Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Milk Street: Tuesday Nights - Christopher Kimball

Summary: It's Tuesday night at Milk Street. And that means a fresh, flavorful meal that comes together in minutes, such as Ginger-Soy Steak, Salt-and-Pepper Shrimp, Hazelnut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets, Pasta with Seared Cauliflower and Cuban-Spiced Burgers.  

Christopher Kimball and his team of cooks and editors search the world for straightforward techniques that deliver big flavors in less time.  Here they present more than 200 solutions for bold weeknight cooking, showing how to make simple, healthy, delicious meals using pantry staples and just a few other ingredients.  

Tuesday Nights is organized by the way you cook.  Some chapters focus on time -- with recipes that are Fast (under an hour, start to finish), Faster (45 minutes or less), and Fastest (25 Minutes or less) -- while others highlight easy methods or themes, including Supper Salads, Roast and Simmer and Easy Additions.  And there's always time for pizza, tacos, "walk-away" recipes, one-pot wonders and ultrafast 20-minute miracles. 

And for dessert?  Sweets such as Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Candies and Raspberry - Pistachio Meringue.  Great food in quick time, every night of the week.  (Summary from inside the back cover - Cover images are from, All other pictures taken of the cookbook pages from my phone)

My Review:  I am a huge fan of the cooking show America's Test Kitchen, so when I saw that Milk Street: Tuesday Nights was authored by its host, Christopher Kimball, I knew I needed it in my life ASAP.  I am a reluctant chef, easily bored making the same-old-same-old in the kitchen, and like to spice things up by working my way through a quality cookbook, testing out new recipes, and finding the next favorite family meal.  

Milk Street: Tuesday Nights is built around the idea that cooking delicious meals with basic ingredients doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming.  Around half of the recipes are organized into three sections -- meals that can be prepared Fast (under 45 minutes), Faster (30-35), and Fastest (under 30), -- followed by Easy Additions (aka 'Sides'), Supper Salads, Pizza Night, One Pot, Roast & Simmer, and Sweets.  

It's important to note that I don't have any special cooking training, nor was I taught to cook from a young age, but I am reasonably intelligent and as long as a recipe isn't overly complicated (or I'm not trying to help with homework at the same time) I can usually follow it and get dinner on the table.  For the purpose of this review, I tried eighteen different recipes.  I pulled over half of them from the Fast, Faster, and Fastest sections (because, duh), but also ventured into all the other sections, barring Sweets.  I tend to avoid learning how to make delicious treats myself; it's bad for my waistline.

After I cook a meal from a cookbook I plan to review, I always ask my family their thoughts and then jot them down next to the recipe so that I can refer back to them later.  If the meals is amazing, I write it.  If it needs tweaking or simply fell flat, I write that too.  Here are the meals we tried (with my notes in italics):  

  • 💓Indian Spiced Beef and Peas (Keema Matar) -- Yum!  All loved -- must do yogurt topping
  • Tibetan Curried Noodles -- Good flavor but not worth the effort or cost (didn't eat leftovers) 
  • Taiwanese Five-Spice Pork -- When paired with the Gochujuang Potatoes this tasted a lot like the Macanese-Meat and Potato Hash...except it was harder to make these two dishes at once.   
  • Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bò Lúc Låc) -- Loved the salad part the best.  Try to cut meat thinner and/or cook meat less than called for.  
  • 💓Black-Eyed Pea Stew -- Just the right amount of heat.  Spicy but not too spicy, with light curry flavor.  Loved this one!  Serve with lime wedges, salt, and biscuits.  Fed our whole family without alteration.
  • Macanese Meat-and-Potato Hash (Minchi) -- I really liked this one. Sweet and savory.  Great with an egg over top.
  • Kale and White Bean Soup -- Great with Italian Soda bread.  A nice sunday meal. 
  • Peanut-Sesame Noodles -- Flavor was too intense, but probably from trying to double it.  Hard to find dry noodles.  
  • Soba with Edamame and Watercress -- Next time try less chili sauce and more soy.  Fast and easy.  Substitute arugula for water cress because it's hard to find.
  • 💓Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Chickpeas (Açorda a Alentejana) -- (See image, above right) Bright and wonderful flavor.  Croutons are essential and so amazing.  I was surprised by how much I liked this and the chickpeas were an almost buttery texture.  
  • Rigatoni Carbonara with Ricotta --Yummy.  We had to 1.5X the recipe.  The sauce was a little runny but it thickened up.  
  • Posole Rojo with Chicken p 335 Almost right.  Next time do not used canned tomatoes.  Good, but not as good as Maria's (aside: the lovely Mexican grandma who lives next door).
  • Ginger Beef and Rice Noodle Salad - Light and refreshing - with cold noodles, mint, and lime. A good special birthday dinner.  Reminded me of fresh spring rolls.  Make extra sauce. 
  • 💓Fish Tacos with Lime-Pickled Jalapen̄os Loved these.  Could tweak this recipe in so many different ways.  Nice level of heat and acidity.  Get better tortillas next time!
  • Gochujuang Potatoes -- Flavor is good, but strong.  Add more potatoes than called for next time.  
  • 💓Sweet-Soy Braised Pork -- (See image, below left) I loved this meal!  No lefotvers.  Sweet & spicy with just the right amount of molasses.  The lime wakes it all up.  Perfect combo of salt/fat/acid/heat.  Would be great with arugula tossed with lime.  Had to 1.5X it.  
  • Columbian Coconut Chicken - Yummy, but a lot of steps.  Might be interesting to try in an Instant Pot.  
  • 💓Spicy Pork with Leeks -- So delicious!  All plates cleaned!  So flavorful with good heat.

As you can see, most of the recipes were well-received, some were a huge hit (see 💓), and a few others garnered less-than rave reviews.  America's Test Kitchen tends to know what they are doing, so I suspect some of the problem lies with my children's taste buds or my attempts to stretch the recipe.  Four servings might be perfect for some, but I often had to 1.5X-2X a recipe to ensure we had enough to feed our family of six.  I can't say for certain whether the estimate cook times are accurate because it always takes a bit longer for me to make a meal the first time, but it did feel like those times would be accurate for someone who had made the meal a few times already. 

I have enjoyed my time with Milk Street: Tuesday Nights and will, no doubt, spend considerably more time with it. There are still a plethora of recipes I would like to try, but there are also several that I will probably never attempt either because they contain hard-for-me-to-find ingredients (like sumac or za-atar) or run counter to my family's tastes.  Overall, I feel like I've definitely got my money's worth and found several new recipes to liven up our dinner rotation.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  I mean, it's a cookbook.  There is meat in it.  That might offend someone.  Otherwise, you should be all good.


So, what's next in my cookbook queue?  

In Cookish, Christopher Kimball and his team of cooks and editors harness the most powerful cooking principles from around the world to create 200 of the simplest, most delicious recipes ever created.  These recipes, most with six or fewer ingredients (other than oil, salt, and pepper), make it easy to be a great cook -- the kind who can walk into a kitchen and throw together dinner in no time.  

In each of these recipes, big flavors and simple techniques transform pantry staples, common proteins, or centerpiece vegetables into a delicious meal.  And each intuitive recipe is a road map for other mix-and-match meals, which can come together in minutes from whatever's in the fridge.  (Summary from Amazon).

Sounds interesting, right?  
I'm excited to try it (as soon as I can find a used copy) 
and will let you know how it goes!

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