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Mar 18, 2012 11:01 AM

April 2012 Cookbook of the Month winner: Melissa Clark Month!

By a wide margin, Melissa Clark Month won COTM for April. We will be cooking from:
In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, and Cook This Now.

We had a great list of books to choose from this month. If your book didn't win in April, don't give up hope! There's always next month, and many more to come.

If you are curious about the selection process, and the accompanying discussion, the nominating thread is here:
and the voting thread is here:

On April 1st, I will be posting the individual threads for reporting your culinary experiences with these two books. In the meantime, you can use this thread for general discussion, and for posting any online links to recipes from these books.

If you haven't ever participated in the Cookbook of the Month discussion, we hope you'll give us a try in April. We have a lot of fun, and we learn from each other's experiences. The basics of COTM, and the archive of past books, can be found here:

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  1. I saw that there was discussion of her cookbooks in another thread-
    will u incorporate these

    8 Replies
    1. re: jpr54_1

      jpr54_1, you're quite right, beetlebug started a thread for Cook This Now by Melissa Clark. Some very delicious-sounding dishes have been reported on there so I think we're in for an excellent COTM!

      Here's the link to that thread:

      LN thanks so much for a smooth process!

      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        So ,I am trying to decide if I need COOK THIS NOW if I already own IN THE KITCHEN WITH GOOD APPETITE. Can someone who owns both let me know if I really need to add this one to my collection. I am considering it because Jane of EYB rated it her favorite cookbook of 2012!!!!! What do you think?

        1. re: dkennedy

          I have both and they have completely different recipes. I have cooked a lot from Cook This Now and not much from In the Kitchen With a Good Appetite - no reason for that just that I think I was overwhelmed with new books when ITKWGA arrived whereas CTN somehow grabbed me and I couldn't stop cooking from it. I'm really looking forward to cooking from ITKWGA. Also with Melissa it's not just her gorgeous recipes but she also is a great writer and tells lovely stories with each recipe. So yes dk, I think you should splash out.

          1. re: JaneEYB

            Thanks Jane, I think I will indulge!!!

            1. re: dkennedy

              dk - I got mine from the Good Cook, if you happen participate, and have some points to spend.
              For anyone who doesn't have ITKWAGA, there are some amazingly inexpensive copies around. I ordered one from Better World Books, a new copy, for under $6, shipping included.

              1. re: L.Nightshade

                Thanks for the tip LN, I just ordered a copy from Better World - for only $8! Had not used that seller before, and was pleased with their whole basis of business.

                Look forward to joining in on COTM for a change; provided it doesn't actually take 17 days for the book to arrive - I took the free shipping option;)

                1. re: gingershelley

                  I got it with free shipping too, as my books have always arrived very quickly from BWB. I'm not too nervous yet, but sure hope it comes before April 1st so I can set up the threads!
                  So happy you'll be joining us in April!

                  ETA: My book was in the mail today!

              2. re: dkennedy

                dk I'm sorry I somehow missed your post. Did you indulge? I just spent a couple of hours reading through CTN and I love it. I would definitely recommend the book.

                I remember when I first rec'd ITKWAGA and I was captivated by Melissa Clark's writing style. She really cares about food and her meals. Regardless of whether the dish starts out sounding like something we'd love, I end up wanting to try it after I read her introduction. I've only made it to page 120 in CTN but I'm guessing I've tabbed 80% of the recipes thus far. 3 I'll be making tomorrow so we'll have them for weeknight meals. Even if I weren't to make one dish at all, I believe I've already got my money's worth just reading MC's stories and interesting tidbits of info. (I had no idea that Lite Coconut milk was just regular coconut milk w water and sometimes thickening agents added). Keen to hear if you took the plunge dk.

      2. Melissa Clark also has a website, with what looks like hundreds (?) of recipes.

        2 Replies
        1. re: blue room

          I think the recipes and text in In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite originated in her NY Times column, so they're probably available there.

          1. re: blue room

            It looks like MK's blog is indexed in EYB:


            Also EYB has links to online versions of some of the recipes in her books so that should help folks who may not have either/both books.

