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Ten years ago this week, I started writing about Genius Recipes for Food52 and — thanks entirely to all of you — haven't stopped since (give or take one baby).
The mission has been surprisingly constant since that first column, about The River Café's Strawberry Sorbet, a three-ingredient marvel that tosses out what cookbooks and TV shows have been telling us for years about lemons: Instead of "take care to leave the bitter white pith behind," it's "toss the whole thing in."
Back then, I wrote: Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius, too. (Yep, that tracks.)
But just about everything else has changed. Ten years ago, Food52's audience was largely made up of experienced home cooks, chefs, and food bloggers who were eager to finally find a place to share their recipes and be inspired to make new ones for our weekly recipe contests. So, in launching the column to this group of nose-to-tailers and layer cakers, I didn't think twice about a recipe that called for both a food processor and an ice cream maker, even though I barely had room for one of them in my own kitchen (I chose ice cream).
These days, happily, Food52 has grown to include a whole lot more readers (and viewers and listeners) with all sorts of interests, needs, and time crunches. I want Genius Recipes to welcome as many of us cooks as possible who want to make sorbet.
In my own life, that shift was never more forceful or clear than in working on the next Genius cookbook, which is still slow-cooking and will be done around September 2022. It was meant to be a beginners' cookbook, a project that felt perfectly timed as I pictured the recipes I'd hand to my someday-child to get them hooked — to show how much you can do in the kitchen with little effort, time, and gear.
But as I continued to work on that book for the next three years — through the stupor of early parenthood and then the pandemic, without access to childcare or family support, and then a move across the country to start again — I realized something: how much I myself needed those recipes. Recipes that bend around whatever life hands us.
So this time, as we bring back the iconic strawberry sorbet, it has: a how-to video with tips for harnessing whatever fruit and equipment you have (or don't have); a podcast episode with River Café co-founder Ruth Rogers and Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser that — finally — shares the origins of the whole lemon trick and why it sticks with us; and two new sorbet buddies from The River Café's many cookbooks, which taught me new ways to do less and get more. The peach one is left in juicy-sweet chunks; the mascarpone barely needs to be whisked.
Thank you to boss Amanda, whose brilliant idea started this whole thing, to boss Merrill for a decade of generosity and encouragement, and especially to all of you for sending in tips, cooking along, and talking to me in the comments all these years. You've made me a better cook, editor, sleuth, and listener. Here's to many more.