, 2022-09-14 16:53:04,
When it comes to developing recipes, Melissa Clark is a master. She’s penned over three-dozen cookbooks and has been reporting on food and writing recipes for The New York Times since 2007. Despite this, there is always room to explore new recipes, cooking methods, and tactics, which is how she challenged herself in her latest cookbook, Dinner In One, which is all about cooking using a single Dutch oven, sheet pan, or casserole dish.
“I want people to cook every night and enjoy it and for it not to be a huge stress,” Clark begins, noting that the stress of clean up often deters people from wanting to cook. “I really believe that if you like to cook, even just a little, you can find a way to make cooking dinner for your family pleasurable a few nights a week. I think it adds to your mental health.”
It certainly does for Clark, who considers food a loving form of communication that has enveloped her since childhood. “I grew up in a household where food was our love language,” she explains. “We cared about one another, and showed it by making a great meal or planning a celebration in a restaurant. When I’d come home from school, my mother would say, ‘How was your lunch?’”
It’s something that has stuck with Clark—the idea of expressing love and understanding using food—and she asks her husband daily what he had for lunch, much to his own exasperation. “He’ll say, ‘My day was fine, thanks, how was your day?’” she laughs. “Don’t you understand? Me asking what you had for lunch is asking you how you are.”
Clark has spent decades folded into food’s comforting arms and could not picture having a career anywhere else. “Food is so baked into my identity,” she says, pausing. “Look, I’m even using food metaphors! I can’t get away from it.”
If cooking using a singular piece of kitchenware seems too simple, and the results less exciting than multi-step recipes that involve every kitchen gadget possible, Clark is here to prove naysayers wrong. For her, flavor can easily be developed using a single sheet pan, as long as homecooks are seasoning well and being strategic about how they use their cookware. “I tell everybody in every recipe to mix the drippings into the vegetables because that’s all flavor and will take your dish up a notch and add so much,” she says.
For dishes with less drippy, schmaltzy components, it’s all about the toppings. Take Clark’s baked acorn squash, for example, inspired by a…
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