An American Family Cooks: From a Chocolate Cake You Will Never Forget to a Thanksgiving Everyone Can Master

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9781599621241: An American Family Cooks: From a Chocolate Cake You Will Never Forget to a Thanksgiving Everyone Can Master

With its irresistible recipes, gorgeous photographs, charming illustrations and narration by award-winning author Judith Choate, An American Family Cooks sets the table to which we all want to be invited.

Join award-winning cookbook author Judith Choate in the kitchen and at the table as she and her family of foodies celebrate the new American home cooking. Within its beautifully photographed and delightfully illustrated pages, one will find a sophisticated, yet cook-friendly variety of recipes that meld influences from the fundamentals of traditional home cooking, classic follow-to-the-letter French techniques, contemporary California cuisine, exciting ethnic dishes, holiday classics and the most simple and satisfying of family meals.

· An introduction from a veteran and much-published chef to the new American home cooking with a strong emphasis on organics and local and sustainable produce
 · Modern, produce-centric, organic, recipes--from French classics to California cuisine
 · Fundamental generations-old recipes and techniques no home chef should be without: stocks, stews, soups, pastries and cakes, canning and preserving
 · Richly photographed by renowned food photographer, Steve Pool; charmingly illustrated by Stephen Kolyer. 324 full color photographs, and 15 illustrations.

An American Family Cooks
will be the Featured Selection for The Good Cook Bookclub ‘s late September catalog (announce date 9/8/13, in homes approximately 9/25/13).

Table of Contents

Some Thoughts About How We Cook
Shopping, Ingredients, Supplies, and Techniques
Drinks and Nibbles
Chris Talks About Wine
Making Hootch
Cocktail Treats
Grilled Red Devil Quail
Olive Swirls
Spicy Bean Dip
Holy Guacamole
Scallop Seviche
Marinated Yogurt Cheese
Just Everyday Meals
Heirloom Tomato Salads
Every Night Salad
Octopus Salad
Braised Baby Artichokes
Boy Oh Boy! Bok Choy (Bok Choy Sauté and Bok Choy, Shiitakes, and Tofu)
The Chicken Pot Pie That Nana Made and We All Still Make
Pepper Steak
Beef Stew
Stuffed Cabbage
Mom’s Crook Neck Squash
Chris’ Paella
Roasting Chicken
Chicken Meets Lemon
Fried Chicken
Favorite Chicken
Chicken Under a Brick
Braised Lamb Shanks with Green Olives
Talking About Pork (Roast Loin with Garlic Scapes and Stuffed Pork Loin)
Pork Scallopine with Arugula Salad
Making Mole
Fancy Dining

Friday Still Means Fish

Steve’s Every Night Shrimp Creole
Dungeness Crab at Home
Soft Shell Crabs
Scallops with Roe and Fiddlehead Ferns
Linguine with Clam Sauce
Salmon with Curried Carrot Couscous and Green Purée
Cod Cakes
What Would We Do Without Pizza and Pasta?
Correcto Risotto – sample pages
Nana’s Potato Gnocchi
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Raw Tomato Sauce
Meatballs and Spaghetti
Pork in Milk
Eggplant Parmigiana
Braised Radicchio
We Can’t Forget the French

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Days

Impromptu Soups
Black Bean Soup
Butternut Squash Soup
Corn Chowder
Talking About Sandwiches
Really, Really Good Cheese Sandwiches
Thin Yellow Boys
Country Cooking
Newsom’s Country Ham
Fried Green Tomatoes
Corn Fritters
Digging Ramps
Waffles for Dinner
Annie’s Brown Bread
Looking Back
Chris on Vinegar
Pickled Asparagus
Easy Pickles
Making Old-Fashioned Relish
Fresh Fig Relish
Making Jams
Making Sausage
Boston Brown Bread
Banana Bread with Canada
Making Bread
A Short Order Cook; Isn’t Breakfast Great
Salt-Buzz Breakfast with Biscuits
Hash Browns
Mom’s Waffles That We All Still Make
Scotch Griddle Scones
Laurel’s Oatmeal Scones
Easy Cinnamon Rolls
We All Love Dessert
Chocolate Chess Pie/Cake
Devil’s Food Cake
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Laurel Makes Everybody’s Birthday Cake
Lemon Meringue Pie
Shaker Lemon Pie
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie and Some Others
Apple Pizza
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ginger Cookies
Poached Pears
Mickey’s Big Birthday
Scotch Eggs
Greek Easter Bread
Uncle Kol’s Hors d’Oeuvres: Mini Black Bean & Corn Empanadas, Spinach-Feta Phyllo
Mickey’s Easter Dinner Menu: Grilled Leg of Lamb au Jus and Chimmichurri; Potato
   Gratin; Orange-Cumin Carrots; Grilled Asparagus; Roasted Baby Artichokes; Pearl
   Onions and Cremini Mushrooms
Chris’ San Francisco All-Day Thanksgiving: Champagne & Fried Eggs on Toasted
   Baguette with Shaved Truffles and a Drizzle of Honey; Iced Vodka & Caviar with
   Quail Eggs, Minced Red Onion, and Tiny Toasts; Traditional Turkey Dinner with All
   the Fixings
Perfect Roast Turkey and Gravy
My Stuffing
Brussels Sprouts
Cranberry Ice
Easy Rolls, At Least I Think They Are
Mickey’s Christmas Dinner: Pickled Oysters and Caviar; Gougères; Foie Gras Torchon
   with Quince Compote (Roasted Beet Salad for the Ladies); Lobster Bisque; Tournedos
   Rossini on Potato Galette; Tournéed Vegetables; Cheese Board with Grapes and Pears;
   Bûche de Noël
Making Fruitcakes for Christmas Giving
Date-Nut Bread
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies for Decorating
My Never-Fail Fudge

