One key ingredient in a great cookbook is the quality of the recipes. This means several things--they should be well written, consistently edited, and easy to follow with clear instructions which produce a fabulous finished dish if followed properly.
I learned many years ago that another "secret" ingredient in a successful cookbook should be the inclusion of one or more signature recipes. This recipe should be one that hasn't appeared in countless other cookbooks and is truly an original from the publishing organization. It can certainly be a derivitive of someone elses recipe that has been turned into an original due to the additions or changes to it. Of course, with 3 significant changes it is now considered an original recipe.
This signature dish should be relatively easy to prepare and should contain ingredients that you ordinarily keep on hand. If possible, it should lend itself to preparing ahead and using as a "teaser" give away at book promotions and signings. It should be so good that the person tasting or reading about it should be motivated to buy the book.
Here are some great examples of signature recipes:
-Lisl Unterholzner, Junior League of Tampa, FL
Palm Beach Punch
Worth Tasting - Junior League of the Palm Beaches, FL
" From Worth Tasting I would have to say our Palm Beach Punch on page 31 and the Carolina Caviar on page 21. These 2 dishes are generally served at our events and are always met with rave reviews. Also, the Palm Beach Punch was served at our first Ladies Luncheon and the women loved it. It is the recipe noted on our website as well."
-Laura Wissa, Junior League of the Palm Beaches, FL
Amelia Island Shrimp
Toast of the Coast - Junior League of Jacksonville, FL
"Well the answer is easy: Amelia Island Shrimp from Toast of the Coast. My family is in the seafood business so shrimp and/or fish are always my choice to prepare. This recipe showcases any fresh seafood well. I’ve made it with fish, scallops, mussels or just assorted vegetables. It is a great go-to recipe because it is quick and people usually have butter, garlic, pasta and parmesan cheese on hand. And kids love it. I started making it after my then 10-year-old son picked it out of the cookbook."
-Janet Reagor, Junior League of Jacksonville, FL
Paradise Party Punch
Paradise Served - Junior League of Fort Lauderdale, FL
In a place so beautiful that a little bit of every day is a vacation day, it makes sense that one of our signature dishes is a drink! This recipe embodies our sophisticated, yet luxurious laid back lifestyle, here in South Florida. On the beach or one the back porch - this cocktail makes the party. It's cool, effortlessly fabulous and has that little something unexpected - just like the women of the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale. Cheers...to another day in paradise! Pass the punch!
-Lori Ebinger Sullivan, Junior League of Fort Lauderdale, FL
Think about it--how many times do you have a dish that everyone asks you for the recipe? It happens all the time. We all have these signature dishes but they become so commonplace to us that we forget how special they are. If you already have a community cookbook what is that book's signature recipe? If you were asked to contribute a signature recipe to a project, what would it be?