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Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook

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There are good recipes and there are great ones—and then, there are genius recipes.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink the way we cook. They might involve an unexpectedly simple technique, debunk a kitchen myth, or apply a familiar ingredient in a new way. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. In this collection are 100 of the smartest and most remarkable ones.
There isn’t yet a single cookbook where you can find Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, and Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake—plus dozens more of the most talked about, just-crazy-enough-to-work recipes of our time. Until now.
These are what Food52 Executive Editor Kristen Miglore calls genius recipes. Passed down from the cookbook authors, chefs, and bloggers who made them legendary, these foolproof recipes rethink cooking tropes, solve problems, get us talking, and make cooking more fun. Every week, Kristen features one such recipe and explains just what’s so brilliant about it in the James Beard Award-nominated Genius Recipes column on Food52. Here, in this book, she compiles 100 of the most essential ones—nearly half of which have never been featured in the column—with tips, riffs, mini-recipes, and stunning photographs from James Ransom, to create a cooking canon that will stand the test of time.
Once you try Michael Ruhlman’s fried chicken or Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s hummus, you’ll never want to go back to other versions. But there’s also a surprising ginger juice you didn’t realize you were missing and will want to put on everything—and a way to cook white chocolate that (finally) exposes its hidden glory. Some of these recipes you’ll follow to a T, but others will be jumping-off points for you to experiment with and make your own. Either way, with Kristen at the helm, revealing and explaining the genius of each recipe, Genius Recipes is destined to become every home cook’s go-to resource for smart, memorable cooking—because no one cook could have taught us so much.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published April 7, 2015

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Kristen Miglore

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 158 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,904 followers
July 26, 2016
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink the way we cook.

I'm not really feeling that with this cookbook. I love the Food 52 blog and really thought this cookbook would be outstanding. There are a few of the recipes I will try including Nigella Lawson's dense chocolate cake. I'm wishing I had chocolate in the house right now for that one. Michael Ruhlman's Rosemary-Brined Buttermilk fried chicken caught my eye too.

This cookbook to me is definitely not a beginner book. It's fun to look at though. My copy may just be the weird one but it kinda smells funny.

Here's some pretty pictures from the book:

(Whole Roasted Cauliflower with whipped goat cheese)

(Kale Panini)

(Classic Guacamole-because I love the stuff)
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,033 reviews25 followers
January 31, 2016
There are some cookbooks you check out from the library and you think...this looks good, or I might want to try making that. This is one of those cookbooks you check out from the library and you think -- I should probably buy this and make all the recipes. Yup. That good; reminds me of Dominque Ansel's "Secret Recipes."

This book is a collection of perfected recipes; I don't recommend reading while you are hungry.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,456 reviews513 followers
April 11, 2015

"Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink the way we cook. They might involve an unexpectedly simple technique, debunk a kitchen myth, or apply a familiar ingredient in a new way. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too."

Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook is written by Food52.com’s executive editor Kristen Miglore. Each of the featured recipes is of "Genius" stature, meaning they are first created by professional cooks and bakers, then submitted to Food52.com, a popular website which launched in 2009, by community members with their recommendation.

I was curious about the recipes included in this cookbook, and their claims of genius. I enjoy cooking but I'm all about keeping it simple - in both method and taste.

Honestly, the only recipes I will likely try from this collection are Gabrielle Hamilton's Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, which recommends slathering the outside of the bread in mayonnaise, instead of butter, before grilling them in a non stick frying pan; the Tomato Sauce with butter and onion which makes a simple but tasty sounding pasta sauce; and Cheater Soft Serve Ice-cream.

However, more adventurous foodies should enjoy the range of recipes, many which are suitable for vegetarians, and should appeal to both enthusiastic beginner and intermediate home cooks.

Breakfasts like Poached Scrambled Eggs and Chocolate Muscovado Banana Cake sound good. Mains range from Shrimp Grits to Sticky Balsamic Ribs, Cauliflower Steaks to Kale Panini, plus there are recipes for salads, soups and sides. Desserts include Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake and an interesting technique to create Caramelized White Chocolate.

While Food52.com has a regular 'Genius' column, it's important to note that the author claims more than half of the recipes in this cookbook have never been published in the column before, so fans should still find something new to interest them.

