The Essential New York Times Cookbook: An Interview with Amanda Hesser and Recipes for Teddy’s Apple Cake and Cucumbers in Cream (Podcast #125)

After meeting and interviewing Amanda Hesser, author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, we promise to never complain again about the long hours, days, and months it took us to write our cookbook, No Whine with Dinner. Amanda’s project took six years, and the result is a cookbook filled with more than 1,000 recipes hand-picked from the New York Times’s extensive, 150-year-old recipe archive. That’s a lot of recipes!

We caught up with Amanda at Boston’s Liberty Hotel last week to talk about her ground-breaking book, how she selected the final recipes, and how she tested each and every one even when she was pregnant with twins. We feature Amanda’s interview on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast along with several recipes from the book: Teddy’s Apple Cake, Cucumbers in Cream, and Sweet Potato Casserole.

The Meal Makeover Moms, Liz & Janice, pose with Amanda Hesser, author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Be sure to tune in for the back story to this amazing (and heavy) cookbook and to hear Amanda’s tips for turning kids into adventurous eaters. FYI: Her Four-year old twins have eaten and enjoyed such unusual foods as pigeon (let’s hope it wasn’t from Amanda’s New York City balcony!) and octopus.

Teddy’s Apple Cake is ready to go in the oven.

Teddy’s Apple Cake

Makes 12 1o 16 Servings

This recipe first appeared in the New York Times in 1973. When Amanda asked readers for their favorite recipes from The Times, this recipe was near the top. For the cake, we added some signature Meal Makeover Mom tweaks. We switched from 3 cups all-purpose flour to 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat. We also replaced half a cup of the oil with canned pumpkin purée, and we cut back on the sugar from 2 cups to 1½ cups. To make it kid friendly, we suggest cutting the apples into 1/2-inch dice instead of the thick slices called for in the recipe. The seventies version suggests a serving size of 8, but if you have young children at home, 12 to 16 servings may be more realistic.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced apples (Honeycrisp or Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan (we used a 10-inch bundt pan). Sift together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.

2. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer with a paddle (or in a bowl with a hand mixer) for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and pumpkin and beat until the mixture is creamy. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts, and raisins and stir until combined.

3. Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (our cake cooked a bit faster because we used a slightly larger pan). Cool in the pan before turning out.

4. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Print Recipe

The Sweet Potato Casserole from page 286 of The Essential New York Times Cookbook appeared in the The Times in 1992. Created by chef Jimmy Sneed, this simple casserole is perfect for Thanksgiving … or any holiday for that matter. For the recipe, check out Liz’s sweet potato post from November 21st.

GIVEAWAY News (the giveaway is now closed)

To thank all of you for reading our blog, listening to our podcast, and following us on Facebook and Twitter, we are giving away one copy of The Essential New York Times Cookbook (retail value: $40.00). To enter (U.S. only), tell us about your favorite food memory from your childhood. In case you’re wondering how we would answer that question, even though we’re dietitians, dessert immediately comes to mind. Janice remembers her grandmother’s plum pudding and Liz still savors the memory of her Nana’s buttery/lemony sponge cake!

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

* Subscribe to our RSS feed and/or e-newsletter
* Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post
* Share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post
* Grab one of the Meal Makeover Mom widgets or badges from the left sidebar of our blog and place it in one of your blog sidebars

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra …. and GOOD LUCK!  The giveaway ends on Wednesday, December 8th at noon, and as always we’ll use to pick our winner.

Cucumbers in Cream, circa 1977, was created by long-time New York Times reporter, Florence Fabricant.  When Liz brought it to an end-of-the season soccer party last weekend, the adults devoured it before the kids even walked in the room. PS: The next time we make this dish, we may use reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream.

Cucumbers in Cream

Makes 6 Servings

  • 3 cups peeled, thinly sliced cucumbers (about 3 regular cucumbers) or thinly sliced (peeled if desired) English (seedless) cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

1. Place the cucumbers in a colander. Dust with the salt and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and drain.

