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134 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Dishes, Priceless Cookbook
This is the type of cookbook I call an armchair cookbook because it can be just as easily enjoyed by simply reading through it as it can be trying out the recipes in the kitchen.

If you were impressed when Julie Powell spent a year of her life trying every one of Julia Child's French recipes, you will be astounded by Amanda Hesser's six-year Herculean task of...
Published on October 20, 2010 by Dee Long

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86 of 96 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Disorganized - Useless for Cooking
One of my children recently gave me a membership to the cookbook club rather than trying to find out what book I might want and not have. The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century was one of my top choices and it arrived about a week ago.

This is a real tome, running to nearly 900 pages - not counting the index. 1400 or so...
Published on March 11, 2011 by Grandma


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134 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Dishes, Priceless Cookbook, October 20, 2010
This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
This is the type of cookbook I call an armchair cookbook because it can be just as easily enjoyed by simply reading through it as it can be trying out the recipes in the kitchen.

If you were impressed when Julie Powell spent a year of her life trying every one of Julia Child's French recipes, you will be astounded by Amanda Hesser's six-year Herculean task of evaluating and writing about 150 years of New York Times recipes. There's an immense satisfaction that comes from reading thru these recipes, kind of like being a guest invited into Hesser's test kitchen and watching the culinary drama unfold without having to do any of the work or shoulder any of the responsibility.

Clear a space on your cookbook library shelf for The Essential New York Times Cookbook -- this heavy tome is a must-have for anyone who loves reading about food as well as getting creative with it!
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best cookbook to come out in years - 5 stars plus!, November 14, 2010
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
I've had this cookbook for two weeks now. Although I loved reading it, I wanted to wait to write a review until after I'd actually cooked from it. In the past two weeks, I've made over a dozen recipes from the book: plum torte (twice), blueberry muffins, fennel stew, cumin carrots, roast salmon, root vegetable stew with dumplings, watermelon tomato salad, warm butter lettuce salad, a chicken stew with olives, and more. They are uniformly terrific recipes - clearly written, well-tested, challenging enough to be fun, but easy enough to prepare after a busy workday - for foods that I actually want to eat. I've recommended this book to everyone I know who likes to cook. This is going to be an instant classic. I'm sure it will be the go-to cookbook for both everyday and special occasion meals, much the same as The Joy of Cooking and The Silver Palate have been.
In addition to the recipes, it contains a great introduction, interesting comments throughout, suggested accompanying dishes, extensive menus, etc. This is the best $22 you'll ever spend!

UPDATE - I've now made over 80 of the recipes from this book and only 2 have been so-so and all the rest delectable and ones I plan on making multiple times (or have already such as teddie's apple cake, the chocolate dump-it cake and david eyre's pancake). The lasagne was the best ever as was the beef bourgignon 1.
Most of the dishes are quick to prepare and so can be used for every-day cooking, but are by no means ho-hum. I'm shocked by any of the negative reviews, as I'm an experienced home cook who has really enjoyed reading and cooking from this book. If anything, my esteem for this cookbook has continued to increase since I purchased it. I've never used any cookbook as regularly and with as much pleasure.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read. Recipes you know and love plus more, October 20, 2010
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
First, for anyone who loves to read a good cookbook, this is wonderful gift. The background provided with the recipes and the tone in which it is given are a real pleasure. Second, for anyone who loves food and making it, this book is a treasure. There are recipes here that i know well from years of devoted clipping and, later, printing from the NY Times but I am also discovering many new ones that sound just great. A thousand recipes, most of them interesting and all with at least the original publication date or some extra tidbit of information! In addition, you can learn about how our tastes have evolved and what a family might eat in the 19th century. When my copy arrived, I was reading a decent novel. Since then I have been happily perusing my new cookbook with the novel all but forgotten. And, oh yeah, occasionally I cook something yummy.
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81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite!, October 29, 2010
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
I was reading another book but set it aside when this arrived in the mail, and haven't been back to it yet. I'm not the sort of person who would read a cookbook, but this is more like a cool encyclopedia of best of the New York Times recipes over the past 150 years, interspersed with interesting historical information, hints from testing, cooking notes, and some reader comments/memories. The author's voice is full of warmth, wit, and sharp, bright intelligence. Her personable approach (as opposed to taking the form of a disengaged editor) conveys care about this momentous project and it is precisely what makes the book really shine. And it's fun to see a recipe that I had clipped from the Times years and years ago, right there in the book--it kind of underscores how great it is! (Plus it may include a footnote that offers a small change that will make it turn out even better!) The 1,400-plus recipes were selected judiciously, sound absolutely wonderful, and cover a huge territory.
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86 of 96 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Disorganized - Useless for Cooking, March 11, 2011
This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
One of my children recently gave me a membership to the cookbook club rather than trying to find out what book I might want and not have. The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century was one of my top choices and it arrived about a week ago.

