Can you really write a book on America's Greatest New Cooks and not mention Alex Stupak of Empellón? After all, it takes a great mind to move from avant-garde pastry to idiosyncratic Mexican cuisine in one successful fell swoop (even if Stupak insists it was a natural transition). Stupak's cuisine takes all of the multitudinous flavors of Mexico and intensifies them further; a perfect example is his take on chorizo and potato tacos.
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We're big fans of Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria here at Serious Eats, so it's little surprise that its chef, Justin Smillie, made the cut for Food and Wine's new cookbook America's Greatest New Cooks. Not surprisingly, many of his recipes in the book include pasta in some form. One of his more unique dishes, Pasta with Shiitake, Peas, and Goat Cheese, takes layered lasanga and scrambles it up a bit. Smillie adds fresh primavera-ish flavors to broken flat noodles with peas, goat, cheese, and mint, while grounding the pasta with earthy mushrooms and thyme.
Laced with fennel, leeks, and bay leaf, Nico Monday and Amelia O'Reilly's Smoked Fish Chowder from Food and Wine's new cookbook America's Greatest New Cooks is a complex, fragrant take on the classic even before adding its namesake ingredient. But it is the flaked smoked fish that truly takes this chowder to another level. The smoke's aroma is the first thing to hit when ladling a bowl, and it certainly permeates the soup. However, since it is added so late in the cooking, this smoke gives way to the sweet corn, fennel, and potatoes.
I grew up with grits. Whether they were instant with extra salt, slow-cooked with chunks of cheddar, or tented with a Kraft Single and a puddle of Tabasco (a la Waffle House), I'd eat them every which way. And I'd still eat them every morning if I didn't have to mail-order a good bag. Even though menus today are replete with Southern-inflected versions of the Bible Belt breakfast staple, it is still surprisingly difficult to find a bag of white ground corn labeled "grits" above the Mason-Dixon line. It's a good thing Sarah Simmons's recipe for Creamy Parmesan Grits from Food and Wine's new book America's Greatest New Cooks still works with "polenta."
Roasting Brussels sprouts may have departed as the culinary trend de rigeur (hello, deep-frying!), but there's much to be said for the charred, crisp, and just-sweet leaves resulting from a hot and quick oven. The method is a perfect canvas for just about any blanket of flavors--even the seemingly crazy combination of caraway, lime juice, mint, and cilantro Bar Tartine's Nicolaus Balla suggests in Food and Wine's new cookbook America's Greatest New Cooks. Balla's seamless blending of Eastern European and Southeast Asian tastes are fully realized in this vibrant vegetable side. The sprouts are sweet-tart and spicy, with a curious undercurrent of rye-bread that'll keep any sprout lover coming back for more.