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La Belle Cuisine
The Best American Recipes 2000:
The Year's Top Picks from Books,
Magazines, Newspapers, and the Internet
Fran McCullough and Suzanne Hamlin, 2000,
Houghton Mifflin Company
The Year in Food
"As we assembled the recipes for this collection, we
couldnt help noticing certain recurring ingredients, techniques, and general food
manias that preoccupied the nations cooks throughout the year. But it wasnt
until we made our final selection that we noticed some surprises: red grapes and sweet
little cherry tomatoes, for instance, had sneaked right by us, only clearly announcing
themselves in the num-ber of recipes in which they were star players. Heres how the
year looked to us."
The Top Ten (continued)
5. Vegetable of the Year
"Spuds took over this year, in everything from
Mashed Potato Dip (with wasabi and flying fish roe - trust us, it's great) to Roasted
Potato Crisps to potatoes in pizza dough. Recipes now call for potatoes by their first
names, as in 'Get Yukon Golds
for this recipe or forget it.' The first runner-up is cherry
tomatoes, those sweet
little orbs that remind us how much we love tomatoes all winter
tomatoes elbowed out cherry tomatoes in many markets this year, and we use
them interchangeably. We're very partial to the roasted cherry tomato sauce in
Nancy Harmon Jenkins' excellent Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce, a great light supper at the
end of winter when you're just dying for a good tomato."
Mashed Potato Dip
(Michel Richard, Cooking with Patrick Clark, edited
by Charlie Trotter)
"This is not just any old mashed
potato dip, but Michel Richards wantonly luxurious one that almost qualifies as an
entire meal. He gives rich American mashed potatoes a wonderfully Asian twist" a zing
of Wasabi and a scoop of
orange fish roe.
Richard, a French-born, cigar-smoking chef and restaurateur, chose this as
contribution to a cookbook assembled by Charlie Trotter in honor of their
fellow chef, the
late Patrick Clark. From one ebullient chef to another, it is a
If you make this dip once, youll probably want to double the recipe the second
around. Surrounded by strips of green peppers or other raw vegetables, it
devoured in record time."
Serves 6 to 8, makes about 2 cups
1 teaspoon wasabi (see note)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon flying fish roe
(see note) or salmon roe
1 pound yellow potatoes, such as
peeled and quartered
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
Salt to taste
First, prepare a vinaigrette by whisking together the wasabi, olive
oil, and vinegar in a small bowl. Gently stir in the roe. Set aside.
Steam the potatoes or boil them gently until thoroughly cooked.
Drain and push them through a sieve with a wooden spoon or pass them through
a Mouli grater
into a large bowl. Stir in the cream and butter and mix
thoroughly. Season to taste with
salt and stir in the wasabi vinaigrette.
Wasabi, the sinus-clearing Asian horseradish, is sold as powder and as a
both frozen and in a tube, in Asian markets and many supermarkets. Any form
of wasabi can be used in the dip; the powder is the most potent.
Most people will recognize flying fish roe by sight, even if
it sounds unfamiliar.
Tiny orange grains of roe are often found in sushi rolls. The neon
is actually natures own, and the crunchy texture of the minuscule
very appealing. Flying fish roe is available in Asian markets or often
conveniently at any sushi restaurant; a tablespoon usually costs about $2.25.
6. Technique of the Year
"We've had fast, high-heat roasting for years now,
so it's time for slow food. And to usher it in, there's an entire Slow Food movement from
Italy that's captured the hearts of many American chefs and cooks who like deeply
satisfying flavor, the
kind that comes only from slow cooking and are willing to trade
their kitchen time
in exchange. A good example is Twelve-Hour Roast Pork. A corollary
is to roast everything in sight, from olives to grapes to cheese. Count us
Twelve-Hour Pork Roast
"A Hollywood diet
book isnt the obvious place to look for great recipes, but
one jumped out at us
from the pages of Suzanne Somers Get Skinny on
Fabulous Food. Its a
re-creation of an Italian dish Somers enjoyed at the
River Café in London, and its
The recipe requires a little forethought: Youll need to order the whole pork
shoulder in advance from your butcher. And you may end it cooking it day
its done in 12 hours.
Make the most of the pan drippings, by making the sauce unless youre
a crowd, youll have leftovers, and the sauce will come into its
own when you
One 7-to-9-pound pork shoulder
with skin (see note)
12 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
8 small dried red chiles, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of 6 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
One 14-ounce can chicken broth
Juice of 2 lemons (optional)
Score the pork shoulder all over by evenly slicing deeply into the
making cuts 1/4 inch apart.
