Cooking from the Heart: 100 Great American Chefs Share Recipes They Cherish

Cooking from the Heart: 100 Great American Chefs Share Recipes They Cherish

by Michael J. Rosen


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America’s best-known chefs—in a stellar gathering—recall the dishes that warm their hearts in a collection benefiting one of the nation’s leading antihunger organizations.
Cooking from the Heart
features one hundred of the country’s most beloved and well-known chefs, who each contribute not only a superb dish—whether a holiday tradition, comfort food, cross-cultural innovation, or family classic—but also the story of why that dish means the world to them. The chefs speak as parents, children, partners, neighbors, husbands, wives, and friends. Cooking from the Heart is a joyous collection of recipes in which love is always the first ingredient. Here are Ming Tsai and his family wrapping potstickers on the Ping-Pong table in his grandmother’s house; Gale Gand and her son making pie crusts with a rolling pin that’s been in their family for five generations; Seth Bixby Daugherty improvising a mulberry crisp on a cross-country peace march; Marcel Desaulnier recounting the Christmas his mother sent him her chocolates and cookies while he was serving in Vietnam; and Lidia Bastianich crushing herbs under her infant grandchildren’s noses to awaken their senses to rich aromas. From Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s grandmother’s Alsatian Lamb Stew to Rick Bayless’s hometown Orchard Peach Cobbler, from Sara Moulton's Grilled Fish discovered on a magical trip to Greece to Emeril Lagasse’s favorite Bolognese Sauce for Sundays with friends, Cooking from the Heart presents an inexhaustible range of recipes you’ll want to make your own. These are stories to cherish; they will remind you of—and even inspire—your own family’s mealtimes and traditions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767913713
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication date: 09/09/2003
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

MICHAEL J. ROSEN is the author or editor of some fifty books for adults and children, several of which have benefited Share Our Strength, on whose Board of Directors he has served for a dozen years. His other books include poetry, picture books, the humor biennial Mirth of a Nation, and the cookbook Midnight Snacks. He lives in central Ohio.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit SHARE OUR STRENGTH, one of the nation’s preeminent antihunger agencies. Its programs include Taste of the Nation® and the Great American Bake Sale®, a nationwide fund-raising event that targets childhood hunger. Since 1984, Share Our Strength has distributed more than $68 million to fight hunger worldwide. For more information, visit
RICHARD RUSSO, who contributed the Foreword, is the best-selling author of Empire Falls, The Whore’s Child, Nobody’s Fool, Straight Man, and other fiction.

Read an Excerpt

I grew up in Brooklyn, where mango meant one of the tropical flavors in the fruit salad. Not exactly an earth-shattering encounter. So nothing prepared me for the experience of mangoes that greeted me in South Miami, where I came to live and work: the whole neighborhood possesses a deep ambrosia when the mango trees bloom, and the varieties of mangoes exceed anything I could have imagined. We have 150 kinds just in this region. In India, where mangoes have been cultivated for four thousand years, there are more than four hundred varieties. Bar none, the mango is the most popular fruit in the world, and every tropical culture uses its native fruit in distinct ways. Cubans love the Toledo mango, the Vianado. In Jamaica they prize the Julie or East Indian mango. The Edward, or the Zill, is popular in South Florida.
Since moving here, I have been on a quest to sample as many kinds of mango as I can. Even on my travels I seek out new varieties; I think I'm up to 250 types. Some mangoes have peach and pineapple flavors, a tropical cinnamon aroma, and an aftertaste like pine or dried fruit or lemon. The Preacho, a Cuban mango, has a deep floral aroma with a distinct scent of candied orange peel. The Neillium is an Indian mango with clove and cinnamon aromas and red-berry, plum, and apricot flavors. The Madame Francis from Haiti has hints of anise, cinnamon, caramel, and fig.
The mango's spectrum of colors is just as astonishing: green, pink, red, orange, red-orange, yellow, canary yellow, crimson, and ruby. And their size can range from the peach-size Cuban mangoes to the cantaloupe-size Mexican Oro mangoes.


