11 July 2009

Cook Until Done

George Bradshaw was a rather famous short story writer back in the day when short stories were prized by readers and more importantly by magazines who actually paid for them. He began writing about food for Vogue and the Saturday Evening Post. His “consultant” on the recipes was Ruth Norman. Not the Ruth Norman who believed that UFO's were going to land and take her away, but the Ruth Norman who was one of the first people to ever demonstrate “cooking” on television with her cooking-school on CBS. She later partnered with James Beard to form his cooking school.

Bradshaw compared Norman to the great actress Laurette Taylor. He said of her, “with a few casual and apparently unrelated gestures she arranges a masterpiece. While you are still wondering where you put the butter, she has made the hollandaise.

In 1962, their articles were collected into a cookbook entitled Cook Until Done.

"Cook until done", is a famous instruction in many a Southern kitchen -- mix it, put it in a pan, cook 'till done. The thought is if you can cook you will know when ”it” is done. If you can’t cook then why are you in the kitchen?

Bradshaw begins the book with an anecdote about his first culinary success. A girl he knew sent him a large steak from Kansas City. Being unmarried he was unaware of what to do with his kitchen, but undaunted he invited friends over. He made martini’s, put the stove on and around eight he decided to begin cooking the steak.

“So. I opened the door of the broiler and the steak under the gas. I then went into the living room and had a cigarette, or part of one. This would take I should think, about three minutes. I then went back to the kitchen. The entire place was in flames.
Now here is where my recipe becomes a little inexact. I do not know precisely how long that the kitchen was on fire. I did not look at my watch.
But I do know that when things had quieted down enough for me to get the broiler door open, the steak was perfectly done. Charred black on the outside, red rare on the inside, I had never tasted a better.
I suppose the fact that the painters had to be called in the next day to fix up the kitchen does not properly belong in a recipe, but it is something to consider if you are contemplating broiling a steak.”
If burning the kitchen is out of the question, give this a try.

Scallops with Lemon

For four people, get two and a half pounds of sea scallops. This is a surprise, you don’t need bays.
Spread them out on some sort of baking dish – a big Pyrex one is sensible –squeeze over them the juice of two lemons, dot them with butter or a few squirts of olive oil, and grind over them plenty of black pepper. Then let them sit for a couple of hours. This is very necessary.
To cook, put them under the broiler for twelve or fifteen minutes. When they are browned they are done. Poke them or turn them once as they cook. You will be pleased at how good they are.

And if extraterrestrials arrive for dinner, tell them they have the wrong Ruth Norman!



    It is awesome; I particularly love his souffle chapter. He also has a very practical chapter for noncooks about the importance of mastering one, and only one, recipe for entertaining. Recommended.

  2. I do love this book. Especially since I was always given that time frame when in the kitchen with my great-aunts. They always said, "Honey, just cook it till it's done."


Blog Widget by LinkWithin