Milk Street: Tuesday Night Mediterranean

I’ve recently joined a cookbook club – it’s like a book club but where we read, cook from and review a cookbook selected by one of the other members.

I wrote about a cookbook club once – in Escape To Curlew Cottage. In the novel four women get together each month for a meal where they each cook from a single cookbook. In preparing and sharing the food they form a lasting friendship. Obviously other things happen – it is, after all, a novel – but at the core is that friendship. I also review cookbooks here, but, I must admit, rather less often than I should.

In this cookbook club, the one I’ve just joined, there are members from several countries all cooking from one book and then blogging a recipe from it. Cool idea, eh? It also pushes me out of my cooking and cookbook author comfort zone to try books I wouldn’t normally pick up.

Anyways, our first book is Milk Street Tuesday Nights Mediterranean by Christopher Kimball.

I’d never heard of Milk Street or its founder Christopher Kimball before, but after signing up to the site (in order to check out some of the downloadable recipes prior to writing this review) I sure do now. I was bombarded by a mighty nine emails marketing various products and services in just three days. Yes, you read that correctly. Nine emails in three days. I had to check that I’d counted them correctly. Suffice to say, I’ve unsubscribed, but not before I’d been offered everything from cookbooks to cooking classes and products such as flavoured Austrian salt sprays (???), a Palmpress coffee maker, stackable glass bowls and a best-selling peeler. In three days.

Anyways, even though I haven’t heard of it here in Australia, Milk Street is big in the US with magazines, cookbooks, podcasts and even a TV show. And after reading Tuesday Nights Mediterranean I get why. It’s a good cookbook.

As far as I can tell, Christopher Kimball’s basic mission statement (for want of a better term) is to take international flavours and cuisines and bring them into the home kitchen in an approachable way without compromising on the flavours inherent in those cuisines – and when it comes to Meditteranean flavours this book delivers. Also, and this is important for me, it’s the type of food you can put on the table on a Tuesday night without too much effort.

The only problems I had with the recipes were in converting quantities and oven temperatures from imperial to metric, and ingredients from US terminology to what I’m more used to seeing. After that, the recipes are easy to follow and in many cases, the oven or the pan is doing the heavy lifting for you.

The first recipe I chose was the Greek Chicken and Potato Traybake. Traybake chicken is always a good way to have a midweek sneaky roast chook and this one with potatoes, lemon and garlic, tossed with oregano, chilli flakes and oil and finished off with some capers and olives for extra punch was a tasty one. You really can’t go wrong with this combo.

My photo, however, didn’t do it justice and made it look as though it was pale and uninteresting whereas it was, in fact, the opposite. (I always have to photograph my evening meals under bad light just before we eat. One day we’ll either eat earlier while it’s still light or I’ll work out a way to style and light my meals while my husband is in the background tutt-tutting about whether we’re eating or photographing.)

So, on another Tuesday night I backed up with Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe. The photo was still rubbish, but the meal was a success. And on account of the TV technician not leaving until 6.30pm, it was also on the table in less than half an hour – which is everything you want from a Tuesday night.

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute broccoli rabe with broccolini – although apparently broccolini is milder and sweeter and less bitter than broccoli rabe. No matter, broccolini was what I was using. Anyways, aside from that, I’ve written the recipe ingredients as they appear in the book – even though the ounces to grams thing does my head in.

As for whether this would deserve a place on my cookbook shelf? I bought a (digital) copy for the purposes of this review – the book not being available in our public library. While I do have other cookbooks that have similar recipes this is all of them in one place – (mostly) quick, (mostly) effortless, and inspiring.

Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

What you need (serves 4)

  • 12oz hot Italian sausages, skins removed (I used a 500g pack of Italian-style fennel and pork sausages and added extra chilli flakes for spice)
  • 12oz (350g) orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle at the end
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed (I used my mortar and pestle, but if you have a spice grinder, use that)
  • ½ tsp red-pepper (chilli) flakes – or more depending on how spicy you like it
  • a couple of bunches of broccolini, trimmed and finely chopped, stalks and all
  • about ½ cup parmesan (or equivalent) cheese, plus more for sprinkling at the end
  • salt and pepper

What you do with it…

In a medium bowl mix the sausage meat with about ⅓ cup of water – this helps the sausage meat to break up in the pan. Just stir it a bit with a fork.

Cook the pasta as you normally would – in a large pan with plenty of salted boiling water. Cook it only for 5 minutes though – the rest of the cooking will be done with everything else. Drain it into a colander over a heat-proof bowl – you want to keep the water the pasta has cooked in. (As an aside, pasta water is worth keeping so you can make Nigella’s No Knead Bread… see this post).

Tip 1 tbsp oil into a large skillet over medium heat and saute the garlic for a couple of minutes until it begins to brown. Fish it out and discard it, leaving the garlic-scented oil in the pan. Add the sausage meat, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring to break up the little clumps of meat, for about 3 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add the fennel seeds, the chilli flakes, half of the broccolini and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water. Stir to combine then pop a lid on and cook for about 3 minutes – until the broccolini is tender.

Stir in another 1 ½ cups of pasta water, the rest of the broccolini and the pasta, stir it together, bring it to a simmer, pop the lid back on and let it cook for another 3-5 minutes until the pasta is al dente and the sauce clings to it. If you need to, add a little more pasta water.

Take it off the heat and stir through the parmesan and another tbsp of oil, season to taste and serve, sprinkling over more parmesan and drizzling more oil.

For other reviews of this cookbook, check out New Classic Recipes Cookbook Confidential.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

15 thoughts

  1. That looks delicious! I had never heard of Milk Street before but I love easy to prepare delicious meals. I’ll have to look and see if our local library has any Milk Street books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard of Milk Street but I don’t thin I’ve tried on of their recipes. And, based on your experience, I won’t be signing up for emails. Funny: “The only problems I had with the recipes were in converting quantities and oven temperatures from imperial to metric, and ingredients from US terminology to what I’m more used to seeing.” Switch that around and you feel my pain 🙂


  3. Have you ever heard of America’s Test Kitchen? It’s a cooking magazine/TV shows that put an emphasis on research and investigating the why’s of good cooking and recipes. Christopher Kimball is best known as the founder of American’s Test Kitchen and it’s sister publication Cook’s Country. I used to love watching these shows and Kimball was always the lanky professor giving oversight to the actual cooks. He went on to start Milk Street, which given your review, has been successful.

    Your cookbook club looks like a lot of fun. I enjoying reading about yours and Donna’s et al suppers 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I haven’t heard of it. To be honest I read and watch mostly UK and Aus chefs… shameful I know. This is really stretching my boundaries – which is a good thing.


  4. Hi, Jo – You are way too modest about your food photography. Both of your photos made me want to make those recipes (they look absolutely delicious) – so they definitely did the trick. 😀
    I am delighted that you joined this bookclub. I can’t wait to see what you do with Oh She Glows For Dinner! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know the Milk Street podcast but not the books. The pasta recipe is very similar to one in Alison Roman’s ‘Nothing Fancy’ which I have tried (also with broccolini as I don’t think you can get broccoli rabe here). I agree re the pain of translating American recipes….it is easier to follow a recipe in Swedish for me 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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