From noted food writer Molly O’Neill comes a lavish portrait of our nation’s contemporary culinary tradition with the best recipes from the greatest home cooks.
Ten years ago, former New York Times food columnist Molly O’Neill embarked on a transcontinental road trip to investigate reports that Americans had stopped cooking at home. As she traveled highways, dirt roads, bayous, and coastlines gathering stories and recipes, it was immediately apparent that dire predictions about the end of American cuisine were vastly overstated. From Park Avenue to trailer parks, from tidy suburbs to isolated outposts, home cooks were channeling their family histories as well as their tastes and personal ambitions into delicious meals. One decade and over 300,000 miles later, One Big Table is a celebration of these cooks, a mouthwatering portrait of the nation at the table.
Meticulously selected from more than 20,000 contributions, the cookbook’s 600 recipes are a definitive portrait of what we eat and why. In this lavish volume—illustrated throughout with historic photographs, folk art, vintage advertisements, and family snapshots—O’Neill celebrates heirloom recipes like the Doughty family’s old-fashioned black duck and dumplings that originated on a long-vanished island off Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the Pueblo tamales that Norma Naranjo makes in her horno in New Mexico, as well as modern riffs such as a Boston teenager’s recipe for asparagus soup scented with nigella seeds and truffle oil. Many recipes offer a bridge between first-generation immigrants and their progeny—the bucatini with dandelion greens and spring garlic that an Italian immigrant and his grandson forage for in the Vermont woods—while others are contemporary variations that embody each generation’s restless obsession with distinguishing itself from its predecessors. O’Neill cooks with artists, writers, doctors, truck drivers, food bloggers, scallop divers, horse trainers, potluckers, and gourmet club members.
In a world where takeout is just a phone call away, One Big Table reminds us of the importance of remaining connected to the food we put on our tables. As this brilliantly edited collection shows on every page, the glories of a home-cooked meal prove how every generation has enriched and expanded our idea of American food. Every recipe in this book is a testament to the way our memories—historical, cultural, and personal—are bound up in our favorite and best family dishes.
As O’Neill writes, “Most Americans cook from the heart as well as from a distinctly American yearning, something I could feel but couldn’t describe until thousands of miles of highway helped me identify it in myself: hometown appetite. This book is a journey through hundreds of ‘hometowns’ that fuel the American appetite, recipe by recipe, bite by bite.”
Molly O’Neill on Christmas Cookies People ask me which all-American dish I got the most recipes for in the decade that I traveled across the United States gathering recipes and food stories for One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking. Meatloaf? Fried chicken? Macaroni and cheese? Nope. In fact, if I gathered all the recipes for all other American icons together in a single pile, it wouldn’t be half as high as the stack of Christmas cookie recipes that I was given. There were, of course, dozens of variations on butter cookies and cookie press cookies, dozens of secrets to the making and baking of perfect ginger bread people, candy canes, trees and wreathes. But the majority of Christmas cookie recipes are simply special cookies, cookies that take time and a certain touch, cookies whose recipe is passed from generation to generation, cookies that express all that we wish we brought to the holiday kitchen–warmth, generosity and enough white picket fence fantasy to stretch from sea-to-shining-sea. My mother’s French almond cookies are perfect example. There is no reason NOT to make the perfectly crisp almond cookies any time of the year. But my mother who, like many Christmas cookie maniacs, began baking a different batch of cookies the day after Thanksgiving and continued until she ran of storage room in the cold attic, baked these cookies only once a year. They keep well, so were always her first batch. To her six children and 14 grandchildren and great-grandchild, the smells of these confections is as much of the season as Frankincense, pine and myrrh. When it comes to cookies, Christmas means “special,” and “family” and “eat it while you can!” –Molly O’Neill Featured Recipe: Virginia’s French Almond Cookies (Columbus, Ohio) from Molly O’Neill’s One Big Table Virginia O’Neill began making Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving and continued making a batch a day until the twentieth of December. “I’d grown up as a single child, raised by a wealthy aunt and uncle who were older and quiet. They had cooks and servants and everything was always