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HELLO COOKBOOKS - About that to-die-for, definitive recipe for ___ , and the book I found it in.

  • m

Here's the antithesis to the Good-bye Cookbooks thread. There are some we have to keep because we found the most perfect version of a certain dish that we ever had.

Use this thread to post up about the truly great recipes from your cookbook collection... whether you make them just for special occasions or once a week. And please tell us a bit about the recipe and what makes it special, and about the book it comes from. Those of us who have been clearing out our shelves might have room for a new acquisition!

As with all recipe threads, feel free to summarize recipes but do not post verbatim, per Chowhound policy.

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  1. "Thrill of the Grill" , Schlesinger and Willoughby, :
    Cold Orzo Salad,

    Nothing radical : chopped eggs, tomatoes, red onion, garlic capers parsley. Oilive oil, balsamic. then, just before serving, fresh lemon juice and pecorino ( though the original recipe calls for a half a pound! Waaay too much)

    ALWAYS gets eaten, great side, no mayo or potatoes to go bad on a hot day, bet i have made this 50 times.

    Also, in the same book the East Coast Grill Cornbread recipe is always a hit. Honestly it has too much sugar for me ( and southerners will be horrified "why am I eating CAKE??") but it gets universal love at bbq's and whatnot.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hyde

      If this looks like the recipe, Hyde, it's something we'd like to make. Thanks for the pecorino warning!


      1. re: Gio

        I would not be happy if i was Chris as this recipe is a direct copy.

        It will keep for days if you dont add the pecorino but once you do it gets a little sour in about 24 hours

        1. re: hyde

          Thank you for the advise about the cheese!

          I looked every where for a credit and was surprised not to see anything. That's not acceptable at all. Many bloggers do copy with out reference, but I find most do.

          1. re: Gio

            At the bottom of the recipe in a box she does say where she got the recipe.

            1. re: Gio

              Yes, You're correct, even so the recipe was copied w/o permission or that would have been stated. But you're right, at least she acknowledged the source.

      2. Falafel, from Jerusalem

        I mentioned this recipe in the "good-bye" thread as one that I would consider definitive and worth keeping the book just for the one recipe. The best version I've made and as good, or more likely better, than any I've eaten. You can read all the reports, including mine, on the COTM thread for this book:

        2 Replies
        1. re: MelMM

          I agree that the falafel recipe from Jerusalem is the definitive version. As soon as I made it, my desire to try others recipes disappeared.

          1. I've mentioned this before on other threads, but it bears repeating: the roast chicken with lemon from Italian Easy is my very favorite, and so simple. Three ingredients: chicken, a lemon, and thyme (and salt). I've never had it turn out anything but perfect.

            The fennel salad with fennel salt in The Flexitarian Table is my favorite fennel salad. I wouldnt even bother trying another at this point. Thinly sliced fennel is dressed with lemon and olive oil, and then sprinkled with a fennel seeds, salt and pepper that have been ground together in a mortar and pestle. I often make it with the above mentioned roast chicken and a side of polenta. This is one of my crave meals when I'm away from home.

            7 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom

              Speaking of Flexitarian Table, the Tofu with lemon, soy, white wine, and butter sauce is one of my all-time favorites.

              Funny that LLM mentioned the roast chicken from Italian Easy. I was going to mention "My favorite simple roast chicken" from Keller's Bouchon. Love this recipe. So foolproof, so delicious. (I didn't keep the book, though!)

              Unless it's a super-involved, multi-step, multi-page recipe, I'm not sure I'd keep a cookbook for only one recipe. But, I think I'd put Lahey's "basic no-knead bread recipe" is in that category. Even though the recipe appeared all over the internet (thanks to Bittman) before Lahey published his book, the way this recipe is presented in his book is so helpful.



              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Totally agree that the Flexitarian Table's tofu with soy, lemon, etc. is a killer tofu recipe. It was the first one that made my husband say "hey, maybe this stuff actually can be good!"

