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The huge influx of peoples from all over Asia--Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, India--and from the Middle East and Latin America in the past forty years has brought to our kitchens new exotic flavors, little-known herbs and condiments, and novel cooking techniques that make the most of every ingredient. At the same time, health and environmental concerns have dramatically affected how and what we eat. The result: American cooking has never been as exciting as it is today. And Joan Nathan proves it on every page of this wonderfully rewarding book.
Crisscrossing the country, she talks to organic farmers, artisanal bread bakers and cheese makers, a Hmong farmer in Minnesota, a mango grower in Florida, an entrepreneur of Indian frozen foods in New Jersey, home cooks, and new-wave chefs.
Among the many enticing dishes she discovers are a breakfast huevos rancheros casserole; starters such as Ecuadorean shrimp ceviche, Szechuan dumplings, and Malaysian swordfish satays; pea soup with kaffir leaves; gazpacho with sashimi; pasta dressed with pistachio pesto; Iraqi rice-stuffed Vidalia onions; and main courses of Ecuadorean casuela, chicken yasa from Gambia, and couscous from Timbuktu (with dates and lamb). And there are desserts for every taste.
Old American favorites are featured, too, but often Nathan discovers a cook who has a new way with a dish, such as an asparagus salad with blood orange mayonnaise, pancakes made with blue cornmeal and pine nuts, a seafood chowder that includes monkfish, and a chocolate bread pudding with dried cherries.
Because every recipe has a story behind it, The New American Cooking is a book that is as much fun to read as it is to cook from--a must for every kitchen today.
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|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Chocolate Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Icing
When I was growing up, I always wanted a simple chocolate cake for my birthday. I still do. This velvety chocolate cake gets its name from its smooth texture and reddish hue. The original recipe called for red beet juice—in some parts of the country it is called beet cake—but was altered by manufacturers who added red food coloring to the cake. "Red coloring is evil and dangerous for children and other living things," Carole Greenwood, a chef in Washington, D.C. told me. She refuses to use food coloring but loves this buttermilk-based velvety chocolate cake, and uses red wine vinegar or beet juice for the color. She also makes her version less sweet, using both good-quality cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate.
For the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa powder
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons pickled beet juice or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
For the icing:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Yield: 1 cake serving 8 people
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease two 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the water and cocoa powder, and allow the mixture to cool.
3. Beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the vanilla, buttermilk, baking soda, and beet juice or red wine vinegar and stir well.
4. Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar into the bowl. Pour in the butter and then the egg mixture and blend thoroughly on low.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool the cakes for a few minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks, and frost and fill the center with the chocolate icing.
1. Place the cream, butter, and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until hot and bubbly.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring slowly until smooth and silky. Add the vanilla and the salt.Taste and adjust the sweetness to your taste. Cool for about 15 minutes before frosting the cake.