Ellen Clifford
November 08, 2014 2:00 pm

I think of Mark Bittman as my boyfriend. In cookbook form. The one I can come home to late at night. The one I don’t have to dress up for, but like to anyway. The one who makes me want be a better me. Or at least. . . a more well-rounded cook.

Maybe if I had a love life I’d feel different about Bittman, but at the moment he takes the cake. The vegetarian cake. That’s a pretty specific cake, but I’ve got other men that take my musical cake (Trent Reznor), acting cake (Ewan McGregor) and literary cake (Sydney Carton). Okay so the last one is a fictional character but I can’t do anything about that.

I first fell for Bittman’s cooking on his various PBS shows. Then a friend gifted me with his magical How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and I went from having a schoolgirl crush to being a Woman With Strong Feelings. [Perhaps I have too much of an attachment to the printed word but. . .well I don’t have a good reason for that. It just is.]

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is like a hipper, slightly more worldly, vegetarian (with vegan options) version of my desert island cookbook The Joy of Cooking.  It is ridiculously informative and comprehensive. It will teach you how to nourish yourself. It is also written by someone who obviously has strong feelings for his favorites. You will also learn that Bittman is quite the experimental chef. Almost every recipe has variations which make them so accessible. If you don’t have one ingredient in the recipe, chances are there is a variation using something else.

I figured I should give you the recipe that I would ask Mark to prepare for me, should I be blessed with a dinner date with him. I wondered if I should ask for strawberries, asparagus and other aphrodisiac foods? Or should he just KNOW that is what I’d want if he is the ideal man? All boyfriends should be mind-readers, but that’s another story. If this were the case, he’d know that I actually want him to make me something warm and comforting to combat the cooling autumn air. He’d know that I want something that involves carbs. And he’d know that I’ll be thrilled if the dish is a lil’ bit healthy too.

As for what I’d cook for Mark, I’d bring him pie. Pie is how I show love. But I think I would want him to make me these griddlecakes. They are a great savory dish, and can be served with almost any sauce that suits your fancy. I ate mine with salsa, because I like things hot. It was a spicy date with. . .myself. But if you don’t romance yourself, you are missing out. So whether there is a significant other to make these with you or not, you should definitely treat yourself regardless. I promise you’ll feel the love!

Griddlecakes Made from Oatmeal adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

  • around 4 Tbsp. of neutral oil or butter (I used butter!)
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion (pro tip: if you only need a small portion of the onion you are chopping, go ahead and chop the rest and keep it in the freezer-having chopped onion on hand saves a lot of time)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk, halfandhalf or cream (I used half-and-half)
  • 2 cups cooked oatmeal, cooled a little bit but not so long that it turns solid. If it does just whisk like the dickens to loosen it up.(Take one cup of dry oatmeal-preferably the old-fashioned kind-and add 2 cups of water. Cook either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Follow the package instructions.)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Heat two tablespoons of the oil or butter in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Stir and cook until it begins to brown, then turn the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally until they are soft and caramelized. Take off the heat.

In a bowl, whisk the egg and milk, then whisk in the oatmeal until mixed completely. Add the flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt and stir just long enough to combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Heat more oil or butter over medium-high heat and when it is good and hot, drop heaping tablespoons of batter in and cook until browned on each side. Add more oil or butter as needed. Serve soon!

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