The Best of the Best from the Last Decade
Acclaimed by the critics, The Best American Recipes series has long been the universal choice of home cooks and professional chefs as the one infallible source of the year's most dazzling recipes.
Now in The 150 Best American Recipes, two of the food world's most respected professionals pull out all the stops to create the ultimate resource: a can't-live-without-it collection of the most exciting recipes of the last decade. Out of literally tens of thousands of recipes that have appeared in printin cookbooks, magazines, newspapers, and even in flyers and on the Internetfrom the deservedly famous to the wonderfully obscure, from top-flight chefs to unknown but gifted cooksthey chose the most distinctive. Then came the key step: extensive testing in their own kitchens. If the dish wasn't spectacular, it didn't make the cut. Finally, they pitted their favorites against one another and chose the winners: the very best of the best.
In The 150 Best American Recipes, you'll find:
Scores of brilliantly simple dishes that are sensationally delicious.
The best recipes from the great chefs and cooks of the era, including Jamie Oliver, Thomas Keller, Judy Rodgers, and Alice Waters.
Miraculously quick, remarkable everyday dishes that you'll want to make countless times and share with your friends.
Holiday dishes that are certain to become instant traditions in your family.
Valuable tips and techniques to make all your cooking easier.
About the Author
Fran McCullough has been an editor at Harper and Row, Dial Press, and Bantam, where she discovered such major cookbook authors as Deborah Madison, Diana Kennedy, Paula Wolfert, Martha Rose Shulman, and Colman Andrews. She is a coauthor of Great Food Without Fuss, which won a James Beard Award, and the author of the best-selling Low-Carb Cookbook, The Good Fat Cookbook, and Living Low-Carb.
Read an Excerpt
Initially, it seemed like an impossible ideacompile a cookbook of the best recipes to appear in print during the course of an entire year. We balked. How could anyone read the many hundreds of cookbooks published every year, plus all the food magazines and newspaper sections, scan the Internet, and search through all the other surprising places recipes turn up? And even if two of us could, how on earth would we find the best among them?
The more we thought about it, though, the more we realized that our fellow home cooks were confronted with the same hopeless taskand the very fact that it was so daunting might be the best reason to try. We started to imagine a book we wanted to have ourselves, so we gulped and said yes. And so began our journey into the amazing world of American recipes, where we’ve read tens of thousands of them and cooked many thousands in our home kitchens, all in search of the best.
From the beginning, we wanted to find recipes that excited our own palates but also brought something else to the party: a new way of looking at a dish, a terrific trick, a solution to a kitchen problem, the ultimate version of a much-beloved classic. We wanted to have a kind of conversation with our readers, telling them what we discovered as we cooked the dish and how to take it in other directions, as well as which steps they could safely shortcut and which ones were absolutely essential. Our goal was to create an up-to- date cookbook for ourselves, full of those keeper dishes we were always meaning to serve again.
We knew there were many others who needed the book: time- challenged food lovers with sophisticated palates who can never find the extra hours to cook from all the magazines they get, who can’t keep track of the recipes they clip from newspapers, and who have barely enough room on their shelves for another cookbook, but who alwaysalwaysare in the market for good new recipes. We also knew that many men and women needed a book to get them through the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, when most people feel obligated to cook, even if they don’t make so much as a baked potato the rest of the year.
It didn’t take us long to develop a kind of radar for the truly great recipes, the ones we immediately wanted to make again for our friends, forgetting momentarily that we were supposed to be finding still more dishes. Most of the recipes we saw were familiar (some of them filched word for word from other cooks). But now and again a little bell went off in our heads as we encountered something truly new and exciting.
We soon learned to our dismay that plenty of recipes that sound great just don’t work; testing is key. We never got the big staff that we originally thought it would take to accomplish the project. We made all the dishes ourselves, sometimes with the help of a couple of game family members and the occasional friend. Since we cook in ordinary home kitchens, with regular home stovesand no special restaurant equipmentwe know how each recipe performs in real life. For starters, if we can’t find the ingredients within ten miles of home, we don’t make the dish (or we figure out a viable substitution and tell you about it). Since our goal is to be recipe sleuths, not recipe doctors, if the recipe is flawed, we ditch it and move on.
Cooking aficionados often say that if you find three good recipes in a book, your money has been well spent. Our first job was to zoom in on those and then sort out which one stood above the restthe most delicious, the most useful for a busy cook, the most unusual for one reason or another. Sometimes we ended up cooking our way through many candidates (often from highly touted cookbooks), without finding anything worth passing along. At other times, it was torture to choose between two or three favorites.
Although cookbooks and major magazines are the most obvious sources of new recipes, the real thrills came when we found recipes in obscure places and discovered genius cooks no one had heard of before. Cooking talent is scattered like salt over the whole population. We’ve learned of Best recipes from newspaper contests, supermarket flyers, restaurant press releases, and radio and TV shows. More than a few have come from the back of the box. Good recipes really are everywhere. As jaded as we may get after reading thousands and thousands of recipes every year, we’re still excited to see a new one. Nothing makes us happier than finding something brilliantly simple that any fool can make without a moment’s anxietya dead-easy, accessible, knock-your-socks off dish that appeals to tenderfoot cooks as well as old hands in the kitchen.
As the number of books in this series stacked up, wee often found ourselves calling each other frantically trying to recall in what year a favorite had appeared. Yes, we love all the reeeeecipes in all the books, but inevitably there are some that we turn to again and again. So we got to thinkingwhat if we assembled a Best of the Best and put them together in one grand edition?
With nearly 1,000 recipes to choose from, restricting ourselves to an essential 150 was a great deal more difficult than we had imagined. Often we had to stage cook-offs, testing the many turkey recipes or chocolate cakes or chocolate chip cookies to select the best. Just as the series began with a book we wanted to have ourselves, we now have the ultimate resource we need, with the recipes we absolutely can’t live without, along with the tips we’ve gathered over the years that have changed the way we cook. And we’re betting that you, too, will want to make every single one of these recipes again and again.
Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Introduction and text copyright © 2006 by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Rick Bayless xi Introduction xiv Starters 1 Soups 29 Salads 65 Main Dishes 95 Side Dishes 185 Breakfast and Brunch 227 Breads 253 Desserts 271 Credits 337 Index 344