25 December 2011

Happy Christmas Cooking

Happy Cooking

Our newest little elf, Treat, wishes you and yours happy cooking during this holiday season.

23 December 2011

Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook

Christmas is here. And don't you wish you had some help with all that Christmas entails. Today, on Martha Stewart's blog, she featured a little party she had for her household staff at Bedford. All 17 of them.

You have no idea how much work I could get done with a staff of 17. I would be writing my blog (actually my blog writer would be writing my blog) and I would right now be asking for nice hot tea with a pumpkin scone from Starbucks. Since Starbucks no longer has pumpkin scones (that is another blog entry...) I would have my baker make and remake pumpkin scone until they were just like Starbucks. (Note to self: Have my secretary call Howard Schultz and give me that recipe.) But I digress...

After years of doing up Christmas in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart compiled a Christmas cookbook, Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook. It is chocked to the gills with Christmas recipes, over 600 of them. Frankly, you do not have enough Christmases left on this earth to make all this stuff. So start now.

The recipes tend to be overcomplicated. And long. There is section of photos, but most of the recipes require the use of your imagination as to how they will look. Here is a recipe for that Italian classic, panettone. Martha likes to bake them in half-pound brown paper bags. But then again, Miss Martha has someone to go out an find half-pound brown paper bags. Feel free to get some of those little panettone cups from King Arthur's Flour.


Miniature Panettone

For Sponge:
1/3 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
½ cup all-purpose flour

For Bread Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 envelope active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
4 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, plus more, melted, for bowl, plastic wrap, and bags
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
2 cups mixed dried and candied fruit, such as currants, orange peel, apricots, and cherries, finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting


1. Make sponge: Pour the warm water into a small bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. Stir in flour, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.


2. Make the dough: Pour warm milk into a small bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir to dissolve, and let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, 2 egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk milk mixture into egg mixture.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and flour on medium speed until mixture is crumbly. With mixer on low speed, slowly add egg mixture; continue beating on medium speed until smooth.

4. Add sponge mixture; beat on high speed until dough is elastic and long strands form when dough is stretched, about 5 minutes. Beat in dried fruit and grated zests. Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, and cover with a piece of buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

5. Fold 12 paper bags down to make cuffs, about 3” deep. Generously butter the bags inside and out; set aside. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead a few times, turning each time, until smooth. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, and knead into balls. Drop balls into prepared bags. Place bags on a large rimmed baking sheet; cover loosely with buttered plastic. Let rise in a warm place until dough reaches just below the tops of the bags, 45 to 60 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with rack in lower third. In a small bowl whisk together remaining egg yolk and the cream. Brush tops of dough with egg mixture. Using kitchen scissors, cut an X, centered, in the top of each loaf. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue baking until loaves are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. If they start to get too brown, drape a piece of aluminum foil over tops. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack; let panettone cool completely; dust with confectioners’ sugar.

I totally recommend this recipe, especially if you have twelve staff a-leapin! If not, buy yourself a panettone and stuff it into a paper bag. And to all... a good-nite.

18 December 2011

Mrs. Bridges' Upstairs, Downstairs Cookery Book


Today we are featuring a television tie-in cookbook, Mrs. Bridges' Upstairs, Downstairs Cookery Book.
As you may know, Upstairs, Downstairs recently received a makeover. Returning to 165 Eaton Place gave a new generation a look into one of the best loved British television series of all time. And thanks to DVD, one can watch all 68 episodes from the 1970's to catch up to the new series. With a copy of this cookbook, one can cook exactly as Mrs. Bridges did for the Bellamy family.

The fictional cookbook is presented as the actual cookbook of Mrs. Bridges, even featuring a dedication to Lady Marjorie Bellamy. The recipes were pulled from many Edwardian cookbooks to give it that authentic feel. Alas, it does not always feature the dishes one can see being served in the show, which might be its biggest flaw.

When I need a recipe for spotted dick recently, (check out the reason and the "dick" at Lucindaville.) I turned to Mrs. Bridges and she did not disappoint.



Spotted Dick

4 oz flour
4 oz suet
4 oz breadcrumbs
2 oz sugar
5 oz currants
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Sieve the flour , salt and baking powder. Add the suet, finely grated, the breadcrumbs, sugar and currants. Mix into a stiff dough with water. Wrap in a floured cloth, then tie into a ball and boil. allow at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours' boiling. Turn out and serve with Custard Sauce.

If you are totally enamoured of British historical drama, do add this book to your collection, even if you don't make spotted dick.

15 December 2011

Avec Eric


I just got a Christmas present from my food-loving friend, Anne. She paid a visit to the wonderful kitchen shop in DC, Hill's Kitchen, to see Eric Ripert. while she was there she bought my Christmas present, Avec Eric. Now I will be frank, here, I really have not had the time to give to Mr. Ripert as I just got the book, but since it has been a few days since I have posted (got called away for work) I just couldn't resist.

At first glance, it is one of those books that one could give to anyone, cook or not. It is filled with glorious photos of food, France and... food and France, do you really need anything else? Actually there are many places other than France and a fair amount of artisanal producers who grace its pages.

I have been on a bit of a pasta binge as of late, so here is Eric's recipe for a lovely carbonara.


Carbonara

1/2 cup diced applewood-smoked bacon
2 cups crème fraîche
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- fine sea salt
8 ounces dried linguine
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
4 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, sauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the crème fraîche and bring to a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks into the sauce. Add the black pepper and season to taste with salt.

When ready to serve, cook the linguine in the boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir in 1-n cups of the Parmesan cheese and chives; let stand for 1 minute to allow all the flavors to blend.

Using a meat fork or carving fork, twirl a quarter of the pasta (for each serving) and place each swirl of pasta in the center of 4 bowls. Spoon some of the sauce over and around the pasta and top with more grated Parmesan cheese, as desired. Serve immediately.


Anne has seriously given Santa a run for his money... or his pasta!

09 December 2011

A New Turn In The South



I knew this would happen. One day "The South" would become this cool place and every Tom, Dick and Yankee would start saying "ya'll" and start eating the food from from our gardens, start stealing our ramps and okra, and we would get "cool." That day seems to have arrived. Not only are Yankee cooks showing up in our kitchens and cooking our food(check out Cooking In The Moment) but now even Canadians are doing it.

I admit, I didn't know when I first started following his really cool recipes, that Hugh Acheson was from Canada. Imagine my surprise! It turns out Acheson is a good ol' boy at heart. And really, that is the heart of the matter. He listens to R.E.M., he has a cooler full of beer, he shells peas(not those English green peas, but actual filed peas), and cooks up some amazing Southern grub.

