Blog Posts by Mark Bittman

  • Mark Bittman on Shine: Flatbread Pizza with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic

    By Alaina Sullivan

    There is nothing quite like a fresh fig. It's delicate and sweet, with dark, chewy skin encasing a pulpy flesh that swims with tiny seeds. Fresh figs are best with simple, bold flavor pairings, and using them as a pizza topping is a genius way to savor the last of the season's crop. Here, fig crescents are spread across a flatbread crust and baked at high heat until their flesh oozes out, warm and sweet. Dabs of creamy goat cheese melt alongside, the tang a pretty perfect complement to the figs. A splash of balsamic is the final touch. Sometimes only something this simple can be so insanely delicious. Recipe from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express.

    Flatbread Pizza with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic

    Slice a couple of handfuls of figs into quarters. Brush olive oil on lavash or other flatbread and dot generously with goat cheese; spread the figs evenly on top of the cheese. Bake in a 450 degree oven until the cheese melts and the figs soften. Drizzle with a tiny bit of

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  • Mark Bittman: Vegetable Pancakes

    A surefire way to get anyone to eat any vegetable, these crisp babies are delicious as a side dish, alone as an appetizer, or served on a bed of greens as lunch. Root vegetables are most common, but you can use whatever looks good to you, alone or in combination: zucchini, yellow squash, winter squash, corn, or chopped scallions; even spinach or chard is good (just cook it, squeeze it dry, and chop it first). And consider tossing in a tablespoon of fresh herbs or spices. Sweet potato and corn benefit from a bit of cilantro, zucchini comes to life with dill, and ginger or cardamom will warm up winter squash beautifully. From Food Matters

    Vegetable Pancakes

    Makes: 4 servings
    Time: At least 30 minutes

    About 1 1/2 pounds grated vegetables, peeled first if necessary (3 cups packed), and squeezed dry
    1/2 small onion, grated; or 4 scallions
    1 egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
    1/4 cup white or whole wheat flour, more or less
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Olive or vegetable oil

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  • Mark Bittman: Grilled or Broiled Scallops with Basil Stuffing

    One of my all-time favorite recipes. Even though it's super-easy to split and fill scallops, the results are guaranteed to impress.From How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition)

    Grilled or Broiled Scallops with Basil Stuffing

    Makes: 4 servings
    Time: 30 minutes

    1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
    1 clove garlic, peeled
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    About 1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops
    Lemon wedges for serving

    1. Mince the basil, garlic, salt, and pepper together until very fine, almost a purée (a food processor won't really help you much here). Mix in a small bowl or cup with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

    2. Make a deep horizontal slit in the side of each scallop, but don't cut all the way through. Fill each scallop with about 1/2 teaspoon of the basil mixture; close. Pour the remaining oil onto a plate or pan and turn the scallops in it. Let them sit while you heat a charcoal or gas

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  • Mark Bittman on Shine: Easy Paella with Chorizo, Clams, and Peas

    by Freya Bellin

    Certain dishes intimidate me, and paella has always been one of them. It has a level of authenticity about it that makes it rather daunting to try to replicate. However, if you let go of the need to make it perfectly traditional, it turns out to be pretty easy to make delicious paella at home.

    I was surprised to find that the recipe calls for neither pimentón nor saffron, both of which I associate with paella. I considered adding a dash of one or the other anyway, but the recipe is right; the dish definitely doesn't need the extra flavor. The chorizo has a spicy smokiness that pervades the whole dish. Make sure you use the type of chorizo that comes wrapped like salami or a hot dog because you need to be able to dice it. The more sausage-like chorizo will crumble when you cut through the casing. Instead of fresh tomatoes, which are hard to find this time of year, I substituted 1 cup of canned diced tomatoes, and then used the juice from the canned tomatoes instead of 1 of

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  • Mark Bittman's Corn Chowder with Cheddar

    By Meghan Gourley

    Ubiquitous as it is, it's easy to forget the subtle side of corn. Chowder-here with cheddar and scallions-reminds us that summer's favorite crop is versatile. The key to this chowder is finding the freshest summer corn you can, and shaving it off the cob like a pro: spare nothing. Get as close to the cob with the blade of your knife as you can. Work slowly and carefully, and don't waste anything-the meatiness of the kernels is what makes this soup so hearty. From How to Cook Everything: The Basics

    Corn Chowder with Cheddar

    Time: About 1 ¼ hours

    Makes: 4 servings

    6 ears fresh corn

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

    2 scallions, white and green parts separated and chopped

    1/2 teaspoon sugar

    1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    1 cup grated cheddar cheese

    3 cups whole milk, or more as needed

    1. Shuck the corn, remove the silk, and cut off the stem end so the cob has a flat surface. Then stand each ear up on a cutting board and scrape off the

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  • Mark Bittman: Scrambled Tofu

    In this hearty morning scramble, tofu takes the place of eggs. Since tofu is undeniably bland, it’s important to ramp up the seasonings a bit. I like to use spinach, but any leafy greens will work. Other options: sliced mushrooms, leeks, cabbage, and asparagus; chopped broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini; or grated winter squash and root vegetables. This scramble makes an ideal lunch, too.

