31 July 2009

The Chamberlain Calendar of French Menus

OK, this may be a bit “outside: the cookbook genre and actually finding a proper cookbook by Samuel and Narcissa Chamberlain would have been a fairly easy feat, but this is so much fun. Samuel and Narcissa Chamberlain were “household names” and as often happen to “household names” especially those names whose work deals mainly with women of the "household", they are relatively forgotten today. Samuel Chamberlain’s most famous book, Clémentine in the Kitchen was originally published under a pseudonym, Phineas Beck, a play on the French phrase fin bec or gastronome. Fin bec became the more formal and Yankee "Phineas Beck."

For years the Chamberlains and their two daughters lived in France and wrote about the cuisine. Their works were often filled with Samuel Chamberlain’s drawings and photographs. In the 1960’s the Chamberlains put their culinary skills together and “authored” a series of engagement calendars filled with menus, recipes and photos along with the obligatory days of the week. The Chamberlain Calendar of French Menus were a familiar site and popular gift during the Christmas season. No doubt, this amuse-bouche made it onto quite a few New Years Eve party menus.

Noix au Roquefort
Walnut Canapés

(Roquefort, sweet butter, brandy, walnut meats, pickled onion or capers)

Cream together 1/4 pound of Roquefort or other good blue cheese and 3 tablespoons of sweet butter. Add 2 tablespoons of brandy and blend well. Spread the mixture in a smooth dome on the round sides of halved walnut (or pecans) meats. Press a tiny pickled onion or a caper into the top of each canapé, and chill them for an hour or two before serving. This makes enough cheese spread for 4 to 5 dozen walnut halves. It may also be used as a “sandwich’ filling between two walnuts or pecan halves.

Later on we will share with you some recipes from the Chamberlains other books, but for now, pencil in a date in your engagement calendar to cook with the Chamberlains.

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