Favorite Recipes from Melissa Clark's Kitchen

Family Meals, Festive Gatherings, and Everything In-between


By Melissa Clark

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Beloved New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark selects more than 100 of her all-time favorite recipes and gathers them here in this collection of delicious, reliable, palate-pleasing dishes for every occasion. Illustrated with full-color photographs throughout.

Melissa Clark has been reaching millions of readers through her New York Times column “A Good Appetite” since 2007. She is also the face of the Times cooking videos, which are filmed in her now iconic Brooklyn-based home kitchen. Her delicious, seasonal recipes are simple to make and satisfying for the whole family. They are always executed with a touch of elegance and flair.

Favorite Recipes from Melissa Clark’s Kitchen curates more than 100 dishes, hand-selected by Clark herself, from her two previously published books, In the Kitchen With A Good Appetite and Cook This Now. The book is organized by meal including Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner Mains, Dinner Sides, Desserts, Cocktails and Snacks. In addition, it features an “Occasion Chart” that cross-references recipes into situational categories including weekday staples, perfect for 2, family meals, and company’s coming, making it easy for the reader to select the perfect recipe for any occasion.



A question that I often get asked is, out of the thousands of recipes I’ve developed for my cookbooks and column over the years, which ones are my absolute favorites? This seems like a pretty straightforward query to the person asking it. But for me, it can be puzzling. How can I whittle down decades of work into just a handful of dishes that I can quickly list off? Because the truth of it is, every dish has its time and place. Before I can start mentally scanning all the chicken dishes in my roster to recommend one (or ten), I need to understand how and when said dish would be served. Give me the context, and the ideas start flowing like an ice-cold Rye Manhattan into a chilled cocktail coupe (with Spiced Nuts on the side, please).

Are we talking favorite after-work meals? Farro Pasta with Spicy Salami Tomato Sauce will fit the bill for families with big kids, Roasted Chicken Thighs with Apples for families with little ones. And for the kid-less—or on kid-less nights when summer camp or sleepovers have absorbed your children—Buttery, Garlicky, Spicy Calamari couldn’t be easier or more delicious. Or perhaps you’re eating alone, cozy on the couch in front of your favorite movie. A big bowl of Carroty Mac and Cheese (to supply the vegetable quotient) isn’t just for families, but for anyone in need of something creamy, comforting, and supremely satisfying but quick to make.

If it’s fancy dinner party fare in question, for starters, do I suggest Port-Glazed Stilton with Homemade Oat Biscuits, or Crispy Onion Fritters? Depends on if you’re a make-it-ahead or last-minute-type cook, because both are recurring favorites at dinner parties chez moi. Then maybe I’d follow it up with tender, rich Braised Leg of Lamb and some Israeli couscous on the side, and a lovely crisp spinach salad. Or if you aren’t as in love with lamb as I am, I’d suggest my Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Olives. And for dessert, is it summer when you’ve got fresh plums waiting to be turned into an Upside-Down Plum Polenta Cake? Or winter, when a Triple Chocolate Trifle is more fitting to the blustery time of year?

In this volume, I’ve collected enough of my favorite recipes to provide answers for every inquirer. No matter the occasion, no matter the season, no matter your craving, you’re sure to find something here to make for dinner—or lunch, or even a special breakfast when you’re dying for a Spanish potato tortilla instead of the usual fried eggs.

To help you prepare for any culinary circumstances that come your way, every recipe is tagged as a Weekday Staple, Perfect for Two, Family Meal, or Company’s Coming. The occasion charts on pages viii–xi will help you both create menus and provide quick ideas when you need them.

Of course, these recipes are not restricted to these categories alone. Perfect for Two can still be very kid-friendly, for example, and you can add extra side dishes or double recipes as needed for more people. Weekday Staples can be great for company; in fact, casual entertaining on a school night is underrated. And so on.

All these recipes have been published before in two of my other books: In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite and Cook This Now. But here, I’ve chosen my personal favorites to put in one volume. Even better, these recipes are illustrated with new photos, allowing you to see many more of the dishes than you could before.