                The SE Asian turkey burgers from Gourmet Today are made very often around here, just as written (that book will never leave my bookshelf while I'm still around). And the Indonesian grilled chicken with hot spices from The Complete Asian Cookbook is one of our favorites. Don't let that "hot spices" business throw you off. It has great flavor but really isn't what anyone in our family would call hot.

                I think as we keep thinking on this the list will get longer and longer.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  That Indonesian grilled chicken is one of our all-time favorites here too and has been loved by everyone I've served it to (I heat the leftover marinade cut with some water to use as a dipping sauce for adults who want a little more oomph, even though the chicken as written is absolutely delicious as well).

                  I've been meaning to try that Flex Table tofu for ages based on all the rave reviews.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    I'd love a paraphrase of that tofu recipe. Is it baked, fried, etc?

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          The recipe paraphrased, courtesy of Bettlebug:

                          1 lb firm tofu, sliced into 6 1/2 inch thick slabs
                          1/4 cup dry white wine
                          2 T soy sauce
                          2 T lemon juice
                          2 t honey (although I've forgotten to add this and it's been fine)
                          3 T unsalted butter, cubed (I cube into 12 pieces)
                          2 T finely diced shallots (I use more)
                          1 slice fresh ginger about 1/2 thick - peeled and finely chopped (I use more)
                          1/2 t kosher salt
                          pinch of red pepper flakes
                          3-4 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary (not sure if this adds anything but I usually have some on hand)

                          Preheat oven to 400 degrees and have the oven rack on the upper third of the oven.

                          In a small/medium skillet where the tofu will be able to lay in a single layer, mix the wine, soy sauce, lemon juice and honey. Stir it up. Place the tofu in the skillet and then flip them (this way both sides are juiced (alternatively,lay the tofu in a single layer in an ovenproof skillet, mix the ingredients in a bowl and then pour over the tofu).

                          Scatter the butter, shallots and ginger over the tofu, season with salt and red pepper flakes and place herbs on top.

                          Bring to boil over high heat and then bake for 10 minutes. After baking, place the pan over high heat again to bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce (about 3-5 minutes). Discard the herbs and serve.

                          The sauce tastes great with rice.

                2. Wow. Just saw this thread. MelMM, you described the basic criterion I use for keeping cookbooks.

                  25 years ago (when the cookbook collection was more manageable), I might have given you a complete list, but now it's impractical. Here are a few I would have included 25 yrs ago and still cook today. All are cookbooks that were influential -- had either mainstream or major cult followings in the US, and ALL are readily available on the used market.

                  Morrison Wood, "With a Jug of Wine" (1949, Farrar, Straus, Giroux; reprinted repeatedly for 20 years)
                  -- for clever appetizers and some international main courses; way ahead of its time

                  The Gourmet Cookbook (1950 -- the real one, the original)
                  -- for Herb-Stuffed Broilers, English Herb Cheese, several other favorites

                  Marcella Hazan, "The Classic Italian Cookbook" (1973 -- the real one, not the later reissue that combines the sequel but omits all the little stories and comments that make this book so distinctive)
                  -- for too many dishes and techniques to count, but especially fresh pasta methods

                  Chiang, Schrecker, and Schrecker, "Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook" (Harper & Row 1976; reissued 1987)
                  -- for Ma Po Tofu, Red-Cooked Beef with Noodles, and (along with Delfs's book) teaching the US all about Sichuan cuisine, decades before Fuchsia Dunlop did

                  Waters, Curtan, and Labro, "Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza & Calzone" (Random House, 1984, ISBN 0-394-53094-2 )
                  -- again for too many useful recipes to list, but start with Wild Mushroom & Green Pasta Gratin. This was the original cookbook from the casual café that opened over the restaurant in 1980, and one of the most useful I've seen from the Panisse group.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: eatzalot

                    I love Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook! First mention I've seen in a long time, but the recipes are perfect and perfectly delicious.

