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.

30 July 2009

The Jimtown Store Cookbook

On the Fourth of July in 1987, Carrie Brown and John Werner were returning from a barbecue at Brown’s parents in the Napa Valley. On a winding road they came upon an abandoned store with a “For Sale” sign. The Jimtown store had been on that spot for 100 years in one form or another. Brown and Werner returned to New York with the idea of opening a kind of modern country store. After several years of negotiating, they were finally able to purchase the property.

They returned to the Napa Valley and opened their store with old-fashioned candy, treats and amazing food. Their simple, tasty food made the Jimtown store a stopping place in the Napa Valley. And, in due course The Jimtown Store Cookbook came to be.

The chopped olive salad was added to baguette with ripe brie to make one of their best selling sandwiches, called appropriately, the Jimtown.

Chopped Olive Salad

12 ounces pimiento-stuffed green olives, halved if large
8 ounces pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup drained capers
3 tablespoons pure olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped and smashed with the blade of a knife
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. In a food processor, combine the green and black olives, capers, oil, oregano, garlic, anchovies, if you are using them, lemon juice and red pepper. Process with short pulses until the mixture is evenly chopped. Do not over process –some texture should remain. Adjust the seasoning.

2. The olive salad can be used immediately, refrigerated for 10 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Return almost to room temperature before using.

Sadly, John Werner, who was an original partner in the famous Silver Palate specialty store, died. Carrie Brown still lives behind the Jimtown Store, or so I have heard...

29 July 2009

I'm Just Here For The Food

Alton Brown is a fun guy to watch. He’s like your goofy cousin who you like to see for an afternoon, but by evening you are kinda ready to go home. He’s a little over the top for me, but until those chefs who shout obscenities and throw things, Brown is a wonderfully happy showman. He always makes you think about the mechanics of the food and you always tend to learn something, even if you just want to cook.

His book, I’m Just Here For The Food, is a great way to have Alton Brown’s information without the kinetic personality. So, I think it is the best of both worlds.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am fond of cooking a lot of things that most people leave raw. Melon is one of those things. As you might guess, I watch a lot of cooking shows and this year I have seen numerous competitions and shows where the cook plated a watermelon and feta salad of some sort. Watermelon and feta, like tomatoes and mozzarella, go wonderfully together. With all those plates of salad vying to be different, not a one of them cooked the watermelon.

I urge you to try a cooked melon. If you go into a large grocery, you will often fine those containers of chopped melon, which looks rather hacked up and unappealing. Grab a container of that mixed melon and give this a try.
Hot Melon Salad

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, sliced Lyonnaise-style*
2 cups diced assorted melon such as cantaloupe and honeydew
1 tablespoon basil, cut into a fine chiffonade
Splash red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan over high heat until just browned
Crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the sauté pan and, when hot, add the oil. Add the onion and toss for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the melon and toss until half way cooked, about 2 minutes. Add the basil, vinegar, and pepper and toss for 30 second to 1 minute more. If the melon is still too hard, cover and let it steam briefly. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately toss in the cheese. Turn out onto the serving platter and garnish with pine nuts.
Give this one a try, it's a lovely side for a barbecued chicken.

* Lyonnaise-style cut for onions means to slice them from the root-end to stem-end instead of across.

28 July 2009

The Working Girl Must Eat

Who knew the 1930’s were such a liberating era. All those modern women living in the Village, attending plays by Susan Glaspell, watching Bette Davis and Kate Hepburn on the movie screen, wearing cool hats over their bobbed hair and working 9-to-5. But after five... the working girl must eat.

Hazel Young felt the same way and provided an economical and pre-planned cookbook which she titled, matteroffactly, The Working Girl Must Eat. In her introduction, she summed it up this way.

“This business of meal-getting has always seemed like quite a chore even when women stayed at home all day and made it their major occupation. But it becomes much more of a problem with us modern girls. We are emaciated and can “live our own lives”! We are free to work all day in office, or school, or factory, and then rush home and get our own and possibly our husband’s dinner. As the Scotchman said: “It takes a good bit of doing.””

While I am all for the working girl eating, some of these menus are just a bit convoluted. Our recipe today comes from Menu 19 which suggests the following dinner:

Curry of Oysters
Boiled Rice
Buttered Asparagus
Stuffed Celery Salad
Apple Brown Betty
Apricot Rice Whip

I think that perhaps, we should not be having both the Apple Brown Betty and the Apricot Rice Whip with our curry. Clearly, Hazel Young, was so busy working that she failed to realize that Menu 19 had two desserts. Just to let you know, Apricot Whip includes strawberry jelly, canned apricots, rice and heavy cream…yum!

As for the curry, Young tells us girls out there living our own lives:
"A seasoning that is too little used by Americans is curry. We think we must have some special Indian recipe before we can venture to try it. But that isn’t true. We must be sure, of course, that we really like curry, then we can start experimenting with it. It’s surprising how it will pep up an ordinary lamb stew and it’s grand with oysters."
Curry of Oysters

1 pint of oysters
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup oyster liquor and rich milk
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Sauté oysters very gently in 2 tablespoons butter until edges begin to curl. Remove from fire. Drain, reserve liquor; add rich milk to make 1 cup. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and stir in flour and seasonings. Ass oyster liquor and milk gradually and cook over low flame until thickened, stirring constantly. Add oysters and heat thoroughly. Serve with boiled rice.

I don't know about you, but I think this afternoon I might just run out and get me a job... and a tin of curry.

27 July 2009

How Mama Could Cook

William Randolph Hearst was the master of invention. When he needed a column for women to run in his papers he simply invented a woman to write for his papers, Prudence Penny. In the late 30' and 40's Hearst's paper, the New York American, hired Dorothy Malone as their Prudence Penny. For twelve years she dispensed advice on cooking, housekeeping, entertaining and child rearing.

