Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking

Editors of the NMAHC. Smithsonian, $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-58834-640-7
Albert Lukas, supervising chef of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s café, and Jessica B. Harris (The Martha’s Vineyard Table) present the museum café’s recipes in this fascinating cookbook. Included are recipes for hoppin’ john, shrimp and grits, buttermilk fried chicken, chocolate chess pie, and many more. African, Caribbean, Native American, European, and Latin-American influences appear throughout in dishes such as Jamaican jerk chicken, duck and crawfish gumbo, fried okra, and numerous smoked and barbecued dishes. Organized into “Salads and Sides,” “Soups and Stews,” “Mains, Pickles/Snacks/Breads,” and “Sweets/Drinks,” recipes are coded by geographic area (“Agricultural South,” “Creole Coast,” “Northern States,” and “Western Range”) and include historical background: for example, pork shoulder is from the agricultural South, served with an Eastern Carolina vinegar sauce, and “hickory or hardwood chips is a must” if smoked; shrimp and grits comes from the creole coast, and “for authenticity, use stone-ground grits”; and salmon croquettes originated in the northern states and the dish often “shows up on the breakfast table, sometimes scrambled into eggs.” In these refined café dishes, Lukas and Harris deliver a delicious food history lesson for home cooks. (Oct.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled Albert Lukas's last name.

Reviewed on: 06/04/2018
Release date: 10/23/2018
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