                    1. re: eatzalot

                      One of my favorites from Mrs. Chiang is the Anise Chicken. I especially love that it can be prepared ahead of time, keeps several days in the fridge, and is best at room temperature.

                    2. I was reminded this weekend how good Beatty's Chocolate Cake from Ina Garten's "At Home" cookbook is. The accompanying frosting is just OK (I'm not a huge buttercream fan), but the cake? Perfectly moist and delicious. Divine. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                      1. Am I the first to say it? The Zuni Cafe Chicken recipe with bread salad. The presalting is really the revolutionary technique here - every time I make whole chicken without taking the time to preseason, I always find it a little dry and flavorless away from the skin.
                        The bread salad is just good - a nice balance of tart, sweet and savory flavors that marries beautifully with the chicken. I make the chicken a whole lot more than I make the bread salad, though. I frequently throw a bunch of tiny potatoes under the chicken for the second half of cooking, and that's pretty amazing.

                        I also love the Chard and Onion Panade from Zuni. The comfortiest of comfort foods. Silky bread, caramelized onions, melted cheese, and vegetables, just so it's not TOTALLY indulgent.

                        Another one is the Cauliflower Soup from Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table. It's so easy, and so so good, and can be dressed up in any number of ways.

                        1. The roast chicken with three rice salad from Ottolenghi: The Cook Book is on my short list, if there is such a thing, of all time favorites. Also his roast chicken w clementines was a stand out. In fact I could never discard any of Ottolenghi's and Tamini's books.

                          Stuffed Pumpkin from Italian Easy is one reason I must keep this book and it's sister book, Italian Two Easy. IT2 for the Pappardelle, Tomato, Pancetta recipe (yes that's the title). As well as the stuffed recipes from Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

                          I can't even begin to list all the Nigel Slater and Virginia Willis recipes we love. I'll have to come back to this as I rethink.

                          Those SE Asian turkey burgers from Gourmet Today that Lulus Mom mentioned up thread are favorites of ours as well.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Gio

                            I also have a long list of Nigel Slater favorites, and his recipes seem to go over particularly well with Mr. MM, to the point that "Nigel" is the only cookbook author he knows by name.

                            Anyway, one recipe I can call out without looking at the books is the bangers and mash from Appetite, p. 376 in my book. Not something I will make often by any means, but if I want bangers and mash, that's the recipe I'll use.

                          2. Here's another: The Ma Po Tofu from Kylie Kwong's My China.

                            I like this better than the Dunlop versions. The main difference is that Ms. Kwong has you make a chile paste, and you use that and fermented black beans to flavor the dish. There is no "chile bean paste" involved. I don't really care whose version is more "authentic". Ms. Kwong's version avoids the ubiquitous jars of pastes completely, and as a result, has a brighter, cleaner flavor than any other version I've had. It's just more in line with my taste buds.

                            The book itself is a beautiful thing, coffee-table-worthy, and there are plenty of great recipes in it. But it's the Ma Po Tofu that eclipses any other version I've had.

                            37 Replies
                            1. re: MelMM

                              FYI, Delfs's "The Good Food of Szechwan" (1974), a classic and faithful early US Sichuanese cookbook, has more information about Ma Po Tofu variations than Dunlop (Dunlop's recipe is basically one of the standard variations in Delfs, with the black-beans option, a good addition IMO) while the 1976 Chiang-Schrecker book I cited upthread quotes a Chinese scholar (presumably elderly in the 1970s) describing Mother Chen's original service of the dish many years earlier.

                              Standard defining ingredients are tofu, a leek-type vegetable, dou ban jiang (hot bean paste), and most essentially, at least a sprinkling of hua jiao (Sichuan "peppercorn," a very misleading name because it's an aromatic citrus seed with a distinctive mouth-numbing effect). Meat is often but not always added. The Chiang book calls MPTF the quintessential dish of Sichuan. Alas, it is famous enough that some non-Sichuanese Chinese chefs apply its name to concoctions -- I run into them -- whose only connection is tofu.

