Tag Archives: Mark Bittman

Pick Packlin’

7 Sep

My best friend Riley, a fervent pickle-lover would be proud. I finally made pickles from scratch! It hadn’t even occurred to me before… probably because I’m pretty pickle-ambivalent. I like a nice tart, crunchy, and fresh pickle, but most often the pickles I run across across are unimpressive. And floppy. Gross. But these little puppies are crunchy with just a little yield, salty and garlicky and satisfying. They were easy to make, too (c/o Mark Bittman, as per usual). No vinegar, no canning, no  trouble at all, actually. Well, your kitchen is gonna smell like one big pickle for a few days, but I kinda like that.


Kosher Pickles (Adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman)

I changed the quantities a bit, but it’s essentially the same recipe. This makes a whoooole lotta pickles.

-4 lbs pickling cucumbers
-20 cloves garlic, smashed
-an entire bunch of fresh dill, preferably with flowers still on it
-3/4 cup kosher salt
-2 cups boiling water

Scrub the cucumbers well and slice them in halves or quarters (or keep them whole if they’re small enough for you). Add the salt and boiling water together in a bowl, mix to dissolve, then add a handful or two of ice to cool the mixture down. In two large bowls divide the dill, garlic cloves, and cucumbers. Pour half the saltwater in one bowl and the other half in the other. Add enough water to each bowl to cover the ingredients. With a plate that fits inside each bowl, cover the pickle mixture and weight it down. The goal is to completely submerge the cucumbers, but not to overflow the bowls. We used a pie tin in one and a medium size plate in the other, weighted down with a couple rocks and some containers of water.

After four or five hours we drained some of the saltwater out of the bowls and replaced it with tap water, which is necessary since our pickles were getting REALZ SALTY. Like, way too salty. But we let them sit overnight with their new fresh water (making sure to keep the dill and garlic in with the cucumbers) and revisited them the next afternoon.


Store the pickles with their brine (straining out the dill but keeping the garlic) in jars or tupperware. Easy. Crunchy. Salty. GOOD.

Tomato Jam, or, How I Became a Hypocrite & Hopped On The Food Trend Train

1 Jun

There are a few things I can’t stand:

French pedicures.
Small dogs that shake all the time.
Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” (in which he literally says “I know” TWENTY SIX TIMES IN A ROW. OH. MY. GOD.)
Incorrect apostrophe usage.
And of course, food trends.

There are more, obviously, because I am a Human Who Loves to Grumble, but I’ll stop there because that’s what we’re on about. I’ve previously mentioned how irritating I find food trends, though I can’t figure out how to link it back so I’ll sum it up for you here: I don’t like food trends because I probably already know what I feel like eating, and it’s not a cake pop, so please drop it already. Popular food trends just irritate me, probably because I’m somewhat lazy, fairly uppity, and pretty self-righteous, but maybe a liiiiiittle part of me is justified? Right? Because food trends make otherwise food-ambivilent people feel all gourmand-y just because they tried ramen and liked it! Well duh, it’s delicious! Start caring about food a little more, you indolent masses! Christ!

But now I will crawl off my soapbox because this post is all about how I’m a big ol’ hypocrite.


The other day at work we were a little slow, so I went across the street to the fruit and vegetable market, bought 2 pounds of roma tomatoes and set out to make the insanely popular tomato jam I’ve been reading about on every blog, cooking magazine headline, and trendy menu for awhile now. It’s been floating around for years, but I recently noticed it EVERYWHERE. I kind of wanted to hate it. But I didn’t. It was amazing. I was wrong! I’m sorry, universe! I followed Mark Bittman’s recipe because he is always right (I found his recipe on The Wednesday Chef), so much so that I’m fairly sure he’s related to the Dalai Lama. Here’s his recipe, from the NY Times:

1 1/2 pounds good ripe Roma tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste.


1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week.

Yield: About 1 pint.

I first ran a special with the jam, bacon, a mixed greens on sourdough, which people seemed to really like. I couldn’t get enough of it at work so I came home and did the whole damn thing over again for myself. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s a great flavor combo that brings a hint of sweetness to savory dishes– it’s so versatile!

I was a sucker for the little bit of spice from the ginger and chili flakes. It goes with everything- I had it with eggs and toast for breakfast, with herbed goat cheese and salami on baguettes for a potluck, and on grilled chicken for dinner. Not all in a row, because that would be overkill, but still.

