Melissa Clark recipe book?

Discussion in 'Baker Banter' started by Becky, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I've been watching some videos on YouTube by Melissa Clark (for the NY Times) and because I'm addicted to recipe books I've been looking to get one of hers. I've had a look on Amazon and she seems to have quite a few - and there's a new one coming out in April too.

    I was just wondering if anyone here has one of her recipe books and would you recommend it?
     
    Becky, Mar 23, 2018
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  2. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Melissa Clark is one of my favorite food writers. You’re right, there are so many cookbooks to choose from. She’s actually ghost written a number of books for a lot of celebrity chefs as well. I regularly read her column in the New York Times. So that’s where I always get my Melissa Clark recipes.

    In selecting a book I guess it would depend on the area of focus. A year ago she released a book, Dinner, Changing the Game. It is extremely popular here in the US not only for the number of recipes, but ease of preparation. And I think time considerations are really important.

    I’m not into the Martha Stewart thing of raising the hen to produce an egg for my breakfast omelette. I admit I spent $50 for Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry cookbook. But hades will freeze over before I ever make anything out of that book. His recipes aren’t dinner, they are a lifetime commitment. I’d be dead before I could finish all the components needed to made a single dish from his book:eek:
     
    Norcalbaker59, Mar 25, 2018
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  3. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I'm torn between the 'Dinner: Changing the Game' and 'Dinner in an instant' books... the first one seems to cover a very broad range of dishes, and has lots of veggie ones too which I like (we try not to eat too much meat). The other one doesn't have as many veggie dishes but does have a dessert section which DCTG doesn't have.

    Alternatively I could wait until her next book comes out on 3rd April and see what that one is like. Decisions decisions! I think I'm slightly favouring DCTG... so far...
     
    Becky, Mar 26, 2018
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  4. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I’ve thought about the DCTG. It’s it’s just me now, I’ve fallen into the drudgery of cooking the same things day after day. I could use some inspiration.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Mar 26, 2018
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  5. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I know what you mean, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. I work from home so have the flexibility to try new things - eg if it takes a while I can start it early on in the day and it's ready by the evening. That being said I also love things that are quick and easy!

    I think I'm going to attempt to be patient and wait until the new book comes out, that way I can choose between the three. DCTG is my current favourite, so we'll see if the new one looks better...
     
    Becky, Mar 27, 2018
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  6. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I decided to go for Dinner: Changing The Game in the end. It should arrive next week, so I'll let you know what I think when it does! :)
     
    Becky, Apr 4, 2018
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  7. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I made the Harissa Chicken recipe the other night and Ian declared that it was the best meal he's had this year! Very impressed with the book so far. My only complaint would be that the measures are all in cups etc but I knew that would be the case. Shame though - many US recipe books get converted to metric when sold in the UK.

    I've watched a few of her recipe videos on YouTube for baked things (eg the lemon & olive oil bars, chocolate peppermint patties) and they look great - it's a shame she doesn't have a book of sweet recipes. Plus it's annoying that if I want any of her recipes for the NYT I have to pay a monthly subscription!
     
    Becky, May 2, 2018
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  8. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Good to hear her cookbook is good. I hear you on the volume measurement...so frustrating when a highly trained cookbook author publishes in volume measurements.

    Clark is one of my all time favorite chef authors. I love that she’s practical. She cooks and develops recipes for the real world, for real people.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 6, 2018
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  9. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I love that about her book. We went to a friend's house for Sunday lunch last weekend and she cooked a roast dinner. It occurred to me that I rarely ever cook a roast dinner, and it's mainly because I don't like the hassle! There are too many separate dishes to do, and I just can't be bothered. I really like how Clark's book has lots of tray-bake / one-pot meals - ie where everything is cooked together. It's just so much easier! I always opt for these kind of meals when I've got people round, I'd rather spend time socialising than cooking!
     
