That picture is such a cop-out, but my single photograph of last night's tawny souffle was problematic (too much hand in the shot) and when I tried to crop out the ugly, squished fingers, I completely ruined the composition:
See what I mean?
This food styling business, an ongoing ordeal.
Now, to the cookbook at hand and the meal it yielded.
Mark Bittman doesn't invent recipes, he collects and adapts the recipes of others. Far from a failing, this is is the power of his work. He takes all the recipes that we know and love from celebrity chefs and our mothers' kitchens and tradition and cookbooks and then makes them a little more straightforward, excising the frills and fussy extra steps.
His cheese souffle from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is basically Julia Child's, though his makes a larger quantity and is considerably more concise. And like Julia's cheese souffle -- and every other souffle I've ever baked -- this one was easy, frugal, handsome, and tasty. As far as I can tell, it was a perfect souffle.
The trouble is that my children do not eat even perfect souffle. My husband is not crazy for perfect souffle. And even I would rather eat a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. The recipe is great; the problem is souffle. Or us.
Desserts have never been Bittman's forte, and its the weakest section of his otherwise outstanding How to Cook Everything. I was initially dismayed by the thin selection of sweets in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but on closer examination -- exciting! Many of these recipes incorporate unusual flours and alternative sugars, which I find fascinating. For dessert, Isabel and I made Bittman's maple snaps which were sweetened with syrup and contained both wheat and rice flours. These were neither crisp nor "snappy" as Bittman had promised, but cakey and incredibly delicious.
Plain-looking, though. Would a little geranium flower garnish have helped the shot? Yes, I can now see that it would have.