Cooking in a Small Kitchen with Melissa Clark

Monday, June 22, 2009

For Part III of our Food in the City series, we’ll be discussing the tricks of cooking in a small kitchen, with food writer Melissa Clark, a frequent contributor to the Wednesday food section of The New York Times and
Watch a video of Melissa cooking in a tiny kitchen here.

A Recipe from Melissa Clark
Garlicky Shrimp with Feta and Lemon
Time: 10 minutes
3/4 cup couscous
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 pound extra-large shrimp, shelled and cleaned
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1-2 tablespoons capers, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or dill, parsley or basil), plus additional for garnish

1. Place the couscous in a medium bowl. And add the boiling water. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit until the couscous has absorbed all the water, 3 to 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring, and cook until garlic is fragrant and golden around the edges but not brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the shrimp and let cook until they begin to turn pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the feta, lemon juice, capers, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Continue stirring over the heat until the shrimp are opaque and the cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes more. Add the cilantro and stir to combine.
3. Top the couscous with the shrimp, making sure to scrape all the sauce from the pan. Serve garnished with additional cilantro, if desired.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings


Melissa Clark

Comments [36]

cookware from

Great Recipie

Jun. 23 2009 10:56 PM
T Wilder from Manhattan, NY

I have a very powerful window fan which I installed at the top of my window to suck out hot air in the summer as well as cooking fumes all year round. If I burn something in the kitchen, the smoke is gone in seconds.

Jun. 22 2009 11:19 PM
lissi from brooklyn

this recipe rocks! was inspired to make it tonight and it was quick, easy, cheap, and very delicious. exactly what a small kitchen recipe should be.

Jun. 22 2009 10:28 PM
Ann Hall Every,CCP from Forest Hills

about blenders vs, food processors:

most average blenders are not powerful enough to do the same tasks as a food processor does...however, if you invest in a very powerful blender such as the Vita-Mix Professional you can make hummus, basil and other pestos, pureeing cooked soup vegetables for a smooth "creamy" soup texture easily.

Not to mention blended recipe for a cocktail is included in the recipe book included with the Professional series blender.

Jun. 22 2009 01:01 PM
Jane from east village

For Janet, comment 23, I'm pretty sure the book they meant was The Flavor Bible by the same authors. Check it out.

Jun. 22 2009 12:54 PM
HB Herr from Manhattan

We do 80 plus for Thanksgiving from our 6x6 triangle - keys to success - accept what the kitchen is and is not - prep is key - that's also the secret to the effortless production of food in commercial restaurants - always remember that if you can't laugh it isn't worth it - you gear your food for the space - we have largest oven for a residential stove - but I know that my top burners are not going to crank out the BTUs necessary to make black bean pancakes -

Jun. 22 2009 12:49 PM
Ann Hall Every,CCP from Forest Hills

about cookware:

sloped sided pans are called skillets or fry pans depending on the mfgr,and are measured in inches

straight sided pans are called saute pans and come with a lid and are measured in quart sizes; 2 qt, 3qt, 6qt,

straight sided sauce pans w/lids are measured in qt, sizes from 1qt, 2 qt 3qt, 4qt - larger straight sided pots are called stock pots also w/lids and measured in qt sizes 4qt, 6qt, 8qt, 16qt.

Jun. 22 2009 12:47 PM

what is the herb book mentionedon this show?

The Lopate Show responds: The book that Leonard mentioned is "The Flavor Bible" by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg

Jun. 22 2009 12:43 PM
Maria McGrath from Brooklyn

I had to write in because I just walked in the door and heard information I believe to be incorrect because of hearing a different author interviewed on the show. On pp. 118-119 of Organic Housekeeping, Ellen Sandbeck cites a study that proves wooden cutting boards kill way more germs, naturally, than plastic or glass, no matter how hot you get them. I googled this info and got these two relevant links, too.

Jun. 22 2009 12:42 PM
j from nyc

avanti has a counter top convection oven with 2 burners on top:

Jun. 22 2009 12:41 PM
Jerry from Manhattan

Melissa spoke as if a plastic cutting board is more sanitary than a wooden one. This seems obvious... but it is proven wrong!

Plastic retains germs and wood doesn't!

Strange but true.

Jun. 22 2009 12:39 PM
Adriana from Manhattan

If you have a window in your kitchen, use a square fan, put it on the windowsill and put it on reverse. It sucks all the air out. No more fire alarms going off or the whole apt smelling of dinner :)

Jun. 22 2009 12:38 PM
Bonnie Raphael from Upper West Side Manhattan

Plexi/plastic cutting boards cannot be adequatedly disinfected. It's been shown that the micro cuts in the board don't allow adequate cleaning. And, wooden cutting boards have been shown to have some "natural" bacteriocidal activity, presumably from the oils in the wood. So, although 25 years ago the recommendation was to switch to plexi cutting boards, within the past 10 years the evidence contradicts that.

Jun. 22 2009 12:37 PM
Janet from Brooklyn

I was excited to look for the book you recommended by Page and Dornenburg but didn't find it, even on their own website-- They have "What to drink with what" but not "What to eat with what"(?) which I think was mentioned. Anyone know what it was?

The Lopate Show responds: The book that Leonard mentioned is called "The Flavor Bible."