                              I don't know your experiences with chili bean paste -- it is easy to find excellent ones in regions like mine, with large Chinese immigrant populations, in which case the paste, far from being any kind of an issue, is an enabling ingredient -- but it might be harder to find in some places. Anyway it is the basic flavoring of MPTF, as Sichuanese cooks will tell you, often augmented anyway with fermented black beans and chili paste or fresh chilis. A good rendition of this simple dish from a Sichuanese chef can be a revelation. The use of just black beans sounds interesting, I may try that next time.

                              Some of the authors I mentioned also go on about the latter-day cliché of restaurants around Chengdu, all claiming implausibly to be the one original, where Mother Chen originally popularized this dish.

                              1. re: eatzalot

                                I can find the chile bean paste with no problem, but I'm not a fan of the stuff. I have, probably about 50 Chinese cookbooks, so I've looked at many versions. I reference Dunlop because that seems to be the version most on this board consider standard.

                                Ms. Kwong's version is available online here:

                                I haven't checked that against the book, but it looks close. Ms. Kwong is Chinese - Australian and I think that is reflected in her recipes. She doesn't specify what the "red chile" is, so I use my own judgement. I like mine to be fiery, so I use enough to make it so. I also love the effect of the sichuan peppercorns, so I go heavy on those.

                                When I cook food at home from the various cuisines that I enjoy, I do not use bottled sauces and pastes, and when cooking Chinese food, I like to do the same, as much as possible. Many Chinese recipes rely heavily on these, but when I can make up a fresh version instead of what's in a jar, it's invariably better, to my palate. Once again, I'm not going for authenticity here, I'm cooking to please myself. This really gets at why I prefer the Kwong recipe to the others.

                                1. re: MelMM

                                  Your position has venerable support:

                                  "Substitutions arise from three motives, economy, expediency, preference.

                                  We never suggest using ersatz ingredients... for false economy's sake...

                                  Expediency is another matter. Many a culinary masterpiece was invented because one bottle was empty and another full.

                                  Substitutions for preference are the secret of infinite variety..."

                                  Earle R. McAusland, Publisher
                                  The Gourmet Cookbook (Rand McNally / Gourmet Publishing Corporation, 1950). Quoted as review and recommendation.

                                  (Footnote: I have reason to believe that this particular book, which ran to numerous editions and updates -- I own at least 10, including five copies of the original of which two or three are always loaned out; and which also has flooded the US used market for 50 years, being the leading "high-end" US cookbook for part of that time -- played a significant role in the later popularization of Gourmet magazine in the US.)

                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                    That's a great quote.

                                    And while we know my motivation for using Ms. Kwong's recipes is preference, we (or at least I) have no idea what her reason was for writing it that way. Is the chile bean paste harder to find in Australia? I have no idea. Perhaps she thinks her readers will not be able to find it. Or perhaps, like me, she just likes it better her way.

                                    1. re: MelMM

                                      I'm surprised if chilli bean paste is actually hard to find in Australia. It has a very large Chinese population. I know both Melbourne and Sydney have Chinatowns. Maybe it is the case if the reader doesn't go to ethnic shops. But I can't see how someone cooking from a Chinese cookbook wouldn't.

                                      1. re: lilham

                                        I'd be surprised as well. But for some reason, it does not appear in any of Ms. Kwong's recipes, at least in the books that I have.

                                  2. re: MelMM

                                    MelMM, I'm very intrigued about your work arounds for the bottled sauces and pastes. Have you used Kylie's chile paste in other recipes (eg., Dunlop's?) that call for chile paste with any success?

                                    Also, what other sauces and pastes do you make from scratch and would you be willing to share the recipes for those?

                                    I realize this might be a little off-track for this thread, so we can set up a new thread if necessary.


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I have used her chile paste, and I've used the chile paste mashed up with fermented black beans in place of chile bean paste. I have improvised a homemade hoisin sauce, but I don't have a recipe for it (I should develop one), because I just winged it. It all works fine.

