Food52, the Vox Populi of Recipes

Never has it been so easy to get recipes. Type any ingredient and "recipe" into Google and you'll get enough results to keep you busy for weeks. But most of them will be crap. It's no secret in the food publishing world that recipe testing varies wildly from publisher to publisher, even from author to author. There are no clear, agreed-upon standards and the unwary cook gets burned. That's the milieu that made it possibly for homely, humble Cook's Illustrated to become a mega-force in the cooking world: recipes that worked. Every time.

But ever since upstart recipe website Food52 challenged Cook's to a recipe battle last month, I've been taking a good hard look at the site. It's kind of cool! Each week, editors Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs ask for reader recipes on a particular theme (this week: French toast and minestrone). After the recipes come in, the editors and freelance testers read 'em, pick six to eight tasty-sounding ones to try, and test them in their home kitchens. Two finalists emerge, and site readers vote on which one will be included in a Food52 cookbook set to publish in spring of 2011.

Food52 readily admits that recipes aren't tested as thoroughly as at Cook's
(or, ahem, at CHOW.com, where we have our own very busy test kitchen), so they're probably not as reliable. But the Food52 process is interesting enough to intrigue me, a jaded and experienced home cook who works for a food website, so maybe you'll like it, too.

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