The publisher's book page shares a recipe for Chocolate Mousse from Herve This plus a 'Look Inside' feature.
Profile Image for Kristin.
325 reviews
Want to read
April 7, 2015
Received email from NetGalley that I was approved for this book yesterday, April 6th at 3:04pm. Try to download today, April 7th at 9:30am and it is already archived! This was the cookbook I was looking forward to most as I have been following Food52 on FaceBook for years. Truly disappointing and deceiving marketing. Not a happy camper (cook?).

Profile Image for Patty.
2,323 reviews100 followers
June 8, 2017
I know many people don't believe you can read a cookbook, but I did read this one. Every page and every recipe. I made a few of them - my favorites were an apple cake and porridge.

This is a library book and I kept it for the three months that I was allowed to check it out. I plan to borrow it again and make a few more recipes.

I will continue to resist buying my own copy, although this book is calling me.
Profile Image for Nora St Laurent.
1,390 reviews74 followers
July 8, 2015
Kristen Miglore is the executive editor of Food52 website. She says, “A genius recipe surprises us and makes us rethink cooking tropes. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertories they make us feel pretty genius too!”

A few of these recipes made me feel good at the fact I could create something so yummy and elegant looking. I tried the No Knead Bread by Jim Lahey. This changed the way I think about bread. The bread looked beautiful, tasted amazing and it was easy to make. Brilliant! Kristen said, “…it looked better than most breads you can buy, with a dewy, wide mawed crumb and dark crust that snaps under the knife.” It’s a technique anyone can do! My family and I were wowed by the heavenly taste, amazed by the texture and encouraged that we could create this again! It wasn’t a fluke.

The next recipe I tried were the Raised Waffles by Marion Cunningham. Again a technique that requires very little effort on my part to turn out great! Kristen has Genius tips throughout this books, “the batter keeps and improves for several days in the fringe, if you want to get even more ahead (one to 7 days)….” I’m stunned at how far ahead you can make this and how great it tastes. It’s a crowd pleaser!

The last recipe I tried was the English Porridge by April Bloomfield. Again a brilliant recipe that allows you to have a party in your mouth with every bite. This recipe delivers an explosion of textures along with the salty sweet taste I and my family loved!

Kristen explains what they look for in Genius recipes and shares a little about the Chef for each recipe. She states that this is a collection of the 100 most essential ones – nearly ½ of the recipes have never been featured in a column on the Food52 food blog. James Ransom has taken stunning photographs that picture each recipe and some extra photos with step by step instructions.

Kristen says this book will help you “to create a cooking cannon that will stand the test of time.” I whole heartily agree!

The categories in this book start with Breakfast, Snacks and drinks, Soups and Salads, Meaty Meals, Meatless Mains, Vegetable and Desserts.

The dishes I anxiously want to try next are Hummus, Currant Cottage Cheese Pancakes, Roasted Applesauce, Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Crunchy Seeds, Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt and Garlic Soup, Cauliflower Soup, Potato Soup with Fried Almonds, Shrimp Grits, Rosemary-Brined Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Grilled Port Burger, Cauliflower Steaks, Grilled Pizza, Kale Panini, Garlic Green Beans, Gratin of Zucchini, Rice and Onions with Cheese … there are so many more I’d like to try.

These recipes and techniques have changed the way I’m going to make bread, porridge and waffles; can’t wait to see other things I’ll learn as I make the dishes in this astonishing cook book.

I know I’ll be referring to this beautiful hardback book often for everyday and special occasions. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes to cook and for those just starting out. There are a variety of cooking skills in this book. The ones I tried were easy and flavorful. Many of the ingredients can be found in your local grocery store. Another thing to love about the recipes!

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of girl. I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com
Profile Image for Maggie.
618 reviews
December 31, 2015
I like this book a lot.

Yesterday, I made a batch of the spiced red wine, and the Rao's meatballs, and the no-knead bread (which I'd made years ago), and the Marcella Hazan tomato sauce (which is a staple in our house). Happy to have all of those recipes in one place.

Also, I wrote a bit about the book on my blog (http://www.magpiemusing.com/2015/12/t...

