Some inspiration: A varied collection of dishes you can bring to someone’s home this winter, whether or not it’s the holidays. We’re sticking to snacks, sides, and mains here — desserts are for another day. Feel free to add your go-to’s in the comments.
And next Friday (12/17), also from 1 to 3 p.m. EST, we’ll be talking about our holiday favorite dishes here on The Bittman Project. Consider it a recipe swap.
Crudités (or Pinzomonio)
Done right, crudités should bear no resemblance to the pathetic dried-up celery sticks and sour cream soup-mix dip you see at office parties. Instead, this dipping sauce and its variation are based on two Italian appetizers: pinzomonio and bagna cauda. A key is to use the best olive oil you can lay your hands on; another is to serve a wide variety of the very freshest raw or just-cooked vegetables.
You can use whole cherry tomatoes, jicama or carrot sticks, sliced celery and fennel, radishes, endive spears, and sugar snap peas. Vegetables that are strong-flavored, too tough when raw, or simply not very enjoyable raw — asparagus spears, string beans, small potatoes, and so on — should be lightly steamed or boiled, pulled from the water while still crisp, and shocked in a bowl of ice water. Then there are the in-betweens: broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and other root vegetables. Thinly sliced (or when small) these can be delicious raw, though some people prefer them slightly cooked. Once you have trimmed and cooked them as needed, cut the vegetables into manageable pieces.
Prepare as few or as many vegetables as time allows, and store raw vegetables in ice water to keep them crisp, and keep the barely cooked ones in an airtight container; both will hold well for a day or so. Drain and dry the vegetables before serving, and let them come to room temperature. If you’re making bagna cauda, prepare the oil an hour or two in advance and simply reheat it before serving; use a fondue pot if you’ve got one, but an earthenware dish is fine, too
Makes: 8 servings
Time: 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how involved you want to get
3 to 4 pounds assorted crudités (see headnote)
1 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare all the vegetables as described in the headnote and store for later or put into serving pieces (small bowls, glassware, and platters all work).
2. Mix the oil with a large pinch of salt and put it in one or two bowls. Serve the vegetables with the oil as a dip
Bagna Cauda: This is a little more complicated. Combine in a saucepan (or a fondue pot) 4 ounces anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil (you can couple of tablespoons of olive oil if you’d like); 1 tablespoon minced garlic; and 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary or savory (or 2 teaspoons dried). Turn the heat as low as possible. Cook, stirring constantly, until the anchovies break up, about 10 minutes (do not let the garlic brown). Add lots of freshly ground pepper and transfer the dip to an earthenware dish or set the fondue pot over its burner. Taste and add a bit of salt if necessary; you may not need any. (Keep warm or set aside for up to a couple of hours, then reheat just before serving.) Serve the warm dip alongside the vegetables.
6 Ways to Cook Meatballs (and they’re not all meat)
The best use for plain-Jane button mushrooms, which have a fine shape for stuffing and benefit from a crisp, intensely-flavored, cheesy filling.
1 pound large button mushrooms
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, as needed
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Clean the mushrooms and trim off the bottom of the stems. Remove the stems, taking care to leave the caps intact. Chop the stems and combine them with the egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Stir enough oil into the mixture to make it shine— a tablespoon or two. Lightly grease a baking sheet with more oil. Stuff the mushroom caps with the stem mixture and put on the baking sheet, stuffed side up. Bake until lightly browned on top, about 15 minutes. Let cool a little, then serve hot or at room temperature, on toothpicks or with napkins.
Read on for
Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin,
Chicken and Fennel Salad,
Chicken Adobo and,
Pozole and Pork