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This cookbook is a lot of fun! Each section has a brief essay upfront. A lot of wit here--and a passion for cooking and devising tasty recipes. Each recipe has a story; here again, considerable wit. For instance, the section entitled "Waffling toward Dinner." Putative breakfast dishes. But the author notes that one can enjoy breakfast dishes at midnight. Do your dining thing!

A couple recipes in the first section: "Buttery polenta with Parmesan and olive oil fried eggs." Ingredients: polenta, water or chicken broth, salt, butter, pepper, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, eggs, and sea salt for garnish. The recipe isn't hard to make either! Another intriguing recipe: "Soft scrambled eggs with pesto and fresh ricotta." I really enjoy the juxtaposition of ingredients in many of the author's dishes. She is like a mad scientist, who experiments with and tweaks recipes. The second section is referred to as "The Farmer's Market and Me." It starts off with "Extra-sharp leeks vinaigrette." After a delightful essay (1 1/2 pages long) we get the recipe. I like leeks, and this is a new way for me to consider preparing them. Look forward to trying this one out!

"Learning to like fish" is another section. I have used capers with Chicken Piccata. Here, capers become important ingredients for "Shrimp for a small kitchen--with capers, lemon, and feta. An interesting combination of ingredients. The next section? "It tastes like chicken." One tasty recipe. . . . "Roasted chicken thighs with peaches, basil, and ginger." I have made chicken schnitzel quite a bit over time. I use a tomato based sauce as a topping. Clark's schnitzel is way different--and I look forward to trying her version out. It features anchovy, garlic, salt and pepper, lemon zest, olive oil, eggs, bread crumbs, flour, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, chicken cutlets, oil for frying, mixed baby greens, herbs, and scallions.

And so on. . . . A delightful cookbook. What I've tried, I've liked. And there are many more that I look forward to fixing for my family. . . .
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on October 29, 2010
Whether you know Melissa Clark from her highly acclaimed NYTimes column "A Good Appetite" or you own nearly 30 books she's co-authored, you know that her recipes and writing are not only the "real deal" but are also attainable for real people with day jobs, who also want to cook regularly, and not take "cheating" shortcuts. Melissa's recipes are practical, delicious, and innovative. It's comforting, but offers an element of surprise. It is truly a must-have in any cook's kitchen. I've heard a few gripes here and there that the book is lacking photographs and that's a detractor. But let me disagree here. First of all, the book offers a narrative before every recipe. It's as much of a book to read, as it is to cook from. I allows you to focus on the cooking process, on the memory it creates, and encourages you to make your own stories and memories woven around food. Sometimes you cook a recipe from a cook book and your own version might not resemble the version in the photograph. This is probably because with a lot of food photography, there is a lot of styling involved and real food, as we know it, might not resemble food that has been styled, photographed, photo-shopped and then added to a book. I LIKE the fact that there are no pictures. It gives me an opportunity to read the story before the recipe and then busy myself in the kitchen.

