By Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker, Irma S. Rombauer
Scribner - 1997
Joy really is the old reliable. After several years of making whatever the latest version of cranberry sauce is per Bon Appetit or Gourmet or Fine Cooking, I decided to go for the classic this year. I did and it was perfect for my very traditional Thanksgiving menu.
This recipe is a perfect example of why Joy rules. It simply has virtually every dish in the repertoire of American cuisine that you might want to make. Joy recipes are classics and it is because they work...and this is no exception. Quick, tasty, and open to your own variations on the coleslaw theme.
This recipe saved me -- a non-baker as noted before on this site -- a trip to the grocery store on a rainy dreary day when I had everything to make mushroom toast but the bread. It truly was very fast and made a fine-textured sandwich loaf that toasted up very nicely.
Easy ... but pretty bland even for spice wimps like us.
By Nate Appleman, Shelley Lindgren, Kate Leahy, Ed Anderson
Ten Speed Press - 2008
Soupereasy and I pretty much fell in love with this recipe. It's not that it's perfect for the home cook as written ... it's that the flavor of the completed dish is just so spot on. Delicious and different in a good way.
This is a chicken ragu combining a pound of chicken thighs, 4 oz. chicken livers, and two ounces of pancetta. All the meat is cut into about 1/2 inch dice, combined in a bowl and salted (we used less salt because our pancetta was pre-seasoned with garlic & herbs), then put through a meat grinder. Which took forever because we don't have the industrial strength grinder that Nate Appleman has access to.
Once ground, the meat is combined with sauteed onion and fennel; the recipe calls for 1 red onion and 1/2 fennel bulb -- but there is a lot of size variation in those two things, so we diced a medium red onion and then enough fennel to equal the amount of onion.
After the meat is cooked, the pan is deglazed with some white wine after which 1/2 cup of water is added along with a bay leaf and some rosemary. You cook the mix over low heat for 40-60 minutes, stirring often. As there is not much liquid in the ragu, the frequent stirring is a good idea.
Toward the end of the cooking time, the mushrooms (we used a wild mushroom mix from Whole Foods because I couldn't seem to find the suggested fresh chanterelles or porcini anywhere) are sauteed and then stirred into the ragu. At this point, the pasta can be prepared -- we used a chubby tubular pasta rather than the cavatellli --reserving some of the pasta water for "loosening" the sauce. We definitely needed the water since our ragu did not have a very sauce-like consistency. The dish is then plated, drizzled with EVOO and an aged pecorino romano is grated over the the pasta.
The finished dish wasn't pretty ... but it was delicious. And as we ate it, Soupereasy and I agreed that this dish -- with a few modifications could be a dynamite and budget-friendly weeknight dinner. We plan to try the dish again with the following modifications:
1)After dicing the meats, combine them in a food processor rather than a meat grinder to get a finer meat blend. This should also give a more sauce like consistency that would go very nicely with paparadelle or even fettucini.
2) We'll add a bit more liquid for the 40-60 minute simmer and/or more pasta water at the end.
3) Neither of us felt the need for thte fancy mushrooms here -- we both think cremini would work just fine.
By Thomas Keller
Artisan - 2009
Great soup -- very rich but really draws out the flavor of cauliflower and my husband completely loved the red beet chips even though most of mine never really crisped up after frying (maybe my oil wasn't hot enough?) -- but the few that did were fabulous. I used croutons I'd made earlier for another dish and I found they didn't add much to the dish.
Served with a mesclun salad to which I added leftover slices of raw zucchini and yellow squash, some toasted pine nuts, and Nate Appleman's lemon juice and grapeseed oil dressing. It worked well as a healthy prelude to a rich creamy soup.
Appetizer was a fig jam, goat cheese and prosciutto bruschetta from the September 2010 issue of Cooks Illustrated.
Loved the lime salt -- also liked the tip about melting the butter with a bit of the hot water from boiling the corn before rolling the corn in the butter. Easy to make but gives a touch of something special to the corn on the cob experience. Can't wait to try the salt with other things, like grilled fish.
