28 February 2012

Not A Cookbook

Someone has to guard all those cookbooks!

23 February 2012

A Treasury of White House Cooking

We just love menus and American cooking and history, so it is no wonder that we love books based on menus from the White House.

Francois Rysavy was the chef for the Eisenhower's. He was a highly trained French chef -- they were not that impressed. Rysavy was forced to curtail some of his more glamorous dishes for the mid western palate of the President. He wrote about his three years as chef to the Eisenhower's in White House Chef. In the early 1970's he took an overall look at the cooking in the White House in A Treasury of White House Cooking.

The cookbook is divided into chapters, but not exactly chronological. There is no easy way to look at recipes from Lyndon Johnson and compare them to Andrew Johnson. There is, however, a detailed index so if you do want to compare the Johnson's dining habits, you can look them up. Again, there are quite a few menus included, but are not all lumped together. Not by menus or by Presidents.

The book stats with an informal dinner the Nixon's gave for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in honor of the unveiling of the Kennedy's official portraits.

Jacqueline Kennedy by Aaron Shikler

The recipes follow the menu. Then we find a menu Kennedy served to the Truman's and one President Grant served to Rutherford Hayes but without the recipes. There are chapters with recipes on modern President like Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Eisenhower.

Don't get me wrong, I love looking at all these menus and the recipes, but the presentation is quite a bit disjointed. Still, it is great fun to look at the formal menus from President's gone by.

What did the Nixon's serve Madame Onassis?

Timbale of Seafood American
Filet of Beef Roti
Marchandde Vin
Artichokes St. Germain
Mushrooms Provencale
Heart of Palms Vinaigrette
Souffle au Grand Marnier
Sauce Sabayon

Want to give the souffle a try?

Grand Marnier Souffle

1/4 pound butter
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint milk, scalded
8 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons Grand Mariner
12 egg whites

Melt butter, add flour,and mix well. Add half of the sugar to scalded milk; then add to butter and flour. Stir vigorously with plastic spatula over moderate fire. Add the egg yolks to the mixture one at a time, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and Grand Mariner. Whip the egg whites with the rest of the sugar until stiff; then fold egg whites into the mixture.

Fill into a souffle form, which has been coated with butter and dusted with sugar. Fill form four-fifths full. cook in 375 oven for 45 minutes.

I am not sure how the then ten year-old John Kennedy, Jr. reacted to this meal, but it was said that he was very excited about visiting the White House. Anthe portraits were lovely.

20 February 2012

Harrods Cookery Book

I recently picked up a copy of Harrods Cookery Book. As one might imagine, the recipes are comprehensive and quite detailed. Surely there is nothing that one cannot find at the Harrods food court, so why should the cookbook leave any ingredient untouched. There are recipes for everything g from kidney to quail eggs to okra.

The book features a fair number of traditional English fare: Simnel cake, hot cross buns, beef and Yorkshire pudding, steak and kidney pie and treacle tarts. They are only a fraction of the recipes included. One can find chicken enchiladas, rabbit with tarragon, pork and beans, and lasagna.

The book has rather lavish if a bit dated photographs. The most stunning are actually the vintage photos of Harrods. We posted a collection of vintage Harrods photos over at Lucindaville.

The book boldly boasts that now, "American cooks will learn to make real scones."

Well let us give it a try....


2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk,plus a little extra for glazing

Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly butter a cookie sheet.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Cut int the butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs, then stir in the sugar and golden raisins. Add the egg and 4 tablespoons of the milk. Lightly mix into a soft dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3/4inch thick. Using a 2 1/2 inch plain or fluted biscuit cutter, cut out 10 circles.

Place the scones on the cookie sheet and brush the tops with milk. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden.

The Harrods Cookery Book may just be the next best thing to a trip to Harrods food court. Who are we kidding...that is such a lie, but we will not be heading across the pond anytime soon, so Harrods Scones it is.

06 February 2012

Quick Gourmet Dinners

We love Margo Rieman. We know she wrote a food column for Cosmopolitan Magazine. We feature her cookbook, Twelve Company Dinners and since then, we have received numerous e-mails asking about Margo Rieman. I do hope that one day someone, ANYONE, who knew her will drop us a line about her. She looks like she would be more fun to sit in a kitchen with and talk about food, or anything else for that matter.

