I have so many cookbooks collected over the years, purchasing many and inheriting more from my mother and mother-in-law. Suffice it to say, it's very rare that I want another one. But one look through "The Complete Milk Street TV Show Cookbook," and I found myself totally mesmerized as I took a trip around the world of flavors found within its pages.
Chattanoogans are probably not familiar with Milk Street, a Boston-based cooking school and home to the recording studio for its TV and radio shows that run on the city's local public television and radio stations. Now, however, the world will know about it, as I predict this cookbook will be a top seller and pick up some awards in the publishing world.
If you've grown tired of the same humdrum in the kitchen, "The Complete Milk Street TV Show Cookbook 2017-2019" makes cooking fun again, using ingredients easily found in American markets and making use of spices that have been sitting in your cabinet unused for a while.
The Milk Street crew, led by Milk Street founder Christopher Kimball, traveled the world, tasting and testing recipes from Mexico to Italy, Taipei and beyond, then returning to restyle the recipes — without sacrificing taste — for American palates and changing out some ingredients for those more readily available in our markets.
"These are not authentic reproductions of the recipes we enjoyed," Kimball writes in the introduction. "These are adaptations of those recipes for the American palate."
The cookbook contains every recipe from every episode of the popular TV show during its first two seasons.
Preparation and cooking times are given with each recipe, along with luscious photographs that make you hungry. Check it out at amazon.com ($26). It will make a much-appreciated gift for that cook on your list this coming Christmas.
Here's one of the recipes you can put together in under an hour, perfect for a midweek dinner. It's a one-bowl meal with rich flavors. In this dish, Taiwanese Five-Spice Pork, pork belly is traditionally used. However, ground pork is less-expensive, easily found and cooks more quickly.
Also, the recipe makes six large servings, but can be easily reduced, which I did, using 1 pound of ground pork and halving the remaining ingredients.
Taiwanese Five-Spice Pork
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil (such as canola, peanut or safflower)
12 ounces shallots, halved and thinly sliced
10 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups dry sherry (not cooking sherry, which is too salty)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 tablespoon unflavored rice vinegar
Steamed rice, to serve
3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
In a medium bowl, mix the pork with 1/4 cup of the soy sauce. Cover and refrigerate until needed. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add shallots, and cook, stirring, until deeply brown, 10-20 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the sherry, sugar, five-spice powder and remaining 3/4 cup soy sauce. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring until reduced and syrupy and a spoon leaves a clear trail, about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, and allow simmering to subside. Add the pork, breaking into small pieces. Cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink. 5-7 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, then taste and add more soy sauce, if needed. Spoon rice into 6 bowls and top with pork mixture. Sprinkle with scallions.
Email Anne Braly at email@example.com.