America The Great Cookbook: The Food We Make for the People We Love From 100 of Our Finest Chefs and Food Heroes, edited by Joe Yonan, features a collection of recipes and stories from some of our country’s favorite chefs. Notable dishes include Creole Gumbo by Leah Chase in New Orleans; Chicken Pot Tot Hotdish from Molly Yeh in Grand Forks; Smoked and Fried Oysters from Mashama Bailey in Savannah; Fried Chicken and Red Velvet Waffles from Marcus Samuelsson in Harlem; Stuffed Poblano with Huaxmole Rojo from Hugo Ortega in Houston, Texas; and so much more. I’ll will also be sharing Amanda Haas’ recipe for S’more Bars following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Weldon Owen in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Joe Yonan is a two-time James Beard Award-winning Food and Dining Editor of The Washington Post. He writes for their “Weeknight Vegetarian” column, is the author of Eat Your Vegetables and Serve Yourself, and continues to share his efforts growing food in his 150-square-foot urban front yard. He grew up in West Texas and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.
America the Great Cookbook
I was immediately blown away by the beauty of America The Great Cookbook and its size. In 482 pages, you will find a wonderful collection of recipes from 100 chefs including Sean Sherman, David Chang, Andrew Zimmern, Nik Sharma, Ruth Reichl, Michael Voltaggio, Marcela Valladolid, Virginia Willis, Buddy Valastro, Tunde Wey, and so many more from coast to coast.
I especially loved that the DC area was so well-represented with additions by José Andrés, Georgetown Cupcake, Joan Nathan, and Jerome Grant. Proceeds from this book will also be used to help fight childhood hunger by helping No Kid Hungry connect kids with at least 200,000 meals.
Instead of the usual chapters, the recipes are divided by person. The contents page at the beginning of the book give a list of the included chefs with page numbers for easy reference and the index is also well-organized.
The cover is illustrated by Jessica Hische with the striking photography inside by Lottie Hedly. Most of the recipes are paired with a full-page photo of the finished dish. Each chef is given a layout with a portrait, background information, a short note, and a mark on a map noting where they live. The titles of the recipes are provided in English with measurements in US Customary and Metric.
After the Hot Chocolate Bar at Claire’s birthday party, I had a ton of marshmallows and chocolate leftover. They went to great use in these S’more Bars by Amanda Haas. Amanda is a cookbook author, professional recipe tester and developer, and Culinary Director of Williams Sonoma. She is based in San Francisco, California.
These bars are definitely a S’mores lover’s dream. The graham cracker crust is baked until golden, then topped with a creamy chocolate ganache studded with 2 cups of mini marshmallows. Sprinkle with a little sea salt to help round out the flavor. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the chocolate to set.
The S’more Bars can easily be made gluten-free by switching the graham crackers for a gluten-free variety and the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free flour such as Cup4Cup.
I also made Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Fett’unta (Italian-Style Garlic Bread), Chicken Soup, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies.
This recipe for Mac ‘n’ Cheese comes from Carla Hall. I love that everything is prepared in one pot before transferring to a large dish to bake until the pasta is tender and cheese is bubbling and golden. She also includes recipes for Collards ‘n’ Potlikker and Nashville-Style Hot Chicken.
Nancy Silverton, co-owner and chef of Mozzarella Restaurant Group in Los Angeles, California, features a Chicken Salad with Indian Spices and Preserved Lemon and this Fett’unta (Italian-Style Garlic Bread). Slices of a country-style bread are brushed with olive oil and grilled until golden brown. The toasted pieces are then rubbed with garlic, drizzled with addition olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt.
Joan Nathan, cookbook author and TV personality, is based in Washington DC and includes recipes for Multi Seeded Fennel-Flavored Challah, this Chicken Soup, and Matzo Balls. I originally planned to make the Matzo Balls to go with the chicken soup, but a sudden illness changed plans a bit. I was so thankful to have a large pot of Chicken Soup though. A large chicken is simmered with vegetables and herbs, strained, then refrigerated to help remove the fat. I served it simply with carrots, dill, and pieces of the remaining chicken.
Joanne Chang, co-owner and chef of Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston, Massachusetts, features these delicious Chocolate Chunk Cookies. The large, 1/4 cup cookies are packed with semisweet and milk chocolate. She also includes a recipe for Raspberry Swirl Meringues.
America The Great Cookbook is a great pick for novice and more experienced cooks alike looking to be inspired by new and longtime favorite American chefs. There is an incredible range of recipes- from homemade bread and baked goods to salads, appetizers, meats, seafood, condiments, vegetables, and everything in between. The index includes a list of the recipes broken down by category, including vegetarian and vegetarian option sections.
Many of the ingredients are readily available in the average American supermarket. More difficult to locate items include fresh seafood, fiddleheads, star anise, stinging nettles, red miso, furikake, dried porcini mushrooms, “00” pasta flour, Scotch bonnet chile, kombu, specialty cheeses, rice paper wrappers, and more.
S’more Bars Recipe
Excerpt from America The Great Cookbook
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) finely chopped graham crackers regular or gluten-free
- 3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose or gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) firmly packed golden brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) unsalted butter chilled and cut into 1/2 inch (12 mm) pieces
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream
- 3/4 pound (340 grams) semisweet or dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (100 grams) miniature marshmallows
- Sea salt for topping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing an overhang of about 1 inch (2.5 cm).
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- Combine the graham cracker crumbs, flour, and brown sugar in a bowl. Scatter the butter over the top and cut in with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add the egg and stir just until the mixture comes together.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press into the bottom to form a crust. (This is a sticky endeavor. I've found using a rubber spatula helps spread the mixture more evenly.)
- Bake until the top of the crust is just firm to the touch, 17-20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
For the S'more Topping:
- Place the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate chips and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in the vanilla, then mix in the marshmallows. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the cooled crust. Sprinkle with the sea salt (if using). Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
- To serve, using parchment paper, lift the square from the pan. Peel back the parchment from the sides. Cut the square into 8 large bars of 4 by 2 inches (10 by 5 cm), or 16 bite-sized bars of 2 by 2 inches (5 by 5 cm).