Milk Street: The New Home Cooking
If I said that I want to change your cooking—forever—what would you think?
You might think that your cooking doesn’t need changing. Or perhaps that I am just making a lot of claims that I can’t back up. Or, just maybe, you’re interested but you need to know more.
Milk Street: The New Home Cooking will change how you cook and how you think about cooking, and it will bring the fun and excitement back into your kitchen.
How is that possible? Classic American cooking comes from Northern Europe. Rather bland foods—meat, potatoes, root vegetables and dairy—were turned into flavorful dishes through heat and time.
But that’s not how the rest of the world cooks. They start with big flavors; they don’t develop them. Handfuls of herbs, dozens of spices, baskets of chiles, fermented sauces such as soy sauce, sesame and chili oils, ginger, scallions, lemon grass, etc.
The best part is that this new home cooking is quicker and easier than traditional American cookery. Plus, you don’t have to master professional knife techniques, spend years trying to understand the science of cooking or take a course at Le Cordon Bleu.
Quick, Quicker, Quickest Cooking
The stir-fry is one of the first imported techniques to go viral here in the states. The reason? A method that was originally designed to conserve fuel is also ideal for easy, quick cooking. Small pieces of food are cooked over high heat in just minutes. In Milk Street: The New Home Cooking, we take the notion of stir-fry way beyond classic Chinese/American favorites with other cultures and other ingredients, including Stir-Fried Green Beans and Hot-Oil Flashed Chard.
A hot skillet is also great for quick cooking and for transforming even bitter vegetables into sweet, nutty side dishes, such as Brussels sprouts made in a hot cast iron skillet. Total time just 10 minutes and much better than oven-roasted. You can also throw together Thai Beef Salad and Za’atar Chicken Cutlets in just minutes with a hot skillet at hand.
You Don’t Have to Be a Professional to Cook The Milk Street Way!
French cooking is all about technique, but most of the rest of the world simply relies on ingredients with big flavors. The cooking itself is easy.
Here’s a good example. How many years have you worried about the perfect crispy chicken skin? The answer: too many. You can simply throw a chicken into a pot of water, bring it to a simmer, cook for 25 minutes and then let it sit for 40 minutes, and both the white and dark meat end up perfectly cooked. And, for big flavor, simply add chives, ginger, garlic, sherry and/or soy sauce to the water and that will give even bland supermarket chicken big flavor.
Or, for one of the most flavorful and easiest recipes in the world, we adapted a Spanish tapas recipe to the American kitchen. Simply coat pieces of pork tenderloin with a spice rub and then cook in just 6 minutes in a skillet, finishing with a simple sauce of lemon juice, garlic and honey.
Staples, Sauces and Seasonings
The quickest way to improve your cooking is to throw together more flavorful sauces, dressings, vinaigrettes, compotes and chutneys. In Milk Street: The New Home Cooking, we help you transform salads and vegetables with recipes such as Sweet-and-Sour Mint Dressing and Spicy Garlic-and-Herb Oil. You will learn to make transformative versions of classics such as Guacamole (no garlic please!) as well as Harissa, Whipped Feta and Miso-Ginger Dressing.
A Fresh Look at American Classics
There are still plenty of American dishes that we love, we just want to make them better. A classic Bundt cake is transformed using lemon and buttermilk along with new techniques. Oranges become dessert with a topping of quick stovetop caramel sauce. Chocolate cake is richer and moister with the addition of rum and a secret ingredient. For cheesecake, we switch out cream cheese for ricotta as the Italians do. And we use coconut milk to make rice pudding.
Bring Big Flavors from Around The World into Your Kitchen
This is easier than you think. In fact, your local supermarket stocks everything you need to make our recipes. Simple spices such as cumin, turmeric, cardamom and coriander. Soy and fish sauces. Handfuls of fresh herbs, from cilantro and parsley to dill and basil. Fresh and dried chiles. And, if you like, you can add a few extra items to be a bit more adventurous, from chili-garlic paste to pomegranate molasses. The ingredients are there in your local supermarket, and we will show you how to use them.
Simpler is Always Better!
A simple one-layer cake such as Pistachio-Cardamom Cake or Tangerine-Almond Cake are as simple as classic pound cake but 10 times better. A simple dump-and-stir one-layer cake can be better than a three-layer with separate frosting and filling. It’s never about complexity; it’s always about flavor.
