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Tidbits from
"The Best American Recipes 2000"
Part 3


Stonewall Kitchen, LLC 

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Recipe Source:

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 couldn’t help noticing certain recurring ingredients, techniques, and general food manias that preoccupied the nation’s cooks throughout the year. But it wasn’t 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. Here’s how the year looked to us."

The Top Ten (continued)

8. Fruit of the Year
The Quince

“It seems amazing that a hundred years ago there were quince trees all over America and this delectable fruit appeared on many tables with no fanfare at all. But this year the medieval-looking quince was rediscovered, and fragrant bowls of quince turned up in kitchens and dining rooms across the country. Once you have a taste for quince, you’ll look forward to its brief harvest every fall. Not quite a pear, not quite an apple, with its own wild dimension, this excellent fruit deserves more fans. Runner-up fruit of the year is red grapes. Roasted, frozen, baked into bread, teamed with walnuts and olives for a condiment – grapes are coming on strong."

Honey-Poached Quinces
Serves 6

“Quince trees used to abound all over the American landscape, but now they’ve become a somewhat exotic fruit, ready to be rediscovered, as they definitely were
this year. Legend has it that these deeply lobed yellow fall fruits were Eve’s
original temptation in the Garden of Eden. That might be so, based on their incredible fragrance. But we don’t think Adam took a bite and was seduced
forever: A raw quince would’ve sent civilization in quite a different direction,
with its mouth-puckering fierceness.
Quinces need cooking to bring out their seductive flavor, which is somewhere between pear and apple, with another sharp but indefinable taste that seems to
come from their wild heritage. But once you have the taste, you’re hooked – every
fall you’ll be looking our for quinces, most reliably found at the farmers’ market
or an Asian market. A bowl of quinces brings an exotic aroma to the whole house;
a lone quince on the shelf will perfume your closet.
The only problem is how to crack these hardest of fruits. We suggest a Chinese cleaver – or don’t cut them at all until they’re cooked; they’ll have more flavor
that way.
This heavenly dish of poached quinces from four-star Philadelphia chef Aliza
Green accents their natural tartness and fragrance with lemon and spices,
including a whole vanilla bean. You’ll have leftover poaching liquid; reduce it
into a delectable syrup, or even further and you’ll have a wonderful quince jelly
to serve on crackers with cheese or for breakfast toast.”

 2 cups water, or more if needed
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 large fragrant quiches, such as Smyrnas

In a large nonreactive pot, combine everything but the quinces. Stir and
bring to a boil.
Peel the skin off the quinces. Slice them on half (preferably with a Chinese cleaver), then in quarters. Cut out the seeds, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.
Place the quinces in the syrup and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low
and poach gently until the quinces are tender when pierced with a skewer,
15 minutes to nearly 1 hour. You may need to add more water. The quinces will be rosy when they’re done. Let cool in the syrup and serve alone or
with a cheese course.


9. Drink of the Year

This year, Americans have discovered beer as a fascinating drink in its own right. From Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to Brooklyn Beer, microbreweries all across the country have contributed a new sophistication to the beer market. Increasingly,
beer is holding its own with wine as the beverage of choice with food, and not only
to accompany ethnic food. Beer has another life as an ingredient - in this book alone, you can find Beer-Braised Short Ribs, Beer Can Chicken, and Beer Bread. It doesn't hurt, of course, that the latest science on the subject shows beer has actual health benefits, with its high vitamin B6 levels that protect against heart disease."

 Beer-Braised Short Ribs
Serves 6

"When the weather outside is frightful - or even when it's just bleak and you need a little consoling - there's nothing like short ribs to cheer everyone at the table. These especially succulent ribs come from "Snow Country Cooking", and they're the work of the California cook Diane Rossen Worthington. All the elements are very simple (there's not so much as an herb or a spice here), and we think it's the beer that brings them all together so satisfyingly. Be sure to use a richly flavored beer that's not bitter - Heineken or Sierra Nevada would be a good choice.
For the best taste, make the ribs a day ahead and discard the fat that rises to the top before reheating."

5 pounds lean meaty beef short ribs,
cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large onions, cut into thick rings
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut
into 1/2-inch slices
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups beer
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Bottled Horseradish cream

In a large bowl or a large zip-lock plastic bag, season the ribs all over with
salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ribs on all sides on batches, turning with tongs, 7 to 10 minutes
per batch. Remove the ribs with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels. Place the ribs in a large Dutch oven or heavy flameproof casserole.
In the large skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, if needed, to brown
the vegetables. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté the onions for 7
to 10 minutes, or until browned, stirring frequently and watching carefully
so that they do not burn.
Add the carrots and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for  1 minute more. Add the beer, tomatoes and mustard. Increase the heat to high and simmer for 1 minute to blend the flavors.
Pour the tomato mixture over the short ribs and mix thoroughly.
Bake the ribs, covered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is very
tender, turning the ribs every 45 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 
These are best made a day ahead, refrigerated, degreased, and reheated.
Serve with horseradish cream on the side.


10. Gadget of the Year
The Japanese Mandoline,
aka Benriner Slicer

"These inexpensive little slicers (from $8 to $60, depending on their complexity) enable the home cook to shave vegetables into gorgeous salads. They make short work of recipes such as Shaved Asparagus and Parmesan Salad, and Roasted
Potato Crisps with Fresh Herbs. Even if your knife skills are appalling, you can
turn out professional-looking dishes in just a few minutes, And it's a curious fact that how a vegetable is sliced changes its taste, so you can come up with some surprising new flavors as well.
French chefs have been using their expensive mandolines to do the same thing
for centuries now, and the newly redesigned Matfer mandoline the last
word on fine slicing, as easy to use as a box grater.
All of these mandolines are extremely sharp, so you need to be very careful when using them. Some vegetables - radishes, turnips, beets - come with their own convenient handles to protect your fingers. But you should also wrap your
cutting hand with a kitchen towel to avoid injury.
Best of all, these slicing gizmos are inspirational: once you're familiar with using them, you'll be inspired to mix appealing colors and tastes in new combinations -
an exciting way to eat your vegetables!"

Shaved Asparagus and Parmesan Salad
Serves 4

"At Chez Panisse, the legendary Berkeley restaurant, the café serves asparagus every which way all spring. One of the most beguiling preparations is this raw asparagus salad - a revelation if you've never eaten this delicate vegetable au naturel. The key to success is using very sweet, fresh asparagus; in just a couple of days, it will turn grassy. Look for your asparagus at the farmers' market and check the cut ends,
which should be white and moist. Once you have the right asparagus, this crisp, perfectly balanced salad is simplicity itself."

2 shallots, finely diced
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 large asparagus spears
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,
for shaving

In a small bowl, macerate the shallots in the vinegar and lemon juice, adding
a little salt to taste, for 15 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil.
Snap off the tough bottom ends of the asparagus spears. Using a Japanese mandoline set on the thinnest setting, very carefully shave each asparagus spear into long, wide, paper-thin ribbons.
Place the shaved asparagus in a salad bowl, season with salt and pepper,
and dress lightly with the vinaigrette.
Divide the salad among four salad plates. With a vegetable peeler, shave
large curls of cheese over each serving.

Top Ten, Part 1
Top Ten, Part 2


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