We waited a long time for A New Turn In The South and we were not disappointed. Honest, if one didn't know better, one might just think this boy was from Georgia. Like my Daddy, marrying a lovely Southern Belle has a way of transforming a man, and Acheson is no exception. His fresh spin on Southern ingredients makes his recipes at the same time new and still remarkably comforting.

The other day I was on the phone and the caller asked, "What are you having for dinner?" Well, of course "dinner" is that mid-day meal some people call "lunch" and "supper" was what I was having, but I digress...
I told my caller that I was making a bog. Long silence. A bog, much like its name, is a sticky, wet rice dish. Famous rice historian(it's a tough job but someone has to be a rice historian!) Karen Hess, believes that bog began as traditional pilau, a sauteed and seasoned rice cooked with meats. When it was made by slaves in large batches, the rice overcooked and became steamy and wet and resembled a bog.

Now one might be surprised to find a Canadian who could even spell "bog" much less cook one. But Mr. Acheson seems right at home in this cleaned up bog.


Chicken Bog

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 chicken, cut into breasts, drumsticks, oysters, and thighs, skin removed
¼ pound andouille sausage, diced
½ cup finely chopped mixed giblets
1 bay leaf
1 leek, white and light green part, cleaned and diced (½ cup)
½ cup diced yellow onion
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup red wine
4 cups chicken stock reduced to 2 cups
1 cup beef stock
1 large ripe tomato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon kosher salt


Heat the oil in a large, wide 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken breasts, drumsticks, oysters, and thighs evenly, about 3 minutes on each side, removing them to a platter when they are nicely browned.

To the pot, add the sausage and the giblets and cook until well browned. Remove to the platter. Discard all but a tablespoon of the cooking oil and add the bay leaf, leeks, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and thyme. When the onions have just turned translucent, add the red wine and reduce until almost dry.

Add reduced chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the reserved chicken and sausage-giblet mixture, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the chicken is just done, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot, pull the meat from the bones and return it to the pot along with the beef stock. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring all the while to break the chicken into threads. Stir in the tomato and parsley. Discard the bay leaf. Season with the salt. Serve with rice!


Now that's a bog! So grab a cold one, a copy of A New Turn In The South and get into the kitchen. Don't forget your favorite R.E.M. mix tape. If you don't have a favorite R.E.M. mix tape... get out of the damn kitchen... or check out Paste's 2009 article of the 20 Best R.E.M. songs and make that tape.

07 December 2011

Girl Hunter

What makes a hunter? Some hunters learn it from family and some through extended family. Georgia Pellegrini was farm girl in the afternoon and Manhattan school girl during the day. She left Wall Street for the kitchens of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. After having to actually kill food that was on the menu, she began an exploration of what it actually means to kill your own meat and how she became a girl hunter.

Girl Hunter is one of those hybrid memoir/cookbooks. I admit that I usually am not very fond of this type of work, as I feel the recipes get the short shrift. that was not the case in Girl Hunter. Pellegrini provides a thoughtful and rational insite into hunting. One soon finds that hunting is one of those sports that engenders some colorful characters and Pellegrini finds her fair share of them.

The book also explores that facet of hunting as not just a sport, but for many, a necessity for putting food on the table. Pellegrini puts some fine food on the table. I am most anxious to try her recipes for javelina, the famed "skunk-pig" found in the Texas countryside. We Southerners are always on the hunt for different pork.
Alas, I do not see Texas in my near future.

I decided to offer up something that even the non-hunter might try. Granted, wild turkey bears no resemblance to the turkey breast found in your grocer's freezer, but give this one a try.


Whiskey Glazed Turkey Breast

6 tablespoons butter
1 turkey breast, skin on and brined
salt and pepper
8 to 10 strips of bacon, or equivalent in lard (for breasts without skin only)
1 cup turkey stock
3 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons whiskey
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne


1. Preheat the oven to 325F. In an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until it begins to bubble. Sprinkle the skin of the brined turkey breast with salt and pepper. If the breast is without skin, wrap it with bacon or lard and fasten with toothpicks or kitchen twine as needed. Place the breast skin side down in the butter, sprinkle the underside with salt and pepper, and let the skin brown for about 5 minutes. Turn it over and add the stock. Cover with foil or a lid and transfer to the oven.

2. In a separate skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the honey until well incorporated. Add the whiskey along with the orange zest and juice, and cayenne and whisk together. Turn the heat to low and let the glaze reduce by half. Turn off the heat and set aside.

3. Once the turkey has cooked for 10 minutes, brush with half of the glaze and recover. Roast for 20 more minutes, brush with the remaining glaze, leave uncovered and increase the temperature to 400F. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until the internal temperature reads 140F to 150F.

4. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil for 10 minutes before slicing, and serving.

For anyone who like game or a tall tale of hunting, Girl Hunter is for you. Check out more on Pellegrini's official web site.

03 December 2011

Cooking In The Moment

We have been waiting years, literally years, for Andrea Reusing to get this cookbook published. Reusing is a transplanted Southerner (and lately we have seeing a lot of those crop up in the cooking world.) She owns one of the best restaurants in the entire country, Lantern Restaurant, in Chapel Hill North Carolina (and you don't have to take our work for it, the lofty and extinct Gourmet said so.) Reusing was recently named the Best Chef of the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation. And if all that wasn't enough, she is married to Mac McCaughan, the frontman of Superchunk and co-founder of Merge Records.

All that info aside, she is a great storyteller. The stories in this cookbook along with casual and innovative twists on classics are what make this book great. While Reusing has made somewhat of a name for herself in that fresh, seasonal, up-to-the-minute, alright, Farm-to-Table, she has the right attitude about it. She was quoted as saying:

"In that same vein, there is a sort of fatigue that has settled in around the ubiquity of the words "local" and "organic." For many home cooks, "farm-to-table" has nearly been weaponized. Cooking with food grown near home — which was just called "cooking" until recently — has come to signify something rigorous and philosophical. The idea behind most recipes in my book is to show how seasonal, local food is the most efficient path to satisfying meals."

For quite some time we have struggling with the exact way to describe the "farm-to-table" phenom and when we read the word"weaponized" we were very disappointed WE did not think of it.

In the end, however Reusing gets the ingredients, she has a way of making them shine. Her Asian spin on Southern staples breathes life into the often monotonous repetition of Southern fair. Here Reusing gives a Southern classic an new profile.

Fried Okra with Indian Spices and Hot Tomato Relish

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 clove
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
¼ cup buttermilk
1 medium serrano chile, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pints okra (just under a pound), stems removed
Sea salt, for serving
Hot Tomato Relish

In a small pan over medium heat, lightly toast the coriander, fennel, and clove until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool completely; then grind and set aside. Toast the cumin seeds in the same fashion and add them to the ground spices.

Fill a deep, heavy stockpot with about 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fat thermometer reads 350°F.

