Cooking the Book, Vol. 6: Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook by Kristen Miglore


I'm a big fan of Food52 and can still remember when I discovered their Genius Recipes column when I was in med school. It's fun, inspiring, and always makes you think of your food in a different way. I was thrilled to discover this cookbook that compiles a bunch of the genius recipes together. Flipping through it, I realized that I actually have made and enjoyed quite a few recipes from it already. But how do they hold up as a whole? 

Chocolate Muscovado Banana Cake: 2/5 stars. I had such high hopes for this since we love banana bread and chocolate, but this was surprisingly not good. The texture in the center was stodgy, and the dark chocolate was too bitter. Flour Bakery's banana bread is still the GOAT in my book (and should replace this genius recipe!). 

English Porridge: 5/5 stars. I loved this. It was so creamy and indulgent despite a lack of butter or cream. I didn't have Maldon salt, but even with the recommended 1/2 tsp of kosher salt, the salty-sweet balance was perfect. Will make again.

Crepes: 4/5 stars. As someone who loves Shopsin's (RIP Kenny Shopsin) but also makes crepes the regular way, I was torn. These do not taste like crepes. They are much thicker, chewier, and eggier. They would never fool a crepe lover. That said, this is a pretty cool hack, and an excellent use of that spare tortilla or two that we all have lying around. Out of all the recipes in this book, I've probably returned to it the most as it's pretty darn easy. 

Raised Waffles: 5/5 stars. This is probably my favorite waffle recipe, and I blogged about it here. The yeasted flavor you get from that overnight rise is unbeatable, and it's wonderfully easy. However, my husband was put off by how buttery they are and thought it was too much (I say he's crazy). Because of that, we have not repeated these. I do want to try cutting the butter by a couple of tablespoons to see what effect that would have (similar to the King Arthur Belgian waffle recipe). 

No-Knead Bread: 5/5 stars. I have only made this once (5 years ago), but it was superb. I remember it as the most perfect little artisan loaf with a remarkably crackly crust and great flavor. There's a reason why this recipe took the Internet by storm 10 years ago (long before Alison Roman made viral recipes). My mother-in-law makes a variation of this bread all the time, and it's always a delight. 

Mushroom Bourguignon: 4/5 stars. Okay, I already reviewed this when I reviewed the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It's a rich, deep vegetarian wonder, but I do question whether egg noodles are the appropriate medium to serve this on (in fact, this killed the dish for us). Will have to try again over mashed potatoes instead. 

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion: 5/5 stars. Such a classic and for good reason! The amount of flavor you get with just three ingredients is unbelievable. This reminds me that it's been too long since I've made this...

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese: 3/5 stars. Everyone goes nuts for this in the Food52 Cookbook Club, but I thought it was just okay. The whipped goat cheese is a winner on its own, but I didn't find the cauliflower that remarkable. I still prefer roasting florets rather than the whole head. I further deducted a star because this dish wrecked the inside of my oven (oil splattered everywhere), and the ensuing smoke set off my fire alarm. Maybe I'm just bitter, but I feel like this recipe was clearly not designed for home cooks. 

Garlic Green Beans: 4/5 stars. A tasty albeit not that memorable preparation of green beans. I've never been one to blanch green beans (the Chinese never do), so this wasn't remarkable for me, but they did get very sweet, and the garlic flavor was nice. It almost reminded me of my mom's. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette: 4/5 stars. I was obsessed with these brussels for a year in med school. I still think it's remarkable, but maybe my palate has changed because now I find the vinaigrette to be a little too potent. Definitely worth a try if you've never made them before. 

Ratatouille: 3/5 stars. It's hard to give such a low rating to a classic Alice Waters recipe, but I was not impressed. I actually found it rather bland and suspect it was due to my inferior East Coast produce. I recently fell in love with ratatouille in Spain of all places, so this is a recipe that I want to try again with top quality ingredients. 

New Classic Coconut Macaroons: 5/5 stars. This is one of my favorite ways to use up spare egg whites. I don't love coconut macaroons, but I love these. I actually prefer them without chocolate so you can focus on the wonderfully toasted edges of the coconut chips. Even better--there's no added fat.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake: 3/5 stars. This was very moist, but I left out the rum since we never have any in our house (we're not big drinkers), and that was a big mistake. Without it, it becomes very one-note, as I find many apple desserts to be. I actually think it would've benefited from the American treatment with a bit of cinnamon. My husband didn't eat more than a slice and doesn't think he would've liked it any better with rum. 

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies: 5/5 stars. Wow, I had no idea whole wheat flour could do such magical things to chocolate chip cookies. The resulting cookies have a wonderful crunch and a nutty, almost malty flavor. A real winner of a recipe.  

Average Recipe Rating: 4.1/5 stars

As you can see, there are lots of winners here. Most of the recipes are reliably good, and they come with the assurance that they've been tested and loved by not only Kristen Miglore, but countless Food52 readers. While some of the recipes are a little out there and less suitable for home cooks, there are still plenty of interesting ideas to explore.

I'll update this as I continue to cook from it. 

Recipes I'm Excited to Make Next: 

  • Roasted Applesauce
  • Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates, and Almonds
  • Potato Scallion Cakes
  • Currant Cottage Cheese Pancakes
  • Red Salad
  • Black Pepper Tofu

No comments