You know those times when you get your hopes up, you get really, really excited about something … only to have your hopes dashed. Well, for me, the latest cookbook from Food52, Genius Recipes, was that something.
I really wanted to love this book, and when I hold it in my hands, Genius Recipes does truly bring me joy. It’s got great heft without bulk. There’s no slipcover to flop about, and yet, you still know this book will stand the test of time (not to mention the tests of your kitchen). And oh, the paper is thick and matte, and the photos are every food blogger’s dream.
What sets Food52 cookbooks apart, Genius Recipes included, is the headnote as story before each recipe. Earlier Food52 cookbooks included stories from the home cooks themselves; here, that charm is mixed with Editor Kristen Miglore’s wide-eyed amazement at the glorious recipes she’s collected.
And the recipes really are glorious, or at least they sound that way. The tips and tricks strewn throughout the book are helpful, too. But the two recipes I tried didn’t work: one was too hot, the other too underdone, despite following the recipe to a tee.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: surely she doesn’t know what she’s doing! But if you follow my blog, you know that I’m as free with my successes as my failures; everything’s not all mother’s apron strings and perfect food in my house. I’ve had my share of keepers and tossers, and usually when I cook from cookbooks, those recipes are keepers.
But instead of just telling you how gorgeous this book is, I wanted to try the recipes for myself. First, I made the bar nuts from Union Square Café. And let me tell you, I’m no stranger to the sugary-salty amazement that is bar nuts. But this recipe is way too hot … for me. Reading reviews online, I find myself at a table for one in this opinion. So go ahead and try them, but when your mouth is on fire, don’t come running to me.
Next up, what was billed as THE roast chicken recipe of all time. Now, I’ve made Ina Garten’s Engagement Chicken so many times I’ve lost count, and that recipe has never let me down. But Genius Recipes promises that the Simplest Roast Chicken recipe is just that, the simplest ever.
Instead, as gorgeous as it looks, it was completely overdone (170 degrees plus) on the outside, while remaining a sickening shade of translucent pink on the inside. Ultimately, I essentially butterflied the poor thing, cooked the center, and gave the dog a Sunday night treat. I will say I followed the convection oven instructions, so I don’t fault the recipe entirely. But for the $16 I spent on chicken, I will be dragging out my proven Barefoot Contessa recipe.
Overall, I’d recommend Food52 Genius Recipes with reservations. It’s a glorious collection of some of the cooking world’s most amazing recipes. The book itself is gorgeous. And Kristen’s writing is enthusiastic without being patronizing, and she obviously got me excited enough to haul my cookies off the couch and into the chicken to try two untested recipes. But in the future, any recipe I try from the book will be met with some skepticism, and maybe just a wee bit of Googling.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links meaning I may receive compensation if you use those links. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging with Books for review; all opinions are my own.
Liz Schmitt says
I remember in the early days of food52 when Kristin was a new employee – she was SO sweet and responsive to us new recipe-writers. It has been a delight to watch her success as a food writer. Darn it, now I want a copy too!
Priscilla - She's Cookin' says
Your honest is refreshing, Lisa. It’s really disappointing when a trusted source’s instructions do not end with good results!