Baked Ricotta and Roasted Grapes with Balsamic Drizzle (savory cheesecake!) recipe and cookbook review: Rachael Ray 50

#RachaelRay @RachaelRay #RachaelRayShow @RachaelRayShow

Rachael Ray. That’s one polarizing name.

When my husband handed me a gift on our first Christmas together, I unwrapped it to find a cookbook, looked up and glared at him, and he ducked a little, laughing, “No! Open it up!” Tickets to Phantom of the Opera. Five years later, when our baby was tiny, and we decided I’d stay home with her, I was suddenly responsible for all things domestic with absolutely zero interest in cooking or cleaning anything. None. Then everyone in the playgroup started watching Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals. She made everything look fun, doable, and yummy, and suddenly we were all cooking and doing a nice job of it. I’m so grateful that we all had her. I stumbled across this book and ordered it in a rush of nostalgia. I don’t watch daytime tv anymore so I had no idea what she’s been up to or what to expect. But now I can help you with that!

Rachael Ray 50 is filled with Rachael’s essays, a memoir of her life so far, and those are dotted with 125 recipes that mean something to her. Some of them are quick, but she’s not limiting herself to speed meals here. The pasta puttanesca was the only one that I remember from her early days. I flagged so many that I need to order more post-it notes! I’m really glad she made this one a hardcover, because it’s special.

The book is broken into three sections: Family, Friends, and Work.

I’m going to share her recipe for Baked Ricotta and Roasted Grapes with a Balsamic Drizzle. It’s like a savory cheesecake. It’s easy, delicious, and beautiful – perfect for all the upcoming holidays! Please note that there are two asterisked sub-recipes after the recipe that you’re going to want to deal with first, so that you’re just ready to go!

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Beef, Orange and Olive Stew recipe and cookbook review: Milk Street: The New Rules

#MilkStreet @Milk Street #ChristopherKimball @ChristopherKimball #LittleBrown @LittleBrown

Do you watch Milk Street? Their book, Milk Street: Tuesday Nights, was in my top three cookbooks released last year, and now I see that it got a James Beard Award. Great pick! I try very hard not to say things like best, because my best may very well not be your best. So I will tell you why I love them, and you’ll get a better idea if it sounds like a fit for you. Flavor. They are really strong flavorists. There’s never an apologetic bite to be had. Minimalists. They really do a great job of getting where they’re going on the easiest road available. The recipes are global. For me, that’s great but also the only disappointment I have. As we travel the globe in their books, I’d like to see a little American food represented, too. We’ve got some great stuff!

They have a new book out, Milk Street: The New Rules, and it’s fantastic! Four days and 11 recipes in, and I think 3 of them are the best I’ve ever had. The lentils (I know! Lentils! Promise they’re an addictive bite!), the beef, orange, and olive stew, and the Turkish poached eggs with garlicky yogurt are the best. I said it again and although I think it sounds obnoxious, it’s sincere, and I’m leaving it there.

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