… from Food52’s Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook by Kristen Miglore
Spiced Red Wine. I first heard of mulled wine, a long time ago, from a friend whose older boyfriend took her to the kinds of places that she and I, with our youth (it was a really long time ago), inexperience, and financial situation, were not able to go to. She told me of a mulled wine she drank with her boyfriend, how sweet and surprising it was. This mulled wine recipe, developed from a medieval one called ypocras, doesn’t require the wine to be cooked – you only steep the spices in it. Then you strain away the spices and store the wine for about a month. You can drink it as it is, or mix it with sparkling water or champagne.
Potato Soup with Fried Almonds. This recipe sounds rich and filling, yet it doesn’t have cream in it. What it has is ground almonds, simmered with the potatoes for the soup and then brightened with vinegar for a sharp topping. It’s not vegetarian though – the recipe calls for diced prosciutto as a garnish and chicken broth to cook the potatoes in. It would be doable to make this vegan, but, then again, why would you?
Chicken Thighs with Lemon. It’s fried chicken, but without the spattering, the stress, the unconscionable amount of oil. The original recipe, in fact, doesn’t even include oil, cooking the chicken instead in its own rendered fat. The recipe in the book, however, does include some olive oil, but just a little. Here’s the genius recipe: “… you lay the chicken, skin side down, in a barely hot pan. Then you leave it mostly alone for about 30 minutes, flipping only once. The skin becomes impossibly crisp, enough so to satisfy your darkest fried chicken cravings.” It makes so much sense.
Carnitas. It’s the simplest recipe: chunks of fatty pork, water, salt. Let it all simmer, then let the pork fry in its own rendered fat. It’s a carnitas recipe, so the pork is supposed to be eaten in a tortilla, with guacamole and salsa. But you can also eat it the Pinoy way: with garlic fried rice, tomatoes, patis, and a fried egg.
Mushroom Bourguignon. This is one of those recipes that I looked at with care because of the picture accompanying it. It’s beautiful – the dark glossy mushrooms topping a bowl of creamy polenta. It’s essentially braised mushrooms, made complex by wine and enriched by a swirl of butter at the end. As the front material says, you won’t mind that it doesn’t have any beef in it.
Ginger Fried Rice. Fried rice frustrates me. It’s delicious when you eat it in even ordinary Chinese restaurants and it seems the simplest thing to cook, but when I do try to cook it, it ends up being a mess – the rice sticks together (and, yes, I do use leftover rice) and it becomes almost like a dry congee. Sounds awful, I know. In this genius recipe, developed by the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the writer Mark Bittman, you are given a trick if your fried rice doesn’t crisp up: you garnish it with crispy bits of fried ginger and garlic.
Spiced Braised Lentils and Tomatoes with Toasted Coconut. There are a million recipes for braised lentils out there. This one is braised with curry powder and tomatoes. What is alluring about this recipe is the topping at the end: mustard seeds, yogurt, and toasted coconut flakes.
Orange and Almond Cake. The first step in this intriguing recipe is to boil two oranges for two hours. And the reason is this: “When you boil oranges for that long, their bitterness slips into the water, so you can take advantage of the whole orange, thick spongy pith and all.” The pith, in fact, turns, not just edible, but “creamy and citrusy.” According to Claudia Roden, the chef who developed the recipe, you cannot fail with this cake. It’s very moist, almost like a pudding inside, and therefore cannot be overcooked or become dry.
There are other recipes that sound great: a breakfast porridge with two kinds of oats, a pasta with yogurt and caramelized onions, yet another lentil recipe. It’s a terrific cookbook and I highly recommend it.