Moro blood oranges, kaffir limes, cocktail grapefruits… At this stage, the best plan is to simply make one big fruit salad and be done.
That’s right. I’m done. Over the last four months, as a tribute and adventure, I made all 25 of Mark Bittman’s favorites from The Minimalist. I did them mostly in batches of two or three when time allowed. This was not by any means a Julie Powell-scale endeavor. If anything, it gave me more appreciation for the breadth of Powell’s accomplishment.
We’ll start at the end. Tonight I made the final dish. Pear, Gorgonzola, and Mesclun Salad. This salad is to the 90s what the Caesar was to the 20s. Who knows how many times I’ve eaten this (plus or minus the toasted walnuts). But it definitely stands the test of time.
Here we are with five more dishes from Mark Bittman’s 25 Favorite Minimaist Recipes. Now that I’ve made 20 of them, I can look back a little. Most of the dishes have been quite good and have come together quickly. And when I make a dish for this project, it often stands out in an otherwise humdrum week of cooking. If I see a watermelon now, I definitely think of the Watermelon and Tomato salad. It’s not just a dessert or snack to me anymore. So a couple of these dishes will probably become standards for me at some point.
Braised Turkey was lovely and yields enough turkey for an army. The mushrooms and italian sausage lend great flavor to this, too. The turkey breasts came out beautifully thanks to the short cooking time, but the thighs had dried out by the end, like the braised duck legs in Carl and Mark part 2. That was frustrating. I still feel like I don’t understand how to slow-braise dark, tough meat so that it falls off the bone, rather than being dry and chewy. I think it needs to stay wetter (maybe be basted?) and probably cook for less time (the above turkey thigh cooked for 2.5 hours).
I’m already past the halfway point. I’ve made 15 of the Minimalist’s 25 favorites. Including this bad boy:
So! We continue with five more recipes from The Minimalist’s “25 favorites.” This set includes one of the biggest cooking disasters I can remember—and perhaps the most delightful thing I’ve ever cooked:
Oh. My. Cod. This was magnificent. Black cod with miso. Broiled black cod fillets with just three ingredients: miso, sugar, and mirin. How did I not know? How could I have gone so long without eating this? This dish makes the whole thing worthwhile. The whole “learning how to cook” thing. Not that it wasn’t a worthwhile endeavor already. But this dish really seals the deal. And it took no time at all to put together. Cod, rice, salad. Why go out? Why go anywhere? BTW, I believe this was originally a Nobu recipe that Mark adapted.
In January, I was sad to learn that the Minimalist column in the New York Times was ending. I’ve learned a lot from the Minimalist over the years and could always count on Mark Bittman to surprise and delight with a new recipe. And each new recipe usually involved learning a new technique. So it’s been a great education. Around 2007-2008 I was pretty devoted to the column and made whatever Bittman was making almost weekly. And I know I wasn’t alone. In the final column, Bittman chose 25 of his favorites from over the years. Out of a mixture of curiosity and gratitude (and hunger), the moment I saw the list I decided to make all 25. It’s a Minimalist Julie and Julia. But it should be a lot of fun and a good way to celebrate the food column that taught me so much.
I’ll be posting my results in chunks of five. Here are the first five…
So yeah, I’ve been making muesli. What can I say, I’m caught up in the muesli craze. It’s not a global phenomenon or a new Bay Area breakfast trend, it’s more of a hyperlocal fad centered around our apartment and along the famed Muesli Belt that I imagine roughly follows the Switzerland-Germany border.
The traditional recipe calls for oats soaked in water with lemon juice, cream, diced sour apple and nuts. Some people use orange juice.
In my version, yogurt becomes the acid. I toast some oats and coconut, add vanilla yogurt, plain yogurt, and almond milk in a ratio that balances sour, sweet, and overall fluidity. I add a bunch of dried fruit and nuts. By the next morning it has softened up and turned into a sloppy paste, to which I add more almond milk and whatever fresh fruit I can find. Serve with butterbrot and coffee for a Birchermüesli complet. Or just eat it.
Karl and I toured Heath Ceramics last weekend. They’ve just finished their best year ever, producing around 275,000 pieces. They’re still in their original factory space in Sausalito. It’s an interplay of handmade work, slow chemical processes, and large-scale efficiency: It takes a piece of pottery at least a week to go from clay dust to final product.