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Judith Choate is a writer, chef and pioneer in the promotion of American food and author and co-author of over 100 books. Additionally, through her company, Custom Cuisine, Judie works as a consultant in product development, most specifically creating lines (both recipes and actual production) of restaurant quality specialty food products and entrées for commercial distribution as well as in marketing, restaurant development, and culinary presentations. She has been consultant to many internationally-known chefs, among them, Charlie Trotter, David Burke, and Charlie Palmer as well as to companies such as Heinz, Starbucks and Costco.

For more, click "About Judie" on the website for her popular blog, "Notes From Judie's Kitchen" at

Judith Choate lives in New York City
Michael Choate lives in upstate New York
Christopher Choate lives in San Francisco
Steve Pool (Photographer) lives in New York City
Stephen Kolyer (Painter) lives in New York City

Quotes about Judith Choate:

Judith Choate is as passionate about the written word as she is about food, making A Reader's Cookbook both a pleasure and a terrific blueprint for sharing great writing and great eats. -- Michael McCarty of Michael's Restaurants in Santa Monica and New York

A Reader's Cookbook encourages you to curl up not only with a good book but also a terrific collection of recipes. Judith Choate explores the surroundings of favorite authors with delicious results. -- Nan Lyons, author of Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? and Around the World in Eighty Meals

Judith Choate has masterfully created a delicious road map for a culinary journey around the world. It's the perfect pairing to any book club. -- Charlie Palmer, of Aureole, Joule and other restaurants, hotels and wine shops across the country.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpts from the Foreword and Introduction to
An American Family Cooks

