Genius inspiration from Food52

genius recipes

Indexed blog Food52 has long been an EYB Member favorite. One of the most popular segments of the blog is the "Genius Recipes" column. The feature highlights recipes from lauded chefs and relative unknowns alike, with the overriding theme of recipes that will make you rethink the way you cook. A full 100 of these recipes (many never before published) have been compiled in the latest cookbook from the site, Food52 Genius Recipes. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy of the book and see our Cookbook Events Calendar for Kristen's appearances.) Food52's Executive Editor, Kristen Miglore, edited the cookbook and spoke with us about the book.



There are now almost 200 recipes in the Genius Recipes series on Food52 - did you ever envisage it would last so long?

I have to admit: At first I worried we would run out of truly genius recipes, but they just keep coming-largely from tips from the Food52 community. What I've realized is that, for people who love food and are curious cooks, there's always room to learn a smart new way to do something. And there really are so many different ways to cook something even as simple as scrambled eggs. I could probably keep writing this column until I retire or robots are cooking all our food, whichever comes first.

How is it decided what makes a Genius Recipe and where do the ideas come from?

I actually just wrote an article about the most common ways a recipe can be genius, but the simple answer is that the technique should be so novel and the results so good that the recipe will change the way you cook. As I mentioned above, the ideas mostly come from the Food52 community, which means the column is fed by their collective cooking experiences, not just mine, and is much, much better because of it.

How did you choose which recipes would make the book and did you include any recipes that have not featured in the column?

About half the recipes in the book have never been published in the column, including a lot of mini-recipes and tips that wouldn't have fit into the normal weekly format for one reason or another. I was excited to have a new outlet to publish those, and they helped make the collection feel whole. The rest of the recipes are what we would consider greatest hits from the column-the true classics like the granola, the dry-brined turkey, and the macaroons that have been resoundingly successful for cooks for years, and have the comments and exclamation points to show for it.

Have there ever been recipes that you felt wouldn't make it but after testing you had to agree they were genius?

Plenty-and those are my favorite ones! I love when a recipe completely defies what you think you know. How could a cauliflower soup made with a whole lot of water be creamy and flavorful? Why should I pack a piece of beef tenderloin in salt and an old dishcloth and throw it in the coals? I've learned to stop asking questions and trust the cooks who send me these things. What's the worst that could happen?    

Which of the recipes have become part of your own at-home cooking repertoire?

The guacamole, roast chicken, and porridge are constant go-tos, but I turn back to all of the recipes at one time or another. I've been on a genius long-cooked vegetable kick for potluck dinner parties lately-particularly Roy Finamore's Broccoli Cooked Forever and Marcella Hazan's Braised Celery. They're good served at any temperature and the flavor is only going to get better, the longer they sit.

Which cookbook authors do you personally consider to be geniuses?

There are a handful of cookbook authors that tend to come up over and over--Marcella Hazan, Patricia Wells, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson. That said, there's an ever widening circle of geniuses (genii?) and I love when Genius Recipes can bring attention to a cook or writer who isn't big in the current conversation in food media, like Jane Grigson or Penelope Casas.

As well as writing the Genius Recipes column you are also Executive Editor of Food52.  What does that involve?

It involves working not just with our talented editorial team, but other teams to help the voice of Food52 stay consistent and true to its roots. It also means a lot of food styling and recipe testing and brainstorming and Instagramming and eating the cakes that show up in the kitchen. I'm very lucky.

We have been huge fans of Food52 from the beginning and have an index of almost 6,000 tested recipes from the site.  What exciting new developments have Food52 planned?

Beyond growing what people have always known and loved us for (recipes, how-tos, and a smart, supportive home cooking community), there will be more cookbook coverage, more kitchen and home ideas, and really who knows--just a couple weeks ago, with the launch of Periscope and Meerkat, we started live-streaming cooking techniques and cocktail-mixing from our test kitchen. One of the reasons I love working at Food52, and why I've never been bored after working there for 5 years: Anything could happen.

Genius recipes from the book, clockwise from top left: Chickpea stew with saffron, yogurt & garlic [Heidi Swanson]Meatballs [Rao's], Rosemary-brined buttermilk fried chicken [Michael Ruhlman], and Green lentil salad [Patricia Wells]

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