I am struggling to understand the whole "Best of the Best" phenomenon. I was all prepared for a hilarious/dismal week of cooking through the kitsch-packed Best of the Best from Alaska, but it has proved a fount of staggeringly delicious recipes. It makes me wonder if my whole approach to cooking and cookbooks has been completely wrong, if I have been hobbled by snobbishness and a knee-jerk aversion to anyone who would even consider making a recipe that calls for Velveeta, if I should just embrace my Jell-O salad genes.
In addition to the salmon and leek chowder, which was by far the best chowder I've ever attempted, I baked 60-minute dinner rolls. Big, warm fluffballs. Hard to decide whether to use as a pillow or eat.
For dessert: Blackberry polenta cobbler. INCREDIBLE. Not so much like a cobbler as a sweet, earthy, buttery cornbread pudding full of fruit. Top with vanilla ice cream. Hyperventilating just remembering. So much better, so much more interesting and original and elegant than anything I've ever baked from Dorie Greenspan.
What I have failed to mention here is that everything from Best of the Best from Alaska has been easy and very fast. Increasingly, I find that I appreciate easy and fast. I started cooking at 5:40 and dinner was hot on the table at 7.
So, I did some internet research. Best of the Best is the project of two self-described churchgoing "gals" from Mississippi, Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, who have traveled to all fifty states and collected the best recipes from community cookbooks in an attempt to preserve our country's culinary heritage. They have devoted fans, and there are bloggers who are collecting all their cookbooks.
And now there is another.