Bittman's 101 Holiday Recipes

Mark Bittman (the Minimalist) unveiled his 101 Things to Prepare in Advance for Thanksgiving, but some of these recipes could be used for parties or everyday eating.

Here are my picks:

#27: unique way to use cranberries & polenta

#42: a novel, out-of-the-box way to cook brussels sprouts, the "it" vegetable of the moment

#53: see my previous photo of purple cauliflower to make this recipe

#62: with frozen spinach on hand in the freezer, make this dish for any night of the week

#85: pair these biscuits with any of Bittman's soups for a quick work-day lunch or dinner

#101: probably the easiest dessert or first course to make ... 

Two Brothers Ebel's Weiss Beer

Ebel's Weiss Beer is a German-style hefe weizen that is sweet with notes of clove, vanilla, and banana. It is one of those easy to drink beers that just hits the spot after a long day.

Two Brothers is a family owned small craft brewery located in the suburbs of Chicago.  I was first introduced to this brewery at the Odd Pairs event in October.  Luckily, the beer is sold at Drinks Over Dearborn along with another Two Brothers favorite, Domaine Dupage French Country Ale. 


Spaghetti with Red Wine and Pecorino

Got some leftover red wine? Need a quick meal for one?  Try this easy & tasty pasta dish with red wine and pecorino cheese. 

Spaghetti with Red Wine and Pecorino 

adapted from
Leite's Culinaria 

serves one

1/4 pound spaghetti
Salt, as needed
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling before serving
1/2 - 1 cup good quality light, dry red wine (or use what you have on hand)
2-3 tablespoons Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated)

optional: pinch of red pepper flakes and/or black pepper

Bring 1-2 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Stir in the spaghetti and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spaghetti. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water. In the meantime, in an ample skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the spaghetti and toss.

Gradually add the red wine, 1/4 cup at a time, tossing continually, until the wine is absorbed by the pasta.

When the red wine is almost entirely absorbed, add the Pecorino cheese. Serve very hot.


I can't think of a bad recipe that contains eggs, corn tortillas, onions, and peppers.  Most of the time I have all of these ingredients in the refrigerator so it makes for a quick dinner time decision.  I have another migas recipe that isn't exactly the same as this one but the addition of chorizo and a homemade tomato coulis sounds amazing.

Migas means "crumbs" in Spanish, and it seems like almost anything could be tossed into the saucepan -- beans, various types of cheeses, chorizo.  While I am sure it is equally as good for breakfast (especially for those eaters with hangovers), I happily enjoyed this dish for dinner.  If you have corn tortillas, frying them in canola oil is a very easy step. Although you could crush some tortilla chips, but there is just something special about a freshly salted piping hot tortilla....


serves 1-2 

Adapted from 

The Pioneer Woman

1/2 small yellow onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 small tomato
1/2 jalapeno 
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 corn tortillas (or substitute 1/2 cup crushed corn tortilla chips)
Canola oil for frying
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
2-3 ounces grated Mexican Cotija, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack Cheese (I used Pecorino Romano)
1-2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
A couple dollops of sour cream

Begin by roughly chopping the onion, bell pepper, and tomato. Finely dice the fresh jalapeño, removing white membranes and seeds, using disposable gloves to protect your hands.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs and half-and-half or cream. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

Finally, in a small skillet, fry the corn tortillas in canola oil until just barely crisp. Fry them just until they're no longer floppy. Drain the fried tortillas on a paper towel, then place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut the tortillas into strips. Then turn them in the other direction and cut into large squares. Set aside.

In a skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil and butter until they develop a little color. The veggies should have some brown and black areas, but not be soggy or soft.

Next, throw the tomatoes in the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Then throw in the tortilla chips and the jalapeño. Stir the mixture and reduce the heat to low.

When the skillet has cooled slightly, pour in the egg mixture. With a spatula, very gently fold the mixture together, allowing the eggs to cook slowly. Do not stir the mixture, just turn it lightly.

When the eggs are cooked, throw in the cheese and plenty of chopped cilantro. Taste to check the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or cheese as needed. Top with a dollop of sour cream and serve on a plate with fresh fruit, black beans or home fries.

Mushroom Bourguignon

Mushroom Bourguignon

I had a bag of cremini mushrooms and half a bottle of red wine that were calling out "cook us together".  Since all things Julia Child are everywhere, I thought I would make this vegetarian version that could be made in less time (or thyme) than the traditional bourguignon.  As with the originial, the wine does make a difference.  I used a French red from the Chateauneuf du Pape region, and it is as good to cook with as it is to drink.  An American Pinot Noir would also work well.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen's recipe

Serves 1-2

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (save the stems for another use) (you could also use portobello mushrooms, as well)

1 small carrot, peeled & finely diced

1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup full-bodied red wine (be sure to save some for the cook!)

1 cups beef or vegetable broth 

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon fresh)

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen; I did not use these)

Cooked egg noodles or spaghetti, for serving

Sour cream or creme fraiche and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and a 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.

Lower the flame to medium and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for ten more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.

Add the wine to the pan, scraping any stuck bits (or's culinary vocabulary lesson) off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Return the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. If using, add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.

Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew as the butter/flour combo will thicken the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.

To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles or spaghetti, dollop with sour cream or creme fraiche and sprinkle with chives or parsley (optional).