perfect. I distinguished myself by preparing dinner on the cook’s night off and by baking cookies and pies. I started collecting Christmas cookie recipes in grade school, and even after I married into a different life—my husband was a dashing working man and I had six children—my aunt and uncle expected me to bake. I used to love doing it. Hundreds of intricate, delicate cookies. It was a way of reconciling where I’d come from and what I’d become, I guess. Always use a little less butter than is called for, that is the secret. The French Almond cookies last for a month, if you store them in a tin, with wax paper between the layers.” Ingredients 1/2 pound (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, cut into chunks 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 1 tablespoon honey 2 large eggs, well beaten 2 cups ground almonds 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 cup slivered almonds Instructions Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugars until smooth. Stir in the honey, eggs, and ground almonds. Combine the flour and baking soda, then add to the butter mixture. Mix well. Pinch off a piece of dough the size of a walnut (about 2 tablespoons). Roll it between your palms to form a cigar shape. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat, placing the cookies 2 inches apart. Push a slivered almond into the center of each cookie. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let the baking sheet cool and reline with parchment before shaping and baking more cookies. Makes about 11 dozen cookies
This is one of my favorite cookbooks. If I could only keep a few, this would be one of them. Why? – Despite its length, the recipes seem to have been carefully selected and tested. Sometimes with this sort of compilation cookbook it seems that at a certain point the author is tossing in recipes because the book “needs” a recipe of that type, not because the recipe itself is worthy of being there. For example a book might “need” a mac and cheese recipe, or a beef stew recipe or whatever. This book seems like one where a recipe got in only if it was great, not because it filled a “gap” in the collection. – The recipes are great. – The recipes are different than what I would find on Epicurious or other on-line sites. – The recipes are different than what I usually cook, particularly in the seasonings, so I learn. For example,. there is a Persian yogurt soup called “Aush” that uses an extremely large amount of green herbs – dill, mint and cilantro I think (I am writing this off the top of my head). I mean extremely large – like 1 cup of dill and each of the other herbs! I would never ever come up with that type of proportions or that combination of seasonings if I was just improvising myself based on what I have cooked in the past and it is truly fabulous. – It is the only cookbook I have found with an Aush recipe and I had been trying to find one ever since I had it in an Afghan restaurant years ago. Plus, as mentioned above, the recipe is amazing. – The recipes are diverse, they come from all sorts of cuisines and cultures. Some recipes are very traditional versions of certain foods and others are clearly recipes that people have adapted and changed over the years. It really seems like a collection of real people’s favorite recipes and the criteria for inclusion in the book is “is it good” regardless of the recipes “authenticity” or pedigree. – The information about the various contributors that accompanies the recipes is interesting and gives the book depth. And it can be ignored if you are just browsing the recipes – the recipes are not “buried” on tons of text. So you can enjoy the info, or ignore it. – It seems like a book that lots of people don’t already have and have not heard about so it makes a great gift. If I could keep only 10, or even 5, of my many cookbooks this one would make the cut. I just can’t find this sort of recipes – and feel confident that each one is a very very good version of whatever it is – online or in other books. And it makes me try new seasoning combinations and proportions that I would never think of myself. Excellent!
I love reading this cookbook and I can’t wait to make a bunch of the recipes. I have about 200 cookbooks but this one is very different because Molly O’Neill has collected really personal recipes from hundreds of Americans. Many of the recipes are International and very unusual since they were often handed down from parents and grandparents. I also love the stories that accompany each recipe, and the information about American food, such as how Philadelphia cream cheese was invented, and the Green Giant frozen vegetables. I highly recommend this cookbook.
- Title: One Big Table
- Autor: Molly O’Neill
- Publisher (Publication Date): Simon & Schuster (November 16, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: | 0743232704
- ISBN-13: | 978-0743232708
- Download File Format: EPUB, PDF