The best cookbook recipes, period

 tomato sauce with onion and butter

Everyone has tried-and-true recipes that they reach for over and over again. But even in this list a few stand above the others, recipes that speak to us on a deep level and have forever changed our cooking. The pages of the cookbooks in which they reside are trained to fall open to the precise page, which contains evidence of its well-used status: food splatters, notes penciled in the margin. The editors at Epicurious have shared their eight favorite cookbook recipes, some of which are probably on your list as well.

No one will be surprised that the lead-off recipe is Marcella Hazan's simple-but-brilliant Tomato sauce with onion and butter from the opus Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (pictured top). The short ingredient list and easy instructions belie the depth and complexity of the sauce. Says Editorial Assistant Sheela Prakash, "I put off trying this recipe for years-seriously, butter in tomato sauce, how can that be good? How I was mistaken: The short list of pantry ingredients bubble and marry together, resulting in a dead simple sauce that tastes like it took all day to make."

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies from Baking: From My Home to Yours are next, offered by editor David Tamarkin, who says "I love these salty, crumbly confections more than anybody should really love a cookie." The next recipe on the list is another that is highly rated by EYB Members: Judy Rogers' Zuni roast chicken with bread salad from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Unlike the previous recipes, this is anything but simple, occupying five pages in the book. But those who have made it swear that it's worth the effort. 

I confess to only having made two of the recipes on the list of eight, although the others are on my "must-try" list (alongside several dozen others that I really will make, someday). I found Ottolenghi's Shakshuka to be utterly amazing, and I enjoy Marion Cunningham's raised waffles as a great make-ahead recipe for Sunday brunch. My list would include a few more obscure recipes, like the Miniature tartlet pastry from Flo Braker's Sweet Miniatures. I've tried other tart shell recipes before and since, but I always return to this one. Which cookbook recipes do you find to be the best?


  • wester  on  7/10/2016 at 5:17 PM

    I wholeheartedly agree with the tomato sauce, and with the Zuni Cafe chicken. I'm not sure I would choose these particular versions of Boeuf Bourguignon and Shakshuka. The other recipes are just not my thing. But where is Melissa Clark's Roasted shrimp and broccoli?

  • veronicafrance  on  7/11/2016 at 1:45 AM

    What about Elizabeth David's bolognese sauce? From Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I'd have picked the magnificent navarin of lamb, and the utterly perfect ratatouille; both recipes where small but important details make all the difference.

  • Jane  on  7/11/2016 at 11:16 AM

    Of their list I have only made Marcella's tomato sauce and Ottolenghi's shakshuka (agree with both). I wholeheartedly agree with wester's suggestion of Melissa's roasted shrimp and broccoli - I make that at least once a month. Though it would by a toss-up with her Cumin seed roasted cauliflower with salted yogurt, mint, and pomegranate seeds and her Fresh corn polenta with roasted ratatouille and ricotta, which are also on regular rotation. My other tried and true recipes that I will be making for ever are Nick Malgieri's Supernatural brownies, Debbie Koenig's Best homemade chocolate chip cookies in the entire world, Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate armagnac cake, Ottolenghi's Roasted chicken with clementines & arak. Would love to hear from other EYB members what their repeat favorite recipes are.

  • Rinshin  on  7/11/2016 at 3:58 PM

    I think the members of EYB should list 8-10 of their favavorite recipes too. I bet we come up with really nteresting list more than those of Epicurious.

  • veronicafrance  on  7/11/2016 at 4:48 PM

    I'd never heard of the tomato sand butter sauce, so I made it this evening. Sky-high effort versus results score!

  • hillsboroks  on  7/11/2016 at 11:58 PM

    I agree with Jane and Rinshin that we need an EYB list of favorite recipes.

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