Tag Archives: Mark Bittman

Best hits and what may come for the Gruel: Opinions wanted

31 Dec

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Happy happy! It is a new year. Yayza. In this delightful little post I am going to recap part of vacay, make a proposal, and then recap a few favorites on this lil’ blog of mine.

I went to St. Louis for Christmas. Whilst there, with my lovely fwife Eleanor I went to the MOST awesome of places, Blood and Sand. The MOST friendly of people work there. They can deduce exactly what you MOST want to drink, even if you do not know.

I drank the two MOST fantastical drinks, along with eating some MOST delightful truffled tater tots. One of the drinks had the MOST awesome of names: “Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives”. It was so much the MOST of the most-ousitous of times. The drink consisted of Rittenhouse rye, brown sugar simple, Punt e Mes, lemon juice, allspice dram and rosé sparkling. If rye and apple pie had an alcoholic child, this would be it. I am contemplating if the different elements of the name stand for different ingredients of the drink, and if so, which. I intend to recreate this come heck or high water. Clearly high standards I have for 2014.

I want to get y’all’s opinion on something. What if I did little restaurant/bar/food reviews from time to time? I do like to get out of the house to dine, shockingly enough. Between trying new recipes for the Gruel and also for my Hello Giggles column The Book Cook, I am getting a bit stressed. And much as I love writing and food-oriented opportunities I want to keep my mind on the acting game and not get too distracted. I still would still do mostly recipes, and I have some exciting theme weeks like a “Carrot Caked” week planned, but I’d like to have the options. I’d like to try new things, maybe even recommend a wine or two from time to time. Could be fun. Why am I nervous about this? I feel like I am asking you to go on a date or something.

It’s my blog and I can do what I want, obviously, but I want to know if there are any major objections out there to the review thing. Ooh, I may not be asking you on a date but maybe I could even go on some blogger dates and tell you about them. There are some LA bloggers I’d like to meet. That would be fun for all. I think.

Okay, now a little bit of year end wrap-up. Because I can. I am going to link you up with some of your most favorite-est recipes. I’m basing popularity, or at least reader interest, on the stats of what was clicked on the most. I’d also like to round up some of MY favorite things, especially from the early days of the blog when my photography sucked even more and not many folks were reading. I could revisit the less viewed recipes and get some better shots of them. Maybe next week. The blog may be a bit more sporadic in January and February, so don’t freak out or anything. I’m still here.

Oddly enough, the recipe that got THE MOST hits this year was this one for a clear chocolate martini. Quite frankly I am a wee bit distressed by y’all’s standards. Is a clear chocolate martini really what you want? With a photo like this?:
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I am disturbed. But my hope was renewed when I saw the second most clicked upon recipe was for Mark Bittman’s Creamed Bulgur and entitled Bulgur Not Vulgar which of course means it was NOT a chaste entry. But delicious:
20131009-210958.jpgNext up was a Pumpkin Polenta Pizza I would deem to be worthy, taste-wise if not aesthetically, of a few more clicks:
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Next-most clicked upon this year, and the most clicked upon of all time is this pumpkin soup:
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It helps that the photo was pretty, I imagine. But I was proud of my recipe too.
The least popular recipe, at least as I write this, was from the long-ago waffle week. I waffled a bran cracker. Enough said.
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Pâtés for Vegs:

11 Dec

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I thought maybe the elegant butter knife would give my mushroom pâté a bit of class.

Lemme tell you. Pâté is something we should all eat, in some shape or form. Being a vegetarian I feel shame in saying this, but if you ever get your hands on some pâté de foie gras you should gobble that stuff up. Am I going to be arrested for saying that?

I ate it once. I was in a restaurant on Oahu. In my probably-wrong memory it may have had some stars. Or maybe it just had a lot of dollar bill signs beside it in the guidebook. I was twelve. We had planned the family vacation there based on the fact that my papa had a conference to go to at the Waikiki Hilton Hawaiian Village so hey, that was airfare and board for one person. My parents made the mistake of letting me do a great deal of the research on what there was to do. I voraciously devoured travel guides and made lists of what to see and where to go and most importantly…where we should eat.

I do not actually remember that much about the restaurant or the meal besides that pâté and dessert-they gave us a Diamond Head-shaped chocolate filled with chocolate truffles to take home.

We had the pâté on the table as an appetizer and I did not know what it was. I only knew it was some of the most divine stuff ever. Better than butter? Ye gods. Then I asked my mom what it was and promptly lost my desire for it when I found out it was goose liver. Then later that summer I became a vegetarian-which I had wanted to do for years, but it was a matter of being old enough to cook myself something separately from the family so my lifestyle choice wouldn’t be a pain in the butt for my mom.

I never much cared for meat in the first place, and non-leather shoes are cheaper than leather ones, so being a veg has not been hard. And just so you meat-eaters know, I don’t begrudge you your meat. I think different bodies need different things. Mine needs dairy, hence me not being vegan. It’s sort of sad. It used to be that people would be impressed by my veggie life, but now I just get “Oh, but not vegan?”. To which I emphasize that I buy cage free eggs and organic milk products as much as possible, but still…vegetarians have become the sad middle road, I guess.

