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Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,028 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
101 super-quick and ultra-easy recipes for each of the four seasons--totaling a whopping 404 recipes--from award-winning cookbook author and popular New York Times columnist Mark Bittman.

- A celebrated author with a huge following: The author of the perennial bestseller How to Cook Everything, mark Bittman is known across the country as "The minimalist." His more than two
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2009)
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May 25, 2012 marked it as to-read
I've only made one recipe from this book, back when it was first released in 2009 and I was barely a year out of college, thinking about leaving my parents' house but totally unprepared to do so in a "having practical adult skills" kind of way.

I was house-sitting for a relative for a night and didn't want the typical pizza/Chinese/fast food options, so I photocopied a recipe from this book at work (yes, seriously) and took it home. The recipe I made was some kind of fish with jalapeno lime butt
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-cookbooks
I'm biased. I love Mark Bittman's recipes - they are simple, easy to understand, and delicious. Perhaps best of all, he provides plenty of room for improvisation. This book is the epitome of leaving room for the chef's tastes and flavors to emerge. He basically gives just the gist of the recipe. It's fine as is, but there's room for addition/subtraction. The recipes are very brief - there are 2 - 3 per page.

Here's one called Broccoli Rabe and Garlic Soup: In a 450 degree oven, roast a handful
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-drink
My husband brought home this book a few weeks ago, and we have been using it regularly since. It's basically my new favorite cookbook, and I cook from it almost every time it's my turn to make dinner.

1. The recipes are creative and sometimes surprising, and always good.
2. You really can make these recipes in about 20 minutes, if you have the right ingredients on hand.
3. Bittman begins this book by telling you how to stock your pantry so that you will have the right ingredients on hand.
4. The
Experience Life
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The fabulous new book from the bestselling author of How to Cook Everything could just as easily be called “How to Cook Everything, Fast.” Bittman groups his 404 recipes by season and points out that he chops slower than anyone he knows, so when he says you can get these dishes on the table in 20 minutes, he’s not exaggerating.

His “kitchen express” style is about three things: speed, flexibility and relaxation, so there aren’t many ingredients and he doesn’t expect you to measure them precisely.
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks, nonfiction
I love this book because on my bookshelf of ridiculously intensive recipe books, this makes my life easy. This is all about buying fresh, in-season ingredients and cooking them simply. It is a great, weeknight meal planner. Because frankly, there are some nights that I don't want to spend an hour in the kitchen. I want to eat. Now. One caveat is that you really should know how to cook before you buy this. It is not going to teach you techniques or give you step-by-step advice. But if you are eve ...more
Christie Martel
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Mark Bittman is my hero! We only got this cookbook in February so we haven't tried a ton of recipes from it but we're about 5/5 or 6/6 already. I love the fact that it is separated out by season and you can find recipes that are specific to your season using only in-season ingredients. I was a little put out at first by the lack of an ingredient list for the recipes. I didn't know how much spice to add or how many chicken breasts to cook. But then I realised that this is the true beauty of this ...more
Black Heart
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
Love the way these are broken down by season. This is a bit of a weird cookbook, though, as it's mostly about combining the same types of ingredients over and over in different ways. Bittman is a minimalist, so it's about having the kitchen stocked and ready to go, and then just mixing and matching flavors. So the "recipes" aren't very involved, and it takes a bit more work to get your kitchen set up to do these in 20 minutes or less, but it's an interesting way to do things. Plus it'll help you ...more
Jul 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recipes distilled to their essence: this is good to eat; here's how to make it. I am the biggest Mark Bittman fanboy, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
Amy Beth
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I enjoyed this cookbook and every recipe I tried turned out great. That said, it isn't a cookbook for just anybody. I don't think if you are looking for your first cookbook that you would want this one. It seems to assume that you at least know your way AROUND the kitchen, not just know your way TO the kitchen. Bittman even says in the opening bits that the book assumes you are an "enthusiastic cook." There are no pictures and the recipes aren't exactly recipes with exact measurements, etc. The ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking
This is one of those cookbooks I pulled off the library shelf randomly while my kids were being kids and putting us in danger of being asked to leave the library. When I started to flip through it in the waiting room of a doctor's office later in the day I knew I'd made a lucky grab, because in spite of my long, hot day of dragging unhappy kids on errands I really wanted to go home and cook some the food in this book. Now, several weeks, and several very successful meals later, I'm on my last po ...more
Jeesun Hunting
May 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I got this book because I love the Minimalist columns. It is written in the same way as the column (lots of room for improvising, simple ingredients, no-nonsense instructions) but I found it a little disappointing because most recipes are meat centered. I was hoping for a book that could provide quick weekday meals but it didn't really suit a flexitarian/on a budget diet. I was surprised because Bittman is a big proponent of "part-time vegetarianism".
Aug 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What's not to love about Mark Bittman? This cookbook is formatted completely different from another one I have from him. I am a list girl and really like to see ingredients listed, which this book does not do. Mark has the ingredients only in the same paragraph he tells you how to make the recipe. It literally is a paragraph a recipe. I really like how he has sectioned recipes by season and of the recipes I've made so far they are all very quick and delicious. Another winner!
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A cook book for people who cook. This is not a book of recipes, so much as a book of ideas. Most of the recipes are in the form of "Sauté some onions in butter, add some mushroom, and ham, when cooked season to taste." . Measurements are only given when something is to be baked.

