Book reviews: Recipe book helps change game
April 6, 2017
‘Dinner: Changing the Game,’ by Melissa Clark
Clarkson Potter, 2017
Melissa Clark's new cookbook is about approaching dinner differently, that is, creating one yummy, but simple and fantastic dish. Most of the recipes are straightforward and require one or two pans, at most. Clark’s repertoire includes egg dishes, pizza and pies, roasted meats and vegetables, grains and pasta. I love the chapter about greens titled "Salads that Mean It".
Dinner reflects the way many of us like to eat out these days. Instead of ordering an entrée and perhaps an indulgent dessert after, we order our meal from a variety of small dishes and share plates. In other words, we assemble dinner the way we want, versus the more traditional main course accompanied by several sides.
As a reader who loves to peruse cookbooks, what especially appeals to me about “Dinner” is Clark's emphasis on texture, color and flavor in each of her dishes. I was inherently curious about her recipe for pea guacamole (she claims she didn't invent it).
She is a regular staff writer for the New York Times, and when she published it in her regular column, "A Good Appetite,” it created a bevy of horrified responses from guacamole purists. I gave it a try and must say, I am a fan. Mashing bright green peas in with the avocado resulted in a beautiful green and sweet version of classic quac.
‘One-Pan Wonders,’ by the editors at America's Test Kitchen
I have grown fond of America's Test Kitchen recipes. America's Test Kitchen, publisher of Cook's Illustrated magazine, is a live kitchen in which cooks prepare a recipe over and over until they are satisfied with the results and understand why it works. These "Why This Recipe Works" notes are included in each of the 138 recipes in this wonderful new cookbook. Preparing a complete dish in only one pan has a great deal of appeal for home cooks looking to streamline their time in the kitchen.
What makes “One-Pan Wonders” a standout in a crowded field of single-pot cookbooks are the separate chapters or sections devoted to the various types of cooking vessels, including Dutch oven, roasting pan, skillet, casserole dish, sheet pan and slow cooker.
All the recipes are deceptively simple, in terms of preparation and ingredients, yet are packed with flavor. There are many classic recipes, such as tamale pie and pulled pork, but be sure to try the chicken, sweet potato and Swiss chard stew with cheddar biscuits baked on top and the scallops baked with Israeli couscous, leeks and tarragon-orange vinaigrette.
Overall, this enticing collection is one tat both vegetarians and carnivores alike will enjoy.
These books are available at Bud Werner Memorial Library and Off the Beaten Path.
Chris Painter is library director at Bud Werner Memorial Library.