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*April 2010 COTM, Bittman: Fruits and Vegetables

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April's Cookbook of the Month is How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman.

Please use this thread for reports on the following chapters:

1998 ed.: Vegetables; Fruits

2008 ed.: Vegetables and Fruit

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Since the first edition, Bittman has published "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian," another big book, and as you might expect, the chapter on vegetables and fruit in "How to Cook Everything" now comes earlier - before the meats rather than after them - and is nearly twice as long, 172 pages vs. 90. For Americans who have never been big on eating their vegetables, this is not just a reorganization but a fundamental change in approach.

    And there's even more in the new chapter than the page count shows. In the first edition, for example, there are two ways to cook green peas. In the 2nd, Anything-Scented Peas lists 12 variations on the basic recipe, ranging from specific herbs and spices to fermented black beans, miso, and even minced flowers.

    Peas are easy, Brussels sprouts a hard sell. The 1st edition tells how to simmer sprouts and then sauté them in butter and garlic, then Bittman drops the subject. In the 2nd edition there are Braised and Glazed Brussels Sprouts, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (a real winner) plus two variations, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, and Creamed Brussels Sprouts, Twpo Ways.

    I haven't checked thoroughly but I believe Bittman has thrown out his treatment of vegetables and fruit from the 1st edition and created a wholly new chapter, reduced from "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian." For those who don't have that book - and I recommend it - the revised version will appear entirely new.

    2 Replies
    1. re: armagnac

      Armagnac, I don't understand exactly which recipe you made that you're reporting on. Can you clarify, and tell us which page of which edition so we can find it? Also, you've summarized the other chapters as well without telling us which recipes you made.

      1. re: Gio

        This thread opened with the request, "Please use this thread for reports on the following chapters." That's what I am doing, reporting on the chapters (more than on individual recipes) to clarify the differences between the two editions. From comments and questions in the previous thread about the book as a whole, this seems a more informative, helpful, even important thing to do than picking out a few recipes that I've personally liked. Though I've mentioned some of these as well.

        Page references are useless unless you have the book, and if you do, you can easily look up the recipe names in the index. But I'm happy to provide them, since you ask.

        Anything-Scented Peas: pp 329-30
        Braised and Glazed Brussels Sprouts: pp 270-1
        Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: p 271
        Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic: pp 271-2
        Creamed Brussels Sprouts, Two Ways: p 272

    2. Roasted Cauliflower with Roasted Red Peppers and Balsamic Vinegar. 2008 Edition, page 280

      I made this dish to go along with the Roasted Shrimp in Herb Sauce, which I duly reported in the fish thread. Again, this is really easy to make and simple on the ingredients. It calls merely for cauliflower, salt, pepper, roasted red peppers and balsamic vinegar. Toasted pine nuts are called for as a garnish, but I skipped that. Basically, one roasts the oil drizzled cauliflower for 15 minutes (at 400 degrees) then you stir and add chopped roasted red peppers. I figured why roast the peppers separately so I just used fresh red bell pepper and added it in at the beginning. No harm done, and extra fiber since they were skin-on. Bittman calls for a total roasting time of 25 minutes, but mine took about 15 minutes longer to get the cauliflower tender. When it's out of the oven, you drizzle it with the balsamic. And, as is usually the case with roasted cauliflower, it came out deliciously. The peppers were like candy. Lots of reward for very little effort.

      1. Beet Rösti with Rosemary, 2008 edition, p. 264

        I will definitely make this one again, especially since I want to do it better the second time.

        Paraphrase: Peel & shred 1 1/2 lbs raw beets, mix with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp chopped rosemary, and 1/4 c flour. Brown 2 tbsp butter in a nonstick skillet. Press beet mixture into pan, cook until bottom is nicely browned, flip (using 2 plates), and brown other side. Cut into wedges. Serves 4.

        I had a serving of this for my main, and was pretty full! If you're serving it as a side dish, I'd say it serves more like 6-8. I should note, though, that I weighed my beets after trimming and peeling, so I probably had a few more ounces than called for.

        He says to heat the skillet on medium to brown the butter, then adjust the heat so the cake sizzles without burning. I turned it down too much, so it didn't brown enough on the first side. The browned parts are delicious, so it's worth getting the heat right.

        I used golden beets, thinking the color would be gorgeous. But they lost their vibrancy and turned a dull greenish yellow when cooked, so I'll just use red beets in the future.

        However, I plan to sub something for the rosemary next time. I know, I know, it's what he feels makes the dish. But I wasn't crazy about that combination. There's a certain flavor that beets get if they're getting over mature, hard to describe, sort of soapy bitter. Mine were just on the edge, and the rosemary seemed to play to that same flavor. If you're not growing your own, this may not be an issue for you. But I'll make it with tarragon next time, because I love the combination of tarragon & beets. Frankly, I think you could sub any herb or spice you liked for the rosemary, or even use just S & P, and it would be delicious. Top with a little yogurt or hummus, yum.

        1. Has anyone tried the "watermelon steaks"? It sounds totally wacky, but I love other grilled fruits, so I'll give it a try someday. (But not until August, when cheap watermelon is readily available.)