Cooking: A new kind of fast food
Even if you’re a certified chaos-coping, time-challenged clock jock, multitasking your way through a day that’s way too short on hours, you do have time to cook. Take it from Mark Bittman, the master food writer and cookbook author who’s become one of our prime public foodie intellectuals. His latest, How to Cook Everything Fast, is not his best-selling How to Cook Everything on steroids; it’s a recipe-laden (2,000 all new) roadmap that follows the real-time rhythm of the kitchen with shortcuts galore and strategies that seamlessly merge prep and cooking, yielding maximum taste from real ingredients in minimum time. The skills you need for this revved-up ride are built into the recipes, and almost all of them (including salads, sandwiches, grains, veggies, beans and tofu) can be one-dish dinners. Each is served with great ideas for variations, substitutions and “simultaneous sides” that easily fit into your cooking choreography—Provençal Chicken with Red Wine and Rosemary Quinoa, Warm Tabbouleh with Mussels with Crisp Seasoned Pita. It’s the best Bittman yet!
Dana Cowin has been editor-in-chief of Food & Wine for 20 years, but her dirty little secret is just surfacing. Though she knows all about eating great food and talking to the best chefs in the world, Dana wasn’t comfortable cooking in her own kitchen and admits to messing up every kind of dish. In a moment of bravery, she decided to face her kitchen inadequacies, fess up and get help. And what help she got—David Chang, Suzanne Goin, José Andrés, Tom Colicchio and Jacques Pépin, to name just a few! Cowin includes more than 100 recipes, from starters to desserts, each prefaced by her experiences, good and bad, in Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen. All of the 65 renowned chefs who came to the aid of this damsel in culinary distress have added their own “chef tips” and ideas about ingredients, equipment, quick fixes, checking for doneness, reheating and more, to make you a happier and better home cook. So, do a Dana, pay attention and learn from your mistakes.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
A new wave of Ottolenghi fever (and fervor) is about to hit and, thank goodness, there’s no cure. I suggest that you simply give in to it, replenish your spice pantry, gather your vegetables, grains and legumes and celebrate big-time. Plenty More is Yotam Ottolenghi’s second ode to vegetarian cooking, this time with the emphasis on cooking techniques and on elevating ingredients in new ways, expanding their flavor domains and your meat-free repertoire. In 120 recipes and a dozen chapters organized by cooking method, Ottolenghi’s verve and brilliance, seasoned with Middle Eastern magic, are on display again—and, with his deftly detailed instructions, duplicable by ordinary home cooks (you and me). Read the recipes, gaze at the photos, then get into the kitchen and create the sublime, like Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Taleggio and Spinach Roulade, Crushed Carrots with Harissa and Pistachios or Caramelized Fig, Orange and Feta Salad.