Cooking New American

By: Fine Cooking Magazine

Reviewed By: Jennifer A. Wickes

Cooking New American
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Fine Cooking Magazine has released a new cookbook. Being a fan of Fine Cooking magazine myself, I am excited by their new innovative yet simple recipes that bring forth great meals and leave behind the boring meals of the past!

This new bestseller brings forth a new rage, the self-titled, Cooking New American. This book is not about America's past of meatloaf and dried pot roast, but new, creative meals. Lovely recipes such as Truffle-Scented Cornish Game Hens with Proscuitto and Wild Mushrooms, and Couscous with Ginger, Orange, Almonds and Herbs, are throughout this book.

This cookbook is beautifully photographed. The dishes look so tantalizing that one feels compelled to try some of these inspirational recipes! The recipes are easy-to-read and easy-to- prepare. Alongside any moderately-complicated recipe, there is a picture guide of what you are looking for whilst preparing your new meal.

If you are used to traditional American cuisine, and not ready for this new trend, then this book may come as a surprise with the ingredients. For me, it was refreshing to see ingredients such as porcini mushrooms, proscuitto, hazelnuts and more. But for others, it may be a deterrent.

Baked Potato & Leek Soup with Cheddar & Bacon
The following recipe was printed with permission.

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 the 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.

Cranberry Streusel Cake
the following recipe was printed with permission.

Serves 9

Add the topping 40 minutes into baking rather than at the beginning, when it would sink too far into the cake, or at the end, when it wouldn't sink in at all.

Cooking Ahead

This brightly flavored cake tastes best the day after you bake it.

Stock up on packages of fresh cranberries while they're at the peak of their season (late fall). Freeze them to use all year long.

For the cake:

9 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour; more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, well softened at room temperature; more for the pan
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

For the streusel:

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

Make the cake -- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch-square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt until blended. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Using a wide rubber spatula, alternately fold the flour mixture and the yogurt into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the chopped cranberries with the last addition of flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 40 minutes.

Make the streusel -- While the cake is baking, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the butter and mix, using a fork, until the ingredients are well blended and form small crumbs. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries.

After the cake has baked for 40 minutes, sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the cake. Continue baking until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, another 10 to 15 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack until warm or room temperature. Cut into squares and serve.

This recipe is from Cooking New American which was written by Abigail Johnson Dodge and published by Taunton Press in September 2004.

Cooking Right

To flour a pan: Spoon a generous amount of flour into the greased pan. Tilt the pan so that the flour slides all over the inside surfaces of the pan. Dump out the extra flour and give the pan a few hard knocks over the garbage can to get rid of any excess.

For fresh, new ideas, pick up this cookbook. It would make a nice addition to your collection, as well as a wonderful gift.

Jennifer A. Wickes is the Food and Drink Dean at Suite University, the Food and Drink Community Manager at Suite101, as well as a freelance food writer and cookbook reviewer. She has written 5 eBooks, and has had several articles in printed publications, such as Cooking Pleasures magazine, Light and Tasty, The Gooseberry Patch and Ernest and Julio Gallo's Turning Leaf Wine pamphlet. http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/CulinaryJen/.

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