is a talent, anyone that can do it 101 times is a genius.
posted by Keith Talent at 6:52 PM on June 29, 2010


Re: Oysters - I have a butcher's chainmail glove and and antique shucking knife. All oysters fall before me like tenpins.

And I really need to try that softshell crab recipe... I never thought of grilling them!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:06 PM on June 29, 2010


I got How to Cook Everything as a Chanukah present this past year, and it's pretty much my favorite cookbook that I have ever seen or used. While the haiku make fun of his just throw some shit in there approach to recipes, that's exactly the sort of thing I need as a novice cook to encourage me to experiment and think of cooking as something fun, easy, and approachable. I'd recommend it to anyone who is scared of improvising.
posted by silby at 7:15 PM on June 29, 2010


How to Cook Everything is awesome - it has the best recipe for soy sauce chicken. Dude knows his food! Plus he seems to have a low tolerance for bullshit cooking AND he is vegetarian for 2 out 3 of his meals each day. I've repeatedly sent adoption papers to no avail.
posted by helmutdog at 7:22 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Minimalist of Technique
posted by sanko at 7:53 PM on June 29, 2010


The Minimalist of Technique

Thankfully, I'm not using any of his recipes to open a fine restaurant or win a cooking contest. My experience is this: the recipes in his book are more often than not really good starting points for excellent meals. I'm not as concerned with his "technique".

But to each his own.
posted by dave78981 at 7:58 PM on June 29, 2010


How many times I grill in a week: 7.
How many recipes in this article: 101.
How many recipes in this article that I will ever make: zero.

There are several recipes on that list that are remarkably similar to my own, up to the point where they go totally haywire. I mean seriously, grilled corn with mayonnaise??!?

This article is almost completely impractical. You want to improve your grilling? Learn how to make a proper burger. That's the #1 most common barbeque dish and hardly anyone can do it right. Read this NYTimes article for an education on burgers. Top tip in this article: don't mash the meat and compress all the air out of it, just gently form it into a patty, then use your thumb to poke a dent into the center before grilling. This makes the burger cook evenly instead of puffing up. Wow, I never heard of this and it revolutionized my burgers. And I am a pro at the grill. I inherited all my knowledge from my late grandfather, who was a USDA beef researcher.

For your further barbeque amusement, I will present a brochure I inherited from my grandpa, The Large Quantity Barbeque (self-link). And when I mean "large quantity," I don't mean like 20 or 30 guests, I mean like 200 or 300. The proper barbeque tools: shovels, rakes, and pitchforks.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:07 PM on June 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Maya Angelou probably doesn't even grill.
posted by Camofrog at 8:35 PM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Because Maya Angelou is a riot, grrrll!
posted by swift at 8:43 PM on June 29, 2010


AWESOME! I love to grill.
*clicks on link*
Item #1: "Brush thick slices of fennel bulbs..."
Aaaand we're done here.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:51 PM on June 29, 2010


Well, I think that it's pretty safe to say that Bittman isn't the go-to guy either for anal-retentive foodies (cutting a steak with a serrated knife? Oh, daddy, the horror!) or people that want to do one recipe really, really well. A lot of the recipes in Food Matters, in fact, are really more general guidelines for a number of different variations on a single dish, something that must drive people with OCD apeshit. Hell, I've got a touch of OCD myself, and I think that they're great.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:58 PM on June 29, 2010


I've got How to Cook Everything, and it is pretty handy, though I think it's best once you've picked up some basic ideas about seasoning and spices that match. It's a great list of how and how long to cook something, with some handy ideas for flavors. I like his 'The Best Recipes in the World' book a bit better, but nothing has managed to dethrone my old, broken-spined Joy of Cooking. Although Ratio is pretty interesting, and Charcuterie is a fantastic book.

Either way, out of his 101 ways to whatever, I can ususally find about 10 or 15 things that I'd like to try. Always a fun read.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:01 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I cooked for a family of four for five years and grilled ~100 times a year and I think his attitude is great. Especially for newer cooks. You don't need to portion your ingredients like you are making nitroglycerine and it's an apron not a bomb suit.
posted by vapidave at 9:17 PM on June 29, 2010


a brochure I inherited from my grandpa
I came across the 1969 of this brochure last week here. Really cool stuff. I can only hope to put it to use someday.
posted by sanko at 9:21 PM on June 29, 2010


I mean seriously, grilled corn with mayonnaise??!?

Clearly you do not live in a Mexican neighborhood and therefore do not know the joy of elotes and this is sad. :(
posted by desuetude at 9:26 PM on June 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am however deeply confused as to why you would buy pre-shucked shellfish when you can just scrub shellfish & throw 'em on the grill. When they open, they're done.
posted by desuetude at 9:29 PM on June 29, 2010


a brochure I inherited from my grandpa...

