The recipes of chefs and other food profressionals are undoubtedly delicious, but dishes perfected over time are proven winners. This is the fare of Coastal Cooking, John Shields's collection of 125 recipes from the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf Coasts, and Hawaii. Shields journeyed far and wide to retrieve recipes such as Bar Harbor Lobster Bisque, Seabolt Smokehouse Salmon Cakes, Leroy's Punta Gorda Shrimp Creole, and Herb-Roasted Rack of Oregon Lamb--food that reflects the rich gastronomic life of our water-skirting regions. His collection is wonderfully varied, saluting not only classic dishes, but unusual fare like Salinas Bibb Salad with Gorgonzola and Toasted Hazelnuts, Arroz con Pollo a la Cubano, and Mussels with Smoked Salmon and Cream--in short, a native American cuisine that's rarely been as originally or comprehensively compiled.
The book also includes bread formulas, such as Esalen Zucchini Poppyseed Bread and Old-fashioned Hushpuppies, and desserts like Cannon Beach Marionberry Cobbler and Choclate Velvet Cheesecake. In addition, Shields provides comprehensive ingredient info plus regional snapshots, as he calls them, of Tangier Island, Virginia, among other recipe sources. Recipe headnotes offer information about contributors, and color photos throughout illustrate dishes or depict regional scenes. -Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
The food is flavorful but the presentation bland in this companion volume to a PBS cooking series. There's nothing wrong with Sole and Smoked Salmon Mousse with Dill Shallot Butter Sauce or Miss Shirley's Eastern Shore Crab Cakes, but they feel familiar. Shields, a self-proclaimed "Chesapeake Bay boy" who runs the Baltimore restaurant Gertrude's and is the author of Chesapeake Bay Cooking (also companion to a PBS show), offers a tour of the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts and Hawaii. The ethnic recipes, like Moroccan Pesto Sturgeon with Clam and Chorizo Sauce from Seattle's Brasa restaurant and Mama Lan's Vietnamese Stir-Fried Crab from San Francisco, and regional classics such as Cheese and Garlic Grits with Shrimp and Tasso Gravy, are undoubtedly the most exciting fare. In an odd choice, however, only about half of these dishes from various shores are for seafood, since "The coastal communities of the United States are rich with recipes from the land as well." That may be true, but dishes such as Herb-Roasted Rack of Oregon Lamb or Tropical Hearts of Palm Salad (which uses canned hearts of palm) don't quite work hard enough to earn land food its territory here. Shields writes a tidy recipe, but this volume feels like a rerun. Color photos.
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