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Entries in Melissa Clark (6)


Stack Pie on The Today Show

The amazing Melissa Clark was on The Today Show with stack pies. Be sure to watch until the end as Carson Daly gets into the spirit of stacking.


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Stack Pies on the NY Times

Check out our stack pies on the NY Times! Big thanks for Melissa Clark for writing about the tradition.

Stack Pie, Rediscovered



Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Brussels sprouts are nature’s cargo truck for fat and salt. And now, the sprout truck is delivering gin.

Back that thing up right over here, please.

I grew up in a Brussels sprouts-free home. My dad had a deep, searing hatred for them, so my mom never, ever made a batch. I think they may have included that in some informal prenup.

So my first taste of them was roasting them a few years ago in the oven with pancetta, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Crispy, salty, and a slick coat of olive oil, Brussels sprouts seemed created to deliver everything that makes me happy in a meal.

So when a few bloggers decided to blog about recipes in Melissa Clark’s new book, Shove This in Your Face Now: OMG THIS IS GOOD FOOD, we jumped at the sprouts. Melissa’s book is also known as Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make. We prefer our title, but whatever.
(As an aside, if you were sitting with us at our dinner table, eyeing the wine bottle for a second glass, as I am this evening, I would tell you that Melissa Clark is magic and genius and probably poops kittens but this is an unverifiable fact by us, non-family members, but sweet baby j, we like her so much and her food is spectacular every time and I took her book to Brussels, Belgium OMG I am so not kidding I went to Brussels and now we’re making something inspired by her Brussels sprouts recipe in her second book but I took her book with me which was the only thing I took to read on the plane and it is full of magic and perfect writing and I want to be her at least her writing, if one can be like someone's writing, when I grow up, but that’s borderline creepy to say so I won’t but I do and also I need more wine.

That is an actual conversation you would have with us. We understand if you don’t ask for a dinner invitation.)

Melissa’s books, over the last year, have become our go-to recipe source for great food that never fails. Ever. So when we saw her latest book was coming out at the beginning of October, we pre-ordered on Amazon and then counted down the days.

We’ve made six recipes so far. Buy the book, as soon as you can. You need more good food in your life.

When Shauna at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef asked if we wanted to do an interpretation of Melissa’s Brussels sprouts, we jumped at the chance. We don’t make up our own recipes, so creating something new from the ingredients in Melissa’s recipe was a challenge, only for our lack of creativity. Go look at their version of Melissa's for realz Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Caraway

Then it struck us...SproutKraut. Melissa, in her introduction to the recipe, talked about looking at the pile of shredded sprouts and thinking about sauerkraut. That inspired her to include caraway seeds along with pancetta. Getting closer to sauerkraut with the caraway.

We decided to take it the whole way to krautland (differnt than Birdland, thank you Manhattan Transfer), at least a quick one. And the results made Karen think about childhood Thanksgiving in Baltimore. Every year, along with turkey and oyster stuffing, her grandmother’s Thanksgiving day table included sauerkraut. Whenever Karen sees or smells sauerkraut (her grandmother’s made with a nice slice of fatback), she’s transported back to South Baltimore near Brooklyn Park, not far from her grandfather’s welding shop. This makes her happy, so I’ve tried to learn to love sauerkraut

When we saw Molly Wizenberg’s
gin-soaked sauerkraut inspired
by her own Baltimore roots, we knew we had to try it. And I finally loved sauerkraut. The results were so good, we decided to use it as an additional inspiration for Melissa’s Brussels sprouts sauerkraut. Gin, pancetta, caraway, shredded sprouts, and sherry vinegar.

We ate it out of the pan. All two pounds (we made a double batch) of gin-tinged, tangy, salty, perfect Brussels sprouts. Make this for your holiday table as the kicky punch of happy.

Melissa Clark, in addition to the perfect pie crust recipe, gives you food that is full of flavor, easy to make, with a giant punch of happy. Cook This Now. And go be happy.

Brussels Sprouts with Gin, Pancetta, Caraway, and Sherry Vinegar (SproutKraut) inspired by Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced small (about ½ cup)
1 cup gin
½ cup water
¼ - ½ cup sherry vinegar (depending on how much punch to your face you want)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Remove the uglyish leaves from the sprouts. Cut off the weird core thing where it attaches to the stem. If you’ve got a food processor, insert the slicing blade and go to town. If you don’t have a food processor, go ahead and slice the sprouts by hand and hate people who have food processors because they sort of suck. Set the sprouts, and your seething anger, aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a very large pan. Like really big. Not roasting pan big, but big. Also, it should have a cover. Maybe use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a cover.

Add the pancetta and cook until a nice shade of tan/brown and then remove the crispy pieces with a slotted spoon. Place the crispies on a paper towel.

Tell everyone that you removed the pancetta fat from the pan but secretly leave it all in there because fat tastes good and people should live a little. Not like have a heart attack, but this fat tastes good and maybe don’t serve this to people with heart conditions. That’s our recommendation.

Add half the vinegar to the pan. It will let off very aggressive steam that feels uncomfortable and makes you cough. Carry on and scrape the brown bits of pancetta off the bottom of your pan until they’re all up in the vinegar/fat swirling goodness. You’re welcome, you just added a lot of flavor to your SproutKraut.

Add in the other ingredients except for the remaining vinegar. Hold on to that mother until you see how everything tastes after some cook time.

