Bittman actually refers to this as "matrix" cooking, referring to a four-square grid with one basic recipe, two variations, and pictures to illustrate. The idea is that you can get a hankering a certain kind of soup - say a creamy one or a very hearty one - and then simply refer to the chart to make it. You don't need a specific recipe, you just need the basic technique.
In a recent interview on Good Food, Bittman explained that he'd been trying to make this concept work for his Minimalist column, but just couldn't find a way to do it. With the move to The New York Times Magazine with his recipe columns, he was able to work with the design team to develop the visual matrix model.
Personally, we really like this method of recipe writing. It's flexible and easy to use, and it feels like a natural evolution of his recipe style in How to Cook Everything. Evan Kleiman of Good Food also points out during her interview with Bittman that this is the way that professional chefs think about cooking.
So far Bittman has done two of these types of columns, one on soups and one on white fish. Take a look!
Also, listen to the full interview with Mark Bittman on Good Food:
• Mark Bittman on Good Food
Do you like this recipe format? Have you tried cooking from either of these matrix charts?
(Image: The New York Times)