Cooking New American, How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat

234 pages; Full Color Photographs  Hardcover

The Editors of Fine Cooking, Taunton Press, Newtown, CT October, 2004

Reviewed by Chef John J. Vyhnanek

So that’s how they make it! Chances are you wondered how your favorite restaurant’s chef made the Bruschetta or the quick pan sauce for the seared chicken breast. You’re a good cook, not a trained chef, but can’t quite figure out the technique that makes the cranberry streusel cake easily come out of the pan. You are in luck, because there is a new cookbook on the block . “Cooking the New American Way from the Editors of Fine Cooking Magazine. There are 200 recipes---every one with stunning color photos and to top that, many have additional photos depicting the method, technique and/or helpful hint. Not only is this cookbook beautiful to look at but its recipes are really well written. I suspect that every recipe was tested and tested again before it was included in the book. 

This book makes a terrific addition to a home cook’s library. In fact, once the word gets out, chefs too will be adding this book to their cookbook collection as well. Many of the recipes are modernized versions of traditional recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. But many are of recipes that have sprung up from the restaurant revolution of the 90’s that have become new American favorites. One example is Bruschetta, the recipe and photos of how to perfectly grill the bread and how to flavor it with a hint of garlic isn’t a huge secret, but no one seems to do it right, especially the toppings. Here you do get it right because you can see it right in front of you. 

I was skeptical about the ingredients for the Quick stovetop braised Sirloin tips with mushroom sauce. Would dry mustard, paprika, ginger, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, dark ale and mushrooms work? Son-of-a-gun it was great and easy to make although I would use fresh ginger instead of dried. Here’s the recipe---

I had to test a dessert so I chose to make the cranberry streusel cake. The flavor was great but the topping not quite up to par. The instructions should really, really stress the fact that the butter must be very cold.  Also chopped means different things to different cooks, so defining the size of "chopped" would have been beneficial. I would also double the quantity of topping so that it covers the entire cake top. This aside, it was easy to make, nicely moist and not too sweet. It’s simple yet very satisfying. Here is a picture of the cake from the book and a picture of the cake I made.

From the book---

 

 

 

 

 

 

My results---

 

This book will make a great present for whatever reason. If you buy it just to look at the pictures at the coffee table you will be missing the point of this book. It is a cookbook that should spend time in the kitchen, with a spatter of oil here and a drip of gravy there.

Quick Stovetop-Braised Sirloin Tips with Mushroom Sauce

Serves 4

 

Cooking Right

Look for this dark brown color when searing the steaks. A good sear intensifies the meat's flavor as well as the flavor of the sauce.

Sirloin tips are a great choice for a quick braise, as they're full of flavor and will have a pleasantly chewy texture after 20 minutes of cooking (further cooking would toughen them). Buttered noodles or mashed potatoes would make a good accompaniment for this quickly prepared dish.

1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds sirloin tip steaks, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, preferably a mix of half shiitakes and half cremini
2 Tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts (save both)
1 cup dark ale or porter beer (such as Beck's Dark)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Mix the mustard, brown sugar, thyme, ginger, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until well combined. Coat both sides of the steaks with the spice mix.

Remove and discard the stems from the shiitakes, if using, and trim the stem ends from the cremini. Wipe all the mushrooms clean and slice them 1/4 inch thick.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add half the steaks and sear them until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side (the steaks will brown quickly because of the sugar in the spice mix. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining steaks.

Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, and let it melt. Add the mushrooms, the scallion whites, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms soften and brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Pour in the beer and Worcestershire. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon, raise the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Return the steaks and any accumulated juices to the pan, cover tightly with a lid or foil, and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Braise, turning the steaks after 8 minutes, until tender and just cooked through (they should be easy to slice with a paring knife), about 16 minutes total. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and slice them thinly. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into four pieces and swirl them into the sauce. Stir in the scallion greens and taste for seasoning. Serve the steak slices topped with the sauce. 

-Molly Stevens

Cranberry Streusel Cake 

Serves 9

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.

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 the cake:
9 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour; more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, well softened at room temperature; more for the pan
1 1/2 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 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4cup 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 medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt until blended. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, a 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.

More Information and Recipes from Cooking New American!!!

© '2004 by Good Cooking, Inc.