In a food processor or by hand, chop the garlic, fennel seeds,
salt and pepper until coarsely ground. Rub this mixture all over the pork
into the cuts.
Place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 30
minutes. Or until the skin begins to crackle and brown. Loosen the shoulder from the
of the pan and pour half the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil
Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F. and roast the pork for 12
hours more, basting occasionally with the remaining lemon juice and the remaining 2
tablespoons olive oil, until its completely soft under the skin. Push it with your
finger; it should give and may even fall off the bone.
For the pan drippings: Remove the roast from the pan and
but 3 tablespoons fat from the drippings. Place the pan on the stovetop
medium heat and scrape up all the browned bits stuck to the bottom.
When the juices are
hot, add the broth and lemon juice (but taste the drip-pings first; you may not need more
lemon), continuing to scrape the pan
and reduce the juices for about 5 minutes, or until
you have a sauce con- sistency.
Serve each person a little of the crisp skin along with the meat
and pass the pan drippings separately.
Youll most likely need to order the pork shoulder (butt) ahead. Unless
an Italian, Chinese, or Mexican butcher, the idea of a pork shoulder with skin on
may draw a complete blank. If youre offered a picnic ham with skin that is,
forearm just say no; that meat is sinewy and wont have the same
as the shoulder. There are two other options: the butcher can take the skin
fresh ham and wrap it around the butt, or you can just forget about the skin and
simply wrap the meat in oiled foil once the initial browning takes place. Dont
about the basting in that case; just skip it. The meat will brown under the
foil, and it
will be moist and delicious.
Almost surely you will have leftovers, which are great for sandwiches, to fold
tortillas with some salsa, or to cook with hash browns.
7. Dessert of the Year
"Maybe everyone fell out of love this year and
needed consolation from the brain chemicals chocolate provides - whatever it was, we all
tumbled. It may have been partly a response to the new bittersweet chocolates on the
market, with much
higher cocoa content. We also have a new homegrown high-quality
chocolate industry in which we can take pride. Whatever accounts for it, the chocolate
passion has been unleashed, and it's raging across the land."
Velvet Chocolate Cake
Claire Legas, Scharffen-berger.com
"Not just another
sinfully delicious chocolate cake by a long shot, this is, by
alchemy of a few simple ingredients, a wonder. It is rich and
indeed velvety and
heres the magic all deep, dark chocolate, but not dis-
Scharffen Berger chocolate, a relatively new American-made chocolate, has
favorite with many professional bakers and pastry chefs. Claire Legas
Absinthe Restaurant in San Francisco, created this elegant and
singular flourless dessert
using Scharffen Bergers 70 percent pure dark choco-
late, sold in specialty food
shops. Truthfully, though, we have used other high-quality bitter-sweet chocolate in the
recipe to equally stunning effect. Part
mousse, part cake,
this dessert can lead to
Serve Velvet Chocolate Cake with whipped cream. More good news: If the
cake is wrapped
tightly in plastic, it will stay moist for up to 4 days at room
Serves 14 to 16
1 pound Scharffen Berger 70 percent pure
dark chocolate, finely
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup strong coffee, kept warm but not hot
Whipped cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (not
springform) or coat it with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with
a circle of
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate gently over hot water. Keep
In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, whip the cream with
tablespoons sugar until the mixture forms soft peaks. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs on high
speed until doubled in volume. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar to the
tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the eggs have fully
tripled in volume and are
light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
Pour the coffee into the chocolate and stir until combined. Fold
the egg mixture into the chocolate in 3 additions, working quickly to incorporate
addition. Fold in the cream mixture. Pour the batter into the pre-
pared pan. Place the cake
pan in a large roasting pan and add enough
to the roasting pan so that it
reaches halfway up the sides
of the cake pan.
Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it still jiggles in
when gently shaken. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
To unmold, slide a
small knife or spatula around the edge of the cake to
loosen it from the pan. Cover the
top of the cake with a sheet of waxed
paper. Place a plate upside-down over the paper and
invert pan and
plate together. Remove the cake pan and parchment liner. Place a
on the bottom of the cake and turn right side up.
the cake and serve
with whipped cream.
Top Ten, Part 1
Top Ten, Part 3
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