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Cooking New American, How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat 
By Martha Holmberg 
Published by Taunton October 2004; $29.95US; 1-56158-728-1

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Though America is a nation of increasingly refined restaurant connoisseurs, a gap still exists between the food of the chefs and the  

food that's practical to cook at home. Into this void comes Cooking New American, the first cookbook to be launched by the editors of Fine Cooking magazine.

Cooking New American is both simple and sophisticated. Its 200 recipes rely on the fresh herbs and rich flavors that have powered the American culinary revolution, yet all the ingredients are readily attainable at supermarkets. It caters to a cultivated palette, but every dish is easy to prepare.

Cooking New American is a private tutorial in preparing the kind of food that Americans truly love to eat. It offers meat and potatoes -- roasted potato salad and sliced steak with rosemary and arugula, that is. And it includes the pastas, polentas, risottos, and grain dishes that are so exciting now.

In the tradition of Fine Cooking magazine, step-by-step color photographs show exactly how to grill brochette or pound chicken breasts in paillards. Recipes are accompanied by timesaving tips -- as well as ideas for cooking ahead and serving suggestions. At every turn there are tips that have taken the pros years to learn.

Not just another pretty cookbook, Cooking New American is a bible for both foolproof party fare and fast and flavorful home dinners. There's really no excuse to eat mundane food ever again.

Author

Martha Holmberg is publisher of Fine Cooking magazine. Before joining Fine Cooking ten years ago, Martha worked in London and Paris as a cookbook editor. She also was administrative director of La Varenne cooking school, both at The Greenbrier and in France. She received the Grand Diplôme from La Varenne in 1988, after which she worked as a private chef for a diplomat in Paris. Before moving to France, Martha started her cooking career in Denver, Colorado, at the Mocha Cafe in Cherry Creek.

For more information, please visit www.taunton.com or www.writtenvoices.com.

Reviews

"This is what we need more of . . . A cookbook filled with recipes that are pure, fresh, simple and most importantly, instructional. Hats off to Taunton for yet another creative culinary triumph!"

--Joanne Weir, star of Weir Cooking in the Wine Country and author of More Cooking in the Wine Country: 100 New Recipes for Living and Entertaining

"Cooking New American is really not new cooking. What it truly is: Food and recipes that Americans love, cooked by some of America's greatest chefs. A treasure to have in any kitchen library."

--Lidia Bastianich, star (and author) of Lidia's Italian American Kitchen and Lidia's Italian Table

"I've always loved the Fine Cooking approach to recipes: straight-forward directions, good source information, and, of course, lots of helpful illustrations. Cooking New American continues in that great tradition with delicious, innovative recipes from many of America's great cooks."

--John Ash, chef, culinary director for Fetzer and Bonterra Vineyards, and author of John Ash One-on-One: Lessons from a Master Teacher

Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from the book Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat by Martha Holmberg 
Published by Taunton; October 2004; $29.95US; 1-56158-728-1 
Copyright © 2004 The Taunton Press, Inc.

Baked Potato & Leek Soup with Cheddar & Bacon

Yields about 6 cups; serves 4

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.  

This recipe is from Cooking New American which was written by Jennifer Armentrout and published by Taunton Press in September 2004.  

Cook's Choice

Sharp cheese works well in this soup because it melts smoothly. Extra sharp will give you a more pronounced flavor but because of its lower moisture content, the soup will be less smooth.

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Seared Chicken Breast with Quick Pan Sauce

Serves 4

This technique and the accompanying sauces also would work well with turkey cutlets, boneless pork chops, or sliced pork loin.

4 trimmed boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloin removed and cooked separately or saved for another use

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Flour for dredging

Ingredients for pan sauce (see the recipes below)

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with ample salt and pepper. Put a handful of flour in a pie pan or other sided plate and position it near the stove. Combine the sauce ingredients of your choice in a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup or small bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge one of the chicken breasts in the flour, coating both sides well but shaking off any excess. Increase the heat of the pan to medium high.

Before adding the chicken, test the heat of the pan by flicking in a little of the dredging flour. If the flour sizzles enthusiastically and immediately turns golden, the pan is ready. Add the first floured chicken breast. Then quickly flour the remaining breasts and add them to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes without moving the breasts. Then, starting with the first one in the pan, turn them over and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes on the other side.

Transfer the chicken to a plate or plates and keep it warm. Add the pan sauce ingredients to the hot pan and boil, stirring and scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan, over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and whisk until smooth and glossy. (Tilt the pan to bring the small amount of liquid to one side while you whisk in the butter.) Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.  

This recipe is from Cooking New American which was written by Pam Anderson and published by Taunton Press in September 2004.  

Cooking Right

Choose the right size skillet so that the cutlets have neither too much nor too little space between them. A 12-inch pan works best for four cutlets.

Quick Pan Sauces

These sauces are designed for 4 chicken breasts, yielding about 1 to 11⁄2 tablespoons of sauce per breast. If you decide you want a bit more sauce, increase the total liquid ingredients to 2⁄3 cup and whisk in a little more butter.

Add the flavorings to the hot pan.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Scrape up those yummy stuck-on bits and reduce the liquid by half.

Red Wine and Mustard

1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock

1/4 cup red wine

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Curried Chutney

6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock

2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons prepared chutney

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Orange-Dijon

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Port with Dried Cherries

1/2 cup port wine

2 Tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries

2 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam

Lemon-Caper

6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons drained capers

Vermouth with Prunes

6 Tablespoons sweet vermouth

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

1/4 cup chopped prunes

Tomato-Tarragon

1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

4 canned tomatoes, seeded and chopped

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Fragrant Beef Short Ribs with Ginger, Star Anise & Leeks

Serves 6

The soy sauce seasons the ribs well (no need to salt them before searing) and produces an intense sauce that's delicious with mashed potatoes.

