Just as the Swinging Sixties were rolling to an end, Edward Lowman was gathering all of his entertaining expertise into a single volume -- The How-Not-to-Miss-the-Cocktail-Hour-Cookbook. Lord knows we have no intention of missing the cocktail hour, so this little cookbook is simply a must-have. We are told from the start:
"The joy of cooking for friends is in spending time with them. Time away from guests is precious. The secret of cooking-cum-conviviality is now told by an inveterate entertainer with gourmet tastes."
The recipes and menus in this volume promise no more than 20 minutes in the kitchen and away from the cocktails. In fact each recipe has its own TAG time. (That would be the Time Awayfrom Guests.)
Surprisingly, Edward Lowman, who happens to be a medical doctor, is a huge fan of MSG. He just loves to throw it in everything and swears that there is no proof that MSG in any way affects those hypochondriacs who complain of headaches and other ailments. I already have a headache.
Lowman has a very good list of shortcuts at the beginning of his book and a list of things not to do. Lowman says:
"There are many good prepared food products that measure up well in the art of gourmet shortcuts, but there are others that will dismally betray your trust and expose you with an inferior result. These latter are what I dub "N.O.O.C.D." which translated means, "Not of our class, darling!""
On his "Yes-Yes" list he includes items such as prepared pie crusts, packaged breadcrumbs, frozen cleaned uncooked shrimp, curry powder, and bakery bread. No-Nos include canned shrimp, instant coffee, pre-cooked rice and cornbread mix! (I am totally creeped out just typing "cornbread mix."
Alas, many of his soups begin with canned soup, and of course, I feel that most probably, canned soup should end up on the "no-no" list. Here is the very first recipe. The TAG time is a mere 1 minute. Just the time it takes to drag it out of the refrigerator. This recipe sounds positively dreadful and yet, there is something about it that makes it sound that it just might work, you be the judge.
Quick Pâté Maison
2 6-ounce packages liverwurst
1 3-ounce package cream cheese
2-tablespoon butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon MSG
1 1/2 tablespoon sherry
1/2-teaspoon curry powder
Have liverwurst and cheese at room temperature (easier to mix). Combine all ingredients and mash and cream well together, using a fork; do not use and electric blender. Chill well.
Frankly, if you stuffed this into tiny little ramekins and served it with some toast points, it might just be a winner.
The best news - you will only miss 1 minute of cocktails.