Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bittman, Schmittman


I guess I have a love-hate relationship with Mark Bittman of the New York Times.
I mean, how could any one man have the chutzpah to write a book called "How to Cook Everything"? (Is that the name of his book? Wait; I'll Google. Ohgod, yes, that is the real name.)
But I look at his column in the paper every Wednesday, and sometimes it really inspires me.
I don't follow his recipes, ever. But I get inspired.
So, last week he puts up this recipe for a Japanese-style rice salad. The photo looked good, a bowl of rice all covered with tofu chunks. In his recipe, though, the tofu is 1) firm, 2) baked, and 3) optional. No!
Which is why I don't follow his recipes.
I just took this idea and ran with it, in my own way.
Allow me to not bother you with my details. I will just say that it was a bowl of cooled (not refrigerated) rice, topped with soft (not firm or baked, and not optional) tofu cubes. Toasted sesame seeds (essential). Nori flakes. Sliced scallion. And a dressing made from the ingredients in my "Asian cupboard." (OK. Fish sauce, sesame oil, peanut oil, rice vinegar and Hawaiian sun-dried pepper flakes; thanks, KT. A little splish of shoyu.) Whoops, details.
I thought I might like this dish. I LORVED it.
I deemed it "not as bad as expected."
No, wait. I deem it "must do again."
So, thanks, Bittman. Even if I didn't follow your recipe.

23 comments:

Michelle said...

Okay! I just found dinner, thanks cookie! I have a tofu block (sounds appetizing, doesn't it) just dying for a dish to jump into and I think this is definitely it. I agree with you about Bittman. In fact, I was just "browsing" the bookstore and leafed through his cookbook and decided I didn't like the title AT ALL...it seems so arrogant! That said, I just not followed one of his column recipes the other day...

Greg said...

At first the photo looked like an ice cream cone with jimmies on it.Maybe it was in my mind. I think Bitman is one of the more sensible food writers out there. Your rice salad looks better than his.

Chilebrown said...

Have been enjoying pear info and CukeZilla. I have gerkins that will be made into pickles. I know this is a week ahead of time, but, Mr. Vacation has so many hours of fun. Market Thursday? (not 8am).

P.S. I can bring tomatoes and apples.

cook eat FRET said...

i love this blog... i really do. it's in my top 10. and that's pretty good being that there are about 147,000 food blogs out there. so you rock my friend!

that being said, i'd never ever eat that bowl of 'stuff'.

you know, maybe it needs pears. or even better, orange zest...

el said...

Mmm, yeah, I have the same thing with Mr. Bittman, and yes, I use him as a springboard, is that wrong?

That said, I have a very old cookbook called Japanese Country Cooking that your little picture in which your photo would be right at home. I often wonder about that: the accident of birth that landed me in Indiana and not, say, on Hokkaido. I would have had soup for breakfast every day, and I would have had no problem at all getting my husband to eat daikon and pak choi.

I think what this means is we should all eat more tofu. It's really quite versatile.

Cynthia said...

oh man, I am SO happy to hear you say that about Mark Bittman. I swear the recipes are just poorly written...maybe good ideas but....

cookiecrumb said...

Michelle: Wow, I'm stoked! Be sure to tell me how it came out. (Are you my secret sister?)

Greg: He does seem sensible, but he just rubs me the wrong way.
(Ha ha: jimmies.)

ChileBrown: Totally Thursday. Say when. I gotz pears for you.

c e f: What did I do to earn your acclaim? Because I *j'adore* your blog!
(We got some orange zest into the freezer before it was too late.)

El: My other secret sister! Husbands tend to want their meat; what can ya do, except be born in Japan? Cranky was determined not to like this... but he liked it.
Oh, hey. I have this small paperback Japanese cookbook with brown pages. Is that the same one as yours? Wild.

Cynthia: I was scared to dis Bittman; thought I'd make enemies. This is very interesting!

Zoomie said...

I don't know from Bittman but if you need to know how to cook anything, the good old Joy of Cooking is still being published - they even have a recipe for bear and beaver (eek!).

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: I love the Joy of Cooking. I just spent half an hour trying to find Cranky's column for a real newspaper about his experience with the book... but it didn't turn up. (What?)
How to skin your own deer, even. Eek!