Beat the egg in a small bowl and whisk in the buttermilk and serrano chile. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, all-purpose flour, salt, pepper, and spice mixture.

Cut the okra on a sharp diagonal into long ¼-inch-thick slices. Put the okra slices into the bowl with the flour mixture and combine, leaving a light dusting on each piece. Pour the egg mixture on top and mix with your hands, making sure to coat all surfaces. In batches, use a large slotted spoon to carefully lay loosely formed handfuls of 6 to 8 slices into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes, turning as necessary until the okra is golden brown and uniformly crisp. Drain on a clean brown paper bag, season with sea salt, and serve with the tomato relish.

Hot Tomato Relish

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed vegetable oil
½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
3 garlic cloves, slivered lengthwise
½ teaspoon cayenne
1¼ teaspoons ground turmeric
5 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ teaspoon sugar

Heat the oil in a medium-size heavy nonreactive pot over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and garlic, and cook until the garlic is turning light golden brown and the seeds are popping, about 2 minutes. Add the cayenne and turmeric. Cook for 10 to 20 seconds, and then add the tomatoes, salt, vinegar, and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and the relish has thickened slightly. Serve hot.

Pick out a recipe from Cooking In The Moment, throw No Pocky for Kitty on the turntable, grab a beer and crank up the volume and stove and get cooking.

02 December 2011

Odd Bits

As promised, one of the New York Times Notable Cookbooks of 2011, and one of our favorites...Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan. We are big fans of offal. In the South the rule for eating pigs was: Everything but the squeal. That rule covered most every other meat. (Actually, Southerners were never big on fish with the heads still attached, but I digress.)

McLagan has made a bit of a career out of writing cookbooks for the parts of the animals that most people see, not as "odd" but as simply trash. Her other books were about fat and bones. I heard her talk of this book as being the final chapter in her trilogy. So Odd Bits offers up recipes for heads and cheeks and brains and tongues and our favorite "odd" bit, the gizzard.

One of our favorite uses of gizzards is in a confit. Every so often, D'Artagnan's, the gourmet meat purveyor has confit of gizzards or as the French would say, confit de gésiers. In France, they are a popular salad enhancement, like croutons. This recipe calls for prepared gizzards. Most of the gizzards one buys at a market are going to be cleaned. Occasionally, they will have a wrinkled, yellowish substance on them, just peal that away and discard. This method will work with gizzards of any type, chicken, duck or turkey.

We do like to see writes who use a particular spice blend, to keep us from constantly add 1/4 teaspoon of this and 1/2 teaspoon of that. For McLagan's confit of gizzards she offers up an easily changeable confit salt.

Confit of Gizzards

10 1/2 ounces / 300 g gizzards, prepared
1 1/2 tablespoons / 3/4 ounce / 20 g
Confit Salt
1 clove
garlic
Melted duck fat or lard

Sprinkle the gizzard halves with the salt, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 200°F / 100°C.

Rinse the gizzards to remove the excess seasoning mixture and pat dry. Place them in a small, heavy flameproof casserole or Dutch oven and add the garlic clove and just enough fat to cover the gizzards. Place the pan over medium heat, and when you see the first bubble in the fat, remove the pan from the heat and transfer to the oven. Cook, uncovered, until the gizzards are very tender, about 3 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gizzards to a sieve placed over a bowl and let cool. Strain the fat into a large measuring cup and let stand for about 10 minutes so the cooking juices sink to the bottom.

Place the gizzards in a clean container and then pour enough of the fat over to cover them completely. Discard any cooking juices at the bottom of the measuring cup, and reserve any extra fat for another use.


Confit Salt

3 large sprigs thyme
2 fresh bay leaves, torn
1 1/2 ounce/40 g coarse salt
2 teaspoons black pepper corns
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Remove the leaves from the thyme stems and discard the stems. Combine the thyme and bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, and nutmeg in a spice grinder and grind till powdery. Store in an airtight container; it will keep for several months. (
McLagan suggests that sage and fennel are excellent additions to the salt. Just add a bit to the grind.)

So if you are squeamish about gizzards do give this recipe a try.

Not A Cookbook -- Cookbook


There is just so much cookbook news flying around out there that we offer this little cookbook interlude. Ann sent me a link this morning informing me that Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, has a cookbook. Now it would seem that family cookbooks are a Paul family tradition, and this is no exception...except for the fact that they are using it for campaign contributions.

Frankly, we could get behind a candidate who give out cookbooks for campaign contributions!

New York Magazine couldn't resist suck an opportunity and featured a "page" from the cookbook which includes a "recipe" for scones.

Raspberry Scones

Who are we to order you how to make raspberry scones? You're and American. You have the God-given right to make your raspberry scones however you chose. And it's none of our business!
We don't care what your political affiliations are, we want to read more cookbooks... oh yes, and vote!

30 November 2011

Not A Cookbook -- Notable for 2011




The New York Times published its list of new and notable cookbook titles. Out of the eighteen, we have reviewed Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. We were convinced we had reviewed Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing and Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan but I suppose we just THOUGHT about it and failed to post. We will rectify that this week.

We have been savoring A New Turn in The South by Hugh Acheson and Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck.

We desperately want to peruse Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet but even with the amazon price tag, one could about buy a new stove...OK, a VitaMix, still it is way out of our price range.

The Mission Street Food book by Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz is shown but not on the list??? We have similar feelings. We kind of wanted it but couldn't decide.

Weigh in with your favorites!

29 November 2011

Cookbook Of The Day in the News


Cookbook Of The Day was happy to be included in Edible Allegheny's feature Online Dish.


As I said in the article, "I believe the way we cook is a window into the culture of a particular time period."

Thanks so much to Katie Green and the staff at Edible Allegheny.

21 November 2011

Not A Cookbook -- An Essay


A decade ago, I was visiting in Key West. I met a woman who had been an editor at British Vogue shortly after World War II. One of her first assignments was to travel to Italy with Elizabeth David. Britain was still reeling from rationing. She told me that they would be riding in a car and David would yell, "Stop!" She would scurry out of the car and pull wild garlic and herbs from the hillside. That is the way I always think of Elizabeth David -- climbing a hillside for wild garlic.

As you know, gentle readers, I adore Elizabeth David. The is a wonderful essay in the New York Time Book Review about bringing David's Italian Food to an American audience. It is by Laura Shapiro, who is not too shabby, her own self!

19 November 2011

Girl In The Kitchen

I have watched Top Chef since the beginning and only once has the chef I wanted to win actually won the competition. Stephanie Izard was that winner. I have been looking forward to her cookbook and Girl in the Kitchen doesn't disappoint. The book captures Izard's sunny and bright personality. She is a girl in the kitchen, so one is never in danger of hearing shouting and cursing in the background. Nothing gets slammed or bammed or yelled at. That is not to say that the recipes are not "chefy." The Pan-roasted New York Steak with Sautéed Cucumbers and Salted Goat Milk Caramel will require 3 days, quited a bit of organizing and sourcing of ingredients. (And convincing anyone there should be caramel on a strip steak...)

