Sunday, July 30, 2023

Everything But The Bagel & Nova Salmon Cottage Cheese Bowl for Cook the Books June/July Pick: Food Americana

Time again for Cook the Books, our bi-monthly virtual foodie book club. For June/July, our pick is Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America’s Favorite Dishes by David Page, hosted by Simona of Briciole.

Publisher's Blurb:

David Page changed the world of food television by creating, developing, and executive-producing the groundbreaking show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Now from this two-time Emmy winner comes Food Americana, an entertaining mix of food culture, pop culture, nostalgia, and everything new on the American plate.

The remarkable history of American food. What is American cuisine, what national menu do we share, what dishes have we chosen, how did they become “American,” and how are they likely to evolve from here? David Page answers all these questions and more.

Engaging, insightful, and often humorous. The inside story of how Americans have formed a national cuisine from a world of flavors. Sushi, pizza, tacos, bagels, barbecue, dim sum―even fried chicken, burgers, ice cream, and many more―were born elsewhere and transformed into a unique American cuisine.

Mango (May 4, 2021)

I like foodie non-fiction and food origin stories so that made Food Americana an enjoyable read. At 214 pages, it's a quick read too, making it optimal for summer and the for how busy life is lately. A lot of the information was not new to me but written in an engaging way that also managed to make me quite hungry as we tour through pizza, Mexican food, barbecue, fried chicken and chicken sandwiches, sushi, bagels, chicken wings, burgers, Chinese food, lobster rolls, oysters and other seafood, and ice cream. As a creator and producer of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Page knows how to keep it interesting and I'd recommend it to any foodie looking for a good read. 

There was plenty of food inspiration in the book and a recipe for a food mentioned followed each chapter. I considered making ice cream, sushi, or a lobster roll but decided, as usual, I was down to a time crunch also, it's been warm and humid, and I have been trying to eat better and lighter lately, so quick, easy, and no-cook was what I was craving. 

Although my new job has me working from home which lessens my commute, it also means that I need to come up with quick and easy, healthy home lunches. A new favorite way to get lots of protein is making cottage cheese bowls. Cottage cheese has had a big comeback this year and has become the cauliflower of the healthy eating world. I decided to take inspiration from the chapter on bagels and make a bowl with Nova salmon and everything but the bagel-spiced cottage cheese, along with some other toppings that might be found on a bagel and some Everything But the Bagel Chips. 

This isn't a recipe--it really just involves mixing some (in my case Trader Joe's) Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (about a tablespoon) into a cup of cottage cheese along with a squirt of lemon juice and (if desired) a bit of horseradish. I like to mix it in in the morning so the flavors get a chance to meld and it's less "crunchy." Everything else--smoked salmon (I used Acme Nova from Brooklyn), capers, sliced baby cucumber, baby tomatoes, dill, red onions (I made some quick pickled ones) and the chips, just need to be arranged in a large dinner bowl. Add anything you like and/or take away what you don't. If cottage cheese isn't your thing you could yogurt or even a scoop of rice. I think rye or pumpernickel toast would make a nice dipper too. 

Notes/Results: Quick, tasty and satisfying, this is the perfect lunch or dinner when you don't feel like cooking. I will happily make it again. 

As usual, I am right at the deadline for this Cook the Books round (July 31st) and Simona will be rounding things up on the CTB Club website soon, but if you like food, books, and foodie books, join us for August/September when I'll be hosting the epistolary novel, Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food and Love by Kim Fay.