by Judie, Michael, and Chris Choate
+ sample recipes!
Judie: Since I began cooking almost seventy years ago, I have seen so many changes in the American kitchen and marketplace.  I have an easy remembrance of the good old days when the refrigerator was truly the ice box, when bottled milk was left, undisturbed, on the doorstep (even in New York City), when basement shelves were lined with home-canned goods and most moms were housewives and prepared dinner at midday, suppers in the evening, and the whole family gathered for a formal, mid-afternoon Sunday meal after church.  Professionally, I have had the excitement of meeting the often factious but fashionable demands of catering meals for multitudes and the joy of working, either as a cook or a writer, alongside some of America’s most accomplished chefs.  The adventuresome palates of my children and our love of sharing great meals has been the icing on the cake.
All during my years of cooking, I have found that, for me, it is most rewarding when there is a crowd to feed.  I love holidays and celebrations and like nothing better than turning an ordinary weekday meal into an event by welcoming new people to our table.  My friendships continue to be glued together by a love of eating and through the warmth of the family table.  Throughout this book recipes will often reflect the enthusiastic sharing of tastes and adventures that so many wonderful friends have experienced with us. 
As you turn these pages, you will find that each one of us cooks in a very defined way.  My son Mickey is disciplined and rigorously follows French tradition.  As he has gotten older, he experiments and trusts his own instincts more, but no matter how relaxed, that veal chop will be sauced with the richest reduction you can imagine. His younger brother Chris, on the other hand (and, perhaps because he lives in California where pristine products are always available), is more straightforward in his approach with the grill and simply cooked meats and vegetables playing a great role in his meals. As I get older, I value nature’s bounty more than ever.  I buy organically-grown produce and purchase my raw ingredients from local farmers as much as possible.  I cook simply with an eye to good health.  But, I still like to finish the meal with a luscious dessert.
While I continue to cook with “a little of this” and “a little of that,” my sons keep asking me “Why?”, “How much?”, and “What for?”  I have written many, many cookbooks that answer some of these questions but nowhere have I been able to share the joy of cooking that we feel as a family when working side by side in the kitchen.  It seemed to me that it was time to combine our love of cooking and eating with my ability to write it all down.  Our irreverence and sense of adventure when it comes to food has brought a sense of joy and fun to the process, which is something always to be found at our table and, we hope, at yours. 
Michael:  I like to tease mom about her cooking being “la Cuisine Bonne Femme,” only because my own is so over the top.  While my cooking style has, in many ways, vastly diverged from hers, I wouldn’t have the passion for food that I do if it weren’t for her sharing the joys of the kitchen and family table with me from an early age.  Some of my fondest memories are of helping her prepare meat sauce for spaghetti on a Sunday afternoon, a recipe that I still use today with, of course, my own slight changes. Mom’s love of food and her passion for cooking is as much about family and friends and the now quaint notion of the shared table than it is the actual dishes she prepares.  I believe that it is something that we are in the process of losing in this country, but it has always been, and remains, a vital part of our family life.
My wife and I try, as much as two working parents can in this day and age, to sit down with our children for a family meal.  When they were little, my kids ate their share of chicken nuggets when we went out but a glance in our freezer won’t find any frozen dinners, processed chicken, or any of the myriad of, to me, bizarre quick and ready meals that fill the vast freezer isles of our local supermarket. And, to this day, my chicken “nuggets” are homemade. I think that as a result, my children do understand how much better a piece of home cooked chicken is than the store-bought variety, with their most-requested meal being “favorite chicken.”
Although both of my parents also worked, we still all sat down for a family dinner every night.  My father, a dyed in the wool Wasp, could not imagine a life where a family did not gather for a meal that began with a soup or salad and proceeded through a large hunk of meat with accompanying garnishes and sides and ended with a homemade sweet.  (I can still tick off the meats – standing rib roast, triple-thick rib lamb chops, goose, thin slices of calves liver, crisp on the outside and meltingly soft in the center, things I can’t imagine cooking after a day at work)!  But, more than the food at the table, there was conversation, connection, and shared experience.  I knew what it meant to be part of a whole.
Chris: To me, food and family are intrinsically linked.  Cooking is nothing more than tradition passed on from one generation to another and, in our family, my mom has just been very good at the passing.  For all of us, feeding family and friends is about caring, providing, and nurturing.  It is interesting that this emanates from the kitchen, the warmest room in the house.  The place where parties begin and, even now, often end.
So many of my early memories are centered on food.  I remember eating the same meal on the same night of every week (Monday was chicken, Tuesday was Swedish meatballs, and so forth.)  This probably wasn’t the case (in fact, mom says it wasn’t) but that is how I remember our meals.  This feeling of continuity gave me a sense of order and safety – it made me feel very cared for. As a child, I always looked forward to the weekend when mom would put a large pot of red sauce with meat to cook on the back burner.  She would start it early in the morning and it would simmer all day long.  I remember it being bright red, almost alive.  Throughout the day, I would snack on a hunk of crusty bread dipped into a cupful of this incredible sauce.  I continue this tradition with my daughter, Canada, now doing the dipping.

