The United States has to be one of the best places in the world to live if you love food. Due to the diversity of ethnic groups that make up this beautiful country, almost everything you could possibly imagine is at your fingertips. With the convenience of telephone, facsimile, and computer ordering, literally nothing is unattainable.
Remember Mom and your favorite aunt in the kitchen cooking that delicious meatloaf for all the family to sit down to after a long day of softball in the yard? The smell of an apple pie cooling in the window, tempting you to the point of putting your finger in it without leaving a trace so Mom would not know? These are the foods that people seem to be coming back to.
While all of us did not grow up in the Midwest, we all have our own “homestyle” foods. I grew up in New York, under foot of my wonderful Italian grandmother. I remember her kitchen as the focal point of my existence. The smell of fresh tomatoes and herbs simmering on the stove, and Grandma rolling out the dough for the fresh pasta we would all enjoy, are some of my fondest memories. Just down the street, my friends were sitting down at their table for some knockwurst and sauerkraut. Next door, the Cohen family was sitting down at their table for beef brisket and kasha. We all have our own food memories that stir those special thoughts in the back of our minds.
In my teens, I moved to Los Angeles—the City of Angels or the city of "anything goes.” The memories of my grandmother's kitchen never left my mind, and I found myself working in a restaurant. It was not enough to be out front with the diners; I had to jump into the trenches and get right into the process of preparing food. It is because of my love of food and my crazy imagination that I started combining different ethnic tastes and foods to come up with some exciting new dishes.
O Beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee And crowned thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
During the time I was writing this cookbook, my granddaughter Evelyn graduated from the fifth grade. As part of the ceremony, a youthful school band played this nostalgic American song. The audience, young and old, sang enthusiastically, and the simple words and melodic beauty filled me with patriotic sentiment. I reflected on the many alluring American sites I had visited, and the delicious foods I had tasted, while collecting recipes for this book.
It is satisfying to discover that American cooking is very much alive, in spite of diets, restaurant franchises, health worries, and hurried schedules. Men and women are having fun taking cooking classes, watching televised food programs, and searching for culinary information on the Internet. There is a renewed interest in seeking out old family recipes. The focus on American cooking is evident in every city. Restaurants offer dishes unique to our nation, and to their own regions, on their menus. Across America, “farmers' markets” are appearing and growing for customers who desire just-picked vegetables and fruits. Americans are rediscovering the joy of homestyle cooking.
I am confident that these recipes will not be intimidating for any cook. It is my hope that this book will encourage you to invite friends, new and old, to share a lunch or dinner with you. There is an intense, captivating warmth in cooking and dining friendships.
A New Mexico autumn is made up of fall colors and crisp evenings. The pears that ripen in the valleys alongside the Rio Hondo during the season are famed for their intense flavor and creamy texture. This salad, with its Mexican-style nutty topping, is perfect for the season's radient moods.
- 4 pears, ripe to the touch (but not squishy)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablesopoons fresh lemon juice
- romaine or butter lettuce eaves to set the pears on
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup pecans or walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoons Kahlua
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Combine nut mixture incredeients and roast in oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool and reserve.
Core and slice the pears (do not peel) and mix with ooil and emon juice. This may be done ahead. Place the lettuce leaves on a plate. Arrange the pear slices oin a fan-like design, sprinkle with nuts, and serve to 4.
When we lived in New York, some of my husband's colleagues from the Art Students League would get together for pot-luck dinners. The food contributions would be laid out on a big studio table covered with brightly colored construction paper. We ate on paper plates and every one had a great time. One of the best dishes anyone ever brought was a platter of chicken covered with this splendid, tangy sauce.
1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a saucepan. Lightly cook onion and garlic just until limp (not browned). Add remaining ingredients and cook over a low flame for 10 minutes. This will make enough to "sauce" 2 chickens, 8 pork chops, or 6 pounds of spareribs, cooked as desired.