A little goes a long way with this stuff, too, so I still have leftovers (which included dinner for 6 and that potluck, so I was using lots). If I were into canning, this would be a good candidate, but since I am not at all motivated to go down that road, I’d suggest just halving the recipe if you’re concerned that you can’t use it up before it goes. So I guess I’ve got to officially stop knocking food trends… ’cause it looks like this mainstream food fad is actually pretty legit. But I swear to god, if cakepops don’t disappear from Pinterest soon I’m writing a letter to Al Gore to inform him that the internet is ruining food.

Pablo, my other love

29 Jan

Despite the glorious convenience of online food resources, I really can’t live without my cookbook collection. Obviously I love checking out the daily food porn on foodgawker and scoping out everyone else’s food blogs, and I definitely use google searches for recipes in a pinch. But something about flipping through the pages and tangibly identifying ingredients I have on hand rather than bumbling through an online idea of a page is much more accommodating to my meager little brain. So for the most part, cookbooks it is.

If you’ve read anything on here it is immediately apparent that I am totally obsessed with How to Cook Everything. Well, maybe obsessed isn’t the right word. If How to Cook Everything were a man, it would be that reliable, sensible, never-fails-you but a little on the traditional side of things kind a guy. I want to marry How to Cook Everything. But recently I stumbled upon the Bon Appetit cookbook at the Goodwill and purchased it, read some recipes, and immediately developed an unbridled crush on it. If I’m already married to one cookbook, surely my interest in the more exotic, adventurous cookbook is cheating. It’s lacking in some basic I-Need-You departments, but it has all the flair of a TGI Friday’s employee vest. Well, minus the tackiness. Plus the dazzle-you factor. Sorry, I just got home from a long and crazy night working at the bar and now I feel a little punch drunk. But seriously, the vest analogy makes sense, right? I thought so. The Bon Appetit book just has that little umph that I’ve been wanting THIS WHOLE TIME that I’ve been with How to Cook Everything!

Well, my BF4E (wow!) came over before work and I made her and C dinner from the Bon Appetit book; basil and goat cheese stuffed chicken. I don’t know if it was because I was listening to Riley (and in the background, C watching “Willow” [!?!?]) or because I always fail to read instructions thoroughly, but in classic uh-oh-sally form I realized AFTER I had finished assembling the damn things that I had done it ALL WRONG. I was like, “oh, la, la… mixing all the things together to mash onto the chicken, then roll it up, bake it, voila, time to talk about GIRLY STUFF!” but then realized that no, these creations were distinctly of the not-impressing-your-guest variety and now it was TOO LATE. I guess the egg and breadcrumbs and butter and what have you were supposed to act as a coating before you tied the little suckers up in kitchen/camping (whatever’s on hand, man!) twine, but now all that junk was smeared onto a nearly-flattened chicken breast, rolled, and tied in three places and there’s NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT! But what would you know, I made some mushroom-wine reduction with an absolutely ludicrous amount of butter, served the chicken medallions over rice and even garnished the dish, and it was good. No, it was fucking good. So there. Turns out you didn’t even need the recipe from your exotic, foreign boyfriend on the side cookbook ANYWAY. You got this alllll figured out.

Jealous of my own creation

16 Sep

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but seriously. This cake… whoa. This cake has built an empire in my imagination because I didn’t eat ANY OF IT. So I can only imagine how lovely it was. And as long as we’re forced to imagine it’s greatness, I might as well assume it was the best. Thing. Ever.

My pal at work asked me to bake a cake for our friend’s lowkey surprise birthday gathering, so even though I had plans to galavant around San Juan Island, I agreed to make it anyhow. I almost got really lazy and thought, “I’m not even going to be there…and no one will even notice if I buy the mix!” But honestly THAT’S NEVER TRUE and I wasn’t doing much that day besides watching Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares on netflix, so… it’s not like I was swamped or anything. As usual I turned to Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, because it is my bible and I trust every word it says. Some serious pan flouring, egg white whipping, and chocolate melting later, here we were.


The only problem was that I had to drop off the cake in the morning since I was leaving for the island in the afternoon, and by 10 am the strawberries were all I’M TIRRRRRED and plopping off the cake left and right. Refrigerating it seemed to make it worse, but luckily C thought of toothpicks (toothpicks? Really, I couldn’t have thought of that? STUPID.) to hold the berries in place until the evening. Everywhere the strawberries fell they left a trail of gooey chocolatey slime, which actually tasted amazing but was hell to look at… nothing some paper towel couldn’t take care of. Realistically this cake was probably “good!” but I’m going to go ahead and assume that everyone’s reaction upon taking the first bites of my cake were, “HOLY BALLS I NEVER TASTED ANYTHING SO MAGICAL IN MY LIIIIIIFE!” Here’s hopin’.

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