This is the book to reach for when the question is "What do I should I make for dinner?", not "How do I make this?".
Nov 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
I checked this out from the library to see if it is something to give my sister-in-law for Christmas. It's excellent! So much so, I'm ordering a copy for myself. The four to five sentence recipes are perfect for quick, throw-together meals. Mark Bittman's recipes have never steered me wrong, wether they come from his Minimalist pieces in NYT or "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian". He's excellent.
Laila (BigReadingLife)
This is my husband's favorite cookbook (I'm getting him this for Christmas, actually), and one of mine as well. The recipes are all made with fresh, easy-to-find ingredients. Anyone with just a little bit of kitchen know-how can cook them, and they're quick too! Nothing processed or out of a box - just good flavorful food. Lots of vegetarian options, all types of meat dishes, as well as desserts and drinks. I *highly* recommend this cookbook.
Tasya Iskandarsyah
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
first book i bought when i came to i'm good at cooking simple american food.thanks to Mark!
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
After re-reading, I better understand the inspiration in creativity and freedom.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Red lentil soup with lemon and parsely
Gail Whitman
This is a little difficult to use. The recipes are not written in the usual format. They are written in paragraph form. After you get used to it, the recipes are good. I have made several things from the book and will make more. I love Mark Bittman's books--this is just not my favorite.
Maze Branch Oak Park Public Library
The What's Cooking group's reaction to this cookbook and the recipes was wide ranging. Our star rating averaged out to 4 stars but we had a few 2 star and 3 star ratings to balance out the 5 stars.

One participant came to our discussion exclaiming "This book saved my life!" While no one else had such a strong reaction, the majority enjoyed the unstructured nature of the book even if the recipes took longer than 20 minutes to prepare.

We sampled the following recipes...

- Jerk Chicken
- Eggplant Roll
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, cooking
Definitely not one of my favorite cookbooks. I dislike Cook's Illustrated (I know...heresy!) because I think that the recipes are way over-engineered, and I don't need my cooking to be perfect. I just want my food to taste goooooood.

I dislike Kitchen Express because it is so unstructured. I need more direction from recipes. It doesn't need to be in the form of photos, but it should be less loosey goosey in terms of measurements and ingredients.

