The Cook's Canon: 101 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Know by Raymond A. Sokolov, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Cook's Canon: 101 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Know

The Cook's Canon: 101 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Know

by Raymond A. Sokolov

The Cook's Canon is Raymond Sokolov's pick of the recipes essential for culinary literacy. He provides crystal-clear recipes for 101 classics, from Apple Pie to Zabaglione. Each iconic recipe is paired with a short essay -- historical, ethnographic, chemical, physical, and often very funny. Readers who know their way around the kitchen will rediscover what


The Cook's Canon is Raymond Sokolov's pick of the recipes essential for culinary literacy. He provides crystal-clear recipes for 101 classics, from Apple Pie to Zabaglione. Each iconic recipe is paired with a short essay -- historical, ethnographic, chemical, physical, and often very funny. Readers who know their way around the kitchen will rediscover what got them into food in the first place, and they can feast on witty morsels of the origins and significance of these beloved dishes. Neophytes will find a short and brilliantly informed survey course in The Cook's Canon, a liberal arts education for the palate.

The Cook's Canon celebrates great and fundamental food ideas from all the world's great and fundamental cuisines: French, of course, and Chinese, but also Italian, Moroccan, Thai, Indian, English, and German. While no short-list of favorites could take in the thousands of fabulous things human beings have learned to cook since the first genius chef boiled water over fire, Sokolov's canon is an indispensable, satisfying, and inspiring introduction (or re-introduction) to the world's culinary classics.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Sokolov, former food editor of the New York Times and author of The Saucier's Apprentice and Great Recipes from the New York Times, throws down the gauntlet, rejecting all things fusion and trendy and touting tradition. While he leans toward French and Italian cuisine with dishes like Choucroute and Saltimbocca alla Romana, Sokolov includes American favorites like Apple Pie as well as international dishes that have made it into the North American repertoire like Tamales, Tempura, and Poori. The 101 recipes were selected for their fame and influence, or because they "represent whole categories of food-cannelloni for pasta, blanquette de veau for stews." Comparing himself to a professor teaching Shakespeare, Sokolov can come off as stodgy. He includes token non-Western dishes, like Hong Kong Salt Shrimp, with a sense of colonialist entitlement. Organized alphabetically, this "canon" is easy to use, but leaves the reader with no sense of continuity except for Sokolov's authoritative voice. In the end readers learn that the line between "old" and "new" has been illusory all along-Profiteroles au Chocolat, included here in their nouvelle cuisine form as dessert, began as an unsweetened main course, which Sokolov recommends bringing back. The best parts of this book are the well-researched, amusing introductions to each dish; this will be of interest to food historians and cultural mavens, who, ironically, may find it most useful as a jumping-off point for new creations. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

The Cook's Canon

101 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Know
By Raymond Sokolov

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Raymond Sokolov All right reserved. ISBN: 0060083905

Chapter One

Apple Pie

American folkways celebrate the apple as no other fruit. And there must be a reason for it. It can't be an accident that we don't talk about peach pie order, or say something is as American as pawpaw pie. Even though the pawpaw is a native fruit, and the apple evolved in early colonial times from the crossing of indigenous crab apples with European apple seed.
The apple is, in fact, the preeminent European fruit. Apples are recorded frequently in the annals of antiquity. By the time of the Romans, classical authors really are talking about true apples. In early Greek literature and myth, as in the Hebrew Bible, fruits called "apples" are very likely quince, because the words that later became reliable, specific tags for apples were originally applied to other globous, fleshy, small-seeded tree fruits. But in casting doubt on the identity of Eve's apple, the golden apples of the Hesperides, or the apple that distracted Hippolyta, I do not mean to discomfort you with non-apples. For centuries, apples have held sway over the succulent precincts of pomology (the science of fruit growing, which, significantly has taken its name from a Latin word, pomum, that the Romansapplied to any kind of fruit, including the one the French call pomme). But their preponderance in colonized North America has been their finest hour.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the day of the apple has reached twilight after a long period of cloudless skies. The dazzling varieties of apples depicted in the color plates of The Apples of New York (1903), can now be found only in greeneries or hobbyists' orchards if they can be found at all. Now that we can store summer apples for a year in warehouses filled with nitrogen, farmers don't need to plant many varieties, some late-fruiting, some early, so as to have a continuous harvest from the end of summer until winter. Idiot consumers encourage the trend; they buy with their eyes and, surveys show, will always go for the reddest apple in the market.
As for apple pies, it has been a very long time indeed since they were cooked en masse and left out in the wintry chill, where they kept nicely and would make a solid meal for settlers like J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813), who describes this practice in Letters from an American Farmer (1782). He, like his Long Island neighbors and other colonists of English heritage, came to America with pies in their heads. Britain was pie central in early modern European cookery. You can see that today in any pub, where steak and kidney pie is only one of dozens on offer. Traditionally, they were double-crusted and contained many diverse ingredients, whence, perhaps, the name - pie coming from magpie, a bird that snaps up whatever goodies are around and fills its nest with them.
In North America, the full upper crust has given way for the most part to the open or latticed top, showing the apples, much like a French tarte aux pommes. So why isn't a pie a tart? The deep-dish shape of the crust and the straightforward, English-style filling mark our pies off from the shallow, prebaked French crust and crème pâtissière of a classic tart. But the line of demarcation isn't really all that clear. And yet, like the Supreme Court Justice trying to explain what he meant by obscenity, I may not be able to define a pie, but I know one when I see it.
1 1/2 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon for the filling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons milk 1 egg 2 cups peeled, cored, and sliced tart pie apples such as Greenings or Cortlands
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup heavy cream

