Center you next dinner party around an aromatic, steaming bowl of pho, the traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Start the meal with crispy crab spring rolls, crunchy lettuce wraps, and a fresh lotus stem salad, and end with traditional sweet banana-coconut packets.
Joe's Special is one of the most odd and divine scrambles known to man. Consisting of egg, garlic, spinach, and ground beef, the dish originated in San Francisco in the 1920s, at a long-gone Italian-American restaurant, New Joe's.
The origins of leeks vinaigrette—poached leeks in a mustardy dressing—are unknown, but it's easy to imagine someone pulling them out of the stockpot once they had worked their magic, then seasoning them.
During cooking, okra exudes a thick liquid that gives this hearty Cajun stew a sumptuous, silky texture; a little filé powder, made from dried sassafras leaves, further thickens and enriches it. But the backbone of this gumbo, and the source of its smoky flavor, is the roux made by toasting flour in hot oil until it is a deep red-brown.
The owner of Le Cirque set out to make two pasta dishes for his friends while on vacation, one with vegetables, one Alfredo style. But in the end he mixed the vegetables with spaghetti and cream together, and Spaghetti Alla Primavera soon became a regularly-requested item at the restaurant.
This perfect rendition, from Claudia Roden's masterpiece cookbook The Food of Spain (HarperCollins, 2011), is a deceptively simple mixture of olive oil, white wine vinegar, chopped parsley, and crushed tomato. Somehow it telegraphs coolness and warmth, acidity and richness all at the same time.