    Makes: 4 servings
    Time: 20 minutes

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 large onion
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic, or more to taste
    1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
    Black pepper to taste
    1 tablespoon red chile flakes, or 1 or 2 fresh hot red chiles (like Serrano or Thai), minced
    1 ½ pounds fresh spinach, trimmed and rinsed well
    1 ½ pounds firm or silken tofu, drained and patted dry

    1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

    2. Add the chiles and cook,

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  • Mark Bittman: Plum Chicken Salad

    Firm plums are perfect here, but chicken tastes good with almost any fruit, so you might try peaches, apples, pears, berries, or even tropical fruit. You can vary the nuts too - check out the variation. From The Food Matters Cookbook.

    Plum Chicken Salad

    Makes 4 servings

    Time: 30 minutes
    with leftover cooked chicken
    About 8 ounces fresh plums, pitted and thinly sliced

    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

    3/4 cup chopped almonds

    Salt and black pepper

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried

    1/4 cup olive oil

    2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

    1/2 red onion, chopped

    8 ounces roasted or grilled boneless, skinless chicken, chopped or shredded (about 2 cups)

    6 cups mixed greens (like mesclun), torn into bite-size pieces

    1. Toss the plums with the vinegar in a large salad bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

    2. Meanwhile, put the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan frequently, until they are aromatic and beginning to

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  • Mark Bittman: Seared Scallops with Romaine

    By Alaina Sullivan

    When it comes to preparing scallops, less is often more: Salt, pepper and a quick butter sear is all it takes. Allow each side to caramelize for just a few minutes in a hot skillet - any longer and you run the risk of the scallops turning rubbery. Simple garnishes -- a kiss of lemon juice and fresh parsley -- add the perfect amount of brightness without overpowering the mild flavor of the scallops. Greens make a reliable companion, too. Here, the fresh crunch of romaine brings balance to the scallops' soft flesh. Grilling the romaine adds even more character to the dish - its smoky flavor is an excellent foil to the sweet, buttery scallops. Recipe from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express.

    Seared Scallops with Romaine*

    Season scallops with salt and pepper; then sear the scallops for a few minutes in butter, turning once, until just browned on both sides. Drizzle a bunch of romaine lettuce with some olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the

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  • Mark Bittman: Cold Noodles with Peanut or Sesame Sauce

    A crowd-pleaser and an easy main course on a hot day. The cucumber adds nice crunch and freshness to what is otherwise a pretty dense dish. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

    Makes: 2 main-course or 4 side-dish or appetizer servings

    Time: 30 minutes

    1 medium or 2 small cucumbers (optional)
    12 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles or long pasta, like linguine
    2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
    1/2 cup tahini, peanut butter, or a combination
    2 tablespoons sugar
    3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
    1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (optional)
    1 tablespoon rice or white wine or other vinegar
    Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
    At least 1/2 cup chopped scallion for garnish

    Note: To make it more substantial, add 1/2 cup or so of small tofu cubes or cooked soybeans. Or top each serving with a few slices of grilled, roasted, or poached chicken.

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Peel the cucumbers if you're using them, cut them in

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  • Mark Bittman: Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kebabs

    photo by Freya Bellinphoto by Freya BellinIt seems like everyone has his or her own guacamole secret. I can always be counted on to use a lot of garlic, a little jalapeno, cilantro, and lime. But it's always fun to add something new here and there, and this guacamole is in fact loaded with extras. I was pleasantly surprised by the unusual addition of shredded lettuce. It adds heft, almost like a guacamole salad, and cuts some of the richness of the avocado. Most importantly, it makes an excellent base for these kebabs, which are very easy to prepare. The simple marinade gives the chicken and veggies a nice kick, and the grill adds that signature smokiness. I made a little extra marinade and put some all-veggie kebabs on the grill, too. Mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini are all great for grilling, in addition to the veggies in this recipe; really, anything goes. Try adding pineapple or other fruits for a sweet variation.

    Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

    Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kebabs

    Makes: 4 servings

    Time: About 45

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