Sunny Anderson’s new book is absolutely charming.
Anderson is the host of several "Food Network" shows, but I haven’t had cable for four or five years now, so I didn’t know much about her when I flipped through her debut cookbook, "Sunny’s Kitchen," last month.
I started reading the introduction and got to the story of the Anderson family’s red plate.
Forget cookies and ice cream or a trip to ShowBiz Pizza Place. After a good report card all I wanted was to eat on the red plate. Since I can remember, if our schoolwork was stellar, or if we achieved in another area of life, my parents rewarded me and my brother with the distinct honor of eating on our family’s one red plate. Each time I got to use it I felt like a princess. When I started filming my TV show ‘Cooking for Real,’ I called my parents to ask if I could use the red plate for the studio set. After all, they were done rewarding kids, right? My mom actually said no, and that’s when I realized that my parents were still rewarding each other with red-plate meals. Cute. So I bought my own and now continue the tradition anytime I feel I need a priceless reward and great memories of past red-plate meals.
I’m a sucker for a good family food tradition, and after reading this, I was hooked on Anderson’s book. The dishes are wide-ranging and each recipe helps tell her story, from growing up on Army bases all over the world to snagging one of the top radio jobs in New York City. We ran a longer story about Anderson and her debut cookbook in Wednesday’s food section, and here’s one of the recipes that appeared in print.
I’m now on the hunt for a red plate for my own family, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your family’s quirky food traditions. Share them in the comments here or over on the Relish Austin Facebook page.
Garlic Hasselback Potatoes
1 ½ lbs. red new potatoes (about 20)
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a wooden spoon as a cradle, place each potato in the spoon and make several parallel slits into each potato top, 1/8-inch apart, making sure not to slice through to the bottom completely — stop at the wooden spoon as a guide. Place 3 garlic slices between slits at the crown of each potato. Toss potatoes in a medium bowl with the butter and olive oil.
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the tops are crispy and the potatoes are cooked through, about 1 hour. Top with chives. Serves 4.
— From "Sunny’s Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life" by Sunny Anderson (Clarkson Potter, $22.50)