          2. So excited about Melissa Clark month. I was hoping it would win, even though some of the other nominees sound very intriguing, too. I've unfortunately lost enthusiasm for the current COTM after my attempts with two recipes. I need a little more clear directly and certain outcomes (I'm just not in a tinkering, second-guessing mood) I guess. I'm hoping Melissa Clark's recipes are a little more precise.


            11 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Yes they are precise TDQ and in my experience they all work. I'm sure Melissa's experience co-writing many cookbooks for chefs has helped her in making sure her recipes are intelligible to the home cook.

              Talking of co-writers, have you all seen the article from last week's New York Times about ghostwriting cookbooks?

              There was some follow-up today about the number of cookbook authors who have contacted them to insist they write their own books.

              1. re: JaneEYB

                There is a thread about that article on the Food Media and News board:

                I just added a link to the followup blog to that thread; thanks for bringing it to my attention.

                1. re: JaneEYB

                  I am hoping and expecting so from Melissa Clark.

                  That's kind of a mea culpa from Moskin, isn't it? To say that "ghostwriting" really means things like measuring out ingredients and putting them in order and preparing the glossary and index? Didn't we all expect that someone else was doing that for Batali and the likes anyway?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    received this morning copies of 2 of her books-
                    will look at them on the jet to newark airport.-thursday 3/22

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      the NYT under pressure and its not pretty. the way Julia had to back off for the Company from the assertions of the writer.
                      Have never been a fan of chef or celebrity cookbooks - its just not likely that the chef's special spark (if any) will be captured in recipes there.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Jen, I know you aren't a fan of chef or celebrity cookbooks (I'm not much of a fan of the latter, for sure, I don't know if I own any), but I do think there are some chef cookbooks that are exceptional, including Ottolenghi, Zuni Cafe and Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I don't know if they've captured the chef's special spark, but these books sure are favorites of mine.

                        As far as Rachael Ray is concerned, she's kind of a weird middle ground. Not really a celebrity and definitely not a chef, but pretty much at the center of this whole ghostwriter storm, my understanding (and my memory is pretty sketchy, but I think I have the essence of the story though some details may not be perfect) is that she actually got her start in recipe writing when she was working at a grocery store or similar, when she realized that customers didn't know how to use some of the ingredients. So, she started teaching classes. And she basically boiled it down to you can take combination "A" of flavors and do the following 6 things with them: 1) pizza, 2) pasta, 3) soup, 4) sandwich, 5)... and so on. And then she assembled a combination "B" of flavors and show that you could do the same 6 things. And so on. It was kind of a mix and match thing. Eventually, someone asked her to do her class on TV (local public television I think) and a cookbook was born of that. Sometime after that, the food network discovered her.

                        As far as her original mix and match concept, I actually think it's a brilliant way to teach people who are intimidated in the kitchen to cook without a recipe. I wish I could see her original concept...

                        But, overall, my favorite cookbooks tend not to be the chef/restaurant books. They tend to be books by the people who have a passion for and have devoted a good chunk of their lives to understanding a certain cuisine and have a gift for distilling their widsom into books for us. Dunlop, Kennedy, Hazan, and so on.

                        There was a point in my life, maybe 5 years ago, where I started acquiring chef/restaurant cookbooks under the theory that I might not be able to dine at all of these restaurants, but for about the price of a meal, I could acquire the cookbook and replicate the experience at home. I've since abandonned that philosophy but have quite an inventory of books I have a hard time parting with because I paid "too much" for them. :( .


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          TDQ, you should check out another Melissa Clark book called "Chef, Interrupted." She's worked with all these whoop-dee-do chefs, and in this book she takes their signature recipes--Laurent Tourondel's Foie Gras BLT, Mario Batali's Mint Love Letters, etc.--and simplifies them very intelligently, so that you can cook them at home in an hour or so without dirtying every pan in your house. What I've made from here has been a lot of bang for the time commitment. I got it remaindered for $10.