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and the salt. Cut in the lard a bit at a time with a pastry blender or two forks, until the dough has the crumbly texture of uncooked oatmeal.

  2. In an electric mixer, beat together the vinegar, milk, and egg. Then fold into the dough gradually.

  3. Divide the dough in half and refrigerate in Ziploc bags for an hour (or freeze until you are ready to use).

  4. Stir together all the remaining ingredients (including the tablespoon of flour).

  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  6. On a floured board or countertop, roll out one half of the dough into a circle large enough to come up and slightly over the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie tin. Trim away the excess and crimp the edge of the crust with the tines of a fork. Pierce the bottom of the crust all over with the points of the fork.

  7. Put the apple filling on the crust, spreading it evenly.

  8. Roll out the second piece of dough. Moisten the edge of the bottom crust lightly with water. Roll the top crust around the rolling pin and then unroll it on top of the filling. Trim and then press it around the edges so that it sticks to the bottom crust. Slash through the crust in several places or make a hole in the center to let the steam escape during baking. If you have a pie bird, stand it in the hole.

  9. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another half hour. The pie is done when the crust has turned a golden brown and the apples offer no resistance to a trussing needle pushed through the top crust. Cook another 10 minutes if necessary. Cool on a rack.

Serves 6 to 8


(Egg-Yolk Foam)
Here is what to do when you have a lot of yolks left over from making an angel food cake or meringues with the whites that came with them. Or you could start out intending to make this golden foam and freeze the whites for another day.
That much is certain about zabaglione. There also seems to be general agreement that it is an Italian dish, with an alternate spelling - zabaione - that some authorities prefer, for reasons they do not choose to disclose. I'm fine with either, since they are phonological equivalents. I am also prepared to believe a French authority (Larousse Gastronomique [2001]) that the word derives from a Neapolitan dialect verb, zapillare, to foam. And I am very pleased to note, in the same tome, that sabayon is conceded to be a gallicization of the same word and thing, with extended uses evolved in the French kitchen.
In the classic, operatic presentation, a singing waiter finishes belting "O Sole Mio" and picks up a sun-bright, round-bottomed copper pan (the easier to whisk yolks in) and pours in the premixed ingredients, whisks them together over moderate heat, and continues his attack, while grinning at you from the exposed kitchen and making well-rehearsed small talk until he spoons the thickened spume into wineglasses and passes them around your table with a flourish, as if he were distributing the elixir of love. The echt Roman variation, served at that center of Anglo-Italian elegance, Caffè Greco, is flavored with dry Marsala in which some ground cinnamon and vanilla have been infiltrated.
You may prefer a more restful option in your home, chilled zabaglione with strawberries. Or you could play the French card and use sabayon as a sauce on almost any dessert.
6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar 13 tablespoons dark rum (if using white wine) 1 cup fortified wine such as Marsala, sherry, madeira, tawny port, or dry white wine

  1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a whisk or an electric mixer until the mixture turns smooth and lemon yellow. This can be done before the meat begins if you cover the mixture.

  2. Stir in the wine and then transfer the mixture to a heavy, non aluminum pan. Specialty shops sell purpose-built zabaglione pans, attractive round-bottomed copper affairs that give better results than flat-bottomed pans your whisk can't cover completely. You could also use a round-bottomed copper egg white-beating pan, if you already have one.

  3. With a large balloon whisk, whisk vigoro and without pause over low-medium heat until the mixture turns thick and foamy. Obviously, you want to be careful not to overcook and scramble the yolks.

  4. If you are using white wine, whisk in the rum off heat. Serve immediately in wineglasses. Or let cool, chill, and serve at room temperature with sliced strawberries or other fruit mixed in.
Serves 4


Excerpted from The Cook's Canon by Raymond Sokolov
Copyright © 2003 by Raymond Sokolov
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Raymond Sokolov, former restaurant critic and food editor of the New York Times, served as the editor of the Wall Street Journal's Leisure and Arts page for twenty years and continues to write about food for national publications. Sokolov has written several cookbooks, including The Cook's Canon, The Saucier's Apprentice, Great Recipes from the "New York Times," and With the Grain, as well as Wayward Reporter, a biography of A.J. Liebling. He also wrote a column on America's foodways for Natural History, excerpts from which are collected in Fading Feast. Sokolov lives in New York City.

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