I'm a Melissa Clark junkie. The most recycled recipes in my kitchen repertoire are from three cookbook authors: Ina Garden, Sarah Leah Chase and Clark. Lately, Clark has been winning that three-way-race because of her use of such interesting bold flavors. I was obviously looking forward to getting my hands on this book.
But upon opening the book, I was overtaken with a sense of deja vu. Many of the recipes are ones I've either made or remembered from other of her cookbooks that I have. Indeed, in the introduction, Clark says that there are recipes in this compilation of favorites that have appeared in "
Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can't Wait to Make
" and "
In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love
." Neither of those earlier books has photos (I have the kindle version of Cook This Now, print of the other), so it's nice to have the photos, although I would not have purchased the book just to have photos of recipes I already have.
So far, the recipes I've tried in this book have not totally knocked my socks off in the way Clark's usually do.
— The Curried Coconut Tomato Soup, a very easy recipe, was better without the addition of coconut milk. The amount seemed like way to much. I tasted the soup before adding the coconut milk and it was delish. Although I generally love coconut milk, it hit all the wrong notes for me in this soup. I will make it again without it, possibly adding a touch of cream or a nut milk to finish it. No one in my adventurous family was enthused about eating this soup.
— The Deviled Egg Salad with Anchovies, Hot Smoked Paprika and Tomato. This did not do it for me either. I did not eat it with the bread, and maybe it would have been better with bread to act as a foil, but I just did not care at all for this particular take on deviled eggs - too much mayo, and maybe just too much everything.
But I did find some good ones!
— Raw Kale Salad with Anchovy-Date Dressing. This was finally getting somewhere! I love this salad. I threw in some toasted pine nuts for a little crunch. It's got great flavor combinations going on.
— There are two fabulous granola recipes. Of the two granolas, the Double Coconut Granola is my favorite, although the Olive Oil with Dried Apricots and Pistachios came in a close second. My apricots were not terribly tart, and I think the second recipe would have been my favorite had the fruit been tarter.
— Seared Pork Chops with Kimchi. This is another one of those ";why didn't I think of that" recipes. We love pork chops with homemade sauerkraut, so making them with kimchi (although in a far lesser amount) is basically the same thing but with a spicier blast of flavor. Very good.
— Coconut Fish Stew with Basil and Lemongrass. This is a repeat dish in my house now. Everyone LOVES the Thai flavor profile of the broth. I could drink it! I make it with half snapper/half shrimp and every time I make it I'm amazed by how quickly a dish that tastes this good can be made.
Next to try are the Mallobars - homemade Mallomars in bar form. From the looks of it, getting this book might be worth having that single recipe. I will update after I take that recipe for a spin.
My favorite part of the book is the Cocktails and Snacks chapter. I am always trying to find new and fun things to serve when we have company and this chapter has a bunch I'd love to make and serve. I'll be reaching for this book for that reason alone.
The two books of Clark's that came out before this one, "
Dinner: Changing the Game
" and "
Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot®
" contain page after page after page of recipes that have made their ways into my meal rotation, with many more that I want to try. I wish I could say the same for this book. With some distinct exceptions, I somehow feel like I won't be turning to this one nearly as much as I'd hoped.
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