                          1. re: heidipie

                            heidipie, will you tell me what you've made and enjoyed from Chef, Interrupted? I have this book and very much like the concept (and that there are comments and suggestions with each recipe from both Clark and the chef whose dish it is), but I haven't really used it yet, save for one recipe: I was thrilled to discover that it contains the recipe for a restaurant dish I loved and had dreamed of for years (Mark Ladner's pasta with spicy cauliflower ragu - paired with farro instead of pasta in the book). I posted about that last year:

                            1. re: heidipie

                              "Melissa Clark Month" sounds like the perfect time to check out this book. Thanks for the tip. I'll look into it!


                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                              thanks for the thoughtful response. Perhaps I was too broadbrush, since these are among my favorite cookbooks too. and I can think of a few others that have integrity and have also been rescaled to be accessible to a home cook.. Maybe Mario Batali could have written a book with the same kind of integrity when he was starting out, but once books become a major income source these "writers" have about as much integrity as the best selling fiction writers who turn out fatter and fatter novels each year with the help of research staffs.

                    2. I just wanted to mention that The Good Cook seems to be having a $10 sale right now where if you buy 3 books they are $10 each. If you buy one or two books, they are $12.50 each. I believe MC's "Cook This Now" is in TGC's eligible inventory...


                      12 Replies
                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        DQ, I just checked TGC site and the only special that I see is buy 2 and get the 3rd for $1.99. I have a few books in my cart in unticipation of $10/book sale. Please look again and let me know how I can find this sale - thanks!

                        1. re: herby

                          Gah! For whatever reason, I can't login to TGC right now. I know about it because I received an email entitled "Our Sale Just Blossomed" announcing this "site wide" sale this morning.

                          Here is the fine print: 1 book for $12.50 or 3+ for $10 each is valid for a limited time only! This offer applies to books each with a minimum Member's Edition price of $10 and maximum price of $35. Combos, Featured Selections, Audio, Merchandise, Savings Plan Plus, BookSearchPLUS and other specialty priced selections are not eligible for this special offer. Your total savings will appear when you add your books to your shopping cart. Only items purchased at Member's Edition price count toward your Membership Commitment. Orders are shipped via regular delivery. Express shipping, gift-wrapping, sets and heavy/bulky items may incur additional surcharges. This offer supersedes other advertised offers and may not be combined with other offers. We reserve the right to limit the purchase of multiple quantities of each title. Catalog offers and online offers may vary. Other exclusions may apply.

                          I suspect you have to be a member, and perhaps even one who has met the member commitment, to receive this email. I've noticed sometimes in the past they email different members on different days. For instance I remember buttertart mentioned an email she received announcing a bundle sale that I didn't get. I got my email the next day.

                          Usually there's a "code" that goes with the sale. If I could login to the site, I could see the code, I think, and give you that. I'll try later.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Just curious - on the aforementioned 3 books - $10 each - about what is the shipping charge for those 3 books for members.

                              1. re: Rella

                                I believe it's $2.50 because you're spending more than $25 (or whatever that limit to get the $2.50 shipping is...)


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Thank you DQ! I think there was a message in my mailbox at home this morning from TGC. I didn't open as was in a hurry and will chack once I get home. I can't get my personal email at work but looked at my cart and it only gives my $1.99 for the cheapest book in it.

                                  1. re: herby

                                    Yes, I'm pretty sure you can only access it by the email link. You might also be able to type in the code, but I can 't be sure.


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      You are brilliant and absolutely right, DQ! As soon as I clicked the link from the email (and I received the same email as you did), all my basket items were $10 each:) Now to decide to buy all or some.... Wonder how long the sale will last.

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        On a different subject: DQ, did you see a thread that Westminstress started on Evalasting Meal? I ordered the book and will get it once I am in US at my daughter's in a couple of weeks but the book sounds perfect for busy people and moms in particular. Keep your eyes on the thread:

                                        1. re: herby

                                          Thank you, herby! I wonder if TGC has Everlasting Meal? Then I could get Homesick Texan and one other book for only $10 each!


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Unfortunately they do not; this is why I got it from amazon instead of waiting for the TGC sale. It was not too bad - $15 or so.

                              2. Oh I wish you all luck. I'm sure it will be a great month for all those who participate. I will be away much of the month but I am sure to avidly read all your posts.