    Becky, May 9, 2018
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  10. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Oh, one tray meals!!?? I’m going to buy that book. Being a single person, I’m all about simple meal production. I’ll slave over a baking project for days, but when it comes to dinner, I want a streamline process.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 10, 2018
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  11. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    Becky, May 10, 2018
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  12. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I’ll definitely try the chicken recipe. I love harrisa. And who doesn’t love potatoes!

    Hummus is my second obsession. I’ve been tweaking my hummus recipe for about 15 yrs now. My sister asked me to show her how to make it a couple of months ago. I was glad to teach her cuz life is so much better with good hummus.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 12, 2018
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  13. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I love hummus, but I haven't made it much. I found that the stuff in the shops is so good that I'd much rather just buy it! Lol. Maybe I just haven't tried the right recipe.
     
    Becky, May 12, 2018
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  14. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    If you decide you want to make it in the future I’ll be more than happy to pass on my recipe.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 13, 2018
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  15. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    Awesome, thank you :)
     
    Becky, May 14, 2018
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  16. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Cool. I’ll get you the recipe.
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 16, 2018
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  17. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    @Becky, I’ve working on this hummus recipe over 15 yrs now:rolleyes: I keep tweaking as I learn and understand more each time I make it.

    But before you get started...a warning, hummus is a labor of love. It’s involved. Us hummus makers are obsessed.

    But it’s so worth the effort. That thick paste they sell in stores is not what hummus should ever be like. Good hummus is silky smooth, so light and fluffy it’s like whipped cream...like a mouthful of savory billowy clouds.

    I believe there’s a few absolutes when making hummus. Then there’s the cook’s feel and intuition to finesse it to just the right flavors for your palate.

    Absolutes:
    Dried chickpeas, never canned. And not just any old chickpeas. Tiny ones. More on that below.

    Salt: Do not add salt to the cooking water. Salt in cooking will toughen chickpeas

    Baking soda: 1 teaspoon of baking soda in soaking water and 1 teaspoon in cooking water will help the chickpeas cook up tender.

    Boiling: a very very gentle boil and skim off foam as chickpeas cook. A hard boil will disintegrate the chickpeas before they are tender. A simmer right under a boil is best. But it takes time. If you want to move it along, then bring the heat up to a very very gentle boil.

    Tahini: flavor is completely/totally/absolutely determined by tahini brand. I cannot stress enough how the brand of tahini determines flavor. Never use the brands from India. It will make horrible tasting hummus as there tahini has a very bitter flavor. I don’t care for any of the domestic and organic brands in the US either. I’ve plowed through a dozen brands and I find the Middle Eastern brands produce the best tasting hummus. As long as the tahini is Israeli, Lebanese, and Palestinian made you should be ok.

    Tahini brands:
    Al Arz - Israel definitely my preferred brand. This is the best available in the US.

    Al Wadi - Lebanon My second choice of brands

    Ziyad - Middle Eastern exact country of origin unknown. Ziyad Brothers have imported food products from the Middle East into the US for decades. They are based in Chicago. I’ve used this brand for many years. It’s gets top marks from Cook’s Illustrated. A good choice if my other two favorites are not available

    Other brands that I’ve read are suppose to be excellent. Al Jamal is not available in US. Al Taj is now available online here so I’m going to try it.
    Al-Jamal - Palestinian
    Al Taj - Lebanon

    Chickpeas: Use the smallest golden color chickpeas you can find. The ones I currently use are labeled kabuli. They’re from India, but makes a very good hummus. When I lived in Southern California I was able to purchase middle eastern chickpeas. Can’t find them where I now live. But if you can find chickpeas imported from the Middle East, grab them.

    Chickpeas to avoid are the tiny dark one called a desi, and the larger Mexican variety. The desi is excellent for India dal, but not hummus.

    Soaking: chickpeas need to be soaked overnight. You can soak them up to two days, but you must change the water if you go more than a day.

