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January 2005 Issue
Cooking New American
by Ronda L. Halpin
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About the Author

    Cooking New American is published by The Taunton Press, which also publishes Fine Cooking magazine.

About the Cookbook

    Cooking New American is a treat that mirrors the kind of creativity and nod to tradition that Fine Cooking magazine puts forth in its pages. Blending tried and true favorites with unique dishes, it offers something for every cook and works to do it with less time and effort. That in itself makes it a good option for most home chefs, who might enjoy less and less time in the kitchen these days.

    Ten chapters split the book into types of dishes. In addition, there is a brief introduction, as well as the biographies of contributing chefs and authors, an extensive index and credits. The recipe chapters run as follows:

    1. Small Bites (like Curried Pecans & Sesame Parmesan Twists)
    2. Salads (like Panzanella & Grilled Potato Salad)
    3. Soups (like Yellow Tomato Gazpacho & Spicy Pasta e Fagioli)
    4. Pasta (like Shells with Gorgonzola & Wild Mushroom Risotto)
    5. Chicken (like Tandoori-Style Chicken & Crisp Panko Chicken Cutlets)
    6. Beef, Pork & Lamb (like Garlicky Beef over Lettuce Greens & Chinese-Style Spareribs)
    7. Fish & Shellfish (like Spice-Rubbed Fish Fillets & Caramel-Braised Cod)
    8. Beans & Grains (like Lemon Rice Salad & Green Rice)
    9. Vegetables (like Crispy Broccoli & Creamy Spinach)
    10. Desserts (like Strawberry Shortcakes & Triple Chocolate Cheesecake)
    Each chapter is carefully arranged according to a special preparation technique (e.g. simmer or sauté), which gives a home chef insight into what kind of equipment will be necessary and the like. To familiarize you with the type of recipes that can be expected in Cooking New American, here is a sampling of its offerings:

 

Baked Potato & Leek Soup with Cheddar & Bacon

The whole potato, skin and all, goes into this thick soup, so wash the potatoes well.
  • 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 pound each)
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium leeks (white and light green parts), sliced and rinsed well
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 pound)
  • 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens or chives
Heat the oven to 375ºF. Scrub the potatoes, pat dry, and pierce several times with a fork. Set them directly on the oven rack and bake until very tender, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Simmer until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

Cut one of cooled potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out in one piece from each half. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks. Purée the contents of the pot in batches in a blender until very smooth. Return the soup to a clean pot and reheat over medium low. Whisk together the milk and sour cream and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. Stir in the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.

  • Yields: About 6 cups; serves 4
 

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