Friday Still Means Fish
Cod Cakes
Serves 6
Years ago I read Cod – A Biography of a Fish That Changed the World (by Mark Kurlansky) and became fascinated with the mystery and history of the fish. Whenever I cook cod I can’t help wondering if future generations will have the opportunity to experience its delicate flavor—can you imagine that schools of cod were once so thick that you could almost walk on the water? Apparently this was true for sturgeon in the Delaware River as well, where nary a fish can be found today. How much we can discover about ourselves and our history by learning how and why we eat what we eat.
As much as I love cod, I cook it rarely because Steve is allergic to any fish with scales (and, we’ve found, frog’s legs) and I don’t like to prepare a different dish for each of us. However, when we go off to the Provincetown (Massachusetts), which we do at least once a year, I can’t resist the beautiful catch in the local market. Since we are on the Cape, the cod is particularly pristine and I try to use it in as many ways as I can, with one of our favorites being meaty cod cakes.
In years past when I was doing restaurant consulting, one of the dishes I would always test a cook on was crab cakes. I think that along with roasting the perfect chicken, making the perfect crab cake really tests a chef’s mettle. To me, there is nothing worse than a mushy fish cake made with smashed up cooked seafood and over-stuffed with breadcrumbs or potatoes. I like to think that I take my own advice and turn out a pretty mean fish cake. Rather than create just one night’s dinner, I usually make a big batch so that I can have them on hand for future meals. Nothing better for a quick lunch than a crisp cod cake on top of a plate of salad greens.
Because of the addition of potatoes, all you really need to complete dinner is a salad or a sautéed green veggie and a lovely glass of sauvignon blanc. You can offer some tartar or other acidic sauce if you like. I sometimes serve with a homemade horseradish-mayo, but it really isn’t necessary.
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon canola oil plus more for frying
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 pounds cod (or other meaty white-fleshed fish), cut into a medium dice
2 cups mashed potatoes
½ cup sliced scallions
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups breadcrumbs
Heat the butter and oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the onion begins to take on some color. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Combine the potatoes with the scallions and cooked onion in a large mixing bowl. Add the cod and gently stir to incorporate. Add the eggs and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix just enough to combine—you don’t want to mash the fish.
Place the breadcrumbs in a large shallow bowl.
Using your hands, form the cod mix into cakes of equal size. I like mine to be about 3 inches in diameter and one inch thick. The mixture will be loose.
Working with one at a time, gently roll the cakes in the breadcrumbs.
Lightly coat a large frying pan with canola oil. Place over medium heat and when oil is hot, carefully transfer the cakes to the pan. Do not crowd the pan. If the cakes split apart a bit, just use a spatula to keep them together. The looseness and chunkiness of the fish is what makes these cakes so delicious. Fry, turning once or twice, for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
Serve piping hot.        
Just Everyday Meals
Heirloom Tomato Salads
I discovered my most favorite way to eat a tomato when I was barely eighteen months old. I was sitting in the corner of the garden watching tomatoes being picked for canning. Imitating the women, I pulled a ripe one from its stem and put its warmth up against my nose to both feel and smell its pungency— it is a moment indelibly implanted in my mind. My mom pulled the tomato in half for me and sprinkled it with salt. “Taste,” she said. The juice was at once warm and cool, acidic and sweet, with the almost acrid smell of the greenery the perfect accent. I still think that there is no experience to compare with sitting outdoors eating a freshly plucked tomato bursting with the sun’s warmth, emitting the still green smell of the plant, with the flavor heightened by a sprinkling of salt. Coming in at a close second is that warm tomato placed on a thick slice of homemade white bread slathered with creamery butter and sprinkled with sea salt.
Here are two salads that highlight summer’s best. One is a contemporary take on my childhood favorite. It can only be made in the summer when tomatoes are perfection. And, that’s okay. We are too spoiled anyway, so a little waiting for something wonderful does us good. The whole family makes this salad and, basically, in the same way. Chris and I always include garlic, but Mickey tends to highlight the tomatoes. In the second recipe, the slightly tart, fruity flavor of the middle-Eastern spice, sumac, helps accentuate the sweet acidity of the tomatoes while the ricotta salata adds the necessary salt.
If you cube the tomatoes and eliminate the bread for either salad, the mixture can be used as a topping for bruschetta. We generally use balsamic vinegar but other sweet vinegars work well also and we all like a slightly spicy extra virgin olive oil.
Salad One: Heirloom Tomato-Basil Salad
Serves 6
2½ pounds organic, heirloom tomatoes, preferably a mixture of colors
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade
4 thick slices rustic bread, well-toasted
Wash the tomatoes well. Core and cut into cubes or into any style slice you like. Place in a nonreactive bowl. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossing to coat. Toss in the basil and then the bread. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving with extra toast to dunk in the salad juices.
Salad Two:  Cherry Tomato-Ricotta Salata Salad
Serves 6
2½ pounds cherry or pear tomatoes, cored and cut in half, lengthwise OR plum
tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely diced
¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
½ teaspoon ground sumac
6 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
¼ pound ricotta salata, crumbled
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Combine the tomatoes, onions, parsley, and sumac in a large container. Add the olive oil, tossing to coat well. Toss in the cheese and let stand 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately or store, covered and refrigerated for up to 8 hours.
Sidebar: What are heirloom tomatoes? For the most part, they are tomatoes raised from seeds saved from those days when tomatoes could just be tomatoes, not perfect, uniformly red and round, firm-fleshed, shippable globes. There are many, many different varieties, colors, shapes, and flavors. They might be red, yellow, multi-colored with stripes and speckles, purple, green, or pink. Heirlooms are generally misshapen or, at best, oddly shaped, but, oh, what flavor. Even supermarkets offer them occasionally along with very sweet and deeply flavorful, small cherry or pear-shaped tomatoes. But they really stand out at summer’s farm stands and farmer’s markets.
Chris on Vinegar: For years, I simply poured the remains of opened wine down the drain. As the volume increased from tastings that I do almost daily for my staff and customers, I decided that I should try to make vinegar. Partly it was a matter of economy as I hated to waste all that great (and sometimes not so great) wine, partly it was to create something of my own, and last, but not in any way the least, I wanted to have something that I had made to give to my friends and busines...

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