I hope the recipe collection and the photos inspire you to find your own favorites. And then when someone asks what you love to cook for company, or for your kids, or for a late-night snack, you’ll know exactly what to say.

occasion charts

weekday staples


The Mysterious David Dares Pancake

Green-Poached Eggs with Spinach and Chives

Pesto Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Ricotta


Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad with Manchego and Toasted Walnuts

Sesame Soba Salad with Roasted Shiitakes and Tofu Croutons

A Perfect Tomato Sandwich

Salami and Horseradish Cheddar Bagel Sandwich


Farro Pasta with Spicy Salami Tomato Sauce and Fresh Mint

Buttery, Garlicky, Spicy Calamari with Israeli Couscous

Coconut Fish Stew with Basil and Lemongrass

Thai-Style Ground Turkey with Chiles and Basil

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Apples, Gin, and Coriander Seeds

Lamb Merguez Burgers with Harissa Mayonnaise


Crushed New Potatoes and Pea Salad with Mustard Seed Dressing

Southeast Asian Tomato Salad

Celery Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Caraway


Chocolate Chip Pecan Loaf Cake

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Brown Butter Maple Roasted Pears


Rye Manhattan

perfect for two


Anya’s Potato and Onion Tortilla with Allioli

Baked Flounder and Eggs

Rhubarb, Strawberry, and Lemon Marmalade


Curried Coconut Tomato Soup

Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Salted Yogurt, Mint, and Pomegranate Seeds

Frisée Salad with Bacon and Eggs

Queso Fresco Quesadillas with Papaya-Avocado Salsa

Deviled Egg Salad with Anchovies, Hot Smoked Paprika, and Tomato


Fresh Corn Polenta with Roasted Ratatouille and Ricotta

Spicy Black Beans with Chorizo and Jalapeños

Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant, and Yogurt Sauce

Sautéed Scallops with Tomatoes and Preserved Lemon

Olive Oil–Poached Halibut Nuggets with Garlic and Mint

Steamed Wild Salmon with Mustard Greens, Soy Sauce, and Ginger

Stir-Fried Chicken with Leeks, Oyster Mushrooms, and Peanuts

Seared Pork Chops with Kimchi


Barley with Carrots, Scallions, and Maybe Parmesan

Hello, Salad (Tender Greens with Herbs and Hazelnuts)

Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

Wilted Collard Greens with Lemon and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil


Tiny Valentine’s Day Cake for Daniel (Devil’s Food Cake with Butter Rum Frosting)

Pistachio Shortbread


Speedy Coconut Eggnog

Roasted Pepper and Celery Leaf Crostini

family meals


Double Coconut Granola

Baked Apples with Fig and Cardamom Crumble

St. Mark’s Gooey Honey Butter Cake with Lemon and Cinnamon

Maple Blueberry Cake


Spicy Chicken Barley Soup with Sweet Potato and Spinach

Creamy Parsnip and Leek Soup with Bacon

Ham Bone, Greens, and Bean Soup

Israeli Couscous with Fresh Corn, Tomatoes, and Feta

Pan Bagnat


Carroty Mac and Cheese

Whole Wheat Pizza with the Very First Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, and Tuna

Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli

Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Olives over Polenta


Homemade Spaetzle with Browned Onions, Swiss Chard, and Emmentaler

Coconut Rice with Optional Peas

Rich and Nutty Brown Butter Corn Bread with Fresh Corn

Roasted Acorn Squash, Honey, Smoked Paprika, and Sage Salt

Golden Parsnip Latkes


Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

Coconut Fudge Brownies


Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Sandies


Healthy Homemade Cheddar Crisps

Stupendous Hummus

Cheater’s Pork and Ginger Dumplings

company’s coming


Buckwheat Pancakes with Sliced Peaches and Cardamom Cream Syrup

Buttery Polenta with Parmesan and Olive Oil–Fried Eggs and Swiss Chard

Chic Quiche

Whole Wheat Biscuits with Spicy Cardamom Butter

Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios

Rhubarb “Big Crumb” Coffee Cake


Cantaloupe and Yogurt Soup with Toasted Cumin Salt

Corn Salad with Tomatoes, Avocados, and Lime Cilantro Dressing

Shaved Zucchini and Avocado Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Raw Kale Salad with Anchovy-Date Dressing

Sausage Salad with Radicchio and Frisée

Crisp and Juicy Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches with Caperberry Tartar Sauce


Butternut Squash Risotto with Pistachios and Lemon

Roasted Blackfish with Olives and Sage

Spicy Three-Meat Chili

Crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, Lemons, and Carrots with Parsley Gremolata

