Throughout International Women’s Month, Chowhound is sharing stories from and about a wealth of women entrepreneurs, businesses, chefs, and cookbook writers who have all found success in the food space. Here, some of the most iconic women-authored recipes everyone should know.
It’s time to celebrate the women chefs that we love—both past and present—who have influenced us from our kitchens to our social media feeds. Think of that melt-in-your-mouth braised beef stew or that tantalizing dessert you make year after year (or month after month); that recipe that makes you smile or sparks that “aha” moment when you realize what to make at your next dinner party. Today, those recipes we want to shine a light on were all penned and perfected by women.
We’re not the only ones who they’ve inspired. We spoke to food writer Alison Roman, cook and author of “Dining In” and “Nothing Fancy” (and #3 on our list), who shared that she’s been particularly inspired by chefs Gabrielle Hamilton and Alice Waters. Alison told us, “These women were some of the first with whom I truly felt a kinship; they are really themselves about who they are, and very inspiring.” Alison also noted that, for women in the culinary industry, “if you’re not in love with the job you have, but want to work in food there is a place for you. We are less strapped than we were 10 years ago,” and she emphasized that it’s important that women have mentors.
So in that spirit, here are nine of our favorite recipes created by noteworthy women of several generations. Some are fairly new to our recipe Rolodex while others have been there for years, but each recipe is special and unique, and will continue to be cherished (and used often).
Get your ovens ready for recreating some delicious meals and celebrating some iconic women chefs in the process.
How can you not love Julia Child and her famed (and time-intensive—we’re looking at you, pearl onions!) Boeuf Bourguignon? Perhaps you remember drooling while watching scenes from “Julie & Julia,” and immediately traipsing to Barnes & Noble to own your own “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Or maybe you grew up using your mother’s marked up, smudged, and dog-eared copy. Regardless, this recipe is a classic stew composed of salty, crispy bacon; pearl onions; mushrooms; and beef cooked with copious amounts of red wine. It’s a perfectly hearty winter meal to be devoured near a fireplace with goblets of more red and a warm, crisp baguette, mashed potatoes, or buttery noodles. Your kitchen may be a bit messy afterwards, but all of that wine—both in the pot and in the glass—will quickly help you forget. Get the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, $17.89 on Amazon
A classic cookbook anyone who loves French food should own.
If you love Indian food, you’ve probably come across Madhur Jaffrey. Born in Delhi, Jaffrey moved to England to pursue a career in acting. Missing her childhood food, she began writing and cooking Indian recipes, and eventually left England to pursue a culinary life in New York. She has penned over a dozen cookbooks, and is often attributed with introducing Indian cuisine to western cultures. Her Goan-style prawn curry has a plethora of warming spices, including chili powder, paprika, turmeric, cumin, and ginger. It’s rich and nourishing, has just the right pitch of heat, and is delicious served with rice or naan. Plus, it’s made in a pressure cooker. Get the Instant Pot Shrimp Curry Goan-Style recipe.
At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, $24.01 on Amazon
In one of Jaffrey's many masterpieces, find recipes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
When Alison Roman debuted the salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookie, the world paused for an instant. Not a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies, Alison adventured into delicious new territory with an amalgamation shortbread, which she loves with chocolate chunks. The result is a slightly denser cookie that’s salty and rich (this recipe calls for salted butter rather than unsalted), and is dotted with large chunks of semi or bittersweet chocolate. It boasts crispy, sugary edges, and is finished with a sprinkling of sea salt. If you haven’t tried them yet, your cookie exchange game just got a bit sweeter. Get the Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies recipe.
Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman, $29.95 on Amazon
Roman's latest cookbook sensation is perfect for parties (just like those cookies).
Since the early 1970s, Alice Waters has been a pioneer in California cuisine and the U.S. local and sustainable food movement, showcasing her state’s abundance of farm-fresh produce and healthy meats. Since its inception in 1971, Chez Panisse in Berkeley has remained a landmark for organic, farm-to-table cuisine. Water’s Spicy Cauliflower Soup is signature in her cooking style of hearty, healthy, and delicious. This recipe may change the way you look at cauliflower, especially if you’re hungry for an alternative to the cauliflower rice movement. Get the Spicy Cauliflower Soup recipe.