Very nice dressing and SO easy to make. My go-to vinaigrette for entertaining has always been the one in Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris. This now has equal pride of place -- it is sweeter with less of a tang than Garten's which makes it a nifty choice for dinner guests whose tastes I may not be as familiar with.
I used my mini-chopper rather than a blender to make this and it worked very well.
Think this would go really well with an orange and fennel salad -- or fennel and anything.
By Alfred Portale, Andrew Friedman
Broadway - 2000
A substantive risotto with real depth of flavor. Recipe takes a bit more time than your average risotto as the first half hour is spent making a mushroom broth. But the extra time is worth it.
By Molly Stevens
W.W. Norton & Co. - 2004
The sauce is the show here, a sweet and savory mix of apple cider, chicken broth, apples, onions, garlic and herbs. It goes really well with the dark meat of the turkey thigh. I am not even much of a turkey fan -- but this was really good.
If you are in the mood to spend a few hours in the kitchen, and dirty a few pans, this is an enjoyable recipe to make and it can be on the table in a couple of hours or so.
Kudos to Molly Stevens for the precise and detailed instructions and for providing weight meaurements of key ingredients.
In a word ... Wow ... oh my ... YUMMM.
Ok, that's four words. But this is a great flavor profile and a great dish. And I can say this even though I had some pretty lousy quality short ribs purchased from Whole Foods. If you make these, it is worth a trip to a good butcher who can give you the very best, meatiest short ribs available. That's what I am doing next time. The recipe deserves the best ingredients.
I used Guiness Stout and chicken stock for the braising liquid and it was just great over the meat and mashed potatoes I served this with. But what puts this over the top is the final step -- brushing the ribs with a maple-rosemary-horeradish glaze and putting under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.
And again, a big high five to Molly Stevens for the clarity and precision of her recipes. A novice can succeed with her recipes and an experienced cook may find that Molly Stevens can teach an old dog new tricks.
Side Salad -- mesclun, sectioned tangelo, shaved fennel, chopped Marcona almonds with a sherry vinegar/tangelo juice/honey/mustard/grapeseed oil vinaigrette.
This is a quick braise which makes it a nice choice for a weeknight. I used skinless and boneless chicken thighs since that is what was in the freezer, so I was able to skip the browning step, downside is a bit less flavour, upside its healthier without the skin and gets to the table quicker.
The sauce prompted an immediate yumm from my husband -- we both really liked the star anise and orange combo.
There is no salt added to the dish, but since it has both soy sauce and fish sauce, and the sauce is reduced before serving, it's a good idea to taste while reducing since it can get too salty. I ended up wishing I had added a bit more stock and reducing again to bring down the saltiness a tad. Molly does warn you about that in the last step and suggests that if the dish is too salty at the end to add a splash of vinegar --I didn't but I wished I had.
Basically, salmon fillets marinated in a lemon vinaigrette for about an hour and then wrapped up in foil packets along with some marinade, and baked 30-40 minutes. A nice easy weeknight meal.
I used fresh rather than dried basil but otherwise followed the recipe. Served with rice and a side salad of lettuce, tomato raisins, diced fresh mozzarella with a lemon basil vinaigrette.
Could not have been simpler -- and a pretty big flavor bang for the cooking buck. It's a nice way to use up the last few slices of a pound of bacon and the last of a hunk of feta. Good for week-nights as it can be done in under an hour.
By Anne Willan
Readers Digest - 1998
For fish lovers, this is a lovely first course for a special occasion. It is exceptionally pretty especially with the ginger butter sauce. This was a team project for soupereasy and myself, and we both agreed an extra pair of hands is helpful.
We omitted the truffles the recipe called for, and next time we would increase the ginger and omit the onion from the ginger butter sauce, using only the shallot the recipe called for. Total prep time is about two hours and the finished terrine can be served warm with the ginger sauce or chilled with a "piquant mayonnaise." We served this with a sparkling rosé.
The recipe, like most of Anne Willan's is exceptionally clear and well-written.
Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking
By Anthony Bourdain
Bloomsbury USA - 2004
This soup is a real keeper. We loved it. Perfect with some crusty bread and a side salad. Or as a starter for a dinner party.
