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Bittman ending his "MInimalist" column in the new york times


What I found nice was his list of some of his favorite recipes over the last decade +. I'm gonna try the eggplant curry soon-


He will still be writing for the times, particularly for the Sunday magazine.

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  1. I a not a fan of his nor of his recipes which tend to veer from minimalist to bland without a backward glance to tasty. I have relocated his "How to Cook Everything" from valuable kitchen real estate to a little-used upstairs bookcase preparatory to donating it to my son's school's used book sale. Bye, bye Bittman!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: roxlet

      I can't say I warmed to Bittman, either.

      I already knew how to cook enough things when his first (yellow) book came out, so I didn't buy it until 2009. At that time, I mainly wanted to know more about cooking fish, and other than his main piece of advice -- BUY GOOD FISH -- I found him somewhat lackluster. Perhaps a good quality in a minimalist, but not a very interesting read. I subsequently found I already had enough info in my books by Giuliano, Marcella, and Julia.

      I bought a couple of non-stick pans, something I hadn't had in decades, which The Minimalist recommend as the best things in which to fry fish. But he wants you to turn the heat up to a temperature at which the non-stick coating might release toxins, so I kind of abandoned him, his pans, his first cookbook, and his "Fish" cookbook. (In fact, if anyone wants all of these at a not very high price, find my e-mail address on my profile.)

    2. <"One goal has always been to demonstrate that few recipes are dogma; they can all be tweaked. And learning to tweak is part of becoming a cook. (One of the most gratifying comments I get from people who use my recipes is that they’re easy to change.)">

      I'm not exactly a Bittman fan either, to me his recipes are hit or miss. However, I have made a few recipes that are quite tasty and continue to please. His savory bread pudding, for one, which I use instead of poultry stuffing/dressing. I've always approached his recipes knowing they need to "tweaked", as he says. That works.

      1. I couldn't believe the timing. Just started a hard copy subscription to the Times so I would stay off the internet and was looking forward to the food issue with Bittman. Back to the drawing board!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Berheenia

          He's going to have a column in the magazine, so you'll still get him with your subscription. Just on Sundays not Wednesdays.
          I am a Bittman fan and I've made lots of recipes from the column. I will go back and take a look at some of the favorites he listed.

          1. re: NYCkaren

            I only get the Times Mon- Fri. We're in Boston and the Sunday Globe is more than enough for me to get through.

        2. Today's NYT article is an absolute must read for Bittman fans, which I am. The books are too rudimentary and simplified for many of my friends here on the Home Cooking board, but they are still miles ahead of other popular EZ Cooking styles I can think of...but let's not go there. The Minimalist column suggested and popularized many great ways to *be* in the kitchen, even for experienced cooks.

          He addresses *robbing recipes of their souls* (or not): "To me the question was not, “Would I cook this as a native would?” but rather, “How would a native cook this if he had my ingredients, my kitchen, my background?” It’s obviously a different dish."

          "I’m lazy, I’m rushed, and I’m not all that skillful, and many people share those qualities."
          I never thought of it this way before, but I guess he's the sophisticated person's Rachel Ray. (I can't stand RR, but I guess it's the same thing -- quick, delicious, homemade.) The big bonus is, Bittman has displayed a growing consciousness about food politics that I appreciate.

          1. I always liked the Minimalist column and will miss it. I have found some of his books too basic (How to Cook Everything) but I have pulled some great recipes from "Best Recipes in the World." While I only adapted a few recipes from his column into my repertoire, it gave me much inspiration for many of meals.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mels

              Exactly, mels. I'm finding the Guardian/Ottolenghi column to fill the same function:

            2. I thought the exist article was tasteful, reflective and a terrific nod to the people Mark worked beside. I can't blame someone for moving on to new territory professionally. While I enjoyed his kitchen/home cook perspective just fine I can't say I ever followed a recipe...but concepts-absolutely. He's had a remarkable career and lucky exposure. I'd love to cook with some of the folks he has. So, kudos and good luck Mr. Bittman.

              4 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                I can't say I ever followed a recipe...but concepts-absolutely.
                that what i love about him...and it's the perfect illustration of the quote i posted from today's column.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  and your contributions to CH illustrate that belief everyday, ghg.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    wow. that is undoubtedly one of the nicest CH compliments i've ever received! thank you :)

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      hey, I calls em as I sees em. You're very welcome.

