weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Mark Bittman’

150th Post!! Skirt Steak, Tri-Colore Orzo, Tapas-inspired Chickpea Salad, and Grilled Peaches with Honey & Mascarpone

Hard to believe I have posted 150 times since late January!  There have been so many delicious meals, wonderful dinner guests, and fun meal-time conversations.  Plus, I have received so much positive feedback on the blog.  Overall, the Weeknight Gourmet has been a fun and rewarding undertaking!

As I mentioned in my Blueberry Pie post, we had some guests in Becket this weekend.  Here is the meal we had on Saturday night.  File this as another great barbecue menu!

Mark Bittman’s Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Tri-Colore Orzo

Tapas-inspired Chickpea Salad


Pound Cake & Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone & Honey

Mark Bittman's Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

My friend Judy made this recipe several years ago.  I really enjoyed it and have made it for many dinner guests since!

I love skirt steak and, as you know, I love a little spice so this is a great combination for me.  The chimichurri sauce provides a great fresh taste — thanks to the fresh parsley and lemon juice — and is a nice alternative to more traditional steak sauces.  Guido’s had some beautiful skirt steaks so the meat was just delicious.

Judging by how few leftovers there were, I think the steak was a hit!
Mark Bittman’s Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Food & Wine

  • 2 cups chopped parsley
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 pounds skirt steak

Light a grill. In a bowl, mix the parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and crushed red pepper; season with salt and pepper.

Season the skirt steak with salt and pepper and grill over a hot fire until the meat is charred on the outside and rare within, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice the steak across the grain.

Serve right away, passing the chimichurri sauce at the table.

Serves 8.

Summer Barbecue Menu: Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb, Zucchini & Orzo, and Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

We had Tim’s family up to the Berkshires this weekend.  Tim’s parents and the dogs arrived on Friday and Tim’s brother, his wife, and baby girl came on Saturday.

We had this delicious and surprisingly simple barbecue menu on Friday night!  I love grilled lamb and I tried to take advantage of the fresh zucchini at the store and my mother-in-law Pam’s fresh lettuce from the garden.

I think everyone enjoyed the meal!

Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Zucchini & Orzo

Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

Fresh Greens from Pam’s Garden

Summer Barbecue Menu: Roasted Red Peppers with White Beans and Mozzarella

To accompany our grilled leg of lamb dinner, I made #54 on Mark Bittman’s 101 Simple Summer Salads.  The “recipe” is below:

“Slice roasted red peppers (if you must use canned, try to find piquillos) and fresh mozzarella. Toss with cooked white beans, olive oil, red wine vinegar, a chopped shallot and fresh rosemary or parsley.”

I used jarred piquillos and ciliegine (cherry-sized balls of fresh mozzarella).  To simplify further, I used a can of white beans (rinsed and drained).  Pam had brought fresh Italian parsley from their garden so that topped this simple yet delicious salad!


Perfect Summer Dessert: Fresh Strawberries With Almond Creme Anglaise

What’s better than strawberries and cream!

Mark Bittman provides a wonderful alternative to the traditional vanilla-flavored custard in this week’s Dining section in the New York Times.  I’ve included the recipe below but don’t skip the article — Strawberries, Coddled.   It provides some great tips on cooking the sauce.

Hopefully, my local market in the Berkshires will have some beautiful strawberries so that I can try the recipe this weekend!

Fresh Strawberries With Almond Crème Anglaise
Mark Bittman

  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds plus 1/2 cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 to 8 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered

Put chopped almonds in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to toast, about 3 minutes.

Add milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks, and whisk well to combine. Cook, whisking almost constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil.

While sauce is still hot, strain it through a sieve and let cool a bit. To serve, put a cup of strawberries in each dish, drizzle with warm sauce and garnish with slivered almonds. Sauce will keep, tightly covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

6 to 8 servings.

Dinner for 10: Pork Tenderloin, Green Mashed Potatoes & Roasted Asparagus

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a dinner party for 10 last night — 4 other couples from business school.  I was excited to host so that we didn’t feel rushed and could catch up more easily than in a restaurant.  But I didn’t want to spend my entire Saturday cooking so I took a look for simple recipes that I could largely prep in the morning and assemble and cook in the evening.

I inadvertently assembled a very healthy menu — spiced pork tenderloin with homemade honey mustard from Food & Wine, a healthy version of mashed potatoes from Mark Bittman, and roasted asparagus.

The pork was very simple to prepare.  After seasoning the tenderloins with kosher salt and pepper, I coated the pork in a mixture of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes.  The mustard sauce was simply a combo of two types of mustard, honey, and salt and pepper.  Pork tenderloin is very lean so be careful not to overcook it.

We’re not big potato eaters in our house but I was intrigued by Mark Bittman’s Green Mashed Potato recipe published a couple of weeks ago.  You mash boiled potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper and then add cooked dandelion greens – one of the first greens of spring.  The dandelion greens only cook for a minute or two in the same water as the potatoes.  Lastly, you bake the potato-greens mixture with some breadcrumbs on top and a drizzle of olive oil.  Because you are incorporating the greens into the potatoes and you’re not using cream or butter, each bite is less heavy than typical mashed potatoes.

I also roasted several bunches of asparagus tossed in olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and pepper.  I usually roast asparagus at 400 degrees but the pork need to cook at 375 so I just cooked the asparagus for a little longer than I typically do.