1 tablespoon coarse salt
One 1 1/2-pound live Maine lobster
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small Thai chile, seeded and minced
12 large Thai basil leaves, chopped
2 fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
1 cup shredded arugula
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and julienned
4 rice paper wrappers, 8 inches in diameter

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the salt, and plunge the lobster into the pot. Cover the pot and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the lobster from the water and transfer it to a platter to cool slightly. Crack the shell and remove the meat from the tail and claws. Freeze or discard the shells. Slice the meat and set aside. (The lobster can be prepared and refrigerated 1 day in advance.)
2. Combine the fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and chile. Mix in the basil, cilantro, and arugula. Add the mango and toss gently.
3. Fill a shallow dish or pan with warm tap water and spread a cotton cloth on the work surface. Submerge a wrapper in the water for 10 to 30 seconds. Remove it from the water just as it turns limp and carefully spread the soggy wrapper flat onto the cotton cloth. Repeat with each wrapper.
4. Carefully retoss the salad and place a mound of the mixture in the middle of each wrapper. Divide the lobster meat evenly, placing the slices on top of each mound of salad.
5. To make the wrap, roll the bottom of the rice wrapper toward the middle, fold in both sides, and continue to roll toward the free edge. (If the wrapper cracks or doesn't roll easily, use a new wrapper and soak it longer.)
X Cut the rolls on a diagonal and place the pieces on small plates, garnished with the remaining salad.

When I first opened my restaurant, I placed a little 2 X 1-inch ad in the local Topical News--"I trade dinner for mangoes. Bring me your backyard fruit"--and it listed my phone number. I've done this every year since, and during the summer I almost have more fruit than I can use.
Here's a typical story: A mango tree blooms in December or January, and as the months go on, the fruit forms so that by May or June the mangoes are a pretty good size. Sometime in June the family has its first ripe fruit. Everyone is thrilled. Then, during the next week of ripening fruit, a couple dear friends and relatives receive a perfect mango from the family's very own tree. Then the ripe mangoes fill a basket or a shopping bag that someone takes to work to share. And then two weeks pass, and suddenly they're asking everyone, "Did I give you some of our mangoes yet? Please, take." Then the following week--it's mid-July now--mangoes are dropping from their tree every hour, squirrels are taking bites from them, and their yard's a sticky, rotting mess. That's when they bring us a wheelbarrow full of mangoes. It's a wonderful community connection, and people are so proud to be sharing their fruit with "Chef Allen."
Then, in exchange, we create a full-course dinner for each couple that brings us mangoes, and we include some of their own fruit in the dishes we serve them. For many of our neighbors this is their first truly grand dining experience.
We use the fruit in every possible way: I make mango martinis, mango mojo, mango upside-down cake, mango tarte tatin with ginger, mango chutneys, mango ketchup. I stew them, grate them when they're still green and unripened, grill them, use them in curries and salsas and ice creams. I simply can't exhaust the possibilities.
This particular recipe is a refreshing appetizer that brings mango together with lobster, another resource that's especially sweet and bountiful in summer. I suppose if my restaurant were in Maine, I'd be trading dinners for lobsters. The rice paper makes a simple envelope, transparent enough to let the arugula, cilantro, and chopped chiles brighten the flavors of the meat and the mango.
The New York Times called chef Allen Susser "the Ponce de Leon of Florida cooking." His cuisine is a fusion of the world's tropical cultures in a sweet, spicy, and aromatic harmony. Chef Allen's is Miami's premier restaurant, rated number one for food in the 2002 Zagat Survey. Allen is the author of The Great Citrus Book, The Great Mango Book, and Allen Susser's New World Cuisine and Cookery.

Being Chinese, I've probably made and eaten more dumplings than any other food. Steamed, boiled, panfried, deep-fried: dumplings have filled my life. I have very distinct memories of sitting with my grandmother and my mother to roll dumpling skins at a large table and help fold them around the fillings. We'd have whole meals based on dumplings: the traditional pork filling (with garlic, ginger, and shaoxing wine) and then a filling of gyou tsai (garlic chives).
We had a Ping-Pong table in the basement of our home in Dayton, Ohio. Every five years or so my father's three brothers and their families would visit over the Christmas holidays. We'd be ten cousins and four sets of parents talking for hours as we made potstickers around that long green table.
At my grandfather's house we'd have special dumpling nights where I would attempt to outeat my grandfather. I was in third or fourth grade, and I'd manage twenty dumplings. I'd also try to eat more sambal or hot sauce than him. It was something of an honor to outdo my grandfather. For Chinese people food is culture.
Admittedly, with only two thousand people of Chinese descent in Dayton, we weren't offered much in the way of Asian groceries. Whenever we traveled, we'd fit in a side trip to some city's Chinatown. Toronto's was our favorite. We'd pack our station wagon with cooking tools, Chinese pastries, spices, black bean sauces--everything we missed. I'm sure we looked like smugglers coming back across the border.
My other grandparents moved to Taipei after the Cultural Revolution, and I'd visit them every summer. Along with improving my Chinese speaking and learning more about our culture, I'd get to eat lots of street food, which included the best potstickers. Plus, there were whole restaurants devoted to dumplings. Going out to dinner always meant a big affair with eight or ten people around a table, ordering hundreds and hundreds of dumplings. We'd start with lighter, steamed dumpings and eventually move on to panfried ones. We'd start with lighter shrimp or chicken fillings and move on to spicier ones with pork. And, once again, I had to impress everyone, trying to eat more than any other kid at our table.
Makes 30 to 32 dumplings