Dorothy Malone, was a failed ballerina. After dancing and teaching school, Malone found her true calling as a newspaper reporter. Malone attributed her knowledge of cooking to her mother. When Malone decide to publish a collection of her mother's recipes, she chose to use her name over her profitable nom de plume. The resulting book, How Mama Could Cook, blended her mother's recipes with Malone's memories of her headstrong and flamboyant mother.

Malone’s Mama was a bit of an “Auntie Mame” character. Malone explains her in a succinct list of attributes.

Mama Knew Everything
Mama Had Everything
Mama Was A Feminist To Her Soul
Mama Had Drama
Mama Could Cook
Mama’s Parties Always Ended Up In The Kitchen

Mama was not adverse to using her feminine wiles even with her support of women. Malone tells us:
“she considered femininity the strength , hope and light of the world. She believed not so much in women’s rights as in women’s privileges, and she never hesitated to spread the idea.”
As much as she believed in femininity, she also believed in pies. Mama considered pie “man’s most appealing dish.” Her show stopper was her famous Petticoat Pie.

Petticoat Pie

4 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine sugar, flour, and salt in the top of a double boiler. Add the milk and egg yolks, mixing thoroughly. Cook over boiling water for about 10 minutes, stirring all the while, until the custard thickens and is smooth. Then take from the fire, put to cool, stirring occasionally to break up any skin; when the heat is out of it, pour into a baked waiting pie shell, the rim of which is fluted like a starched petticoat.

Cherry Glaze

2 cups pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
1 1 /4 cups sherry juice
1/3 cup cornstarch

Drain the juice from the cherries, heat to the boiling point. Blend together sugar and cornstarch, add enough cold water to make a smooth paste, then pour this into the boiling cherry juice. Cook for about 3 minutes, until smooth and very thick. Cool slightly, fold in the drained cherries, and pour over the cream filling. The top the pie with swirls of sweetened whipped cream so only the pie’s stiffly fluted edges show.
So, the next time you need a tire changed, offer to bake a pie and have some man change it. Me and Mama know you can fix that tire, but we also know you can bake a pie!

The Los Angles Times recently ran an article about Hearst's "fictional" women's writers, but alas, it never mentions Dorothy Malone, or her Mama!

26 July 2009

Dinner At Miss Lady's

Luann Landon wrote a lovely book of memories from her childhood visits to her grandmother, Miss Lady. Miss Lady was a part of a dying breed of Southern matriarchs, who ruled their "big houses" with an iron hand, slipped into a lovely white glove. (In the interest of full disclosure, those "big houses" almost always had a competent and wildly creative African-American woman in the kitchen who manged to run the house and keep the white gloves laundered and pressed.) Miss Lady's household was held together by Henretta.

In Dinner at Miss Lady's: Memories and Recipes from a Southern Childhood, Landon points out the marching orders of every Victorian Southern woman,
"They expected me to have good manners, to behave well."
For the women of this era, good manners and good taste were indistinguishable. Miss Lady taught Luann a little salt will bring out the flavor in sweet dishes, young girls do not wear flowers in their hair, some colors go together and some do not, and the importance of setting the table correctly.

Here is the pound cake that often graced Miss Lady's Georgia table.

Georgia Pound Cake

1 box (1 pound) light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 sticks butter
5 large eggs
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325F.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and both sugars (you may melt the butter). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk and flour alternately, beating well. Add baking powder, vanilla, and pecans.

3. Butter two large loaf pans. Pour batter into pans and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool before unmolding.

I worry that the Miss Lady's of this world are gone. I worry that "ladies" in general and as a historical or imagined concept are gone, lost in morass of botox and reality television. In an attempt to stem such tides, I am going to break out Great-Aunt Lizzie's tiny champagne glasses, pour some bubbly and have my cake... and eat it, too. Later in the evening I'll send my self a thank-you note.

25 July 2009

Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book

C’est la sauce qui fait manger le poisson.
Old French Saying

The Pruniers were consummate restaurateurs, opening their first restaurant in 1872. Around the world, people sought out their restaurant to eat their innovative preparations of fish. Emile Prunier decided to collect the many recipes he cooked into an expansive fish cookery book. He discussed his plans with his daughter and his partner, Michel Bouzy. Shortly after preparing an outline for his book, Prunier died. Within two years, Bouzy published a book on fish cookery, essentially, Emile Prunier’s recipes.

Not to be outdone, Madame Pruiner published her own book. She credits her cookbook in part to her clients, one who repeated a common theme, “Oh, Madame Pruiner, you give us fishes which we wouldn’t dream of eating anywhere; you call them by a funny French name, and we all adore them!”

After opening a restaurant in London in 1935, London bon vivant and gourmand, Ambrose Heath, took on the job of translating the recipes and Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book became a trusted source for cooking anything that came from the water.

In keeping with the old French saying, Madame Pruiner lists approximately 80 sauces for the cooking of fish. Here are a few.

Beurre d’ail (Garlic Butter) –Blanched garlic well pounded and mixed with an equal quantity of butter. Pass through a fine sieve.

Beurre de Raifort (Horseradish Butter) –- Add a dessertspoonful of finely grated horseradish to five ounces of softened butter.

Sauce Crème (Cream Sauce) –- to a little over half a pint of Béchamel Sauce add four tablespoonfuls of double cream.

Sauce Andalouse – to just over half a pint of Mayonnaise Sauce add four tablespoonfuls of thick very red tomato purée, and two small sweet peppers cut in julienne strips.
And sole named for Pruiner…
Sole Pruiner ---

Poach the filets with white wine and mushroom cooking liquor. Dish them, and surround them with poached and bearded oysters. Place over them peeled mushrooms and slices of truffle, and cover with a White wine sauce.

In later years, Madame Prunier wrote a history of her of the family business: La Maison: The History of Prunier's.

24 July 2009

My Cookbook

Today’s Famous Foodie is the French actor, Gerard Depardieu. The boy loves to eat so he learned to cook. The role that, as they say, put him on the map was his portrayal of a doomed, hunchbacked farmer in the film, Jean de Florette. He went on to win awards for his dramatic roles and when there was a need for some old French guy he acted in a few American productions, I'm thinking of Green Card.

