Quick Meals Packed with Flavor

Kristina’s Bookshelf


Milk Street: Tuesday Nights
By Christopher Kimball
(Little, Brown and Company, 2018)

In the Introduction to his first cookbook, Christopher Kimball, the man behind the much-loved cooking school, bimonthly magazine, and television and radio programs called Milk Street, says “flavor is built with ingredients, not time.” This promise of tasty, quick-to-cook meals will get the attention of any cook who needs to put a satisfying, healthy meal on the table on a regular basis.

Kimball delivers with more than 200 recipes in a diverse range of flavors and styles. What makes his food so good is his generous use of herbs and spices in dishes like chickpea and harissa soup; mussels with fennel, crème fraîche, and vermouth; or chili-rubbed pork with cucumber-melon salad.

Although Kimball claims these are quick-cook dishes because they rely on pantry ingredients, some people may not keep things like fish sauce, za’atar, harissa, tahini, pomegranate molasses, or smoked paprika on hand at home. The good news here in the East Bay is that we can find them at many of our local shops.

Judging by those I tried, the recipes seem thoroughly tested and vetted, with a good margin for error or adjustment in spicing or ingredients. In other words, if you use a bit too much of this or too little of that, the recipe will turn out okay. Recipes are single page, each with an accompanying photo, and most with a tip for better execution. For instance: “Don’t use pre-shredded mozzarella, as it’s usually coated with anti-caking agents. Purchase a chunk and shred your own. Also, don’t use the variety packed in water, as it has a high moisture content and is not a good melting cheese.”

Organized by cooking time, most recipes can be prepared in under an hour. Desserts like raspberry-pistachio meringue, maple whiskey pudding cakes, and coconut saffron macaroons are creative and a nice ending to the main dishes. Overall, this is a very worthwhile addition to any cookbook collection.

Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with
our readers.