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 pound ground pork (not too lean)
1 medium green apple, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (red chile paste, available at Asian markets)
2 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Thirty-two 31/2-inch round potsticker wrappers (sue gow skins), defrosted in the refrigerator overnight if frozen
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 recipe Dim Sum Dipper

1. To make the filling, knead the butter into the pork in a large bowl until fully incorporated.
2. Add the apple, ginger, garlic, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame oil, 1 lightly beaten egg, and the salt to the pork mixture. Combine thoroughly.
3. To assemble the potstickers, mix the remaining egg with 2 tablespoons water and set aside. Place 11/2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each wrapper (the edges of the wrappers should stay clean to ensure a proper seal). Fold each wrapper in half to form a half-moon. Seal the top center of each dumpling by pressing between the fingers and, starting at the center, make 3 pleats to the bottom right corner. Repeat pleating process to the bottom left corner. Gently press the dumpling on the work surface to create a flat bottom. Lightly brush the egg wash on the finished dumpling and transfer to a tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. Leave space between finished dumplings to prevent them from sticking together.
4. To cook the potstickers, heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the canola oil and swirl to coat the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the potstickers (flattened bottoms down) in rows of 5. Cook in batches without disturbing until the bottoms are golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and immediately cover the pan with a lid to avoid spattering. Lift the cover: 1/8 inch of water should remain in the pan; if not, add a splash. Steam until the potstickers are puffy and firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes. If the water evaporates before the potstickers are done, add more water in 1/4-cup increments. If the potstickers are cooked and some water remains, drain the excess water and return the pan to the burner.
5. Cook the steamed potstickers over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes to recrisp the bottoms. Transfer the potstickers to a platter.
X Serve the potstickers with a bowl of the Dim Sum Dipper.

DIM SUM DIPPER Makes 1 cup

1/3 cup naturally brewed soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup 1/8-inch-thick slices scallion greens
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (red chile paste, available at Asian markets)
Whisk the ingredients together and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

The years I didn't journey to Taipei, my whole family vacationed at East Coast Chinese Family Camp. The fathers bunked in one cabin, the mothers in another, and the kids bunked in various buildings according to age. Three or four hundred people from across the country came to share in camp activities like swimming and crafts, as well as games and programs more typical of China. The parents would cook. The kids would clean. (And underlying the whole experience was the hope that your kid would meet and one day marry a nice Chinese kid of the opposite sex.)
One morning we kids would rise early to make a special pancake breakfast for the adults. We'd scrounge around the camp kitchen adding heads of garlic, spicy sauces, anchovies--everything we could find--to the batter. Then we'd fry up the pancakes and rush out into the dining hall to watch our parents and grandparents pour on the maple syrup and eat. But since a typical Chinese breakfast is the previous evening's dinner--marinated meats or fermented tofu, along with the rice porridge--we rarely got the Big Surprise of Disgust we were aiming for.
But the highlight of camp was potsticker night. Throughout the day different families took turns at the five round tables in the dining hall, rolling out the dumpling skins and folding them around one or another filling. We'd crank out something close to six thousand dumplings, stacking them on trays until dinner, when everyone gathered in the dining hall.
This particular dumpling combines an American favorite, apples, with the traditional pork, adding a sweetness and juiciness to the filling. I'm always looking for dumpling innovations (and this one was cooked up with my sous-chef at Blue Ginger, Jon Taylor), even though I've long since given up the need to eat more dumplings than anyone else.
Ming Tsai is the chef-owner of Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellesley, Massachusetts, author of the Blue Ginger Cookbook, and Emmy Award-winning television personality whose series Ming's Quest appears on the Food Network. He is the recipient of the 2002 Beard Best Chef Award/ Northeast.

