No…not that kind of dirty book.
I mean books that are physically dirty–spashed with olive oil. Smeared with whole grain dijon mustard. Dappled with red wine.
What I’m talking about are cookbooks. Here are a few of mine:
I have to admit that there are a couple on the shelves that have barely been opened. They’re mostly on the bottom. Some were well meaning gifts. Some were mistakes of my own. They’re the clean cookbooks. The ones that I imagine saying “pick me, pick me” everytime I cast my eye their way.
Look carefully and you’ll see the trends I fell for.
I went through the blackened phase created by cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. I have a couple of his books. Once glance and it’s easy to see why he weighs a few hundred pounds more than he should–every recipe has AT LEAST 2 sticks of butter in it.
I went through the Silver Palate era in the 80s when formerly unheard of ingredients finally made their way to Little Rock where we were living at the time.
I’m still in the Barefoot Contessa’s orbit…mostly because her recipes are really, really good. But she’s another one with a liberal hand when it comes to butter and cream.
Those trends come and go…but some recipes are constant, like these two for grilled chicken.
And here’s one I’ve been making for 20 years. It’s from an old Junior League cookbook called Southern Sideboards. Say what you will about the League, but they sure know how to cook. Or at least their kitchen help does.
If you spill something on your favorite recipe, don’t worry about it. It’s a badge of honor–a sure sign that whatever’s under those splashes and splotches is sure to be good.