Beat This! Cookbook: Absolutely Unbeatable Knock-'em-Dead Recipes for the Very Best Dishes

by Ann Hodgman

Here is a challenge few cooks can resist: put these recipes up against the best of your own. In this book, Spy magazine's original food columnist throws down the gauntet with a solid collection of can't-fail recipes that most readers will find irresistible - and unbeatable. Whether it's for cheesecake, crab cakes, chicken salad, blueberry pie, beef stew, or fudge, the author takes all-time North American favorite dishes and pulls out all the stops.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547437002
  • ISBN-10: 0547437005
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication Date: 03/22/2011
  • Carton Quantity: 24

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About the Book
About the Author
  • About the Book

    Do you think you have the absolute best recipe for apple pie? Maybe your neighbor claims to make the best meatloaf around. Did your Italian grandmother serve the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Atlantic? Well, unless you or that neighbor or your grandmother is Ann Hodgman, you’re wrong!

    The book that the editor in chief of Vanity Fair called “the funniest, most engaging book about food I’ve ever come across” has now been revised and updated: more than half the recipes are completely new, and many of the originals have been “oomphed up” to make them even more shamelessly delicious.

    Beat This! Cookbook contains more than a hundred all-time favorites, from Burnt Sugar Ice Cream and White Chocolate Raspberry Pie to Chili-Cheese Casserole and Onion Rings. Each one is guaranteed to make people take a bite, stagger with joy, and beg you for the recipe.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts


    Why are people always so proud of their brownie
    recipes? Katharine Hepburn, for example. If there’s anything
    I’m sick of—besides the way she always says she’s a regular
    person and not an actress—it’s reading about how sinful her
    brownies are. Actually, Hepburn’s is the dullest brownie formula there is, and
    one of the most common. There’s a copy of it in my daughter’s nursery-school
    cookbook (prefaced by the remark, “These are sinful”); there’s a copy of it in two
    different Junior League cookbooks I own; there’s a copy of it in Fannie Farmer.
    All these recipes for an utterly undistinguished product! I guess sin is duller
    than I thought.
     Brownies aren’t the only food for which people always think their recipe is
    the best. Another one is meat loaf. Ann Landers gets hundreds of requests for
    her meat loaf recipe, which is strange considering that it, too, is ordinary in the
    extreme. (Ground meat, ketchup, onion soup mix—you get the picture.) There’s
    a whole feedlot of recipes out there with self-awarded blue ribbons. But it’s rare
    to find a “best” recipe that’s even worth reading—much less eating.
     Except for the ones in this book. These really are the best. There’s just no
    point in trying any other recipes but these. I mean, there’s just no point in trying
    any other recipes for these foods but these. What I mean is, these are the
    best recipes of their type. Well, you know what I mean. I guess I mean, if you’re
    looking for a blini recipe, my chili recipe won’t do you much good. But if you’re
    looking for a chili recipe, it will. Know what I mean?
    I’m not very good at coming up with original recipes, although my daughter
    Laura is. One of my favorites is one she composed when she was five:

    Plain Dough
    Any fruit

     Unlike Laura, I can’t just walk into the kitchen and improvise a brilliant new
    dish. But I can figure out how to improve a recipe. I just double the chocolate
    and add some bacon.
     Of course it’s a little more complicated than that. Still, some of the recipes
    in this book wouldn’t necessarily be considered healthy. Lots of them, I guess.
    But the best recipes are rarely the healthiest. When you’re looking for the best
    potato salad to take to a potluck (page 188), or the best blueberry pie to bring
    to a bake sale (page 40), or—uh—the best French toast to serve to your boss at
    that breakfast meeting (page 130), you’re not usually concerned with the dish’s
    fat content. You just want people to take a bite, stagger with joy and beg you for
    the recipe.
     With these recipes, they will. I know, because it always happens to me.
    A word about this book’s organization. Unlike most cookbooks, it lists the
    recipes in alphabetical order rather than by category. That’s because I expect
    people to use the book when they’re hunting for a specific “best,” not idly
    thumbing through the pages trying to decide what to make for dinner.
    For the most part, I’ve alphabetized the recipes by each dish’s main quality.
    On the other hand, fried chicken and roast chicken do share the same section.
    Why is this? Because it makes more sense. Chicken is the main thing about both
    recipes, not friedness or roastedness, just as salad is the main thing about green
    salad, while potatoes are the main thing about potato salad.
     If you can’t bear to hunt down recipes in this way, you can always turn to
    the index. Things are conventionally organized there. But I think it’s more fun
    to read a cookbook with all different kinds of recipes jostled together, just as I
    prefer bookshelves where books like Betsy-Tacy and Tib are snuggled between 
    The Interpretation of Dreams and A Field Guide to Mammals of North America.

