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.


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


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.
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