Let's play a little word association. I say "recipe". You say "card"? Recipe cards are so retro they might just be poised for a return to fashion. They actually take up a lot less room than cookbooks and are amazingly easy to sort and browse through. I really hadn't thought very much about them until a few boxes passed my way recently. Not all of them were worthwhile but here are three I do recommend.
1. Sumptuous Small Plates
This delectable deck of cards is written by local entrepreneur Bibby Gignilliat the founder and executive chef of Parties That Cook. Because she has a background as a cooking teacher and organizer of cooking parties, the recipe instructions are clear and easy to follow. The photographs on these cards are gorgeous and the recipes are very enticing. Rather than pull out a dozen cookbooks you could easily throw a party using a handful of cards.
Some typical recipes? Lamb Skewers with Basil Mint Pesto, Crostini of Goat Cheese with Tomato Marmalade, Sweet Potato Galettes with Bacon and Sour Cream. There are even a handful of desserts. I am looking forward to trying Kofte with Melted Feta Center and Garlicky Tahini and the Coconut Butter Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting. Except for one recipe, they all fit neatly on one card. The deck also includes entertaining tips and menu suggestions. There are 30 recipes in all.
2. 86 San Francisco
Local food maven GraceAnn Walden edited this impressive set of restaurant recipes, and the focus here is on restaurants. All the photographs are of the restaurants, not the recipes themselves. Sometimes restaurant recipes don't translate well to the home kitchen but for the most part these recipes seem workable and a nice taste of what you'd get at the restaurant.
The restaurants featured in the pack are all topnotch. Actually it would be interesting to compare them to the infamous Chronicle 100! The restaurants include Acme Chophouse, A16, Bocadillos, Cyrus, Manresa, Incanto, Slanted Door, Yank Sing, etc. Recipes run the gamut from an Apple Galette from Chez Panisse, Duck Gumbo from Town Hall to Butter-Poached Lobster with Vanilla Crepe from Michael Mina.
My only quibbles are the number of recipes that take up two cards and a recipe for macaroni and cheese that calls for "a box elbow macaroni". Come again? Is there one standard size box of macaroni I should know about? There are 86 recipe cards, but about
80 86 recipes. All in all it's still a very good pick. This deck not only serves as a great source of recipes but also as a great source of restaurant info. It's a good way to get a sampling of what's cooking in and around San Francisco without adding yet another coffee table sized restaurant cookbook to your collection.