When it comes to American cuisine, flavors, ingredients and techniques have passed through generations of families and cultures to create a unique melting pot of dishes.

Two chefs who know all about the nuances of food that both honors their heritage and has adapted to their own tastes over time, Leah Cohen and Alejandra Ramos, joined "Good Morning America" to share what, in their book, makes "The Great American Recipe."

The two act as judge and host, respectively, on the new PBS cooking show of the same name that premieres June 24.

PHOTO: Chef Leah Cohen and Alejandra Ramos holding each other's shrimp dish.
Kelly McCarthy
Chef Leah Cohen and Alejandra Ramos holding each other's shrimp dish.

"We're doing two different shrimp dishes which are each our American dishes that are representative of each of our cultures," said Ramos, who is of Puerto Rican descent.

"What's really cool about this is and about American food is that American food is not just one thing," she added. "It's just this beautiful amalgamation of cultures and flavors and regions and ingredients, so that's why we took this one ingredient and are showing two ways to do it."

PHOTO: Camarones Enchilados, aka Puerto Rican Shrimp Creole on the left and Gambas al Ajillo.
Kelly McCarthy
Camarones Enchilados, aka Puerto Rican Shrimp Creole on the left and Gambas al Ajillo.

"Our food actually has a lot in common [thanks to ingredient crossover]," Cohen, the chef-owner of New York City restaurants Pig and Khao and Piggyback, added. "It's a huge melting pot and these two dishes really represent the great American recipe."

Camarones Enchilados (Puerto Rican Shrimp Creole)

While Ramos pointed out that Puerto Rican cuisine is typically "not spicy" she said that this dish is an exception.

Ramos' dish is made with spicy tomato sauce that's cooked with peppers, chili flakes and herbs and the shrimp delicately cooks at the end.

Serves: 4

Olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 red or green bell peppers, diced
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Smoked Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
kosher salt
1 cup dry white wine
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 large bay leaves
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons capers
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving


Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until they start to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, red pepper, and a generous pinch of kosher salt, and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the wine, tomatoes, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid is slightly thickened (about 15 - 20 minutes).

Stir in the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 3 to five minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in the lime juice, capers, and fresh cilantro, remove the bay leaves, and serve with white rice.

Gambas Al Ajillo

Similarly, Cohen said Filipino cuisine is not known for its spice like that of neighboring Southeast Asian countries Thailand and Vietnam.

This dish, Cohen explained, is a traditional Filipino dish that's a crossover with a classic spanish dish made with fresh shrimp, thinly sliced garlic that infuses the olive oil, red chili flakes and lemon juice.

1 pound shrimp, tails on
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 lemon
Crusty bread or rice for serving

Check out even more great American recipes from the feel-good cooking competition when the show debuts on PBS June 24 at 9/8 CT.