"Last night, I climbed into bed with a Christmas present: a copy of Food52 Genius Recipes. I wasn't reading it straight through, but jumping around looking for things that I need to make right now. You read cookbooks in bed, right? It's a compilation cookbook - 100 recipes from 100 sources - all alleged to be "the best". The reason I wanted the book is because there were enough recipes that I knew already, and knew to be good - the bar nuts from the Union Square Cafe, Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread, Kim Boyce's Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, that butter & onion tomato sauce from Marcella Hazan, Marion Cunningham's Raised Waffles. I figured with that kind of track record, there were probably other great recipes. I turned to page 236, curious about the "eggless lemon curd", because it sounds like a non-sequitur, eggs being pretty essential to curd, in my experience. [It uses agar, in case you're wondering.] But what to my wondering eyes turns up in the book, on page 235, as a vehicle for the lemon curd? "Brown Butter Tart Crust, from Paule Caillat" - in other words, the Lebovitz boiled butter crust. I confess to being both dumbfounded and even happier to have the cookbook in the first place."
Profile Image for Lynne.
59 reviews21 followers
June 7, 2015
So many keeper recipes from this cookbook, and I've owned it all of a month. Poached scrambled eggs are almost crepe-like ribbons. The chicken thighs with lemon came out the best I've ever made, crispy skin and perfect centers, and I'll be using this method going forward, it's that easy and good. The tomato sauce recipe has been in my repertoire for awhile, and it's the easiest thing in the world. But you know me and my penchant for desserts: the chocolate mousse, the dense chocolate loaf cake (even when I've managed to misplace my loaf pan and had to convert on the fly for a 9x9 square), the orange and almond cake, the molasses cookies. I'll be making the meatballs and the chocolate chip cookies this afternoon, and I suspect we'll have surprise dinner guests based on the scents likely to be wafting out of our kitchen.

Teal deer: winner winner chicken dinner.
Profile Image for William Mego.
Author 1 book40 followers
December 9, 2015
Updated to add story...
Some really interesting and different recipes in this one. Several are almost revolutionary in their claims. Broccoli cooked for two hours, butter made from corn water, etc. What I've tried making has been good... but not amazing. Still, for the serious cook, this is probably a must-read, but probably not a must-own.

To update, one of the dishes is an out-there version of carbonara, by a famous chef, which I pointed out to my wife, who shrugged and mentioned that it was tasty when she and he prepared it...my wife cooked for a few years at a very fancy restaurant after cooking school, and the famous chef, a friend of her chef, was in town for an event, and she assisted him in cooking for the event, and that was the dish they made together.

I went back to my troll cave...
Profile Image for Bonnie Brandt.
127 reviews11 followers
July 11, 2016
This was the most awesome cookbook I've seen in a long time. The recipes are classified as "genius" recipes because the have a surprising ingredient or technique that really sets it apart.

The recipes are not complicated and don't require any difficult to find ingredients. They are gathered from different cooks and cookbooks. The best way I have to describe them is normal recipes with a twist.

I can't recommend it more
Profile Image for Laila.
1,285 reviews47 followers
January 24, 2016
Beautiful to look at, lovely photographs and layout. Recipes too fussy for me (not much of a cook,) but my foodie/fearless cook husband has found a few he's dying to try.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,271 reviews398 followers
March 19, 2018
Hm. Nope. Too hoity-toity for me. Too NYC, too, telling an anecdote about serving guests three-egg plates in the evening, after midnight....

Also, $35 for 100 recipes? When the whole internet is free?

Besides, I invent my own hacks, thank you.

Granted, I'd never heard of Food52, or most of the contributors to this, before. But I don't care, anyway. A book that includes such messages as this, from someone named Marcella Hazan, "I can describe simple cooking thus: Cooking that is stripped all the way down to those procedures and those ingredients indispensable in enunciating the sincere flavor intentions of a dish" is not for me. All those ingredients talking to each other, negotiating the bright and the earthy notes, etc... Gimme a break.

Lots and lots of salt and butter. And an emphasis on baked and fried food that is, yay!, crisp on the outside, but like pudding or custard on the inside... blechh, imo.

I had never thought of using plumped dry fruit in muffins or pancakes before, to avoid the runniness of fresh berries. So ty for that.
Profile Image for Abbigail.
534 reviews
November 27, 2022
It is a pattern that I read cookbooks, know several recipes in that I want to buy it, get bummed out and think "maybe not, this is a huge meat chapter" and then I am wrapped back into wanting to but it by the end of the book.

I loved how instructional without patronizing this book felt, and the photographs mirrored this feeling as well. This book really seemed to have the aim to help the reader become a better cook rather than regurgitate recipes.

The style of this book didn't have the artistic quality of photos that I crave, but it all felt so classic and comforting, like a regular person would cook out of this book. The cover doesn't scream read me, but now that I know what is inside, I know I will again.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
75 reviews
August 18, 2021
I LOVE this cookbook. I love it. It's so charmingly written, the photography is stunning, and there is clearly an enormous amount of love packed into every recipe.

