Recipes from Molly Baz’s new cookbook, More Is More

Recipes from Molly Baz’s new cookbook, More Is More

Recipes from Molly Baz’s new cookbook, More Is More

In her second cookbook, the author and chef shares 100 recipes to build confidence and ‘get loose’ in the kitchen

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Our cookbook of the week is More Is More by recipe developer and video host Molly Baz.

Jump to the recipes: Crispy, Crunchy Brocc and Grains, Mollz Ballz and Tangled Leek ‘Za.

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Soothing piano music played in the background when Molly Baz joined a recent video interview, which was appropriate. Her latest book, More Is More (2023), furthers the immersive video experience of her debut, Cook This Book (2021), with audio cook-alongs via QR codes. Baz guides listeners through select recipes, allowing ample time to complete tasks while listening to calming classical music. The recipes are broken into tracks, so you can skip back to relisten and forward if you finish a section before the music has ended.

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“I’m definitely an audio-oriented person. We listen to a lot of music in this household (which she shares with her husband, designer Ben Willett, and Tuna, a miniature dachshund). But the audio component of the book was born out of a desire to figure out a way to better teach my readers and support them in the process of cooking these recipes, knowing that cooking is so overwhelming for most people who aren’t professionals,” says the Los Angeles-based cookbook author, recipe developer and video host.

While Baz loves writing cookbooks and has a collection she plans to keep for the rest of her life, they have their limitations, she adds. “So much information gets left out of a recipe on a page. And my whole m.o. is teaching people how to cook and not just giving them recipes to muscle their way through without learning anything about what they’re doing.”

Podcasts such as Food52’s Play Me a Recipe follow a cook-along format, but Baz had never seen the concept in a cookbook. She worked with the audio media company Salt to produce what ended up being her favourite part of More Is More.

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From Cook This Book, Baz learned that many of her readers aren’t familiar with QR codes and realized that she needed to educate them on the interactive features of More Is More. “People are not expecting to have any kind of augmented experience when they buy a cookbook.” Authors are increasingly incorporating codes linking to video tutorials of more involved techniques, such as in Pailin Chongchitnant’s Sabai, or atmosphere, like in Karan Gokani’s Hoppers, featuring travel clips from Sri Lanka. As readers see codes pop up more and more, Baz believes they will become second nature.

“I’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what I can do with this technology in my books, but I hope to be able to keep pushing it forward. By the time my next book comes out, who knows what the status will be with AI, but perhaps there’s an integration there that I haven’t even thought of yet. And that’s what’s so exciting to me about the future of writing cookbooks, is that the script is still unwritten in terms of what I can do with them, and I love the possibility there.”

More Is More book cover
More Is More is Molly Baz’s second cookbook. Photo by Clarkson Potter

More Is More is the culmination of Baz’s experiences working in restaurants but with home cooks in mind. The 100 recipes are bold and colourful, an aesthetic mirrored in the book’s design. They strike a balance between everyday meals and dishes for entertaining, with chapters dedicated to snacks, salads, carbs, surf and turf, chicken, vegetables, sandwiches, breakfast and sweets. With both her books, Baz did a “gut check” to make sure there was a range of recipes for different moments and kinds of cooks. For the ambitious home cook, for example, her stuffed focaccia with spicy greens and cheese comes together over two days. On the other end of the spectrum, her miso-braised chicken and leeks is perfect for a weeknight dinner.

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Instead of a typical introductory pantry section, Baz ran the numbers and presented her most-used ingredients in a pie chart. Lemons loom large (32 recipes), followed by Parmigiano Reggiano (19), sesame seeds (12) and dill (12). “It’s what my brain looks like and my fridge looks like,” she says, laughing.

There’s an eight-page interlude featuring Baz’s last-meal menu (inspired by a 1950s New York steak house) — good for a party conversation starter, as well as for enjoying on a less morbid occasion than a death-bed dinner. “With this book, I took the liberties to have a little bit more fun and be less regimented with the structure of the book, which is very much in line with this 2.0 philosophy of More Is More.”