That brochure is incredibly well done except for the part about how you stack and ignite wood to create a trench of coals all burning evenly.
posted by Camofrog at 9:34 PM on June 29, 2010


Some of the stuff seems to have a serious case of Random Recipe Generator to it. Proof:
64. Kebab or hero? Your choice: Cut brussels sprouts in half; grill slowly on skewers, with chunks of sausage. Both slowly crisp as they cook.
I like Brussels sprouts, I like sausage, but the combination... and then grilling it... *shudder*
There are some interesting ideas in there, but much of this looks either too random or entirely too predictable ("9. Grilled guacamole: grill guacamole ingredients, make guacamole. Optionally: grill napkin").
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:41 PM on June 29, 2010


like Brussels sprouts, I like sausage, but the combination... and then grilling it... *shudder*

Are you kidding? That sounds great, and is in keeping with other well known flavor pairs like Brussels sprouts and pancetta, or corned beef and cabbage, or just about any slightly bitter vegetable and slightly greasy meat.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:21 AM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing about Bittman is - he's not really FOR people who know how to cook.

Bittman writes for the people who thin that cooking is a big huge production, that it's complicated, that you need 18 ingredients and that you need to spend a long time on it. The people who eat out all the time for no other reason than "Oh, I don't know how to cook, so let me just get takeout." Bittman's recipes are simplistic, but that's his point -- he's telling these people, "No, cooking is NOT complicated. Here - take this steak, do THAT to it, and see? Look, you cooked something! That's all there is to it!"

I also have HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING, but I was finding after a while that the recipes, when I followed them exactly, were kind of bland. Then it hit me that that was precisely the point. Bittman is writing them as a jumping-off point for people to build upon themselves. These days I use Bittman more as a reference for quantity of ingredients ("huh, polenta for one -- about howmuch cornmeal would I need for that?....Okay. Got it.") or for a suggestion when I have an unusual ingredient from my CSA ("what the hell am I going to do with FIVE POUNDS of Napa cabbage?").

But he's writing for people who don't know what they're doing yet, and don't feel confident enough about what they're doing. And I say, anything that helps inexperienced cooks learn, is alright.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 AM on June 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Mark Bittman's recipes aren't precisely what I like, nor do they follow my own idiosyncratic cooking methods; therefore, his cookbooks are of absolutely no use to anyone.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:01 AM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean seriously, grilled corn with mayonnaise??!?

Clearly you do not live in a Mexican neighborhood and therefore do not know the joy of elotes and this is sad. :(


Second. I lived in Guatemala for 2.5 years, and elote loco (crazy corn) was a fairground treat that was also common street food. Charcoal grilled corn (they throw it right on, no husk), squirtss of mayo, green and red hot sauce. Mayo works the same reason butter does. But it's mayonnaise. Really, really good.
posted by oneironaut at 7:27 AM on June 30, 2010


I've had elote where they grilled the corn, spread on the mayo, then rolled it in parmesan cheese. I enjoyed it until my heart stopped.
posted by electroboy at 8:37 AM on June 30, 2010


Would I be willing to spend $5 a month for this kind of thing: yes.
Is there somewhere else on the net I can find the equal of this for free? Not easily.
posted by cogneuro at 9:28 AM on June 30, 2010


I've had elote where they grilled the corn, spread on the mayo, then rolled it in parmesan cheese. I enjoyed it until my heart stopped.

Parm will do in a pinch, but cotija is traditional. And a dusting of chile powder, por favor.
posted by desuetude at 12:50 PM on June 30, 2010


I came across the 1969 of this brochure last week here.

Nice. But I still like the 1940 cover photo better, with the 1940s clothing, I mean, how long has it been since you saw so many people wearing hats? And oh those cars parked on the hill, all the way to the horizon. That picture really says LARGE quantity barbeque. But the 1969 version, it only has 13 people illustrated on the cover (I counted) and the 1940 version must have hundreds.

Well anyway, I am dying to do this barbeque pit someday. I don't see how I'd ever have the occasion to do it, the largest barbeque I ever attended was just one whole roast pig. The crude trailers with a portable grill made from some oil drums or the like, seem to have taken over this niche.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:11 PM on June 30, 2010


A lot of people are saying Bittman's recipes are simplistic and basicaly meant for people learning to cook. Now I'm worried - whenever I try to make something from "How to cook everything", I leave out several ingredients because there's too many of them and my brain. can't. compute. Does that mean that Joy of Cooking will seem like quantum physics to me?
posted by gakiko at 11:36 PM on June 30, 2010


No, if you can cook Bittman recipes, the Joy should be fine.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:50 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


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