7.03.2014

in the kitchen: minimalist summer cooking

one of my favorite simple meals ever – in Tuscany.

continuing with the theme of summer simplification, i wanted to share this brilliant list of 101 easy recipes by Mark Bittman. it was published back in 2007 in Bittman's now-retired The Minimalist column, but if recipes can be timeless, these are it.

some of my favorites:
1 Make six-minute eggs: simmer gently, run under cold water until cool, then peel. Serve over steamed asparagus. 
12 Boil a lobster. Serve with lemon or melted butter. 
14 Put a few slices of chopped prosciutto in a skillet with olive oil, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a bit of butter; a minute later, toss in about half a cup bread crumbs and red chili flakes to taste. Serve over pasta with chopped parsley.  
72 World’s leading sandwich: prosciutto, tomato, butter or olive oil and a baguette.

it's funny, but i think i approach food much in the same way as i do with style: i like working with the essentials, and prefer simplicity over complex, obscure ingredient-lists and techniques. that's probably why one of my favorite recipes of all time is Marcella Hazan's 3-ingredient marinara sauce, and i have all of Mark Bittman's cookbooks. (How to Cook Everything pretty much taught me how to cook like a grownup.)

what's in your kitchen in the summer? what kinds of foods / recipes do you crave this time of year?

11 comments:

  1. My current favorite is a Giada recipe: salmon, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, onions, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil baked in foil for 25 minutes. Delicious, quick, and easy, it's one of my favorite things to make. Depending on your knife skills, you can have a delicious meal from start to finish within half an hour. I take forever with an onion, so it takes me a bit longer than that.

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    1. some of my fave recipes are Giada's! she gets some flak but i've always thought that her cooking skills are quite excellent. :)

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  2. I think the queen of minimalist, hearty cooking is Nigella Lawson. That's how she crams like 5 recipes into a 1/2 hour show. I've been getting into her Sicilian smoked mackerel pasta recipe lately, sometimes substituting mackerel for any kind of smoked fish I can find e.g. herring or sardines. I find Bittman's recipes a bit bland sometimes, at least the ones I've tried always needed something extra added to it.

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    1. love Nigella!

      i think MB really excels at making the fundamentals of cooking good food accessible to people who have budget constraints and maybe are intimidated by more 'gourmet' methods/ingredients. tweaking a recipe here and there to taste isn't a bad thing either.i think it helps encourage next level of experimenting / cooking more spontaneously.

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  3. My current summer cooking style is to basically live off recipes in this book, which I very fortuitously stumbled across in a bookshop while looking for a completely different book:
    http://www.arthurstreetkitchen.com/cookbook/
    I'm cooking my way through the book and every single thing I've made so far has been utterly lovely and amazing. One of the recipes by the book's author (but which is not in the book) is available here:
    http://theplanthunter.com.au/harvest/black-eye-peas/
    All the recipes are like that - nothing too complicated, just a bunch of good quality ingredients and excellent flavour combinations. I will probably spend the rest of the summer systematically working my way through that book, then when the cooler weather kicks in, I'll have to start hoping I can find a soup recipe book that's on the same sort of level, haha.

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    1. thanks for the cookbook rec! yes to simple, good, unpretentious food :)

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  4. Ever since the 1st grade I had to pack my own lunches and make my own dinners. So I've never grown out of my own childlike tastes. The only thing that actually motivates me to cook is potlucks @ work.

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  5. What a coincidence! Since I'm off teaching for the summer, one of my summer self-improvement goals was to cook a lot more at home so that I wouldn't be tempted to go out and eat. I've been working my way through a French Women Don't Get Fat cookbook, and despite the title, it's really just simple, French-influenced recipes that lean heavily on good ingredients for flavor, and for the most part cook up quick. I'm having a lot of fun, and thanks for the recommendation re: the Bittman site - will have to check out.

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    1. indeed - just getting into the kitchen makes a huge difference :)

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  6. I need recipes that don't require too much oven or stovetop time, so that means salads, soba noodles, and sandwiches. I don't mind bland food because I throw hot sauce on everything.

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    1. ha! the srihacha sauce is never too far from our dining table...

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