    Not-Controversial-at-All Apple Crisp, It Turns Out (formerly Very Controversial
    Apple Crisp) Serves 4 to 6.

    The controversy, explained in my cookbook BEAT THAT!,
    was that some people prefer this recipe to the one that appeared in
    Beat This! Or so I thought. It turned out that everyone prefers this
    recipe. My friend Denise made it for her husband, Peter, who took a
    bite and said, “There’s no controversy.” The novelist Elizabeth Berg wrote me
    that she’d looked for a fabulous apple crisp she wanted to send me, and then
    realized that it was this recipe she wanted to send.
    So: thanks to Marialisa Calta for setting me straight. She serves this with ice
    cream, but I like heavy cream better. But that’s just a small semantic diff erence.
    I sometimes make this with 4 cups of pears and a big handful of dried cranberries.

    4 generous cups Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar
    1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
    . cup all-purpose fl our
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    ⅛ teaspoon salt
    Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or straight-up heavy cream

    Preheat the oven to 375°F, with a rack in the middle. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
     In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and cinnamon sugar.
    In a small bowl, blend the brown sugar, fl our, butter and salt together'—'fi rst
    with a pastry blender or two knives, and then with your hands.
     Put the apple slices into the loaf pan. Press the topping over them. Bake the
    apple crisp for 1 hour. At that point, says Marialisa, “You get this really dense,
    chewy, unbelievable candylike topping.”
     Serve the apple crisp warm or cold with the ice cream or cream. It is also
    very good when it’s chilled for a couple of days; the topping melts down into the
    apples a bit.

    Many-Splendored Guacamole
    Makes 5 generous cups.

    The original BEAT THIS! had a good guacamole recipe,
    but my friend Laura Lloyd later sent me one that was way better. “I
    was fully levitated when I tried it,” she said.
    This guac does have a billion ingredients, but they’re mostly ones
    you’ll have in the house already. I’ve taken out the original recipe’s chorizo,
    black olives and jicama.
    You do remember that the avocado pit does nothing to keep guacamole from
    turning brown, right? The thing that will help keep it green is nice, tight plastic
    wrap over the top—that, and the lemon juice.
    Go thou and levitate!

    4 ripe avocados, preferably Hass
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 scallions, chopped (include as much green as possible)
    2 large garlic cloves, minced
    2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
    1 medium tomato, deglopped and chopped
    1 tablespoon sour cream
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    . cup medium-hot salsa
    . cup grated Monterey Jack
    2 tablespoons tequila
    2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
    1 teaspoon salt

    In a medium bowl, mash the avocados. Stir in the other ingredients in order.
    Wrap the guacamole tightly in plastic wrap if you’re not serving it right away,
    but serve it the same day you make it.

    Mom-Style Meat Loaf
    Serves 6.

    Whenever I make meat loaf, I remember the I LOVE
    Lucy episode where Lucy loses her engagement ring. Ricky
    says, “Don’t cry, honey. I’ll get you a new ring with big diamonds
    all the way around,” and Lucy sobs back, “No! I want my

  • Reviews
    "This book emerges as a truly personal collection of tried-and-true formulas for classics... There is...something very enticing about trying these recipes... So if you've been looking for that perfect pot roast or carrot cake but haven't quite found it, or you need a dish you can count on to serve to a crowd, give Hodgman's recipes a whirl."
    -Publishers Weekly
    "The book I have probably recommended more than any other...more than a cookbook, it is a humor book and a self-help book and a security blanket and a kind of a bible."
    -Elizabeth Berg on NPR

    "Beat This! is the funniest, most engaging book about food I've ever come accross." 
    -Vanity Fair

    Anyone who has been blue lately, or has spent more than five minutes in the kitchen, shoudl buy this."
    -Corby Kummer, The Atlantic