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Friday, August 19, 2005 

Happy Chef Blogging Friday!

Meet the Minimalist...Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman is a highly regarded food journalist, cookbook author and culinary aficionado who tries to help his audience simply prepare good food. His regular column, "
The Minimalist," runs weekly in the Food section of The New York Times and he has written articles for magazines and newspapers including The New York Times Magazine, Eating Well, Food & Wine, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living, Self, American Health, and Cook's Illustrated, where he was executive editor. He has also made many broadcast appearances, including feature interviews on CNN, The Food Network, QVC, NPR and Lifetime Television. His new television series on PBS, "How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs," began this spring(www.howtocookeverything.tv).

He's written a number of
great cookbooks. The Minimalist Cooks at Home. The Minimalist Entertains. The Minimalist Cooks Dinner. Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication (with Jean-Georges Vongerichten) and the one I refer to all the time, How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food.

And, surprisingly, he never "trained" as a chef.

Despite his evangelical passion, Bittman is not a classically trained chef. "I've never trained, but I can't say that anymore. I've never formally trained. I've never worked in a restaurant. That's true. But I just did two books with Jean-Georges Vongerichten..." "So in a way I've trained with the best.

A series of unrelated jobs -- from cab driver to radical community organizer -- saw Bittman move from New York to Massachusetts and back again, with the only connecting thread in his life being the food he increasingly enjoyed preparing. He did not, however, aspire to chefdom. "I wanted to write." And not about food. "What I really wanted to write about was politics because, after all, I knew how to fix everything. But, for some reason, no one wanted to listen to me."

A stint of stringing for various newspapers and magazines saw him covering everything from politics and labor to home repairs and the death of nuclear reactors. While Bittman was earning his bread -- as it were -- as a writer, he didn't feel he'd really found his niche. That changed when he started writing about food. "It was all sort of an immediate success. It worked. The column in The New York Times was suggested to me, but I'd been writing for 20 years by then." - from
January Magazine

Listen to his interview on NPR regarding BBQ.

CRACKERS

Crackers are ridiculously easy to make, and once you produce your first batch you'll have little trouble figuring out how to create your favorites. Sprinkle them with salt, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds; work a tiny bitof garlic or herbs into the dough; or substitute whole wheat or rye flour for some or all of the white flour.

Yield: about 4 servings

1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
About 1/4 cup water, plus more as need


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the flour, salt, and butter together in a large bowl or in the container of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend with a fork or pulse, until the flour and butter are combined. Add about 1/4 cup of water and blend, then continue to add water until the mixture holds together but is not sticky.
3. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick, or even less. Don't worry about overhandling-add flour as needed, and keep rolling. Score lightly with a sharp knife or razor if you want to break these into nice squares or rectangles later on. Bake on a lightly floured baking sheet, or directly on baking stones, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature , or store in a tin.


From How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

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