Let’s get back to the pâté. I am giving you two meat-free options today, one of them even vegan. I am sure they probably don’t compare with foie gras, but they are not really trying to do that-they are impeccable in their own right. Mushrooms and eggs are two of the most perfect edible things on earth, and I stand by my pâté. Actually it is my dreamboat-cooking-crush Mark Bittman’s pâté. I stand by my man.

The egg one is considerably less chic in appearance than the mushroom I’m afraid:

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I think I just started gobbling it before it could be molded. I don’t mind if you do that too. Actually, please do that too. Go forth and gobble.

Mushroom Pâté slightly altered from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Olive oil
1/2 c. chopped shallots
4-5 baby carrots, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1 lb. white shrooms’ cleaned and roughly chopped
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 piece of bread, crumbled

Heat a skillet with a dash of oil over high heat. Add shallots, carrot, and celery and cook and stir until shallot is translucent. Sprinkle in some salt and grind in some pepper. Cool another couple minutes. Add tomato paste, then stir and cook about another ten minutes.
Turn off heat and allow to cool. Then put in your lover-that would be your sexy red Kitchen aid food processor you got for a song because it was factory refurbished.
Add crumbs and lemon. Blend until smooth, adding more bread crumbs if too thin or water if thick. It should be sturdy but spreadable. Give it a Tate and add more salt, pepper or lemon if you want.
Put in whatever mold or dish you want and chill. Find a snazzy serving knife.Yum it up.

Egg Salad Pâté adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (one yolk discarded)
3 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayo
1 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 slice bread and butter pickle, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried dill
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix it all up. Mix it good. Put in container shaped how you want it to be shaped. Or just get a fork.

Out of character

7 Nov

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I got new headshots this week. It’s one of those harrowing experiences the actor deals with on a yearly-ish basis. We are expected to be able to distill who we are in one, brilliant, eye-catching shot that will read when it appears the size of a business card on the casting directors screen. And we are supposed to get one shot that conveys all that commercially and one that says who we are in a non-smiley way. A lot of folks make the mistake of getting awesome hrs that don’t say anything about their personality. Then casting gets a surprise when the actual person walks in.

The problem is, although every actor has go-to roles-I tend to be the off-kilter smart type for example-but if you are a good actor you can play a variety of roles. Because the truth is, no one is as one-dimensional as they may seem. In the last month I played an awkward loser, an accomplished lawyer, and a controlling girlfriend. Not counting all the stuff I auditioned for. So I’ve been thinking about character.

This recipe feels out of character for my darling Mark Bittman. It feels right for a retro cookbook, like Betty Crocker, or even a French cookbook, but not for Bittman of the miso vegan before six ideas.

But perhaps I should not put my man in a box. He deserves to show us all his sides. Even if they are the frumpy 50’s food dishes. Because those can be quite palatable. Even, dare I say, delicious. Which these eggs are. I want to make a joke about my eggs here but I can’t quite figure out how and I need to run off and get into yet another character so I’ll spare you the weird sexual innuendos and get to the good stuff.

I’ll be totally honest that my instructions on white sauce are not the most nuanced. This largely has to do with the fact that I’m a white sauce hack. Feel it out. You can do it.
Eggs au Gratin adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Flour
1/2-1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1/2 cup grated Swiss
Parsley
Paprika
Melt the butter and stir in butter. Cook and stir until it gets a wee but tan. Slowly whisk in the first half of the almond milk. I usually have to whisk like hell and sometimes use a heatproof spatula to break up any buttery flour clumps. Whisk in the mustard and a bit more almond milk to make a medium sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread a bit of your sauce in the bottom of a small pan. Lay eggs in, cut side up. Add in the rest of the sauce, spread cheese over, and broil until the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle parsley and paprika over the top. Fantastic.

Bulgur not vulgar

9 Oct

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I have been soooo bloody busy. This week involves two shoots in addition to everything else. So as much as I want to throw more cocktails and cakes your way I also think that you deserve a little health. Health comes in the “creamed” flavor, didja know that?

Of course my “cream” involves almond milk but let us ignore that.
The leftovers of this health can be packed and molded and y’all know I love shaped food:

For even more health there is my mush, and deep, deep, philosophical thoughts on Goodnight Moon over at Hello Giggles.

I should ply you with health while I can. I fear that there may be a lot more beverages for you here now that I’m cooking/writing for two. For three counting my lover.

Speaking of lovers (What a segue! It even made sense.), this bulgur comes from my second lover. Well, third lover, counting Trent Reznor.

Because you know Mark Bittman can get bulgur with me any day of the week.

Bulgur not vulgar!

Vulgar is reserved for Trent.

Let’s just get creamy and get it over with. I promise to be chaste next week.

One last thought-leftovers can be packed an molded into shaped food forms. I love food with structure:

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Creamed Bulgur with chard adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Olive oil spray
1/3 cup chopped onion
Several cups of cleaned chopped Swiss Chard
1/2 cup bulgur
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup vegetable stock
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Nutmeg
Heat a pot over medium, spray with olive oil and sauté onion until soft. Add chard, stir, and cook until wilted. Add bulgur, milk and broth. Stir, cover and turn heat to low for 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off for 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Deeeeelish.