              2. I wonder what this means for the Wednesday Times food section in general. Bittman took up a lot of increasingly shrinking real estate. It will be interesting to see how they fill that space. I’ll pray for more Florence Fabricant; afraid we’ll get more Pete Dexter and Melissa Clark.

                1. I will miss his column and a big fan. I love his no nonsense approach and he is charming.
                  I cook two different ways- one is very involved, and looks of ingredients, risks, making a Sunday afternoon of it. but the second way is something easy and quick so on those nights he gave me that spark of inspiration.

                  I do look forward to reading his column in the Opinion section, his new adventure sounds promising and I will him the best.

                  1. i really enjoyed the Minimalist. in fact, as the quality of the Dining section has declined appreciably over the past few years, that was one of the only things i genuinely looked forward to reading each week.

                    there's a quote from today's piece that sums up my philosophy about cooking more succinctly and articulately than i have ever managed to:

                    "...few recipes are dogma; they can all be tweaked. And learning to tweak is part of becoming a cook."

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I actually have made this chocolate tofu pudding, altho not recently..but, it was delicious.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          what would you use as an alt? have a yummy rec?

                          1. re: HillJ

                            coconut milk or almond milk thickened with arrowroot.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              well, those both sound equally delicious.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                they are! i usually use about 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder per 4 oz "milk," and treat it the same way you would cornstarch for a slurry. whisk it with a portion of the liquid, and add the slurry to the rest of the ingredients once they're simmering.

                                i did a vanilla almond milk version topped with fig compote & almond-coconut crumb for a GF/DF cooking class, and no one could believe it was free of dairy *and* eggs - they loved it.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  ghg, could you share the almond-coconut crumb recipe? sounds so good.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    sure! i really just took the crust recipe that i use for everything from bar cookies & tarts to cheesecake, and turned it into a crumb topping. here's the basic recipe:

                                    GHG's GF ALMOND-COCONUT CRUST

                                    1 cup blanched almond flour
                                    ½ cup coconut flour
                                    2 T GF baking mix - homemade or boxed
                                    ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
                                    2 T coconut oil
                                    2 T agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
                                    ½ tsp sea salt
                                    ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
                                    *for lemon bar crust, add 1/2 teaspoon finely grated & minced lemon zest (or lime zest for lime bars) to dry ingredients
                                    *for pumpkin bars, add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to dry ingredients
                                    *use additional spices, flavorings or extracts to complement other chosen variations.

                                    Preheat oven to 325F.
                                    Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together almond milk, sweetener & vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix gently with a spoon or spatula just to distribute. Cut in coconut oil, and work the mixture through your fingers until it's well distributed and the dough pulls together into a mass (if it's too dry, add almond milk by the tablespoon to moisten).
                                    Press into a prepared pie or cake pan and bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool and fill or top as desired.

                                    To use as a crumb topping, flip over onto a sheet pan and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes until darker golden and slightly crisp. cool and break into pieces.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      thank you, I'm printing this off now and will give it a try over the weekend. I'm staring at about 4 ft. of new snow...so I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        always a pleasure, you know that :)

                                        i've been getting regular reports from my family & friends in NY/NJ about the snow...i won't tell you what it's been like here. stay warm!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          ah, too late I have family all over the Los Angeles area. So we too swap weather reports...at the moment they're winning :)

                    2. Hah, my introduction to The Minimalist is one of the recipes in his favorites list, and is a reason that I like him and his recipes: a friend's husband made the roast duck legs with aromatic vegetables, and I loved them and asked for the recipe. Since then I've converted it to do it with chicken thighs, and it's one of my favorite ways to make them. His recipes are simple, but they're building blocks, and have lead me to experiment a lot with my cooking.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Aside from using chicken thighs instead of roast duck legs, is there anything else you've done to adapt the recipe? (Curious, because I'm much more likely to try it with chicken than with duck!)

                        THank you!


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I've written down what I do -- basically the major changes that I've made are to include leeks (because adore braised leeks and love them with chicken), I add white wine in the place of some of the chicken stock. Also, I start the oven at a lower temp (350 instead of 400), and then take the lid off the pan and turn the oven up to 425 after about 40 minutes to crisp the chicken. Sometimes also take the chicken out of the pan when it's done and move the pan to the stovetop to reduce the sauce if I want it thicker. Hope that helps! It's one of my favorite things to do with chicken this time of year.

