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Monday, September 5, 2011

In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite - Melissa Clark

Read for the Foodie's Reading Challenge.

Melissa Clark’s “A Good Appetite” column is one of the things I really like reading in the New York Times, though I’ll fully admit I’ve been reading much less of it since they put up the paywall for their website. So, when I saw this book still available at Borders on our 50% off looky-loo trip, I pounced.

I’ve always enjoyed her columns – she’s certainly a much better, more adventurous cook than me, but I feel like we’re on the same cooking wave-length, probably best evidenced by this passage in her intro to the Christmas Cookie section of the book:

“I could tell you that baking cookies is a way for me to express my seasonal glee, and share the sweet-toothed sympathy for humankind that builds within my breast all year long, just waiting to burst forth in the form of diamond-shape butter cookies and spritzed almond wreaths.

But in fact, for me, the holidays are merely a way to legitimize a baking frenzy that in April might be seen as the butter-slicked ravings or a cookie maniac. In December, it passes for normal.”

The woman has never met me, but she gets me.

Each recipe in this book is accompanied by a story – sometimes a nod back to the first time the author tried the dish, or exactly how and why she chose to tweak a particular dish to come up with the following recipes, or sometimes, it’s about more general philosophies of food. Where she significantly tweaked recipes, she often also includes the original, and many other recipes have variations included.

I’ve gone a little sticky happy with this book already. Partially, this is because she devotes a section of the book to Farmer’s Market hauls, and I’m still working my way through my CSA bounty. In fact, yesterday, I made the Roasted Eggplant with Basil Green Goddess Dressing, which was a really divine way to prepare eggplant. The dressing was a great contrast to the creamy roasted eggplant. I also added some zucchini to the pan, and it worked well with that as well. I have more things I want to try with future CSA shares. And a bunch of winter recipes that look wonderful. They almost makes me not story that Fall is around the corner.

I’m definitely glad we defied good sense and went to Borders – this cookbook alone made the trip worth it.

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