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The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks Hardcover – October 25, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Food52 Cookbook Series

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  • The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“There’s something for everyone . . . from crowd-pleasing Zucchini Pancakes to elegant Risotto Rosso. And isn’t it heartwarming that something as ephemeral as a blog, about something as transient as food, might be just good enough to make it to your permanent bookshelf? Take a bow, home cooks.” (NPR)

One of 2011’s Best Cookbooks (NPR)

One of the Top 10 Cookbooks of 2011: “A testament to crowd-sourcing, to accomplished cooks who don’t necessarily blog, and to Food52.com’s smart curating.” (Washington Post)

From the Back Cover

The Best Cooks Are Home Cooks

Accomplished food writers and editors Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs had a mission: to discover and celebrate the best home cooks in the country. Each week for fifty-two weeks, they ran recipe contests on their website, Food52.com, and the 140 winning recipes make up this book. They include:

  • Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies
  • Secret Ingredient Beef Stew
  • Simple Summer Peach Cake
  • Wishbone Roast Chicken with Herb Butter

These recipes prove the truth that great home cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or precious to be memorable. This book captures the community spirit that has made Food52 a success. It features Amanda’s and Merrill’s thoughts and tips on every recipe, plus behind-the-scenes photos, reader comments, and portraits of the contributors—putting you right in the kitchen with America’s most talented cooks.

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Product Details

  • Series: Food52 (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; Original edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006188720X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061887208
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Becky (in NOLA) TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm going to discuss what I don't like about the book first. I don't like the white space being taken up by introductions so that the recipes can no longer be put on one page, but even if it won't fit on on one page, how about facing pages? I have a lid in one hand, a spoon or spatula in the other, trying to add or flip or figure out what to do next, and now I have to turn pages also? That is such a pet peeve of mine in cookbooks that it is a rare cookbook I can overlook the inconvenience. Cookbooks are made to be used, so make them easy to use.

Okay, end rant. Let's get to the indifferent parts of the book. Most of the recipes can be found at the website. For me that isn't a deal breaker. I like having the cookbook in hand, I buy plenty of books from food network and their cooks/chefs, even though I can get the recipes online, so that is totally a personal choice, just thought it was worth a mention.

A lot of page space is taken up by introducing the recipe, again at the end of the recipe, talking about the cook and what the online community from the website thought of the recipe. I do feel it stretches 140 recipes into a 400 page book and, for me, that does impact my perceived value of the book.

Now, let's talk about what works. Amanda Hesser recently tackled the Essential New York cookbook, so I'm familiar with her. A book that she edits will be well edited and the recipes will work.

There are a wide variety of recipes, sorted by season (which, living in New Orleans, isn't all that helpful, I'd rather it be by category but that's really neither here nor there. The index isn't super easy to use but finding a recipe isn't difficult.

It's also not difficult to find recipes that are appealing and not hard to make.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love reading through new cookbooks, earmarking new recipes to try. These are recipes submitted by home cooks, and I was eager to find a new set of delicious but hopefully relatively simple things to try. This cookbook is beautiful, well written, and beautifully photographed--but is not for the unadventurous. Overly fussy titles like "Saffron Semifredo with Cherry Cardamom Syrup and Salted Honey Hazlenuts" left me puzzled and scared. Mostly, because I'm not sure I want anything with saffron, cherries, cardamom, and salted hazlenuts, but also because I can't envision a time when I'm going to want to put that recipe together. Many of the other recipes, to be fair, do seem more sensible, but overall this cookbook feels like it is grasping to be more a fine dining cookbook and less a home chef oriented cookbook, but it lacks the technique to be a truly adventurous fine dining experience, while requiring too much technique for those who are not pretty advanced at home. While home chefs may have come up with these recipes, I'm not going to be able to pull most of these off after work.

The book itself is great fun to peruse, however. As I said before, the photos are beautiful, the tips are interesting, and the recipes themselves look quite follow-able, assuming I have access to some of the harder to find ingredients and a fair amount of time to invest. Another complaint for me was how the recipes were put together. I know that this book was organized based on a web community and sort of contest mentality, and so seems to have been aimed towards folks who have some familiarity with that web site and contest. I have no such familiarity, and I found the organization of the book frankly baffling.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a beautiful cookbook! Full of wonderful photos, beautifully designed with black print on white pages (this is not a small matter in a cookbook). The book is large enough to lay open, flat, while cooking, another thing that is very important if a cookbook is to be used by real cooks.

Each recipe is a little love note from its creator, who "won" a weekly contest for best recipes, managed by the two cookbook authors. It's a great concept for getting really good recipes.

However, it is organized by season, not by types of food. That makes for cozy bedtime reading (I promise!) but is not a design decision that turns a cookbook into a "go to" cookbook in the home cook's kitchen. Also, its index is not as complete as an everyday cookbook meant to be "cooked from" should be. For instance, there is no "Cookies" listing in the alphabetical index of some 15 pages. Each cookie is listed only by its name, ie, "Sugar cookies, chewy" is the listing, under the S section. The authors knew to list "Strawberries," with the subsequent alphabetical list of recipes containing strawberries, and "Ciabatta," etc., but no cookies. I didn't look for other examples. In fact, I turned to another, more conventionally organized cookbook (Betty Crocker) to find some cookie recipe suggestions when I felt like baking last week.

I would also like to say these recipes do lean more towards "gourmet" and unusual. You'll find calls for flaky sea salt, "fregola," which the book says is a "Sardinian pasta resembling couscous" (then why not use couscous?), and other delicious, fun, interesting ingredients. This is not a book for 30-minute recipes to feed the kids between soccer practice and homework. These are recipes to enjoy and savor, so ...this cookbook won't ever be the one you grab for nightly dinnertime solutions.

Recommendation: Definitely, for food lovers everywhere, however, not a "go to" cookbook for nightly dinner solutions.
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