Friday, January 9, 2009

Sage Advice

Mark Bittman, AKA The Minimalist, had an excellent article in Wednesday's New York Times advising cooks on how to spruce up their pantry in the midst of winter.

I agree with most of his recommendations, particularly on stock, which I only recently began making. But I have to dissent on the dried basil. In winter, "fresh" basil usually has no aroma or flavor and the consistency of a four leaf clover pressed into a book long ago and forgotten. I routinely use dried for marinara sauce with good results. Yes, it's not as flavorful as fresh, but it's still better than the dessicated product available in mid-winter produce sections.

Bittman is the author of one of my favorite cookbooks, "How to Cook Everything." A volume hefty enough to hold a door open in a hurricane, it does indeed tell you how to cook everything. I've used its recipes for everything from roasted potatoes to bread pudding (an especially good one) to hot chocolate (also especially good).

I love not only Bittman's recipes, but his no nonsense approach, which, as you can guess from his minimalist moniker, is keeping it simple. As my cooking has evolved (or devolved, depending on whom you ask), I've become a bigger and bigger believer in simplicity. Yes, The New Basics Cookbook was fun in the 1990s, but who really has the time to cook a recipe with a score of ingredients requiring trips to specialty stores for candied, preserved lemon skins, armadillo livers and a specific 1984 vintage Riesling wine. Keep it simple.

Here is a link to Bittman's blog.

1 comment:

  1. Besides, those armadillo livers are bad for your cholesterol. ;)