    There’s a middle-eastern restaurant in Oakland called Ba-Bite. The owner is Israeli; she makes a hummus that is mind blowingly light and smooth and so delicate in flavor. When I go there the only thing I order is hummus—it’s so good I just want to savor eating just her hummus. I once read she soaks her chickpeas for two days. She looks for the first signs of sprouting, then cooks them. I usually soak 1 1/2 days and never to the sprouting stage. So I don’t if they are better soaked more or not. But I definitely change my water during the soak.

    Final note, blending the hummus is made by taste and feel. As you make it, you look at texture. You taste and adjust to your taste. I like more tahini and lemon juice than a traditional hummus, so I make it to my preferences. You know it’s done when it taste right to you. So the amounts here are guidelines. A place to start.

    ======
    Hummus

    1 cup dried chickpeas, kabuli or any golden colored chickpea, the smallest you can in a golden color that’s not real dark.

    1/2 - 3/4 cup Al Arz tahini brand; it’s important to stir the tahini very well before measuring as it separates in the container.

    1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, to taste. I like lemon so I use 1/2 cup

    1 - 2 TBSP good olive oil (to taste)

    2 -3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped, to taste

    1/3 tsp kosher salt to start. Adjust salt as you make

    2-3 tsp cumin, to taste

    For serving
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    Toasted pinenuts

    Baking soda for soaking.

    SOAKING - night before

    Check chickpeas toss any bad beans and debris

    Wash the chickpeas several times in large bowl filled with cold water.

    Place chickpeas in large glass or metal bowl. Fill bowl at least 3” over chickpeas. Add a teaspoon of baking soda. Soak overnight. If soaking longer, change the water in the morning. No need to add baking soda when the water is changed.



    Drain and rinse chickpeas well before you begin cooking.

    Put chickpeas in large heavy pot. Fill pot with enough clean cold water so it's 3 to 4 inches above chickpeas. Add 1 tsp baking soda.

    Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to very low so it’s a very very gentle boil at most. Cook until tender and the inside is uniform color when crushed between fingers.

    Skim off foam as chickpeas cook.

    Drain and rinse chickpeas. Note: I use to reserve cooking water to thin puréed chickpeas, but I don’t want the baking soda in the hummus, so now I use fresh water to thin.

    While chickpeas cook, stir the tahini very well, scrape the bottom of the jar with a spatula as the paste sinks to the bottom and the oil floats to the top.

    Place salt and garlic cloves in food processor. Process until minced.

    Transfer 1/2 the chickpeas to food processor. Add some lemon juice, olive oil, and 1/4 cup fresh water. Process until it forms a paste. Add rest of chickpeas and more lemon juice and water. Process another 1 min or so adding water as needed.

    Add tahini and cumin. Puree until hummus is the consistency of whipped cream. Again, you will
    need to add more water.

    Add small amounts of water until smooth and consistency of a light and flowing cake batter.

    Hummus will thicken considerably when cooled so a light flowing consistency thinner than desired texture is the goal when processing. When it’s cooled, the hummus should be light and fluffy like whipped cream.

    Taste adjust salt, cumin, and lemon juice to taste. Chill or serve warm. I like my hummus slightly chilled.

    Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and topped with toasted pinenuts.

    This is a kabuli chickpea from India. Since I can’t find Middle Eastern dried chickpeas locally, I’ve been using kabuli. Makes a very good hummus.
    CEF22916-CC3D-4D0D-9E33-E8174CC72338.jpeg
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 23, 2018
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  18. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    Amazing, thank you so much for the detailed recipe and guidance. I shall make some and report back :)

    BTW, I've made about five of the recipes from DCTG now and they've all been really good. Clark sure knows her flavours!
     
    Becky, May 23, 2018
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  19. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Ok good to know. I have two cookbooks on my list to order: DCTG and Brave Tart by Stella Park
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 24, 2018
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  20. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    I didn't realise Stella Parks had a book! I made her lemon curd for those lemon and cardamom buns, it was delicious. Just had a look at the book on Amazon (via the Look Inside thingy) and I see she uses weight to measure ingredients, woohoo :) Might just have to add that one to my list...

    OMG I really need to stop buying recipe books!! :D
     
    Becky, May 25, 2018
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