There are good recipes and there are great ones—and then, there are genius recipes.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink the way we cook. They might involve an unexpectedly simple technique, debunk a kitchen myth, or apply a familiar ingredient in a new way. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. In this collection are 100 of the smartest and most remarkable ones.
There isn’t yet a single cookbook where you can find Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, and Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake—plus dozens more of the most talked about, just-crazy-enough-to-work recipes of our time. Until now.
These are what Food52 Executive Editor Kristen Miglore calls genius recipes. Passed down from the cookbook authors, chefs, and bloggers who made them legendary, these foolproof recipes rethink cooking tropes, solve problems, get us talking, and make cooking more fun. Every week, Kristen features one such recipe and explains just what’s so brilliant about it in the James Beard Award-nominated Genius Recipes column on Food52. Here, in this book, she compiles 100 of the most essential ones—nearly half of which have never been featured in the column—with tips, riffs, mini-recipes, and stunning photographs from James Ransom, to create a cooking canon that will stand the test of time.
Once you try Michael Ruhlman’s fried chicken or Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s hummus, you’ll never want to go back to other versions. But there’s also a surprising ginger juice you didn’t realize you were missing and will want to put on everything—and a way to cook white chocolate that (finally) exposes its hidden glory. Some of these recipes you’ll follow to a T, but others will be jumping-off points for you to experiment with and make your own. Either way, with Kristen at the helm, revealing and explaining the genius of each recipe, Genius Recipes is destined to become every home cook’s go-to resource for smart, memorable cooking—because no one cook could have taught us so much.
About the Author
KRISTEN MIGLORE is the executive editor at Food52.com. She abandoned a career in economics to pursue a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University and a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education. Her writing has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, and The Atlantic, and she was nominated for a James Beard Award for the Genius Recipes column in 2014. She lives in New York City.
Founded by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs in 2009, Food52.com has become the premier online community for cooks at all levels, with more than 30,000 recipes, cooking contests, a hotline, and an integrated kitchen and home shop. It was named Best Food Publication at the 2012 James Beard Awards and Best Culinary Website at the 2013 IACP Awards.
Read an Excerpt
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too.
This is how I framed Genius Recipes when I launched it as a weekly column on Food52 in June 2011. In the years since, the definition really hasn’t changed: These recipes are about reworking what we’ve been taught and skipping past all the canonical versions to a smarter way.
For example, if you were to look to a classical text or cooking class, you’d probably think you’d need to truss and flip and baste a chicken as you’re roasting it. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of that—you will probably get a good dinner out of the exercise. But Barbara Kafka, in writing the cookbook Roasting: A Simple Art in 1995, perfected roasting everything, from mackerel to turkeys to cucumbers. She puts chicken in the oven, legs akimbo, at a raging 500°F (260°C), then hardly touches it. Hers is the juiciest roast chicken I’ve tasted, and has the crispiest skin, without fussing—so why would you?
This book is full of happy discoveries like this roast chicken (page 106), drawn from the experience of the best cookbook authors, chefs, and bloggers around. No one cook could have taught us so much. From historic voices in food like Marcella Hazan, Julia Child, and James Beard to modern giants like Ignacio Mattos and Kim Boyce, we’ve learned that making something better doesn’t mean doing more work—and oftentimes, it means doing less. If you look to the people who’ve spent their careers tinkering with these dishes, they’ll often show you a better way to make them.
Here in this collection are more than one hundred of the most surprising and essential genius recipes. Some are greatest hits from the column that keep inspiring new conversations and winning new fans. I also dug up a bunch more recipes, like Marion Cunningham’s famous yeasted overnight waffles (page 29) and Dorie Greenspan’s apple cake with more apples than cake (page 221), to stock our kitchens and keep us cooking and talking. You’ll also find new tips and variations and a good number of mini-recipes alongside the full-length ones. These genius ideas were simple enough to distill into a paragraph or two and made the collection whole. My hope is that this book, held all together, can act as an alternative kitchen education of sorts.
Some of the recipes are already legends: If you’ve been reading about food for a while, you’ve probably already heard of the tomato sauce with butter and onion (page 151), the no-knead bread (page 39), the one-ingredient ice cream (page 200). I love sharing these on Food52, because it seems everyone has an opinion and a good story to tell.