Hamburgers are consumed everywhere in our country. It seems to be the food associated with international impressions of what America eats, and sometimes Americans are looked down upon gastronomically for this casual food. Hamburgers need defending! If one analyzes a ham burger, there is nothing but tasty ingredients all layered together. They are always appetizing and, in spite of health doomsayers, are balanced and nutritious. I thought of this when I was in Alaska, our most northern state. I was in a rustic cafe and most of the customers (Eskimos, tourists, and locals) were eating hamburgers with French fries. Bottles of catsup and mustard adorned the plastic tablecloths. Americans adore this national dish, and if anything unites the American people it is the hamburger.
Hamburgers originated in the German seaport city of Hamburg. Ger man immigrants coming to America brought this recipe for a "Ham burg-style chopped steak." There is a dispute about who made the first hamburger in America. Louis Lassen is recorded as serving the first "burger” at his Connecticut luncheonette in 1890, but then there is Car lie Nagreen, whose relatives claim that he sold hamburgers from his ox drawn food stand at the Outgamie County Fair in 1885. This debate will surely continue among hamburger scholars.
Of course, there are hamburgers and there are hamburgers—some well made and some not-so-well made. The key to a good hamburger is that the ingredients should be fresh and of good quality. Both my moth er and my mother-in-law always had the butcher grind their hamburger beef fresh. It only takes a minute to politely ask your local butcher to grind either round or chuck steak for you. He or she will not mind—this is part of their job. With freshly ground beef you know exactly what is in your hamburger. This recipe is for four hamburgers but may easily be enlarged. Hamburgers are a casual affair, and some may like onions and not tomatoes, so there is always a choice of ingredients.
freshly baked hamburger buns
pound freshly ground chuck or round steak
salt and pepper to taste
tablespoon butter or oil, if burgers are to be fried
cheddar cheese slices
pickle slices or relish
To begin, assemble all the ingredients on a platter so you will have them on hand to construct your hamburgers. The buns should be heated or toasted. If desired, the cheese may be placed on the buns while they are heated if you like really melted cheese.
Mix the ground beef with salt and pepper. Form into 4 flattish patties that will fit your hamburger buns. I like to cook hamburgers in an iron frying pan. To do this, heat the pan for 3 minutes. Place the butter or oil in the pan. Fry patty on each side until brown and cooked to your taste. If broiling, simply place on foil under broiler and broil on each side. If using an outside barbecue grill, cook on each side, turning once.
Place cooked hamburger on the bottom section of bun. Add desired ingredients. Gently press top of bun on assembled ingredients. Eat while hot and enjoy this American classic.
I grew up in California with a Southern grandmother, Lilla Wilkinson. She had been born and raised at the Myrtle Grove plantation on the Mississippi River south of New Orleans. "Nana" was a great great-granddaughter of General James Wilkinson, who accepted the Louisiana Purchase for the United States. It is only natural that I have come to look upon the South through Nana's perspective. Her tales of Southern foods, with their mingling of exotic flavors from the Spanish, French, African, Native American, and Cajun people, sounded exciting to me. Nana was a gumbo cooking master. All her many versions of the dish were full of tantalizing flavors. When she was almost 18, she fell in love with a dashing Spanish gentleman, Fernando. Her family felt he was not the right match for her. She was sent to New York to place a distance between them. While there, she took piano lessons at the Staats Piano School, where she fell in love and married her teacher, Henry Taylor Staats. Eventually, they moved to Pasadena to begin a music school. She never returned to Louisiana but all her life continued to inspire everyone with her Southern cooking and tales of Southern life.
Because of Nana, when I visit the South I feel at home. I can visit New Orleans's Cabildo Museum and see the painting of my distant grandfather and touch the table where he signed the Louisiana Pur chase. I can dine in restaurants that offer all the foods she happily cooked for me. I can visit the French Market in New Orleans to see the okra, eggplant, Creole tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, garlic, peanuts, onions, and praline vendors.
