Issue 07: Best of the Best

Home Kitchen in Northern Thailand
Lunch at a home kitchen in Northern Thailand

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice of cooks present…

Laurie Colwin

From television shows to YouTube and from podcasts to magazines, not to mention blogs or any of the other hundred media outlets that exist, we are constantly bombarded with recipes.

“An Official Campaign to Stop Overlooking Walnuts”, “14 New Ways to Use Avocados”, “Make the Most of Summer Corn”, “13 Guilt Free Ice Cream Alternatives”, “Tikka Masala Way Better than Takeout”,” A Secret Ingredient for Better Salmon” (that turned out to be Japanese ama-koji).

I have a theory: home cooks read and watch all of this, they feel as if they’ve prepared something, and they end up going out to eat- restaurant reservations being the only thing made.

Stay home and cook. I want to share some recipes with you. Trust me, these recipes are the best of the best. They’ve come to me through friends, often originating from relatives who are remembered as the best cooks in the family. They are economical and use easily attainable ingredients. These recipes are flexible and forgiving, perpetually modern in their simplicity and in their ability to invoke nostalgia. These are dishes meant to be shared!


Kathryn Anderson’s Banana Bread

Yiayia Bea’s Spanakopita

Challah, My Way
In 1989, soon after my husband and I opened our catering company J&L, we went to the Fancy Food Show in Chicago. When we mentioned what we did in the industry to one of the guys running a booth, he replied, “This is America. All you need to remember is melted cheese, shrimp, and chocolate.”

No matter how sophisticated the client, it’s strange how often this turned out to be true, and still is…. Here are the best of the best in each of those categories.


Aunt Syl’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

Pizza with Leek and Gruyere Cheese

Thi’s Recipe for Grilled Shrimp

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