My cooking style has veered a little Depression Era since COVID hit. That has meant using up every last vegetable from the bin, digging out long-forgotten beans and grains, and cleaning out the freezer and cupboards. I bought a slew of new cookbooks this past Christmas. It was such a GOOD cookbook year. I decided I would use this stay-at-home period to dig into them thoroughly. Ingredients are limited right now. I haven’t felt like spending a ton of time in the kitchen. Easy feels good right now. Uncomplicated feels good. I want flexible recipes that allow me to swap one ingredient for another without a lot of stress. And so I settled on really tucking into the “Milk Street Tuesday Nights” Cookbook by Christopher Kimble.
In the Introduction, he states that American cooking is heavily influenced by the time-consuming traditions of Northern European countries. In these countries, the flavor is built over time. The recipes in this book are more Asian, Southeast Asian, and Japanese in style. Bright ingredients produce flavors quickly. Such staples would include herbs, harissa, ginger, fermented sauces, chili pastes, kinds of vinegar, and pomegranate molasses. Luckily for me, I have many of those on hand.
I love this cookbook. Recipes are organized by length. It’s an excellent cookbook for the Coronavirus Quarantine. It’s a pantry and substitution friendly. Zingy and flavorful food feels nurturing right now. Although I’ve always loved cooking, during this crisis, my mind has been elsewhere. I want straightforward, fast, actionable. The world outside already feels stressful. Here are a few of the things I’ve made so far.