Super simple -- basically just butter, a small onion, some mushrooms, a spring of parsley, and some chicken stock. After an hour-long simmer, toss the parsley, blend and season the soup, and finish with sherry (although I used Madeira since I prefer that to sherry when mushrooms are involved).
This is a recipe for pike quenelles in a Nantes [crayfish] sauce which did not work AT ALL for Soupereasy and me. My husband had this dish at a French restaurant and begged me to see if it was doable at home. So I was pleased to find a recipe for it in the Bourdain cookbook, but -- start to finish -- the recipe presented problems.
1) The recipe is quite involved with several steps and the lay-out on the page doesn't really help.This is one of those times where Julia's two-column format would be most useful.
2) We made the crayfish sauce first and basically it never really made a sauce. There simply was not nearly enough liquid called for and we ended up with something like a sauteed/steamed crayfish to serve with the quenelles.
3) The recipe called for five pounds of pike for which we substituted basa which is more readily available to us. All of that fish has to go in a food processor with egg whites and some heavy cream. We did this in two batches and it made for a HUGE amount of fish ... enough to feed maybe 12-15 people rather than the 6-8 the recipe indicated.
4) Once the fish is processed, you have to make a choux dough which is then briefly cooled and folded into the fish. This was a smooth process at which point we made some preliminary quenelles to taste for seasoning and dropped them in boiling water to cook for 10 minutes per the instructions. Bourdain suggests putting them in the water serially and clockwise around the pot and then taking them out in the order you put them in. The problem? Those quenelles, once in the water, have no respect for the process, and pop merrily all around the pot.
5) It would have taken two of us more than an hour to make quenelles from all that fish. We ended up using a pastry bag and piping pieces about the size of a large gnocchi, which we then popped into the water. The quenelles were light, and had a lovely delicate flavor and texture. They were then supposed to go into a baking dish, be covered with sauce (which of course we didn't have) and baked for 30 minutes. Soupereasy whipped up a butter and sage sauce and we used that instead. We also baked a few with some of the crayfish. Very disappointing. But the butter and sage sauce with the fish was quite nice.
After we ate, we pulled one of Alain Ducasse's cookbooks off Soupereasy's shelves since it was at one of his bistros that my husband first had the dish. First thing we noticed? Alain used half the pike and twice the liquid.
This seemed to us like a very wine-y version of French onion soup -- minus the cheese and bread. We were underwhelmed.
By Dorie Greenspan, Alan Richardson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - 2010
This cake is as much apple as cake which makes for a change of pace in our household. In fact, the texture is more fruity than cakey.
The cake batter is flavored with rum and vanilla and it's really nice.
Dorie suggests making this cake, which calls for 4 large apples, with four different varieties of apples. But I had about six small same variety apples and went with that. It may be better with different kinds of apples but its pretty darned good just like this.
Really simple to make; recipe calls for an 8 in. springform pan.
This bread looks beautiful and is really cheesy, but we didn't much care for it.
Possibly this is because I put in only half the amount of chives called for (all I had on hand) and it probably needed the full amount. But I think the real reason we didn't care for it is because of the addition of the walnuts the recipe called for. They were optional but I decided to toss 'em in because where Dorie leads I will generally follow, although I had my doubts about those walnuts.
We just didn't like the cheese-walnut-chive mix.
BUT -- I'd like to try a hybrid of last night's cheese-apple scones and this bread, i.e. create a sweeter version that includes apple, cheddar, and toasted walnuts, omitting the chives entirely.
Nice flavors, easy to prep. I really enjoyed this and will make again.
We enjoyed these quite a bit -- the combo of honey, spices (ginger, cinnamon and cloves), and orange zest makes for a nice seasonal treat. The recipe calls for 1/8 tsp. or less of ground cloves -- and next time I would do a little bit less than that.
Need to plan ahead a bit with this one as Dorie suggests letting the batter chill for three hours before baking.
Although it would have been pretty, I skipped dusting the cookies with confectioner's sugar as we don't like things -- even cookies-- to be too sweet.
Makes 12 large madeleines. Mini versions of these would be great with an orange sorbet.
Looking forward to having these with tea tomorrow afternoon.
Day 2 note -- these are definitely better warm from the oven.
