COOKBOOK CONFIDENTIAL COOKBOOK CLUB – Joanne Tracey review of Tuesday Night Mediterranean

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I originally posted the wrong recipe for Jo. Please, please go to her beautiful blog and check out her post. I have tried to do justice to Jo’s post but this version is a bit rushed. The link to her post is:

Hi there,

It is my pleasure to share with you today Joanne Tracey’s review of Tuesday Night Mediterranean by Christoper Kimball. I first stumbled upon Jo’s blog, Brookford Kitchen Diaries,, by reading a post she wrote called Cooking the Books. Being an avid reader and having a love for cooking, I was intrigued by cooking a dish from a piece of fiction. I am so happy I found Jo’s blog. She has a great sense of humor, and The Brookford Kitchen Diaries is filled with fun posts filled with wonderful recipes. What follows is Jo’s review.

Milk Street: Tuesday Nights Mediterranean: 125 Simple Weeknight Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine  by Christopher Kimball

I’ve recently joined a cookbook club – it’s like a book club but where we read, cook from and review a cookbook selected by one of the other members. 

I wrote about a cookbook club once – in Escape To Curlew Cottage. In the novel four women get together each month for a meal where they each cook from a single cookbook. In preparing and sharing the food they form a lasting friendship. Obviously other things happen – it is, after all, a novel – but at the core is that friendship. I also review cookbooks here, but I must admit, rather less often than I should.

In this cookbook club, the one I’ve just joined, there are members from several countries all cooking from one book and then blogging a recipe from it. Cool idea, eh? It also pushes me out of my cooking and cookbook author comfort zone to try books I wouldn’t normally pick up.

Our first book is Milk Street Tuesday Nights Mediterranean by Christopher Kimball.

I’d never heard of Milk St or its founder Christopher Kimball before, but after signing up to the site (to check out some of the downloadable recipes prior to writing this review) I sure do now. I was bombarded by a mighty nine emails marketing various products and services in just three days. Yes, you read that correctly. Nine emails in three days. I had to check that I’d counted them correctly. Suffice to say, I’ve unsubscribed, but not before I’d been offered everything from cookbooks to cooking classes and products such as flavoured Austrian salt sprays (???), a Palmpress coffee maker, stackable glass bowls and a best-selling peeler. In three days.

Anyways, even though I haven’t heard of it here in Australia, Milk St is big in the US with magazines, cookbooks, podcasts and even a TV show. And after reading Tuesday Nights Mediterranean I get why. It’s a good cookbook. 

As far as I can tell, Christopher Kimball’s basic mission statement (for want of a better term) is to take international flavours and cuisines and bring them into the home kitchen in an approachable way without compromising on the flavours inherent in those cuisines – and when it comes to Mediterranean flavours this book delivers. Also, and this is important for me, it’s the type of food you can put on the table on a Tuesday night without too much effort.

The only problems I had with the recipes were in converting quantities and oven temperatures from imperial to metric, and ingredients from US terminology to what I’m more used to seeing. After that, the recipes are easy to follow and, in many cases, the oven or the pan is doing the heavy lifting for you.

The first recipe I chose was the Greek Chicken and Potato Traybake. Traybake chicken is always a good way to have a midweek sneaky roast chook and this one with potatoes, lemon and garlic, tossed with oregano, chilli flakes and oil and finished off with some capers and olives for extra punch was a tasty one. You really can’t go wrong with this combo.

My photo, however, didn’t do it justice and made it look as though it was pale and uninteresting whereas it was, in fact, the opposite. 

So, on another Tuesday night I backed up with Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe. The photo was still rubbish, but the meal was a success. And on account of the TV technician not leaving until 6.30pm, it was also on the table in less than half an hour – which is everything you want from a Tuesday night.

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute broccoli rabe with broccolini – although apparently broccolini is milder and sweeter and less bitter than broccoli rabe. No matter, broccolini was what I was using. Anyways, aside from that, I’ve written the recipe ingredients as they appear in the book. 

