Ruth Reichl was the Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet from 1999 through 2009, when the magazine was shuttered for good. During her time at the top of the world’s classiest food rag (which she chronicles in her new book, Save Me the Plums ), Reichl published writers like David Foster Wallace and Ann Patchett; steered the magazine into food politics; and, of course, ran hundreds of recipes—including these ten, which she remembers as her absolute favorites.
Spaghetti and Meatballs (January 2009)
I often found myself hanging around food editor Maggie Ruggiero ’s kitchen, because she has the most wonderful sense of humor. When she was developing this recipe she asked if I had any suggestions. “Why don’t you add a little lemon peel?” I offered. She smiled; I was always suggesting the cooks add a bit more citrus to their dishes. But we all loved the bright flavor the lemon added to the meatballs, and now those meatballs have become a staple in my household. I always make a huge batch (this recipe serves 16) the night before Thanksgiving; if there are leftovers they make the perfect snack on Thanksgiving day while waiting for the turkey to emerge from the oven.
Raspberry Crumble Tart (August 2006)
Ruth Cousineau—who wrote a wonderful cookbook called Country Suppers —never made a dish I didn’t like. From the first moment I tasted this tart, I knew I’d be serving it again and again. I love the simplicity of the recipe, which allows the fruit to shine. I love the way it looks—a gorgeous burst of vibrant color peeking out of a shaggy top. And I really appreciate that you can use the most insipid supermarket raspberries (they emerge from the heat of the oven with a surprising intensity of flavor).
At the very beginning of my tenure at Gourmet, Senior Food Editor Kemp Minifie showed up with a handful of ramps. I’d never even heard of them, and I realized how much I still had to learn. Kempy had been at the magazine for more than twenty years, and I could not have had a better teacher. At the time, only one vendor in the Union Square Farmers Market, Rick Bishop, was selling ramps. Now, of course, ramps have become ubiquitous. But of the many ramp recipes that are still out there, this is the one I go to most often.
Warning: once you make these bacon-cheddar toasts for friends, they’ll never let you not make it again. Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Nathaniel James, Food Styling by Frances Boswell
This is one of Paul Grimes’ recipes, and that’s a surprise. Paul is a painter who went to France to make art and ended up as an assistant to Simca Beck (Julia Child’s co-author on Mastering the Art of French Cooking). His recipes tend to be classic, French and very beautiful (Paul is, among other things, a superb food stylist ). But this one is pure Americana, requiring nothing you can’t purchase in the supermarket. It’s a genuine crowd-pleaser, and I have many friends who insist I make it whenever they come over.
Ian Knauer started out as a recipe cross-tester. (Full disclosure; he’d been my son’s babysitter.) But after a few years it became clear that this farmer, forager, cook, and hunter was so talented we needed to promote him to full-time food editor. He developed hundreds of fantastic recipes , but this one has always been my favorite. Mixing the sweetness of prunes and the smokiness of bacon right into the meat mixture is an inspired idea; I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t love this homey meatloaf.

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