Cooking Genius

Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

Food52, the award-winning online crowd-sourced food community and recipe hub, has branched out from the ether into hard-copy cookbook publishing. After their two highly successful Food52 Cookbooks comes a newly established series titled Food52 Works. Beginning this year with Genius Recipes, and continuing with Vegan and Baking, the team plans to publish one big book (like Genius) and two smaller, single subject books (like Vegan and Baking) every few years so readers can keep all their terrific, reliable recipes at their fingertips. Tables of contents list recipes, making it easy to browse for something to suit the season and satisfy the palate. These are great books for beginning and advanced chefs, very much in keeping with the Food52 ethos that memorable cooking doesn’t have to be complicated.


Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes that Will Change the Way You Cook
by Kristen Miglore
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)

Food52 Executive Editor Kristen Miglore writes the James Beard Award–nominated (and very popular) Food Genius column at Each week, she features a favorite recipe from a well-known blogger, chef, or food writer and identifies the “genius techniques” necessary to get the dish just right. The recipes aren’t terribly complex, and the techniques aren’t difficult, but they can really make a dish sing. For example, the secret to making Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese especially delicious is simmering the cauliflower in a seasoned broth before roasting. Marcella Hazan’s beloved (and finger-snap easy) Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion doesn’t require an all-day simmer or heaps of garlic and herbs for its pure flavor. The genius is in the tomato preparation. They should be blanched, frozen, processed in a mill, or even harvested from a can. The book includes 100 foolproof recipes and photos of each finished dish.


Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen
by Gena Hamshaw
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)

Creator of the popular New Veganism column on Food52, certified nutritionist Gena Hamshaw also writes her own blog, Choosing Raw. Food52 Vegan is a collection of fresh, flavorful vegetable-driven recipes, such as Roasted Cauliflower and Freekeh Salad, Wheat Berry and Green Bean Salad with Dried Cranberries and Celery, Smoky Tempeh and Hummus Sandwiches, Parsnip Fried with Spicy Harissa Mayonnaise, Jamaican Jerk Chili with Quinoa and Kidney Beans, Ginger Roasted Pears with Vanilla Cream, and Mexican Chocolate Date Truffles. Besides recipes and the handsome photography that characterizes Food52 work, you’ll find tips for blending your own nut milks, finding the sweetest tomatoes at the market, and cooking with cashew cream.


Food52 Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off in a Snap
by the editors of Food52
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)

Here you’ll find some satisfying sweets (and a handful of savories) that you can pull together quickly without chasing after special equipment or hard-to-find ingredients. It’s what the authors describe as “uncommitted baking,” which can be done late at night, with children, or after dinner. Create “unpretentious and comforting” sweets like Whole Wheat Molasses Yogurt Bread with Figs and Walnuts, Buttermilk Dutch Baby with Caramelized Pears, Maple Persimmon Upside-Down Cake with Maple Cream, Black Sesame Cupcakes with Matcha Buttercream, Spiced Parsnip Cake, and Baked Cardamom French Toast with Syrupy Meyer Lemons. As with other Food52 books, you’ll find tips on ingredients, baking techniques, and garnishing, packaging, and presenting. Shortcuts & Kitchen Hacks shares helpful advice on topics like “How to Stale Fresh Bread in a Hurry” and “How to Deal with Sticky Cookie Dough.”