After becoming a famous actor… he followed the famous actor path:

1. Buying his own vineyard
2. Opening a restaurant
3. Dating and impregnating supermodels

Don’t hate him! If you had bags of money you, too, would buy and vineyard and open a restaurant. OK, you would do the supermodel thing, too.

Depardieu took it a step further, writing his own cookbook, cleverly entitled, My Cookbook. As one might guess, the food is a very rustic French. The Revolution changed the course of French cooking. The bourgeoisie, the common man, made French cooking what it is today. The aristocracy had employed chefs, who now made food for the masses. Food became inexorable with French culture. As a child, Depardieu’s father made stews for the family. A favorite was cooked when a passing hunter would give his father a rabbit. Here is a rabbit much like his father made for him.

Rabbit with Rosemary

6 shallots
4 pink garlic cloves
4 rosemary sprigs
50 g (2 oz) butter
1 good fat rabbit, cut into pieces
1 glass of dry white wine
1 glass of water
salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel the shallots and garlic, leaving them whole. Strip the leaves fro the rosemary.

Melt the butter in a large, cast-iron casserole. Add the pieces of rabbit and leave them to brown on all sides. When they are colored all over, add the white wine and water. Season with salt and pepper, add the rosemary, the shallots and garlic, then cover and coo for 1 hour, turning the pieces once or twice during cooking.

Serve the rabbit straight from the casserole.
There is nothing better than rabbit straight from the casserole! Now uncork some wine and settle in with a DVD of Green Card, or perhaps Bogus. In Last Holiday he plays a chef and you get Queen Latifah, so hush up and eat your rabbit.

P. S. Once again, we are stealing Lucindaville's Famous Food Friday. Yes, it is easier for us to simply steal the post, but we wouldn't want you to miss out on all those cool "Famous" foodie.

23 July 2009

Hometown Appetites

Hometown Appetites by Kelly Alexander Cynthia Harris is a biography/cookbook. It brings to light the life of one of the greatest food journalists America ever produced, Clementine Paddleford. If you haven’t heard of Clementine Paddleford, you are not alone. During her lifetime, however, Paddleford was named by Time Magazine as the most famous Food Editor in America. She had a daily column in the New York Herald Tribune and a longer piece in their Sunday magazine.

Her monumental work, How America Eats compiled recipes from around the country. She spent 12 years and traveled 800,000 miles compiling regional recipes that showcased the food of America.

Harris and Alexander cite several reasons for Paddleford’s work falling out of favor. First, The Tribune folded while the New York Times became the newspaper of record. Craig Claiborne was Paddleford’s main competition and he wrote for the Times. At roughly the same time How America Eats was published, The New York Times Cookbook with Claiborne’s byline came out. Both books featured home cooking from around the country, but Paddleford’s was folksier and didn’t have the imprimatur of the Times. How America Eats went out of print while Claiborne’s book remains in print to this day. Paddleford also suffered from having her publishing company change hands as Scribner’s merged with Athenaeum which became Scribner’s Book company which merged with Macmillan which was purchased by Simon and Schuster, which kept reference books under the Scribner’s name who were then sold to Thomson Gale. I think that’s right. So who knows who owned Paddleford’s copyrights or cared about keeping her in print.

Paddleford’s writing career and the heyday of her fame culminated in an era before television. Not that Paddleford was suited for television. She was no raving beauty and she developed throat cancer in at 33. Not wanting to give up her career, Paddleford underwent a rare surgery where a metal tube was inserted into her throat. She was able to speak by placing her finger over the hole in her throat, giving her a raspy and shallow voice. Paddleford disguised her problem with a choker that became part of her “look.”

Paddleford also rose to fame before the wave of individual “branding” where your name is a commodity. Paddleford had an offer to continue her byline by selling her name. As there was really no precedent for such a thing, she declined. Her contemporary, Duncan Hines, chose a different route. One wonders what might have been if Paddleford had taken the money!

From her article, “Those Refreshing Melons” is a recipe for a lemonade.

Watermelon Lemonade
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups finely chopped watermelon
1 cup lemon juice
1 quart carbonated water
Crushed ice

Dissolve sugar in the boiling water. Put watermelon pulp through a fine sieve; make sure no seeds get through. Combine strained watermelon juice with lemon juice and add to sugar syrup. Chill thoroughly. At serving time, add carbonated water and pour into tall glasses a quarter filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint.

If you care about food, Clementine Paddleford is a name you need to know. We often loose the work of women, because they write about “women’s work” and that is regularly undervalued. Paddleford was a writer, traveler, journalist, pilot, editor and pioneer in culinary history and a woman who knew how America eats.

22 July 2009

The Reluctant Cook

I must confess I don’t know any biographical information on Ethelind Fearon. I do know that I love her. I have grown to thinking of her as looking like Alex Jardine’s drawing of the women that grace her books. A kind of retro Jane Jetson in an apron and always holding a drink or a cigarette.

Her books were published in the late forties and early fifties. She wrote several, including The Reluctant Cook, for a series called The Home Entertaining Series. Entertaining is the operative word, as Ethelind Fearon is about as entertaining as they come.

She tells us:

If you are hampered at every turn by tiresome complicated recipes: instructions to use half a dozen different containers or operations when one would do, I don’t wonder that you’re reluctant.
…the awful paraphernalia of cooking has turned many a stout heart from Mrs. Beeton to a tin.

If I can show you how to cook like an angel and only have one saucepan to wash up, that would be different, wouldn’t it?

Ethelind Fearon's geography of soup:

Soup in England means either something out of a packet or that you have had a ham and don’t know what to do with the bone.

In France it is a bit of yellow gourd, some onions, a few wisps of odd things which look like weeds, and a bit of vermicelli, all bound together with hot water.

