04 August 2009

Russel Wright’s Menu Cookbook

One cannot talk about “mid-century” without Russel Wright. Russel and Mary Wright were the first people to advocate “living” as a larger concept than merely waking up every day. Russel Wright’s design aesthetic forged the sleek, modern design of the 1950’s into a vehicle for informal and elegant living. He is best known today as the designer of a dinnerware collection known as American Modern.

When his wife, Mary, died, Russel Wright found himself living alone with a 2-year-old daughter. He employed a series of housekeepers but found that meals were often the same old spaghetti and meatballs.

He devised a series of menus complete with table settings, making dinner interesting and foolproof.

Years later, his daughter, Ann, was still using his typewritten menu book. She and fellow caterer, Mindy Heiferling compiled the recipes into Russel Wright’s Menu Cookbook. Much like Wright's tableware, his recipes stand the test of time.

Multicolored Tomatoes and Corn with Creamy Cider Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon or basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pounds ripe tomatoes in various colors , shapes and sizes, cut into wedges
3 cups (bout 6 ears) fresh corn kernels, cooked
6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled (optional)
tarragon sprigs or basil leaves for garnish

1. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, and mayonnaise. Stir in the tarragon or basil; season to taste with slat and pepper. Combine the tomatoes and corn; taste again for seasoning.
2. When ready to serve (don’t wait too long or the tomatoes will make the salad too watery), transfer to a bowl or platter, and top with bacon or herbs as desired.

Pull out your Russel Wright if you own a platter. If not, toss this up in plain white bowl and remember your not just "living" you are creating a "lifestyle" with an emphasis on the style.

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