cover image The Best American Recipes

The Best American Recipes

Fran McCullough. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $26 (305pp) ISBN 978-0-618-57478-0

With recipes culled from world-class chefs and publications ranging from Ina Garten's prim Barefoot in Paris to Maya Angelou's rip-roaring Hallelujah! The Welcome Table to Harley and Davidson Family Recipes, editors McCullough and Stevens have compiled a daydream-inspiring yearbook of American cooking. Dedicated home chefs would do well to add at least one of the book's main dishes to their arsenal; with favorites like Tagliatelle with Creme Fraiche and Arugula and Scandanavian Salmon Stew with Mushrooms and Dill to choose from, it shouldn't be hard to shake up any family's evening lineup. Eyes might glaze over during the segment on side dishes (and a couple recipes -- Mushy Zucchini and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Pecorino - offer new twists on standard fare, but may be too complex for rookie cooks), but the breads section, with such hearty fare as Bacon and Cheddar Scones and savory Egyptian Cheese Rolls, are sure to revive carb-craving cooks. The desserts chapter alone will make this a must-have for culinary enthusiasts. Decadent favorites such as Cowboy Cookies and Chocolate Chip Brownie Double-Deckers will keep the wagons circled, and no family barbeque would be complete without Maya Angelou's banana pudding. The recipes use ingredients available at any corner market, so even inexperienced cooks working in a sparsely equipped kitchen can turn out delicious, eye-catching dishes.