This is a real tome, running to nearly 900 pages - not counting the index. 1400 or so recipes, most accompanied by some anecdote about their appearance in the New York Times or Cook's Notes from the author's experience with the recipe or even letters from readers, and many of those 1400 recipes sound wonderful. Some of them you will even know from elsewhere - Leahy's No Knead Bread comes to mind, pg. 670. It will take you quite some while to even page through all of this in order to familiarize yourself with the recipes.

But, even then you had best pray for an excellent memory. Better yet, use stickies to mark the recipes that you want to try as you go, because this book has the single most useless index I have ever seen and a method of "categorization" that will leave you frustrated almost beyond belief.

I discovered this several days ago when I wanted to make a recipe I thought I had seen for a dish of marinated peppers. Turning to "peppers" in the index I was told to look under "bell peppers" or "chile peppers" or "pimentos" or "roasted bell peppers" - no page numbers for any of those entries. What followed was a merry - and fruitless - chase all over the index and the book looking for that particular recipe. I never did find it, perhaps because not a few recipes contain sub-recipes for various components that do not seem to be indexed as a separate dish.

Since then, I've been attempting to puzzle out just what the methodology is here. Hesser seems to center her "organization" around the year in which a particular recipe appeared in the New York Times rather than anything that might be instinctive like alphabetical or ingredient. Let me give you a sample of what I mean, taken from the chapter entitled "Sauces, Dressings, Condiments, Rubs and Preserves".

Page 604 (chapter starts on page 589) begins with Spiced Hard Sauce, the kind of thing you would serve with Plum Pudding or some other steamed pudding. It is followed in order by

*Florence La Ganke's Three-Day Marmalade (a preserve)
*Creamy Salad Dressing
*Simple Cooked Tomato Sauce
*Brie Butter with Fresh Bread (best classified as an appetizer)
*Cranberry Chutney (another preserve)
*Schrafft's Hot Fudge (dessert sauce)
*John Berald's Dry Rub (there are other rubs included in recipes elsewhere)
*Rhubarb Ginger Compote (a not sweet dish of stewed rhubarb)
*Kosher Pickles the Right Way
*Holiday Cranberry Chutney
*Sweet and Pulpy Tomato Ketchup
*Preserved Lemons with Cardamom and Bay Leaves
*Romesco Sauce
*Katta Sambol - described as "a Sri Lankan condiment for cast iron stomachs"
*Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Marmalade
*Ranch Dressing
*Clementine Peppercorn Glaze
*Homemade Butter and Buttermilk
*Green Tomato and Lemon Marmalade
*Last of the Summer Pesto

The chapter ends with Fresh Ricotta. If you thought that perhaps you could find that marmalade you liked the sounds of easily, grouped with all the rest of the marmalades, you would be wrong.

There are no pictures other than a fuzzy black and white at the opening of each chapter and no explanatory drawings. In fact, there is little or no "excess" material other than the notes that accompany most recipes. Definitely not the cookbook you want to give a beginning cook and frankly, probably not the book you want to give an experienced cook either. While The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century may have value as a historical survey of recipes that have appeared in the New York Times, it is not reliable as an historical source for the first appearance of a dish (Steak au Poivre, pg. 573, appeared on the scene long, long before the 2006 date given for the recipe included in the book!) The print is small, the typeface fine, making it hard to read on the cream colored pages. I've had to resort to both reading glasses and a flashlight to illuminate things like the even smaller yet page numbers.

Hesser should have paid more attention to that old saw "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Definitely not a book for cooking from!
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars modern and historic at the same time, October 19, 2010
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
I just received my book today, and I'll admit that I've been watching for it since first hearing about the project a few years ago. I love old recipes, and I'm enjoying the historic aspects of this collection. It is quite interesting to see the dates on each recipe. The author's comments and introductions strike the right tone by being warm, down to earth, and helpful. I know I will want to cook lots and lots of the recipes in the book, both the old dishes and the new. Already I've identified the "Salted Caramels" as a perfect completment to after-dinner coffee on Thanksgiving. Now, if only I could decide on a historic punch to start the Thanksgiving holiday...
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Cookbook, Excellent Recipes and Well Authored, November 9, 2010
By 
BillyH (San Rafael, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
I made a few of these recipes when Ms Hesser posted them in her column in the NYTimes. I had success with a couple of them, so I thought I'd try the cookbook. I've had it for two or three weeks now, and it's been even better than I had hoped.

