Food

Mark Bittman: Cooking for crowds on the fly

You're busy. You're frazzled. You have guests in your house and you're not sure what to feed them.

Not to worry: Mark Bittman has answers. Here, the longtime food writer and author of "How to Cook Everything" spells out how to create yummy, homemade dishes in a hurry. Whether you need to make a dessert, a potluck dish, an impromptu snack, a celebratory entrée or a fun breakfast with kids, these recipes will have you covered.

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Yield: At least 8 servings
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Serves 4 Servings
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Yield: 30 to 40 puffs Servings
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To make blue cheese shortbread, substitute 1 cup crumbled blue cheese for a cup of the Emmental cheese.

To make pecorino cheese shortbread, substitute 1 cup each grated pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese for the Emmental.

To make herbed cheese shortbread, add 1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, like parsley, chives, dill and/or basil, with a little tarragon.

To make spiced cheese shortbread, use 2 to 3 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder for an Indian flair, caraway for an Eastern European flavor, pimenton (smoked paprika) for a Spanish-style snack, or toasted cumin seeds for a North African twist.

To make prosciutto shortbread, reduce the cheese to 1 cup and use finely grated Parmesan. Chop several thin slices of prosciutto into pieces and add them to the food processor in Step 1.

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To make vegetarian ravioli nudi, substitute 1 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh, for the meat. Add another egg and increase the Parmesan to 3/4 cup and the parsley to 1/2 cup. Allow the bread crumb mixture to rest for at least 10 minutes before shaping into balls. Proceed with the recipe, cooking the dumplings until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes.

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