Here is a recipe for a "bold" salad from the mind of Ethelind Fearon:


Salad like soup can be anything. If you choose to serve cold rice pudding and stewed prunes, with a garnish of lettuce leaves and dressing of lemon juice and oil, as a salad, no one could contradict you. I know because I’ve done it, but you need courage, a knowledge of the inadequacies of your opponent (which is more potent armor than any courage), and a few green olives and radishes cut into the shape of fusicia stuck on top. It’s a masterpiece, and the finest known method of disposing of cold rice pudding.

It is also unorthodox and cannot be advocated as a standard practice, only as an example of how fortune favors the bold.

There is no bolder voice than Ethelind Fearon, so grab that cold rice pudding and whip up a salad. Check out her advice for the Hostess at Lucindaville’s Etiquette Wednesday.

21 July 2009

Plantation Feasts and Festivities

Plantation Feasts and Festivities was compiled in honor of the 250th anniversary of the birth of James Madison. Angela Mulloy owns one of the plantations featured in this cookbook. Willow Grove is now the Willow Grove Inn. Mulloy was always being asked about the history of the plantation and especially about the cuisine and entertaining during the heyday of the plantation. Mulloy was joined in her enthusiasm for the cuisine of Virginia by the legendary Edna Lewis. Miss Lewis had been born in Orange County, Virginia and shared a birthday with Thomas Jefferson.

Miss Lewis helped in the celebration of Jefferson's 250th anniversary. At that event she met Angel Mulloy and they began work on Plantation Feasts and Festivities, combining old recipes, new recipes and time honored Virginia tradition.

James Madison’s era cannot be fully discussed without the mention of his wife and soul mate, Dolley. Dolley Madison was the pre-eminent hostess of her day.

Dolley Madison by Gilbert Stuart

She set the tone for entertaining in Washington society. Dolley Madison showed off the elegant country cuisine of Virginia. Here is a favorite.

Herbed Sweet Potato Cakes

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium white potato
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 cup scallions
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme
Salt and pepper

Peel and grate the potatoes and finely dice the onion. Chop scallions. Combine eggs, sour cream, onion, and scallions. Mix well. Add grated potatoes to the mixture. Add salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix together. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet until just smoking. Make small cakes from the potato mixture and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain well on paper towel.

A note from Miss Lewis: Sweet potatoes should be bought in season and should never be refrigerated as they will lose their flavor.

Read Edna Lewis' Obituary.

For a full discussion of Dolley Madison's impact on America, read Catherine Allgor's A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation.

20 July 2009

Coyote Café

Mark Miller began his cooking career with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. He was one of the first chefs to notice and embrace the Mexican ingredients and cuisine around him. Miller absorbed the old traditions of the rustic, home cooks, and gave the traditional ingredients that fresh California twist. He became a forerunner in what is now generally accepted as “Southwest” cuisine.

When I lived in Washington, D. C. I spent many a fine evening (and an occasional afternoon) in Mark Miller's Red Sage. I had a memorable birthday in Santa Fe at Coyote Café . Miller is a critical thinker, often foregoing an exact recipe to assess the raw ingredients in the kitchen and to modify a dish according to the ripeness and flavor of what he is cooking.

While he may have helped to popularize southwestern cuisine, he was born in New England. Here is a recipe from his Coyote Café cookbook that is reminiscent of the old Portuguese tradition of cooking sausage with clams.
Clam Soup with Sausage

1/2 white onion
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Roma tomatoes
1 large red potato, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 pound hot Italian or Andouille sausage cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups fish stock (or clam juice)
20 small Littleneck or Manila clams, washed
1/4 bunch cilantro
4 lime wedges

Slowly sauté the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil for 15 minutes in a covered pan. Broil or sear the tomatoes over flame for 5 or 6 minutes, chop, add to pan, and continue to cook slowly for a further 20 minutes. Boil the potato in lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water and set aside. Sauté the chorizo slowly in the remaining oil for 20 minutes. Reserve the sausage and oil.

Deglaze the pan with a little fish stock, and reserve the juices. Add I cup of the stock to the onions, garlic, and tomato mixture, and then add the clams. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the chorizo, the reserved juices, and potato and continue to cook until the clams open. Add the remaining stock. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

If you are in D. C. give Red Sage a try!

19 July 2009

Delights From The Garden of Eden

Delights from the Garden of Eden is an Iraqi cookbook. There are not a lot of Iraqi cookbooks around. This cookbook is filled with history and stories that make you want to embrace this cuisine.

There is always a consideration with unfamiliar cuisines. In any cookbook, I find the best way to get started is to find a recipe that you have made before and see how the author prepares the dish. Another way to garner accessibility into a cuisine you are unfamiliar with is to find a recipe that has an ingredient you are familiar with and examine the way the author cooks that ingredient.

Being a Southerner, I have cooked thousands of pounds of black-eyed peas. There are few things more Southern than black-eyed peas but I had never thought of them as being Iraqi! Nasrallah and I have opposite parents, his mother was light on the chilies while his father was, “a devout lover of hot food.” In my family, it was my mother who loved hot food. Nasrallah said his father’s black-eyed peas were memorable and so hot that smoke came out the ears. So be forewarned.

Curried Black-eyed Peas
(Kari’l Loubya)

1/2 pound (1 1/4 cup dried black-eyed peas, washed, soaked overnight, and drained. Alternatively frozen (you’ll need one pound) or canned variety (you’ll need two 15 ounce cans, drained) can be used
5 to 6 cloves of garlic, unskinned

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 whole aniseed
2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon prepared noomi Basrah*

1. In a medium pot, cover beans and garlic with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a quick boil, then lower heat to low, and let simmer, covered, until tender to the touch, about 40 minutes. If canned variety is used skip this step.
2. While beans are simmering, heat oil in a medium skillet, and sauté onion until it is softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in turmeric, aniseeds and flour until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup hot water, and mix well, set aside.
3. When the beans are cooked (if canned beans are used add them in this step with 1 cup hot water), add onion mixture, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, bay leaf, thyme, chili, and noomi Basrah. Mix well, and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to low, and let pot simmer gently for about 15 minutes, or until sauce is nicely thickened and beans are very tender, stirring occasionally to prevent ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

* noomi Basrah is a dried lime. You can substitute a teaspoon of lime juice and some lime zest.

