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    The Basics of Measuring Devices, Straining Devices, Miscellaneous Tools
       excerpted from How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

      ... see great recipes from Mark Bittman the Minimalist on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    Chapter One

    The Basics of Measuring Devices

    A set of measuring spoons is essential; two are even better, because one is always dirty at just the wrong moment. Same with measuring cups; two sets are better than one. Start with a two-cup glass or plastic cup for liquids, and a set of one-quarter--to one-cup dry measures (they're not the same thing). When you're ready, buy a four-cup glass measure, and another set of dry measures.

    A scale is not essential, but as you progress in your cooking you will find it useful. (When cookbooks call for "one pound potatoes," you'll actually know what that means.) Electronic scales are overpriced; get a spring-loaded scale with an easily adjusted zero so you can readily compensate for the "tare" (the weight of the container holding your ingredient).

    The Basics of Straining Devices

    Anything with holes in it to drain liquid or force through pureed food is a strainer. You need more of these than you think, although it's fine to buy them as you need them. A colander is the first order of business, and you need it desperately, because you want to have pasta for dinner.

    Soon, though, if not immediately, you'll also want a fine-meshed strainer as well, and probably two--one large, one small. A food mill is essential if you want to make applesauce or pureed tomato sauce, but you will be able to live without it if neither of those matter to you.

    The Basics of Miscellaneous Tools

    Some tools are too obvious to mention. But beyond a can opener:

    * Cheese grater: This can be a small, handheld device for grating Parmesan directly onto pasta, as long as you have a food processor for heavy-duty grating. Otherwise buy a sturdy box grater.

    * Instant-read thermometer: The most accurate way to determine whether food is done, especially for inexperienced cooks. You may never have cooked a leg of lamb in your life, but when that thermometer says 130 [degrees] F, you know the inside is rare. This is a near-must. If you fry, you may want a frying thermometer, which will make your life a little easier. And if your baking times seem off, buy an oven thermometer, and use it.

    * Metal racks: For cooling baked goods and roasting. Buy ones that will serve both purposes, by making sure they'll fit in your roasting pan.

    * Timer: May be manual or electronic; some electronic types allow you to time several things at once, a definite plus if you can figure out how the things work.

    * Vegetable peeler: The new U-shaped ones are best. Absolutely essential.

    * Whisks: You need at least one stiff one, for keeping sauces smooth. But you may not need more than that if you plan to beat cream, egg whites, and so on electrically. Start with a medium-sized, stiff whisk, and build from there.

    * Baking stone: If you're going to make pizzas or "boules" (page 227), you'll want one of these.

    * Brushes: Great for spreading oil, melted butter, marinades, etc. Start with a one-inch brush, and buy it at the paint store, where it'll be much cheaper.

    * Citrus reamer: You can cut a lemon in half, pick out the seeds with a knife, and squeeze. Or you an use one of these, and save twenty seconds each time.

    * Eggbeater: You can use a whisk in most cases, but if you're not going to buy an electric mixer, you will want this for those times when you must beat eggs until thick.

    * Funnel: When you want it, you'll need it.

    * Mandoline: There was a time when buying this brilliant slicing device would set you back two hundred dollars, and you can still spend that much on a heavy-duty French model. But the thirty-dollar Japanese mandolines are almost as good, and will last for years. Even if you're good with a knife, there's no way you can cut slices as quickly and uniformly as you can with a mandoline; there's a reason every good restaurant kitchen has a few lying around. I strongly recommend this tool, and just as strongly recommend that you be very, very careful when using it. Hold off on that second glass of wine until you're done slicing.

    * Melon baller: Good for coring pears and apples, too. Buy one that has some heft to it, but don't rush out this minute.

    * Pizza peel: If you have a baking stone, you'll want one. Good for large breads as well as pizza.

    * Ricer: The best tool for making mashed potatoes, and therefore Gnocchi (page 165). Only if you care about these two dishes.

    * Rolling pin: Try making a pie crust without one. Buy a straight rolling pin without ball bearings; it's lighter, more easily maneuvered, and unbreakable.

    * Salad spinner: Nice item, and not only for drying salad greens. It's excellent for dunking anything that you want to rinse and drain repeatedly. Not essential but close.

    * Skewers: Good not only for grilling but for testing for doneness. Not essential at first.

    * Steamer insert: You can steam most foods on a plate or in a bowl, but collapsible aluminum steamers are useful.

    * Zester: The easiest way to remove zest from lemons and other citrus, but not the only way; you can remove zest with a vegetable peeler and mince it by hand.

    There are other manual devices--like a pasta machine (page 155)--that you may never need. Again, it depends on what you wind up cooking (no one, or almost no one, cooks everything). My personal belief is that a time-saver you use once a year is probably not worth having. Because there are few kitchen tasks that cannot be accomplished with what you already have on hand, it doesn't really pay to make a fetish of gadgets.

    Flexi-Push Out Measuring Spoons and Cup icon Pop packed ingredients easily out of these flexible measuring cups and spoons. Hard edges and rubberized handles simplify scooping too! Specify: (628 Red) or (101 Black). Spoons: tsp., tsp., 1 tsp., and 1 Tbsp. Cups: , /3, , and 1 cup. Dishwasher-safe plastic.
    Smidgen Measuring Spoons icon Measure miniscule amounts accurately with these stainless steel measuring spoons. 4"L handles reach to the bottom of spice jars to scoop out a smidgen (/16 tsp.), pinch (/12 tsp.), or dash (/8 tsp.). Dishwasher safe.
    Tiny Measure Cup icon Measure small amounts of liquid without spills! No need to carefully balance a measuring spoon; just fill this glass measure and pour! Features markings up to 6 tsps., 2 Tbsps., 1 oz., and 30 ml. Great for medicines. Hand wash.
    Measuring Flour Sifter icon Bake precisely without dirtying multiple dishes! This sifter's built-in measuring cup collects up to 3 cups of sifted flour. Includes fine mesh screen for dusting. Non-slip base. Dishwasher-safe plastic/stainless steel.
    Multi Mixer icon This mixing pitcher offers easy pushbutton blending! Just add ingredients, press, and pour for dressings, sauces and marinades-then store in fridge. Easy-read markings up to 2 cups, 16 oz. and 500 ml make measuring convenient. Dishwasher-safe plastic. 4"Lx4"Wx5/3"H.