A handful of others are tricks I stumbled across myself: The oddball ingredient I saw when I trailed in the kitchen at Le Bernardin (page 101). The simple carnitas I found in an old Diana Kennedy cookbook when I was missing the burritos at home in California (page 120). The winning ratatouille after I tested four in a day (page 191). The dessert served at the James Beard Awards that Melissa Clark posted on Instagram (page 203)—watch out, world: I’m paying attention!
But if we had to rely on me, Genius Recipes would have been a nice little series that would have petered out long ago—and it surely wouldn’t have evolved into a book. I’d hoped I would have help finding the gems, since the spirit of better cooking through community has always driven Food52. But I couldn’t have known that the tips would just keep coming—that the majority of the recipes I would gather, and the most unexpectedly brilliant ones, would come from emails and tweets and conversations with the Food52 community, fellow staffers, and other writers, editors, and friends.
I wouldn’t have looked twice at a soup made of cauliflower, an onion, and a whole lot of water (page 88). And broccoli cooked forever is almost daring you not to (page 176). But cooks from Food52 said these were worthy of genius status, and they were right. Genius Recipes is proof of the power of crowd-sourcing and curation, but also of listening and trusting other cooks. Even though many of these recipes have been around for years, some for decades, only now can we gather and share them so quickly.
I hope you will use the recipes in a number of ways. Some may become formulas (I don’t make roast chicken or guacamole or oatmeal any other way anymore). But others, I hope, will be jumping-off points. Maybe you’ll make the kale panini just as written (page 165), then next time you’ll use collards or whatever greens you have, or start making just the quick pickled peppers to keep around. As soon as you make the olive oil and maple granola (page 15) once, if you’re like the legions of commenters on Food52, you’ll start tweaking it and making it your own.
Please do, and the next time you discover something genius, let me know.
Broccoli Cooked Forever
From Roy Finamore
Serves 4 to 6
2 bunches (2 to 2 1 ⁄4 pounds/900g to 1kg) broccoli
1 cup (240ml) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 small hot chiles, halved lengthwise (Finamore likes small fresh red peppers, but you can substitute green Thai chiles, various dried ones, even a big pinch of red chile flakes)
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating, cut the florets off the broccoli. Peel the stems and cut them into rather thick slices, about 1 ⁄3 inch (8mm).
When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and cover the pot to bring it back to a boil quickly. Blanch the broccoli for 5 minutes. Drain.
2. Put olive oil and garlic into a large skillet over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the hot peppers and anchovies. Cook, giving a stir or two, until the anchovies melt. Add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and stir well. Cover the skillet, turn the heat to very low, and cook for 2 hours. Use a spatula to turn the broccoli over in the skillet a few times, but try not to break it up. It will be very tender when done.
3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the broccoli to a serving dish. It is delicious hot or at room temperature.
Makes about 28 meatballs
1 pound (450g) lean ground beef
8 ounces (225g) ground veal
8 ounces (225g) ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup (100g) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Combine the beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, blend the ingredients together. Mix the bread crumbs into the meat mixture. Slowly add the water, 1 cup (240ml) at a time, until the mixture is quite moist. (If you want to make sure the seasoning is to your liking, fry off a small test meatball, taste, and adjust.) Shape into 2 ½- to 3-inch (6.5 to 7.5cm) balls.
2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, fry the meatballs in batches. When the bottom half of each meatball is very brown and slightly crisp, turn and cook the top half. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
3. Heat the marinara sauce to simmering. Lower the cooked meatballs into the simmering sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Serve alone or with pasta.
Orange & Almond Cake
From Claudia Rode N
Serves 6 to 10
2 large oranges
6 large eggs
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (225g) ground almonds
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (225g) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Butter or oil, for the pan
Flour or more ground almonds, for the pan
1. Wash and boil the oranges (unpeeled) in a little water for nearly 2 hours (or for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker). Let them cool, then cut them open and remove the seeds. Turn the oranges into pulp by rubbing them through a sieve or by putting them in an electric blender or food processor.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter and flour a cake pan with a removable base, if possible. (I used a 9 by 3-inch/23 by 7.5cm round cake pan, and you can use oil and almond flour if you’re going for dairy-free and gluten-free.)
