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Home cooks and professional chefs alike have come to rely on The Best American Recipes as an indispensable resource whenever they need dazzling results, brilliant simplicity, and can't-fail recipes. Compiled by two of the culinary world's most respected professionals, The Best American Recipes brings together coveted dishes and kitchen secrets from the widest possible range of food writers and luminaries, from Alice Waters to Marcella Hazan. To create this book, editors Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens did all ...
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Home cooks and professional chefs alike have come to rely on The Best American Recipes as an indispensable resource whenever they need dazzling results, brilliant simplicity, and can't-fail recipes. Compiled by two of the culinary world's most respected professionals, The Best American Recipes brings together coveted dishes and kitchen secrets from the widest possible range of food writers and luminaries, from Alice Waters to Marcella Hazan. To create this book, editors Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens did all the work for you, testing hundreds of recipes from sources as diverse as the season's most illustrious cookbook and the back of an herb packet, often trying dozens of possibilities to winnow out all but the very best. Nothing less would do. Among the recipes in this book that are certain to find their way into your permanent repertoire:
* La Brea Tar Pit Chicken Wings—easy-on-the-host finger food that will be the talk of your party.
• Cream of Cauliflower Soup—kids at the private school where this soup was served for lunch actually begged their parents to get the recipe.
• Spaghetti with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes—a Boston chef's favorite at-home supper, terrific all year round.
• Spiced Skirt Steak—nothing easier, nothing better.
• Bok Choy with Shiitakes—you can make this in less time than it takes your guests to find their seats.
* Brown Sugar-Sour Cream Cheesecake—if this isn't the best cheesecake you've ever tasted, we'll eat this book.
Fran McCullough has discovered, edited, and published many of the country's most distinguished cookbook writers. She is the author of the best-selling Low-Carb Cookbook and of Living Low-Carb, The Good Fat, and Great Food Without Fuss, which won a James Beard Award.
Molly Stevens is the James Beard and IACP Award-winning author of All About Braising, the coauthor of One Potato, Two Potato, and a contributing editor for Fine Cooking.
Mario Batali's award-winning restaurants include Babbo, Lupa, Esca, Casa Mono, Otto, and Bistro du Vent. He is the star of the Food Network's hit Iron Chef America. He also hosts two shows on the Food Network, Molto Mario and Ciao America with Mario Batali. His latest book is Molto Italiano: Simple Classic Italian Recipes to Cook at Home.
Each year as we put these collections together, there comes a point when we want to call our friends to say, “Look what we found!” Although we see hundreds of extremely familiar recipes every year, we’re delighted to report that culinary creativity is hard at work all across the country. That’s the joy of this project. If we were giving a state-of-theunion report on American food, we’d say the home kitchen is still a wonderful place to find really good food, one that reflects the values of classic American cooking but also embraces new techniques, new ingredients, new ways of thinking.
We certainly couldn’t have imagined we’d be serving turkey carnitas (shredded slowcooked turkey thighs). Or chicken breasts with a crispy potato chip coating. Or chocolate and peanut butter candies dreamed up by enthusiastic football fans in Ohio. All of these things are absolutely delicious, but our original attraction to them was their novelty.We just had to try them, and as always, the proof of the pudding was in the eating (and many a pudding doesn’t make the cut).
We’re often asked what trends we’ve turned up in the course of assembling our cream-of-the-crop recipes. The standout one this year could be summed up as “get real.” On the most practical level, that means not fussing endlessly in the kitchen or performing heroic feats of shopping. It also means an appreciation of good, humble food, something like a family barbecue joint’s stuffed dill pickles or the boldly flavored salt-and-pepper burgers created by the late Leslie Revsin, a chef who had a real knack for straightforward recipes with huge flavor returns. It means using one of your grandmother’s favorite tools, the cast-iron skillet. It means using a storebought pie crust if it doesn’t make a difference to the outcome of your pie or playing with a great convenience food like the flaky biscuits in a tube at the supermarket to make ParmesanPoppy Seed Pull-Apart Bread (we found that one in the Harley and Davidson family cookbook).
Upscale convenience is big this year. Many of the dishes we love are based on gourmet pantry products: jarred lemon curd (a base for magnificent frozen lemon cream sandwiches) and dulce de leche (a delectable ham glaze). Even famous French chefs see the point of these handy ingredients. Jacques Pépin has a dazzling trick for transforming canned peaches into a knockout dinner-party dessert.