18 July 2009

Easy Italian

The River Café Cookbooks are among my favorites. In sharp contrast to the tangled recipes of Eric Ripert, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers prove that simple food can be wonderful, accessible and wildly complex at the same time.

Their book, Easy Italian is always coming off the shelf for general ideas and for one signature recipe that seems to come straight from the gods, the Chocolate Nemesis Cake.

This recipe is deceptively easy, four ingredients and some water. The, “easiest recipe in the world” is one of the hardest to actually get to work. I make it often and it is either, beautiful and exquisite or a total mess. I never know which it will be! Over time, however, I become quite adept at making it, so it hasn’t failed in quite some time. Frankly, even if it is not “beautiful” it is luscious.

I make it so often, it has its own baking pan and the baking pan has its own bain-marie pan!

This recipe has been dissected and re-worked and written about ad infinitum on the web.

Go ahead, give it a try!

Easy Small Nemesis

Chocolate 70% 12 oz
Unsalted butter 2 sticks
Eggs, organic 5
Superfine sugar 1 cup

Heat the oven to 300F

Using extra butter, grease a 10-inch round cake pan and line with baking parchment

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with the butter in a bowl over simmering water. Beat the eggs and 5 tbsp of the sugar in an electric mixer until the volume quadruples.

Heat the remaining sugar with 7 tbsp water until dissolved into a light syrup. Pour the hot syrup into the melted chocolate and cool slightly.

Add the chocolate to the eggs and beat slowly until the mixture is combined. Pour into the pan.

Put a folded dish towel in the bottom of the roasting pan. Put in the cake and add enough hot water to come three-quarters of the way up the side of the cake pan.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour until set. Leave the cake in the water before unmolding.

There is really nothing else quite as divine as this cake. But if you are not convinced, there are several other chocolate cakes in this cookbook. Please give one of them a try.

17 July 2009

Last Dinner on the Titanic

No disaster has so captivated the American psyche as the sinking of the Titanic. Thanks in large part to Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, we are pretty sure we know exactly what it was like to have been on the ill-fated Titanic. We do know what was on the menu on the evening of 14 April 1912, because two of the First-class menus survived the sinking. Last Dinner on the Titanic became a window into Edwardian dining.

There were eleven courses, not counting coffee and after dinner drinks.

Second-Class passengers had a mere three courses. I adore pureed vegetables of all kinds. The Titanic recipe for turnips is a joy, even if they only served it in Second-Class.
Turnip Puree
2lb turnips
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup milk, heated
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Peel turnips and cut into chunks; place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until fork-tender.

Drain well and transfer to food processor; add butter, honey, and cardamom; process until smooth. With motor running, gradually pour in heated milk, salt and pepper. Continue to process until turnips are light and creamy.

Due in part to the enormous success of the movie, the Titanic became big business. There was even a Dinner on the Titanic Party Pack, complete with place cards, menus and music. I'm not sure "celebrating" a disaster is the best idea for a dinner party! If you come remember BYOB - bring you own boat.

16 July 2009

A Return To Cooking

With his French accent and boyish good looks, Eric Ripert is a favorite on television cooking shows. His food is marvelous. In the end, however, his food is “chefy” relying on a multitude of ingredients. For the home cook, these enormously long recipes can be daunting.

A Return to Cooking is not so much a cookbook as a Broadway production of gastro porn. Ripert travels around, cooking in various “vacation” spots: Sag Harbor, Montauk, Vermont, Napa, the Caribbean. He “vacations” with his family… and a writer (Michael Ruhlman), a painter (Valentino Cortazar) and two photographer (Tammar and Shimon Rothstein) and of course, an unseen crew, not to mention as Ruhlman writes, “And, oh yes, a 125-gram tin of the world’s best caviar and two white truffles each the size of a demented egg and weighing about three ounces.” Don’t try this at home.

No doubt, I promise, the book is beautiful and, yes, you would have given anything to be a part of the crew, but at home, you really don’t want to commit to a grilled cheese with 6 ingredients.

There is one recipe in this book that I adore, and it is well worth the time. Pique (pronounced PEE - kay) is a Puerto Rican hot sauce, that adds sweet heat to many a dish. I love the heat, so add a teaspoon to some mayo, add some to tuna salad, or salad dressing or a meat marinade. Most recipes call for vinegar, so Ripert's "ferment your own in pineapple juice" gives it a unique flavor.


2 1/2 cups water
6 ounces pineapple skin (from one pineapple)
8 tiny green hot peppers, such as Thai chiles
4 tiny red chiles, such as Thai chilies
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 oregano sprig
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or as needed
Special Equipment
Heatproof narrow-necked bottle

Combine the water and pineapple skin in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and infuse for 5 minutes, then strain. Discard the pineapple skin.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge a heatproof bottle in the water to sterilize it. Remove with tongs and let dry on a rack.

Make 1/2 inch slit near the stem in each of the hot peppers. Add the peppers, garlic, oregano, peppercorns, sugar, and salt to the bottle. Cover with the pineapple-infused water. Slowly add the olive oil. The olive oil should completely cover the pique; if it does not, add more to cover.

Leave the bottle open for 1 week on your countertop, covered loosely with cheesecloth. Throughout the week, bubbles will rise to the top. After a week, the bubbles will have subsided. Seal the bottle and refrigerate. Pique should keep for up to a month.

Put up a bottle of pique and those truffles will be the farthest thing from your mind.