It is true that New Orleans is only part of the Southern culinary her itage; however, it is the best destination for Southern dining. Flying into New Orleans, the plane will drift across the swamps. You can almost see the alligators. The taxi ride into the city passes the above the ground" cemeteries, with their white sculptured tombs adorned with angels guarding the lifeless in these gardens of the dead. When the taxi stops at the hotel, lively music from a street saxophone player instantly puts me in the mood of the city. This is the town of eternal jazz mingled with scents of spices and chicory. Quickly, I rush out to a French Quarter restaurant where I know the menu will be filled with choices: oysters on the half shell, shrimp remoulade, gumbo soups, smoked hams, barbecued pork, catfish, crawfish étouffée, Southern drinks, flamboyant desserts, and coffee laced with chicory. These are all foods my grandmother told me about. Waiters do not rush. They call me "honey," and when several of us are dining it is "y'all," said with all the manners and hospitality of gentlemen or gentle ladies. I know I am in my Nana's South.
I have drifted up the Mississippi on the historic Delta Queen river boat to visit the great restored Southern mansions, and I have listened to tales of this great river. A friend of ours nearly drowned in the river while out in a pirogue. A waiter at Arnaud's told me how he would swim "naked as a worm" in this muddy river with his neighborhood friends, another sailed the entire river in a tiny boat. I have been in Cajun country and have tasted alligator and spicy Cajun sausage and have heard the rhythmic music and Evangeline legends. In the per fectly restored town of Williamsburg, I have tasted peanut soup, bis cuits, and colonial game pie. In our nation's proud capital, with its spacious tree-lined streets and bountiful flower beds, I have tasted fresh Virginia spring asparagus, Baltimore crab cakes, and briny Chesapeake Bay oysters in historic inns. At the farthest point of the South, in Florida, I have dined on the famed key lime pie and trea sures from the tropical sea. The riches of the food of the South are among the most appealing in the nation, reflecting the influences of settlers, immigrants, and gentry.
The South is deeply imbued with our nation's history. On the Get tysburg battlefields, the famous battle is relived and reconstructed by avid Civil War buffs. In Richmond, kindly ladies will show you where Patrick Henry stood and the grave of Edgar Allen Poe's moth er. A senior docent in the Virginia State capitol claims that the statue of Robert E. Lee winks at her as she finishes her tour duties. Ladies of eight decades will lead you up and down stairways and long hall ways in Southern historic houses. During special Southern pilgrim ages, family members dressed in antique Southern attire will guide you around their gardens and offer refreshments on antique bone china. The hospitality is warm and plentiful.
The Southern states are blessed with a rich, fertile soil and a tropi cal climate that produces exotic fruits, rice, chicory, sweet potatoes, and peanuts. Wild game and fish fill the forests and waters. The mys terious swamps have offered them a refuge from persecution and a natural preserve. The scenery is ravishing, with multitudes of mean dering plants and Spanish moss draping over the trees. The dramatic weather includes torrential rains, high humidity, hurricanes, and intense summer heat.
When I was about 10, I read the Southern saga Gone With the Wind. My mother and Nana had a lengthy discussion about whether it was proper reading for my age. With my persuasion, they gave in and I was completely engrossed in it for several days. I must freely admit that this stirring novel added to my fascination with the South. I like to reflect on the strong character of Scarlett O'Hara and her love of fine Southern food: “As God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again!" Southern cooks continue to take very great pride in a heritage of cooking that began with the colonists' first campfire in Virginia.
This delectable appetizer makes a perfect beginning to any dinner. Fresh Gulf shrimp are firm and full of sea flavor. My Southern grand mother preferred to use pretty little glass dishes to serve remoulade, and I still think this is the nicest way to do it. In the South, however, you may also find remoulade served on little saucers or even in tiny bowls.
3 cups cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (approximately 7 pound)
3 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (or prepared)
2 tablespoons horseradish
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or Tabasco
1 tablespoon minced green onions
1 tablespoon minced parsley
Combine the shrimp with the blended sauce ingredients, and chill. When ready to serve, finely shred the lettuce and divide into 6 portions. Carefully spoon the shrimp on top of the lettuce.