The maximalist approach of the book is, in many ways, the opposite of how Baz was trained as a fine-dining line cook, where the mindset was “less is always more.” After graduating with an art history degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, Baz made a conscious decision not to go to culinary school “because I felt like the hands-on, real-life experience would serve me better.” Instead, she cooked in restaurants for five or six years before working in food media as a recipe developer and food editor for publications including Bon Appétit.

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She bounced around a lot during that time, Baz recalls, spending a year at a restaurant, learning as much as she could from a chef and then moving on to the next. One of the fine-dining restaurants in particular, the now-shuttered Michelin-starred Picholine in New York City, was an education in more ways than one.

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“I just felt so not at home there. And I did it. I took the job, and I forced myself to work there because I knew I was going to learn a lot and that I was going to learn about techniques that I would never learn at a more rustic, farm-to-table restaurant. I saw the value there — especially having opted out of going to culinary school, where you learn those classic French techniques. And it was a pretty miserable experience, to be honest, all around, and we were treated like garbage. But in retrospect, not only did I learn a lot, but I learned a lot about who I am as a cook in relation to what I’m not through that experience.”

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This education percolated in the back of her mind as Baz moved from restaurants to food media. Focusing on the needs of the home cook instead of the needs of a diner, she realized what set her apart from non-professionals: “My confidence and ability to go for it and level up at any given moment, without fear of taking a wrong turn.” She also concluded that she didn’t want to cook in a meticulous, minimalist and restrained way.

A More Is More approach doesn’t mean lengthier ingredient lists, excess or gluttony, Baz underscores. It’s about learning how to use each component to its fullest potential. She layers mint into her “favourite meatballs of all time,” Mollz Ballz, three ways, for example. In her tangled leek pizza, she uses the entire allium, melting the greens into a cream sauce and charring nests of julienned strips of the rest.

As in Cook This Book, Baz starts with some ground rules. More Is More, as a philosophy, may be about cooking with abandon, but Baz believes you need to know the rules before you can break them. “The rules of the book encourage what I like to call a ‘don’t stop until it tastes delicious’ mentality, which is to say that the home cook is empowered to ensure that what lands on the table is something that they want to eat, that they find tasty and that suits their own preferences, and that there are a lot of ways to get there.”

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Crank up your burners to achieve the golden-brown colour that’s a huge part of the enjoyment of food and the development of flavour. Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the herbs, add a generous pinch of salt or an extra glug of vinegar. “Those are all things to explore on your journey towards figuring out who you are as an eater and a cook. They’re there to guide you in terms of not stopping or settling for mediocrity.”

CRISPY, CRUNCHY BROCC & GRAINS WITH SO. MUCH. MINT.

Broccoli and grains with mint
“Broccoli is an incredible vegetable for a salad and not just a hot side dish,” says Molly Baz. Photo by Peden + Munk

Serves: 2 to 4

Produce:
1 1/2 lb (680 g) broccoli (2 to 3 heads)
1 Fresno chili or jalapeño
1 large shallot
1 bunch of mint, basil or cilantro

Dairy:
2 oz (57 g) smoked cheddar or other hard smoked cheese

Pantry:
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grains, such as farro, wheatberries or barley
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

Step 1: Do some prep & cook the farro

Set two oven racks in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 450F (230C).

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add 2 big handfuls of grains (about 1/2 cup) and cook until tender but not mushy, 10 minutes (cook time may vary if using a different grain!). Drain and let cool to room temp.

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Step 2: Char the broccoli

Cut 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) broccoli into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces, separating the florets from the stems and discarding just the woodiest tough ends (see note).

Divide the broccoli between 2 large rimmed baking sheets, drizzle generously with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place one baking sheet on the bottom of the oven, if it is available to you, and the other on the lowest rack (see note).