15 July 2009

Burning Desires

The El Paso Chile Company is aptly titled. They make chili sauces, salsa, dips, margarita mixes and hot stuff of all kinds. Burning Desires is a cookbook by company founder, W. Park Kerr, that puts all those chili concoctions together to highlight barbecue.

A lot of the recipes are for smoked meat, and if you have never smoked dinner on a barbecue before, the instructions are quite good. As might be expected, this book shines with its recipes for sauces, rubs and even drinks.

I am surprised at how much sauces and rubs cost. A friend of mine paid a premium to get a piece salmon with a special “rub.” The rub consisted of a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and some red pepper. Almost anyone would have had those two ingredients in the larder. The total cost of that rub would have been about 35 cents. The cost it added to the salmon was over $4.

Next time you pick up a jar of rub, give a quick look at the ingredients. You might just be surprised at how many of those ingredients you might have sitting on the shelf.

Kerr tells us that this sauce puts to good use for that “homemade” whiskey you might get from your moonshiner friends.

Moonshine Mop

1 cup hot, thick, smokey tomato-based commercial barbecue sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

In a storage , stir together the barbecue sauce, ketchup, bourbon, vinegar and hot pepper sauce. Cover and refrigerate, keeps indefinitely.

Alas, I have no moonshiner friends. I need to start hanging out with a better crowd.

14 July 2009

The Party Girl Cookbook

Today is Bastille Day. It would be a great time to drag out a thick, classic French cookbook of important historic note. Screw that. I pulled out The Party Girl Cookbook by Nina Lesowitz and Lara Morris Starr.

The Party Girls offer up tons of party ideas. The theme for the Bastille Day party is heady foods. Lettuce heads, artichoke heads, roasted garlic heads, and salmon with heads.

Berets are de rigueur for those who still have heads. Eiffel Towers tchotchke spread about with some Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité banners add to the motif. Throw Edith Piaf on the record player and you are good to go.

Grab a crusty baguette, slice it thin and spread with a head.

Roasted Garlic Heads

4 heads fresh garlic, loose outer skin removed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut off the stem and the top one fifth of the head of garlic. Place them on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the rosemary sprigs across the tops of the cut heads. Drizzle with olive oil. Close up the aluminum foil and seal the edges tightly. Roast for one hour or until garlic is tender. Remove the package from the oven, open carefully, let the contents cool slightly.

Dinner (NOT) at the Bastille

According to Benjamin Franklin, Marie Antoinette and her family were well fed during their incarceration at Tuileries Palace. Here is their dinner list:

3 soups
4 entrees
3 roast dishes with three pieces
4 sweet courses
a plate of fancy cakes
3 compotes
3 dishes of fruit
3 loaves of bread with butter
1 bottle of Champagne
1 small carafe of Bordeaux
1 small carafe of Malvoisie
1 small carafe of Madeira
4 cups of coffee.

It sure beats bread and water!

Give a listen to Mireille Mathieu's riveting performance of La Marseillaise.

13 July 2009

Greenwich Village Cookbook

When Vivian Kramer was a little girl living in Pennsylvania, she longed to be a “career girl” in New York City and live in Greenwich Village. She accomplished her dream, spending 15 years in the “Village” eating in many of the restaurants. She began collecting recipes from the leading restaurants and in 1969 published Greenwich Village Cookbook. Four hundred recipes from 75 restaurants

This recipe is from Jai-Alai at 82 Bank Street. It was a small Basque restaurant run by Valentin Aguirre, who was the founding father of the New York Basque Center. Aguirre would meet in the basement of a house on Water Street with several other Basque men to discuss their heritage and culture. Thirteen of the men formalized the group in 1913 with a charter drafted by Fiorello La Guardia, who later became Mayor of New York. After operating a boarding house on Cherry Street, Aguirre moved his base of operation to 82 Bank street where he opened Jai-Alai.

Sopa De Ajo con Huevos

4 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 rolls (hard or soft), cut in cubes and toasted
6 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons grated Muenster cheese
4 eggs

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic until golden brown. Add the bread cubes, chicken broth, and Muenster cheese and simmer for 10 minutes. Break the eggs into a bowl. (Do not beat.) Carefully drop the eggs into the soup. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the eggs are poached. Serve at once.
This soup was a favorite among Basque émigré and starving artist alike. Valentin Aguirre died in 1953.

12 July 2009

Alexandre Dumas’ Dictionary of Cuisine

“More exciting and thrilling than Monte Cristo or Three Musketeers, ” was the pronouncement upon reading the great novelist, Alexandre Dumas’ Dictionary of Cuisine. I concur, though I do love some lively fencing now and then.

After writing more books than Joyce Carol Oates, Alexandre Dumas set out to write an opus on the thing he loved as much as women -- food. His failing health gave him pause to rethink the enormity of his multi-volume project, settling on a single volume in the form of dictionary with recipes. Wow, a cookbook AND a dictionary, two things I dearly love.

For his "dinner" entry he wrote:

Dinner. A major daily activity, which can be accomplished in worthy fashion only by intelligent people. It is not enough to eat. To dine, there must be diversified, calm conversation. It should sparkle with rubies of the wine between courses, be deliciously suave with the sweetness of dessert, and acquire true profundity with the coffee.
I totally agree. Honey, there are people I would sleep with that I wouldn't eat with! But if they made me turnips and gizzards I might just be persuaded.

Giblets and turnips, two things I dearly love. Am I repeating myself? This is a dish I never thought of, but why not. Chewy bites of giblets cooked with caramelized turnips, thickened with a bit of potato. Sounds like a major activity to me.

Turkey Giblets with Turnips

Take the goblets of 2 turkeys and 4 ounces of bacon cut into little cubes and parboiled to eliminate the salt. Make a light roux and add the bacon pieces; brown them; add you cut up giblets and a bouquet of thyme, bay leaf, and parsley. Cook lightly. Add some water and 1/2 bottle of white wine. Let simmer.
Fry onions and white turnips in a little butter with salt and powdered sugar. When they are golden in color, put them into your ragout, add a few cooked potatoes, mix, skim off the fat well, and serve hot.