By Alice Waters
Clarkson Potter - 2007
This could not be simpler. Waters' recipe calls for a whole chicken (no need for any butchery or dismemberment here) - 1 chicken, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 head of garlic, 1 celery stalk, one bouquet garni...so simple -- add water and peppercorns and do the usual boil, skim, simmer. Salt to taste after straining. Savor the results.
Very nice -- and versatile -- tart. Simple to make (although I used the Martha Stewart pate brisee dough made in a food processor) rather than this book's tart dough. The onions get a nice long cook in EVOO or butter (I used a combo) with a few sprigs of thyme thrown in for good measure. Waters salts the onions only in the last 3-5 minutes of cooking. Resulting onions have a silky texture and a subtle sweetness -- a tasty filling for a tart whether you stick with the basic tart or top the onions with some other things (I added a sliced kumato and some diced Gruyere). Very tasty ... very simple. But requires a few hours advance planning since the dough needs to chill 1-2 hours before rolling it out.
Excellent side for a tomato soup.
Truth be told, I am more likely to be found reading an Alice Waters recipe rather than cooking it. But for some reason, the chicken legs I had planned to use for an Asian meal ended up in this very simple braised chicken dish. Sometimes you just want good home-cooking without a lot of bells and whistles and this dish is just that. Great comfort food.
Because the dish is so simple, the quality of the chicken is really important. For my money, and even though I am unimpressed with their beef and much of the fish, I don't think you can beat the quality of the chicken at Whole Foods.
Served with a salad of mixed lettuces with a creamy Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
This was a real disappointment. To be fair, maybe it is a little too early for asparagus and that's why the flavor was just not there. But it was the first day of spring, the asparagus looked beautiful, and I couldn't resist.
But I also think the proportions in this recipe are off -- a pound of asparagus is a lot for a cup and a half of risotto while five cups of broth seems to be too little for that amount of rice. I know I ended up using quite a bit more -- maybe 7-8 cups.
Side salad of mixed lettuce, champagne mango, candied pecans and black currant vinaigrette did work however.
By Eric Ripert
Wiley - 2010
This is such an easy but elegant dinner. It would be very nice for a mid-week celebration -- the spice-crusted duck is quick and tasty and the orange (I used clementines because I had a lot left over from another project) and honey glaze matched up perfectly with the spices (ground coriander, cumin, star anise, white pepper and bit of cayenne) on the duck. I actually made the glaze first (the recipe calls for cooking the duck first and then making the glaze in the same pan while the duck rests after cooking) and added some but not all of the duck fat to the sauce to finish it.
The cumin-scented baby carrots were so quick and delicious that I know I'll be serving them with many other dishes down the road. We decided on a Spanish rose with this since neither a red nor white whine seemed like a match with the flavors here, and we pleased with the pairing.
By Judi Kingry, Lauren Devine
Robert Rose - 2006
This was quite a lot of work. We started with 40 pounds of plum tomatoes and -- with two people working -- it took about two hours to blanche, peel, core and quarter all those tomatoes. Filling the jars and processing took another 2-2.5 hours. On the plus side, we have 15+ quarts of beautiful tomatoes on the counter. And the directions in this cookbook are absolutely meticulous.
It was an interesting cooking experience but when it comes to canning and preserving in the future, I may just stick to jams and jellies -- smaller batches and significantly shorter processing times ... unless these tomatoes turn out to be food fit for the gods. Will update review when I open a jar and use them in the middle of winter when I want a little reminder of the tastes of summer.
By Ina Garten
Clarkson Potter - 2006
Enjoyable side dish if you are a broccoli/broccolini fan. Easy and can be served warm or cool. Can easily vary flavor by using a small amount of minced shallot in place of the garlic.
I am a fan of lentils and this is an easy and delicious way to eat a healthy meal. It is similar to Ina's other lentil recipes but adds some curry powder to good effect.
I didn't follow this recipe as written since I was in a hurry and made the executive decision to used roasted red peppers from a jar. No matter -- still delicious. The tang of goat cheese with the peppers and fresh basil is just delicious. This is a handsome-looking sandwich as well -- the colors of summer.