Braised Leg of Lamb with Garlicky Root Vegetable Puree

Vietnamese Grilled Steak and Cabbage Salad with Peanuts, Mint, and Chiles

Chile-Coconut Braised Beef Short Ribs


Bulgur “Pilaf” with Swiss Chard and Dried Apricots

Creamy Leek Gratin with Parmesan

Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad

Honey-Roasted Carrot Salad with Arugula and Almonds

Winter Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Manchego

Zucchini with Mint and Garlic

Red Chard with Pine Nuts, Garlic, and Golden Rum Raisins


Upside-Down Polenta Plum Cake

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Berry Summer Pudding with Rose-Scented Custard

Triple Chocolate Trifle with Raspberries

Obsessive Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie

Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise

Lemon Curd Squares with Rosemary


Kumquat-Clementine Cordial

Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts

Pan-Roasted Radish and Anchovy Crostini

Port-Glazed Stilton with Homemade Oat Biscuits

Crispy Onion Fritters with Whole Spices and Hot Sauce

Cornmeal Blini with Salmon Caviar


company’s coming

Buckwheat pancakes with sliced peaches and cardamom cream syrup

makes about 10 pancakes

I’ve been experimenting with a range of different whole-grain flours, and have found that I absolutely adore the complex, winey nuttiness of buckwheat flour. It’s traditionally used in blinis, but since I don’t make blinis very often (because I don’t serve caviar very often, sadly), I decided to try it in a regular old pancake, the kind I make for breakfast on the weekends. Since I don’t bother using yeast, the flavor isn’t as complex as a blini, but the buttermilk gives it a nice fresh tang and the honey lends a little sweetness that makes these pancakes wonderful on their own, should you choose to forgo any syrupy distractions.

If you are interested in syrup, however, please try this oddball, creamy, exotic-scented, and utterly divine cardamom cream syrup at least once. I can’t really tell you how I came up with it other than to say I like the combination of cardamom with juicy ripe peaches. And I like cardamom cream cakes, which I ate on a brief trip to Sweden. Come to think of it, they grow buckwheat in Sweden, and I’m sure my subconscious was aware of this as I made breakfast that day. So there you have it: Cardamom, cream, peaches, and buckwheat are a natural—okay, a plausible—combination.

In any case, it all works and tastes delicious, no matter how you connect the dots.


1 tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed

⅓ cup sugar

¼ cup heavy cream

Pinch kosher salt


¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon honey

2 cups buttermilk, plain yogurt, or sour cream (or a combination), plus more as needed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more as needed

Sliced fresh peaches, for serving

1. MAKE THE SYRUP: In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine the cardamom, sugar, and ⅓ cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and salt and let it bubble gently for 2 minutes. Let the syrup cool completely; strain.

2. MAKE THE PANCAKES: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and honey; whisk in the buttermilk and melted butter. Form a well in the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined.

3. Melt some butter on a griddle or in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, spoon ¼-cup dollops of the batter onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes until bubbles form on the surface and the edges begin to set, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes more. Cook the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet between batches if necessary. Serve the pancakes hot, topped with the cardamom syrup and peaches.

weekday staple

The mysterious David Dares pancake

serves 4

As I was growing up, my mother made what she called her “David Dares” pancake. I loved that pancake, with its airy, souffléd custard that browned in the oven, and its glazed-sugar top drizzled with a zippy burst of lemon. My mother baked it in a gratin dish deep enough for the eggs to set into a wiggly, flanlike layer beneath the buoyant, crunchy crust that deflated dramatically when you dug in.

The original recipe came from a story in the New York Times; the pancake was named after David Eyre, a gentleman in Hawaii with whom food editor Craig Claiborne once had brunch. Mr. Eyre got the recipe from a cookbook published in 1919, which recommended serving the pancake for dessert.

Naturally, when I made his original recipe, I could not suppress the urge to tweak. I added a little salt to deepen the flavor, and an extra egg to mimic the thick, flanlike quality of my mother’s version. Call it a German pancake, a Dutch baby, or clafouti, a puffy baked pancake is a basic foodstuff common to cultures with surfeits of milk and eggs, or at least a taste for sweet, custardy things. In my family, we didn’t want to wait until after dinner, so we did, and still do, eat our “David Dares” pancakes for breakfast.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup milk

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch kosher salt

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, nutmeg, and salt until combined. The mixture will still have some lumps.

3. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Carefully pour in the pancake batter and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the pancake is puffy and golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes.

