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Whether you're a fan of the traditional cheesy white sauce or prefer more modern, brighter flavors, Melt has multiple recipes that are calling your name. The dishes range from classic baked ziti to a Cheddar and avocado entree and from light salads to rich desserts. Even better, Stiavetti and McCord take us out of the American heartland and transport us to Greece, Italy, Asia, and beyond, one delicious dish at a time.
More than just a collection of recipes, Melt includes a mini-course in pasta, cheese, and foundation sauces, all geared to giving you confidence in the kitchen and guaranteeing your success at the stove. Even if you consider yourself an experienced cook, you'll find plenty of new information in the opening chapter and the appendices. I particularly like the cheese chart and pasta glossary.
Many of the dishes will look familiar, such as a Swiss chard and pasta soup; others have clever twists, like the stuffed peppers that use orzo instead of rice. Imagine hosting a late-summer brunch that includes goat cheese pasta salad with grilled peaches or putting together a holiday season dinner centered around crabmeat and blue cheese over fettuccine. I love the modern take on chili mac, with its smokey, spicy flavors and the sharp taste of the fresh greens pesto instead of the more common basil.
The directions are all straightforward and easy to follow, making the recipes accessible to most home cooks. Be warned, however, that there are no cooking times for the pasta, so be sure to check the packaging. Some of the dishes are a little too fussy for a weeknight dinner after a hard day at work, but all are perfectly suited for casual weekend meals with family and friends. In fact, Melt may become your go-to book for this year's company menus.
Note that Stiavetti and McCord call for specific (brand name / artisan) cheeses in their recipes. Because not everyone around the country or around the world will have access to these particular cheeses, the authors have included a list of alternatives for every recipe. Most good grocery stores and farmers' markets will have something suitable. In addition, each recipe includes suggested wine pairings and other foods that go well with the featured cheese.
Stiavetti and McCord have put together a fabulous collection of recipes for almost every taste, from the Indian flavors of the paneer korma with idiyappam noodles to the more familiar baked buffalo chicken with cheesy macaroni, mozzarella-laced mango pasta salad, and down-home tomato soup with star noodles. Don't hesitate to buy Melt and enjoy the new look of mac and cheese. Your family will be forever grateful.
Vegetarians will find quite a number of recipes to use as is or that are easily adaptable; vegans, of course, will want to pass on this cookbook. People on gluten-free diets will appreciate the flourless Mornay sauce and advice on GF pasta.
Note on the photos: The photos were scanned from Melt; all rights remain with the original copyright holder, Matt Armedariz. Click the images to see full size.
Hachette Book Group / Little, Brown & Co., 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).