Welcome to this year’s Piglet Community Picks! Until the Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks kicks off in March, we’ll be posting weekly reviews of the best new books you cooked from in 2018—written by you. To see other reviews, head here. And to catch up on the books that made it into the main tournament, look no further.
We all need a weeknight dinner warrior. A warrior that promises quick, flavor-forward meals in its arsenal. Milk Street: Tuesday Nights makes that promise, and amply delivers.
For those who may not know, Milk Street is Christopher Kimball’s—a co-founder and former publisher of America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated—food empire, encompassing a cooking school, subscription-based magazine and recipe website, food commerce marketplace, series of public television and radio shows, and collection of successful cookbooks. Milk Street: Tuesday Nights is a book filled of streamlined recipes, with flavors from around the world. The book is organized by the time required: Fast (40 to 45 minutes), Faster (30 to 35 minutes), and Fastest (15 to 25 minutes), so you can find something to cook no matter your time constraints.
There are also sections based on what you might be craving: Easy Additions, Supper Salads, Pizza Night, One Pot, Roast and Simmer, and Sweets. These recipes also take no more than an hour.
So, with the “quick” box checked, what about flavor-forward? Most dishes labeled as “quick” tend to lack flavor development. Kimball and his team mitigate that by turning to the world and identifying a diverse array of flavor combinations: places from Peru to Singapore; ingredients from kimchi to Aleppo pepper.
For this review, I opted to take a culinary trip to South America. My menu comprised of three courses:
- Peruvian Quinoa Corn Chowder (Chupe de Quinoa)
- Lomo Saltado
- Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Candies (Brigadeiros)
First, I started on the creamy chowder, which came together easily and well within the 30 minutes stated. The soup gets most of its spiciness and complex flavor from a Peruvian chile paste, ají amarillo, which I was luckily able to find at a large grocery store near me. The recipe suggests you can use jalapeños, though, should you not be able to find the ají amarillo. Since it’s the dead of winter, I used frozen corn for the soup, which makes prep even quicker. I’m excited to try this in the peak of summer, with fresh, sweet corn straight from the cob. With a hit of freshness from the mint and lime, my family absolutely loved this soup. We will be adding this to our dinnertime rotation for sure!
The Lomo Saltado, a steak stir-fry, came together in a flash. I marinated the sirloin strips in a cumin and soy sauce mixture for just ten minutes. I then quickly pan-fried the marinated steak with garlic, onions, grape tomatoes, and jalapeños, for some heat. I was surprised at how much flavor the meat picked up in just ten minutes of marinating, but the spices and aromatics really lent a helping hand. This dish is hearty by itself, but also great over rice, where the grains can soak up the savory flavor of the meat, soy sauce, and tart red-wine vinegar.
The Brigadeiros were simple to make and came together quickly, in just about the 20 minutes promised. The espresso and cinnamon hit all the right flavor notes, heightening the chocolate so well, and the crunchy cashews were a really nice touch on the outside. While this was the perfect amount of work for a weeknight dessert, these would also be really impressive at a party with guests.
I have followed Christopher Kimball since the beginning—his America’s Test Kitchen days. In my view, he is now at his best. He has always had the science of cooking down; but in Milk Street, evidenced in Tuesday Nights, he has found soul.
“Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: Tuesday Nights is full of recipes from all over the world, not just one region. And, it’s easy enough for satisfying weekday meals. You’ll notice bold flavors and simplicity, two things this group tends to favor.” —Vicki Wetherington Hoffmann
Have you cooked from Milk Street: Tuesday Nights? If so, let us know your favorite dish in the comments!