2. Combine the sour cream, lemon zest, and juice in a bowl. Toss the cucumbers in the dressing and dust with the chives and a generous sprinkling of pepper.

Print Recipe

We hope everyone has a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

58 responses to “The Essential New York Times Cookbook: An Interview with Amanda Hesser and Recipes for Teddy’s Apple Cake and Cucumbers in Cream (Podcast #125)”

  1. Suburban Prep says:

    I was not one to like eggs. My mother found a wonderful recipe for a quiche that involved spinach and leeks and it was wonderful. The fact that it was something that my mother did for me when she has 6 other kids was meaningful to me.

  2. Suburban Prep says:

    I follow you through Google Reader

  3. Jenn says:

    My favorite childhood food memory is of my aunt’s sour cream mashed potatoes — they were a must-have at every holiday meal. My family and I compared notes on what we were making for Thanksgiving this year, and every one of us had them on the menu still, twenty years later!

  4. Jenn says:

    Also: I read your blog through an RSS feed in Google Reader. (Out of the tons of blogs I subscribe to, yours is my must-read!)

  5. Judy Simon says:

    My favorite childhood food memory was helping my grandmother make egg noodles from scratch in her tiny kitchen. We would roll out the dough, hand cut them and hang them on a back of a chair to dry. They were amazing in her homemade chicken soup!
    Judy Simon

  6. Alicia says:

    I have so many food memories it’s hard to pick one — but the one that I thought of first is my dad’s home-made pizza. Once it set off the smoke alarm but it was still delicious.

  7. Alicia says:

    I already follow you through google reader!

  8. Adena says:

    My nana’s hamburgers (with rice in them) and pressure cooker meat, so tenda it falls off the bone!

  9. Dakotapam says:

    My dad made Chinese food better than any Chinese restaurant! (and he was German!) I try and keep some of his sense of adventure in the kitchen!

  10. Dakotapam says:

    I subscribe in a reader

  11. Dakotapam says:

    I have your widget.

  12. Beth says:

    My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but the one thing she was good at was homemade wheat bread. SO GOOD fresh out of the oven with a bit of butter and honey!

  13. Miranda says:

    I subscribe to the feed.

  14. Miranda says:

    A favorite memory is getting a bubble gum flavor ice cream cone and picking out all the bubble gum to eat first. Messy!

  15. Julie says:

    My favorite food memory was popcorn made by my dad on Sunday nights (to watch Disney). He always made a melted sugar coating which he poured over the popped corn – kind of like popcorn balls, but not in that shape.

  16. Dessert also comes to mind! my mothers fantastic birthday chocolate cake with chocolate ganache that was even better the morning after-cake for breakfast! oh i have wayyy too many fond childhood food memories!

  17. Wendy says:

    I loved the beef stroganof my parents used to make in the crock pot.

  18. Cecilia says:

    Pizza night! On Sunday nights my dad was in charge of dinner. We always made French bread pizzas. We loved the assembly process and of course we loved the pizza!

  19. Cecilia says:

    I subscribe in Google Reader.

  20. Sarah says:

    One of my favorite food memories is my mom’s Mexican chicken casserole with tortilla chips on top and enchilada sauce. It was fab!

  21. Sarah says:

    I suscribe to you through GoogleReader.

  22. Barbara says:

    My favorite childhood food memory is a cake of my maternal grandmother, Corollo

  23. Barbara says:

    I also subscribe to your e-newsletter

  24. Fun fact: North Carolina produces 47% of the nation’s sweet potatoes which, by the way, are becoming quite a trendy choice. As an RD living in NC, I appreciate every sweet potato recipe. My favorite, though, is simple roasted sweet potato chunks with peel, scattered onto a baking pan with sliced onions, a splash of olive oil, pinch salt/pepper, and snipped rosemary. Bake at 425 for about 20-25 min, depending on the size of chunks. This works at a holiday feast or a weekday dinner. Cheers!

