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"The 150 Best American Recipes"


Lori in PA
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I have this book checked out of the library after seeing/hearing about Snowangel/Susan's success with the Baked Eggs in Maple Toast Cups (pg. 243) in the cookbook roulette thread. I think I'm gonna have to buy a copy. I suppose some my disparage a "best of" cookbook like they might eschew buying "best of" CDs, but some of us they are a boon -- another knowledgeable person has done some of the footwork for us and found us some reliable dishes to try. Sometimes I enjoy the hunt, but sometimes it's nice to have someone say, "Make this -- you'll like it," and that is what Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens have done in this volume. Its subtitle is "Indispensible Dishes from Legendary Chefs and Undiscovered Cooks," which gives an accurate taste of what you'll find. The Zuni Cafe's Roast Chicken and Bread Salad is in here (Wow -- how did I not know about this? Maybe because I live far from Zuni Cafe?), but so is Skillet Blueberry Cobbler by someone named Ezra Stovall, via "gang email." Of course this cookbook isn't comprehensive -- there are only 150 recipes, after all -- but just about everything in it sounds good to me. So far, I've made the following and I'm just getting started:

Tagliatelle With Creme Fraiche and Arugula (except mine was with linguini and frisee)

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

Braised Green Beans with Tomato and Fennel

Double Corn Polenta

Here's what I hope to try next:

Cheddar Walnut Crisps

Smoked Salmon Rolls with Arugula, Mascarpone, Chives, and Capers

Manly Meatballs

Carrot, Parsley, and Pine Nut Salad with Fried Goat Cheese

Monte's Ham

(It's party season, you know. :biggrin: )

So, has anybody else been playing with this book? Tell me.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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I ran across it at the library, too, Lori. The series in general has been excellent, but this one is well. . .*fabulous*! :biggrin:

Nothing complicated to cook in these books, which is good for most of the time when one has children around. Nice little touches and ideas in most of the recipes.

Two days ago one of the salad recipes seemed nice. My usual cucumber-tomato with red onions and lots of parsley salad morphed into a recipe from the book (or close to it, anyway :raz: ) using cukes, red peppers, celery, red onions, and the most important touch, fresh mint and cumin.

Well. What can I say. *Fabulous*! :smile:

(Yes, the children devoured it. :wink: )

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Two days ago one of the salad recipes seemed nice. My usual cucumber-tomato with red onions and lots of parsley salad morphed into a recipe from the book (or close to it, anyway  :raz: ) using cukes, red peppers, celery, red onions, and the most important touch, fresh mint and cumin.

Well. What can I say. *Fabulous*!  :smile:

(Yes, the children devoured it.  :wink: )

I have my eye on that one, too -- always glad to get good winter salad ideas.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Here's what I hope to try next:

Manly Meatballs

I'd be interested in this recipe.

On another thread we've been discussing the legitimacy of masculine and feminine labels for foods, and Manly Meatballs seem like they would be an appropriate example.

SB (rough, tough and bulletproof) :wink:

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I'd be interested in this recipe. 

SB (rough, tough and bulletproof) :wink:

Dear Manly Meatball OOPS I mean rough tough bulletproof SB,

Here is the recipe rewritten for copyright purposes in Carrot Top language:

2 crusty baguettes (2.5 " in diameter each is specified)

1 lb. ground chuck (this is usually 20%, don't skimp on the fat)

1/4 C dark soy, tamari, or low-salt soy sauce

1 tsp. firmly packed dark brown sugar

5-6 scallions, chopped white and light green parts

Preheat oven to 450F.

Cut off ends of baguettes then cut each loaf into 36 slices about 1/2" thick. (Note: the specificity of the measurements for everything in this simple recipe is so very pronounced. Very engineer-like. I am assuming you will be pleased. :raz: ) Lay the slices on baking sheets.

Blend together meat, soy sauce, sugar, and scallions in *large bowl with your hands*. Knead thoroughly! Thoroughly!

Shape into 36 meatballs, each about the size of say. . . a walnut. Yes, the book specifies "walnut". Place each walnut sized meatball on top of each of the baguette slices and press down a bit to force adhesion. :biggrin:

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or till meatballs and bread have become one. :rolleyes:

......................................

The book notes that Alan Richman "launched" (heh) these meatballs at a - - -Manhattan party!- - and that it is Arthur Schwartz' recipe. I like Arthur Schwartz's recipes, usually.

These remind me of two recipes I do myself - one is almost the same flavor mix but uses ground pork rather than beef. They are served with rice, steamed or fried.

Also remind me of some aps we used to do for parties where there was to be a rather dullardly traditional menu so as not to frighten anyone. Basic, seasoned ground beef pressed onto a thick slice of white bread, an indentation made in the center of the meat, a bit of cocktail sauce (yes, indeed, I did say dull :wink: ) dabbed into the indentation, the entire thing broiled quickly till done. One of those things people seem to gobble up without question. Politicians from Washington in particular always enjoyed these very much.

..........................................

