Dear Milk Streeter, 

I just finished reading “Food Fights and Culture Wars” by Tom Nealon and came across the following: Paris was spared the plague in 1668 because of the popularity of street vendors selling lemonade. The theory is that the discarded lemon peels (they contain limonene, an insecticide) kept the plague-carrying fleas at bay. Well, maybe it was the perfume?

I also learned that Worcestershire sauce is actually a classic Thai sauce since it is made from soy and fish sauces plus tamarind. Finally, beef extract (think Bovril) was invented by a German chemist named Liebig who wanted a way to market meat from South American cattle that were being harvested for skins. The meat was pounded, boiled, steamed, rendered and reduced and then shipped off to Europe. And Marmite—which is quite similar to Bovril in beefy flavor—is a vegan product made from exploded yeast cells. There is nothing like culinary history!

We are thick in the midst of shooting the 2017 season of Milk Street Television, which will start airing on public television this coming September. We welcome back some old friends to Milk Street as well as our new crew and talent. It takes a village to do a TV show! Fortunately, the snow has melted and the weather has improved, so it won’t look like winter through the large windows that front downtown Boston. (During a shoot last month, two of our television producers had to go outside with brooms to shake the snow off the trees!) Here are some photos of the production.

We launch our new website in April. Its content works well across mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, and the website was recently nominated for a responsive design award at the South by Southwest Interactive Innovation Awards conference. The digital versions of our recipes also feature a unique step-by-step mode that walks you through individual steps of the recipe as you cook, and includes helpful video clips and photography. Members will be able to get everything Milk Street: instant access to all our recipes, current and past issues of our magazine, videos, radio show episodes and television show episodes.

This month we offer you a free recipe for a one-pot noodle supper. Our Soba with Miso Butter and Asparagus is a quick weeknight meal that taught us the two sides of cooking asparagus. You can also throw a fried egg on top to make it more of a meal.

We are often asked how to season cast-iron and carbon-steel pans. The secret of using these pans is to quickly season them before every use. Heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in the pan until it starts to smoke and then rub into the surface with a wad of paper towels. Now you have a nonstick pan. Join the Q&A on seasoning pans on our Facebook page.

Last month, I started a Top 25 cookbooks list on Twitter. The top book was J. Kenji López-Alt’s “The Food Lab.” I was happy that Julia Child had two books in the top five, but a little surprised that some of the older American classics are still near the top of the list, including “The Joy of Cooking” as well as “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook” and “The Settlement Cook Book.” However, many solid culinary stars placed near the top, including Mark Bittman, Alton Brown and Yotam Ottolenghi.

The current issue of Milk Street Magazine (March-April 2017) is in the mail and on the newsstand. If you have not yet subscribed or have not updated your account, please go to our customer service page to receive the new issue. It has lots of great recipes, including a Tahini Swirl Brownie, Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce, Cracked Potatoes, Pistachio-Cardamom Loaf Cake, Central Mexican Guacamole (hold the lime juice and garlic) and a Peruvian take on pesto.

See you soon on public television. (You can listen to our weekly podcast in the meantime.)

Spring is almost here!


Christopher Kimball
Founder, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street