A few recipes in our collection require spending some significant time in the kitchen, but in each case, we promise that the results are well worth it. One of the sexiest desserts we’ve tested in a long time, Dahlia Bakery Butterscotch Pie, is a big production, but it’ll make you very proud and your guests ecstatic. And it comes with foolproof instructions. (We tell you if a recipe is going to be more—or less, for that matter—complicated than it appears.) A little extra time and attention in the kitchen can yield big flavor dividends. We’re happy to go the extra mile and make our own garam masala mix (the recipe in this book is stellar), for instance, or dry our own herbs in the oven. If a dish is infinitely better when it’s homemade (like the ricotta in the starters chapter), we want you to know about it.
We’ve learned a lot of these tricks from chefs, more and more of whom are making the imaginative leap to the home kitchen, not just assuming that we’ll have a batterie de cuisine and a prep staff ready to ladle out the homemade stock. They continue to inspire us. Two of our favorite recipes this year came from two of Boston’s most lauded chefs. Jody Adams’s fabulous Spaghetti with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, and Parmesan Cheese uses easy-to-find ingredients and requires no fancy techniques or culinary exertion.
Likewise, Andy Husbands’s super-simple recipe for blackberries and cream takes only minutes to prepare. Hotshot Irish chef Conrad Gallagher shows us an ingenious way to cook salmon that’s quick and very good. And we’ve even got TV food celeb Ina Garten’s take on lemon roast chicken with crunchy croutons. All wonderful, and all entirely doable.
In creating this book, we frequently encountered another aspect of creativity: the tendency to rethink basic ways of approaching certain dishes. That’s why we love French chef Guy Savoy’s take on mac ’n’ cheese: he’s eliminated making the sauce and instead treats the pasta to an overnight soak in creamy milk, with spectacular results. It’s not only easier, it’s much, much better. Marcella Hazan’s meatballs are especially intriguing because there’s no tomato sauce—in place of the tomatoes, it’s red peppers, cooked down into a gorgeously red, slightly sweet elixir that brings out the best in the meatballs..
Many techniques we thought were more or less written in stone have been rethought this year too. After years of filling up coolers withhhhh salty water and wrestling our Thanksgiving turkeys in and out of various brines, it seems the tide may be turning. The preeminent food scientist Harold McGee is still experimenting with methods to produce the juiciest turkey with the crispest skin, but he has ruled out brining, because it just adds water. McGee prefers to leave his bird unwrapped on the refrigerator shelf for a day or two—to dry the skin and make it crisp.
Even the basic cooking rules have changed. New rule: food scientists all across the land are urging American cooks not to rinse their chickens and turkeys so as not to spread bacteria, and their voices are just starting to be heard. Although we haven’t thrown out our sifters yet, the TV gadget guru Alton Brown has us almost convinced that the food processor does a much better job, without the mess.
Sophisticated Americans have long known that vegetables shouldn’t be cooked to death. But wait: this year we started to relearn what older cultures have always known: “overcooked” vegetables can be wonderful. As soon as we tasted green beans cooked for three hours—yes, three hours—we knew the pendulum had swung again. Another example of this idea is London chef Fergus Henderson’s Mushy Zucchini, which takes on a whole new personality when it’s very slowly stewed with butter.
Cooking vegetables long enough to bring out the full dimensions of their flavor can be considered getting real. So can the idea that you don’t have to roll out a big dinner every evening. It could be just an ample bowl of hearty soup (especially since so many soups this year are made with meat, sausage, or seafood) or a really good sandwich or even something from the breakfast menu. Technically, this is supper, not dinner, but it’s an old idea that seems to have a new appeal. We’d be delighted to have Eggs in Purgatory, for instance, in the evening.
Whether they’re fast or slow, startlingly new or completely traditional, the recipes in this book—from chefs, backs of boxes, food magazines, cookbooks, and newspaper food sections—have one thing in common: they all taste great. They’re keepers, and we know they’ll work in your kitchen as they have in ours. Just so you don’t overlook our very favorite recipes (and one favorite cooking tip) from this year, we’ve made a list, the ultimate “Look what we found!”—Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Introduction copyright © 2005 by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
Foreword vii Introduction ix
Our Top Ten Favorite Recipes xiii
Starters 1 Soups 25 Salads 47 Breakfast and Brunch 81 Main Dishes 98 Side Dishes 171 Breads 205 Desserts 220 Drinks 271
Credits 281 Index 290