Built off of his experiences traveling as a child and later as an adult as well as his early jobs, Andrew Carmellini has created a cookbook that spans the county with “American Flavor.”  After chronicling for 33 pages of text and photographs those early days that led up to his being the chef and co-owner of two restaurants in New York City, prestigious awards, and a previous cookbook, it is time for the recipes.


The recipes open with a section on “Soups and Salads” that begins on pages 34 and 35 with a color picture and listing of what is to follow. Fittingly in a book that promotes family and tradition the opening recipe is for a “Borsht Like Mom Used To Make.” Along with a color picture of the finished dish there is the recipe with clear and easy to understand directions that follow a short introduction. That same format continues throughout the section with “Chicken Pozole” (pages 48-50) or “Midwest Whitefish Chowder” (pages 55-57) among others.  Usually the picture is of the finished dish but occasionally the picture is of something else that comes up in the course of the book.


The book moves on to “Seafood” starting with pages 82-83. In addition to such things as “Steamed Snapper With Spicy Peanut Sauce And Lime” (pages 84-85) and “Cortez Fish Chowder” (pages 92-93) there are tips on how to properly cook fish, shrimp, and seafood in general.


Starting on pages 108-109 is the “Poultry and Meat” section.  It opens with “My Chicken Pot Pie” (pages 110-113) and closes with “Lamb Tagine With Green Olives” (pages 165-167).  In between there are interesting dishes such as “Julie’s Texas-Style Chili With Cheddar And Beer (pages 130-133) or “Mac-‘n-Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf” (pages 142-145) among other interesting dishes.


Vegetables and other sides make up a good meal and that begins here on pages 168-169 with “Vegetables, Beans, Rice, Grains, And Pasta.”  I make a pretty good rice and cheese dish on the stove or in the oven, but that is not mentioned here.  “Pierogies” (pages 202-207), “Spam Musubi” (pages 216-217) and “Citrus Rice” (pages 220-221) are just some of the ones covered here.


Possibly the shortest section of the book “Breads and Breakfast” is next.  Featuring six recipes the section begins on pages 236-237 and opens with “The World’s Best Biscuits-End Of Story” on pages 238-239.   It closes on pages 248-249 with “Baked Eggs With Asparagus And Romps.” To have so little material on what is arguably the most important meal of the day was a surprising disappointment.


We go from breakfast to “Deserts” next with items such as “Sour Cherry Pie” (pages 258-263) and “Mexican Baked Apples with Ancho Carmel” (pages 272-273) among others.  Unlike many cookbooks this one features only a couple desert recipes containing chocolate so chocolate lovers be warned you will not find much to satisfy your craving here.

The last section of the book begins on pages 296-297 and is on “Sauces, Dressings, and Extras.” Items such as “Applesauce With Rose Water” (page 298), “Greek Dressing” (page 301) “Pickled Jalapeños” (page 305) and “Thanksgiving Fig And Hazelnut Stuffing” (page 309) are covered here. Unlike other sections this chapter does not have any pictures of the finished items or other things of interest.


The book closes with a twelve page index.


While a well done cook book overall, this book suffers from a lack of nutritional information.  There are no serving size suggestions, calorie/salt intake numbers, or anything at all to guide the user with the cookbook. While such issues may not be of concern to the chef author and his co-author/wife, it is of concern to many of us who use the cookbook.


Other than that issue, this is a well done cookbook that features both regional variations as well as foods that know no boundaries. Variety is key here along with a lot of natural ingredients in the various dishes. Some will take for longer than others to make as noted by the author but no matter the time involved there is a lot of good eating here.


American Flavor

Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman


Photography by Quentin Bacon


ECCO (Imprint of Harper Collins)


October 2011

ISBN# 978-0-06-196329-2

Hardcover (also available via the Kindle)

336 Pages




Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2012

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