My mom, a home-ec major in the 50's, can just sit and read cookbooks. I always thought that was among her more endearing but characteristically baffling oddities, until I got this cookbook for myself. Now I see the attraction. I've never had a cookbook before where just flipping through the pages I stumble across so many recipes I'm eager to try. Ms Hesser's engaging but concise commentary and personal cooking notes keep it from getting too dry and make it an easy read.

Not only did Ms Hesser compile a cornucopia of delicious and interesting recipes, but she tested them and updated them to make them approachable to the average modern cook. I've made at least a half dozen of these recipes already and I've had great success with almost all. (Ok, my Bordeaux jelly - like a Jello shooter with red wine - didn't really set. But it was my first time making gelatin. And it was tasty anyway.) Some of these recipes have been so good, I'm adding them to my regular rotation.

My only regret is that by rating this so high, my friends might find out about it and know the secret to the recent up-tick in the quality and variety of my cooking. Oh well, Ms Hesser deserves the high score.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that inspires me to cook!, November 4, 2010
By 
Tchen (California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
Just received my copy yesterday and it's amazing. There are so many recipes, historical recipes such as the Purple Plum Torte, that I would have never known about without this book. The book looks liken an encyclopedia, reads like one, and feels like one. It's a great gift for anyone who loves food.

What I liked:
1. I love reading cookbooks and there's more than enough recipes to flip through, read about, and drool over. The author includes a short summary with most recipes detailing her selection process, the recipe's history, and NYT reader's comments. She really took the time to make sure each recipe had a story and identity.
3. It's a collection of recipes printed within the last 150 years so the author has included many historic recipes. It's really different from all of the other cookbooks I own and includes recipes I've never heard of from regions around the world.
4. The book includes recipes at all degrees of difficulty. Everyone will be able to find something they can make.

Cons:
The only thing I didn't like was that it doesn't have any photos or illustrations (Except for section covers and introduction). But being concious of the book's size, I know why they didn't include any.

UPDATE:
I've made several recipes in the book now, all successful. I find myself referencing this book whenever I crave a dish; 80% of the time, I find one or more recipes that match.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Getting that New York Times book was the best idea ever", December 20, 2010
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
The above quote is by my husband, after he ate the dinner I cooked today (entirely from Amanda Hesser's Essential New York Times Cookbook).

I could tell right away that this cookbook was made for me. It's the creme de la creme of the recipes featured in the New York Times over the last 150 years, which means the recipes are practically guaranteed to work. Hesser's head notes are pitch perfect and great for encouraging me to make a recipe I might otherwise skip. The layout for individual recipes is clean and smart (and the typeset for the ingredient list, which Hesser mentions in the acknowledgements, IS fantastic). I loved the chronological order of the recipes. At first it was strange not seeing all of the similar recipes put together (e.g. in the beef, veal and pork section, the recipes are listed in chronological order regardless of meat), but I think it encourages exploring and discovering recipes you might have otherwise missed.

When I actually cooked from it, my opinion went even higher. I've made Mary Ann's Fruitcake, An Honest Loaf of French Bread, Christmas Stollen (twice), Königsberger Klopse, Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Olives, Winter Slaw with Lemon and Orange, and Pepper Cumin Cookies. Everything was perfect and extremely delicious (well, we're saving the fruitcake for Christmas, but it looks amazing). My husband and toddler loved everything too.

Congrats, Ms Hesser; you hit this one out of the ballpark!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than another cookbook, December 3, 2010
By 
Ben W. Washburn (Detroit, Michigan) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (Hardcover)
We bought this book after hearing Amanda Hesser at a luncheon of our metro library association. We were impressed at the work that she had put into this book over several years. She went back through a hundred years of food articles in the New York Times. She solicited mass opinions from readers of the Times as to their favorite recipes from the Times. And she tested each recipe in her own kitchen before deciding to place it in this book. It is also organized as a history of American culinary arts. It's only drawback is its size; you will need a special space to store and use it.
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The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser (Hardcover - October 25, 2010)
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