Bittman takes a bite out of baking with new cookbook

map-mark-bittman-cMAPLEWOOD, NJ — Mark Bittman admits that his latest cookbook, “How to Bake Everything,” does not actually include every single recipe a person can make. But it does contain just about everything one could ever want.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, at Words Bookstore, Bittman will be signing copies of his book, which features more than 2,000 recipes and variations, from mouthwatering crunchy toffee cookies to delicious gingerbread whoopie pies. Those with a more exotic palate are sure to be satisfied as well, since it also contains a number of international delights. That means home chefs will be able to add Nordic ruis and Afghan snowshoe naan to their repertoire.

And, since this is a Bittman cookbook, the recipes are all straightforward and easy to prepare. As the former New York Times food writer explained, that is just his nature.

“I’m a simple person and a simple cook,” Bittman, who authored the bestselling classic “How to Cook Everything,” told the News-Record in a Sept. 26 email. “If it’s really complicated, it isn’t in here.”

Bittman said it took him several years to finish “How to Bake Everything.” He started by making lists of recipes that covered much-loved dishes, essentials and new concoctions that he was meaning to try. Before proceeding, he made sure that all chosen recipes reflected a range of flavors, techniques, variations and levels of difficulty. Then he polished, wrote and tested them.

Though he does not like to play favorites, Bittman admitted that the finished product does include several delights he cannot help but mention. The chocolate almond cookies in particular are “the best cookies I’ve ever tasted,” he said, while the lemon tart is “amazing.” Then there are his “awesome” bread techniques, which have been honed by nearly 50 years of bread baking. And that is only to name a few.

“I could go on, but modesty prevents that,” Bittman said.

Bittman did not forget about his health-conscious fans, as he is the one who introduced the world to the concept of being vegan before 6 p.m. — a notion he says will help you live a healthier life. The author said he wanted to make sure there was something for everyone in the book, which is why he included plenty of vegan and gluten-free variations of recipes. Those dishes do taste a bit different, he said, but that does not mean people should be afraid to try them.

“They wouldn’t be in here if they weren’t good,” Bittman said.

Clearly, Bittman has not forgotten the virtues of simple and healthy food that he extolled for years as a Times columnist. In fact, he left the newspaper in 2015 to join The Purple Carrot, a vegan meal-kit company that makes it easier for busy people to eat plant-based foods. Today, he works as a fellow with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program, contributing to its efforts to make food more sustainable, affordable and healthy.

But one does not have to be a food expert to have a healthy diet. Bittman said it is actually quite simple. First, he said, any food that makes one ill is actually junk that should not be eaten. Second, he said, people need to make more of an effort to eat foods from the vegetable kingdom instead of the animal one.

Of course, even the healthiest of people want to eat something besides greens. And thanks to “How to Bake Everything,” they now have plenty of options.

“Everyone needs treats,” Bittman said. “We might as well eat good ones.”

Bittman’s Words appearance begins at 7:30 p.m. Preregistration is recommended and all attendees are required to purchase a copy of “How to Bake Everything.” To buy it online, visit http://wordsbookstore.com/.

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