It makes me want to cook. You'd think that would be obvious, but not every cookbook achieves that. And it was fun to read! Don't skip the blurbs before the recipes, and definitely don't skip the genius tips. There's lots of great stuff in here.

Going to update when I start trying the recipes - I've bookmarked 1 or 100.
Profile Image for Maurice.
92 reviews
December 14, 2017
Fantastic cookbook!! Collection of recipes considered genius that actually are. Each one with a nice write up about the recipe and who or where it came from. I've cooked about a dozen of the recipes, and all winners. 2 thumbs up!
Profile Image for False.
2,262 reviews10 followers
December 31, 2015
I like the Food52 group, and I've found good recipes through them. Notice I said, "good." Not "genius." I made their banana bread that the author wrote poetic over. I used really fresh ingredients including the flour, baking powder, etc. and it was just ok. Genius is my mother's old banana bread recipe which still sets the stand. I made their olive oil granola. It was ok as well, but not genius. Ina Garten holds the record on that one. Easy enough to assemble. Again, super fresh ingredients to work with. They times it at 40 minutes. I timed it to check every ten minutes (to restir) and by 30 minutes it was about five minutes overdone. I know there is a variation with any oven, but 10 to 15 minutes is a huge gap in judgment. I'm going to try one or two more, including an apple cake. We'll see, but it's not a book I'd buy and make part of my constant repetoire.
Profile Image for Coleen (The Book Ramblings).
205 reviews58 followers
June 4, 2015
Whether you’re a home-cook or chef, you will find this cookbook to be one of your favorites, and often reached for. There are a hundred recipes that are tasty, creative, and will change your normal “go-to” cooking. It is compiled of delicious, information, and techniques that anyone would find useful for in the kitchen. Without a doubt, the recipes within the pages will strike up a conversation, and satisfied palate, when served to your family or guests.

I received this cookbook from Blogging for Books for reviewing purposes.
Profile Image for kimberly.
477 reviews21 followers
September 24, 2015
i hadn't known about the Food52 blog before i had gotten this book, but have now made it an oft frequented site as i meal plan for the week.

i'm fairly certain that all of these recipes are available on their site, but i still loved this book because 1) i love and adore physical books and operate in a physically visual way, 2) the pictures are lovely and matte on the paper, and 3) i love good food.

browsing their site is kind of annoying with how often the term "Genius" is thrown about, but whatever. so far i've been enjoying a lot of what i've made.
Profile Image for Joanne.
427 reviews
February 26, 2016
This is a must have in your cookbook collection. Simple and elegant ways to prepare so many dishes that will work for an every day meal at home or for company. Excellent variety of recipes that will please just about any palate.
Profile Image for Julia.
25 reviews
December 31, 2015
Yes I read a cookbook & it counts. Any cookbook that includes Nigella Lawson's dense chocolate loaf cake, Rao's meatballs and Marcella Hazen's 3 ingredient tomato sauce (the best spaghetti & meatballs ever!!) rightly deserves the word "Genius" in its title. Bravo! Num num num num...
Profile Image for Julie.
1,948 reviews38 followers
November 9, 2015
The cover states, "100 recipes that will change the way you cook." That's a very lofty promise. Maybe I am in the minority but I was less than impressed with this cookbook.
Profile Image for Robin.
2,093 reviews23 followers
January 9, 2018
This was one of my choices for the January 2018 Cookbook Book Club meeting at my library. We have about 15 members so there weren't enough copies of this one title so we added in 2 other Food52 books: Baking and the Food52 Cookbook. Overall, the group seemed to really enjoy the book and the recipes they chose. There were 13 of us at the meeting so we got to eat over 13 different recipes from 3 different books. A great night was had by all!

I plucked this one off the shelf once I knew most members had their own copies. I didn't start looking at it until late in the week last prior to the Monday night meeting. I decided to bake something I didn't recall ever baking before: macaroons! I chose a recipe that had a slight 'twist' on the traditional recipe because the creator specified using unsweetened coconut chips which are larger in size than the shredded coconut which most recipes specify.