My friend Jess brought a delicious salad, Suzanne brought the dessert, and Vern and Cori each brought wine.  It was a great evening and I think everyone enjoyed the meal.  Plus, I loved cooking with a couple of the early signs of spring — dandelion greens and asparagus.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard
Food & Wine

  • 3 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Two 14-ounce pork tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup traditional Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a mortar, lightly crush the mustard and fennel seeds with the crushed red pepper. Set the pork tenderloins on a rimmed baking sheet and season them with salt and pepper. Spread the crushed spices on the baking sheet and roll the pork tenderloins in the crushed spices to coat them.

Roast the pork tenderloins for about 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each tenderloin registers 145°. Transfer the pork tenderloins to a cutting board and let them rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the mustards with the honey and season with salt and pepper. Slice the pork 1/2 inch thick and serve with the honey mustard.

8 servings

Green Mashed Potatoes
Mark Bittman

  • 2 large starchy or all-purpose potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into quarters
  • Salt
  • 1 pound dandelion or other greens, washed and trimmed of thick stems
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup homemade bread crumbs

Put potatoes in a large, deep pot and cover them with cold water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until soft but not falling apart, 15 to 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain; meanwhile, add greens to water and cook for about 1 minute. Rinse under cold water. Drain well, then chop.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rice potatoes, run them through a food mill, or mash them with a fork or potato masher, adding enough olive oil to moisten them well. Mash in the greens, adding more olive oil as needed. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

Put mixture in an ovenproof dish and top with bread crumbs. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake until bread crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

4 servings
Dandelion Greens on Foodista

Quick & easy hors d'oeuvres

Last night we hosted a dinner party for friends from business school.  I was excited to have people over but was a little limited on time.  Wanting to put out more than just your standard cheese plate for hors d’oeuvres, I turned to Mark Bittman.  In December 2007, he published an article entitled “101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less”.   The article provides great quick, easy, and interesting appetizer ideas and is organized into several categories — bread & crackers, bruschetta, on toothpicks, on skewers, finger foods, little sandwich triangles, and things that might require a fork.

I made a couple of “toothpick” appetizers.  I bought some good quality chorizo and simply sliced it and cooked it in a frying pan.  The chorizo was a hit — it was almost all gone before all of our guests arrived.

I also made caprese salad on a stick.  I put a grape tomato, a bocconcini (a small nugget of fresh mozzarella), and basil leaf on a toothpick, sprinkled with salt, and drizzled with olive oil.

After reading through the 101 appetizers ideas again yesterday, I am excited to try many more of these easy but elegant recipes.

Cheesy Cauliflower Chutney Mess…& Pizza for Breakfast!

Yesterday’s New York Times Dining section had no shortage of interesting recipes.

Mark Bittman wrote a whole article and several recipes on savory breakfasts.  I typically think of egg-based dishes as the staple of savory breakfasts.  But this article introduced me to the notion of polenta, quinoa, and wild rice as breakfast ingredients.

His “Polenta Pizza with Pancetta & Spinach” recipe really jumped out at me.  While I don’t think it is the ideal breakfast for 7am on a Monday, I think it would be a wonderful brunch dish.  I can see serving it on a Sunday morning to our weekend guests in the Berkshires.

Melissa Clark wrote about a dish she terms “Cheesy Cauliflower Chutney Mess” in which she mixes roasted cauliflower and peas with a bechamel sauce and then adds a dash of mango chutney to make it sweet and tangy.  Looks like it could be a very unique vegetarian meal.

Chocolate Soufflé

I already have a sweet post ready for Valentine’s Day but I wanted to share The Minimalist’s Chocolate Soufflé recipe from Wednesday’s New York Times.  I have always thought that soufflés were difficult to make but this recipe looks nearly foolproof!

Chocolate Soufflé
Mark Bittman

  • About 1 tablespoon butter for dish
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus some for dish
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 2-cup or one 4-cup soufflé or other deep baking dish(es). Sprinkle each with sugar, invert it and tap to remove excess sugar.

Beat egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon sugar until very light and very thick; mixture will fall in a ribbon from beaters when it is ready. Mix in the melted chocolate until well combined; set aside.

Wash beaters well, then beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until whites hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding remaining tablespoon sugar, until they are very stiff and glossy. Stir a good spoonful of whites thoroughly into egg yolk mixture to lighten it; then fold in remaining whites, using a rubber spatula. Transfer to prepared soufflé dish(es); at this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

Bake until center is nearly set, 20 minutes for individual soufflés and 25 to 35 minutes for a single large soufflé. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings.

Today's Dining Section

It’s Wednesday!  Time to see what goodies The New York Times has in store for me.  I was pleased to see that my two favorites – Mark Bittman and Melissa Clark – both had articles today.

Mark Bittman’s Parmesan Cream Crackers look deliciously simple and only require 5 ingredients.  Impress your guests with homemade crackers!

The Mustardy Braised Rabbit with Carrots by Melissa Clark is certainly not a weeknight meal.  But there is nothing I like more than braising meat on snowy Saturday night at our house in the Berkshires.  While I have never cooked rabbit, I became very comfortable with game after preparing wild boar in my cooking class in Florence.  And, our trip last year to Stockholm opened my taste buds up to a whole new world of game — elk, reindeer, and venison.

I always enjoy Melissa Clark’s recipes, but this one caught my eye in particular because it is an adaptation of a Daniel Boulud recipe.  Eating at Daniel remains one of my top ten dining experiences.  I am eager to see if I can bring a little bit of the elegant dining experience I had at Daniel into my home.