  25. Jennifer says:

    The first distinct food memory I have was staying over at my Grandmother’s house–and she let me help her make her delicious bran-raisin muffins. I loved the muffins and was so amazed that someone would let me help in the kitchen! I will always remember that day, and really credit my grandmother for creating my love of cooking (and my love of getting my kids in the kitchen with me!)

    I’m sharing this giveaway with my FB friends!

  26. Janet says:

    Hi, I discovered your podcast just last month. I enjoy listening to your conversations, ideas, and interviews.
    My favorite childhood cooking memory is making of the Christmas cookies and candies. Making all sorts of holiday cookies and candies was wonderful! The round farm-house kitchen table would be extended out to it fullest and my mom, siblings and I would be involved with decorating cookies. When it came to making of the popcorn balls my dad got involved and then everyone was busy forming and making the numerous colored popcorn confections.

  27. Janet says:

    I look forward to receiving your newsletter.

  28. Janet says:

    I have you in my google reader so I can keep up on your activities.

  29. One of my fondest childhood food memories, from the holidays, is that I was the gravy maker. After the turkey was hoisted out of the roasting pan at Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was my job to make gravy. To this day, I make a really good gravy…lots of practice. BTW, I carefully remove fat before making gravy from the pan drippings.

  30. Megan says:

    I grew up on a wheat farm in Wyoming and during the summer harvest time, we ( all of family and workers) would all gather at my grandmother’s house for lunch (or as we called it dinner). We would have a huge feast before heading out to cut the wheat in the afternoon. My favorite menu – her fried chicken, mashed potatoes and the best gravy I have ever had.

  31. Megan says:

    I subscribed to your newsletter.

  32. Amanda says:

    I basically loved all of Thanksgiving when growing up. I would pile my plate with all the yummy fixings that make up the meal. I think that is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!

  33. Amanda says:

    i subscribe

  34. Cindy says:

    I especially think of my mothers Latkes (She will be making a batch for a bunch of us soon) and also her wonderful blintzes. It has been especially important for me to create versions of what I could for my daughter who is milk and egg allergic. I haven’t had any luck with blintzes though…

  35. Julie C. says:

    My favorite memory is making rolled sugar cookies for Christmas. It was so much fun to cut out the different cookie shapes and then frost the cookies at the end and try to decide which ones I wanted to eat, the Christmas tree shaped ones or the wreath shaped ones. Oh, the decisions back then as a child.

  36. Sandi says:

    a few come to mind… spearklers on my birthday cake instead of candles one year ( my birthday is July 6) … my parents used to have a big Christmas party and the kitchen table would go down into the basement for additional serving space. I would eat my early dinner and sample part food sitting on a folding stepstool chair using a cutting board that pulled out of the kitchen counter… at our summer place in Nh watching the rest of the family eating lobsters outside using these big metal beer trays. I hated lobster then but love it now … and we still have and use those beer trays.

  37. Kristine says:

    My mom making pizza from scratch, it always felt like it took hours to cook but now when I make it it takes about 20 minutes!! I guess it was the anticipation of tasting that delicious pizza!

  38. Amy Gibson says:

    One of my favorite cooking memories is making perogies every Christmas with my Grandmother. Her recipe book is still covered in flour and is browning from being over 70 years old. Parts of it are even in Polish.

  39. Robin says:

    Many, many food memories, as our entire family loves to eat! My parents were very social, and I remember many of their friends coming over for a dinner club they were involved with. The smell of my favorite foods would fill the house: mushroom turnovers, pepper steak, apple cake…several of my favorites are now cooked for my family 🙂

  40. Leigh-Ann says:

    One of my favorite treats as a kid was when my Mom would bake left over pie crust then sprinkle it with sugar & cinnamon! I still love it today even though I don’t eat it very often.

