03 February 2009

The Showboat Cookbook

Broadway shows, television shows, even movies often spawn various spin-offs.

Soundtracks are the most likely culprits, but often they inspire cookbooks. Most of the time they inspire really awful cookbooks. Fortunately for us, The Showboat Cookbook is not one of them. June Jackson is an accomplished cook who understands the food of the Mississippi. When she saw Showboat, she could taste it. In her introduction she states:

The scene in “Queenie’s Pantry” convinced me that Queenie cooked; reading Ferber’s novel told me that Parthy made pickles and that a lady in the Cotton Blossom audience brought plum jelly and chocolate cake as a gift when the boat docked in her home town.

Jackson includes a recipe I watched my mother make every month for the women in her Bridge Club.

Spicy Ham Spread Tea Sandwiches

1 1/2 cups baked or country ham, chopped in a blender or food processor
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons celery, finely diced
1/3 cup toasted pecans, broken or chopped
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Creole or “rough” mustard

Combine all ingredients and mix with a spoon, correcting seasonings. Use for sandwiches of preferred shapes.

My mother never added pecans, and I hate nuts in my food. Like many people, I often buy condiments and stick them in the fridge. There is that moment when there is a spoon full of stuff left in the bottom of the jar. Not really enough to do anything with, but you hate to throw it away. Recently, I discovered a jar of ajvar, a roasted pepper and eggplant spread, sitting in the back of the fridge. I had some left over ham, so I put the ham in the food processor and chopped it. I added some mayo and the last tablespoon of ajvar. It made a great ham spread, even it was a bit garish on the color side.

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