Cheers for Fran McCullough and Suzanne Hamlin, editors of The Best American Recipes 2000. As with previous Best editions, they've culled a truly choice collection from a year's worth of eligible recipes from books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. It's an all-occasion crop ranging from the unabashedly down-home Beer Can Chicken to chef Thomas Keller's cheese strips molded in an egg carton. What makes the difference in projects such as this is the quality of editorial taste and the compilers' commitment to recipe practicality. In both these matters McCullough and Hamlin excel. "Most of all," the editors write, "we love smart recipes that maximize flavor," and these they've provided in satisfying abundance.
Ranging from starters and breads to desserts and drinks, the recipes cover the classic to the exotic-but-definitely-worth-trying varieties. Examples from the repertoire include Mexican Pistachio Soup, Puffy Maine Pancakes, and Indonesian Ginger Chicken. There are also dishes, such as Texas Lemon Bomb (coiffed with meringue swirls), that are simply, though never frivolously, fun. With a "Year in Food" rundown (food comeback of the year: the egg), tips, cooking notes, and serving suggestions, The Best American Recipes 2000 makes an important culinary bookshelf addition while providing true cooking and eating enjoyment. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The second volume in this new series starts out with a snappy list of the year's trends in food that names the potato "Vegetable of the Year" and slow roasting the hottest technique. Recipes, drawn from a variety of sources, are often so simple that it's a surprise to see them here (e.g., Garlicky Baked Chicken from Sara Moulton's Web site is just thighs or breasts coated with bread crumbs and cheese, then baked to a crisp). And the editors clearly have never met a gimmick they didn't like: they coo over Beer Can Chicken (the diner rests the chicken on the can) and delight in Grilled Duck in a Jar (the duck is marinated in the jar, so that it is "ready to be admired by those who will soon enjoy it"). Recipes with an ethnic bent, such as Tunisian Chickpea Stew and Kashmiri-Style Leg of Lamb, are among the most appealing. Each recipe credits the chef and the source and is accompanied by notes and serving suggestions, such as pairing the Twelve-Hour Roast Pork from Suzanne Somers' Get Skinny on Fabulous Food with Creamy Mashed Potatoes from Gourmet. this book is a fun read and will most likely sell well, but it is not the definitive source its editors envision it to be. (Nov.)
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