Enter Our 'Always Pan' Giveaway (Worth $145)
Plus, a roundup of some of your favorite gadgets
Thanks for visiting The Bittman Project, a place where food is everything (or pretty close).
Oh, hey, free subscribers. We love you and have what we hope will be an incentive to bring you fully into our camp. We’re giving away two Always Pans; all you have to do is subscribe for an annual or monthly membership. Everyone who is a paying member by Thursday, April 15 will be automatically entered.
About the Always Pan: Most of us on the team have it and have been cooking with it for a while now. We’ve concluded that it has the best nonstick coating of any pan we've ever used. (And we’ve used a lot.) The pan is billed as the same or better option than something like eight pieces of cooking equipment you probably have in your kitchen -- and is priced accordingly. Well: It’s certainly versatile, and we’re in love with the coating, which the manufacturer says is proprietary, ceramic, non-toxic, and long-lasting. (And for what it's worth, the pan, which is aluminum with a ceramic shell, is really good-looking.)
Past today’s update, we’ve included a trio of vegetarian meals you might consider making in your Always Pan.
Some of your favorite gadgets (thank you!)
A while ago (OK, pre-pandemic: I’m sorry!) we asked you what some of your favorite kitchen gadgets were. We got so many responses (yay) that I became slightly overwhelmed; I’m happy to report that I’ve now compiled a handful of them for your perusal. It’s a small but mighty collection, and we hope you’ll join us for tomorrow’s discussion thread (open to everyone!) where we’ll be, hopefully, adding to this list.
A small, super accessible knife sharpener
“I dumped my electric knife sharpener. However high end and well-reviewed, it now collects dust. This is bad a$$. Indispensable to me. Costly but worth every cent — it works great!”
Kate’s note: I wholeheartedly agree. I have a heavy plug-in sharpener that I never use because it feels like such a project, but this little one sits on the counter, demanding no space, and is always ready when I need it — takes three seconds to get a super sharp knife. Could not recommend it more highly.
A workhorse of a vegetable peeler
“My husband and I cannot cook without the WMF vegetable peeler. The plastic one with the iron blade which runs about $5.00. We bought ours in Europe but the same one is sold here at Amazon under the Kuhn Rikon name – original Swiss peeler.”
Kate: Yup. This is the only peeler that makes the whole butternut squash process somewhat less painful.
“I finally gifted myself a Thermapen last Christmas. I had lusted for one for years watching every chef on TV use one. I have had oodles and oodles of thermometers over the years hoping that less expensive models would work out and they were consistently inconsistent...I'm a happy happy girl now. The pork is never overcooked, the chicken is perfect. Fantastic!”
Kate: We got multiple reader recommendations for the Thermapen, and you may know how much our team loves it. We also got a recommendation for the ThermoPop.
Beautiful dish towels you can feel good about
“These towels are colorful, soft, absorbent, and easy to care for. They are made from recycled cotton saris and provide work for marginalized producers in eastern India (around 70 percent women). The organization selling them online, SERVV international, helps global producers achieve sustainability, offering fair market wages upfront for their wares.”
Kate: Beautiful + wonderful cause = easy decision.
“Boos cutting boards in cherry and black walnut (softer woods, thus easier on knives).”
Kate: These have been on my wish list forever and I think I’m about to take the plunge. Mark’s lives on the counter; it’s almost all he uses.
The Bittman Project Recipe Archive
I know that one of the downsides of emailing our recipes directly to you is that if you want to come back to them days, or weeks, or months later, they can be harder to find. So, here’s a running list of every recipe that we’ve published on The Bittman Project so far, organized into categories, just for our members. It’ll live on our homepage (but we’ll also try to remind you that it exists from time to time), and we’ll update it weekly as we publish new recipes.
Makes: 2 servings
Time: 8 minutes, if you’re in a hurry
Start with tomato-y beans (assuming you don't already have some buried in your freezer, I've included a basic recipe below), add some rolled oats, water, salt and pepper, and in 10 minutes (more or less) you've got a wonderful and totally surprising breakfast. Of course, this would be no less satisfying as lunch or dinner.
¾ cup cooked beans in tomato sauce (see below)
¾ cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups water, more or less
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick. I like this kind of soupy, so I usually add a little more water.
2. Taste and adjust seasoning. If time allows, if you don’t like your stews tongue-burning hot, or if you just need a little more time, cover and let sit. The mixture will thicken further.
3. Garnish as desired and eat.
Beans and Tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallot or scallion
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomato (drained canned is fine)
4 cups cooked or canned navy or pea beans, drained
1/2 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, juice from canned tomatoes, or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.Put the butter or oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the shallot and cook, stirring, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for about 30 seconds.
2. Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until it breaks up and becomes “saucy,” about 10 minutes. Then add the beans and stock and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes.
