Carl and Mark, part 1

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…

Stir-fried Lamb with Chili, Cumin, and Garlic

I love the ingredients but this dish lacked flavor because I only marinated the lamb for 10 minutes. And I was spoiled going into it: a week earlier I’d had Mission Chinese Food’s cumin lamb belly, which is a similar dish but 100x better. If I made this again, I’d use lamb belly too, and I’d let it sit overnight.

Sichuan Chicken with Chilies

My favorite so far! So good I made it twice in one week. The chicken skin is rendered separately, then the chiles are toasted in the chicken fat. So so delicious. Served with rice. I was really worried it would come out too hot, because these it uses a ton of dried arbol chiles, but it turned out perfect.

Chicken Under a Brick

Yeah, pretty much a classic. I’d never made it before. It’s a classic for a reason, it’s very easy and the chicken comes out very evenly cooked, the skins comes out nicely browned and the meat is super flavorful. In some ways this dish is better than a roasted chicken. And the brick adds to the romance.

Mexican chocolate tofu pudding

Chile powder and cinnamon make this dish worth it. Before adding them, it tastes like chocolate-flavored tofu. After, it’s complex and chocolatey and quite good! But I felt like the Scharffen Burger chocolate I used in this was too highbrow and really could have gone to a better use. Its best subtleties were masked. So if I made this again, I’d use a more generic chocolate.

Parsley & Herb Salad

OK, this is very very minimalist. It’s a simple salad. I’d never put fresh oregano in a salad before, but otherwise this is the kind of salad that I make a few times a week, so no huge surprises. It’s good!

Five more coming soon…

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