I came across mention of this new cookbook in a magazine recently and quickly requested it from my local library as an ebook. I am still working my way through it, but wanted to offer my initial response so that you could make a point to check it out as well.
I have been a follower of Mario Batali for years since I religiously watched Molto Mario years ago on Food Network. I have several of his recipes in my kitchen “rotation” including a gnocchi and sauce recipe we typically serve to new guests to the house. Having cooked his recipes and then visited our Sicilian relatives several times, I can attest that his recipes are quite respectful of their Italian heritage if changed a bit by their immigration to America.
Unfortunately, over the years — and one would expect, due to his increased development of high-end restaurants — Batali’s recipes and taste had left me behind. I am a rather fussy eater and while I appreciate good food, his use of odd or high-end ingredients in his recipes left my own food sensibilities behind.
That is why it is so refreshing to find this new cookbook, Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA, which focuses in some of the most traditional and historical foods from throughout the US. Sure, most of these recipes are familiar to us in name, if not taste, but having a definitive collection of them can lead me down some interesting food avenues.
As usual, all the recipes are well written and the layout of the book is excellent. My favorite parts, though, are the short historical notes on where and how the food originated and the short endnotes where Batali offers up ways in which he might add or change the recipe to suit a particular occasion or simply to dress it up a bit.
On first reading, I quickly flipped through the book and found myself bookmarking many recipes along the way. In some cases, these recipes were a reintroduction to old favorites, an introduction to midwestern classics I had missed during my childhood and college years or classic regional foods I knew by name only, but now sound intriguing enough to try here in my own kitchen.
I’ll be working my way through several of these recipes in the next few week and hope to find several that I can add to my family “Recipes in Rotation.” I think you’ll find something to love here, too.
Some of my favorites included:
- Corn Muffins from the American Northeast
- Tourtiere from French Canada and imported into the Northeast and Midwest
- Black and White Cookies from New York City
- Winchester Beer Cheese from Kentucky
- Biegnets from New Orleans
- Swedish Pancakes
- and much more!
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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!