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Winter's Best Comfort Foods

Sixty-five years young, Gourmet magazine is celebrating its anniversary with a special contribution from its editors: favorite recipes from the 1940s to present. Exploring these classic recipes is a great way to see and taste the culinary trends of past decades.

The Early Show asked Gourmet's executive food editor, Zanne Stewart, to

with a sampling of some of the no-fuss, cozy winter dishes and to demonstrate two of her favorites.

From the 1970s, she chose maccheroni quattro formaggi (mac 'n' cheese). Stewart says the decade marked a time of kitchen excitement; nouvelle cuisine debuted in restaurants and new equipment entered the home kitchen. Americans began to use food processors and to explore the authentic flavors of Mexico, Italy and Japan.

RECIPES:

Maccheroni quattro formaggi villa d'Este (Macaroni with Four Cheeses Adapted from Villa d'Este, Cernobbio, Italy)
Serves 8 to 10 (first course) or 6 (main course)
Active time: 30 min.; Start to finish: 30 min.

Purge all thoughts of gooey, saucy, fluorescent mac and cheese from your mind. This very grown-up pasta dish is from a story about the historic hotel Villa d'Este on the west shore of Italy's Lake Como. The dish is seriously cheesy, but the bacon, herbs and touch of tomato sauce add refinement and complexity as well. (Discriminating kids like it, too.)

INGREDIENTS:
6 bacon slices (6 oz), diced
1 1/2 lb dried elbow macaroni
6 oz Italian Fontina, cut into 1/3-inch dice
(1 cup) 6 oz Bel Paese cheese, cut into 1/3-inch dice
(1 cup) 6 oz Gruyère, cut into 1/3-inch dice
(1 cup) 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream plus additional if necessary to thin sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 large egg yolk
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Cook macaroni in an 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain pasta in a colander. While pasta cooks, heat first three cheeses with tomato sauce, cream (1/4 cup), and herbs in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Put egg yolk in a cup and stir in 1/2 cup sauce (to temper), then whisk into remaining sauce in pot. Remove from heat and add macaroni, bacon, and parmesan to sauce, tossing to combine well. Season with salt and pepper and stir in more cream to thin sauce, if necessary.

Cooks' note: The egg yolk in this recipe may not be fully cooked, which could be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area.

In the 2000s, American tastes started to demand that every bite have a kick. Stewart says lots of "hot" foods started to appear, as well as lots of chocolate and coffee. From 2005, Stewart chose the ever popular Caesar Salad.

Caesar Salad
Serves 6
Active time: 25 min.; Start to finish: 25 min.

Gourmet has printed recipes for this classic salad in various incarnations every few years as far back as the 1940s — with and without raw egg, with and without anchovies, with different cheeses, and even mixing in pasta or shellfish. This version is what Stewart considers the best.

INGREDIENTS:
1 large garlic clove, halved lengthwise
3/4 to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (3-oz) Portuguese roll or a 7-inch piece of baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 large egg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 hearts of romaine (an 18-oz package), leaves separated but left whole
1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Special equipment: a very large salad bowl (preferably wooden)
Season salad bowl by rubbing a cut half of garlic followed by 1 teaspoon oil onto bottom and side of bowl (reserve garlic).

Heat 3/4 cup oil with both halves of reserved garlic in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, turning garlic occasionally, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes, then discard garlic. Add bread cubes to oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden on all sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer croutons to paper towels to drain. Pour oil through a small fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof measuring cup and add enough additional olive oil to bring total to 6 tablespoons. Put anchovies in salad bowl and mash to a paste using 2 forks. Whisk in egg and lemon juice, then add reserved oil (warm or at room temperature) in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt to taste. Add romaine leaves to dressing and toss to coat. Add croutons and toss briefly. Divide salad among 6 large plates, then sprinkle with cheese and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Cooks' notes: The egg in this recipe is not cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area. Dressing and tossing the lettuce leaves whole will result in an overall crisper salad. Although the croutons are best warm, they can be fried 1 hour ahead.

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