Enjoy those manly meatballs, do. :smile:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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I have my eye on that one, too -- always glad to get good winter salad ideas.

Actually opened the book - it's called "Crunchy Cucumber, Celery, and Red Bell Pepper Salad with Cumin and Fresh Mint".

Several others I've tried before that were excellent:

Roasted Broccoli Florets with Gremolata

Potato-Green Chili Gratin (run, don't walk, to do this one :biggrin: )

Cherry-Almond Twist Pastry (very very difficult to go wrong with cherries, almond paste, and puff pastry in any form, and this one hits all the right notes in the right ways :wink: )

Italian Shortbread with Almonds and Jam

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Manly Meatballs

2 crusty baguettes (2.5 " in diameter each is specified)

1 lb. ground chuck (this is usually 20%, don't skimp on the fat)

1/4 C dark soy, tamari, or low-salt soy sauce

1 tsp. firmly packed dark brown sugar

5-6 scallions, chopped white and light green parts

excusez-moi?

manly man .... scallions? :huh:

The book notes that Alan Richman "launched" (heh) these meatballs at a - - -Manhattan party!- - and that it is Arthur Schwartz' recipe.

Oh, I get it. This is the NPR version of manly! :hmmm:

SB (real men use onions :wink: )

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I've really enjoyed this cookbook. I love the way Molly organizes cookbooks -- at the beginning of every chapter is an index of the recipes in that particular chapter including page numbers. She does a nice job of introducing each recipe, and there are tips and notes throughout. And, you don't have to flip a page to read the rest of the recipe.

So far, I've made the sausage/pasta dish (like Lori), the maple toast cups with eggs, the pork chile verde with posole, the sausage/grape dish, and the frozen lemon cream sandwiches.

Two comments on the recipes I've done. The posole (I made mine with leftover smoked pork) was so good the kids wanted it for dessert. This one will become a standby; using leftover meat makes this a very fast on the table dish.

The frozen lemon cream sandwiches were also outstanding, but a couple of notes. The cookies called for were expensive, and came 8 to a package, and the recipe calls for 12 of them. And, these are very rich, and they were just flat way too big. So, for our Xmas Eve meal, I'll be piping the filling into krumkake (sp?) for a more manageable size.

My kids are enchanted with this cookbook. I usually get the kids a joint gift every Xmas, and I think this might be it.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Comments about two side dishes I've made:

Braised Green Beans with Tomato and Fennel

This was lovely. I've braised many a mess of green beans in my time (though I didn't think of it as braising) by cooking them the southern way -- barely covered with water and with a hunk of fatback in them, cooked until the liquid was mostly gone and they were tender lengths of unctuousness. It literally never occurred to me to play with the seasonings and change things around like this. I loved these. I loved them even more with some heavy cream stirred in at the end.

Double Corn Polenta

I enjoyed this very much, too. I made it to go with a pot of chili -- it just sounded like a good sub for cornbread, and it was, except the olive oil the tomatoes were mixed with seemed a little odd with the chili flavors and would have been fine if omitted. I cooked the polenta in the oven according the info provided in the box (love those extra bits of wisdom and advice) and it was very creamy. What a beautiful dish -- sunshine in a bowl -- and tasty even with frozen corn and grape tomatoes. I want to do this in the summer with garden tomatoes and corn, but can't think I'd want to heat my kitchen for 1 1/2 hours to do the oven cooking method, so I'm sure I'd use the stove in the traditional way.

I have Marion Cunningham's Kona Inn Banana Muffins in the oven right now. Anybody tried those?

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Kona Inn Banana Muffins: Terrific! Very heavy and moist muffin that doesn't rise much -- it can't -- each muffin has almost half a banana in it!

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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We're just finished eating the pork chile verde - really good and used leftover meat also. We're having the Crunchy Cucumber etc. salad for Christmas because grandson loves raw vegetables and he needs to eat! Braised green beans and double polenta are on deck.

Burgundy makes you think silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them ---

Brillat-Savarin

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I made the Manly Meatballs and the Cheddar Parmesan Crisps for a party a few days ago. Both were well-received. I was disappointed in the texture of the meatballs -- the instructions say to mix the meatball ingredients thoroughly to form a paste. I always mix my meatloaf and balls "thoroughly but lightly) to keep a tender finished product. These meatballs were not tender. The instructions also speak of the meatball and the bread "becoming one." That definitely didn't happen, though I used 80% lean ground beef. The flavor was good, but again the texture wasn't what I expected from the description.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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I always mix my meatloaf and balls "thoroughly but lightly) to keep a tender finished product. These meatballs were not tender. The instructions also speak of the meatball and the bread "becoming one." That definitely didn't happen, though I used 80% lean ground beef. The flavor was good, but again the texture wasn't what I expected from the description.

Maybe your hands are stronger than those of whomevers that originated the Manly recipe? :rolleyes:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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More seriously though, it would seem as if ground beef *without* an added egg/breadcrumb binder *should* be handled more gently than not.

