American cuisine is almost beyond definition, it’s such a marvelous mélange of regional favorites and immigrant-imported specialties swirled in our vast culinary melting pot. But that has never stopped cooks or cookbook authors from zeroing in on what they consider as American as apple pie. And, fortunately, it has inspired Elena Rosemond-Hoerr and Caroline Bretherton to write The American Cookbook: A Fresh Take on Classic Recipes, with lots of full-color, almost-edible photos and more than 150 recipes with highlighted virtuoso riffs and variations. Boston Baked Beans get the traditional treatment, or you can choose a Tex-Mex Twist or a Vegan Option. Use lime-drizzled mango instead of strawberries in your summer shortcakes; put ricotta, basil and cherry tomatoes in your Mac ’N’ Cheese, broccoli and bacon in your coleslaw or chorizo in the Minestrone; and serve Eggs Benedict on Potato Röstis for the gluten-free gang. The directions are numbered and wonderfully clear. Good, all-American fun.

YES, YOU CAN CAN
Summertime and the preserving is easy—it’s the time to capture Mother Nature’s incredible bounty from farmer’s markets, roadside stands and, if you’re lucky enough to have one, your own garden. All you need is a basket of tomatoes or blueberries or zucchini and a copy of Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi’s The Gentle Art of Preserving, which is chock-a-block with ideas and inspiration for using everything to its fullest, in ways that are good for our planet and good for your family. There’s a lot more here than making jams and sauces—Katie covers pickling, brining, smoking, salting, freezing, canning, fermenting, conserving in sugar and alcohol and under oil and fat. Each technique gets a full explanation, accompanied by an international array of recipes that showcase these time-honored traditions: Japanese Pickled Ginger; Rhubarb Cordial; Italian Sopressata; Smoked Trout Pâté; Labneh; Frozen Soffritto; Confit of Tomatoes. The pleasures of preserving can brighten the way you cook, eat and shop.

TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Nearly 40 years ago, in the most urban of urban settings, a forward-looking, green-tinged city planner came up with the idea of inviting struggling Hudson Valley farmers to bring their produce to Manhattan and sell it in markets amid high-rise buildings and hurrying pedestrians. The now-legendary Union Square Greenmarket and a growing number of neighborhood markets blossomed from that idea, making locally grown produce available to ordinary city folk and inspiring many of New York’s most prominent chefs and food writers to embrace the super-seasonal. To celebrate this fruitful connection between Greenmarket sellers and borough dwellers, Gabrielle Langholtz has collected 93 recipes from 93 of New York’s top gastronomes in The New Greenmarket Cookbook: Recipes and Tips from Today’s Finest Chefs and the Stories Behind the Farms that Inspire Them that take you on a seasonal splurge from spring to winter, apples to zucchini, Melissa Clark’s Anchovy Butter on Turnips to Karen DeMasco’s pink-tinted Beet Cake.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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