Fortunately for me they sell this type of coconut at Ocean State JobLot so got it. The result is a tremendously yummy cookie BUT it's a bit tricky to bake (and mix, apparently, when you're me and you end up contaminating egg whites and having to start over after the you've cracked the second of four eggs...aargh!) Back to the baking: it's necessary to switch the trays and turn them around during baking. Again, it's a great payoff but be prepared to PAY ATTENTION to these cookies!
Profile Image for Caitlin Hawksley.
30 reviews11 followers
July 19, 2018
Pros: Perusers will be drawn to the beautiful, moody, natural lighting of the photos. Food52 has a name for itself in the blogging world, and with a title like "Genius Recipes," it will be tempting to add this cookbook to the home collection without vetting the recipes.

Cons: "Genius" implies recipes that are tested to perfection, no modifications necessary. I tried seven recipes over the course of my three-week library checkout, and none of them were solid as written. Some of them were downright inedible.

No, thank you: Poached scrambled eggs (Soggy.); black pepper tofu (5 TABLESPOONS fresh cracked black pepper, 8 fresh chiles, 4 servings. The tears coming out of my eyes as I ate this were on fire.); watermelon, mint, and cider vinegar tonic (Mostly tasted of vinegar. Watermelon and mint got lost in that acidity.).

Favorites: There wasn't a single recipe I'd make again, but the perfect pan-seared steaks were good (not great).
Profile Image for Erica.
102 reviews62 followers
April 19, 2020
I don't know what it means to have "read" a cookbook, but during this pandemic I've decided to go through my cookbooks more methodically. Instead of making a recipe here or there, I'm actually reading the introduction, and trying to be more systematic in making (and recording) a bunch of recipes from one cookbook.

Genius Recipes has been a go-to for me for a long time. The recipes tend to be simple but delicious, often with unique insight into flavor combinations or cooking techniques. A few of my favorites are Heidi Swanson's Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic and Moro's Warm Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini.

As a compilation cookbook, this book provides recipes from a bunch of different sources - which has the benefit of variety, but the downside that there isn't a common set of ingredients that the recipes share. Overall, this cookbook is a great resource with some of my favorite go-tos!
Profile Image for Lindsay Merrill.
327 reviews3 followers
July 17, 2017
I was kind of disappointed by this book.

The pictures were beautiful, the formatting was nice and useable, and there were 7 or 8 recipes that I copied down. But overall I didn't think of the word "genius" when I read most of these recipes. Many of the strategies that were labeled "genius" are things I've come across before. Likewise, more than half of the recipes didn't have anything particularly "genius" about them at all, though they may have been good recipes. My disappointment may have been a matter of taste too; there were quite a few recipes that I just wouldn't really make.

I had considered buying this book, actually, but I'm glad I checked it out from the library first. I won't be buying it, but I am interested in checking out the blog Food52 run by the authors of this book.
Profile Image for Amanda.
361 reviews33 followers
January 31, 2021
Disappointing. Nothing genius about it all, just an odd assortment of unusual recipes. I was hoping for something along the lines of the back section of my old Gourmet cookbook, which offers really great cooking tips on the basics and expand upon that with some classic recipes. The only interesting recipe to me was the poached scrambled eggs, but despite the protestations of the writer, they still sound like too much trouble and clean up for something as simple as scrambled eggs. This is too eclectic, like someone randomly picked the recipes while drunk. Hard pass. The photography is lovely, though.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
429 reviews
June 9, 2018
This was a fun cookbook to read, but the two recipes I've tried so far haven't been as amazing as promised. The idea is that this is a collection of amazing recipes that are different from the norm and that have become viral sensations online. Meh. Most of the recipes are very fussy and require a lot of steps; the vegetable dishes are hour+ recipes and that just doesn't work for me right now. I did, however, find a lot of recipes in the dessert section that I want to try. Maybe I was just reading while hungry.
662 reviews30 followers
September 2, 2020
At first I looked rather doubtfully at this book, it felt like cheating. The book is a collection of recipes by people other than the writer, but we were quarantined and I had nothing better to do.
It was only upon perusing the pages at my leisure that I discovered the genius of this book. I mean there are rarely cookbooks which you like each and every recipe therein. But there is usually one or two brilliant recipes in most cookbooks, and this one has collected those in one volume. I for one am really having fun with it and enjoying myself immensely.
Profile Image for Leah.
93 reviews2 followers
August 24, 2017
The photography in this cookbook is absolutely stunning, and I love the headnotes and even a few of the recipes. However, a few of the recipes I've cooked have not turned out well, and there's plenty that are too intimidating to attempt! There are a some standout winners (like the no-knead bread), and still many recipes I'd like to try.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 158 reviews

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