Mark Bitmann‘s How To Cook Everything is not only one of my favourite cookbooks, it’s also likely the cookbook that has made the biggest impact in how I cook (and how we eat).
Throughout the cookbook, Bitmann presents the basic recipe—say quick pickles—and then often includes four or five simple twists that can take that principle dish in a number of different directions (Asian quick pickles, spicy quick pickles, kimchi, etc.) It’s a great way of mastering the basics and then layering or alternating flavours to make it your own.
Bitmann also talks and writes a lot about being Vegan before 6pm (VB6). I’m not remotely close to doing that, but I almost always have a vegetarian breakfast and I try to eat vegetarian each day at lunch. We try to make at least two vegetarian dinners a week.
This is a simple and great vegetarian dish, perfect for a Meatless Monday and ready in minutes (and likely the ideal dish to have after a Sunday diner of buttermilk fried chicken).
It can also be modified numerous ways—by adding fresh herbs, changing the vegetables with the seasons, incorporating hot chiles, using different sauces, etc.
Root Vegetable Pancakes by Mark Bitmann
1.5 pounds (640 grams) grated vegetables, squeezed dry (we used beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, a parsnip and white potatoes)
half a small onion, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
butter or oil for shallow frying
1. Heat the oven to 275°F.
2. Grate the vegetables using a box grater or the grating disk of a food processor, squeeze dry (you can do this by hand or roll them up in a tea towel).
3. Combine the grated vegetables, onion, egg and 1/4 cup of the flour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. The vegetables should start to bind together.
4. Put a little butter or a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, drop in spoonfuls of the batter, using a fork to spread the vegetables into an even layer, pressing down a bit. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding. Cook, turning once, until nicely crisp and browned on both sides—about five minutes.
5. Transfer the crispy finished pancakes to the oven until all are finished. Serve hot or at room temperature.