Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Falling in love with Mark Bittman's latest cookbook - Kitchen Express


Award winning cookbook author Mark Bittman has done it again. He’s written another fresh and inspiring new cookbook - Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express, 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, that has already become one of my current favorites
He’s taken a whole new approach from some of his other best selling cookbooks, such as How To Cook Everything, which has formally written recipes. He writes one paragraph instructions and talks you through the recipe, allowing you to do what you Mother did: add a pinch here and there and taste as you go. Don’t have an ingredient? Substitute what’s in your pantry or throw in some fresh herbs in you have them.
I can hear Mark’s friendly voice talking to me all the way through the book, like a big brother looking over my shoulder, offering suggestions but never in a pushy or bossy way. Perhaps it’s because his voice is so accessible to us on television and the internet. If you’ve ever once heard him talk to Al Roker on the Today Show about how easy it is to stuff a chicken breast, in the New York Times Food Section video when he first introduced his readers to Jim Lehay’s no-knead bread from the Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan in 2006, or trekking around with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow in the PBS series Spain – On the Road, you’ll know what I mean.
Heather of Girlichef first brought this new cookbook to my attention when she introduced it in her post, Souper Simple Tuna Bean Salad. She prepared the salad and served it, as Mark suggested, over chilled asparagus, but added her own touches including amazing black truffle sea salt. I thought to myself - I’ve made a tuna and bean salad very similar to this for years, but I’ve never thought of serving it on asparagus – what a clever and refreshing twist to an old favorite. And there my love affair began with this cookbook. Thanks Heather. I owe you one.
Here are two of my current favorite recipes, but I assure you my list of recipes to try is already long, starting with sophisticated sounding Seared Pork Paillards with Prunes and Olives and a yummy Tomato, Goat Cheese and Basil Strata. I’ve adapted the following two recipes to suit my taste and pantry.



Cajun-Style Salmon with Mixed Baby Greens
Adapted from Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman
Mix together the following blend of Cajun-style spices (or use a store bought Cajun spice mix): one teaspoon each paprika, coriander, cumin and dried oregano; one-quarter teaspoon each cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Rub the spice mixture on the top of salmon fillets. Broil, spice side up, skin side down, or until desired doneness. If spice mixture begins to burn, turn the oven to 400 and bake until done. Serve the salmon on a bed of mixed organic baby greens that have been tossed with one part freshly squeezed lemon juice to three parts extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper.






Tuna and Bean Salad on Fresh Asparagus
Adapted from Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman
Whisk together 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 1 finely chopped garlic clove in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (depending on the season), one 15-ounce can cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed, 2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley and toss together. Gently add one 6-ounce can of solid white tuna in water, drained and flaked or packed in olive oil if you prefer. Serve over freshly cooked asparagus spears.

26 comments:

  1. This looks like a book I should have in my bookshelf!!! Love the recipes that you have created!!!

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  2. Oh, I'm so glad you love it, too! Both of your current faves look delicious and now I need to sit down with it again and commune with Bittman's genius a while....feeling simple & hungry :)

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  3. Sounds wonderful! Onto my Christmas wish list it goes!

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  4. I'll have to check this out. I have several of his other cookbooks, which are great. But, I've also been trying to "shed the recipe" a bit and try to become more of an instinctive cook. Sometimes, I will look at two recipes, and try to come up with a hybrid. Here's to more instinct in the kitchen!

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  5. Cajun-style salmon sounds excellent with all the spices! And a tuna & bean salad would be so great for lunch! Sounds like a great cookbook!

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  6. oh this book must be good if the recipe look like this!!

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  7. I have been tempted a few times to buy Bittman's book. You may have just convinced me!

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  8. Why?? Why??? When I've pledge to buy no new cookbooks. Why would you do this to me?

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  9. I'm so glad you did this review. I just ordered it from the local library. Can't wait to read it. I like Mark Bittman. The recipes you made look really yummy.

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  10. Sam, I'm so glad you reviewed the book. The recipes you've chosen to test sound wonderful. I've reserved the book at the library. Hopefully, I won't have to wait to long.

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  11. Two lovely dishes, I must say!!

    I especially love the salmon dish! Easy yet healthy!!

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  12. Sam, thanks for sticking with me! I've missed you too! That tuna and bean salad is calling my name! Sounds soooo much better than the tuna melts I had planned for dinner tonight!

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  13. Sam, Looks like my kind of cookbook. Great review and beautiful dishes. Looking forward to getting back into serious cooking again. It's been a crazy summer.

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  14. This book does sound like a sure fire winner!!!!I would have fun exploring it's pages too.

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  15. This sounds like a must have book. I would like to check this one out.

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  16. I love Mark Bittman - first saw him on Martha Stewart.

    Thanks for stopping by last week!

    Come back soon!
    Leann

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  17. I'm not familiar with Mark Bittman. Now I'm intrigued! Thanks, Sam!!

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  18. Sounds like a good book for todays hectic lifestyles.

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  19. Got to try these recipes. Thanks for posting them.

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  20. Cajun-style spices, that's very interesting! I'm sure they are perfect for salmon.

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  21. Mark Bittman makes great food. GREG

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  22. Just when I am trying to downsize my cookbook library, you come along with thus recommendation! I will, if course, be getting it. Hubby thanks you. I'm thinkIng of organizing an Ark bloggers group. Would you be interested?

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  23. That salmon sounds delicious. I will have to check out that cookbook for my collection. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  24. Sam,
    Oh, this cook book sounds so wonderful. It's on my Christmas wish list. Thanks for posting the recipe, the salmon sounds delicious.

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  25. Sam, now I have to buy another cookbook???
    as if I didn't have enough already!
    alright, you have talked me into it!
    I love simple, weeknight dinners that look as good as these!
    Thanks!

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  26. I am getting my daughter-in-law that book for Christmas. Thanks for the heads up!

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Sam