Roast, switching the baking sheets halfway through, until the bottoms are well charred, 18 to 24 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven.

Step 3: Make the dressing

Finely chop 1 Fresno chili, discarding the seeds.

Thinly slice 1 large shallot.

In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the Fresno and shallot.

Step 4: Crisp the farro

In a medium non-stick skillet, heat a few good glugs of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) over medium heat. Add the drained and cooled grains and cook, undisturbed, until crisped and chewy on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Give it a stir and continue to crisp for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until lightly golden and crisp but chewy. Season with salt and transfer to the bowl of dressing.

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Step 5: Assemble

Coarsely chop or crumble 2 ounces (57 grams) smoked cheddar cheese into bite-size pieces (you’ll have about 1/3 cup). Add to the bowl, along with the leaves from 1 bunch of mint.

Add the broccoli. Toss everything together, season with salt and pepper, and serve!

Notes: The stems are as delicious as the florets, and because you can create flat sides as you cut them, they get super caramelized and crispy as they cook.

If it seems like your oven is running really hot and the broccoli is charring too quickly before it’s tender, you can always move the broccoli up to a higher rack.

MOLLZ BALLZ

Meatballs in red sauce
“They’re my favourite meatballs of all time,” says Molly Baz. Mollz Ballz are light and fluffy, thanks to the ricotta cheese, with a refreshing hit of mint three ways. Photo by Peden + Munk

Serves: 4 to 6

Produce:
12 garlic cloves
1 bunch of mint
1 large yellow onion

Dairy:
1/2 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 oz (57 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano (1/2 cup), plus more for serving
3 tbsp unsalted butter

Protein:
2 large eggs
1/2 lb (227 g) spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
3/4 lb (340 g) 80 per cent lean ground beef

Pantry:
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, plus 1 1/2 tsp of their oil
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
Red pepper flakes
1 (28-oz/227-g) can tomato puree
Garlic-rubbed toast, for serving (optional)

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Step 1: Make the meatballs

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs, 6 grated garlic cloves, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 2 ounces (57 grams) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy oil from the tin and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Add 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs, whisking until well hydrated by the egg mixture.

Finely chop the leaves of about half of 1 bunch of mint. Add the mint and 1/2 pound (227 grams) spicy Italian sausage to the panko mixture, and work with your hands until the meat is evenly distributed. Add 3/4 pound (340 grams) ground beef and work together gently until well mixed.

Divide the meat into 8 equal portions and roll them into balls — they’ll be about the size of tennis balls. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or large plate.

Step 2: Make the sauce

Finely chop 1 large yellow onion.

Thinly slice the remaining 6 garlic cloves.

In a large Dutch oven, heat a few more glugs of olive oil over high heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning every minute or so, until browned in most areas, 6 to 7 minutes total. Transfer to a plate — the meatballs will still be raw in the centre but will finish cooking in the sauce later on. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet.

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Reduce the heat to medium, add the chopped onions, sliced garlic, 6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and just barely beginning to brown at the edges, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir in 1 (28-oz/227-g) can tomato puree, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and a few more mint sprigs (reserving some for garnish). Season the sauce with salt — it’ll need quite a bit. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat as needed to maintain a very gentle simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes.

Nestle the meatballs back into the sauce, cover the pot, and cook over medium heat, turning the meatballs occasionally, for 8 minutes. Uncover the pot and continue to cook, reducing the heat as necessary if the sauce is boiling too rapidly, until the meatballs are springy/bouncy when pressed with your fingers and cooked through and the sauce has reduced, 8 to 10 minutes.

Step 3: Serve

Pick the leaves of the remaining mint, scatter the leaves over the balls with more Parm, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Serve with garlic-rubbed toast alongside, if desired.

