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S: American Cuisine

FC: American Cuisine

1: When one thinks of American cuisine what comes to mind oftentimes is McDonalds or some other type of fast food. But American food is just as diverse as our population. Many of our dishes were brought over from the many immigrants who settled here and these recipes have evolved into something distinctively American. I hope you enjoy the sampling of dishes that I've gathered from some of the different regions and best restaurants in the United States.

2: Live Maine Lobster w/butter Make sure you have a pot big enough to cook your lobster(s). Add 1/4 cup sea salt for each gallon of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil. If the lobster weighs a pound, boil it for about 8 minutes. The meat should change from translucent to white and the shell should be bright red. Let the lobsters rest for about 5 minutes after cooking to absorb some of the moisture from the shell. Serve with drawn butter.

5: New England Clam Chowder 4 slices bacon, diced 1 1/2 cups chopped onion 1 1/2 cups water 4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes 1 1/2 tsp salt ground black pepper to taste 3 cups half and half 3 Tbs butter 2 (10 ounce) cans minced clams Place diced bacon in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until almost crisp; add onions, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in water and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Pour in half-and-half and add butter. Drain clams, reserving clam liquid; stir clams and 1/2 of the clam liquid into the soup. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through. Do not allow to boil.

6: North Carolina BBQ Sauce 1 cup white vinegar 1 cup cider vinegar 1 Tbs brown sugar 1 Tbs cayenne pepper 1 Tbs hot pepper sauce (Tabasco) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp ground black pepper Combine the white vinegar, cider vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper in a jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days before using so that the flavors will blend. Shake occasionally and store for up to 2 months in the refrigerator. (Reduce the Tabasco for a milder sauce)

7: Fried Green Tomatoes 3-4 large firm green tomatoes Salt 2 cups vegetable oil 1 cup buttermilk 2 cups self-rising flour mixed with 2 Tbs sugar Freshly ground black pepper Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Lay them out in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with salt. Place the tomato slices in a colander and allow time for salt to pull the water out of the tomatoes - approx. 30 minutes. Heat the oil over medium heat - dip the tomatoes in buttermilk, then dredge them into flour with a dash of pepper. Fry until golden brown - keep warm.

8: Crooks Corner Shrimp & Grits Although this recipe is a little more time-consuming than others, it is the best. Crooks of Chapel Hill, North Carolina is the birthplace of shrimp and grits and they never fail to please with this recipe! (full recipe in back jacket)

11: The Muffuletta sandwich is one of the great sandwiches of the world and it's criminal that it can hardly be found anywhere outside the city of New Orleans. It's also a bit of a lesson to those who think the only cultural and culinary heritage of New Orleans is French, Spanish, African and Creole. You ask folks about the quintessential sandwiches of New Orleans and many will immediately reply "po-boy", but the muffuletta is as New Orleans as any po-boy you will ever eat, and there's nothing Creole about it. This is pure Italian, and pure Sicilian if you want to be specific. New Orleans, in its population and its cuisine, owes much to Italy and especially Sicily; Italians have been coming to the Crescent City since the 1880's. It wasn't always easy for them -- one of the worst lynchings in American history was a massacre perpetrated upon a group of Italians in New Orleans in 1891. The Italians soon settled in comfortably into New Orleans culture, and we are the richer for it. Their contribution to local culture and cuisine has been immeasurable; in fact, you frequently see "Creole-Italian" referred to as one of the local sub-cuisines. This kind of cooking is epitomized at places like Mandina's, Liuzza's and the many places in the city that serve muffuletta sandwiches. According to a tale I've heard, the Muffuletta sandwich was invented by Signor Lupo Salvadore, who opened the now-famous little Italian market called Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in 1906 and created the muffuletta sandwich, named for a favored customer (although I've also heard that the sandwich was named for the baker of the round Italian bread on which the sandwich is served.) You'll hear lots of New Orleanians pronounce the sandwich "muff-uh-LOT-uh" but the proprietors of Central Grocery pronounce it "moo-foo-LET-ta" The common abbreviation is "muff"; e.g., "I'll take me a half a muff." Here are my favorite places in New Orleans to get muffulettas. If I have time, I'll stop at one of these places on the way to the airport to pick up a muffuletta to eat on the plane. Given the poor quality of airline food these days, this is something one absolutely must do when leaving New Orleans. As the olive salad aroma fills the entire plane, it really pisses off your fellow passengers too, which makes it even more fun! Central Grocery, 923 Decatur Street, French Quarter; Progress Grocery, 4512 Zenith Street, Metairie; Napolean House, 500 Chartres St. at St. Louis, French Quarter; and Liuzzas, 3636 Bienville Street, Mid-City

12: Blackberries grow wild throughout much of the east coast during August. I've picked many gallons of blackberries growing up and my grandmother would make a cobbler that is to die for. (dessert recipes in back pocket)

15: Chili Rellenos means stuffed chilis and it comes in many versions. The recipe I've included is, in my opinion, the most basic and simple one, yet also the most sublime. (recipe in back flap)

16: Guacamole 2 Tbs red onion 2 tsp finely chopped jalapeno 3 hass avocados 3 Tbs diced tomato 3 Tbs chopped cilantro Tortilla chips Half avocados and cut in 3/4 inch cubes. Combine 1 Tbs onion, jalapenos and 1 Tbs fresh cilantro and add to avocados, trying to keep the avocado pieces fairly intact. Add tomato and remaining cilantro and onion and fold in gently. Add salt and a few drops of lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.

18: Don't miss Giordano's deep dish stuffed pizza if you make it to Chicago. They wouldn't agree to give up their recipe but this is as close as we can get (recipe in back pocket) This is not for those on a diet!

19: Macaroni and Cheese 1 small red onion, diced 1 16 oz package pasta shells 1 Tbs butter 2 (11 oz cans condensed cream of Cheddar cheese soup 2/3 cup shredded Jarlsberg cheese 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 1/3 cup grated Cheddar cheese Place diced onion in large pot of lightly-salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. Transfer the onion and pasta to a casserole dish; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the butter, Cheddar Cheese soup and cheeses (sprinkle half the Cheddar Cheese on the top). Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Change to broil and cook until top is golden brown - about 5 minutes.

20: Welcome to the heartland of America! For an economical and delicious dish that will stick to your ribs try this easy and distinctive dish from Cincinnati, Ohio in the Midwest. Or, if you're in the Washington DC area, try the "Hard Times Cafe" which features it on its menu. | Cincinnati Style Chili

22: Home to beautiful hand grown, organic and local food, the Bay area is known more for its sour dough bread than anything. This recipe captures the sourness that makes it more distinct from other versions. If you can't get your hands on some starter, you'll have to come to San Francisco to get the real thing. I cannot think of a better starting place than Chez Panisse in Berkeley--reservations essential. (recipe in back pocket)

24: Salmon rules in the Pacific Northwest. Cooking on wooden planks creates a moist and tender filet and removes the fishy taste. Cedar and alder woods are the most popular woods used. The flavor of the wood smoke is infused in the salmon and creates a flavorful filet. The native peoples of the Pacific Northwest have been cooking their seafood and meats in this method for many years. (Recipe in back pocket)

26: Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs Like the Live Maine Lobster, this is a simple recipe that only entails steaming the split legs for about 5 minutes (1-1/2 half pounds) and then serving with drawn butter.

27: Holly has worked for the US State Department for over 20 years. Her postings have included Caracas, Brussels, Washington, Vancouver, Bangkok, Baghdad and London. She has an appreciation for good food and likes sharing some of her favorite American recipes with her international counterparts.

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Holly Wazelle
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