21 December 2012

How To Take A Trick A Day With Bisquick

I love to watch the evolution of language.  I am sure that at the end of 2012, Bisquick does not want anyone "taking a trick" with them.  But tricking seemed to be just fine in 1935's How To Take A Trick A Day With Bisquick.   That was the year that Bisquick gathered a group of stars to share their Bisquick recipes. 

What hasn't changes since 1935?  The fact that these "stars" never stirred up a batch of Bisquick anything in their lives, but as we say at Christmas time, its the thought that counts.

For those of you who think a gourmet kitchen is a toilet with a microwave sitting on the back of the tank, Bisquick is a baking mix or flour that already has leavening and oil in the mix.  It is easy enough to DIY your own, but one must keep it in the refrigerator after adding the oil or butter.  Frankly, my refrigerator is jam packed and action filled, so I keep store-bought Bisquick on the shelf. 

Among the stars in this small pamphlet are Dick Powell, Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford and the incomparable Bette Davis. 

According to Bisquick, Bette loves "simple homey" things.  Tea in her dressing room for example.  Here is how Bette makes a nice afternoon tea sandwich.

Hunt Club Sandwich

Roll Bisquick dough very thin.  Dot surface with 4 tbsp. butter.  Fold so as to make three layers.  Turn half way round.  Roll out 1/2 the dough 1/8 inch thick to cover the bottom of oblong pan, about 12 by 9 inches.  Spread thickly with Chicken and Ham filling.  Cover with remaining dough rolled thin.  Cut through in desired shapes, such as squares, diamonds,etc., but leave in place.  Bake 15 minutes in  hot oven, 450.  Filling:  To 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut up and flaked, and 3/4 cup cooked ham, cut in 1/2 inch pieces, add 4 tbsp. top milk, 3 beaten egg yolks, and 2 hard cooked eggs, chopped. Season with salt and pepper.

Bisquick is so easy there are no instructions for making the dough,  however, the assembly sounds a bit complicated to me!

Next week when you are stuck in the kitchen and beyond frazzled, just ask yourself  how Bette Davis would handle it.   You will no doubt come through the ordeal calm and smoking, with the melodies of Max Steiner dancing in your head.  Because Bette would have handled it with a caterer... and to all a goodnight.

17 December 2012

Christmas Memories With Recipes

Her is an oldie but goodie in the Christmas recipe genre.   Christmas Memories with Recipes was published in 1988.  It includes most of the big name food faces of the 70' and 80's.  This is very interesting as you look at all the foodie faces of today and wonder who will we still be talking about in 2050!

This is a wonderful collection featuring a young Martha Kostyra Stewart and Jaques Pepin to the august Maida Heatter and Craig Claiborne.  The stoically British Jane Grigson to the wildly Italian Edward Giobbi with a bit of Lee Bailey's Southern charm thrown in.

Basically, each person tells stories of their favorite Christmas memories and includes in the recipes that made it great.  For Edna Lewis, Christmas began in September when she was sent out to collect nuts for fruitcake.  IT was the children's job to gather the nuts, crack them and extract the meats from the shells.  Every sunny day in September, her mother set out to make the fruitcakes.  Through October and November they were doctored with spirits until they saturated for giving.    Here is her recipe.

Edna Lewis' Fruitcake 
1 cup diced glazed candied orange peel
1 cup diced glazed candied lemon peel
2 cups diced citron
1 cup currants
2 cups seedless raisins, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup brandy
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
5 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sorghum molasses
Mix all the fruit in a large bowl and pour in the wine and brandy. Stir gently and set aside to marinate for a few hours.
Butter a 10-inch tube pan or two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans and line it (or them) with clean parchment paper. Butter the paper.
Sift the flour with the spices twice. Add the baking powder and salt and sift again.
Put the butter into a large mixing bowl and cream until satiny. Add sugar and, using an electric mixer, cream until light and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks slightly and then add them to the bowl. Mix the batter well before you start to add the flour-spice mixture. Stir the batter as you add the flour, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the flour is thoroughly incorporated, add the molasses and stir. Finally, stir in the fruit and any soaking liquid in the bowl.
Put the egg whites in a grease-free bowl and beat with a clean beater until they hold stiff peaks. Fold them into the batter thoroughly and then spoon the batter into the prepared pan ( or pans ). Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let the batter sit overnight in a cool place to mellow.
On the next day, heat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the fruitcake on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. After 1-1/2 hours, cover the pan with a piece of brown paper (do not use foil) or set the pan in a paper bag and return it to the oven.
When the cake has baked for 3-1/2 hours, remove it from the oven and listen closely for any quiet, bubbling noises. If you "hear" the cake, it needs more baking. Or test the cake with a toothpick or cake tester. If the toothpick or tester comes out of the center of the cake clean, the cake is ready to take from the oven. Put it on a wire rack to cool, still in the pan.
When the cake is completely cool, turn it out of the pan (pans), leaving the brown-paper lining on the cake. Wrap the cake with parchment, then aluminum foil, and pack the cake in a tin. Homemade fruitcakes need air, so punch a few holes in the lid of the tin or set the cover loosely on the tin.
Set the tin in a cool, undisturbed place, and every two or three weeks before Christmas, open the foil and sprinkle the cake with a liqueur glassful of brandy, wine, or whiskey. The liquor will keep the cake most and flavorful and help preserve it as well.