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TANGLED LEEK ‘ZA

Tangled leek pizza
“This recipe is about exploring all parts of leeks and alliums, and it’s definitely an allium lovers recipe, not for the faint of heart,” says Molly Baz. Photo by Peden + Munk

Serves: 4

Produce:
1 large leek (9 to 12 oz/255 to 340 g)
3 garlic cloves
9 thyme sprigs
1 lemon

Dairy:
4 oz (113 g) fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese
4 oz (113 g) fontina cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
Parmigiano Reggiano, for grating

Pantry:
1 (1-lb/454-g) ball store-bought pizza dough
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Semolina or fine cornmeal, for dusting
All-purpose flour, for stretching

Step 1

Pull a 1-pound (454-g) ball of pizza dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature on the counter while you prep.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 500F (260C). Place a pizza stone or an overturned rimmed baking sheet on the rack.

Step 2: Do some prep

Thinly slice 4 inches (10 cm) of the dark greens of 1 large leek. If the slices are dirty, wash and pat dry.

Cut the white and light green parts of the leek crosswise into 4-inch (10-cm) pieces, discarding the hairy root end. Now slice the 4-inch (10-cm) pieces in half lengthwise, and thinly slice or julienne them, creating lots of very thin strands. If the leeks are dirty, wash and pat dry.

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Thinly slice 4 ounces (113 g) mozzarella cheese. Cube 4 ounces (113 g) fontina cheese.

Smash and peel 3 garlic cloves.

Strip the leaves from 5 thyme sprigs — you’ll sprinkle these on at the end.

Step 3: Make the white sauce

In a small skillet, heat a few big glugs of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek greens and the smashed garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sauté until softened and translucent (do not brown), 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3/4 cup heavy cream and the remaining 4 thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat as needed to maintain a brisk simmer and cook, stirring, until the cream has reduced and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and zest 1 lemon directly into the pan. (Halve the lemon and reserve for serving.) Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Lightly smash the now-softened garlic cloves into the sauce and transfer the sauce to the refrigerator until cool, about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Build the pizza

In a small bowl, toss the julienned leeks with a few big glugs of olive oil — they should be well coated. Season with salt and pepper.

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Generously dust the back of an overturned large rimmed baking sheet or a pizza peel with semolina or fine cornmeal. With floured hands, stretch the dough to a 9- x 15- inch rectangle and place it on the prepared baking sheet (see note). Give the sheet a shake to make sure the dough is mobile and not sticking. If it doesn’t shake freely, it’ll be impossible to slide it onto the pizza stone in the oven! Continue to shake the dough from time to time as you build the pizza to ensure it’s loosey-goosey.

Remove and discard the thyme sprigs from the cream sauce. Spread the sauce onto the dough in an even layer, leaving a 1-inch (2.5-cm) border for the crust. Rip the slices of mozzarella into ragged pieces and scatter them across the top, along with the cubes of fontina. Finely grate a dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano over the top. Give the dough a shake and make sure it’s movin’!

Pile the tangle of leeks on top of the cheese layer. Drizzle the whole pie, including the crust, with some olive oil and sprinkle with more Parmigiano (careful not to get olive oil on the peel or baking sheet, or the dough may stick).

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Open the oven door. Starting from the back of the pizza stone or baking sheet, slide and shake the pizza off whatever you built it on in one swift movement so that the dough releases onto the stone or sheet in the oven.

Bake until the crust is blistered and the leeks are frizzled and browned on the edges, 16 to 20 minutes. If the crust is browning more on one side than the other, rotate halfway through.

Remove from the oven and top with a final drizzle of olive oil, a grating of Parm and lots of black pepper. Sprinkle with the reserved thyme leaves. Let the pizza cool for a couple of minutes, and then cut it into pieces and serve with the lemon halves for squeezing on top!

Note: If using a pizza peel and a pizza stone, stretch the dough into a round or whatever shape will fit your stone and peel.

Recipes and images excerpted from More Is More. Copyright ©2023 by Molly Baz. Photographs copyright ©2023 by Peden + Munk. Illustrations copyright ©2023 Claire McCracken. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

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