We featured another of Dumas' recipes from The Illustrated History of French Cuisine.

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!

10 July 2009

Ten Vineyard Lunch

The raison d’être of the table, after all, is to have a good time.
Richard Olney

Richard Olney was one of the best food writers in America. He was the chief consultant to the Time-Life Good Cook series, which Andrew Knowlton of shaggy hair fame said was the best 28 volume "cookbook" ever. The French Menu Cookbook is one of the classic cookbooks of all time.

Ten Vineyard Lunches is organized as menus from ten areas of France with burgeoning vineyards. Richard Olney always has great foods, but what makes this book truly special is the way he speaks about entertaining.

Here are some of Olney’s observations.

“If everyone, guest and host alike, is not relaxed and happy, the meal is a failure, no matter how perfect the food and the wine.”

“There is nothing formal about my table – unless an array of wine glasses be considered formal –and, because I am most comfortable dressed in rags, that is the way I receive.”

“I don’t much worry about timing – as long as the Champagne glasses are kept filled no one minds lingering before going to the table.”

As someone who dresses in rags and adores a good Krug, I would have to say we would have been soul mates.
This recipe is from a menu for dining in the Loire Valley and it uses my favorite -- pears.

Baked Pears

4 firm eating pears
unsalted butter
2-3 tbsp sugar, or to taste
about 1/3 cup heavy cream

halve the pears, remove the cores, peel and slice lengthwise. Preheat the oven to 400º. Butter a shallow gratin dish and spread the pear slices, over lapping fanwise, over the surface. Sprinkle with sugar, dab over cream and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cream is bubbling and the surface lightly colored.

This couldn't be simpler, yet positively elegant -- the Richard Olney way.

09 July 2009

Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking

I love this book just for the cover photo. I want all that stuff sitting on a shelf and looking exactly like that. This book is a kind of oversized companion to Great Peasant Dishes of the World. There are hundreds of recipes that are the backbone of the cuisines of countries around the world. When I came across this recipe, I immediately went out and bought some pork.

Pork Stewed in Cumin


1/2 cup white wine
juice of one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

2 pounds lean boneless pork, cubed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Lemon wedges for garnish
Olives for garnish

1. In a shallow non-metallic bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.
2. Add the pork cubes and stir to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning meat occasionally.
3. Remove marinated pork from a bowl with a slotted spoon. Pat dry. Reserve marinade.
4. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole, add the meat and sauté over moderately high heat until golden brown. Add the marinade. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes. Lower the heat, stir in the cilantro. Mix well and transfer to heated serving platter.
5. Garnish with lemon wedges and olives. Serve with fried potatoes.

08 July 2009

The Art of Cuisine

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was an artist…in the kitchen as well as in print.

Toulouse-Lautrec was a party animal who loved food, drink and fast women. The poet Paul Leclercq said of his friend:
“He was a great gourmand. He always carried a little grater and a nutmeg to flavor the glasses of port he drank. He loved to talk about cooking and knew of many rare recipes for making the most standard dishes, for in this, as in all else, Lautrec had a hatred of useless frills. And like a good Southerner, the more he valued straightforward cooking, the more he despised the doubtful and pretentious chemistry of restaurants and palace hotels.”

Who knew Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was a Southerner! Perhaps it is the "South" of France, but Southerner still. It was another friend, Maurice Joyant, who is responsible for collecting the recipes that Toulouse-Lautrec invented and gathered from friends and acquaintances. His most valuable contribution to the culinary realm may be his "invention" of the cocktail nosh, for it is Toulouse-Lautrec who is often given credit for originating the fashion of cocktail food.

I don’t know if this would be a good amuse-bouche to have with a lovely chardonnay, but give it try next September.

Stewed Marmots

Having killed some marmots sunning themselves belly up in the sun with their noses in the air one sunrise in September, skin them and carefully put aside the mass of fat which is excellent for rubbing into the bellies of pregnant women, into the knees, ankles, and painful joints of sprains, and into the leather of shoes.
Cut up the marmot and treat it like stewed hare which has a perfume that is unique and wild.

Clearly, this why we like the French. In America we might be tempted to call these little guys groundhogs. How positively unappealing! But "Marmot" it sounds so lovely, even thought the translation from the Old French probably means "mountain mouse." Still mountain mouse verses ground hog -- tough call.

Lest you be running around this sunny September sunrise without a clue -- behold the sunning marmot.

07 July 2009

The Potato Book

The Hampton Day School in Bridgehampton, New York decided to produce a book as a fund-raiser. Not a terribly unusual thing to do. Bridgehampton was once covered in potato fields, so the idea was to do a potato cookbook filled with recipes and fun potato facts and Myrna David stepped up. The Potato Book was born.

For any other community, such a fundraiser might go unnoticed, but Bridgehampton is a hotbed of writers, artists, restaurants and even Craig Claiborne. And while he didn’t have any children in the Hampton Day School, Truman Capote wrote the introduction. With all this talent, the book was snapped up by a publisher, primarily for the introduction. Capote wrote:

“I live in Sagaponack by the sea. The house, which I love, sits smack in the middle of potato fields. In Fall, when the harvesting is done and the tractors are gone from the fields, I amble out through the empty rows collecting small, sweet, leftover potatoes for my larder.

Imagine a cold October morning, I fill my basket with found potatoes in the field and race to the kitchen to create my one and only most delicious ever potato lunch. The Russian vodka—it must be 80 proof – goes into the icebox to chill. The potatoes into the oven to bake. My breathless friend arrives to share the feast. Out comes the icy vodka. Out comes a bowl of sour cream. Likewise the potatoes, piping hot.

We sit down to sip our drinks. We split open steaming potatoes and put on some sour cream. Now I whisk out the big tin of caviar, which I have forgotten to tell you is the only way I can bear to eat a potato."