It is not often that I leaf through a cook book and want to cook EVERY SINGLE THING in it. But with this one - I really do. And I can't stress enough what a great addition it'll be to your own collection or as a gift. I've given 4 out as gifts already and I've gotten rave reviews and big thanks.
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on June 24, 2011
I belong to a group of food/wine writers, marketers, etc., who've been meeting every other month for 5 1/2 years to cook from and to discuss favored and notable cookbooks. This month's host selected Melissa Clark's "In the Kitchen . . . " Some of us were suspicious that the recipes, billed as easy and delicious, might miss the mark because of their simplicity. -- WRONG!!! These are masterworks. Every single dish we prepared (eleven in all) was super. AND they really were easy. Great, flavorful dishes for home meals as well as entertaining. Plus, the writing is truly wonderful; read through a bunch of recipes and you'll feel like you've got a new best friend beside you in the kitchen. Those of us at this month's dinner are looking forward to trying more dishes from the book, and will recommend it to friends as one of our best ever books!
P.S. Just have to say, The Shrimp from a Small Kitchen (Shrimp with Capers, Lemon, and Feta), the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad, and the killer Kate's Impossibly Fudgy Brownies with Chili and Sea Salt served along with Ridiculously Easy Maple Walnut Ice Cream, were my favorites!) You'll really enjoy this one. TOP RECOMMENDATION.
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on December 28, 2010
I just received Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. I've always loved reading cookbooks, and this one is such a fun and interesting read. Her family is nuts--in a good way--and I love the way she grew up experimenting with food. Reading the narrative and seeing how she starts with one dish, adds or changes some ingredients for the next iteration, and makes additional tweaks to get the final product. I loved reading her mother's version of a roast chicken and then Melissa's take on it. Both looked great...and it will be fun to make both and compare. So far I've made the Spicy Chipotle Honey Chicken breasts with sweet potatoes. Very yummy. My 2 boys and husband loved it. (It was a tad spicy for my husband, so next time I'll adjust Melissa style and decrease the chipotles slightly and add a touch more honey.) Last night I made three excellent recipes from the book: the spinach and avocado salad with garlic mustard vinaigrette (wonderful thick zesty dressing that nicely coats the greens--no pool of dressing at the bottom of the salad plate), garlicky sesame cured broccoli salad (excellent flavor--although I halved the amount of olive oil listed), spicy garlicky cashew chicken (wonderful!) I can't wait to make more terrific recipes from this book.
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on October 16, 2010
One thing about Clark, her recipes always work. I can't imagine how obsessive her kitchen testing must be, but I am grateful that I can trust her.

I confess I have a real soft spot for the narratives as well, as I've been a fan of Clark's prose for years and, you know, take a look at the story behind Baked Flounder and Eggs---(which by the way is super easy)--there's no way you can avoid making the dish because of the way Clark animated the recipe through the story.

But beyond the words there are 150 recipes in this collection, and several are already standbys in my house. They say if you get two recipes from a book, it's a classic, but here, between the Flounder, the Broccoli, Aunt Sandy's Sweet & Sour Salmon, her revival of the Quiche The Tuscan Kale and the Crunchy Noodle Kugel, oh right, and the Lemon Curd Squares, I've beaten the prevailing wisdom.
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on October 12, 2010
For years I've made Melissa Clark's recipes published in the New York Times and they always work. The problem is I often rip out the article and then lose it so it's really nice to have them collected in a cookbook that won't be so easy for me to misplace. The other night I made her oven roasted pork butt with rosemary, garlic and black pepper and my dinner guests swore it was the best pork they ever had. I've also gotten great responses from her chorizo corn dog bites and raw Tuscan kale salad with pecorino. Even something I thought I knew how to make -- deviled egg salad -- is so much more flavorful following her method. I also like her direct, humorous voice in the essays that introduce each recipe. This is a great cookbook for people who really cook, no outlandish ingredients required.
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on May 20, 2015
Love this cookbook! I've made about 15 of the recipes, and they've all been excellent. While a knowledge of basic cooking is essential (of course), few of the recipes are particularly time or labor intensive, and some are downright easy. And the ingredients can be found at any local grocery. And yet, given the ease of cooking and the standard ingredients, Clark's recipes are delicious. She is an artist, excelling at combining flavors and textures, so that each dish is far more than the sum of its parts. I highly recommend this book!

I would point out one thing. This isn't a criticism of the book, but simply a caution. It seems these days that people want a cookbook with a specific eating theme- vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, low-carb, low-fat, vegan, comfort food, BBQ, desserts, etc. This book doesn't fall into any category. It contains a wide range of recipe types, something for everyone, but not a lot of any one kind. I love that about the book. Something to fit my every taste and mood.
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on October 5, 2010
If there is such a thing as a food writer crush, then I have one on Melissa Clark. It started a couple of years ago, when she published the recipe for "Extra Garlicky Sesame Cured Broccoli Salad" which is in this book. It was easy and delicious! I don't always make everything she writes about, but I always look at it eagerly every Wednesday.