Braised tempeh

4 Apr

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My mistress, my lover, my one and only, i.e. my career, has kept me busy running about this year. Class! Audition! Improv! Stand-up! Writing! Screening!

This weekend she had a little soirée to attend where I praised her work in a little movie we watched that will be in the Chiller Network in May. She did ok. And I’m her worst critic. But I will be asking y’all to watch “Listen, My Children” in a couple of months.

I realized after doing stand-up last Monday (and after agreeing to do it again on the 15th!) that my mistress, Mz. Work, was tired. And hungry.

She came along when I ate at Caffe Roma to write this Blackboard Eats review, published today, but my official meat taster out-ate the both of us, as he usually does.

So I said ok, I’ll cook just for you.

I made her tempeh. And tonight I’m making her cinnamon rolls. Stay tuned!

Braised Tempeh for Your One and Only adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cool Everything Vegetarian

Olive oil spray
2 oz. tempeh, crumbled
3/4 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. ginger purée (I used jarred, feel free to use fresh)
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt
1 cup diced tomato (I used canned)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Big handful of baby spinach
2 chopped green onions
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Spray a pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add tempeh. Cook and stir, and when it gets a bit of color add garlic, ginger, and a sprinkle salt and pepper. Sauté a bit longer, until the tempeh is deeper colored. Add tomatoes and soy sauce, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until thickened. Stir in spinach, parsley and onions. Stir and cook just until the spinach wilts. Watch your lover melt in your arms after they taste it. Whee!

Boyfriends and bran

10 Oct

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Surely if I had one he’d desire his lady to have good digestion. Enough to make her bran muffins.

And he did. Well, my cookbook lovah Mark Bittman at least made a bran muffin recipe. When he was writing his cookbook. I need higher standards.

In the meantime I’m still seeing that classy lady, my career. Sexy wench just gave me the gift of turning a short I’m set to act in into a feature so I supposed I should reward her.

I made not one but two renditions of bran muffins. Because ladies are all about their muffins.

One version with the egg separated, for the fluffy factor, one with whole eggs. Generally girls like to keep their eggs intact but I preferred the muffin with the separated.

Then I went girly and consulted my new Joy the Baker Cookbook and made a pretty pb and j milkshake:

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As you can see I tried to make it pretty by layering in a wine glass but there was a huge amount so in the end my hot career and I just cozied up and ate this super-thick shake out of a bowl:

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These are the exciting things you can do in a long-term relationship, people. I love my career, I do I do. To us I say I do.

Make your own love muffins.
That’s all!

Bran Muffins(reduced and adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

2 Tbsp. applesauce
1/2 c. Flour
1/2 c. Wheat bran
1 Tbsp. honey or more maple syrup
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, separated or not
1/2 c. Almond milk
Heat ya’ oven up to 400. Hot! You and your oven. Spray 5 muffin cups with a lady-named nonstick spray or one of her cheaper knock-offs.
Mix dry stuff. Beat wet stuff. If you separated your eggs only add the yolk. Add wet to dry. Stir in until all is moistened. Don’t overdo this. Lumps are fine n dandy. If you separated your egg, you must now beat the white until stiff, but not dry peaks form. Fold in. Spoon into cups. If you have empty ones put some agua in them. Bake 20-ish minutes. Do the toothpick test.
Present them to yo lovah fo evah.

Chocolate and vanilla: it’s not so black and white

29 Aug

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It’s my birthday y’all! And I didn’t have time to make myself a cake.
Yet! I dare say I’ll fete myself with something sweet and homemade when I’m not fretting over 7 pages of sides for an audition that by the time you read this I hopefully will have dominated.
In the meantime you get to see a birthday cake I made earlier this month for the fantastically talented Suilma.

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I need to try this recipe again when I haven’t been karaoke-ing and champagne sipping for a couple of hours inhibiting my critical tasting abilities.
That was a good party, I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out when my various worlds collide at my most favorite-est wine bar in LA tonight.

So about this cake:
Vanilla is underrated. Why is it an insult to call something “vanilla”? Vanilla is so not vanilla. Chocolate gets all the glory while vanilla hangs out, chill and sophisticated, knowing it is awesome without needing to claim to be the devil, an angel, or life-threatening. Giving you the stink-eye, death by chocolate.

But chocolate is magical. So put them together and you get a fantastic shade of gray. Tan.

Chocolate Vanilla Cake(adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

1/3 vanilla bean, ends trimmed and finely minced
1/4 c. Boiling h2o
1/2 c. Flour
6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, separated
10 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. Applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Heat over to 350. Line a nine-inch cake pan with nonstick foil and spray. Put bean in big bowl and cover with boiling agua. Let it sit there.
In another bowl mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
Beat egg white until stiff in another bowl.
Add yolks, sugar, applesauce and vanilla extract to vanilla water. Beat until good and creamy. Mix in dry stuff. Fold in the whites. Spoon into Pam and allow to settle. Bake until it passes the toothpick test, around 20 minutes.

The frosting was from Mr. Bittman too, I’ll give you that recipe when I try again with the cake.