Most recipes, however, have a "tip" for getting things done and many have drink ideas in case you don't know what to drink with Fried Cheese with Spring Veggies and Strawberry reduction. (That one stumps me every time. Bourbon? No, rosé.) If you watched Top Chef with Izard as a contestant (or should I say cheftestant? No! No one should ever say "cheftestant."), you will be familiar with her style of slightly Asian inspired Mediterranean cooking. Even the steak's goat's milk caramel has a bit of fish sauce thrown in.

Our one big problem with book is the four column list of ingredients. Surely there was a lot of "design" thought put into this format, but it is distracting.

We don"t mean to obsess on the weird, so here is a rather straight forward and yummy clam dish for you to try.

Clams Steamed with Corn, Bacon, and Fingerlings

12 ounces fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob
24 fresh littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoon crème fraiche
1 tablespoon butter
Several sprigs fresh mint leaves, chopped for garnishing

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2. Toss the potatoes with a few teaspoons olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish and season with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes until they are slightly tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool, then slice into 1/2-inch rounds.

3. Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook it until the fat is rendered and the bacon is just browned, about 7 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and sweat by cooking them until they are tender but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced potatoes, corn, and clams and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the wine and cover the pot and steam the clams for about 10 minutes. When the clams are completely open, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the vegetables and bacon to serving bowls or plates, leaving the liquid in the pot. (Discard any clams that do not open.)

4. Stir in the crème fraiche and butter into the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until just thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and spoon the sauce over the clams and veggies. Garnish with mint and serve.

On this cold day, I can think of nothing better.

10 November 2011

Not A Cookbook -- An Article


By now I am sure that most of you have seen the New York Time's article: Are Cookbooks Obsolete?

We scoff.

08 November 2011

Bitters


We have been waiting a long time for Brad Thomas Parsons book Bitters. That slight touch of bitterness adds a remarkable depth to cocktails and why shouldn't it be used to achieve that same level of nuance in cooking. Inspired by Parsons' book, the canned clementines we wrote about at Lucindaville featured a dash of bitters in our recipe.

There are a plethora of cocktail books out there, but Bitters is so much more. First and foremost, it is cultural history that encompasses food, medicine, and government in a tangled web of who's who. Are bitters food? Alcoholic beverage? Medicine? Well yes and no.

In a landscape of potions and elixirs and prohibition, what bitters survived. In an era of a romantic cocktail renaissance, who are the new players and will they survive this heyday? And you????

Will you head into your kitchen laboratory and whip up your own batch of bitters?


Yes, boys and girls, Brad Thomas Parsons answers all these questions and more. As one might suspect, the vast majority of the recipes in this book are for drinks. However, tucked neatly in the back are a dozen or so recipes for cooking with bitters. We cannot advocate the inclusion of bitters into cooking more. The section on compound butters, alone, will elevate your cooking prowess, not to mention that a "hostess gift" of a lovely log of compound butter will make you a standout in a sea of Two Buck Chuck wine.

Our favorite ice cream gets a bitters boost as do the ubiquitous spiced nuts. Now if you grew up in house with a little home bar, there was probably an old bottle of Angostura bitters floating about. Angostura was always publishing little recipe books and a staple recipe was always the broiled grapefruit with a splash of bitters. In keeping with that tradition, here it is:

Broiled Bitter Grapefruit

1 pink or ruby red grapefruit, chilled
Angostura bitters, Peychaud's Bitters, or other aromatic bitters
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar or turbino sugar
Garnish: maraschino cherry (optional)

Preheat the broiler and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Slice the grapefruit in half at its equator. run the knife along the perimeter of each exposed half and along the membrane of each segment to loosen the segments. Dot each grapefruit half with 2 to 3 dashes of bitters.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar and 6 healthy dashes of bitters to form a sugary paste. Cover each grapefruit half equally with the brown sugar-bitters mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Broil until the sugar starts to crisp up and bubble, 2 to 4 minutes, Serve at once.



How fun was that? Now get in there and dig around in that old bar cabinet and find that bottle of bitters and start thinking of all the things to add a slash of bitterness.

03 November 2011

From Season to Season: A Year In Recipes

We love Sophie Dahl. In fact we love all the Dahl's, especially Roald. Sophie is Roald's granddaughter, who took the famous family name when she began to model. She was what we loving call in America a plus-size model.

Ironically,since she has started writing cookbooks, she has slimmed down considerable. But with a second cookbook and a another television show, the British press loves to compare her to Nigella Lawson.

With all that cleavage one worries whether they can even get close to the stove without some sort of Mrs. Doubtfire moment...


...but I digress...

We really loved Dahl's first cookbook, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights. This new book is called From Season to Season: A Year In Recipes. However, when it gets published next year in America is will be titled, Very Fond of Food: A Year In Recipes. Why the name change is beyond me unless they are worried that there are several "season to season" books floating around.

This book is very much like the last. It is filled with comforting food, great photos, and family anecdotes. The recipes are fairly easy to follow and would be at home on any family table. In Britain is would seem that the kebab is very much like the hamburger -- that food one grabs when in a big hurry. Dahl's kebabs offer both a vegetarian and a chicken option, safely providing something for everyone. I must say, the recipe for the dressing is a good one. Often the words "dressing" or "sauce" are usually tedious and the part of the recipe that makes the reader turn the page. So putting everything in the blender and blitzing is quite comforting.


Kebabs

1 large courgette/zucchini, cut into rough chunks
1 packet of halloumi cheese, cut into chunks (or 250g/9 oz of skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks)
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
250g/9 oz of cherry tomatoes



For the dressing

250g of plain yoghurt
25g/ 1/4 cup of flaked almonds
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro
A small handful of fresh mint
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil

If using wooden skewers, soak them for one hour in cold water first. Light the barbecue or preheat the grill of the oven.

Assemble the vegetables and cheese on the skewers, alternating courgette/zucchini, chunks of halloumi, onion and whole tomatoes. Leave to one side.


To make the dressing, put all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. You can now pour this over the skewers before or after cooking them.

Put the skewers on the barbecue or under the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.


Last time, the book was coming out before Christmas but Very Fond of Food: A Year In Recipes has a spring release date. If you can't wait, pick up a copy of From Season to Season: A Year In Recipes and find out why Miss Dahl is very fond of food.

02 November 2011

Pieminister


We have acquired several British cookbooks as of late. Now we love a good pie, but frankly we love a great savory pie. Apples and pears and berries, oh my. But for a really spectacular pie try chicken and rabbit and leeks...among other things. Enter the Pieminister. The most funnest pie shoppe in Britain and now the best little pie book one can lay one's hands on. Loads of savory treats and sweet touch or two.

Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon were just two blokes who loved their pie. Then one day it dawned on them that they could be piemakers. They tried out a bunch of recipes and in 2003, they opened a little shop in Bristol. The next year, they became the official pie shop of the Glastonbury Festival. Then they became the pie shop of the Borough Market in London. Pieministers started sprouting around and now, for those of us who live outside their delivery area, Pieminister, the cookbook.

Really, the book is filled with yummy casseroles stuffed into pastry. So if one to find one's self trapped at home with no flour or suet, the book would still work. (Though, frankly, if one has,sausage, cider and potatoes, my guess is there is some flour around.) Of course, in America, it is rather hard to find suet anywhere, except in the occasional bird feeder. Keep your fingers crossed that suet will become the new "It" ingredient and start showing up everywhere. While we don't like to tamper with a recipe, the suet-challenged can stuff this into a fine plain pastry.


Sausage, Cider & Potato Pie

500g new potatoes, cut into slices 6-8mm thick
25g butter
1 onion, sliced
1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 tsp sugar
100ml good-quality cider
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
500g herby sausages
1 quantity of suet pastry
handful of grated Cheddar cheese
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
sea salt and black pepper
a little chopped thyme and/or sage, to decorate

Cook the sliced potatoes in boiling water until tender, then drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook gently until softened. Stir in the apple and sugar and cook until the apple slices are tender but sill hold their shape. They should just be starting to caramelize a little. Pour in the cider and simmer until almost completely evaporated. Stir in the mustard, season with a little black pepper and remove from heat.

Slit the sausages open and peel off the skins. Mix the sausage meat with the potatoes, using your hands to break it up a little. Finally, stir in the warm onion and apple to give a loose mixture.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Use to line a pie tin and then fill with the sausage and apple mixture. Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg. If you like, you can add the Cheddar at this stage, pushing it down into the filling to make cheesy pockets. Roll out the rest of the pastry to about 3mm thick and use to cover the pie, trimming off the excess and pressing the edges together to seal. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and then make a couple of holes in the centre to let out the steam. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through – check by inserting a skewer in the centre; it should come out hot. Serve with a WI-competition-winning chutney.

What could be better? I am headed to the kitchen now.

01 November 2011

Testicles



I often write about my predilection to procure every French cookbook there is and often lament the fact that there really are just so many ways on can make boeuf bourguignon! So leave it to some French author to come up with a cookbook that covers a culinary delicacy I have never thought of cooking.

Blandine Vié has written a book that is the best of what a cookbook can be. Testicles: Balls in Cooking and Culture is part cookbook, part cultural history, part lexicon, an all profoundly entertaining. The book was originally published in France in 2005. It has been masterfully translated by Giles MacDonogh. I regret that my knowledge if French does not allow me the pleasure of reading this work in its original as MacDonogh tells us that Vié has a masterful sense of words, puns and is often plainly untranslatable. In fact, Testicles won the Prix Litteraire de la Commanderie des Gastronomes Ambassadeurs de Rungis.

The book is divided into three section. Mythology offering up a history of balls from anatomy to slang. Method, the bulk of the book, features recipes from ancient to modern. Attributes serves as a dictionary or lexicon of testicular. (Here, Giles MacDonogh augmented Vié's heavily French list to include more of an English slant.)

Having read several of the cookbooks alluded to in this book, I can safely say that one often overlooks the unfamiliar, that is to say, I am more likely to read that thousandth recipe for boeuf bourguignon before delving into say, a ragout of cock's stones. One of the easiest balls to come by or to get ones hands on or well, as you can see, one must chose one's words as carefully as one's balls. Let me start again: Lamb's testicles or "fries" are probably the easiest to procure from a butcher. Here is a small plate of lamb fries, but it can be doubled if you are a big ball eater for an entréé.

Balas à la provençal, as an apéritif

4 lamb’s fries [balas in Provençal]
200g fine soft breadcrumbs or dried crumbs
2eggs
1 tbsp crème fraîche
oil for deep-frying
2 lemons
fine sea salt
freshly ground white pepper


Remove the membrane surrounding the testicles and rinse them in cold water in which you have added a dash of vinegar or lemon juice. Drain and dry and cut into slices 5 mm thick. Spread out the breadcrumbs on a flat plate. Beat the eggs as for an omelette in a bowl together with the cream.

Lightly season the slices with salt and pepper, dip them in the egg mixture then turn them in the breadcrumbs, making sure both sides are covered.

Next drop them in the hot oil, which should not be smoking (175°C) and fry them for 2–3 minutes on each side until they are golden. Dry them on paper towls.

To serve, arrange them in a pyramid on a hot plate and surround them with lemon quarters.

Note: double the quantities if you wish to serve the balas as a main course. They can be accompanied by a fresh tomato sauce.


If you love food, language, and culinary history, you will have balls of fun with this book. IT makes a great present as I am sure, few out there have a a testicle cookbook!

31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Night of the Living Teddy

24 October 2011

Eat, Drink And Be Merry In Maryland

I defy you find another cookbook that is dedicated to Oliver Wendell Holmes and features and introduction by Emily Post. That is, however, what you will find in Eat, Drink And Be Merry In Maryland by Frederick Philip Stieff. Stieff was the scion of a famous piano-making family and a well-known gastronome. Post was a rather famous Marylander who found the cookbook dredged up many a Maryland memory. Holmes once wrote, "Baltimore... is the gastronomic metropolis of the Union." Who knew!

This cookbook was published in 1932 and features over 100 illustrations by Edwin Tunis. Remember that the book was published in 1932, so some of the illustration are very politically incorrect. Some of the illustration offer up poems, jokes, and histories of Maryland. For instance in the "drink" section, this:

A Marylander and a Virginia were discussing the merits of their respective liquors, The Marylander poured the Virginia two drinks. On imbibing one the Virginian fainted. When he came to, he admitted defeat. "But, " said the Marylander, "you drank the chaser."

I am sure it was more amusing in 1932, but you get the gist.



The endpapers feature a gastronomic map of Maryland, featuring the bounty of the state. Stieff not only


cooked, but collected recipes from multiple sources: restaurants, hotels, bars, inns and people. He culled recipes from housewives and spinsters, to a recipe from Senator Millard Tydings for a rather interesting breakfast.

Since crab is one of the bounties that makes Maryland great, here is a recipe featuring the states finest.