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Cooking from the Heart 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Since we've elevated chefs to 'star status' these days, we want to know all about what appliances and ingredients they use, what they themselves eat, etc. So ONE of the great things about this collection is the inside look you get at each chef's personal history. Really touching stories like Marcel Desaulnier, while stationed in Viet Nam, sharing the homemade chocolates his mother had sent. All this besides the fact that the book itself is gorgeous and just reading the recipes is entertainment enough. And as if I needed another way to rationalize buying the book, the fact that a portion of the proceeds go to an organization committed to ending hunger (Share Our Strength) had me sold. Buy this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you spend any time at all dreaming of what you might cook, browsing cookbooks just for ideas and possibilities, enjoying stories where food is the thread that stitches together friends and seasons--then this is the book for you. Charming, poignant, accessible, funny stories by the country's best chefs are tied to each recipe that's offered here. And it's pretty much a guarantee: you'll end up making many more dishes from this book than from a typical cookbook. It's got a range of personalities, a range of recipes and there's always something enticing or original in each section. Not to be lost: the book's profits go toward the fight against hunger, which fills your heart a little, as well as your stomach.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You can tell when you pick up the book: quilting stitches are embossed on the cover. Quilt patches make up the cover: eggs, pie, soup, chicken. There are no photographs inside. No garnishes. Nothing about piling up the food into teetery towers and drizzling essences of something or another on a gigantic plate. YET these are America's best-known chefs. At least half of them must be James Beard Award winners. Their own cookbooks and restaurants have won most of the other awards. Cooking from the Heart is 100 chefs making up this treasury of family recipes, of familiar (to them) favorites, all designed for a home cook. Sure, there are a few recipes with a couple sub-recipes (you can't make a pie in one step...but we all do it without grousing). Sure, there are a few (but only a few) that have an ingredient that might require a trip to specialty market. But that's part of the joy in this kind of a book: finding something new to add to the standards in your own recipe file. Unlike a lot of chef-written books, this one tells stories. Funny accounts of travels or mishaps or family members. Really touching tributes to grandparents, mentors, loved ones. And then the recipes themselves make this book a stand out. Try these titles: Brown-butter apple tart, blue cheese grits with wild mushrooms, crab cakes with a fried corn sauce. Or try something incredibly festive: a leg of lamb cooked for three days with a pound and a half of garlic--that's 1 1/2 pounds: marinated for a day, cooked for 7 hours, and rested for a day, resulting in something so tender and aromatic... A wild recipe from Philip Boulot in Portland, Oregon. The book is full of these simmered recipes that fill the house with something that's divine and earthly: Emeril's Sunday pot of bolognese sauce, John Ash's grandmother's beef stew, Suzanne Goin's devil's chicken with mustard and leeks. Which makes this book sound too strong in the meat department, which isn't the case. Tons of great seafood, lots of homey desserts, and a big range of starters and first courses. It really is a quilt: bright patches from all across America, from every cuisine, from so many great talents. And like a quilt, something to pass on and cherish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found it thoroughly enjoyable to read the chefs' backgrounds and the family histories and traditions that let them to a love of and appreciation for great cooking. It makes you realize that a good meal is so much more than just nourishment for the body.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just gave this book as a gift to my Mom. She *loved* it! It's a great collection of recipes from famous chefs, but the thing that really makes it stand out are the personal stories behind the recipes. I wrote in my favorite recipe that my Mom makes on the inside cover to make it more personal as well. And the proceeds benefit Share Our Strength's fight against hunger! Everyone wins!
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are tons of fantastic recipes in Cooking From The Heart that my family has enjoyed following and feasting on, but it's the chefs' stories that bring each dish to life. Much more than a cookbook, Cooking From The Heart is a wonderful gift for family and friends. I strongly encourage purchasing this book for yourself and those you love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading the stories that influenced some of the dishes in this beautiful cookbook brought tears to my eyes. Not only are the recipes exotic but they are also easy. This is a wonderful cookbook full of enticing dishes and heart warming tales. An added plus is that a portion of the sales goes to fight against hunger, No matter what you can not go wrong.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's not just refreshing to hear chefs step out of the spotlight and out of the grandness of their innovations and palatte-pleasing pursuits, it's also poignant, seeing these culinary figures relate stories of growing up, fumbling, yearning, learning at the side of some inspirational relative or neighbor-- doing what the rest of do in our kitchens with our families. This is a gift book: to give to others, but also a gift from these chefs to the reades, because the real discoveries are all the traditions and treasured experiences just reading these stories will call to mind. An unselfish, unself-conscious collection of excellent recipes that represents the chefs' best-- at their best. And the other reason this is a gift: the book's profits are shared with Share Our Strength, working to end hunger. Now how many stars is that worth?