Nobody has ever mistaken me for Julia Child (though I do a pretty decent corn fritter), but even if my culinary skills leave a little something to be desired, I definitely believe in the mystical, magical, healing power of a good home-cooked meal. Is there anything better than walking through your front door and being greeted by the garlicky scent of an old-fashioned pot roast getting fall-apart-on-the-fork tender as it roasts in your oven or the brown-sugared breeze that floats by whenever there's a peach pie cooling on the kitchen counter? Food—sensuous, lush, and abundant—nourishes the body, revives the spirit, turns strangers into friends, and creates memories that last long after all the pots and pans have been scoured and put away.

So when I began to do a magazine of my own, I knew I wanted recipes that rely on the quality of their ingredients, stories that reflect the culture of a country or the life of a cook, and photographs that leap off the page and make your mouth water. I wanted dishes—some very rich, some very healthy, all very doable—from everywhere. And I wanted to tap into the imaginations of the most creative people (whether four-star chefs or just plain fabulous cooks) ever to put on an apron.

We got Marcus Samuelsson to dazzle us with a bright green callaloo soup and a mellow mango jalapeño couscous. We got Art Smith to share his great-great-grandmother's melt-in-your-mouth 12-layer chocolate cake recipe, Nina Simonds to bake up a batch of pumpkin applesauce muffins that must be the reason God invented coffee, Govind Armstrong to devise a showstopping Thanksgiving, and Bobby Flay to mix up a cactus pear margarita so enticing, I promise you'll be asking for another round before your second sip.
Excerpted from O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook. Copyright © 2008 Hearst Communications, Inc. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved. Available wherever books are sold and online via


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