Place the cover on the pan. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Drink some gin.

When the timer goes off, remove the lid. Drink more gin and set the timer for 10 more minutes. Maybe 15. You’re looking for just a little liquid at the bottom of the pan. Sprouts will have a tiny bit of crunch to them.

Uncover and taste. Start adding in the vinegar and some salt and pepper until you’re happy. Stir in half of the crispy pancetta.

Place SproutKraut in a serving dish and top with the remaining pancetta for crunch and awesomeness.



Stacked Pies: Whole Lemon Pie + Blueberry Strawberry Pie from Melissa Clark and SassyRadish

Stacking pies in Karen's family is genetic. I'm not sure if that's a dominant or recessive gene, but I'm pretty damn happy I married into it.

Karen has spent a considerable time on this year. Inspired by Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s PBS show and Who Do You Think You Are (hi, Lisa Kudrow), she's mapped back her roots to England, Scotland, Germany, and France. She says she's a mutt of Europe with some haphazard Dutch, Polish, and Swiss thrown in there for kicks. 

The first time Karen got on, she sat in the same chair for five hours. It's like porn for the historically-inclined.

Her Puritan roots are shocking if you know her (hello, hotness). But she's more than a little proud that her relative, Giles Corey, was crushed to death in the Salem Witch Trials. Since I used to teach The Crucible to high schoolers, I find this mental jag a little hard to comprehend. The old man that got crushed to death in Arthur Miller's play was actually related to my wife? Why couldn't it be the crazy girl who started all the lies? She's way cooler. But I guess old crushed guy is better than nothing.

Click to read more ...


Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream and Warm Bourbon on the Side (via Four & Twenty Blackbirds) | Pie Month

This is the 12th entry in our Month of Pie. Pie Month is a celebration of things we love. Because life is hard, and there should always be more pie. Have a look at the other entries. Really. 
Pie #4 - Peanut Butter Cream Pie with Chocolate Whipped Cream
Pie #5 - Butterscotch Cream Pie with Gingersnap Crust and Cashew Brittle
Pie #6 - Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust
Pie #7 - Chocolate Kahlua Pie
Pie #8 - Bacon and Egg Pizza
Pie #9 - Pork Confit Pie with Creme Fraiche Potatoes and Puff Pastry
Pie #10 - Raspberry Pie and the Perfect Pie Crust
Pie #11 - Lime Pie with Gingersnap Crust 
This pie begins in total fail. It ends in triumph.

I forgot to put the sweet potato into this sweet potato pie. I had prepared the sweet potatoes the day before I baked the pie. Thinking ahead. Using my time wisely. Good on me. Trying to impress Karen, really. I’ve got this pie under control, dear. Completely under control.

I had wanted to make a pie from the infamous Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn. They are pie masters, and if I was going to make anyone’s pie, a sweet potato pie, it had to be theirs. Bourbon is used liberally in this pie, as it should be used in most things. When I went to Gary’s Wine in Madison to get some bourbon, the guy on the floor asked me what I was making (I had griled him about small batch vs. big label bourbon, the differences in quality and taste). When I told him it was for a bourbon sweet potato pie, he stood very still, looked a bit into the distance and said, “Oh. Wow. That sounds incredible.” 

And so I made the Four & Twenty Blackbirds' crust, beautiful flakes of butter throughout the dough. It was going to be great. Then I mixed what would be the pie guts, heavy with bourbon and spice. Par-baked the crust, just as the recipe said. It looked like a winner. I put the filling into the crust, slid it into the oven, closing the latch with a certain satisfaction.

As I was cleaning up the kitchen, my eye spied a medium-sized bowl. Wait, why is that bowl sitting there? That’s the sweet potato bowl. And there they sat, their orange surfaces turning brown, slowly, as if they knew they’d been left behind. 

There were expletives. The kids were taking naps. So there were expletives.

Grabbing the hot pads, I flew to the oven, undid the safety latch, and saw the beautiful crust being swallowed up by the bourbon sugar pond in the middle. Game over, pie crust.

Pie fail.


Until I remembered I had made extra pie crust from Melissa Clark. You know, that perfect pie crust? With the duck fat? Even in failure, I still had this situation under control. I poured the bourbon sugar pond into the sweet potatoes, threw away the now-soggy pie crust, and began rolling out Melissa’s crust. It behaved perfectly, like it had heard the expletives from inside the refrigerator. Par-baked it just as instructed in the Four & Twenty Blackbird recipe. Whisked together the sweet potatoes with the bourbon and sugar (which as noticeably thicker with sweet potatoes included, go figure).

And the pie was perfect. Set up just right. Tasted of depth and caramel sweetness. And a little kick of bourbon.

After that adventure in failure, I needed more bourbon. So I made some bourbon whipped cream (cream whipped without sugar, some bourbon splashed in). And that was a great touch. 

But I needed more bourbon.

I looked at Karen and said, “I want to dip this in warm bourbon.” Which really has to make a wife proud. A bit of bourbon in a small bowl. 10 seconds in the microwave. A dip into the rich brown liquid with the tip of the pie, then a dip into the whipped bourbon cream. 

And this is pie. A triumph out of failure. A boozy victory. A perfect pie.

recipe | Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie (via Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Bon Appetit) + Bourbon Whipped Cream and Warm Bourbon for Dipping