“Melissa Clark’s recipes are as lively and diverse as ever, drawing on influences from Marrakech to Madrid to the Mississippi Delta. She has her finger on the pulse of how and what America likes to eat.”
—Tom Colicchio, author of Craft of Cooking
“A Good Appetite,” Melissa Clark’s weekly feature in the New York Times Dining Section, is about dishes that are easy to cook and that speak to everyone, either stirring a memory or creating one. Now, Clark takes the same freewheeling yet well-informed approach that has won her countless fans and applies it to one hundred and fifty delicious, simply sophisticated recipes.
Clark prefaces each recipe with the story of its creation—the missteps as well as the strokes of genius—to inspire improvisation in her readers. So when discussing her recipe for Crisp Chicken Schnitzel, she offers plenty of tried-and-true tips learned from an Austrian chef; and in My Mother’s Lemon Pot Roast, she gives the same high-quality advice, but culled from her own family’s kitchen.
Memorable chapters reflect the way so many of us like to eat: Things with Cheese (think Baked Camembert with Walnut Crumble and Ginger Marmalade), The Farmers’ Market and Me (Roasted Spiced Cauliflower and Almonds), It Tastes Like Chicken (Garlic and Thyme–Roasted Chicken with Crispy Drippings Croutons), and many more delectable but not overly complicated dishes.
In addition, Clark writes with Laurie Colwin–esque warmth and humor about the relationship that we have with our favorite foods, about the satisfaction of cooking a meal where everyone wants seconds, and about the pleasures of eating. From stories of trips to France with her parents, growing up (where she and her sister were required to sit on unwieldy tuna Nicoise sandwiches to make them more manageable), to bribing a fellow customer for the last piece of dessert at the farmers’ market, Melissa’s stories will delight any reader who starts thinking about what’s for dinner as soon as breakfast is cleared away. This is a cookbook to read, to savor, and most important, to cook delicious, rewarding meals from.
Featured Recipe: Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potatoes from Melissa Clarks’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
When it comes to chicken, I like the dark meat. I like the gristly, fatty, sinewy bits and the musky deep flavor the darker parts possess. This said, there are times when circumstances call for cooking up that stalwart of American cuisine, the boneless, skinless chicken breast. Maybe I need to whip up something speedy on a busy weeknight, or please the palate of a diehard white meat fan. And in those moments, this is the recipe I reach for. It is, hands down, my favorite way to cook white meat chicken. The breasts are seasoned with an intense paste of smoky chipotle chilies, sweet honey, garlic, and spices, and roasted over a bed of sweet potatoes. While they cook, the kitchen takes on a spicy, autumnal scent from the cinnamon, cumin, and caramelizing sweet potatoes. And the breasts themselves come out moist, juicy, and richly flavored. It’s a fuss-free, one-pan crowd-pleaser, even for the dark meat lovers in the bunch. --Melissa Clark
Time: 15 minutes, plus 35 to 40 minutes roasting
4 (10-ounces each) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry
4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Chopped cilantro or basil, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and scatter on the bottom a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the remaining olive oil, chipotles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon to make a paste. Rub the paste all over the chicken. Carefully place chicken on top of the sweet potatoes and continue to roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes longer. Serve garnished with cilantro or basil.