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THE BEST AMERICAN RECIPES 2002–2003: The Year's Top Picks from Books, Magazines, Newspapers, and the Internet

Fran McCullough, Editor, Molly Stevens, With, Anthony Bourdain, Foreword by
Fran McCullough, Editor, Molly Stevens, With, Anthony Bourdain, Foreword by with Molly Stevens, foreword by Anthony Bourdain. Houghton Mifflin $26 (360p) ISBN 978-0-618-19137-6
Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Hardcover - 209 pages - 978-0-395-96647-1
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-618-00996-1
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-618-12810-5
Hardcover - 300 pages - 978-0-618-27384-3
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The latest volume in this annual series, with a foreword from enfant terrible culinaire Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential; A Cook's Tour) that concludes "Cook free or die," strives to be of-the-moment, but sometimes feels generic. The recipes collected from books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet are perfectly serviceable and occasionally truly innovative (Grape Salsa from the San Francisco Chronicle). Each recipe appears with a source, a cook and a header from the editors, as well as helpful cook's notes derived from the testing of approximately 700 recipes during the process of compiling the book. For example, a recipe for Laksa (Malaysian Noodle Soup) from a handout at Ramekins, a California cooking school, has a header that offers an aromatic description of the finished product, as well as notes on variations, a recommendation for buying laksa paste and suggestions for leftovers. Certain recipes are notable for their techniques: Chickpea Salad with Four-minute Eggs from Food & Wine includes a reliable method for soft-cooking an egg so that it coats a salad like a dressing. McCullough (Low-Carb Cookbook) and Stevens (One Potato, Two Potato) produce a list of top-10 trends, and while some observations may seem stale (the return of butter, the popularity of grilling and the national obsession with chocolate) others (bread as an ingredient rather than on its own, "eggs over everything," and cabbage) do surprise. (Oct.)

Forecast:This entry in the annual series falls in line with earlier offerings, meaning it will appeal to those who appreciate kitchen quirkiness. Anthony Bourdain's name on the cover may attract additional sales.

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