                                      The other substitution I regularly make is Bourbon or whisky in place of rice wine. I got that idea from Suzanna Foo's books. I think she uses vodka, but I like Bourbon better. The idea here is that the Shao Xing wine in Chinese groceries is pretty crappy, and the common sherry substitution is not as good as using hard liquor. Think about it for a minute... would you use cooking wine from the grocery store in an Italian or French recipe that called for wine? Of course not. So why not apply the same rigor to our Chinese cooking?

                                      Well, the problem is availability of ingredients. But I'm of the mindset that I'd rather use a local ingredient of high quality than an "authentic" ingredient of poor quality. It's kind of like obeying the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law.

                                      This is something I think about a lot, and I would like a thread on it, if there are others out there who are experimenting with a fresher version of Chinese food, relying less on bottled products. I'm not far enough along in this process to have a whole lot to share. But if there are others working along the same lines, maybe between the bunch of us we could wrangle enough material to support a thread.

                                      1. re: MelMM

                                        This is fantastic info, thank you. I would be interested in your hoisin recipe should you ever develop one.

                                        I don't like to be a scaremonger because I think I'm in the minority in my thinking and probably being excessively, irrationally cautious, but I basically haven't cooked from Dunlop's books since my child was born because I want to cook the best, authentic version of every dish, but I also am very careful what I feed my family with respect to food safety matters. This is a departure from my pre-motherhood approach where I just searched out the most authentic ingredients without worrying about food safety. Dunlop herself devoted quite a large part of her memoir to highlighting food safety concerns.

                                        Anyway, I never got around to participating in EGOR when it was COTM because by the time I researched and rounded up all of the substitutes, the month was over and I felt like my momentum was lost.

                                        One of the things that I wanted to try, though, was making my own black bean paste.

                                        I'm not sure how much I would contribute to such a thread (flake that I am), but I would certainly contribute what I could and follow it enthusiastically.


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          TDQ, I can really understand your concern w.r.t. food safety. This does go into my thinking as well in trying to get away from all the imported jars. And having focused my cooking on the fresher ingredients, I think you experience an increase in the quality of the finished dish (Make's sense, right, when you think about it?). So I would really encourage you to experiment.

                                          I don't know.... I think a lot of Americans, and chowhounds in particular, become obsessed with authenticity at the expense of quality. But if you give up quality, how much authenticity do you really have?

                                          My current thinking is to focus on the technique, to get the feel and flavor of Chinese food, but rely on high quality local ingredients. In this way, I feel I may be truer to the cuisine than by following a recipe and spooning stuff out of jars.

                                          A while back I was making dinner, wanting to do a stir-fry, and trying to match up a recipe to what I had on hand. And then I had the realization: I KNOW how to stir-fry. So I took my shrimp and my CSA zucchini, and made a sweet-sour-spicy bourbon shrimp and zucchini stir-fry. Picture below. It was every bit as good as any "authentic" recipe I ever made.

                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            Delicious looking dish! And you DO know how to stir-fry - I wish I could create something like that with ease but maybe one day....

                                            I am with both of you on food safety and imported jars. Unfortunately I am just starting thinking that maybe I could make a few Chinese dishes successfully. However, should you start the thread I will happily follow and try to experiment. I made simple hot pepper sauce from one of the Dunlop's books (from on-line source) a couple of years ago and have not been without since.

                                            1. re: herby

                                              Agree. Beautiful looking stir-fry.


                                              1. re: herby

                                                I'm not there yet either but getting better .... the key is to practice the cuisine enough that it makes intuitive sense to you. I do this best with Italian but am trying to develop a similar sense of ease with other cuisines.

                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              You might do a little searching, as well. California has such a large Chinese population that a lot of the ingredients are made in the US now, and subject to FDA regulations.

