Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I am an unabashed Mark Bittman groupie- his Minimalist column was my first cooking lesson, and I have way, way too many of his books and plenty of his columns clipped and spattered in my recipe file. So I did not think I needed his latest, Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times. But the Good Cook had its 4 cookbooks for a dollar deal, and I was way more excited about the Lee Brothers and Nancy Silverton and Annabel Karmel... but the Bittman, the familiar old Bittman, turned out to be the mainstay.

Oh, was I wrong. It has all of my all time favorite Bittman recipes- stir fry chicken with nuts, cucumber and scallop salad, slow cooked short ribs, potato gratin with cod, and a takeoff on spaghetti carbonara with zucchini. Which, granted, I had in various clippings and books already, but this makes things easier. But it also has a ton of recipes I missed and tips I am all about- like how to cook a steak on your cast iron skillet without smoking up the whole house, and how to make a roast rack of lamb with extra crispy bits. And the recipes I missed! There is a beef with caramel sauce and onions that will completely change everything you think about pot roast. There is a crispy pork shoulder that is DEFINITELY MY ALL TIME FAVORITE pork recipe of ALL TIME. It was so tender and unreal and I know I tend to get hyperbolic when pork is involved in general but this time I mean it. This pork was like butter.

We used this cookbook nearly exclusively for six weeks, and I don't feel like I am halfway done. (I guess 6 weeks is not enough time to try 175 recipes.) You only need one Bittman book, and this is it.