If it will ever be possible to isolate an American style from the melting pot of ethnic foods that have intermingled in the United States over the years, the time is now.
Creative chefs, amateur, professional and others who have worked to establish a new American cuisine were presented awards by Ocean Spray Cranberries,Inc. at the recent annual Newspaper Food Editors Conference in Pittsburgh.
An Indian couple, Eleanor and Ferris Dove were honored because they uphold the traditions of Indian culinary heritage by serving the foods of their ancestors at their restaurant, Dovecrest in Exeter, Rhode Island.
For 17 years Princess Pretty Flower and Chief Roaring Bull as they are also known, have served fresh foods, simply and honestly prepared, such as succotash, quahog chowder, Indian Pudding, beans, turkey, cranberries, buffalo and squirrel pie and the famous Johnny Cakes.
''The early Indians included pumpkin and squashes in their daily diet along with corn and beans,'' Mrs. Dove explained.
''They cooked it many ways, often baked whole in hot coals, mashed like potatoes, cooked in broth or flavored with meat and thickened to make soup.''
Here is the recipe for the Doves' pumpkin soup. Dovecrest Pumpkin Soup 3 cups fresh pumpkin, cooked, strained or 1 can (1 lb. 13 oz.) pumpkin puree 1 quart milk 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons maple sugar or light brown 1/2 teaspoon powdered marjoram Dash freshly ground pepper 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon mace 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup orange juice or juice 1 orange
In large saucepan slowly heat pumpkin, milk, butter and honey, stirring constantly. In small bowl combine maple sugar, spices and seasonings, then stir into pumpkin mixture.
Heat slowly, stirring, to simmering point. Do not boil.
Add orange juice a little at a time, stirring constantly. Serve hot.
For a refreshing summer soup, thin with 2 cups milk or light cream and serve icy cold. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Austrian born 32-year-old Wolfgang Puck, one of the most talked-about chefs in America, was honored because he has developed a unique cooking style in his restaurant, Spago, in Los Angeles.
It is a trendy place in the California idiom, where gourmet food is served to customers in casual clothes.
The menu lists such dishes as calzone with cheese, eggplant, artichokes and thyme; lobster ravioli with fresh herbs; fish soup with squid and shrimp; whole Pacific sole with mint, and pigeon with apples and cranberries.
Cooking in the kitchen behind an open counter he talks with friends and customers while he turns out his unusual dishes, occasionally even twirling a pizza. Not your usual everyday pizzas of course. These are topped with fresh duck, sausage or Santa Barbara shrimp. Pizza proscuitto is also a best seller.
In his cookbook''Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen'' (Houghton Mifflin $19.95) Puck combines French cooking methods with fresh native American ingredients. Here is one of his recipes. Baby Pork Chops with Cranberry Sauce 4 pork chops 3 cups fresh cranberries 1/4 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 cup veal stock 1/4 pound unsalted butter Bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf tied together) Salt and pepper
In a hot pan, saute cranberries with sugar in about 2 tablespoons butter. When berries begin to burst add veal stock, water, and bouquet garni.
Reduce sauce by half or until it begins to thicken.Remove from heat, add remaining butter and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In another pan saute chops over high heat to medium doneness. One-inch thick chops take about 3 minutes a side. Serve chops arranged on a bed of sauce. Serves 2.
An award went to Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso for their tiny shop in New York City called the Silver Palate, where they sell a variety of foods from chutneys to vinegars, cheeses and herbs.
Also cited were the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, New York, for its new American Bounty restaurant where students will plan, prepare and serve American foods.
''Our concept of American cuisine will not necessarily be based on recreating traditional recipes but on inventing new recipes and dishes based on fresh, flavors and native ingredients,'' President Ferdinand Metz said.
A dessert buffet was prepared for food editors at the award dinner, by President Metz, and Timothy Ryan, Chief instructor of the American Bounty Restaurant.
Apple Walnut Cobbler,Cranberry Sherbet, Pecan Pie, Maple Syrup Mousse and American Bounty Cake, a specialty at the new restaurant were served.
Others honored for their contributions to American cuisine were Lawrence Elbert from the Spa at Sonoma Mission Inn; William Taylor, Dinner Designer of Southern foods;and Karen Gregorakis of Washington for her Northwest food recipes.