November 9, 2010

In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark

A good cookbook engages the reader with tips and advice as well as delicious recipes. That is exactly what In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark delivers. This cookbook shares stories about the recipes, making this a whole cooking experience to be savored.

Book Description
“A Good Appetite,” Melissa Clark's weekly feature in the New York Times Dining Section, is about dishes that are easy to cook and that speak to everyone, either stirring a memory or creating one. Now, Clark takes the same freewheeling yet well-informed approach that has won her countless fans and applies it to one hundred and fifty delicious, simply sophisticated recipes.

Clark prefaces each recipe with the story of its creation--the missteps as well as the strokes of genius--to inspire improvisation in her readers. So when discussing her recipe for Crisp Chicken Schnitzel, she offers plenty of tried-and-true tips learned from an Austrian chef; and in My Mother's Lemon Pot Roast, she gives the same high-quality advice, but culled from her own family's kitchen.

Memorable chapters reflect the way so many of us like to eat: Things with Cheese (think Baked Camembert with Walnut Crumble and Ginger Marmalade), The Farmers' Market and Me (Roasted Spiced Cauliflower and Almonds), It Tastes Like Chicken (Garlic and Thyme-Roasted Chicken with Crispy Drippings Croutons), and many more delectable but not overly complicated dishes.

In addition, Clark writes with Laurie Colwin-esque warmth and humor about the relationship that we have with our favorite foods, about the satisfaction of cooking a meal where everyone wants seconds, and about the pleasures of eating. From stories of trips to France with her parents, growing up (where she and her sister were required to sit on unwieldy tuna Nicoise sandwiches to make them more manageable), to bribing a fellow customer for the last piece of dessert at the farmers' market, Melissa's stories will delight any reader who starts thinking about what's for dinner as soon as breakfast is cleared away. This is a cookbook to read, to savor, and most important, to cook delicious, rewarding meals from.”
- In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite

My Thoughts
I love cookbooks that also share stories about the food that is included in the cookbook. In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite fully delivers this whole experience. One of my favorite stories was about the Grilled Cheese sandwiches and how that is a big reason the writer loves visiting those with children.

Some of my favorite recipes from the cookbook include:
• Pomegranate Roasted Carrots
• Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli
• Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken
• Queso Fresco Quesadillas with Papaya Avocado Salso

Many of the recipes used flour and other things I cannot eat, but I could still perhaps try out with alternate ingredients in the future. One such dish is the Crème Brulee French Toast with Orange Blossom Water. Yum!

This cookbook brings a variety of amazing dishes to the novice or experienced cook. However, the beginner cook probably will not have many of the ingredients on hand. Even regular Moms that cook dinners at home probably won’t have some crucial ingredients. That is okay though, because Melissa Clark has some options that you can alter the recipe with on some of the dishes, and as most cooks do, they change things out anyways. Next time, just add the missing ingredients to the shopping list (or perhaps do so before preparing the meal).

Thank you to the publisher of In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite, Hyperion Books, for providing me with a copy for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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