When I saw that she was writing a book based on the column, I got pretty excited. I bought the book and have not been disappointed. In between the charming stories about growing up and how she found herself creating different dishes, there are recipes that look delicious and are easy to make! So far I've made the broccoli mentioned above, Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Almonds, Zucchini Latkes, and Salted Maple Walnut Thumbprints. I have many more I'd like to try and can't wait to get to them! Her philosophy seems to be that good food doesn't have to be difficult to make--you can use basic ingredients, and using different spices on hand, create good food. For me, the mark of a good cookbook is when you find yourself flipping through it after you initially bought it and looked through it, and still find things that you want to make, that you may have missed the first go round. That is easily the case here.
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on September 27, 2010
I'm a lifelong non-cook who picked up "In the Kitchen" because I liked the charming little stories, and because I'm always hoping to find that magic book that will inspire me to make wholesome but interesting dinners for my family.

Well, Ms. Clark makes you feel like anyone can whip up, say, garlicky swiss chard (p.11) when you see that it takes just fifteen minutes and has only five ingredients. And if you can make that, maybe you can take on steamed wild salmon with mustard greens, soy sauce and ginger (p. 85) next. After that, who knows? You could be offering to contribute lemon barley stuffing with shiitakes, hazelnuts and chive butter (p. 321) to the next family Thanksgiving. It all sounds completely delicious, and the stories Ms. Clark includes about her process make you feel like she'd be alongside you in spirit in your kitchen.

Though I just bought the book and haven't cooked anything yet, I've already marked quite a few pages and even written down some ingredients on a list. Maybe this is that magic book I've been waiting for...
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on February 17, 2012
This book is delightful, and I write that as someone who can't make many of the recipes as written because I'm a longtime vegetarian (no meat, but dairy and eggs are fine). This book contains many recipes that call for meat, which is, of course, fine because this book isn't advertising itself as a vegetarian cookbook. I really love cookbooks and own many non-vegetarian ones. In those non-veg cookbooks, I look for two things: 1) are there good vegetarian recipes in here? and 2) can I adapt the meat recipes to make them vegetarian? A solid recipe, in my experience, can usually handle some adaptations.

The answer to these questions for In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite is yes and yes. I have tried some really scrumptious things from this book, such as the red lentil soups (both were amazing), basil green goddess dressing (just leave out the anchovies to make it vegetarian; add salt if needed), sesame halvah toffee, and chocolate egg cream. Just the red lentil soups alone are worth the price of the book--they really are that good. I've had somewhat mixed luck adapting recipes to make them vegetarian. I make a tofu version of the roasted shrimp and broccoli that is really, really good. I've been trying to make a black bean version of the roasted chicken thighs with green peaches, basil, and ginger, but I haven't quite perfected a recipe. The beans tend to dry out, so that's a problem. But the combination of green peaches, basil, and ginger is delicious, so it's a combination worth stealing. I also adapted the recipe for Karen's peanut butter pie, using an oatmeal-nut crust, and that was very tasty too.

As far as recipes go, I have one complaint. In her directions for the crispy tofu recipe, I wish she had specified the size of the pan--mine was obviously not big enough because my tofu was too crowded for good frying.

On the topic of vegetarianism, she does have a chapter called "I Never Was a Vegetarian," filled with pork, lamb, and beef recipes. I think it's fine to include these meat recipes, but I find the chapter title annoying. It seems like part of this foodie trend to make fun of vegetarians, and I find it as appropriate as making fun of religious people for their dietary choices.

Overall, I think this book is fantastic. The food is inspiring and delicious, the stories are fun and informative, and the book is filled with tips and ideas to make you a better cook. Melissa Clark, as someone else said, really is a home cook's home cook.
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