What’s Cooking with Christopher Kimball? New Milk Street Book, TV Show

Foodies who may be missing Christopher Kimball, the bow-tied former host of “America’s Test Kitchen,” don’t have to wait any longer to find out what he’s got cooking.

This month, his cooking capitol Milk Street launched a 30-minute TV series aimed at transforming the way America cooks and eats.

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Kimball is also back with a brand-new cookbook: “Milk Street: The New Home Cooking.”

Kimball tells us about the cookbook, the show and his favorite kitchen tool.

No-Sear Lamb or Beef and Chickpea Stew

Start to finish: 2 hours 15 minutes (40 minutes active)
Servings: 4

• 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• Kosher salt and ground black pepper
• 1¼ pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into ¾-inch pieces
• 1 head garlic
• 2 tablespoons salted butter
• 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 6 cups water
• ½ pound carrots (2 to 3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
• 15½-ounce can chickpeas, drained
• 3 ounces baby spinach (about 3 cups)
• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more to garnish
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• Plain whole-milk yogurt, to serve (optional)

The mess, time and trouble required to brown meat for a stew left us longing for a better way. Did we really need that step to get big flavor? Then we discovered a world of alternatives from cultures where cooks skip the browning and instead build layers of flavor with spices and condiments. For our no-sear, no-stock stew, based on the Yemeni dish known as maraq, we started with a dry seasoning mix—paprika, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and pepper. It did double duty, with half the mixture rubbed onto the meat and the rest briefly cooked in the pot with onion, butter and tomato paste. Cooking the seasonings with the fat and tomato paste bloomed their flavors and lightly browned the tomato paste. We wanted the savory sweetness of roasted whole garlic cloves (mincing releases aggressive sulfurous compounds) but not the trouble of roasting a head separately. So, we sliced off the top of the head, then added it whole to the stew to cook alongside the meat. We liked the flavor and texture of lamb shoulder. Boneless beef chuck worked, too (but needs an extra cup of water and must cook longer, 90 minutes total, before adding the carrots).

Don’t use old spices. The backbone of the dish is the bold, vibrant spice mixture. Make sure yours are no more than a year old.

1. In a bowl, stir together the paprika, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Reserve half of the spice mixture, then toss the lamb with the rest until well coated. Set aside. Cut off and discard the top third of the garlic head, leaving the head intact.

2. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the reserved spice mixture, then cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the water and bring to a boil over high, then add the lamb and garlic head, cut side down. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and reduce heat to low.

3. Simmer for 1 hour, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle bubble. Add the carrots and continue to simmer, partially covered, for another 30 minutes. Using tongs, remove the garlic head and squeeze over the stew to release the cloves. Stir in the chickpeas and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice, then season the stew with salt and pepper. Serve topped with yogurt and sprinkled with cilantro.

Tahini Swirl Brownies

Start to finish: 40 minutes
Makes:16 brownies

• 4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter plus more for pan
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 16 grams (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder
• 3 large eggs
• 223 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 180 grams (¾ cup) tahini
• 47 grams (⅓ cup) all-purpose flour

Tired of one-note brownies, we looked to the Middle East for a grown-up version of this American standard. We loved the halvah brownie from Tatte Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Halvah is fudge-like candy from the Middle East made from tahini, a rich sesame seed paste. At Milk Street, we fiddled with how much tahini to use—its fat content was the major problem. To start, we reduced the tahini and the amount of butter, substituted cocoa powder for some of the chocolate and added an egg to cut through the rich brownie base. Then, we reversed our thinking and instead of trying to add tahini to a classic brownie batter, we added chocolate to a tahini base. For a final touch, we swirled reserved tahini batter into the chocolate to create a visual and textural contrast and let the tahini flavor shine. The best way to marble the brownies was to run the tip of a paring knife through the dollops of batter. Be sure to fully bake these brownies—they are extremely tender, even wet, if not baked through. The tahini’s flavor and color will intensify over time, so make a day ahead for a more pronounced sesame taste.

Don’t skip stirring the tahini before measuring; the solids often sink to the bottom.

1. Heat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 pieces of foil with excess hanging over the edges on all sides. Lightly coat with butter.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Off heat add the chocolate and cocoa, whisking until smooth.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the tahini. Fold in the flour until just incorporated. Transfer ½ cup of the mixture to a small bowl. Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining tahini mixture and fold until fully combined.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Dollop the reserved tahini mixture over the top, then swirl the batters together. Bake until the edges are set but the center remains moist, 28 to 32 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan and cool on the rack for at least another 30 minutes; the longer they cool, the better they cut. Cut into 2-inch squares.

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Christopher Kimball Dishes on New Milk Street Kitchen Project

Oct. 5, 2016: The founder and former host of “America’s Test Kitchen” is back with a new project and a broader vision.

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