Well this is hardly a rousing endorsement of the potato, but then Capote grew up in Alabama so I just love hear him (and when I read this I “hear” his unique voice) using words like “larder’ and “icebox” and I am drawn to his writing.

If you are out in the Hamptons for the summer, you may find the need to cook for a large gathering. Here’s what you need.

Quahog Chowder For 100

1 bushel chowder (Quahog) clams, opened and minced
15 pounds dressed-weight striped bass filets, chunked
1 3/4 gallons clam broth, reserved from steaming open clams (plus one quart)
18 medium-sized onions, minced fine and squeezed
2 pounds salt pork, diced
1/2 pound butter
10 pounds potatoes, pared and diced
3 quarts milk
1 cup Almaden white wine
Thyme, one bunch minced
1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Try out pork, add onions and cook until just slightly brown. Add butter if necessary. Add clam broth. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes; cook until tender. Add fish; cook until half or three-quarters done. Add clams, simmer briefly. Add thyme and parsley. Add milk and wine. Simmer all a while.

In keeping with our transcription of recipes from the book they are in, we left “Try” out the pork. I’m sure this is supposed to be “Fry”. As you can tell, this is a fund-raising cookbook, so there was no trained dietitian or even a trained cook to test the recipes. I am not sure how to tell if bass is “three-quarters done.” Nor am I sure how long, “a while” is. But you get the idea.

06 July 2009

Mrs. A. B. Marshall’s Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes

I have mentioned Mrs. A. B. Marshall several time recently, so I though I would feature her "larger" cookbook.
Her first book was on ices, a rather new phenomenon in the early 1900's. She went on to invent her own ice cream maker. She features heavily in the Queen Cookery Book on Ices.

Though not as well known as Mrs. Beeton, Agnes Marshall had a tremendous influence on the English culinary mind.

After her first large book, there was a request for more recipes and the Larger Cookbook came into being. At this point, Mrs. Marshall had begun a cooking school, training many of the cooks that filled English manor houses, including Mrs. Mander's.

Here is one of those lovely dishes one might include in their "cold service" at a large gathering. Notice the vast amounts of bombes one might require for such a dish.

Crayfish (Prawns) à la Gelée

Fill some little bombe moulds with aspic jelly; let this set, then dip the moulds into warm water, turn out and arrange some large prawns or the prepared crayfish bodies all over the bombes and serve in little square paper cases that are filled with a salad of lettuce; they can be garnished with picked chervil, parsley, or tarragon; serve for hors d’oeuvre or savoury or for any cold service.

Another of Mrs. Marshall's creations was an ice cream shaped like asparagus. To pull off such a dish one needs about 20 asparagus moulds. Today if you could possibly find those old asparagus moulds it would set you back thousands of dollars.

You will simply have to scoop that pistachio ice cream into a bowl and make do!

To see more cool kitchen gadgets check out Ivan Day's site Historic Food.

05 July 2009

Annie Bell's Vegetable Book

Annie Bell is one of my favorite cooks. She wrote Living and Eating with architect John Pawson.

Annie Bell's Vegetable Book is one of her harder books to find. It is the kind of book that makes even the most ardent carnivore (like me) want to run out and be a big old vegetarian.

Here is a recipe that Bell got from Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque. Ironically, she says this is recipe she would not have tried on her own.

Since it is summer, and I love ice cream, I thought you would enjoy this recipe. I am all for making interesting types of ice cream. While I do love chocolate and vanilla, there are just too many possibilities out there. Try our Pimm’s Cup Ice Cream on the Lucindaville Blog. And then try this. Make some Sweet Cornbread Madelines with Thyme to serve as a side.

This ice cream is not made with a custard, so remember to eat it right away – like that would be a problem.

Corn and Vanilla Ice-cream

10 oz raw corn kernels 91 1/2 –2 cobs)
8 fl oz milk
4 1/2 oz caster sugar
12 fl oz double cream
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
2 medium eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon Cointreau

The corn kernels should be freshly stripped from the cob, by holding the cob upright on the chopping board ans cutting down with a large, sharp knife. Place these in a small saucepan with the milk and sugar, bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Puree and pass through a sieve into a bowl.
Whisk the corn puree with the cream, vanilla seeds, eggs, and Cointreau and pass through a sieve. Freeze in your ice-cream maker according to the manufacture’s instructions. Remove to a bowl, cover and freeze.

Nothing says summer like ice cream and sweet corn. Mix them together and it's summer heaven.

04 July 2009

Great Peasant Dishes of the World

In the early eighties, Howard Hillman wrote the book Great Peasant Dishes of the World. While some of the dishes may have been peasant dishes at one time, many of them are found in fine dining establishments. There is pesto, choucroute garni, moules marinière, and osso buco to name a few.

When asked to define “peasant,” Hillman says:

“In the context of this book, a peasant is a small-scale farmer, rancher, herder, hunter, or fisherman. Unlike the city dweller, the peasant is close to his food source.”

Today that would define every restaurateur to open a new bistro.

You can tell how far food has come in the last 30 years when looking at a book like this. For instance, Hillman says that some of the items in this book are now becoming staples like – carrots. Of course, now days one can find carrots at the 7-11.

Many of the mail-order products suggested in the book can now be found in any supermarket. This recipe for I’a Ota gives a mail order address for coconut cream, which I can find in my tiny local market.

I’t Ota

1/2 pound tuna steak
1/2 pound tilefish or sea bass
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup diced firm tomatoes
1/4 cup coconut cream

1. skin and bone the fish and slice them into rectangular segments measuring approximately 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inches.
2. Place the fish, lime juice, scallions, and salt in a glass or other noncossosible bowl. Mix the ingredients well but gently. Cover, and refrigerate the preparation for 3 hours.
3. Drain off the excess liquid from the bowl and add the tomatoes and coconut cream. Gently but thoroughly toss the ingredients. Serve the I’a ota immediately in chilled glass or porcelain bowls.

Now get out there and hunt for those carrots.
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