I was curious about that when typing out the recipe. It seemed at odds with standard practice or knowledge.

But that line about the bread and the meat becoming one was so very charming. How could one *not* try to follow directions? :biggrin:

Sigh.

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More seriously though, it would seem as if ground beef *without* an added egg/breadcrumb binder *should* be handled more gently than not.

I was curious about that when typing out the recipe. It seemed at odds with standard practice or knowledge.

Perhaps herein lies the clue:

Cut off ends of baguettes then cut each loaf into 36 slices about 1/2" thick. (Note: the specificity of the measurements for everything in this simple recipe is so very pronounced. Very engineer-like. I am assuming you will be pleased. ) Lay the slices on baking sheets.

Blend together meat, soy sauce, sugar, and scallions in *large bowl with your hands*. Knead thoroughly! Thoroughly!

Shape into 36 meatballs, each about the size of say. . . a walnut. Yes, the book specifies "walnut". Place each walnut sized meatball on top of each of the baguette slices and press down a bit to force adhesion.

A little calculation indicates that either you end up with 36 slices of baguette left over, you top each meatball with a second slice, or you cut the meatballs in half yielding a total of 72 pieces?

I suspect the meatballs are meant to be cut in half, rendering each semi-meatball "walnut meat shaped". In this form they would more easily adhere to the bread slices.

Maybe the cut off baugette ends are supposed to be made into crumbs? Maybe the "missing" egg was lost when the Fed's cut back on NPR's funding?

In other words, there is something inherently wrong with this recipe.

But that line about the bread and the meat becoming one was so very charming. How could one *not* try to follow directions?  :biggrin:

Perhaps the recipe uses the transitive verb form of "becoming", in that the appetizers do indeed take on a charming aspect?

SB :rolleyes:

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I suspect the meatballs are meant to be cut in half, rendering each semi-meatball "walnut meat shaped".  In this form they would more easily adhere to the bread slices. 

What're you. . .trying to build an airplane? :biggrin:

Walnut-meat shaped???

:laugh:

Yeah. Something inherently wrong. I think not enough eggs in the basket. So we should not count the meatballs before they hatch.

.........................................................

P.S. There *was* a note about there *might* be leftover bread for "another use". :unsure:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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I suspect the meatballs are meant to be cut in half, rendering each semi-meatball "walnut meat shaped".  In this form they would more easily adhere to the bread slices. 

What're you. . .trying to build an airplane? :biggrin:

Walnut-meat shaped???

:laugh:

Yeah. Something inherently wrong. I think not enough eggs in the basket. So we should not count the meatballs before they hatch.

Years ago when I worked with some friends in the restaurant business we used to have a spaghetti and meatball special on wednesdays. We'd make the all mearballs in the morning and keep half of them in the walkin cooler in the basement for the evening service.

One week we'd hired a new kid to help out with prep, and Chef "Dirty Larry" told him to put half the meatballs on trays in the oven and take the other half downstairs to the cooler.

You guessed it. The kid cut each meatball neatly in half, (which render them quite similar in appearence to walnut meats), and set them neatly on trays, half in the oven and half in the cooler. :blink:

Everybody who ordered the Special that day got a funny story along with their meal. :laugh:

SB (wonders if the kid eventually went to work for MnPR?)

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  • 2 months later...

For a cooking challenge elsewhere, I am about to start cooking from this book. I need to make an app, side, main and dessert. I'm going to try

Vodka spiked cherry tomatoes

Panko crusted asparagus

Chinese braised short ribs

Ginger Mascarpone Icebox cake

The appetizer isn't particularly asian, and doesn't really fit with the rest of the meal, but they sound like fun. I'll keep looking through the book for a suitably asian app. :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Thanks for bringing this topic up again! I have had a couple of more huge successes from this book.

Last week, I happened onto a 4 pound sack of fresh mussels, and my eye had been drawn to the recipe for mussels with bacon, lime and cilantro. My only quibble with the recipe was the quantity -- 3.5 pounds of mussels to serve 4 people? Paul and I polished off most of the four pounds! The addition of the bacon, lime and cilantro left them light, but the brininess still came through. What was leftover made an absolutely delightful breakfast for me!

And the scones. I made a batch, and froze a bunch of them, which have made wonderful breakfasts, as welll. Yes to the addition of the ginger. First successful scones I've made.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Nice to see this thread resurrected. Marlene, I await with curiosity to hear how it was to peel all those little tomatoes! Was the end result worth the tedium?

I kept this book checked out as long as possible, but it is back in the hands of the library and I haven't purchased a copy. It's on my "someday" list.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Nice to see this thread resurrected. Marlene, I await with curiosity to hear how it was to peel all those little tomatoes! Was the end result worth the tedium?

I kept this book checked out as long as possible, but it is back in the hands of the library and I haven't purchased a copy. It's on my "someday" list.

I'm not actually looking forward to that part, so suggestions for another appropriate app are welcome! Tonight, for my cooking challenge, I will make the short ribs and the asparagus.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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