Her book Quick Gourmet Dinners is a very gook book for anyone, but is especially handy for a beginner. At first glance, this might seem like a light weight vanity piece, but the recipes are solid and quite good. And above everything else, Rieman is funny and helpful.

She recounts the time a friend found no lemon juice to make a vinaigrette, so he used gin. Rieman not only perfected the recipe but offers up the suggestion to try it dry vermouth.

Gin Salad

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons gin
Dash Tabasco
1 clove garlic, mashed
Pinch dry mustard
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and let sit, stirring occasionally, until serving time. Then, pour over greens and toss.

note: a little more gin can be added, but not so much that you identify its flavor as such.

Who doesn't love a good gin salad, however Rieman and I differ. I think a "ginny" taste would be fine!

Here is what she tells us about using this book.

"...my kind of cooking does not require hours of precious time (which I seldom have), a Cordon Bleu background (which I lack), or an enormous collection of kitchen equipment... Basically, I cook with a couple of saucepans, a couple of frying pans, and a big pot..."

One really can't go wrong with any of Rieman's books. Again, if you by chance knew her...let us know.

03 February 2012

New American Table

Everyone knows Marcus Samuelsson's story by now. Born in Ethiopia, adopted and raised in Sweden, ventured to America to train, but stayed to find his fortune. With such a varied background, one can see how his take on the "American" table might be just a bit different than most.

Samuelsson is rather obsessed with the immigrant experience and that intense interest is displayed in The American Table. Samuelsson draws recipe inspiration from the vibrant ethnic cultures he sees in New York and beyond. In this book one can find green salsa, breakfast burritos, salmon flatbread, doro we't, tempura crab, soy-glazed dumplings, garlic feta dip, turkey meatloaf and the list goes on.

While it is a bold way to look at cuisine in America, it makes for a bit of a disjointed cookbook. If you are looking for international ideas, this is the place to go, even if the title is a bit misleading. If you are looking to plan an entire dinner, this might not be the best fit. From a personal standpoint, recipes with dozens of ingredients are often off-putting, and Samuelsson loves long lists of ingredients that might be easy to find in New York City, but in most places, putting together one recipe will require a bit of specialty shopping.

If you are undaunted, check out his veggie soup. I love orzo and feel it is one of those ingredients that needs to be used more.

My Veggie Soup

1/2 cup orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion chopped
1 tablespoon mild chile powder
1 3-inch piece ginger peeled and minced
2 green Anaheim chiles seeds and ribs removed, chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups baby spinach
2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
2 , white and green parts chopped scallions
1 avocado halved, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil leaves

1. Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the orzo, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Strain, and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in the same pot, over medium heat. Add the onion, chile powder, ginger, chiles, garlic, and mustard seeds, and saute until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water, season with the salt and white pepper, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the miso, mirin, and soy sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the spinach, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, basil and orzo, and simmer until heated through.

I, of course, feel a ham hock would be a great addition to the ingredients list, but that's just carnivorous old me.

01 February 2012

Not A Cookbook -- Congratulations

And the winner is...

The leading cooking competition in the world is the Bocuse d'Or. Famous up and coming chef from around the US compete to represent the USA in the competition. This years winner hails from New York? LA? Miami?

No! West Virginia. That's right --West Virginia. Granted he is the chef at the Greenbrier, but still it is wild and wonderful.

Congratulations to Chef Richard Rosendale.

His winning platter was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's house, Fallingwater.

He gave an interview to Eater about his plans for the competition.

It is quite and arduous process to get ready for this competition. One must train and keep one's day job. And it costs a mint. It's like the Olympics without live television coverage and Nike for a sponsor. So here is your chance to be a part of this culinary extravaganza. Chef Rosendale has a web site and you can make a contribution to help send him to Lyon (home of the competition). Frankly, Rosendale has been so busy winning that he hasn't even been able to update his web site. But you can still contribute here.

To find out what it is like to compete check out the Biography Channel's two-part documentary on competing in the Bocuse d'Or entitled The American Chef. I am sure they will air it again.

Again, congratulations Chef Rosendale.
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