The final week of cooking with Mark Bittman has come around at IHCC and what a ride it has been. For the last recipe I chose a risotto-style preparation for pasta. It produced a flavourful dish, but was more work than the usual approach of cooking the pasta and sauce separately. Still this is not a problem if you like to spend your spare time with cooking.
Overall, I found the last six months of cooking with Mark Bittman very instructive. Even though I used "only" recipes from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (which has more to do with the local availibility of cookbooks than anything else), there were lots of recipes, techniques and approaches, which were new to me and to which I will come back in the future. In short, this is the kind of book one should give to his children, when they leave home for college. As the six months drew to a close, I grew a bit worried that Bittman would leave foot steps too big to be filled by somebody else. If there had been a poll about who should be the next chef, I would have nominated Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. But anyway, I'm looking forward to cooking the recipes of Giada de Laurentii.
As a final look back, here is my copy of HTCEV with all the recipes I've made for IHCC, except for the home-made tofu I had planned on making for the cheesy week in September but didn't get around to do. (Note also the removed dust jacket. I only do this with books I use very frequently.)
Cooking pasta like risotto
Adapted from The Minimalist column; November 27, 2009.
(There is also a similar approach for making orzo risotto in HTCEV.)
The techniques of seperately frying the mushrooms first and of adding dried mushrooms to the stock are taken from the mushroom risotto recipe from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver.
250 ml vegetable stock
300 ml water
10 g dried organic shiitake mushrooms
200 g fresh mushrooms, cleaned and cut into slices
knob of butter
about 3 Tbsp olive oil
250 dried pasta
1 onion, diced
half a glass of white wine
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
In a small pot, add the water, stock and dried mushrooms. Let come to a simmer on low heat.
In a large skillet, melt the butter, add the mushrooms and fry on medium heat until the mushrooms become brown and soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium pot, add the onion and sweat until translucent. Add the wine and let the alcohol cook off. Then add a laddle or two of stock at a time, stirring frequently until the liquid has been absorbed.
The pasta should take more or less the same time as for conventional cooking. When the pasta has reached the desired doneness, add the mushrooms from the stock pot and from the skillet, let briefly come back to temperature. Add salt to taste. Fold in parmesan and parsley.