The recipe calls for the addition of capers to the vinaigrette the peppers marinate in -- I love 'em but have family members who don't and I don't think it hurts the recipe any to leave them out.
My all-time favorite summer dessert. Ina credits Mario Batali as the source of this recipe and she is certainly taking inspiration from the right direction.
This is incredibly simple -- it is basically heavy cream/yogurt jello sweetened with sugar and enriched with both vanilla extract and a vanilla bean. It looks beautiful for summer entertaining when surrounded by the Balsamic strawberries and topped with a little orange zest. It would also be delicious served in a puddle of fresh blackberry sauce and topped with a bit of lemon zest or a dollop of lemon curd.
It is very rich so I use my smallest (4 oz.) ramekins.
We enjoyed this but probably not enough to make it again. It was very simple to make -- a quick bechamel, some sauteed mushrooms (I used a mix of portobello, cremini, and shiitake), and grated Parmesan. The flavor was just a little one-note. Maybe some thyme or some white or red wine added to the mushrooms would boost the flavor.
Although I gave this salad a 4, my husband insists it is a 5 and he may be right. I am not much of a raspberry fan (pretty as they are in this salad) and that may have affected my review.
There is a lot to like about this salad. Very easy to do. Duck and oranges -- a classic combination. The toasted pecans add a nice crunch (and I think Smitten Kitchen's candied pecans might be good here too). For me the raspberries added more color than flavor; next time I might try blackberries instead since I prefer them.
The sherry vinaigrette with orange zest worked very well. The recipe called for a mix of baby lettuces and endive. I mixed a bit of mesclun, some frisee, a small romaine heart and one endive and was very happy with the result. We found that one duck breast was enough for two salads.
Finally -- I loved the method of cooking the duck breast -- on a sheet pan skin side up in a 425 oven for 20 minutes. No need to score the skin -- just salt it and in oven it goes. I worried about duck fat spattering the interior of the oven -- but no. No spatter, no smoke, but a really nice aroma coming from the oven. You take it out, cover tightly with foil for 10-15 minutes and then remove the skin and slice the medium-rare duck into slim slices for the salad.
These were just fine and very easy. Exceptionally pretty presentation when you use a variety of cherry tomatoes in different colors.
They are meant to be a side dish but I think either Mark Bittman's tomato cobbler or Smitten Kitchen's scalloped tomatoes are a more interesting side.
I think these would be excellent however tossed with some pasta and mozzarella ... a very nice and quick summer dinner.
I thought this was good, not great. It is basically a black bean salad. No corn is involved but the flavor is good and would have been even better if I had made it a few hours in advanced and let it sit at room temperature (minus the avocados which should be added just before serving) for a while. A hit of fresh chopped cilantro probably would have taken this to a four or five.
By Ina Garten
Clarkson Potter - 2008
Really tasty fall/winter salad. The addition of the dried cranberries to the roasting squash is a great idea. The warm cider vinaigrette is just wonderful. Had enough left over to use it (unwarmed) the following night on a salad with arugula, apples and cheddar shavings, and it was just as delicious with that combo.
This has to be the easiest main dish ever. Ina uses red snapper but I only had tilapia in the house the night I decided to try this and it was delicious. Served with steamed haricots verts as Ina suggests and it's a nice match-up.
A lovely fall salad, wonderful what roasting adds to the classic pear and blue cheese pairing.
I will preface this review by saying that I grew up in a "white bread, meat and potatoes" environment. And I am not big on the flavor of smoked food. Which means that I probably never would have made this dish. But my daughter was going through my cookbooks one week-end morning and picked this recipe to make. So off we went to the grocery store, picked up the smoked salmon and smoked whitefish it called for, and headed home. And we all loved it. I liked the flavor of the whitefish so much that I am looking for other things to do with it.
One little warning -- be judicious with the addition of salt.
I debated reviewing this recipe because I made enough changes that it might be considered too different from the original recipe. But the variation produced such a wonderful soup that I decided to go ahead. I made half a batch of this soup (it easily divided), used parsley instead of dill (my husband hates dill) and Swiss chard instead of spinach (the chard was gorgeous when I went shopping yesterday). I also used a different meatball recipe simply because I had some leftover meatball mix (Gourmet, January 2009) from the last time I made spaghetti and meatballs.