On Christmas morning her father would wake the children and set off Roman candles.  I am sure that today there are local ordinances that would prevent fireworks on Christmas, but fruitcake is still acceptable.

12 December 2012


Polpo was on the Lucindaville list of books to give (get) for Christmas.  We admit it, when we first saw the cover for this book we were really excited at the prospect of cookbook that dealt entirely of octopus recipes.  Alas, it was not to be.  Polpo is the name of restaurant in London, now several restaurants or more specifically bàcari.  A bàcaro is a Venetian kind of wine bar/snackified eatery.  A place where one gets a a small glass of wine, called an ombra and some cicheti or small bites.

Polpo is subtitled A Venetian cookbook (of sorts) and it was written by the rather unVenetian sounding Russell Norman.  Norman fell in love with Venice, not the tourist traps of Venice but the back streets and all the food in the bàcari.  He wanted to translate the feel and food of those small neighborhood places to London.  From all indications he succeeded with great aplomb.

The recipes are exactly the kind of food Norman wanted offer, simple, easy dishes with a handful of ingredients.  They appeal to both the palate and the eye.  And while it is not an entire book of octopus recipes there are one of two.  There are entrees and desserts but Polpo shines with its simple small plates like this one.
Goat Cheese, Roasted Grape and Walnut Bruschette

16 grapes, any seedless variety
1 small handful of fresh thyme leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
10 walnut halves
2 half-inch slices of good sourdough or soda bread, each cut in half
1 garlic clove, with one end cut off
4-ounce log of goat cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Scatter the grapes on a small baking sheet with almost all of the thyme, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake to coat. Roast in the oven until the grapes are starting to blister and color, 10-15 minutes. Coat the walnuts with a little olive oil and roast on another small baking sheet until fragrant and toasted, 5-6 minutes.

Set the oven to the broil setting and toast the slices of bread until browned and crunchy, just a couple of minutes. Flip the bread about halfway through. Take the cut side of the garlic clove and rub it over the toasted slices of bread. It'll melt into the hot bread and smell amazing. Drizzle the bread with olive oil.
Crumble the goat cheese with a fork onto the toasted bread. Top the slices of bread with the grapes and walnuts. Drizzle bruschette with honey and garnish with the rest of the thyme leaves.

Goat cheese, grapes and walnuts is a favorite pizza topping combo at Lucindaville and this is way easier than pizza dough.

The other amazing aspect of this book is the lovely binding that exposes the signatures neatly tied with green thread.  This one is definitely a keeper!

10 December 2012

A Savannah Christmas

We have been rather enamoured of picture books lately.  A Savannah Christmas by Kimberly Ergul & Holley Jaakkola is a vision of Savannah at Christmas time.  OK, we admit it not so much a cookbook as a Savannah Wonderland with a handful of recipes.  Yes, you have to wade though page after page of gorgeous homes, lovely tables settings and wonderful rooms to find the recipes, but what better way to spend Christmas.

Let's face it.  You overdo everything at Christmas.  This book has everything you need:  pickled shrimp, warm pimento cheese, a red velvet cake and a big old vat of Chatham Artillery Punch.   Really you will be the talk of Christmas.  Throw in this classic from Martha Nesbit and you are good to go.

Crab Stew

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 cup green onions roughly cut
1/2 cup celery, roughly chopped
1 (2-inch) piece of carrot
6 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
ı⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup cream
1/4 cup sherry
1 pound claw crab meat, picked through for shells

Melt the butter over low heat in a saucepan. Mince the green onions, celery, and carrot in a food processor, or by hand. Add the vegetables to the butter, over the saucepan, and sauté over low heat for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes more to remove the starchy taste. Whisk in the milk and broth. Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Add seasonings, cream, sherry, and crab and mix. If you’re not serving immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Reheat over very low heat until very hot.

It helps if you serve it on trays just like this.

07 December 2012

Edible Selby

Todd Selby is a photographer.  He loves to shot folks in their natural environment and recently he turned his camera to trendy food folk.  The result is Edible Selby, a true vision of gastroporn if ever there was one.  Cooking in one thing but letting someone roam around your kitchen, well that is revelatory. 

The text, as you can see from the table of contents, is handwritten.  The book is filled with drawings and pertinent questions to chefs and home cooks alike.

There are small workrooms...

Back alley gardens...

and a handful of handwritten recipes like The Mast Brothers explaining how to make chocolate at home.

