I find so many cooking sources on-line through my husband, who nudges me with subtle suggestions in emails with a link. Food 52 was one of those serendipitous finds and I became a subscriber right away. Their passion is sharing good food and building community among home cooks, so it was an easy “yes” when I was invited to review The Food 52 Cookbook by Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs.
The cookbook is a compilation of a year’s worth of recipe contests conducted on the site. Each recipe is from a home cook within the Food 52 community, chosen as winners by their peers. The face and name of each contributor is proudly displayed, the credit going to an entire community, not just one author—in essence, it is from home cooks, for home cooks. One hundred-forty recipes categorized by seasons and menu themes in addition to a well-planned index.
Now, on to the food …
Some recipes caught my attention right away like Southwestern Spiced Sweet Potato Fries with Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream or the Ancho Chile—Cinnamon Chocolate Bark, which may become a homemade Christmas gift this year. Then I stumbled across the Absurdly Addictive Asparagus … it had me at 4 ounces of pancetta.
Last night we began our review preparing Chicken with Creamy Dijon Mustard Sauce and it proved the notion of “sop up last every bit of this sauce with bread” the intro touted. With hints of sage and loads of garlic, it would marry well with any poultry—I imagined roasted Cornish game hens finished with plenty of it. The generous 1/2 cup of heavy cream easily reduces down for all the creaminess you could want, so there is no need to add the flour (which they allude to in the recipe notes), an easy gluten-free adjustment.
Cognac and white wine add sophistication while the Dijon component is interchangeable with an array of coarse grain mustards to create dynamic flavors, any way you choose. I exchanged boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the bone-in thighs in the recipe, which you can see in the photo.
Of course, with any cookbook review, there are only select recipes I can share in their entirety, so to make up for it, I am including my recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans and Aged Balsamic, also in the photo. Not to be confused with salad dressing balsamic, this is the type you would use for special dishes, fresh fruit, or with certain specialty cheeses. You will like these hearty roasted vegetables drizzled with tangy-sweet aged balsamic vinegar and tossed with crisp bacon and pecans.
3 slices bacon — diced
1/2 cup Crispy Pecans — coarsely chopped (or raw pecans)
3 cups Brussels sprouts — trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons aged balsamic
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°. Trim and halve Brussels sprout ends and discard any discolored leaves (larger sprouts may need to be quartered to create even sized pieces).
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and fry diced bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towel, set aside. The remaining pan drippings should equal about 1 tablespoon. In the skillet, toss sprouts in pan drippings to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in the oven to roast for 20-30 minutes. Check and stir during cooking time. Sprouts should be fork tender when done.
Removed from oven and toss with bacon and chopped pecans in skillet, return to oven for 5-10 minutes to warm bacon and crisp pecans. Transfer to a bowl and toss with balsamic to finish. Serve warm.
What’s up next?
You can look forward to a few full recipes of Secret Ingredient Beef Stew (making that one tomorrow), Lazy Mary’s Lemon Tart, and One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf, so be sure to stay tuned!
Disclosure and review philosophy:
While I am not compensated for this review, I did receive the cookbook free of charge. It is my goal in any review to highlight what I find positive about the book; I have no desire to be critical of recipes that do not appeal to me. Instead, I offer insights to recipe steps, ingredients, and overall “feel” from the book. If what I have to say sounds good or reasonable to you, we probably share a similar taste in food. It does not make one person right or wrong, as taste is personal and subjective.
If you find this review helpful, please let me know. If you have more in depth questions about the review, please feel free to visit my contact page.