CRAB MEAT DEWEY

Take one pound of crab meat, melt two ounces of butter and blend with two ounces of sifted flour, gradually add 2/3 cup of chicken stock and a pint of thin cream.
Bring to boil for about five minutes, season with salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the yolks of three well-beaten eggs.
Pay attention that sauce is perfectly smooth, add one cup full of thin sliced cooked mushrooms and crab meat. Serve on toast in shallow casserole. Sprinkle very fine chopped parsley as garniture.—Maryland Yacht Club, Baltimore.

15 October 2011

Cosmopolitan Cookery In an English Kitchen


Theodora Fitzgibbon wrote over 30 books, most of them cookery books. Much of her writing dealt with her native Ireland and its surrounding area, but she was also well versed in food from an international perspective. For 15 years she worked on The Food of the Western World: An Encyclopedia of Food from North America and Europe a compendium of... well, it is exactly what the title says it is: an encyclopedia of food from North America and Europe.


As a kind of precursor to this monumental work, Fitzgibbon wrote Cosmopolitan Cookery In an English Kitchen. The book is a collection of Recipes Fitzgibbon adapted from her many travels. IT was an attempt to move the English cook away from mutton and boiled carrots. Published in 1953, it recalls a time when England was still dealing with the ravages of rationing. On 4 July 1954, food rationing in England came to an end with meat being the last of the rationed foodstuffs. After so much hardship, it was often hard for the home cook to let go and explore new options, as simply putting "food" on the table had been so hard.

Fitzgibbon offers this advice to those reading her book:

"I have found that many a good cook tends to spoil a meal by serving the wrong things together. A dinner consisting of the following was given to me some time ago: a leek and potato soup with cram, followed by chicken and onions in a bechamel sauce, followed in turn by mousse covered in cream. All delicious separately and all practically tasteless together, to say nothing of the appearance three times of a great gery-white splodge. (For the colour and consistency of food is important too.)"

I find "splodge" to be my new favorite word. Technically an irregular milky spot or drip, but with a recently more sexualized connotation. But I digress...

I have never been fond of veal, but I do love a good cooked cucumber and this dish offers the option of lamb and frankly, I think chicken would work too.


Sliced Veal or Lamb and Cucumbers

1/2 lb veal
1 1/2 dessertspoons of water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 oz mushrooms and/or Chinese fungus
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 cucumber
1 oz cooking fat

Slice the veal into thin strips, and mix with the cornflour paste made from the teaspoon of cornflour and the water, Peel the cucumber, cut into cubes, and fry for a few minutes with the slice mushrooms or fungus in the cooking fat Add the meat and cornflour mixture and fry together for 10 minutes. Add soy sauce, stir well and cook gently for 5 minutes, This dish can be made with pork and celery.

Or, I think, chicken!

12 October 2011

Not A Cookbook -- Mamie Eisenhower's Fudge

Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower, 1959 by Thomas Edgar Stephens


Having a boatload of cookbooks means that I often get requests to find recipes. I was asked recently for an old fudge recipe, that someone remembered and I dare say, Mamie Eisenhower's Million Dollar Fudge may well be the most famous fudge recipe, if not the most famous recipe in American history.


Not only has it been reprinted in numerous newspapers and books, but it seems that everyone's mother or grandmother has a recipe card with this fudge recipe tucked in a box.




Supposedly, it made its first appearance in a cookbook entitled, Who Says We Can’t Cook, published in 1955 by the Women's National Press Club. Here is the recipe:

Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge

4-1/2 cups of Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Butter
1 pinch of Salt
1 tall can of Evaporated Milk
12 ounces of Semi-sweet Chocolate Bits
12 ounces of German Sweet Chocolate
1 pint of Marshmallow Cream
2 cups of chopped Nutmeats

Heat the sugar, butter, salt and evaporated milk over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and boil for six minutes. Put the chocolate bits, German chocolate, marshmallow cream and nutmeats into a heat resistant bowl. Pour the mixture you've been boiling over the ingredients you've just placed in the bowl. Beat until the chocolate has melted, and then pour it all into a pan. Let it stand for a few hours before cutting it into fudge sized pieces. Remember, it is even better the second day. Store in a tin box
When not tucked in a recipe box, it can be seen as a bookmark,

holding a place in a rather obscure Vladimir Nabokov novel.


Several days before Dwight Eisenhower was elected President, Mamie Eisenhower sent a letter to Mrs. Robert W. Macauley. She included a recipe for "Uncooked Fudge," and sent her best wishes for the success of the Cathedral's Women's Auxiliary Fall Festival. Whether this was the same fudge as her Million Dollar Fudge is unknown to me.

The Food Network "updated" the recipe for Eisenhower's fudge. The update seems to be changing "nutmeats" to "pecans" and moving the nuts to a higher position in the recipe. Here is their update:

Mamie Eisenhower's Fudge
4 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 pint (1 jar) marshmallow cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
12 ounces German's sweet chocolate

Directions

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar, salt, butter and evaporated milk to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the pecans, marshmallow fluff and chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the boiled syrup over the chocolate mixture. Beat until chocolate is all melted.

Spray a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 1-inch jelly-roll pan with a nonstick cooking spray and pour fudge into pan. Let harden at room temperature before cutting into 1-inch squares (can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to speed hardening process).


All the updating in the world will not change the fact that this recipe is still a family favorite.




Check out things people leave in books at Forgotten Bookmarks.

For old recipes check out Gram's Recipe Box.

08 October 2011

Gridiron Cookery


Are you ready for some football? I am sorry we are no longer allowed to use that phrase due to some some dumbass who should have known better. Oh well, every state has one, or two. However, the answer is... we are.

This evening Alabama is playing Vanderbilt for Homecoming because Agnes Scott doesn't have a football team.

In Alabama, Paul "Bear" Bryant is still the driving force in football. Hundreds of students, who weren't even born when Bear was alive, will file into the stadium wearing his famous houndstooth hat.




I will admit to being alive when "Bear" coached and to give you some idea of just how powerful Coach Bryant's influence was and is in Alabama, I can tell you that every time I hear about an event "marking 9/11, " I always ask myself, "Why are they celebrating "Bear" Bryant's birthday?"

In 1960, Frances Daugherty and Aileen Brothers published a collection of recipes from the wives of football coaches around the county. Gridiron Cookery boasts that these resourceful hostesses are:

"skilled at taming (and feeding) victory-mad mobs -- or reviving a few low-spirited losers."


One such hostess was Mrs. Paul Bryant. Here is a recipe she picked up when "Bear" was the coach at Texas A & M.

Cheese Biscuits

1/2 pound of butter
4 cups grated cheese (half New York and half American)
2 1/2 -2 2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
stuffed olives, cut in half

Cream butter and cheese; add flour and cayenne pepper. Press through cooky press in long strips. Place cut olives on the strips and roll like a jelly roll into small biscuits. Place on a cooky sheet, and bake at 300F until slightly browned.


There is time to make up a big batch of these before kick off. (Provided you own a "cooky" press.)