If you love trendy food purveyors, you will love this.  More pictures than recipes, but who cares!

06 December 2012

Salt Sugar Smoke

 Sometimes there is a book out there that catches your attention from the moment you hear about its impending publication.  That was the case with Salt Sugar Smoke: How to preserve fruit, vegetables, meat and fish by Diane Henry.    I pre-ordered the book about a week before it was written!   In fact, I ordered it so long before it was published that I almost bought a second copy because I had forgotten I ordered it.

The book did not disappoint.  It was one of those books that sat on the table a while because I didn't want reading it it be over so I was sad to even start reading.   Since then, Sugar Salt Smoke has been like a favorite novel, read and re-read.

I know what you are thinking, there are tons of new preserving books out there and I don't need another one.  I beg to differ -- you need Salt Sugar Smoke, trust me on this one.

My favorite recipe is for the Beet-Cured Gravlax.  Stop buying smoked salmon and do it yourself.  The beets impart a glorious red color to the salmon without a "beety" taste.  Set out on a buffet this dish is a showstopper.

Beet-Cured Gravlax

2 3/4 pound tail piece of salmon, cut into halves, filleted, but skin left on
1/3 cup vodka
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup sea salt flakes
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
large bunch of dill, roughly chopped
5 raw beets, grated

Check the salmon for any bones your fish dealer might have missed (rubbing your hand along the flesh is the best way to find them). Remove any you find with tweezers.

Line a dish big enough to hold the salmon with a double layer of aluminum foil (I usually use a roasting pan). Put one of the pieces of salmon, skin down, on top. Rub it with half the vodka.

Mix together the sugar, salt, pepper, dill and beet and spread it over the salmon. Pour the rest of the vodka over the fish and put the other piece of salmon (skin up) on top.
Pull the foil up around the fish, then put some weights on top (such as cans, jars or a heavy cutting board).

Refrigerate and let cure for two to four days, turning every so often. Liquid will seep out of the salmon in this time; just pour it off.

Remove the foil and scrape the cure off both pieces of fish. To serve, slice as you would smoked salmon (leave the skin behind). Use as needed and keep, wrapped, in the refrigerator for a week.

At thefoodiebugle.com they published this photo of Diane Henry's window filled with preserves.  

Not to mention she has gigantic wall of cookbooks.   If you have never read Diane Henry, I can't think of a better book to start with.  Once you finish it, you will buy them all.  And why do they always choose better covers for the British editions of books??

For more about Diane Henry,  the Telegraph has a wonderful article about her life as a writer. 

03 December 2012

The Complete Southern Cookbook

Tammy Algood is not the name that comes to mind when one thinks of "complete" Southern cooking, unless you live in Nashville.  Algood is quite the star on local television and at many Tennessee wineries.  Tennessee, not just for whiskey anymore! 

The Complete Southern Cookbook features 800 recipes spanning nearly 500 pages and not a picture to be found.  A cookbook with out photos these days is a rare commodity --in fact, it is often thought of as poor "commodity."  We have often complained this year (and last) bout the dearth of  seasonal-farm-to-plate-eat-locally cookbooks with chickens and tractors adorning the cover.   So the plain cover with the single etching of a Southern vernacular home and the straight forward, recipe upon recipe actually makes Algood's book stick out in this era of overproduction.  

And, it is an abecedary!  We just  love those.  Not a winter-spring-summer-or-fall recipe in the entire book.  Cook the dish when you want to without being scolded for making Fried Green Tomatoes in the middle of December.   Got bacon?  Algood has recipes with bacon.  Cola? She has cola recipes.  Mac and Cheese?  Page after page of ooey gooeynes.

(As an aside, I must admit to going back on more than one occasion to search the book for ant type of illustrative graphic as it does seem inconceivable in this day and age that a cookbook would off the press without anything...and yet.)

Yes, this is Southern cooking from A to Z.   And speaking of "Z" here is one of Oprah's favorite things. 

 Savory Zucchini Pie

2 cups shredded zucchini
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 white onion, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose baking mix
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1/4 tsp. paprika

 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate and set aside.

 In a mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, onions, baking mix, cheese, oil, salt, pepper, sage, and paprika. Blend well. Transfer to the prepared pie plate.

 Bake 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving. 

This recipe is both retro and tasty.   In many ways, a fitting example of Tammy Algood's The Complete Southern Cookbook.  While no one is more overjoyed than I to see the plethora* of Southern cookbooks on the market filled with new and innovative ideas, it is equally as joyous to find a cookbook, devoid of any embellishment, that so beautifully captures Southern food.

* I recently read in some cooking magazine (hum...it just doesn't seem to stand out, now) that one should never use the word "plethora" in writing about food, something about trying to sound smarter than you are.  This begs the question -- What if you ARE smarter than the person telling you not use plethora? I personally love "P" words and plethora is one of my favorites -- so read this a veritable plethora of screw you.
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