                          1. re: JasmineG

                            Thank you for these tips! My list of recipes I've been meaning to try is getting ridiculously long, but one always needs to eat, right? This certainly sounds like a great "hanging around the house in winter dish", so hopefully I'll get to try it soon.



                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              You can use drumsticks too if you like (or buy whole chicken legs and then use a combo of thighs and drumsticks), I just like thighs best.

                      2. I haven't used many of Bittman's recipes, and in recent years, haven't even bothered to read the Minimalist column regularly, but I do have a favorite from a few years back, his stovetop Chinese "roast" duck. It's a perfect combination of simple technique and flavor that yields a delicious dish (and lots of lovely rendered duck fat), so I'm thankful for his column just for that recipe. It certainly belies the idea that *all* his recipes "tend to veer from minimalist to bland without a backward glance to tasty," though I am sure that does apply to some. I use duck legs, and it is necessary to halve the brown sugar.


                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          I hadn't thought I'd been paying all that much attention over the years, but when I read his list of 25 favorites I realized I had made five of them more than once. Maybe I was just paying attention to the good stuff?

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Ooops. Realized when I went to list them that there were six. I forgot about no-knead bread.

                              Chicken Under a Brick
                              Pear, Gorgonzola and Mesclun Salad
                              Watermelon and Tomato Salad
                              Stir-Fried Lamb With Chili, Cumin and Garlic
                              No-Knead Bread

                              The pernil, by the way, I’ve made both in the States and in Guatemala where they have outstanding pork. But it’s almost impossible to buy a pork shoulder there with the skin on it. The skin is always removed at some point before it reaches the consumer and is used to make chiccarones. I had to place a special order with a special butcher days in advance. It was worth it.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                Excellent, thank you, I will mark those. I was planning to ignore the pear one (just didn't seem that earth-shattering, judging by title alone), but I will have another look now.

                                I notice that the no-knead bread and watermelon and tomato salad recipes also made it into Hesser's Essential New York Times Cookbook.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  I adore both pears and blue cheese so I've been making this in one variation or another since the combo first hit my radar. A more elegant (and fussier) recipe is the Roasted Pear Salad with Endive, Hazelnuts, and St. Agur from Sunday Suppers. That's the company version; Bittman's is the home-alone version.

                        2. I'll never forget how he desecrated a Tuscan steak with Mario Batali on PBS with a gloppy mixture of soy sauce and butter. I could never take him seriously after that.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: skshrews

                            The amount of vino consumed both on & off tape clearly played a devilish role in most of the crazy recipes the group attempted during the PBS series. It was a fun ride but hardly recipes to live by.

                            1. re: skshrews

                              i remember that episode. the point of it was to do a head-to-head cookoff, and since Batali went with a traditional preparation Bittman had to do something outlandish to make things interesting...as HillJ pointed out, that was pretty much SOP during the series. and IIRC, Bittman admitted quite readily at the end that Batali's was the clear winner, and that he should have left well enough alone. gotta respect him for that.

                            2. Mark Bittman's compilations of 101 ways to make certain things in the summer or whatever have always been great inspirations to me. I agree with the person who said that Bittman's approach was to eliminate the dogma behind recipes. In that way, he's a bit like Elizabeth David in her Italian Food and French Provincial Cooking.

                              1. When I first taught myself to cook I emulated my mothers repertoire of labor intensive multiple hours of loving effort.

                                Once I was out of college and working I found that her method was difficult for my lifestyle. The only "quick" dish she made was fish sticks to feed to us kids when my folks had a once in a blue moon night out! It was a long, slow process to get to a point where I could turn out quick, healthy and delicious on a regular basis.

                                I wish I had someone like Bittman writing a column at that point in my life! Even as a more well rounded cook I have found many of his recipes and ideas to be great starting points and inspiration.

                                1. "Want to read every single Minimalist column of all-time? Of course you do. September 17, 1997 through today. "

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Rmis32

                                    Yeah, we were talking about uses for cardamom for days on HC Board and Mark's cardamom pancake recipe were delicious. Forgot I made those too.