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Christopher Kimball redefines dinner with new ‘Milk Street’ cookbook

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

Thus writes Christopher Kimball in the introduction to his new cookbook, “Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking,” published by Little, Brown and Company.

If you are among those who, over the years, flipped through the pages of Cook’s Illustrated or tuned in to “America’s Test Kitchen” on public television, you know Kimball. He’s the guy wearing the bow tie.

Lately though, Kimball has moved on from Cook’s Illustrated and the kitchen science geeks at “America’s Test Kitchen,” where they figure out how to make the best chocolate chip cookie, fried egg or lasagna.

These days, what’s on Kimball’s mind is Milk Street — Milk Street the TV show, the magazine, the radio show, the just-released cookbook and the 10-city road show that will take him to Atlanta’s Ferst Center Sept. 20.

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The newly released “Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking” offers recipes that are simple, healthy and big on flavor. Cover design by Julianna Lee. CONTRIBUTED (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

What’s different about Milk Street compared to other culinary publishing brands is that it offers a different way to think about cooking.

“Thinking about what is dinner — we’ve been pretty limited in that. The approach in the kitchen is different in other parts of the world,” he said. “If we redefine what dinner is and how to make it, I think more people will cook.”

“Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking” offers 125 recipes that cull techniques and flavors from countries throughout the world, but with the common thread that the dishes are bold, fresh and easy to prepare.

“We used to think about ‘our food’ and ‘everybody else’s.’ We called it ‘ethnic food,’” Kimball said. “I never liked that because it meant that we had nothing in common. ‘Ethnic’ was something you made on a Saturday. You cooked all day. It was, by definition, hard to do. That’s just not true.”

Starting with bold ingredients is key, he said, because “you can end up with a strongly flavored recipe immediately.” He cited a combination like sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and scallions. “You don’t need a lot of technique to get big flavor because you’ve already got it. It isn’t the cooking as much as the ingredients and how you put them together.”

“If you learn to cook this way, you can get to where you want to get faster and easier,” he summed.

This approach also frees home cooks from thinking they need to know rules or that they need to be star chefs for their food to be valid.

“You don’t have to be Jacques Pepin to cook this food,” he said.

When Kimball appears on stage at the Ferst Center, he will show the audience how to simplify and improve their cooking. But, as something of a variety show with a culinary bent, “Milk Street Live!” promises fun interaction for ticket holders. There will be a food tasting challenge, a super-taster experiment, a short-order cook-off and even a live screen test that brings audience members to the stage to don a bow tie and impersonate Kimball. The winner earns a fully paid trip to Boston to appear on the second season of “Milk Street Television.”

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