3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, and orange puree and mix thoroughly. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 1 hour, then have a look at it—this type of cake will not go any flatter if the oven door is opened. If it is still very wet, leave it in the oven for a little longer. Cool in the pan before turning out.
Table of Contents
Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar from roger vergé
Chocolate Muscovado Banana Cake from nigel slater
from shirley corriher
One-Ingredient Corn Butter
from whitney wright
English Porridge from april bloomfield
Roasted Applesauce from judy rodgers
Olive Oil & Maple Granola from nekisia davis
Poached Scrambled Eggs from daniel patterson
from torrisi italian specialties
Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates & Almonds from sitka & spruce
Potato Scallion Cakes (Fritterra)
from bert greene
Currant Cottage Cheese Pancakes
from deborah madison
Crepes from kenny shopsin
from marion cunningham
Snacks & Drinks
from union square café
from virginia willis
from yotam ottolenghi & sami tamimi
One-Ingredient Whole Grain Crackers
from dan barber
from jim lahey
from ignacio mattos
from roberto santibañez
Herb Jam with Olives & Lemon from paula wolfert
Salt-Crusted Potatoes with Cilantro Mojo from josé pizarro
Watermelon, Mint & Cider Vinegar Tonic from louisa shafia
Tomato Water Bloody Mary from todd thrasher
Spiced Red Wine (Ypocras)
from anne willan
Cliff Old Fashioned from dave arnold
Soups & Salads
Romaine Hearts with Caesar Salad Dressing
from frankies spuntino
Fresh Fig & Mint Salad
from richard olney
“Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad
from michel nischan
Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette
from toro bravo
Garlic-Scented Tomato Salad
from marcella hazan
Warm Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini from moro
Kale Salad from northern spy food co.
Green Peach Salad from crook’s corner
from fergus henderson
Wild & White Rice Salad
from viana la place & evan kleiman
Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad with Crunchy Seeds from abc kitchen
Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt & Garlic from heidi swanson
Spicy Tomato Soup from barbara lynch
Cauliflower Soup from paul bertolli
Potato Soup with Fried Almonds from anya von bremzen
from nate appleman
from patricia wells
from tom colicchio
Red Wine Vinaigrette
from molly wizenberg & brandon pettit
Salt-Baked Herbed Salmon with Red Onion-Caper Vinaigrette
from cory schreiber
Shrimp Grits from edna lewis & scott peacock
from le bernardin
Rosemary-Brined Buttermilk Fried Chicken
from michael ruhlman
Simplest Roast Chicken
from barbara kafka
Chicken Thighs with Lemon
from canal house
Dry-Brined Turkey (a.k.a. The Judy Bird)
from russ parsons
from daniel humm
from michel richard
Sticky Balsamic Ribs from ian knauer
Carnitas from diana kennedy
Grilled Pork Burgers from suzanne goin
Brisket of Beef
from nach waxman
Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Grilled in Cloth (Lomo al Trapo)
from steven raichlen
Perfect Pan-Seared Steaks
from j. kenji lópez-alt
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese
from alon shaya
Broccoli Cooked Forever
from roy finamore
Garlic Green Beans
from penelope casas
from molly stevens
Balsamic Glazed Beets & Greens
from peter berley
Grilled Chard Stems with Anchovy Vinaigrette
from anna klinger
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette from momofuku
Fried Asparagus with Miso Dressing from nobu matsuhisa
Ratatouille from alice waters
Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese
from julia child
Grated & Salted Zucchini
from julia child
from francis mallmann
Strawberry Lemon Sorbet
from river café
One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
from the kitchn
Fresh Peach Gelato
from russ parsons
from james beard
Fresh Blueberry Pie
from rose levy beranbaum
New Classic Coconut Macaroons
from alice medrich
Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Ice Cream
from jeni britton bauer
from hervé this
Purple Plum Torte from marian burros
Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake from nigella lawson
Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake from dorie greenspan
from meta given
Molasses Cookies from the silver palate
Cheater Soft-Serve Ice Cream
from john t. edge
Fresh Ginger Cake
from sylvia thompson
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
from kim boyce
Caramelized White Chocolate
One-Ingredient Sweet Potato Caramel
from brad leone
Brown Butter Tart Crust
from paule caillat
Eggless Lemon Curd
from elizabeth falkner
from nancy silverton
Orange & Almond Cake