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, $18.99 on Amazon
Seasonal, simple perfection that showcases pristine ingredients, as you'd expect.
Maybe growing up, dining out at Chinese restaurants was a special kind of family occasion or celebration where you enjoyed bottomless tea, sweet and salty delicacies, and finished with fortune cookies and pre-cut oranges. Or maybe you were lucky to have a family member create these specialties at home. We can thank Joyce Chen, a pioneering Chinese chef and restaurateur, for introducing famed Chinese specialties such as hot and sour soup, scallion pancakes, and moo shu pork to many Americans for nearly half a century, both in her Cambridge, Massachusetts restaurants and in her cookbooks. Her famous potstickers or Peking raviolis, as she so cleverly named them, are pillowy dumplings with Napa cabbage and juicy pork that were one of Chen’s signature dishes. Get the Peking Ravioli recipe.
Related Reading: How Buwei Yang Helped Bring Potstickers and Stir-Fry to America
Maida Heatter was an empress of baking. She passed away last year at the age of 102, leaving behind a legacy of decadent desserts and sweets like her Queen Mother’s cake and legendary Palm Beach brownies. To choose only one dessert of Heatter’s to feature is a tough task, but her famed chocolate mousse torte is an absolutely divine chocolate treat. It’s a triple layer dessert composed of a baked chocolate mousse crust filled with lighter-than-air chocolate mousse filling, and finished with fluffy fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The torte has varied texture, and just the right amount of richness without being too sweet or heavy. Get the Chocolate Mousse Torte recipe.
Chocolate Is Forever by Maida Heatter, $23.99 on Amazon
Pre-order this collection of Heatter's best chocolate confections, available on April 7.
While it’s certainly easy to purchase a store-bought tomato sauce, Marcella Hazan perfected a rather quick and lazy (and delicious) way to make a homemade version with three main ingredients: a can of San Marzano tomatoes, some butter, and half an onion. That’s it! Born in Italy, Marcella moved with her husband to New York. Missing the Italian cuisine of her youth, she started cooking and conducting lessons in her own apartment before opening up her own cooking school. She eventually wrote several Italian cookbooks too, bringing that famous sauce and other specialties such as swordfish Sicilian style and asparagus risotto to American cooks. Her simple tomato sauce is slightly sweet and rich thanks to the butter and gentle simmering, and is the perfect accompaniment to fresh spaghetti with a dusting of parmesan cheese, and finished with fresh basil. Get the Tomato Sauce recipe.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, $19.29 on Amazon
An Italian cooking bible, basically.
Granddaughter of a freed slave in the South, Edna Lewis dabbled in a bevy of occupations, including politics, fashion, and of course, professionally cooking Southern cuisine. Her cookbooks often feature not only traditional country-style recipes, but the stories and spirit of Southern and African American cuisine, in hopes of teaching and preserving history. Her recipes include iconic Southern dishes such as buttermilk biscuits and pan-fried chicken, and also evince her reverence for the seasonal vegetables and fruits that were found in the farms and fields of her childhood. Her food shows soul and respect for tradition, and her simple, savory shrimp and grits are just as classic and elegant as ever. Get the Shrimp and Grits recipe.
The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis, $17.32 on Amazon
Another collection of seasonal recipes that honor great ingredients, best fresh from the farm.
Hailed as the world’s best female chef in 2019 (which may or may not be seen as a pure compliment), Daniela Soto-Innes is a young Mexican chef who is taking the world by storm with her inventive Latin-inspired cuisine. After being the chef de cuisine at Cosme, Soto-Innes opened up Atla in New York City. For vegetarian taco appreciators, a unique combination of fried Brussels sprouts and spicy peanut butter may seem odd, but the umami from the salty fish sauce and fiery kick from the Aleppo pepper paired with creamy peanut butter is a hit. A new classic, even. Get the Brussels Sprouts Taco with Spicy Peanut Butter recipe.
Related Video: Chef Daniela Soto-Innes Finds Success in Simplicity
Header image by Chowhoung, using photos from Bachrach / Getty Images and Richard Jung / Photodisc / Getty Images