As for whether this book deserves space on your cookbook shelf? If you’re after a cookbook with easy to follow, (relatively) quick to the table recipes for midweek meals, this one has plenty to inspire. It’s a yes from me.

Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

What you need (serves 4)

  • 12oz hot Italian sausages, skins removed (I used a 500g pack of Italian-style fennel and pork sausages and added extra chilli flakes for spice)
  • 12oz (350g) orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle at the end
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed (I used my mortar and pestle, but if you have a spice grinder, use that)
  • ½ tsp red-pepper (chilli) flakes – or more depending on how spicy you like it
  • a couple of bunches of broccolini, trimmed and finely chopped, stalks and all
  • about ½ cup parmesan (or equivalent) cheese, plus more for sprinkling at the end
  • salt and pepper

What you do with it…

In a medium bowl mix the sausage meat with about ⅓ cup of water – this helps the sausage meat to break up in the pan. Just stir it a bit with a fork.

Cook the pasta as you normally would – in a large pan with plenty of salted boiling water. Cook it only for 5 minutes though – the rest of the cooking will be done with everything else. Drain it into a colander over a heat-proof bowl – you want to keep the water the pasta has cooked in. (As an aside, pasta water is worth keeping so you can make Nigella’s No Knead Bread… see this post).

Tip 1 tbsp oil into a large skillet over medium heat and saute the garlic for a couple of minutes until it begins to brown. Fish it out and discard it, leaving the garlic-scented oil in the pan. Add the sausage meat, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring to break up the little clumps of meat, for about 3 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add the fennel seeds, the chilli flakes, half of the broccolini and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water. Stir to combine then pop a lid on and cook for about 3 minutes – until the broccolini is tender.

Stir in another 1 ½ cups of pasta water, the rest of the broccolini and the pasta, stir it together, bring it to a simmer, pop the lid back on and let it cook for another 3-5 minutes until the pasta is al dente and the sauce clings to it. If you need to, add a little more pasta water.

Take it off the heat and stir through the parmesan and another tbsp of oil, season to taste and serve, sprinkling over more parmesan and drizzling more oil.

Joanne Tracey is an Australian author of contemporary women’s fiction and cozy culinary mysteries inspired by her travels, a love of baking and happy endings. 

Based on the Sunshine Coast in South-East Queensland, Jo is an unapologetic daydreamer, eternal optimist, and confirmed morning person. 

When she isn’t writing or day-jobbing, Jo loves baking, reading, long walks along the beach and posting way too many photos of sunrises on Instagram. 

Jo’s life goals (apart from being a world-famous author) are to be an extra on Midsomer Murders and to cook her way through Nigella’s books. 

You’ll find her foodie blog at Brookford Kitchen Diaries (BKD).

Thanks so much, Jo, for taking the time to prepare this recipe and review it. I hope you will all go to Jo’s blog, Brookford Kitchen Diaries, and check it out. I know you will not be disappointed.

5 responses to “COOKBOOK CONFIDENTIAL COOKBOOK CLUB – Joanne Tracey review of Tuesday Night Mediterranean”

  1. Retirement Reflections – Vancouver Island, BC – Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.
    Retirement Reflections says:

    Hi, Jo – These dishes look fantastic! I have been hankering for that Tray Bake ever since first seeing this post last night! 😀

  2. D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
    D. Wallace Peach says:

    Sounds like a great cookbook. My husband and I hear so many good things about a Mediterranean diet and we’ve wanted to explore it more. Thanks to Jo for sharing a worthwhile cookbook. And thanks for hosting, Bernadette.

  3. Awakening Wonders – Everyday life is filled with wondrous things and embraceable moments, but only if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened. I invite you to join me as I share passionate life adventures and ramblings that awaken my spirit. I look forward to awakening your senses to the simple, joyous wonders that are all around us. I feel that we are destined to become soulful adventurers!
    Awakening Wonders says:

    Let’s eat!

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