from claudia roden
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After trying the Fried Eggs With White Vinegar, Food52 Genius Recipes is, well... genius. The idea for these recipes come from the Genius Recipes column of the Food52 website. Genius recipes are those which rethink cooking techniques, solve problems, and I believe make even simple food outstanding. Even the most experienced cook will find all kinds of new ideas. At the same time, many of the recipes given are simple enough to make quickly for a weeknight meal. There is a good balance of simple and complex in the variety of recipes given. At 100 recipes and almost all with a short history and instructions contained on a single page or less, this is an entirely do-able cookbook. With a unique twist on a technique or ingredient, each of the recipes was a little cooking or baking adventure with a delicious reward at the end. I might not always prepare food with a genius recipe from now own, but the book has added significantly to my culinary toolbox of ingredient ideas and cooking and baking method. This book is worth taking a look at! Speaking of rethinking how you cook… Do you know the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Or how long raw eggs will last in your refrigerator? What is “resting time?” What is the proper temperature to even cook chicken? If you don’t know the answer to even one of these questions, then buy yourself a copy of “Conquer Your Kitchen” from Chef Jai Scovers right now. In “Conquer Your Kitchen,” you’ll discover over 100 kitchen secrets guaranteed to save you time and money, including, for the first time ever and only in “Conquer Your Kitchen,” the most important thing to have in your home when it comes to you and your family’s good health. This one simple “trick” is guaranteed to change your life and how you will eat forever. It is a must have for any kitchen and anyone who loves to cook!
Has a lot of cool recipes too try
When it is lunch time and I am faced with another wonderful grilled cheese from the lunchroom (they are truly good) I take my compostable lunch tray and retreat to my desk for 20 minutes of Food52. And when I heard that I could find so much of Food52 in an actual book, which I always prefer, I was giddy. Genius Recipes appeared early in the summer, a perfect slow morning read, a cup of tea and and the start of a lovely summer day. We got along immediately. Genius is a big word, not to be tossed around and used lightly. And this one, not only genius but subtitled, 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook, oh my, such lofty aspirations. Not just the smartest child in the class but the most outgoing and well behaved also, you don't say? One cup of tea turned into two. Ideas for summer tomatoes and holiday parties, notes scratched in my food journal, beautiful pictures and well thought out recipes, all the ingredients for a perfectly lovely summer morning. And later that day, Marcella Hazan's buttery rich tomato sauce, simmering on the stove; from start to finish a culinarily perfect day. Genius? Perhaps, but most certainly at the top of the class. Through Blogging for Books, I received a copy of this book for review purposes. Delicious.
Let me start by saying that this is an absolutely beautiful book! It has a hardbound embossed cover, thick high-quality pages, and beautiful pictures. It feels expensive, and something about it reminds me of the cookbooks of yesteryear, but it is modern and updated. There is a clear index, organized by Breakfast, Snacks & Drinks, Soups & Salads, Meaty Mains, Meatless Mains, Vegetables, and Desserts. The book offers up recipes that include "genius" techniques and twists you may not have thought of. For example, mashing up onions and cilantro into a paste, and folding that into mashed avocado for a smooth guacamole. Or cooking a whole chicken at super high heat with no basting to create a really juicy and delectable meal. Some things may seem contrary to what you would expect, but the results speak for themselves. I can't wait to work my way through this book and make other delicious recipes like Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter. This book will hold a respected position on my cookbook shelf. Food52 knows how to do cookbooks right!
I originally borrowed this book from our library, and loved it and knew I wanted to add it to my own collection. It also opened me up to the Food52 community which I have thoroughly been enjoying. I plan on giving this book to my foodie friends and family as gifts. I believe there are two more books from Food52 which I will also be purchasing. Do I recommend it -- Absolutely!