Anna got Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook out of the library last week and has been giving it a bit of a test drive (I have yet to make anything from it). What you see before you is an entirely vegetarian dinner she made from its pages. From left to right we have: Baked Zucchini with Herbs and Tomatoes, Sautéed Asparagus with Fleur de Sel, and Sformata Di Ricotta (Ricotta Custard). Since the recipes are culled from The New York Times itself you can find some of them online, like the Baked Zucchini with Herbs and Tomatoes and the Sformata di Ricotta. No dice on the asparagus, but while it was good, it's not exactly an exotic recipe... and I don't really know about this "peeling asparagus" business. Allegedly peeling will help deal with the stringiness that you get with older asparagus, but that should be at the end (which you snap off) according to McGee. Peeling all the way up really doesn't make any sense to me: it results in asparagus that doesn't taste as much like asparagus and asparagus that is a hard to cut.
As for the other two... both quite good. I was surprised I liked the baked zucchini as much as I did, but it came out as a nice flavorful medley. I'd never had a sformata before, but I found this one to be surprisingly light... certainly not "airy" or any such thing... but despite it's substance, it didn't come across as heavy or too rich. The roasted cherry tomatoes help by adding a nice sweet pop.
Anyway, like I said, I've only paged through The Essential New York Times Cookbook, but I'm liking the it quite a bit... I only wish all the recipes had a beautifully written Amanda Hesser headnote. But being that the cookbook already weighs in at well over 900 pages, that's probably a bit unreasonable of a request. Maybe.