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Just the Essentials with John “Doc” Willoughby

Why Italian Almond Cake has become a go-to dessert for the Man on the Street.
By Published Oct. 28, 2015

In celebration of 100 Recipes—a book which lists, in our estimation, the 100 most essential recipes in the history of the Test Kitchen—our beloved television personalities have each compiled a list of their five favorite recipes from the book. Below, Man on the Street John “Doc” Willoughby lists his, including a recipe for simple—yet often unheralded—scrambled eggs.

1. Weeknight Roast Chicken

This chicken is probably the single recipe I make most often from the book. I love the fact that it uses a couple of smart but totally simple techniques—starting in a preheated skillet to give the thighs a little head start, then turning off the oven at the end to finish cooking super-gently—to produce a beautifully cooked chicken that’s quick and easy enough for a weeknight dinner.

2. Cauliflower Soup

I have never served this soup to anyone who has not been amazed. It’s silky smooth, deeply flavored, and everyone thinks it’s got to be chock full of cream, even though it has none. The complex nature of the cauliflower explained in a soup.

3. Scrambled Eggs

Ok, I know, it’s just scrambled eggs. But I make them a lot, and with this hot-then-slow approach, they’re much better than they ever were before. This is the one I turn to when I try to explain why even the simplest dishes turn out better with a good recipe.

4. Spanish Beef Stew

Like most cooks, I find searing chunks of meat in batches over high heat a messy, slightly annoying process. What I like about this recipe is that it skips that step and still has deep, complex flavors. Plus, I always make a double batch of the picada, since it has many other uses. (It’s even good sprinkled over gazpacho.)

5. Italian Almond Cake

This cake has become one of my go-to desserts because it’s easy, delicious, and a little sophisticated. I like to leave the almonds just slightly coarser than commercial flour when I grind them, since this gives the cake a texture I love.