— Recipe from Mark Bittman
Buckwheat Crepes, Sweet or Savory
Makes: 8 to 12 crepes, depending on the size
Time: 40 minutes
Crepes are the pancakes that eat like tortillas—thin and perfect for stuffing with sweet or savory fillings. They’re perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, a light supper, or dessert, and the batter can be made a day ahead. What more do you want? Well, they could be a little easier to cook: Use a nonstick or well-seasoned skillet. To turn, lift the edge with a spatula and use your fingers to pull it up off the pan, then put the other side down in the pan. But after a few tries—the first one or two crepes almost never work, even for professionals—you’ll get the knack. And there’s plenty of batter to make up for the loss.
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 ⁄ 4 cup all-purpose flour
1 ⁄ 2 cup milk, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 ⁄ 8 teaspoon salt
Butter for cooking
Filling of your choice (see below)
1. Put the buckwheat and all-purpose flours in a large bowl with the eggs, milk, melted butter, and salt. Add 1 cup water and whisk until smooth. (You can do this in a blender if you like.) If the batter isn’t quite pourable, add a little more water. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
2. Heat the oven to 200°F. Put a large skillet (preferably nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron or steel) over medium heat and wait a couple of minutes; add a small pat of butter. When the butter melts, spread it over the surface. Stir the batter with a large spoon or ladle and pour about 2 tablespoons into the skillet. Swirl it around so that it forms a thin layer almost covering the bottom of the pan.
3. When the top of the crêpe is dry, after about 1 minute, turn it and cook the other side for 15 to 30 seconds. (The crêpe should brown only very slightly and not become at all crisp.) Bear in mind that the first crêpe almost never works, so discard it if necessary.
4. Repeat the process, adding butter to the skillet and adjusting the heat as needed, until all the batter is used up. Stack the crêpes on an ovenproof plate and hold in the oven, then fill and fold them all at once. Or better still, fill and fold each crêpe while it’s still in the pan and serve as it’s ready; if you want the filling warmed, keep the pan over low heat for a few minutes.
5. To fill and roll or fold crêpes: Put the filling over half the crêpe, fold over the other half to enclose it, then fold in half again. Or put the filling in the center of the bottom third and start rolling at the end with the filling.) Return to the skillet and warm gently to heat the filling if you like. Slide it onto a plate and serve.
6 Fillings or Toppings for Sweet Crepes
As simple as sugar and lemon juice, or any of the following:
1. Any jam, jelly, marmalade, or macerated fruit
2. Nutella or any nut butter, including peanut butter
3. Any peeled, seeded, pitted, or cored fresh fruit, cooked briefly with sugar to taste, butter if you like, and a little rum or cinnamon.
4. Crème fraîche, sour cream, or yogurt (sweetened, if you like)
5. Brown butter, sprinkled with ground cinnamon, cardamom, and/or cloves
6. Caramel sauce (not too much)
4 Fillings for Savory Crepes
Gruyère and ham are the most common fillings for savory crêpes, but of course, there are other possibilities.
1. Any grated, thinly sliced, or crumbled cheese like Gruyère, Brie, soft goat, mozzarella, cheddar, or fresh cheese
2. Cooked, drained, and chopped vegetables, reheated in butter or oil; don’t bother to chop vegetables whose shape is naturally suited to rolled crêpes, like asparagus spears
3. Any thick stew of vegetables, meat, chicken, or seafood
4. Cooked beans or lentils
—Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition
Scrambled Eggs, Mark’s Way
Time: Less than 5 minutes
Makes: 2 to 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1. Crack the eggs on a flat, hard surface and open them into a bowl. Sprinkle with some salt and whisk until the yolks and whites are just combined.
2. Put the oil or butter in a cold medium skillet, preferably nonstick. Pour in the eggs and turn the heat to medium-high. Let the eggs cook for just a few seconds to heat up and begin to curdle, then stir frequently, scraping the sides of the pan.
3. As the eggs curdle, some parts may look like they’re drying out or cooking too fast; whenever you see that, remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring until the cooking slows down a bit. Then return the pan to the heat and continue cooking. The eggs are done when they’re creamy, soft, and still a bit runny; do not overcook or the eggs will become tough. (If you like them that way, go ahead.) Serve right away, sprinkled with more salt and some pepper if you like.
— Recipe from Mark Bittman
I bought an Always Pan due to your recommendation. It's pretty and works quite well - for now. However, after I bought the pan I saw this: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/always-pan-our-place/ If it wears out after a year I will be really frustrated. I don't have that kind of money to throw around and could have spent a LOT less on a different product. I bought a subscription to obtain high quality information. What is your long-term use experience? Thanks.
A few months ago I bit the bullet and put out for an electric knife sharpener. Works great, and after going through a series of cheap-o types I don’t regret having it. But... some knives get a lot more use than others, and it’s kind of a hassle to pull out the electrical unless I am doing them all. I am going to invest in this little gem, I expect it will match my sharpening needs perfectly.