                                              1. re: Savour

                                                I did more than a little searching. That's what I was doing in March while you were all cooking from EGOR. By the time I'd assembled a patchwork of acceptable substitutes, the month was done and I didn't feel like cooking by myself. I know of course you can always go back and post to the threads, but it's not the same as cooking with everyone else.


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Would you mind posting what you discovered? I have similar concerns wrt food safety. And just saw friends who were visiting from Shanghai, where they live with 3 young kids. I asked if they are concerned about food safety and they said yes, basically they try to eat as much as possible imported from the U.S., Australia or Europe because there have been so many food safety scandals in recent years. And those who can afford it do the same. Maybe this should be a separate thread?

                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                    Yes, it sounds like we have a critical mass of interest to start a new thread. I would be happy to tell you what I found, though sadly most of my substitutions are just starting points. I never got around to testing my ideas. But, maybe as a group we can move forward from there together.

                                                    I now kind of wish I'd mentioned this during EGOR month. I didn't mention it at the time because I didn't want to be a debbie downer.

                                                    MelMM, would you like to do the honors of posting a GOODBYE BOTTLED SAUCES AND PASTES thread? :)


                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I'd be interested too, although I'm sort of scared to hear the truth.

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Not I! I'm with you on the "Too busy chasing small children to source acceptable exotic ingredients" boat. I suspect we are not the only passengers.

                                                2. re: MelMM

                                                  This is interesting, I have always felt funny about using grocery store wine in Chinese dishes (which I would never do in a french or italian dish). I haven't been too happy with my sherry sub either. When I finish up my bottle of sherry I am going to try some different options and compare with the shao xing wine. Just curious, why do you like bourbon better than vodka? And is there a particular kind you like to use?

                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                    I've used gin and it hasn't been bad at all. But then again I have no problem with using sherry.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      I just thought my sherry has developed a bit of an off taste after a while. An advantage of hard alcohol is that it keeps forever with no diminution in quality.

                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                        Mine never keeps long enough for me to know this fact ; )

                                                  2. re: MelMM

                                                    What ratio of bourbon do you use vs. the quantity of shaoxing wine called for in the recipe? I've been using the (nice) sherry I bought for Spanish month.


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      I use the bourbon in the same quantity as the shao xing wine called for in the recipe. Actually, to be honest, I usually use a bit more bourbon.

                                                      I choose bourbon or whisky because these are things that I like the taste of, and would drink. I'm a Southern girl, so bourbon kind of brings the dish home, for me, and has a rich, vanilla-like flavor. I also like gin, and have used it on occasion, when I want a more herbal flavor, and have used rum (I think Grace Young might have some recipes that call for rum, or maybe that's just what I used when doing a Caribbean-Chinese dish, I can't recall).

                                                    2. re: MelMM

                                                      Bourbon! What A Great Idea... I hate using the Shaoxing wine with all the additives and have subbed sherry or dry vermouth on occasion but bourbon or indeed Scotch whisky sounds so much better...definitely more flavor.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        I've used Scotch as well and it worked a charm.

                                              2. re: MelMM

                                                I just ordered My China :) I watched her cooking shows and loved them. Maybe this is the book that will help me start cooking Chinese food!

                                                1. re: herby

                                                  Cool! I'll look forward to hearing what you think about it.

                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                    Mel, when you have time, pls go through the book and post your favourites from it in addition to Ma Po Tofu. That would help me tons to get started. TIA!

                                                    1. re: herby

                                                      Stir-Fried Potato with Lup Cheong and Green Chilli, p. 14
                                                      Stir-Fried Eggplant with Linda's Homemade Chilli Sauce, p. 64
                                                      Naxi-Style Chicken with Chillies, Green Pepper and Peanuts, p. 142
                                                      The whole chapter on Chengdu (in Sichuan) pp 159-189 (that's a lot of pages, but not that many recipes)
                                                      Braised Firm Tofu with Tomatoes, p. 292
                                                      Stir-fried Fresh Shitake Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Ginger, p. 242
                                                      Mrs. Xu's Prawns with Longjing Tea, p. 406

                                                      There is a ton more I want to try in this book.

