Mark Bittman wants you to eat your veggies. At least until 6:00, when you can add some meat or, even better, fish into your diet. He wants you to stock your pantry, fill your freezer, and arm yourself with some, albeit a few, essential kitchen tools. Basically, Mark Bittman wants you in the kitchen.
Bittman, the prolific cookbook author and former New York Times columnist, has recently taken a job with The Purple Carrot, one of the many ready-to-make meal kit programs popping up (although this one has a plant-based twist). But that doesn’t mean Bittman is leaving cookbooks behind.
His latest, Kitchen Matrix, is a mash-up and compilation of his well-received Matrix column from the New York Times. Each essay focused on a single ingredient or technique, then presented, via vivid photography, different variations laid out in a matrix.
Kitchen Matrix is a gorgeous book. Thick, heavy paper, minimalist photography and ample white space allow the eye to wander (although the small size of the font itself may cause weariness in those of us whose eyes aren’t what they used to be). My favorite section, perhaps because Thanksgiving is just weeks away, is “Thanksgiving Leftovers, 20 Ways.” Here, Bittman suggests using those leftover mashed potatoes for everything from garlic-rosemary potato fritters to a spicy potato gratin.
That’s all well and good if you actually know how to cook. Kitchen Matrix is not for beginning cooks. The recipes are brief, in paragraph form, and, again, in a small font. Although it’s charming to read 20 different recipes on a single page, it’s challenging to follow a recipe that’s snuggled tightly against its contemporaries.
That said, recipes aren’t given the paragraph treatment throughout the entire book. “Steak 3 Ways” uses a traditional recipe 1-2-3 format, alongside a memoir snippet of Bittman’s childhood growing up in New York City. The book has an international flair, with traditional, all-American recipes scattered throughout.
Kitchen Matrix is ideal for creative or inventive home cooks who like to think outside the recipe. Ideally, a beginning cook could start with one of Bittman’s earlier books, such as How to Cook Everything, and use Kitchen Matrix as a comparison or companion book to get new ideas. Either way, Kitchen Matrix presents inspired variations for the home cook who likes a challenge.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging with Books for review; all opinions are my own.