I know if was 1960 but it is now 2011. Mrs. Paul Bryant was Mary Harmon Black Bryant.

07 October 2011

The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook


Well, we think the Fabulous Beekman Boys, Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, are famous and just getting more famous and fabulous as the days march on. (Though we are not sure they could get any more fabulous.) We would like to take some credit for their success and why shouldn't we. We were in their camp and encouraging everyone to buy their book and take a gander at their television show before it ever aired and long before they graced made the pages of Food & Wine.




Since our blog, Cookbook Of The Day, is simply enamored of cookbooks we were beside ourselves when we found out that a Beekman Boys cookbook was in the works. It went immediately on our pre-order list and it arrived last week. Let me tell you that it was worth the wait. For those of you who watched every episode of the Fabulous Beekman Boys, you know there was controversy over the title of the cookbook which was resolved in Dr. Brent's favor. You will also remember the preliminary photo shoot for the cookbook. If you saw that, you know that ever detail was meticulously thought out and shot and re-shot until it had the Beekman stamp of approval. Needless to say, the picture of the food by Paulette Tavormina are works of art.



The recipes are bright and homey. There is a good mix of things you have heard of, like fried green tomatoes and roast leg of lamb and interesting twists. The Harvest Beef Chili not only has beans but nice big chinks of pumpkin, which we find to terribly underused. We are big fans of augmenting the plain mashed potato and this recipe is a fine way to do just that.

Sorrel Mashed Potatoes

1 1/2 pounds of baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 bunches of sorrel(about 2 ounces each), tough ends trimmed, leaves torn
3/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the potatoes with salt water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and return to the pan.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the sorrel and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is very tender and soft, about 4 minutes.

With a potato masher or a handheld mixer, mash the potatoes with the milk, salt, and remaining two tablespoons of butter, Stir in the melted sorrel and serve.


While The Beekman Boys might live way up there in New York, their cookbook has a gentle Southern vibe mixing rustic fare with recipes that offer a nice addition to Sunday Dinner.

If there was an element we were not overly enamoured of, it would be the keepsake addition of removable cards allowing the reader to make the cookbook, "their own." Seriously, Dr.Brent, you know that people will scribbling notes in their ratty old handwriting and stuffing in articles and before you know it that nice The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook is going to be a mess. But then...

...they could always buy another copy.

04 October 2011

The Mushroom Cook Book



Cookbooks like to offer up a count on the recipes held with in. It would seem that the two favorite measurements in cookbook girth are "101" and "365." The 365 recipe book is an easy one to understand as there are 365 days in the year and these cookbooks offer up a recipe for each day of the year. One might assume that the 101 variety are just one better than an even hundred. one will often find the phrase, "over 100 recipes," used quite often in cookbook descriptions. So we were rather amused by Garibaldi Lapolla's The Mushroom Cook Book as it offers up 111 Successful Easy Recipes. Why? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps 111 recipes were the sum total of all of his mushroom recipes.

Lapolla believes that almost all cookbooks feature at least one or two recipes for mushrooms but he laments the fact that no cookbook in existence has, "made a special fuss over them." For Lapolla it is because the mushroom is neither meat nor vegetable and it smells funny, or as he would say, "pronounced." this book was written in the early 1950's at a time when, perhaps, mushrooms had a pronounced smell, but most of the mushrooms we find in today's supermarkets would be hard to find even with a bloodhound on the case.

I will say that Lapolla makes a valiant effort at making the mushroom the star of the recipe as opposed to merely sticking it in a tomato sauce. To that end, he is very fond of stuffing things into mushrooms.

I have a steadfast rule in my kitchen -- no nuts in my food. It is a personal thing and while I have been known to make an exception, the rule stands. So I was as surprised as anyone when I kept coming back to this recipe. There is a distinct possibility I might just make an exception here. But don't count on it.

Sautéed Mushrooms with Nuts

3 tablespoons of olive oil r melted butter
1 onion, minced fine
1 pound of small mushrooms, whole, or large ones, quartered
1/2 pound of unsalted nuts -- almonds, Brazil, filberts, or pignuole
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

In a skillet, melt butter and add onion, Do not brown, Add mushrooms and saute over fairly high flame, uncovered, for 15 minutes until golden in color. (Mushrooms need watching and stirring to avoid burning.) Add nuts and seasonings and heat thoroughly.


Aside from a 111 easy mushroom recipes, we were drawn to this cookbook when we saw the author's photo.


It would seem that Mr. Lapolla is cooking on a Garland range much like one we posse in Lucindaville. And we do love our stoves.

30 September 2011

The Happy Table of Eugene Walter


OK, some of you may not think Eugene Walter is that famous, but I do. It is one of my greatest regrets that I never met Eugene Walter. In a previous post at Lucindaville, we extolled the copious adventures of Mr. Walter. At Cookbook Of The Day we have featured several cookbooks from Eugene Walter. If ever there was a Renaissance man, it was Eugene Walter who was at varying time in his colorful life:

cryptographer

writer

poet

artist

founder of a chamber orchestra...
...and the Paris Review

winner of a Lippincott...
...an O’Henry...
...a Sewanee-Rockefeller fellowship...
...the Prix Guilloux

puppet maker

music composer

opera singer

actor (including Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Lina Wertmüller’s Ballad of Belle Starr and 100 others)

cookbook author

legendary party-giver

consummate Southerner

They just don't make them like this anymore. For much of his later life, Eugene Walter talked of writing a book about gumbo. It is the great "lost" book of Eugene Walter and the first question everyone asks his executor, Donald Goodman. Goodman says the book never existed. I have asked him repeatedly. One day last year, I got an e-mail form Goodman. While there wasn't a gumbo book, there was a manuscript that never got published. The University of North Carolina Press was going to publish the cookbook and Don wanted me to know. I immediately pre-ordered the book. The Happy table of Eugene Walter arrived last week. First I just looked at it for a couple of days and finally I sat down to spent the day with Eugene. It was the next best thing to meeting him.



The first thing one notices about the book is its division. The first, substantial section, is on drinks. Southern drinks, of course. There are 5 juleps, 7 eggnogs, 13 punches, two pages of instructions on iced tea and 9 hangover "cures" all with a proper history and introduction.

The second section is on victuals. And what victuals they are. Walter offers up a favorite from the famed creole cookbook author, Celestine Eustis. The recipe is a basic bread pudding recipe titled "Monkey Pudding." The recipe calls for stale bread, milk, cream, sugar and spice, but it is the actual baking instructions that caught Walter's eye. According to Eustis the pudding is cooked until... "it looks like an old monkey."