4. Working quickly, take the skillet out of the oven and, using a fine-mesh sieve, shake the confectioners’ sugar over the pancake. Return the skillet to the oven until the butter has been absorbed into the pancake and the sugar is lightly caramelized, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Splash the lemon juice over the pancake, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.

company’s coming

Buttery polenta with Parmesan and olive oil–fried eggs and Swiss chard

Given the American predilection for cold cereal, it’s odd that hot cereal beyond oatmeal less frequently enters the picture. But grits and her first cousin on the Italian side, polenta—served soft and steaming, with plenty of salt, pepper, and grated cheese, paired with sautéed Swiss chard with loads of garlic and a jolt of red pepper flakes—is exactly what to have for breakfast or brunch when you’re hungry for something more filling and savory than Wheaties.

Coarsely ground polenta and cornmeal are essentially the same thing, both made from ground dried corn. And they are similar to, but not exactly the same as, hominy grits, made from corn treated with an alkaline solution, a process called nixtamalization. Look for stone-ground and avoid “instant,” a euphemism for pasty. Though recipes tell you to patiently stand over the pot, dutifully stirring to prevent the cornmeal from clumping up in protest, I’ve found a brisk whisking every couple of minutes will correct any lumpy inclinations. (Stand back between stirrings to avoid getting burned by eruptions of molten polenta.)

While the polenta is bubbling, prep and cook the Swiss chard.

As a final garnish, there’s olive oil–fried eggs. Cooked sunny-side up, the runny egg yolk coats the greens and cornmeal mush like a golden, velvety sauce. It picks up and carries the flavors of the cheese, garlic, and pepper, imbuing each tender mouthful. If you cook the eggs over high heat, letting the whites get brown and crisp around the edges, they’ll shatter when you bite, adding crunch to the sea of softness. It’s the crowning pièce de résistance.

Buttery polenta with Parmesan and olive oil–fried eggs

serves 4

4½ cups water or low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

1½ cups polenta (not quick cooking), coarse cornmeal, or corn grits

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

1 (1-ounce) chunk Parmesan cheese, or ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 large eggs

Coarse sea salt, for garnish

1. In a large pot, bring the water or broth to a simmer. Stir in the polenta and fine sea salt. Simmer the polenta, stirring frequently but not constantly, until thickened to taste, 10 to 20 minutes. Stir in the butter and pepper and cover the pot to keep warm.

2. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the cheese chunk into slivers. (Or grate the cheese on the largest holes of a box grater.)

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until very hot. Fry 4 of the eggs until the edges are crispy but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining oil and eggs.

4. Pile the polenta into bowls; top with the cheese and then the fried eggs. Garnish with coarse sea salt and more pepper, and serve.

Garlicky Swiss chard

serves 4

2 bunches Swiss chard, stems removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Fine sea salt, for serving

1. Stack the chard leaves on top of one another (you can make several piles) and slice them into ¼-inch-wide strips.

2. In a very large skillet (or a soup pot) over high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the chard, coating it in the oil. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until wilted. Stir and cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes more. Season with salt. Serve in the same bowl as the polenta, if desired.

weekday staple

Green-poached eggs with spinach and chives

serves 4

I call this creation “green eggs no ham,” and it’s an ideal vegetarian dish. Spiked with lemon zest, chives, chile, and cream, it really doesn’t want bacon or ham or all the other meaty things I automatically think of when I think of eggs.

It’s based on a recipe for sorrel-poached eggs that I came up with when I used to have a sorrel plant on my deck. The poor plant succumbed to the squirrels, who used it to bury (and aggressively dig up) nuts. Although I can certainly buy sorrel at the farmers’ market, it’s not dependably available.

Spinach, however, is always there, except in the broiling heat of summer. From September to June, I can count on finding bunches of the crinkly, dark green leaves, ready to be tossed into salads or wilted in a pan of butter or olive oil, and sometimes crowned with runny eggs.

If you do find sorrel, simply substitute it for the spinach. It will break down into more of a sauce than the spinach does, and the color will fade from verdant to olive drab, but the flavor will pop. Leave out the lemon zest if using sorrel; you won’t need it.

Either way, while I like this for supper (not dinner; eggs are for supper), it’s especially excellent for brunch.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 fat scallions, sliced, white and light greens kept separate from dark greens

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

⅓ cup finely chopped fresh chives


On Sale
Apr 3, 2018
Page Count
256 pages

Melissa Clark, author

Melissa Clark

About the Author

Melissa Clark is a staff writer for the New York Times, where she writes the popular column “A Good Appetite” and stars in a weekly complementary video series. The recipient of both the IACP and James Beard awards, Clark lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Learn more about this author