Here is a joyous celebration of our nation’s culinary heritage. This appetizing collection of traditional recipes reflects the American melting pot of flavors and cultures from eight distinnct areas of the United States. For example:
- New England: Cape Cod Clam Pie
- The Middle Atlantic: Teddy Roosevelt’s Christmas Sand Tarts
- The South: Shrimp Jambalaya
- The Heartland: Granny’s Ham and Potato Gratin for a Crowd
- The Northwest: Ancorage Broiled Halibut with Olive-Cheese Topping
- The Southwest: Taos Engchiladas
- The West: Zesty Catalina Swordfish
- Hawaii: Waikiki Coconut Cream Pie….
Paula's Mystic Hot Crab Dip, 3. Corn Chowder, 3. Boston Clam Chowder, 4 • East Coast Steamed Lobster, 5. Don's Oyster Stew, 6 Cape Cod Clam Pie, 7 • Exotic Chicken Curry, 8 . New England Boiled Dinner, 9 • Red Flannel Hash, 10 • Rinktum-Tiddy, 10 Boston Baked Beans, 11 • Succotash, 12 · Harvard Beets, 13 · North Truro Blueberry Spice Bread, 13. Boston Brown Bread, 14. Vermont Soft Gingerbread-1912, 15. Indian Pudding, 16. Apple Pandowdy, 17 • Maine "Slump and Grunt," 18. Connecticut Strawberry/Rhubarb Pie, 19 • Boston Cream Pie, 20 • Snickerdoodles, 22. Massachusetts Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, 23 All Seasons Easy Cranberry Sauce, 24 • New England Drinks: Tavern Grog, 25; Mulled New England Cider, 25; Cranberry Cape Codder, 25
The Middle Atlantic
Mushrooms à la Russe, 29. Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, 30 Senate Bean Soup, 31. Roasted Long Island Duck, 31 . New York Chicken Divan, 32. Capitol Chicken Hash, 33 . Greenwich Village Chicken Cacciatore, 34 • Russian Tea Room Shashlik, 35 • Harlem Barbecue Sauce, 37 • Pennsylvania Waffles, 37 - Waldorf Salad, 38 Diner Greek Salad, 39 • New York Cole Slaw, 39 • Maryann's Jersey Tomato Salad, 40 • Deli Double Chocolate Cheesecake, 41 . New York Cheesecake, 42 • Shoo-Fly Pie, 43 • Teddy Roosevelt's Christmas Sand Tarts, 44 . Ann's Apple Cake, 45 • Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes, 46. Mid-Atlantic Drinks: Philadelphia Winter Punch, 48; New Jersey Egg Nog. 49; The Manhattan, 49
Shrimp Remoulade, 54 · Virginia Peanut Soup, 54 • Thomas Jefferson Deviled Crab, 55 • Shrimp Jambalaya, 56. Myrtle Grove Plantation Gumbo, 57. Southern Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy, 59 Brunswick Stew, 60 • Pulled Pork Sandwiches, 61 · Hoppin' John, 62 Red Beans and Rice, 63. Fourth of July Macaroni and Cheese, 64 Baked Virginia Cheese Grits, 65. Skillet Cornbread, 65 • Kentucky Scramble, 66. Eggs Sardou, 67. Pelican Club Mashed Sweet Potatoes, 68 • Delta Queen Bread Pudding, 69 • Brennan's Bananas Foster, 70 . Key Lime Pie, 71 • Savannah Pumpkin Pecan Pie, 72 Ambrosia, 74 • Cooling Southern Drinks: Mint Julep, 75; Sazerac, 75; Ramos Gin Fizz, 76; Cajun Coffee, 76; Southern Summer Lemonade, 77