Joel said...

Ah, but that's what I love about Bittman! His recipes go along the lines of "Cook the chicken. Or don't. Why would I care? I'm freaking Bittman, fercrisake! Maybe season with salt." He encourages independence!

Amy Sherman said...

Try his Italian sausage and grape dish and you will forever be a fan.

Alma said...

Why would anyone call for FIRM tofu in this sort of dish? I think firm tofu is responsible for many a tofu-hater. I thought I hated it myself until I had some softer stuff at a Thai restaurant. Yum! Ever since, I use the firm or extra-firm stuff only when grilling or baking (rarely) and soft tofu for nearly everything else. It takes up flavors better, has a nicer mouthfeel, without any of that overcooked egg rubberiness.

Totally concur about the Bittman, btw. The videos are fun to watch, and I like his writing. Recipes themselves are often no-brainers, but that's the point, right? and I'm often inspired to do something along those lines...

el said...

Hah! Yes, same book. It's kind of a fun one. Although I always wonder why most of my favorite books about non-American cuisine are not written by natives but instead folks dabbling in the foreignness of a certain culture (this bloke in Japan, Richard Olney, Eliz. David, etc.). It's kind of like I can't trust a native to tell me how to cook a cuisine but instead need some kind of knowing surrogate. Go figure. Sister.

cookiecrumb said...

Joel: Well, like I said, I always read his column. (I'm not saying I gawk at it like a car crash, so there's something that lures me back every week.)

Amy: I'll have to look that one up. Mmm.

Alma: I'm embarrassed to admit I was scolded by the tofu seller/artisan for using firm tofu in such-and-such dish last year. :D

El: I confess I've never used that book; got it from my mom when she cleaned house a couple of years ago. (And sheesh, I have an "Italian" book by Jamie Oliver.)

kudzu said...

Like Greg, I thought it was jimmy-sprinkled dessert, at first. Of course it's so much healthier. Bittman is a good inspirer and I always read him for ideas. Nice shot.

Michelle said...

LB beat me to the making of dinner while I was at the farmer's market last night...but I bought all the stuff (except he used the tofu so now I have to get more of that...grrr...). BUT I will certainly let you know how much I lurved it when I get to try it! (yes, I think we are secret sisters...and if we aren't, we should become them!)

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

Mark Bittman pisses me off. All of the time. Optional this...do it this way that, blah blah blah. I thought I wanted his cookbook when I 1st started cooking for real, but I don't. I don't want to hate on the man, but he and his food piss me off. At least you can get some inspiration from him. Because if I didn't mention it before... lol that mean really pisses me off.

dancingmorganmouse said...

Sounds great, only I'd have to sneak the tofu in, Mr Brown is not a fan of the tofu. Silly duffer.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: I think I may not be alone in having "an opinion" about him!! :D

Michelle: Fortunately, I know you live in a tofu-rich region. There will be more.

Nikki: But how do you feel about him?
;)

Morgan: I don't know how I got Cranky so interested in tofu. I think it was the time he first made ma po tofu at home, and it was good. Kind of a personal investment in his effort.

Ali B. said...

Mark Bittman is my boyfriend. No, really. It's a fact.

(even if he doesn't know it yet.)

cookiecrumb said...

Ali: Whoo, you had me there for a minute. I hope I haven't insulted your future husband! :D

Anna Haight said...

Now this looks like something I would eat... now if you haven't tried making tofu yourself - put it on your list after bacon! It's pretty simple, and there's nothing like fresh, warm tofu!

Alisha said...

Hi,

I'm Alisha from Wowzio, and I'm excited to tell you about our new widget platform that helps bloggers increase readership by providing engaging widgets containing your blog's rich content. You can check out widgets customized for your blog here:

Wowzio Widgets for your Blog

I wanted to reach out to you to ask for your feedback on these widgets (feel free to install them on your blog, if you feel they are a good fit). I'm sorry for leaving this message via a comment, it's not at all our intent to spam you ( which is why i'm leaving this comment on an older post and you can always remove this comment ). Again, we would love to hear your feedback.

Thanks,
Alisha Wright
alisha.wright1@gmail.com