                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                        Thank you, Mel, very kind! I copied your list on the sticky to go into the book once it arrives. Everything sounds delicious and I want to start with tofu, eggplant and prawns right now :)

                                                        What is Chengdu?

                                                        1. re: herby

                                                          It's the capital of Sichuan province.

                                                          1. re: lilham

                                                            Chengdu also is the metropolitan area where the modern anglophone Sichuanese-cookbook writer Fuchsia Dunlop was based. (Many people today, especially online, gravitate to Dunlop's cookbook "Land of Plenty" for Sichuanese recipes because it is recent and therefore actively promoted; it is an excellent cookbook very suitable for people interested in Sichuanese cooking; it does have a few weaknesses as I've detailed in other Chowhound threads, and its recency and visibility distract people from the existence in the US of two or three other, very good, Sichuanese cookbooks in English that have been available for many years, and even are much cheaper than Dunlop because you normally get them on the used market. At one point I checked amazon.com and the Chiang book I mentioned earlier in this thread was readily available for as little as a dollar or two.)

                                                            Chengdu also is the origin of "pock-marked Mother Chen's tofu," aka Ma Po Tofu. Mythology has developed around that particular dish's origin, with a whole genre of restaurants claiming to be Chen's original, as discussed for example here:


                                                            Some interesting exclusive history of the dish also appears in the Chiang book previously mentioned.

                                                            1. re: lilham

                                                              Lilham's got it. And that's the chapter with the Ma Po Tofu, and the other Sichuan-style recipes in the book.

                                                2. I have a family friend that I have known for years. Her Mom was from Ireland and she used to make an Irish soda bread that was hands down the best that I have ever had. I asked for the recipe to no avail, it was a guarded family secret. I did find a very comparable recipe (almost as good) from Heirloom Baking by the Brass sisters. The recipe has currents, raisins and caraway seeds.

                                                  1. I predict this will be the funnest and most expensive thread EVER!

                                                    1. My best recipe for beef short ribs comes from The 150 Best American Recipes on p. 166. Tender and super flavourful, they became my family's favourite even though I made tasty short ribs for years.

                                                      I will be going through my favourite recipes and adding to this thread on a regular basis.

                                                      1. The Lindt cookbook's recipe for a variety of mousse's (chocolate, white chocolate, straccitela) and creme brûlée have all been amazing and well worth buying the book

                                                        1. I will bite -- I love the minestrone recipe from Tamar Adler's book, An Everlasting Meal.

                                                          Most minestrone recipes have very long ingredient lists, and the thought of shopping for and prepping all those different things is exhausting. And yet I feel that if I substitute away, I won't be producing what the author intended, and i may be omitting an important element.

                                                          Tamar's recipe is so easy and versatile, it can always be made with whatever you have on hand. It is always different, and it is always perfectly delicious.

                                                          1. I love the silver palate for chicken Marbella, green lasagna, salmon mousse, lemon cake, orange poppyseed cake, best ever carrot cake and to die for chocolate sauce. I enjoy it and use it often.

                                                            1. The definitive recipe for Mashed Potatoes must go to Judi Rodgers' Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, set forth in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook at p. 233.

                                                              This is the first "definitive" recipe I am sponsoring, and I hope it won't be the last, because I think this is a very important thread. If every recipe I tried was this good I would be very, very happy. I am hoping to collect a whole folder of definitive recipes and never have a dud again!

                                                              What makes the Zuni recipe spectacular, in my opinion, is the blending of milk, butter, and buttermilk. If this is one you have not tried, it's time you bookmark it.

                                                              I didn't find a link to the Zuni recipe per se, but I did find this fun link for someone who is cooking through the entire Zuni Cookbook, which sounds pretty sensational. She walks you through the steps, but if you need further instruction, refer to the Zuni COTM thread.