Make weeknight dinners a simple affair with this new cookbook

“Milk Street Tuesday Nights” by Christopher Kimball (Little, Brown, $35).

My cabinets and refrigerator shelves are bulging with seasonings and condiments from all over the world. If only I knew how to use them. Not just for some international-themed feast requiring days of planning and preparing, but for random weeknight meals I can whip together with whatever I’ve got on hand.

I could spend hours Googling tamarind paste or za'atar and seeing what recipes pop up. A much more pleasant experience, though, is flipping through the pages of "Milk Street Tuesday Nights," the latest book from Christopher Kimball. He's the mastermind behind Cook's Illustrated, a magazine dedicated to meticulously testing and perfecting classic American recipes for everyday cooking rooted in fresh ingredients and classic European technique. Its success laid the foundation for America's Test Kitchen, a brand that now encompasses multiple publications and a popular public television show.

Kimball parted ways with that brand in 2015 and started a new one: Milk Street, a cooking school and food media company where he and a team of cooks, editors, and producers expand the concept of American home cooking to reflect the multicultural influences that have become interwoven into our daily lives. "Tuesday nights" is code for recipes simple enough to pull off after a hectic workday, but filled with exciting global flavors we're comfortable with trying, but still associate with more ambitious weekend cooking. Think chicken thighs braised in Moroccan spices, or orecchiette pasta with Italian sausage, chard, and Peppadew peppers.

Recipes are organized in chapters according to the way most of us approach a mid-week meal: Fast/Faster/Fastest, Pizza Night, Supper Salads, and so on. Most ingredients are now readily available at any well-stocked supermarket and may already be lurking in your pantry. For example, the bags of dried Mexican chiles I purchased for a tamale-making marathon a year ago inspired me to try Pork Chops with Peanut-Guajillo Sauce. The chiles are lightly toasted, briefly soaked, then pureed with some of the liquid in a blender with dry-roasted peanuts and a few other staples. The result is a bold-flavored sauce that lifted quickly-seared, chili-spiced chops out of the ordinary and into the memorable category, needing only the simplest of sides for a feast.

Recipes on every page are clearly written such as this one, with just enough helpful tips and cultural context to guide you toward success, without overwhelming you. The sumptuous photographs that accompany them both inform and entice. In fact, the biggest challenge in using this book may be figuring out what to make next. I won’t wait until Tuesday to decide.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of that AJC. Follow her at

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