Monday, September 2, 2013

Sept 2, 2013::how to cook

I really like Mark Bittman!

If you have never heard of Mark Bittman, and you enjoy cooking, I recommend his work. I have learned so much from his collection of books.

Food Matters
VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00
Kitchen Express
How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
How to Cook Everything The Basics
How to Cook Everything

...just to name a few

Honestly, I have never had a recipe of his fail in my kitchen. That says a great deal about both his writing and his testing. His recipes are simple and so easy to follow, but they are written in such a way that a cook can make any recipe his or her own with simple variations.

In early August Apple offered the app for How to Cook Everything for free. I have checked that book out at the library so many times and just love it. so I tried the app. It is so thorough and easy to use, I would go back and pay the full price if I had to. I have used it more than any app I have ever downloaded and I have NEVER had a failed recipe. I am considering buying the app for How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

One of the best features is the illustrated kitchen basics tutorials. I am using them to help the kids learn knife and prep skills, dough techniques, and basic cooking essentials.

Can you tell I am smitten? I thought about writing this post the week I downloaded the app, but decided to wait and see if I was still as enamored after the initial joy.Yes, I must say it has become a daily go to in meal planning and basic recipes.

Whether you have Apple technology to download this app,or if you can get it at the library or on Kindle, I encourage you to give Mark Bittman's work a look. He's a great teacher, author, and chef.

Below is a recipe from the app for muffins that we make at least once a week. I have substituted whole wheat flour with great success. My guess is that a nice gluten free baking mix would do just fine. I have used coconut oil in place of the butter and nondairy milks and raw milk in place of regular milk. I often use blueberries, as they have been in season and are a family favorite, but I have added cheese and finely chopped vegetables as well. This morning I made a batch with dark chocolate chips and some frozen sour cherries. They were delicious, as every batch has been. These are certainly our go-to now.

Enjoy and check out Mark Bittman!


Muffins, Infinite Ways
By Mark Bittman
From the How to Cook Everything® app
The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in. But those little muffin cups allow for a lot more potential variation, depending on what you do at the last minute before baking.
Anything goes when it comes to varying this master recipe, including the suggestions for Fruit‐and‐Nut or Vegetable‐and‐Nut Bread. See 13 Additions To Virtually Any Quick Bread, Muffins, Biscuits, or Scones for more ways to spike recipe. And for a more dessert like muffin, see the Sweet and Rich Muffins variation.
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more for the muffin tin
  • 2 cups all‐purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if needed
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 12‐cup muffin tin and line it with paper or foil muffin cups if you like.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and melted butter or oil in another bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.
  3. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two‐thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. (If you prefer bigger muffins, fill 8 cups almost to the top; pour ¼ cup water into the empty cups.) Bake for about 20 minutes (about 30 minutes for larger muffins) or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.
Banana‐Nut Muffins
These are good with half bran or whole wheat flour: Add ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts, pecans, or cashews to the dry ingredients. Substitute 1 cup mashed very ripe banana for ¾ cup of the milk. Use honey or maple syrup in place of sugar if possible.
Bran Muffins
Substitute 1 cup oat or wheat bran for 1 cup of the flour (you can use whole wheat flour for the remainder if you like). Use 2 eggs and honey, molasses, or maple syrup as the sweetener. Add ½ cup raisins to the prepared batter if you like.
Sour Cream or Yogurt Muffins
Reduce the baking powder to 1 teaspoon and add ½ teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients. Substitute 1¼ cups sour cream or yogurt for the milk and cut the butter or oil back to 1 tablespoon.
Spice Muffins
Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each ground allspice and ground ginger, and 1 pinch ground cloves and mace or nutmeg to the dry ingredients; use 1 cup whole wheat flour in place of 1 cup all‐purpose flour. Add ½ cup raisins, currants, dates, or dried figs to the prepared batter if you like.
Blueberry or Cranberry Muffins
Try substituting cornmeal for up to ½ cup of the flour: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients; increase the sugar to ½ cup. Stir 1 cup fresh blueberries or cranberries into the batter at the last minute. You can also use frozen blueberries or cranberries here; do not defrost them first. Blueberry muffins are good with ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest added to the batter along with the wet ingredients. Cranberry muffins are excellent with ½ cup chopped nuts and/or 1 tablespoon minced orange zest added to the prepared batter.
Sweet and Rich Muffins
Like cake: Use butter and increase the quantity to 6 tablespoons (¾ stick); increase the sugar to ¾ cup. Use 2 eggs and decrease the milk to ½ cup, or more if needed. In Step 2, after mixing together the dry ingredients, cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer and in a small bowl beat together the eggs with the milk. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter‐sugar mixture, then moisten with a little of the milk. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, taking care not to over mix. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but moist; add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary.
Lighter Muffins
A little more work, with noticeable results: Use 2 eggs and separate them. Add the yolks as usual; beat the whites until stiff but not dry and fold in very gently at the last moment.
Coffee Cake Muffins
Mix together ½ cup packed brown sugar; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans, or cashews; and 2 tablespoons extra melted butter. Stir half of this mixture into the original batter with the wet ingredients and sprinkle the rest on top before baking.
Savory Muffins
Cut the sugar back to 1 tablespoon. Add up to 1 cup of cooked minced onion or leek and shredded cheese to the batter just before baking.
Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright © Double B Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

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