THE MINIMALIST ENTERTAINS
The prolific New York Times columnist Bittman is now on his eighth edited or co-authored book in as many years. Like many entertaining-based cookbooks, Bittman's is organized by dinner menus: 10 for each season. Charmingly titled ("A Meal for Questionable Weather," "A Cool Dinner for a Hot Night," etc.), the meals rely heavily on simple Asian and Mediterranean techniques like stir-frying and braising. Impressive but eminently do-able entrées like Curried Mussels, Roast Tomato Frittata, and Pasta with Dark Red Duck Sauce are probably his hallmark, but Bittman also shows a flair for assembling succulent, long-cooking dishes like Kale, Sausage and Mushroom Stew and Slow-Cooked Leg of Lamb with Fresh Mint Sauce. For desserts, he shies away from labor-intensive baking projects; more typical are forgiving foods to be prepared ahead of time like Pineapple-Ginger Sorbet and Coconut Rice Pudding. Bittman prefaces each menu with tips, timetables and wine recommendations. The recipes themselves are airily laid out—one page per recipe, rarely more than eight or 10 ingredients—so that although home cooks may be preparing four or five dishes at once, it scarcely seems like a challenge. As for the author, it seems as if he could keep on making life easier for time-pressed gourmands ad infinitum—as long as you keep it simple, you need never run out of inspiration. (Apr.)
Forecast:While Bittman's newest may not achieve the large sales of his blockbuster How to Cook Everything, his easy style and innovative flavor combinations will still meet with applause from home cooks everywhere.