It's All American Food

It's All American Food
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It's All American Food:

The Best Recipes for More than 400 New American Classics


by David Rosengarten

Publisher Little, Brown and Company


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Give me old fashioned macaroni and cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich and it's like going back to a simpler time when all I had to worry about was getting my homework done in time to watch television or read my favorite book. David Rosengarten's It's All American Food cookbook is for people like me. I may not have learned to cook intricate ethnic dishes for my family but I love Italian, Mexican and Chinese food with an American flair. Many cooks look down on this type of dish, claiming it's not authentic, but Rosengarten disagrees. He writes that we have nothing to apologize for and I agree. Immigrants arrived in America and made adjustments to their cuisine to use what ingredients were more readily available. That should be called creative cooking!

It's All American Food has over 400 recipes and is broken down into three sections: Ethnic America, Regional America and Classic America. More than 450 pages of recipes that will allow you to treat your family to everything from biscuits with honey butter to Cuban Black Bean Soup and everything in-between. Rosengarten has provided great sidebars and tips along the way as well as stories and recipes. It's a great book that you'll want to pull out at LEAST once a month or more to treat your family to a new taste experience or some of their favorite comfort food.

It's All American Food is a celebration of the heart and soul of our country-the family table. America IS a melting pot as we've so often heard, and sharing the dishes in this book with your family and friends will expand their cultural horizons, inspire discussions at the dinner table and create new meal traditions.

CLASSIC BROOKLYN-ITALIAN MEAT SAUCE

There's nothing all-purpose about this sauce: you serve it on pasta when you want a few ladlefuls of liquid meat! It is exactly what I grew up with in Brooklyn, when the choice at most Italian restaurants for spaghetti sauce was tomato sauce or meat sauce. Later we all learned that this meat sauce has its roots in the renowned Bolognese ragu. But you'd never mistake one for the other. The ancestor from Bologna has a mix of meats in it (sometimes including chicken liver), and much less meat. This Brooklyn-Italian meat sauce has tons of ground beef alone—and, after an hour or so of cooking, a surprising amount of wonderful, hearty flavor.

Yield: About 3 quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup finely minced garlic

1/2 pound onions, peeled and finely minced

1 carrot, peeled and finely minced

1 stalk celery, finely minced

3 pounds ground beef

Salt

2 (28-ounce) cans of tomatoes in juice

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.

2. Push vegetables to one side of the pot and add about one-third of the ground beef Salt the beef to taste. Cook until starting to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the beef occasionally, breaking it up as you do. Push it to the side (or over the vegetables) and repeat with the second third of the beef After that starts to brown, push it aside and repeat with the remainder of the beef When all the beef is done, mix the beef and vegetables together.

3. Add the tomatoes with their juice to the pot. Add the tomato paste, sugar, and oregano. Mix well. Simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes against the side of the pot as you do.

4.When the sauce is done cooking, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or freeze

CHOCOLATE CAKE FOR ALL PURPOSES

One of the handiest things to have in your dessert repertoire is a fast, easy, reliable, delicious chocolate cake—and that's exactly what the following recipe gives you. You can serve it just as it is—or you can embellish it with your favorite frosting. You can make two of these cakes and put a layer of buttercream between them. You can serve the cake with ice cream, with whipped cream, with mascarpone, with fruit. You can also freeze it, and serve it next month. One of the secrets to its good nature is the inclusion of mayonnaise—yes, Hellmann's®, or another good brand! The great news is that mayo, though undetectable as mayo in the finished product, adds a lovely mouth feel to any chocolate cake. The following recipe uses a little butter, milk, egg—and mayo—to devastatingly delicious effect.

Yield: 8 servings

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

l cup good-quality mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's®

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish with the butter. Sprinkle evenly with the all-purpose flour. Set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the sugar, mayonnaise, and vanilla with a whisk until blended.

3. In another bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

4. In another bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the milk, whisking to blend.

5. Whisking slowly, add one-third of the flour mixture to the mayonnaise mixture. Add half of the egg-milk mixture, whisking, then another third of the flour mixture. Keep whisking, then finish with the remaining half of the egg mixture, and the last third of the flour mixture.

6. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a rack.

CRAWFISH CORNBREAD

When a Cajun friend mentioned this wonderful but little-known dish to me, I had the wrong idea—for this is not a "bread" at all. It's more like a gratin, or a soufflé. It's really most like a killer casserole that's crispy on top, soft and warm and sweet within. It's an amazing side dish in a Louisiana meal, particularly with fish, chicken, and sausage dishes.

Yield: 8-12 side-dish servings

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 extra-large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 to 3 jalapeno peppers (depending on taste), seeded and finely chopped

1 (8-ounce) can of corn niblets, drained 1 (8-ounce) can of cream-style corn

1 pound cooked and peeled crawfish tails or substitute 1 pound small shrimp, peeled and boiled

1 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl. Pour mixture into a 9 by 13-inch glass dish, making sure it's spread out evenly. Bake in oven until the top is brown and puffy, about 45 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot.

Copyright © 2003 by David Rosengarten

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Powell's online bookshop carries copies of the It's All American Food. HERE or you can purchase from Ecookbooks HERE Click here for order information


 

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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