Cooking Ahead

Cooking and cooling the braised ribs at least a day before serving helps the flavors marry and makes degreasing easy.

1 1/3 cups drained canned whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup fino sherry, dry white wine, or dry vermouth

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

4 whole star anise

6 to 61⁄2 pounds beef short ribs on the bone (each 3 to 4 inches long)

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil; more as needed

6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1 piece fresh ginger (about 1 inch), peeled and cut into 8 slices

6 large scallions (white and green parts), cut into 2-inch lengths

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

3 medium leeks (white and light green parts), cut into 2-inch-long julienne strips (2 to 21⁄2 cups), rinsed, and dried well

Kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Put the tomatoes, 2⁄3 cup water, the soy sauce, sherry, and brown sugar in a bowl and stir. Add the star anise.

Pat the short ribs dry with paper towels and season them with pepper. In an ovenproof pot that's large enough to hold all the ribs in no more than two layers, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Put as many ribs in the pot as will fit without crowding and brown them on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter. Brown the rest of the ribs, adding more oil if needed, and transfer to the platter.

Pour off the fat from the pan, reduce the heat to low, and add the garlic, ginger, and scallions, stirring and pressing them against the pot, for 1 to 2 minutes to bring out their flavor. Return the ribs to the pot and pour the tomato and soy sauce mixture over them. Bring to a simmer and cover. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise the ribs, lifting and turning them about every half hour, until the meat is very tender and starts to fall off the bone when pulled with a fork, 21⁄2 to 3 hours.

Transfer the ribs to a serving platter (or if you're working ahead, transfer them to a baking dish; refrigerate, covered, when cool). Pick out and discard the ginger and star anise from the pot and pour the remaining sauce into a large, clear measuring cup. When the fat rises to the surface, after about 5 minutes, spoon it off and discard. (Or, if you're working ahead, cool the sauce in the pot, refrigerate it, and skim the solid fat off the top. When it's time to reheat the ribs, return them to the pot and heat gently in the oven.)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reheat the sauce, season generously with pepper and more salt, if you like, and pour it over the ribs. Scatter the leeks over the top and serve.  

This recipe is from Cooking New American which was written by Leslie Revsin and published by Taunton Press in September 2004. 

Beautiful, Aromatic Anise

Star anise is a whole star-shaped spice that's wonderfully reminiscent of licorice, clove, fennel seed, and aniseed. It's used often in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking to infuse soups, stews, and braised dishes (much like bay leaves are used in Western cooking). Some supermarkets carry whole star anise, but you'll definitely find it at an Asian market, or try a mail-order spice source.

Cooking Right

Sweet, buttery leeks are such a perfect accompaniment to the full flavored beef that they're included right in the recipe. Some mashed potatoes would round out the plate.

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Smashed Red-Skinned Potatoes with Boursin & Scallions

Serves 4 to 6

Smashing low-starch potatoes into a rustic side dish is the way to go to avoid gumminess. Besides, there is always someone who loves lumps.

1 3/4 to 2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 11⁄2- to 2-inch chunks

Kosher salt

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

4 ounces boursin (with garlic and herbs), cut into pieces and at room temperature

3 scallions (white parts with some green), chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add a generous 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer, cover the pot partially, and cook until the potatoes are quite tender when tested with a metal skewer, 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes -- reserving some of the cooking water -- and dump them back in the pot. Dry the potatoes over medium heat, shaking the pan and stirring, until most of the moisture has steamed off. Reduce the heat to very low.

Use the side of a big metal spoon to cut through the skins and flesh of the potatoes, reducing the chunks to a very coarse mash. Stir in the butter and then the boursin. You might need to loosen the mash with a few tablespoons cooking water or as much as 1⁄2 cup. Don't beat vigorously or the potatoes may turn gummy. Stir in the scallions, add salt and pepper, and serve right away. 

This recipe is from Cooking New American which was written by Roy Finamore and Molly Stevens and published by Taunton Press in September 2004. 

Cooking Right

A big metal spoon is the best tool for making smashed potatoes where you want to retain texture and lumps. 

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Ginger-Mascarpone Icebox Coke

Serves 12

Delicious on its own, this cake is also lovely paired with some bright-flavored fruit, such as blueberries or slices of mango or peach.

Cooking Ahead

This cake has to be made ahead as it needs a good chill to firm it up.

12 ounces gingersnap crumbs, about 2 1/4 cups (about 40 cookies)

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

2/3 cup sugar; more for the pan

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup minced candied (crystallized) ginger

1 pound mascarpone

1/3 cup heavy cream

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or grease it lightly. Dust with a little sugar and knock out any excess. Rub the gingersnap crumbs and butter together with your fingertips to combine. Sprinkle half over the bottom of the pan and pat down evenly; reserve the rest.

With an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and candied ginger until smooth. Add the mascarpone and cream and whip until the mixture is thorough combined and just holds peaks. Carefully spoon half of the mascarpone cream over the crust, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan.

Sprinkle half of the remaining crumbs over the mascarpone cream in the pan. Top with remaining mascarpone cream and finish with the remaining crumbs. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

This recipe is from Cooking New American which was written by Heather Ho and published by Taunton Press in September 2004. 

Copyright © 2004 The Taunton Press, Inc.

For more information, please visit www.taunton.com or www.writtenvoices.com.