I made the Jerk Chicken, Beef and Corn Tacos and th
Rachel Howard-hines
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
My collection of favorite and in rotation cookbooks is slowly morphing into only cookbooks with simple 20 minute meals. There is a shelf where I can guarantee that a cookbook will be easy and produce a consistently tasty, fantastic, satisfying result, and I find there are mostly Mark Bittman books on that shelf. Nothing wrong with a Real Simple recipe, but I want to love my food, and eat something exceptionally tasty, and a simple Mark Bittman recipe hits the spot. My only gripe, and actually th ...more
Yasmine Alfouzan
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I own all of Mark Bittman's cookbooks and this is a very good one. I used it many times to get ideas for what to eat when I'm in a hurry. Most recipes I already know how to make but the cookbook reminded me to make that when I was feeling uninspired, like most egg-based dishes, I tried the following:
Mark's Famous Spicy Shrimp
Chicken with green olives
Chocolate panini
Eggplant rolls
and more.

I almost never follow the instructions precisely, as most of them are very flexible. It contains no photos wh
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wishlist, food
101 dishes for addressing dinner in every season (yes, divided into Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)- I'm pretty sure these were published in the NYTimes in the past few years. I love the approach here: one simple, straightforward paragraph per recipe including (sometimes sophisticated) ingredients and method (the appeal is in the lack of precision for either). This book isn't for the true beginner cook, but it's not for the fussy one either. A fabulous resource (can't wait to try the Chicken Satay ...more
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I am enjoying this collection of simple dishes and are quickly and easily prepared from whole foods using recipes that leave plenty of room for improvisation. A good index makes it a useful tool for answering the questions like, hmmmmm... what's something new that I could do with this cabbage without spending all afternoon at the stove or all morning shopping for obscure ingredients. It's an easy source of inspiration when I am headed to the market and the recipes we have tried have all been on ...more
Jennifer Didik
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
I adore The Minimalist columns and I had no idea this compilation exists until a few months ago. I wish I knew sooner. I also think, however, that I came across Bittman's Minimalist recipes at the perfect time in my life; I know my way around a kitchen well-enough that I don't need my nose in a cookbook the entire time I'm following a recipe. If you're an extreme beginner, be warned that these recipes certainly ARE easy, but they don't have measurements of ingredients, cooking times, etc. If thi ...more
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you have trouble cooking for one, I highly recommend this cookbook. There are no quantities, so you can scale meals as you see fit, without a lick of arithmetic. But that means you have to embrace directions like "Cook some grated ginger and minced garlic in sesame oil." If that doesn't make your OCD flare, then you should give this one a go. Delicious, easy, and fast. Good vegetarian options, too.
Jun 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: cooking, domesticarts
Simple, unpretentious, seasonal recipes. The exact opposite of micromanaging America's Test Kitchen recipes (my other favorite), these recipes are basic, with lots of room for improvisation. I both like and dislike the seasonal format. While applauding the emphasis on seasonal produce, I think I like other kinds of thematic groupings (appetizers, soups, sandwiches, casseroles) better when I'm searching for a particular kind recipe.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
As I read these recipes, I felt tossed between two extremes: the "but I'm already doing that" recipes and the "if I'm going to buy ingredients that expensive, I'll be trying a fancier preparation" recipes. I don't very often have squid and endive lying around the kitchen just awaiting a spark of inspiration! There were some recipes in the middle ground, and I bookmarked a few recipes with potential, but I haven't felt motivated to try any in the kitchen, thus two stars.
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book will teach how you to cook without relying heavily on strictly measured recipes. Just fantastic! I was making a holiday meal and didn't have time to make the fish recipe I was originally planning. I opened the cookbook, found a simple set of instructions for a set of ingredients I had in stock, and knocked it out quickly. Rave reviews from my guests. Thanks, Mark! Planning to buy this one.
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MARK BITTMAN is one of the country's best-known and most widely respected food writers. His How to Cook Everything books, with one million copies in print, are a mainstay of the modern kitchen. Bittman writes for the Opinion section of New York Times on food policy and cooking, and is a columnist for the New York Times Magazine. His "The Minimalist" cooking show, based on his popular NYT column, ...more
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