Recipe for a Classic

Since it first hit newsstands in 1941, Gourmet magazine has been the chronicler of American food trends and fantasies, providing advice and inspiration for generations of home cooks. Now, after 60 years, the best of that advice and more than 1,200 of the magazine's recipes have been revamped for modern kitchens in The Gourmet Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin).

It's a spicy meatball. Weighing in at a positively caloric 2.3 kg and 1,056 pages, this doorstop of a tome aims, in the words of editor Ruth Reichl, to be "a book that wants to live in your kitchen." For...