Southern-inspired macaroni and cheese, Rhode Island-style fried calamari and Korean chicken tacos are just some of the tasty dishes featured on New Hampshire PBS’ new Friday night series, The Great American Recipe. The program highlights talented home cooks sharing their signature dishes in a bid to win a national search for the next “Great American Recipe.”
The series celebrates the multiculturalism that is essential to American life, sharing stories about the connection between food, family and community.
Seacoast chef David Vargas understands this interplay between the past and the future. At his Portsmouth restaurant, Vida Cantina, Chef Vargas serves dishes reflecting his Mexican heritage, his Southern California upbringing and his time spent living — and cooking — in the U.S. Virgin Islands. But the focus of his fusion is local ingredients, underpinned by his commitment to sustainable food systems and respect for the land.
“It’s about really digging deep into a region and figuring out its heartbeat. For Mexicans, one of our biggest staples is maize — the corn — but Native Americans in New England also grew maize as a staple of their diets,” said Vargas. “We started a local company called Vida Tortilla to sell organic tortillas, and we’ve gone from growing one acre of native corn to harvesting 30 acres.”
Growing up, Vargas says his family gathered every weekend to eat — roasting a goat, grilling carne asada or slow cooking a pot of beans to serve with tortillas.
“You come over to our house, and we’re going to feed you, as that’s what we have available to show our love and respect for being part of our family or our circle of friends,” says Chef Vargas. “That’s what we try to adapt into our restaurant every day.”
Climate change, political factors, cost and supply chain issues are all impacting the viability of our food systems and the ability for people to access the food they need. “We cannot continue in the form we are going — to take and take and take. There won’t be anything left,” says the James Beard Award-nominated chef. Instead, Vargas advocates making our diets more vegetable-forward, focused on biodiversity and ingredients that are sustainable over time.
Chef Vargas sees a recent interest in Native American cooking as a welcome trend. “It’s the first cuisine of our region, and we haven’t touched one percent of it. We need to promote it on our platforms, and we need to support chefs who are sharing this cuisine,” says Chef Vargas. “And first and foremost, we need to appreciate and give thanks to Native Americans for letting us stay on their lands right now.”
For home cooks, Vargas’ advice is simple: “Start with good ingredients, and you’ll end up with something good on your plate.”
Chef Vargas shared a family recipe for Tacos de Papa (potato tacos) with NHPBS viewers. His family would buy potatoes at local markets or grow their own for this inexpensive meal. See the recipe or share your own family recipe at our food page, nhpbs.org/food, and win a prize!
Learn more about local restaurants in NH through our Flavors of Our Neighbors project at nhpbs.org/neighbors! And tune in to The Great American Recipe, Fridays at 9 PM through Aug. 12th and on-demand for NHPBS Passport members.
Sara goes to Arkansas to make Catfish and Rice balls with a local farmer.
Two meals morph into four for easy weeknight cooking.
In Valencia, Spain, a showstopping Paella made over an open flame.
Easy, foolproof fish recipes.
Holiday showstopping dishes for everyone: vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.
Lidia cooks Focaccia di Recco, Pecorino & Pear Salad and Rigatoni with Sausage & Cabbage.
Lidia cooks Four Cheese Baked Macaroni, Spritzes, and Spicy Vinegar Ribs & Potatoes!
Lidia cooks up an Italian Cheeseboard, Skillet Sausage & Peppers and St. Joseph's Zeppole.
Lidia cooks a Grilled Vegetable Salad, Spicy Lobster Linguine and eats lobster with Ethan.
Let's celebrate the Lidia way with Winter Panzanella, a Crespelle Bar, and Farina Gnocchi.
Lidia cooks up a Kale Salad with Avocado & Pistachios & Cheesy Baked Chicken Wings.
Let's celebrate the Lidia way with Winter Panzanella, a Crespelle Bar, and Farina Gnocchi!
Lidia cooks a Dandelion & Chickpea Salad and One-Pan Chicken & Eggplant Parmigiana.
Lidia cooks a Radicchio Apple Salad with Cheese Toast and Skillet Ricotta Mini-Meatloaf.
Lidia cooks Squash Cannellini Toast, Balsamic Strawberries and Sauced Spaghetti Squash.
Bold Spoon Creamery's Rachel Burns left finance to pursue a passion for ice cream.
MO Hives installs apiaries in vacant lots and creates green STEM opportunities for youth.
By looking to the past, the family at Hildebrand Farms Dairy ensures the farm's future.
At Dale Hollow Winery, a young couple is focused on making regional wines in the Ozarks.
At Homie Hospitality, wood-fired feasts feature the bounty grown outside the kitchen door.
At Triple J Shrimp, saltwater shrimp are raised sustainably 1000s of miles from the ocean.
Two recipes elevated by melty cheese: French Onion Soup Burger and Alsatian Onion Pie.
Sara kicks off a visit to Rome with a street food tour led by American Ex Pat Katie Parla.
Sara's on the pizza trail in Naples, Italy, where pizza was born.
A food shopping tour in Rome's hip Trastevere area ends with a delicious vegetarian pizza.
Sara goes to the source for parmesan cheese, prosciutto di parma and local tomatoes.
Pati experiences the legacy of YucatÃ¡nâ€™s henequÃ©n industry and a famous egg dish in Motul.
Pati learns more about Mayan communities on a trip to a cenote with activist Zoila Cen.
Pati discovers YucatÃ¡n's â€œleague of their ownâ€ when she meets the Amazonas softball team.
Pati visits the pink lakes where YucatÃ¡n's unique Las Coloradas salt is produced.
In Tekit, Pati meets a father and son who both chose to pursue their own path.
Pati tries different versions of YucatÃ¡n's signature smoked meat Carne Ahumada in TemozÃ³n.
Pati learns the basics of recados, handmade seasoning pastes that flavor Yucatecan foods.
Pati visits Chef Wilson Alonzo in his hometown of HalachÃ³ to prepare Cochinita Pibil.
Pati explores the vibrant streets of YucatÃ¡nâ€™s capital, MÃ©rida, in search of its flavors.
In the town of ManÃ, Pati learns about something sacred to the Mayans - bees and honey.
Learn how to amp up your roasted chicken.
This episode is a carnivore's delight, as we spotlight our favorite meat-centered dishes.
This episode is all about one-pan meals!
The Milk Street Cooks prepare recipes for delicious weeknight meals with a skillet.
The Milk Street Cooks demonstrate three ways to prepare chicken.
Cook with what you have in your pantry!
Christopher Kimball travels to seaside Jalisco to learn from some local chefs.
Learn baking from cookbook author and owner of Back in the Day Bakeryâ€”Cheryl Day!
We turn to the rustic side of Italian cuisine as inspiration for this episode.
In this episode, we look to the flavors of the Middle Eastern table.
This episode showcases a powerhouse ingredientâ€”miso!
In this episode, we travel to Colombia for a delicious lesson in empanadas.
We make three noodle dishes that might become your new favorite weeknight dinner.