    How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
    Great Food Made Simple!
    Here's the breakthrough one-stop cooking reference for today's generation of cooks! Nationally known cooking authority Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare great food for all occasions using simple techniques, fresh ingredients, and basic kitchen equipment. Just as important, How to Cook Everything takes a relaxed, straightforward approach to cooking, so you can enjoy yourself in the kitchen and still achieve outstanding results.
    Buy this book at Barnes & Noble

    The Minimalist Cooks Dinner: More than 100 Recipes for Fast Weeknight Meals and Casual Entertaining
    Back with another splendid collection, America’s most popular cooking authority and author of How to Cook Everything, presents more than 100 fast, sophisticated main courses for home cooks of every skill level.
    The Minimalist Cooks Dinner showcases Mark Bittman’s signature ease and imagination, and focuses on center-of-the-plate main dishes. And, in this new volume, he also provides recipes for classic, versatile side dishes as well as recommendations for wine and food pairings. With a majority of its main dish recipes taking less than thirty minutes to prepare, this is truly the book every busy cook has been waiting for. Every recipe in The Minimalist Cooks Dinner is big on flavor, drawing on the global pantry and international repertoire that sets Bittman apart.
    This inventive collection offers a refreshing new take on standards, along with ideas that will inspire both novices and experienced home cooks to branch out, making it the perfect solution for weeknight after-work meals or elegant weekend dinner parties. From Steamed Chicken Breasts with Scallion-Ginger Sauce to Korean-Style Beef Wrapped in Lettuce Leaves to Roast Fish with Meat Sauce, Bittman banishes the ordinary with an exciting range of choices. Also covering hearty pasta dishes, steaks, pork, veal, lamb, chicken, and a wide assortment of seafood, The Minimalist Cooks Dinner is the answer when you’re looking for “satisfying dishes with a minimum of effort.”
    About the Author: Mark Bittman is the creator and author of the popular weekly New York Times column “The Minimalist,” and a frequent contributor to the newspaper’s Dining InDining Out section. His previous books include The Minimalist Cooks at Home (winner of an IACP Award), How to Cook Everything (a four-time award winner, with more than 400,000 copies in print), Fish (winner of an IACPJulia Child Cookbook Award) and, with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef (winner of a James Beard Award) and Simple to Spectacular. He lives in Connecticut.
    Buy this book at Barnes & Noble

    Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times : Featuring 350 Recipes from the Author of how to Cook Everything and the Best Recipes in the World
    Mark Bittman’s New York Times column, “The Minimalist,” is one of the most frequently clipped parts of the paper’s Dining section. For Bittman’s millions of fans who regularly pore over their clippings, here is reason to rejoice: A host of Bittman’s wonderfully delicious and easy recipes, 350 in all, are now available in a single paperback.
    In sections that cover everything from appetizers, soups, and sauces to meats, vegetables, side dishes, and desserts, Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times showcases the elegant and flexible cooking style for which Bittman is famous, as well as his deep appreciation for fresh ingredients prepared with minimal fuss. Readers will find tantalizing recipes from all over, each requiring little more than basic techniques and a handful of ingredients. Cold Tomato Soup with Rosemary, Parmesan Cups with Orzo Risotto, Slow-Cooked Ribs, Pumpkin Panna Cotta—the dishes here are perfect for simple weeknight family meals or stress-free entertaining. Certain to appeal to anyone—from novices to experienced cooks—who wants to whip up a sophisticated and delicious meal easily, this is a collection to savor, and one destined to become a kitchen classic.
    Buy this book at Barnes& Noble
    The Best Recipes in the World: More than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home
    In this highly ambitious and accomplished work, which spans the globe, Mark Bittman gathers the best recipes that people cook every day on every continent in the world. And when he brings his immensely popular no-frills approach to dishes that might previously have been considered “exotic,” cooks gladly follow where they once feared to tread.
    Bittman, in more than one thousand recipes, shows American cooks that there are so many other places besides Italy or France to turn to for inspiration. Asian food now rivals European cuisine’s popularity, and this book reflects that: it’s the first to give equal emphasis to European and Asian cuisine, and the easy-to-follow recipes for such favorites as Stir-Fried Vegetables with Nam Pla from Vietnam, Pad Thai from Thailand, Salmon Teriyaki from Japan, Black Bean and Garlic Spareribs from China, and Tandoori Chicken from India will be a hit with home cooks looking to add exciting new tastes and cosmopolitan flair to their everyday cooking. In addition, other less-familiar cuisines such as Turkish, Spanish, and Mexican are also explored in depth.
    Shop locally, cook globally–Mark Bittman makes it so easy: • Many recipes can be made ahead or prepared in under thirty minutes
    • More than one hundred line drawings
    • Sidebars and instructional drawings make unfamiliar techniques a snap
    • 52 international menus, information on ingredients, and much more make this an essential addition to any cook’s shelf

    The Best Recipes in the World is destined to be a classic that will change the way Americans think about everyday food.It’s simply like no other cookbook in the world.
    Buy this book at Barnes & Noble


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