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Bobby Flay Cooks American    by Bobby Flay & Julia Moskin order for
Bobby Flay Cooks American
by Bobby Flay
Order:  USA  Can
Theia, 2001 (2001)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

From the author's charming dedication to his daughter, 'America is such a beautiful place, I can't wait to watch you discover it' to the end of this sparkling cookbook, I was captivated. Bobby Flay explores America and her foods in this, his fourth cookbook. The recipes are his - most adapted from foods he sampled all over the United States. The photographs accompanying the recipes are superb. Flay scatters 'Postcards' from different regions of the country throughout - such as a 'Postcard from Ipswich and Gloucester', or Lexington, Kentucky or Long Island, New York, each speaking of the foods he personally found in those regions.

In the soup section, the pumpkin soup recipe had me wishing I were in one of Flay's two restaurants in New York City, soup spoon in hand. All of the soups in this first chapter are mouthwatering. Lobster and Green Chile Bisque with Toasted Corn Relish or Roasted Cauliflower and Lobster Soup with Crushed Almonds are reason enough to buy this book for your favorite chef or - better yet - for yourself. A new way to blacken chicken is suggested in Bronzed Chicken and Red Bean Soup. The Sweet Potato-Chicken Hash with Poached Eggs and Green Chile Hollandaise caught my eye. Wouldn't you love to try Beer-Battered Squash Blossoms filled With Goat Cheese and Roasted Garlic?

The potato recipes made we want to eat potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Green Garlic Butter, Lemon Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Caramelized Vidalia Onion and Potato Gratin with Fresh sage. What's not to like? Lamb Fries (aka testicles) cooked into golden, crisp fried slices, creamy on the inside and elegant on the outside didn't appeal to me - but then I've never tried this dish, which might even become one of my favorites.

Bobby Flay begins the book with Soups and Chowders and continues with Brunch Dishes, Sandwiches and Tacos. Then he moves on to Salads and Appetizers; Corn, Pasta and Rice; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry; Meat; Sides; and Desserts. He suggests some of his favorites for those most American of holidays, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July ... Roasted Turkey with Pomegranate-Black Pepper Glaze and Fresh Sage-Smoked Chile Gravy. Or how about a Frozen Watermelon Martini?

This book can be used by the everyday cook who wants to prepare foods that are not 'everyday' in style. The recipes are fully explained and ingredients are mostly available at your neighborhood market. If not, the author tells you where to look for them. Thanks to Bobby Flay, I finally learned the difference between hominy and grits, and that plunging a vegetable quickly into ice water as soon as it's cooked is a trick that chefs call 'shocking'; it stops the cooking and sets that bright green color.

The author begins each recipe with background on that dish and goes on in smaller print to further your knowledge of the ingredients. I discovered that German Chocolate Cake is American - it's just the brand of chocolate that is German. Flay states at one point 'It's great to see how American cooking is evolving outside the usual trendsetting spots. I feel that I'm always learning where my food comes from.' He gives us a very good cookbook, one to keep on your reference shelf to use time and again.

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