Famed New York Times columnist and cookbook author Melissa Clark’s latest book, Dinner: Changing the Game, has provided a plethora of content for our Cookbook Club members this month. The depth and breadth of her collection of recipes has been refreshing—allowing members to venture through multiple styles of cuisine and filling our Club's Facebook page with everything from roast chicken, to curry, to quesadillas!
Clark joined our Club this past week, and member Lorne Wald was one of the first to participate in her Q&A session. Wald conducted quite the fun experiment which he dubbed- "The War Between The Steaks," saying: "I noticed that the Vietnamese-Style Steak Marinade was perfect as a marinade, but far too strong for the accompanying salad, while the Jalapeno-Honey Marinade barely imparted any noticeable flavor to the meat,” stated Lorne. He was curious to hear her thoughts on how others had such a different experience with the same recipe, noting, “Someone said that they loved the Jalapeno-Honey, but they used a tablespoon of soy sauce (instead of one teaspoon). Do you think that might have been the issue?”
She responded to Wald’s dilemma with a great insight on differing palates: "Whenever you cook it's always essential to tweak the recipe to suit your tastes. What works for me might be too bland or too intense for you. I wholeheartedly applaud any changes people make to my recipes so they work for their tastes. So in terms of say, the Jalapeno-Honey Steak, it's possible my chiles were more intensely flavored, or my honey was stronger, or my soy sauce richer. I'd say definitely bump up the seasonings if you ever made the dish again.”
Many of our members have been following Melissa’s sage advice to tweak her recipes from the beginning. Bebe Black Carmanito enjoyed the Fresh Corn Cakes with Tomatoes and Crispy Sage so much the first time she made it, she made the dish a second time shortly thereafter. On the second go-round, she added her own flair to suit her textural preferences, using crème fraîche in lieu of the buttermilk as well as kernels from an extra ear of corn for more texture.
Some members of our club, however, found some of Clark’s recipes too spot on to even bother tweaking. Sheila Scully made the oh so popular Burrata Caprese with Peaches. Scully exclaimed, “Beautifully ripe peaches and super flavorful red and yellow tomatoes from the farmers market make this a perfect August salad. I loved it and wouldn't change a thing.”
Daniela Gerson, who made the Coconut Rice Noodles with Ginger and Eggplant, stuck to Clark's recipe, but was also inspired to adapt it in the future, saying: “Super flavorful, delicious, and nourishing—I highly recommend [this dish]. I can also attest to how photogenic this dish is because I accidentally lost all the pics I took of it so made it all over again...which means I ate it twice in 2 weeks and loved it just as much the second time. And it got my mind all inspired and the wheels turning for all sorts of possible curry creations!”
Whether you follow Clark’s recipes to the letter or adjust them a bit to fit your own taste, we welcome your photos and reviews of Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game over at the Club’s home base on Facebook. You can also follow along with us on Instagram at the hashtag #f52cookbookclub. There is still some time left in August to participate, and there are plenty of recipes waiting for you to try!
So, come join in on the fun, we can’t wait to cook with you!