I chopped up about a half cup of the chard stems and sauteed them with the carrot/onion/celery the recipe calls for and it added a really nice subtle sweet flavor to the base veggies. The chard leaves are added in the last few minutes of cooking. BC calls for adding spinach at the last minute but the chard greens take a bit longer than that to soften up.
Finished off with grated Parmesan, this soup basically defines Italian comfort food.
This was strangely disappointing. The mache with an aged balsamic was fine but the warm brie was disappointing (maybe not a very good brie?) although the drizzled honey was nice. The pistachios didn't add much in my opinion. Served with a red pear rather than the recommended Granny Smith apple (the latter would have been better).
On a more positive note -- really pretty presentation.
This recipe makes a huge amount of stew as it starts with 2.5 pounds of beef. And browning all that beef is a not insignificant effort so I was kind of hoping this would completely wow me ... which it did not. On the other hand ... still really tasty thanks to the addition of sun-dried tomatoes (not sure about these but a really nice savory addition I think) and tangy Worcestershire sauce. And plenty of freshly ground pepper. Should be even better day two.
Two modifications -- I didn't have a can of beef broth on hand (and not driving on icy roads to get some) so I just replaced it with about two cups of water. And I skipped the addition of peas since neither my husband nor I care for them.
Ina says to remove 1 cup of liquid from the stew and whisk with 2 T. of flour and then return the thickened liquid to the stew pot. This did not result is as smooth a sauce as I would have liked and I think next time, I will mix flour with warm water and slowly add to stew pot and see if that works better for me.
This tart is just perfect when you have a friend over for lunch. It calls for two sheets of store-bought puff pastry to make four servings. I made two servings from one sheet and -- had I needed a third -- I could have made one from the leftover pastry after I cut out the first two 6 in. circles.
You do need a little lead time -- the onions are sauteed over low heat for about 30 minutes before putting them on the pastry, topping with cheese and tomato (I used thinly sliced grape tomatoes since that is what I had) and baking for 20-25 minutes. Next time (and I will make this again), I'll probably brush the pastry with a beaten egg to get a more golden (rather than brown) final product.
Served with a side salad of mixed lettuce, orange sections, candied pecans and a pomegranate-orange vinaigrette.
It's barely a recipe but -- as usual -- the Contessa is spot on with her flavor combos and this is a very nice, easy and pretty healthy side dish for a weeknight.
I agree with other reviewers -- I thought the recipe could do with both less butter and less lemon. On the positive side, the flavors are simple and delicious and it will be easy to find a balance that works to our personal taste. And it really is about 10 minutes from prep to serving. And the frozen fillets I used only took about 20-25 minutes to thaw in tepid water.
I had been wanting to try this recipe for a while, but sole fillets don't seem to be available very often -- or at all usually -- at my grocery store. So I was pleased to find some individually frozen and packaged wild caught sole fillets from The Great American Seafood Company at my local A&P recently. I have to say that the quality of these fillets was very high and I hope that the store will begin keeping these on hand regularly.
By Ina Garten, Martha Stewart
Clarkson Potter - 1999
This is barely a recipe it is so simple. But roasting really brings out the flavor and sweetness of the carrots. It is a great fall/winter side dish. Also delicious when parsnips are added to the mix.
Another Contessa recipe that is so simple it is barely a recipe. But this is the recipe that made my entire family love Brussels sprouts. Just delicious although I consistently find that mine don't need 35-40 minutes in the oven as Ina suggests. I usually plan for 20-25 minutes and I shake the pan every 10 minutes or so.
Healthy and delicious; recipe makes enough for a family of four to get two meals out of it. Recipe calls for chicken stock but substitution of vegetable stock makes this a great main dish soup for vegetarians.
This is the only Ina Garten recipe that has ever let me down. The flavor mix should have produced a great granola but the cooking time of 45 minutes resulted in burnt nuts and burnt coconut. I ended up throwing the entire batch in the garbage and have not been motivated to give the recipe a second chance. Especially since the holiday issue of Fine Cooking a few years back (2005?) has three terrific granola recipes that I return to over and over.