Thanksgiving Roast Turkey with Mushroom Sage Dressing, 80 Cathy's Mom's Great Pork and Sauerkraut, 82 • Milwaukee Beer Beef Party Stew, 82 • Granny's Ham and Potato Gratin for a Crowd, 83 Swiss Steak, 85 • Swedish Meatballs, 86. Delilah's Utah Casserole, 87. German Apple Pancakes, 88 • Minnesota Wild Rice with Mushrooms, 89 • Chicago Polish Asparagus, 89. Golden Glow Salad, 90 • Kansas Potato Salad, 91 · Farm Buttermilk Biscuits, 92 · "The Toasts": Cinnamon, French, and Get-Well Milk, 92 · Indiana Devil's Food Coffee Cake, 94 • Illinois Lincoln Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie, 95 Wichita Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies, 96. All-American Brownies, 97. Heartland Drinks: Bourbon Highball, 98; Bourbon Press, 99; Whiskey Sour, 99; Tom Collins, 99; Gin Rickey, 99
The Northwest and Alaska
101 Anchorage Broiled Halibut with Olive-Cheese Topping, 103. Alaska State Fair Barbecued Spareribs, 104 • Steaks with Oregon Blue Cheese Topping, 105 • The All-American Hamburger, 106 · Alaskan Sourdough Starter, 107 • Sourdough Blueberry Pancakes, 108 • Seattle Art Museum's Salade Niçoise Northwest, 109 · Baked Alaska, 111 Washington Apple Pie, 113. Coffee Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bars, 114 • Rogue Valley Poached Pears, 115 • Northwestern Drinks: Seattle Hot Cocoa, 116; Oregon Celebration Raspberry Punch, 116; Bloody Mary, 117; Kenai Campfire Coffee, 117
Georgia O'Keeffe Watercress Soup, 121 • Santa Fe Gazpacho, 121 Tortilla Soup, 122 · New Mexico Albondigas Soup, 123. Party Posole, 124 • Taos Enchiladas, 125 • San Antonio River Walk Enchiladas, 126 . Texas Chili, 128 • Texas Chicken-fried Steak, 129 Santa Fe Jalapeño Cheese Muffins, 130 . Rio Hondo Autumn Pear Salad, 131 • Texas Ranch-style Dressing, 132 · San Antonio Pecan Pie, 133 • Canyon Road Spicy Crunch Cookies, 133 • Favorite Drinks for Hot Summers and Cold Winters: Margaritas, 134; White Sangria, 135; Texas Iced Tea, 135
Celery Victor, 139. San Pedro Marinated Vegetables, 140 • Las Vegas Shrimp Cocktail, 141 • Sonoma Spinach-filled Hard-boiled Eggs, 142 Yellow Squash Soup with M.F.K. Fisher, 142 . Fisherman's Wharf Cioppino, 144 . Idaho Rainbow Trout, 145 · Zesty Catalina Swordfish, 146 • Rancho Days Fiesta Enchiladas, 147. Luisa Tetrazzini's Chicken and Pasta Casserole, 148 • Les Guthrie's Mother's Meat Loaf, 149 • Los Angeles Tamale Pie, 151 · America's Favorite: Hot Dogs, 152 . Chinese Eggs Foo Yung, 154 · Everyday Lunch Tuna Sandwiches, 155. California Mission Days Green Chile Rice, 155 San Francisco Stir-fried Asparagus, 156. Idaho Perfect Baked Potatoes and Variations, 157 • Cafe Hash Browns, 158 · Cobb Salad from Los Angeles, 159 • Hollywood Bowl Pasta Salad, 160 • D.D.'s Ceres Carrot-Raisin Salad, 161 • Snake Basin Idaho Applesauce, 162 California Lemon Snow Bars, 162 • Golden Gate Rum Pie, 164 Drugstore Banana Split, 164 • Classic Western Drinks: California-style Martini, 166; Irish Coffee, 166; Orange Brunch Sangria, 167
Island Rumaki, 171 • Portuguese Bean Soup, 171 • Maui Onion Soup, 172. Baked Opakapaka in Orange Citrus Sauce, 173 • Hawaiian Pineapple-Beef Skewers, 174. Island-style Steak Teriyaki, 174 Polynesian-flavored Brisket, 175 • Diamond Head Sunset Papaya Salad, 176 • Hanalei Bay Chicken Salad, 177 • Pineapple Cornbread Muffins, 177 • Paradise Banana Bread, 178 · Pineapple Upside-down Cake, 179 Waikiki Coconut Cream Pie, 180 • Cool Island Drinks: Mike's Mai Tai, 181; Piña Colada, 182; Waikiki Frozen Pineapple Daiquiri, 182; Honolulu Sunset Cooler Punch, 182