The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser includes recipes like Florida Beets; Beet Tzatziki; Malfatti; and Iraqi Grape Leaves Stuffed with Lamb, Mint, and Cinnamon.
by Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser spent six years cooking her way through the New York Times's recipe archive—the world's most extensive collection, with recipes going back more than 150 years—to create a cookbook unlike any other. In The Essential New York Times Cookbook Hesser highlights more than 1,000 of the paper's best recipes: the book includes dishes from some of our most beloved cooks, including Maida Heatter, Nigella Lawson, Eric Ripert, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Julia Child, Mark Bittman, Marcella Hazan, David Chang, and Jamie Oliver, but it also celebrates leading chefs and food writers from every decade, going back to Bob the Sea Cook, who was the Molly O'Neill of the 1870s.
This is the book every cook has been waiting for: a painstakingly researched, entertainingly written, and unfailingly lively compendium that gathers up both modem and classic recipes, tells the story of American cooking, includes many surprises (early doughnuts, the forgotten oyster pan roast, and the best panna cotta recipe in the world), and, most of all, provides savvy food lovers with a book that can be a lifetime kitchen companion. It's a volume that will sit comfortably next to Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything and The Joy of Cooking.
Hesser—a Times food columnist and the author of the acclaimed Cooking for Mr. Latte—organized the book into eighteen chapters, including drinks, hors d'oeuvres, soups, vegetables, pasta, fish and shellfish, poultry and game, beef, breads, and desserts. There are timelines that launch every chapter, serving suggestions with most of the recipes, and full menus for more than fifty occasions, such as Super Bowl Sunday and dinner out on the patio, as well as sparkling essays and headnotes that place each recipe in a fuller context—and cooking tips that tell you everything from how to roll out pie dough (chill it first) to how to turn meatballs (use an icing spatula) to how to bring out the best flavor in stews (cook them a day in advance).
Hesser began work on the cookbook by placing an author's query in the Times asking readers for their favorite recipes from the paper. The subsequent flood of letters, e-mails, and tattered newsprint recipes propelled her into the kitchen, where she meticulously tested every dish. Times readers introduced her to classics like Teddie's Apple Cake (a rustic cake threaded with cinnamon-scented apples), Le Cirque's Spaghetti Primavera (a recipe so famous that three people claimed to have invented it), and David Eyre's Pancake (a crepe that billows like a cloud in the oven).
Moving into the older archives, pre-1960, Hesser unearthed Green Goddess Salad (1948), Chicken à la Marengo (1908), and Raspberry Granita (1895). Finally she swung forward to the twenty-first century to discover extraordinary dishes like Stuck-Pot Rice, Thomas Keller's Gazpacho, Julia Reed's Spinach and Artichoke Casserole (with its Ritz cracker topping), and Tangerine Sherbet.
You'll recognize hits like Craig Claiborne's Southern-style Eggnog, Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread, Pamela Sherrid's Summer Pasta, and Matt Lee and Ted Lee's Cheese Straws, the perfect cocktail-hour accompaniment. And you will have in a single volume all the iconic dishes from well-known chefs, such as the Sole Grenobloise (with capers and lemons) from Pierre Franey of Le Pavillon, the New York restaurant that revolutionized modern French cuisine; Potato Gnocchi from Tom Colicchio, which, Hesser writes, "taste only of potato, delicious potato, and are as weightless as down"; Roasted Brine-Cured Turkey with Wild Mushroom Stuffing from Alice Waters's Thanksgiving menu; and Ricotta Crostini from Andrew Carmellini.
There are weeknight go-to dishes like Mark Bittman's Pasta with Fast Sausage Ragu and Stir-Fried Chicken with Creamed Corn, and weekend projects like Paul Prudhomme's Cajun-Style Gumbo, Turducken, and Madame Mouriere's Cassoulet. Baking fanatics have five chapters of breads, cookies, frozen desserts, cakes, and pies to choose from. Hesser found superb Macaroons, Ginger Cake, and Caramels, and selected a brownie recipe from World War II that produces the ideal "shiny, chewy crackled surface." There are Popovers and Crumpets, Baked Alaska and Tea Ice Cream, Buttermilk Chocolate Cake and Junior's Cheesecake, Rum Pumpkin Cream Pie and Deep-Fried Peaches, Caramel Custard and Summer Pudding. Hesser's insatiable curiosity—and appetite—led her to include multiple variations on classic dishes, including two chocolate chip cookie recipes, three tuna salads, six kinds of ribs, and no less than six gazpachos.
The Essential New York Times Cookbook is a cookbook for loyal fans of the Times Dining section, first-time home cooks looking for a single volume of reliable recipes, and food lovers eager to uncover the surprises of America's culinary past. It is a musthave addition to every cookbook library.
Amanda Hesser has been a food columnist and editor at the New York Times for more than a decade. She is the author of Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener and edited the essay collection Eat, Memory. Hesser is also the co-founder of food52.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Tad Friend, and their two children.
This page created April 2011
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