As mentioned many, many times in these pages, I’m something of a recipe hoarder. Food magazines, cookbooks, blog postings—I collect ’em all. In no particular order, my top-five print sources:
This bible of vegetarian cooking—originally published in 1977—has some dated concoctions (“Soy Gevult,” anyone?), but on the whole, it holds up remarkably well. The pesto recipe is pretty much perfection, the mushroom-barley soup is a winter staple, and special-occasion meals that require a bit more work (i.e., ricotta gnocchi and spinach calzones) are worth the extra effort.
I’ve made my predilection for Spanish food quite clear by now, and I hold this book partially responsible. From the salt-crusted pork to the lentil and pumpkin stew with roasted garlic to the tortilla with chorizo, potatoes, and allioli, I’ve never been disappointed with one of Anya von Bremzen’s dishes. It’s also one of my go-to sources for party menu-planning: crowd-pleasers include white sangria with pear (the secret ingredient? Gin!), blue-cheese-and-fig croquettes, and the aptly named Addictive Roasted Red Pepper Salad.
I’m cheating ever so slightly to include these two tomes from Matt and Ted Lee. As someone who grew up in Virginia with two transplanted Yankees as parents, these are the recipes I would’ve wanted to learn at my imaginary Southern grandma’s knee. And, since Southerners know how to feed a crowd, it’s also one of my touchstones for party planning. (I took the latter title out of the library before one of my summer barbecues and returned it in shameful condition—the pages featuring potato-and-piquillo gratin, cabbage salad with peanut and lime, and blackeyed-pea-and-beet salad bore the brunt of the damage; my favorites from the former include to-die-for shrimp burgers, an easily customizable pork shoulder (I made a jerk version for a park barbecue last year), and braised oxtails that would make any traditionalist proud.
4. Gourmet Today.
When Gourmet magazine bit the dust last year, I resigned myself to a much less colorful culinary life; then this cookbook came out. Though it doesn’t contain the aspirational table settings or drool-worthy lifestyle shots of the monthly publication, the recipes—pretty much anything you could imagine eating, from garlic-roasted pork to spaghetti cacio e pepe to the orange cranberry scones pictured above—are every bit as satisfying, and the book is so comprehensive that it also serves as a general how-to resource for questions on cooking procedure. Sure, I still can’t make a decent pot of rice, but at least the book with the bright-green cover gives me a ton of methods to try.
5. Gourmet magazine.
Siiiiiigh. The wound is still fresh, but my list wouldn’t be complete without this late, lamented, indubitably great title. Though it makes me a little verklempt, I pull out back issues for dinner-party inspiration and quick meal ideas, and I’m not-so-secretly holding out hope for a Lazarus-like revival.
This collector would love to know: What are your sources for fail-safe recipes?