‘Milk Street: The New Home Cooking,’ by Christopher Kimball. Little, Brown and Company. $40.

I’m just going to come out and say it – “Milk Street: The New Home Cooking” is great. Really, really great.

How great? Well, I’ve had it for more than a month now, and it hasn’t left my kitchen counter. I cook out of it probably every other day. It’s splattered and stained with sauce and animal fat. That’s how much I adore this book.

If you don’t know, Milk Street is a multimedia company created by Christopher Kimball, founder and longtime head of the highly regarded America’s Test Kitchen television program, radio show, Cook’s Illustrated magazine and too many America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks to count.

Milk Street, named for its Boston headquarters address, take a similar approach to Kimball’s previous venture, by trying out and testing the best way to prepare recipes for the home cook.

The approach is so similar, in fact, that America’s Test Kitchen sued Kimball in 2016 alleging he ripped off his former company’s designs and stole resources to create Milk Street.

Drama aside, Milk Street’s intent is to turn the idea of “American” food on its head, hence the “new home cooking” tagline. The concept, Kimball writes in the introduction, is that America and the rest of the world is going through a watershed moment – as with music and art, cooking is transforming to a mashup of global ingredients and techniques.

“Ethnic cooking is dead,” Kimball writes. “We are all simply making dinner.”

Milk Street’s approach is refreshing, but what really makes the book sing is how accessible and relatively easy the recipes are. Almost every ingredient can be found in a large chain grocery store, eliminating the burden of tracking down specific items that might only get used one time.

The recipes also “sound fancy” according to my wife, but are usually very simple, straightforward food. Soba noodles with asparagus, miso butter and egg, is a typical example. It sounds involved and complicated, but took me about 20 minutes to have it on the table. Its global reach keeps the recipes unique and varied without becoming repetitive.

Finally, the taste combinations have been fantastic. I’ve yet to come across a recipe I didn’t enjoy. “This one is definitely going in the rotation,” has become a common refrain in my home after testing something new from “Milk Street: The New Home Cooking.”

The Thai beef salad recipe is a perfect case in point. I tried all summer to get a homemade version of this specialty right, and the Milk Street version finally did it. It sounds like you’d need some really fancy techniques and special ingredients to pull it off. You don’t. A flank steak rubbed with salt and sugar then grilled or pan seared super-hot and topped with a salad of tomatoes, cilantro, shallot, fish sauce, lime juice and mint. I served it with a side of sticky rice and we ate it with our fingers, washed down with a domestic lager. This was the perfect dinner during a raging heat this summer, but I’d take it in the depths of winter too, when hot, steamy evenings are a distant memory.

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or:

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Twitter: PeteL_McGuire


Serves 4

1 large shallot, sliced into very thin rings

3 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes)

4 teaspoons packed brown sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 2 or 3 pieces

Canola oil (if using a skillet)

1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups red or yellow tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs to garnish (optional)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint

In a large bowl, combine the shallots and lime juice and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl combine 2 teaspoons of the sugar, the salt and white pepper. Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then rub all over with the sugar-salt mixture. If using a cast-iron or carbon-steel skillet, cut the steak into 4 to 6 pieces if needed to fit into the pan.

Prepare grill or skillet for very high heat. For a charcoal grill, spread the full chimney of hot coals evenly over have of the grill bed. For a gas grill, set all burners to a high, even flame. Heat the grill for 5 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate. For a cast-iron or carbon-steel pan, heat 1 teaspoon of canola oil over medium-high until smoking, about 5 minutes.

If using a grill, grill the steak (directly over the coals, if using a charcoal grill) until charred all over, 2 to 4 minutes per side. If using a skillet, sear the steak in 2 batches until charred, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, the pepper flakes and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar to the shallot-lime juice mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Taste, then add additional fish sauce, if desired. Thinly slice the steak across the grain, then transfer to the bowl along with any accumulated juices. Add the tomatoes, cilantro and mint and stir. Transfer to a platter and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

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