Jun. 22 2009 12:37 PM
Jerry from Manhattan

Melissa guest spoke as if a plastic cutting board is more sanitary than a wooden one. This seems obvious... but it is proven wrong!

Plastic retains germs and wood doesn't!

Strange but true.

Jun. 22 2009 12:37 PM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

I couldn't live without my food processor! I need it for pesto and other sauces (like peanut sauce for noodles). Also, it's great for cutting butter into flour for pie/tart/quiche dough. And I've also found that it works better than my blender for making fruit smoothies. I get tons of use out of it.

Jun. 22 2009 12:37 PM
heather from brooklyn

what do you think of non stick pans...are they safe. I hate cleaning up after scrambled eggs!

Jun. 22 2009 12:36 PM

Please aks your guest how to clean wooden cutting board.


Jun. 22 2009 12:36 PM
salvatore principato from manhattan

i have a ceiling fan that helps for ventilation

Jun. 22 2009 12:35 PM
Lauren from Hastings on Hudson, NY

Over 35 years ago, I lived in an old building in Woodside, Queens that had a tiny kitchen. It had a sink with a drain board, a stove, a small fridge. No counters, no drawers. No money. But there was enough space for a two drawer file cabinet that I just happened to have. Viola! Counter top and storage.
I used to eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches back then. Life is much kinder now, kitchen-wise! I can identify, Melissa, and best of luck on new book.

Jun. 22 2009 12:33 PM
salvatore principato from manhattan

forget the microwave a pressure cooker is an essential item in a big or small kitchen to increase efficiency & save time

Jun. 22 2009 12:31 PM
j from nyc

avanti has a counter top convection oven with 2 burners on top:

Jun. 22 2009 12:31 PM
Sara from Yonkers...

Second use for the can use it to store your bread

Jun. 22 2009 12:31 PM
phoebe from Woodside

Another great way to save space: magnetic spice containers. I saved half a cabinet of space by sticking my spices to the side of my fridge.

Jun. 22 2009 12:30 PM
Priya from Brooklyn

I used to live in the East Village and had a shower in the kitchen. I used the shower as storage for dirty pots and pans when throwing a large party.

These days I use the bathtub for a standing coat rack when hosting a large party.

Jun. 22 2009 12:28 PM
Melinda from Brooklyn

I use my postage scale for baking.

Jun. 22 2009 12:27 PM
Spot from NYC

I love my electric kettle. Everyone in the rest of the world uses them, I do not know why they have not caught on more in the U.S.

Jun. 22 2009 12:23 PM
Juli from Astoria

Melissa- is there a cookbook that features not only small NYC kitchens, but also what is available in NYC's local greenmarkets from season to season?

Jun. 22 2009 12:18 PM
Alan from Manhattan

For some years, my late grandmother had no kitchen, just a tiny kitchenette with a 2-burner hotplate. By stacking and juggling pots, she once turned out a delicious multi-course meal for 13.

Jun. 22 2009 12:17 PM
Jay from Norwalk, CT

I guess the author has never tried to make Hummas in a blender.

Jun. 22 2009 12:16 PM
steve miller from scarsdale

If there's a window on your kitchen, use fire escape to temporarily store hot pots

Jun. 22 2009 12:06 PM
Luis Damian Guell from Fairview, NJ

The key is having no clutter. I have only four pots & pans, 1 Large frying pan with steep sides (saute, frying, paellas, etc.) 1 large pressure cooker which I use with or without pressure (soups, beans, braising, pastas), 1 well seasoned egg pan, & 1 covered pot for veggies or plain rice. My counter is empty but for a cutting board and a blender (need it for Margaritas) and 1 small set of plates, glasses and flatware (for 4). With the above mentioned I can cook anything! for up to four people, which is maximum occupancy in my apartment. hope this helps,
Luis Damian Guell

Jun. 22 2009 10:56 AM
Madeleine from Battery Park City, NYC

Using my dining room table to hold dishes of prepped food waiting to be cooked helps me minimize used counter space while cooking.

Jun. 22 2009 10:41 AM
Janny from jersey city

Excited to hear Melissa Clark today, i LOVE her column in the Times! She approaches the mundane, daily task of cooking and eating creatively, guided rationally and adventurously, by what's on hand, and what she's in the mood for.

And based on the photos from Lenny's pancake-making tutorial (in what looks to be a small NYC kitchen), i am sure he is very interested in hearing what she has to say...

Jun. 22 2009 09:00 AM

PS I'm a big fan of the very untrendy wall full of pans and utensils in my current galley kitchen. Really helpful. Also an idea from Ikea was a drawer for spice jars lain on their sides.

Jun. 22 2009 07:56 AM

What an interesting subject! I read in Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's "Apt. Therapy" - he lived in a ridiculously small space in the west village - that he thinks the important thing about a kitchen is the triangle between fridge, sink, range. I grew up in a big house with a kitchen as big as my 1st (1 BR) Manhattan apt (incl its dysfunctional kitchen) - lots of counter space - to make messes in! It was half a mile to the fridge! Then I lived in the Alps with a galley kitchen and that's where i learned that a small kitchen makes an efficient cook.

Jun. 22 2009 07:54 AM

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