If you think Chesapeake Bay cooking is all about the hard- or soft-shelled blue crab--about crab cakes, deviled crab, crab soufflés, crab-stuffed mushroom caps, ham and crab imperial, crabmeat curry, crab fluffs, crab and artichoke dip, crab loaf, crab quiche, and soft-shell crab sandwiches--you have another think coming. This isn't to say that the first 60 or so pages of Chesapeake Bay Cooking
aren't dedicated to the blue crab. They are. But then John Shields moves right into oysters, then seafood, soups and stews, chicken and game birds, meat and game, and on all the way to desserts, pickles, and preserves.
Companion to a public television series, Chesapeake Bay Cooking is part travelogue, part history of a region's cooking, part call to environmentalist arms, part paean to childhood past, and part plain old cookbook devoted to the food products and cooking styles indigenous to the Chesapeake Bay.
In one sense, this is what has become of American cooking from the earliest times (Jamestown) to the most recent. Everyone passing through has had an impact on what the Native Americans started. Recipes range from Baltimore Polish and Italian influences to Virginia African American. While some professional chefs of the region are represented, the food for the most part is what's to be found at home, in the back yard, in the church basement. John Shields, Chesapeake Bay homeboy, gives this valuable piece of American real estate both a face and a flavor. --Schuyler Ingle
From Publishers Weekly
This PBS-TV series companion gives a spirited look at the down-home food favored by folks living along the coastline and on nearby farmlands of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Expectedly, seafood grabs the spotlight. The blue crab is a local icon, and Shields provides seven recipes for crab cakes, from Senator Barb's Spicy Bay Crab Cakes (courtesy of Maryland's Sen. Mikulski), using soft white bread for binding instead of cracker crumbs, to Faidley's World Famous Crab Cakes served up in Baltimore's Lexington Market. Eight recipes for soft-shelled crabs range from Soft-Shell Crab Moutarde to the savory Pecan-Coated Soft-Shells with Whiskey-Lemon Butter. Eight oyster recipes are capped by the celebratory Oysters Poached in Champagne. Moving off the water, a full complement of other dishes includes Maryland Panfried Chicken, coated with a buttermilk-based marinade and dipped in Chesapeake seasonings, an ultra rich Smoked Country Ham and Roquefort Pie, and appealingly simple Succotash, beans and corn kernels sparked with butter and lemon juice. Salads, vegetables, sturdy breakfasts and desserts, the last ranging from Lady Baltimore Cake to Sweet Potato Pie, round out the banquet. Shields, who grew up in Baltimore, provides stories and anecdotes in homey sidebars, along with guidelines for cleaning soft-shelled crabs and cooking a muskrat. He's an infectiously enthusiastic guide to this appealing fare. Pictures not seen by PW. $25,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.