  41. Leah Smith says:

    I already subscribe and do all the above, of course! Just not twittering yet…
    My favorite food memory: (How do you choose when you come from a family that loves food?)
    Here is one: My grandmother made the best banana bread ever. Well, at least that is what I thought when I was younger and all her children did too. I knew if we just stopped by for no reason, most likely she’d have a loaf on her counter to taste. (No Grandma cookies over there – banana bread instead!) After she died, I started making banana bread, recipe out of my Betty Crocker, and all of my aunts always ask me, is this Grandma’s recipe?
    I never did get ‘her’ recipe, but I am betting it was the one from Betty Crocker, but baked with lots of Grandma love!!

  42. Christa says:

    My favorite food memory from my childhood is the Christmas cookie party my mom would have for me each year. She would bake dozens of cutouts and all of my cousins would come over and decorate the cookies. We would all be constantly licking the knives and be sick of frosting by the end, but it’s a tradition I’ve started with my daughter.

  43. Laura says:

    Nana’s strawberry jam made from strawberries we picked!

  44. Angela says:

    My favorite childhood food memory is eating tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich…yummy.

  45. Angela says:

    I subscibe to the newsletter

  46. Lara says:

    One of my favorite childhood food memories is when my brother, mother and I assembled Santa Claus face cookies with sugar cookie dough. Chocolate chip eyes and sprinkles on the hat before baking. Butter cream frosting on the beard afterwards. So much fun!

  47. marissa says:

    just read my “thank you” email you from you both 🙂 Brought a smile to my face and found my son’s pic on the graphics section! Yay! Just ordered the book from your website and can’t wait to get it and start making some delicious, HEALTHY food for my family !!! It’s my Christmas present to myself!!!!

  48. Miriam says:

    My favorite food memory is probably my mom’s cranberry tea she would make during the winter or when we were fighting a nasty cold. She used real cranberries, OJ, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. I now make it on a regular basis!

  49. Adena says:

    Just listened to this podcast and LOVED the interview! She is awesome!

  50. Stacey says:

    I listened to this podcast in the car this morning She is great!! I can’t wait to get a copy of the book!!

    My favorite childhood food memory involves my grandmother (now 90) and rugelach. It was a whole day production to make the dough, let is ries, and roll the individual rugelach. Baking is a family tradtition. I remember my great grandmother serving home made rugelach, but I don’t recall making them with her. I even think the dough recipe my grandma used came from the NY times… I’ll have to ask grandma. She doesn’t bake anymore but I’m sure she remembers where she got the recipe.

    Hmmm…. now I’m thinking of reviving the tradition with my girls. Such fond memories!! (and really good rugelach are hard to find!)

  51. KarenP says:

    My favorite food memory is from Thanksgiving. My sister and I would go with my Dad to pick up my grandmothers for dinner. When walked in the door back home, the smell of the turkey roasting was wonderful!

  52. I just blogged about your fabulous website and this delicious Apple Cake that we tried yesterday…YUM! Here’s the link to check it out,

    Thanks for all of your inspiration and my “No whine with dinner” should be arriving today! YAY!!!

  53. Yolanda Chumney says:

    Hi Janice & Liz,
    My favorite food memory is my grandma’s tapioca pudding. We have it at every Thanksgiving & Christmas dinner. It’s a favorite dessert among all of my family except for maybe 1 or 2 people. 🙂
    I just learned how to make the recipe this year… right before Thanksgiving. It is NOT low calorie. ha! The recipe consists of 3 cups of whole milk, 1 1/2 cups sugar, tapioca beads. After it has cooled 1 banana is sliced into it with a container of cool-whip (which is basically saturated fat in a container. 🙂 But it’s so good!

    I just subscribed to your blog feed. 🙂

    And next I’m posting this contest on my FB wall.

  54. Yolanda Chumney says:

    Oh, and vanilla is added to the tapioca when it has cooled down.

  55. My brother recommended I might like this website. He was once totally right. This put up actually made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

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