Monday, February 26, 2018

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street

Christopher Kimball founded America's Test Kitchen in 1993. Among other things, he produced Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Country, a television series, and many useful books. Over the years, innumerable recipes were developed and shared, and tests conducted of pantry items and cooking equipment.

The hallmarks of the recipes that Kimball disseminated through these projects were the inclusion of detailed descriptions of how the recipes were developed. Taste and equipment tests were conducted with complete independence from advertisers and, as a result, were extremely reliable. For example, I still get Muir Glen whole peeled tomatoes, Hunt's diced tomatoes and the crushed tomatoes with fake San Marzano tomatoes on the label. You would think that one brand would be good for all forms of canned tomatoes, but not true. Similarly, I chose my food processor, standing mixer and numerous other appliances and tools based on Cook's Illustrated's test results.

In 2015, Kimball left America's Test Kitchen in the midst of a dispute and started Milk Street, which includes Milk Street Magazine, a television series, podcasts, and a store, and recently published Milk Street: The New Home Cooking.

Kimball's manifesto is simple:

Milk Street is changeing how we cook by serarcying the world for bold, simple recipes. Adapted and tested for home cooks everywhere, this is what we call the new home cooking. 

And Milk Street delivers. I have made a number of exciting recipes from the book and the magazine (there is a substantial overlap between the book and the first year of the magazine0, with excellent results. The are eclectic, from food cultures all around the world, and carefully edited and tested to conform to American cooking equipment and ingredients.

Here's what I've already made:
  • Central Mexican Guacamole (with no lime, only avocado, red onion, diced cherry tomatoes and salt)
  • Smashed Cucumber Salad based on Chinese technique
  • Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce
  • Sous Vide Red Chile Chicken
  • Turkish Meatballs (Kofte) made with ground lamb substituting for beef, with lime yogurt sauce
  • Sumac Spiced Chicken (Musakhan) from Palestine
  • Foolproof Single Crust Pie Dough
  • Acorn Squash roasted whole in the oven (a genius tip)
  • Harissa Roasted Potatoes
  • Tomato Sauce for pizza
  • Charred Brussels Sprouts (good but really messed up my skillet)
  • Caramelized Oranges
And there are tons more that I plan to make, including but not limited to
  • Whipped Cream Biscuits
  • Piedine (Italian flatbread) with various toppings
  • Pistachio-Cardamom Cake 
  • Cauliflower with Tahini
  • Chiang Mai Chicken
  • Za'Atar Chicken Cutlets
  • Vietnamese Caramel Fish
  • Rosemary-Pine Nut-Cormeal Cookies
  • Israeli Hummus
  • Pasta with Trapani Pesto
  • Spice-Crusted Tenderloin of Pork
  • Pork and Kimchi Stew
While I have versions of many of these (or similar) recipes, Milk Street's are worth a try.

This is the most exciting and useful cookbook that I've read since Food52 Genius Recipes. Between the book and the magazine, you learn a tremendous amount about food cultures and traditions in a way that relates to your ordinary life in the kitchen.

Bobby Jay