• For stews, you don’t have to sear the meat first. The meat already provides plenty of umami without that extra step.
• For soups and stews, you don’t need to use stock if you are cooking large pieces of meat or chicken— just use water! You are creating your own stock during the cooking process.
• And you don’t have to perfectly dice onions like thousands of recipes tell you to do. A coarse chop is just fine as long as the onions are being cooked down. In fact, when making a flavor base for a soup or stew, you don’t even have to peel the onions—the peel adds nice color to the liquid!
Say Goodbye to Foolish and Say Hello to Foolproof!
Many French and other European recipes are derived from restaurant cooking where the difference between delicious and inedible is razor thin. This is because classic European cooking is cooking without a net, without the support of big flavors from spices, lots of herbs, fermented sauces, ginger, hot sauces, pastes, etc. If all you have to work with is a chicken, salt, pepper, potatoes, a little oil and a sprig or two of thyme, you can end up in culinary purgatory pretty quickly if you don’t know what you are doing. On the other hand, recipes that start with big flavors make it almost impossible to end up with a dish that is anything but tasty. A simple Sichuan Chicken Salad contains the forward flavors of chili oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and cayenne. Hard to get a blah chicken salad out of that recipe!
Here are a few other examples…
• Peppadew peppers (available in any supermarket) and fennel seed turn a simple skirt steak into a high-powered supper.
• Smoked paprika transforms BBQ pork butt into something rich and special.
• Hummus is the simplest thing in the world to make—just throw hot, cooked chickpeas in a good processor with tahini, lemon juice, cooking liquid and olive oil and let ‘er rip!
Say Goodbye to Escoffier—A New Way of Cooking
Around 1900, Escoffier streamlined and modernized the world of French cooking. Since that time, the culinary world has maintained at least one foot in the French culinary past. Most of the rules haven’t changed. Until now. Let’s start cooking in a new way, a way that is suited for how we live now. Here are a few of the “New Rules.”
• Salt and pepper need a divorce! They are different spices and have different uses. And it’s time to get beyond black Tellicherry peppercorns and start using Aleppo, Urfa, Sichuan or White Pepper for a change of pace.
• A sprig of thyme never did anyone any good. When you use herbs, use lots of them!
• For cleaner, brighter flavor, use whole spices in curries, soups and stews, not ground.
• Scramble eggs with olive oil, not butter, for lighter fluffier eggs.
• Add some ingredients at the end of cooking for a big punch of flavor.
• Cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom and smoked paprika can change your cooking overnight.
A Fresh Take on Noodles
I admit to having consumed at least my share of pasta with butter and cheese and marinara sauce, but the world is full of better noodle choices, from Pasta Trapanese, Chinese Chili and Scallion Noodles; Gemelli with Chevre, Arugula and Walnuts; and Soba with Miso Butter and Asparagus. And there is a whole new world of noodles available at your local supermarket, including soba, udon, ramen, rice noodles and Chinese wheat noodles.
Chicken from Around The World
Here in America we love chicken, but every culture has their own take and most of those recipes are fresh, big-flavored and an easy addition to your repertoire. The Japanese make an incredibly crispy fried chicken for example. In the Middle East, the spice blend za’atar turns simple boneless cutlets into dinner in just minutes. Thai Grilled Chicken has amazing flavor due to its marinade and spicy dipping sauce. And chicken soups are bursting with fresh flavor from Somalia to Canton to the Republic of Georgia.
Eggs for Dinner
Many places in the world turn a simple dish into dinner by simply putting an egg on it, from stir-fried rice to soups to simple stir-fries. But eggs can be combined with handfuls of herbs to make a Persian Omelet, or try Chinese stir-fry eggs with spiced tomatoes. In Basque country, they use oil, not butter, to scramble eggs, which makes them fluffier and lighter (oil gets hotter than butter and turns the water in eggs into steam more quickly). And in Spain, old bread, sausage and eggs makes a simple skillet dinner.
Simply put, Milk Street: The New Home Cooking will make you a better cook quickly and with no additional training or practice. The secret is in the ingredients, in the big flavors that make cooking easier, better and more foolproof. Most of the world knows these shortcuts already; now it’s your turn to become the best cook you know. All you have to do is follow the recipes in Milk Street: The New Home Cooking.
Yes, that sounds like quite a promise, but I assure you it’s true. It worked for me!