Water loved monkeys and one can just see him laughing at as he pulled that monkey pudding from the fire.
Walter never looses his humor nor his writing style when introducing a recipe. Here is his introduction to Sunday Supper Onion Pie:

"Okay, you have the wreckage of a baked ham, roast beef, or pork. So prepare your favorite flaky pastry for a deep pie pan --not a casserole, not a shallow pie pan, but a deep pie pan. Bake it; chill it.
Then make your onion pie filling. There are dozens of recipes. And, just like the 2,000 green tomato pie recipes are about evenly divided between sweet versions and savory ones, same's true of onions. Many eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century green apple pie recipes were simply northern apple pie recipes with, in the apple-less south, green tomatoes substituted for Eve's preference."



Walter's description of learning to make rice from Marie Honorine Julac is worth the price of the book.


Here is a little recipe Walter calls, "a mad dish from the 1920's."

Whoopsadaisy Toast

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup dry Champagne
Dash of mace
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Toast

In your chafing dish, melt butter over hot water, then add grated Cheddar cheese. As it melts, gradually add Champagne, Pit in a dash of mace, a pinch of salt, and a hint of freshly ground white pepper; serve immediately over warm toast. Chilled champagne, of course, with it.


Cheese toast. Every kid has had it at one time or another, yet, in the hands of Eugene Walter it becomes an elegant and delightful luncheon. "In your chaffing dish..." because everyone has a chaffing dish, really what kind of Southerner are you? "A dash," "a pinch," "a hint," all less than a 1/4 teaspoon, but important measurements to be learned through a culinary osmosis. Chilled champagne-- "of course" -- because what is the point of whoosadaisy toast without a little champagne on the side.

I said it before and I will say it again, I am very sorry that I never met Eugene Walter. But, I am grabbing a bottle of Champagne and making Woopsadaisy Toast for lunch in his honor.

28 September 2011

Italian Cooking


We are not particularly one an Italian cooking crusade this week, but we did pick up Robin Howe's vintage tome Italian Cooking on our recent beach adventures. In the 1950's the venerable British publishing house, Andre Deutch, published a cookery series featuring a vast collection of international cuisines from Alsace to Turkey. Robin Howe was responsible for several of the titles including this Italian cookbook.

For Howe this book is two-fold:

"...to bring Italian cooking to the housewife and to help those traveling in Italy who, faced with a long and tantalizingly attractive menu, end up by ordering spaghetti because it is the only dish they are sure about."

As Bob Dylan might say, "the times, they are a-changin'." Or maybe not. One could actually take most every recipe in this book, give them an updated re-write, add some color photos, slap Mario on the cover and have a fine cookbook.

This is not so much a testament to Robin Howe as it is to Italian cuisine. Truth be told, once you learn a few basics, you can cook up a storm. And while Howe laments the fact that the most the British housewife of the 1950's might have known of Italian cooking is as simply "spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes", there is a lot to be said for spaghetti,garlic, olive oil , and tomatoes! Trow in a pounded cutlet and some aubergine, grab a bottle of red wine and it's dining at its finest. It seems that every other recipe title ends with the words, "cooked in wine." There is:
veal with marsala
chicken marsala
whiting cooked in wine
beef braised in wine
beef stewed in wine
rabbit stewed in wine
quail cooked in wine
artichokes cooked in wine
cabbage cooked in wine
onions cooked in wine


We are sticking with the aubergine.

Fried Aubergine Slices
Melanzane Fritte

4 medium aubergine (egg-plant)
Salt
coating batter

Wash the aubergines, cut off the stems, peel and slice thinly in rounds Sprinkle the slices with salt and press between two plates. Leave for one hour. Wipe dry with a cloth and dip in coating batter. Fry in deep boiling fat until brown.

Alternatively you can dip the slices in egg and breadcrumbs, or fry au naturel. Serve hot.


Mario couldn't have done it any better. If you don't want to fry it, just cook it in wine!

26 September 2011

Cooking Dinner


Full Disclosure: The author's sent me a copy of their book. My gentle readers might think this happens a lot. Well, much to my chagrin it does not happen nearly enough! Seriously all you editors out there at Clarkson Potter and Chronicle, send us your books... sorry, I digress... Generally, however, we are kind of the low-girl-on-the-totem-pole. Cookbook writers, like everyone else who publishes, get a really small budget to market their books. They make a big list and then they get a dozen books to send out, so of course, they go to big media outlets. While we are often asked it we will review a book, we often fail to make the final cut. So when Rima Barkett and Claudia Pruett asked if I wanted a review copy, I said yes, but didn't really expect to make the cut. So imagine my surprise when a big fat envelope arrived with a shiny copy of their book, Cooking Dinner.



I love cookbooks that advocate family dinner. As a child in Alabama, everyone in the family had Sunday dinner together whether you wanted to or not! I learned to cook, not from the thousand cookbooks that line my walls, but at the elbows of the women in my life. Cooking, like reading, is something one needs to actually see being done.

Cooking Dinner: Simple Italian Family Recipes Everyone Can Make are just that: simple recipes that you can make with your kids in tow and feed to everyone in the family and all those people who happen to be hanging around the house when dinner is served. The recipes are full of flavor while maintaining a simple kitchen-friendly vibe.



One of the nicest features of the cookbook is the addition of info bubbles beside the recipes. They offer info, tips and a helping hand. The helping hand feature is aimed at the kids in your kitchen, but if you cook, you know there is always someone coming in and asking, "Can I help?" The helping hand feature gives an efficient and easy answer to satisfy even the biggest helping hand.

Writing a cookbook just wasn't enough for Barkett and Pruett. The pair has a website, A Tavola Together, which is chocked full of tips, recipes, shopping lists and more to keep the family in the kitchen.

My favorite recipe from the book is the penne with asparagus. I love both penne and asparagus, and when you add cream and cheese how could you go wrong?

Penne with Asparagus

1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, peeled & chopped fine, about 1 cup
2 pounds asparagus, rinsed and cut into 1/2 pieces
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Dash freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low to medium heat. Add onion saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. When the water is boiling, add 2 tablespoons salt and penne pasta. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Add asparagus, salt and pepper to the onions. continue cooking, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, add cream and cook two more minutes.

Meanwhile, pour hot water into a serving bowl and let stand. This is an important step which serves to warm the bowl.

When the penne are 3 minute from being done, transfer them to the sauce in the skillet using a slotted spoon. Add about 1/3 cup of the cooing water and cook for a few more minutes over medium heat, stirring often and adding more water if necessary. he pasta will finish cooking in the sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

When the penne are ready, pour out the water and dry the serving bowl. Transfer penne to the bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve.


The tip for this recipe: Slice the asparagus in the diagonal to match the shape of the peen pasta.

The helping hand: Young children can help rinse the asparagus. Older ones can grate the Parmesan.


If you are looking for a way to get the whole family into the kitchen, grab a copy of Cooking Dinner and get in there and cook dinner.


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