Let’s play a little word association. I say “recipe”. You say “card”? Recipe cards are so retro they might just be poised for a return to fashion. They actually take up a lot less room than cookbooks and are amazingly easy to sort and browse through. I really hadn’t thought very much about them until a few boxes passed my way recently. Not all of them were worthwhile but here are three I do recommend.

1. Sumptuous Small Plates
This delectable deck of cards is written by local entrepreneur Bibby Gignilliat the founder and executive chef of Parties That Cook. Because she has a background as a cooking teacher and organizer of cooking parties, the recipe instructions are clear and easy to follow. The photographs on these cards are gorgeous and the recipes are very enticing. Rather than pull out a dozen cookbooks you could easily throw a party using a handful of cards.

Some typical recipes? Lamb Skewers with Basil Mint Pesto, Crostini of Goat Cheese with Tomato Marmalade, Sweet Potato Galettes with Bacon and Sour Cream. There are even a handful of desserts. I am looking forward to trying Kofte with Melted Feta Center and Garlicky Tahini and the Coconut Butter Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting. Except for one recipe, they all fit neatly on one card. The deck also includes entertaining tips and menu suggestions. There are 30 recipes in all.

2. 86 San Francisco
Local food maven GraceAnn Walden edited this impressive set of restaurant recipes, and the focus here is on restaurants. All the photographs are of the restaurants, not the recipes themselves. Sometimes restaurant recipes don’t translate well to the home kitchen but for the most part these recipes seem workable and a nice taste of what you’d get at the restaurant.

The restaurants featured in the pack are all topnotch. Actually it would be interesting to compare them to the infamous Chronicle 100! The restaurants include Acme Chophouse, A16, Bocadillos, Cyrus, Manresa, Incanto, Slanted Door, Yank Sing, etc. Recipes run the gamut from an Apple Galette from Chez Panisse, Duck Gumbo from Town Hall to Butter-Poached Lobster with Vanilla Crepe from Michael Mina.

My only quibbles are the number of recipes that take up two cards and a recipe for macaroni and cheese that calls for “a box elbow macaroni”. Come again? Is there one standard size box of macaroni I should know about? There are 86 recipe cards, but about 80 86 recipes. All in all it’s still a very good pick. This deck not only serves as a great source of recipes but also as a great source of restaurant info. It’s a good way to get a sampling of what’s cooking in and around San Francisco without adding yet another coffee table sized restaurant cookbook to your collection.

3. My A-Z Recipe Box
Developed by a former chef, mother and cooking teacher, this box is a good cooking starter kit for kids. There are 26 recipes which each serve as alphabetized tabs in the recipe box which has ample room for more cards. There is a stack of blank cards in the back for adding recipes and two pages of stickers to decorate the cards.

Some recipes require adult supervision but many can easily be made by kids with no help from mom or dad. The recipes are very kid-friendly both in cooking techniques and in style, and include colorful illustrations throughout. Choose from Cheesiest Cheese and Macaroni, Perfect Popovers, Krazy for Kebabs, Gimme More Granola or even more whimsically named dishes like Ants in My Applesauce or Quick-As-A-Wink Quesadillas.

Recipe Cards Redux 19 April,2007Amy Sherman

  • GraceAnn Walden

    Dear Amy,

    Thank you for your kind words about “86 Recipes San Francisco.” After chasing restaurant news for 16 years,as the creator of the Chronicle’s Inside Scoop, it was a refreshing challenge to procure and test some terrific dishes.

    One small correction, there really are 86 recipes.

    All the best,

    GraceAnn Walden gaw@sbcglobal.net

  • Amy Sherman

    I am not a numbers person! I am a dining out person though and stand by my statement that those restaurants are seriously top-notch.

  • Passionate Eater

    The 86 San Francisco cards sound like a great product! I wonder if there is anything significant about the number 86. Perhaps it should have been 49 cards, for the 49ers or another classic SF number! 🙂

  • Amy Sherman

    There is a story behind 86 which is a slang restaurant industry term to indicate a popular item has sold out.


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor