17 December 2014

Bourbon & Bacon

Do you really need me to say anything?

12 December 2014

The Pastry Queen Christmas

Christmas is upon us and we have yet to feature a Christmas cookbook, so allow us to rectify that oversight.  Many years ago, we featured the Rebecca Rather's first cookbook, The Pastry Queen.  She returned in 2007 with The Pastry Queen Christmas.  

Rather owns the Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe in the land of Texas.  Like much of Texas, everything is big. Her first cookbook, features on its cover, meringue tarts with meringue that towers over the actual tart.  Because frankly, meringue should run about three or four times as high as the pie it is sitting on.

The book does try to skews toward Christmas, with recipes including peppermint, cranberries, pumpkin, spiced claret and the like, it is really a fine cold weather cookbook.  Yes, Texas stays pretty warm, but go with us on this. It also leans toward the spirit of place, featuring such Tex/Mex faves as Frito pie, quesadillas, sopaipillas, and cowboy coffee.  Combining two traditions offers up some fun ideas for holiday entertaining.

Every holiday season has its signature cake.  That cake that gets baked only once a year.  that cake that disappears in one sitting.  That cake you crave all year long.  For Rather it is a coconut cake.  It is a long and somewhat involved recipe, but one that have heads turning.  Like most of these cakes, Rather's comes from a recipe by her Great-Aunt Molly.  Various cousins have changed the recipe a bit, but this is the one Rather is sticking with.

Christmas Coconut Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (available canned in the Asian section of most grocery stores, or see Tip)
1/4 cup coconut cream (Coco Lopez)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 large egg whites at room temperature

Whipped Cream Filling

1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons coconut cream (Coco Lopez)
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut (optional, see Tip)


2 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut for decorating


Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and another in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch cake pans, then line each with a parchment paper round. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour; knock out the excess.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream until smooth. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 increments, starting and ending with the flour mixture. After each addition, mix at low speed just to combine the ingredients. Stir in the vanilla. 

Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until evenly blended. Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans.  Set two layers on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so no layer is directly under another. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean.  Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one may be done at different times.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then unmold onto wire racks to cool completely. 

To make the whipped cream filling:

Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in the coconut cream and the fresh coconut, if using. 

To make the frosting:

Whisk the egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar, and salt in a large stainless-steel bowl until thoroughly combined. Place the bowl over a saucepan filled with 2 inches of barely simmering water. Using a hand beater or handheld electric mixer, continue beating the egg white mixture for 4 minutes. Add the mini marshmallows in 2 increments while continuing to beat. Wait until the first batch of marshmallows has melted before adding the second. Continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes more, until stiff peaks form. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and continue beating until the frosting is thick enough to spread.
To assemble the cake:
Stack one cake layer on a serving plate and spread the top with half of the whipped cream filling. Repeat with a second layer. Stack the final cake layer on top of the first two and cover the cake’s top and sides with the frosting. Sprinkle the coconut on the top and sides of the cake. 

Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and store for 1 day at room temperature or up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.


It's challenging to press coconut into the sides of the cake. When pressing the coconut in, the icing invariably sticks to my fingers and mars the frosting's finish. I've discovered that throwing small handfuls of coconut toward the side of the cake makes it adhere quite well—a messy but effective technique for creating a gorgeous-looking cake.


For those who want to follow Aunt Molly's original recipe, here are her directions for extracting coconut meat and liquid from a fresh coconut: "First buy a fresh coconut. To select the best one, shake it to listen for a lot of milk inside. Prepare the coconut by first making a hole or two in one end with a hammer and ice pick. Stand the coconut up over a small bowl or glass measuring cup to catch the milk as it drains out. Next, crack the hard outer shell with a hammer, then pry off the pieces. The inner white coconut meat can then be grated [with a handheld microplane grater]. Refrigerate both the milk and grated coconut until ready to use." 

If you are looking for s showstopping Christmas recipe, this one will do it!

05 December 2014

Never In The Kitchen...

When Company Arrives

When we moved into those sexy, swinging Sixties, everyone wanted to party...and everyone wanted to be at the party.  No one wanted to man the kitchen.  With that in mind, a slew of cookbooks were published to make you a great hostess without spending time in the kitchen.  Theresa Morse's Never In The Kitchen When Company Arrives is just one of those cookbooks.

Morse pulls no punches.  This is not a cookbook that tells you to put on lipstick and order out.  She has a strict game plan that is as viable today as it was in 1964.

It stands to reason that if your kitchen is a well-planned workshop rather than a booby-trap filled with pitfalls, your lot will be an easier one.

A reliable oven...sharp knives...are as vital to a hostess-cook as an oxygen mask to a diver.

"A place for everything and everything in its place."

Open shelves, in tiers along the wall, close to the work space, are better than tranquillizers.

A recipe box is to a cook what a Stillson wrench is to a plumber.

Don't be stingy with your recipes. Give them to anyone who asks for them.

The cocktail interval before dinner not only provides immediate, warming hospitality, but it enables the hostess-cook to serve the equivalent of a first course, which otherwise would be difficult to  manage.

What to serve for that cocktail interval?  How about...

Balls Tartare

1/2 pound top round or sirloin, minced twice
1/2 pound fresh sauerkraut
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
Chopped chives or parsley

Season the meat and form into 24 flat rounds.  Drain the sauerkraut, chop very fine, and add caraway sees.  Place 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture on each meat round and fold the meat over so that it entirely encloses the sauerkraut.  Shape into small balls and roll in finely chopped chive or parsley.  Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Have a small glass filled with toothpicks on the platter.

What else is there to say?  How about, "Make mine a double!"  Happy cocktail interval.

02 December 2014


We really wanted a cookbook from Gabrielle Hamilton, so when she signed a book deal, we were ecstatic.  But then she published Blood, Bones, and Butter.  Now that was a great book, but it was a memoir -- without recipes.  So needless to say, we were bummed.  When we found out her second book would, indeed, be a cookbook, Prune,  it made our wish list, immediately.  

When it arrived, it came out of the box pristine, encased in shrink wrap.  That was a problem.  you see, we couldn't bear to open it.  It was so lovely, and new, and wrapped in shrink wrap.  So it sat on the table for weeks until we could stand it no more and tore into it.

Since pink is our signature color, we loved it right away and we do love any book with that elastic band on the side to keep it closed.  (Full disclosure, as much as we love those things, they almost always break, come loose, rip, or stretch out of shape, so really we should have kept the whole thing shrink wrapped!)

The book has all of Hamilton's "don't screw with me" style.  The book is printed to look like it has been bounced around a kitchen for years.  The pages are smudged, their are written notations, and portion conversion on what are supposed to look like torn post-its.  

The recipes are written as though you are in the Prune kitchen and she is telling you how to do the dish.  So it is chatty while being "chefy," as though you are part of "in" joke -- Prune is a restaurant book for a home cook, but we are pretending that you are one of us and here with us at Prune.  Some people might not get the joke.  But if you have read a lot of precious restaurant cookbook and thought to yourself,  "What does this mean?" you will love this book. 

The best way to illustrate this is to look at this recipe.  It has been printed several places with directions that are rather straightforward and boring.  But take a look at how Hamilton explains the dish.  

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

2 1/2 ounces pancetta, in neat  1-inch cubes
4 ounces dried spaghetti, (dried weight)
1-2 egg yolks
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 
 kosher salt

Evenly scatter cubed raw pancetta into a cold large cast-iron skillet. Set over medium-low flame and render slowly, stirring occasionally until crisp and golden brown on all sides and sitting in significant amount of its own rendered fat, and cubes reduced in size by half.
Transfer to metal 1/6 pan, including fat, and leave in warm area of your station.

Cook spaghetti in a big stockpot of boiling salted water -- stir during cooking to be sure the strands are separated.
When pasta bends without snapping but is still significantly undercooked, drain immediately in a large colander and hose down thoroughly with cold water, running your hands through each strand and making sure you have stopped the cooking process. Pasta needs to be cool to the touch throughout.  Drain very well; store in your reach-in.

For the pick up:

Drop para cooked pasta into boiling water.  Move swiftly from here to finish--pasta only needs 90 seconds--2 minutes at most-- in the reheat.

In clean stainless bowl, put 2 yolks  and a hearty spoonful of  rendered pancetta and some of its fat.      
Sprinkle black pepper over egg and fatty pancetta until  light dusting obscures the yolks.
 Pull hot pasta, drain briefly over pot, turn out onto the yolk/pancetta, letting some of the cooking water drip in, too.
Stir rapidly and vigorously to cook the yolks with the residual heat of the pasta and to coat each strand with egg and fat.
Season with salt and generous/liberal sprinkle of grated parm and continue stirring to evenly distribute cheese and salt.
Make neat spiral in center of pasta bowl as best you can when plating. Plate quickly.

Don't let this sit in the pass.

Given that this is already a bastardy version of real Spaghetti alla Carbonara, pulled together to accommodate the realities of busy brunch and the confines of a sauté station, please take care not to compromise the dish any further than we've already had to make it work in the restaurant setting.

Pay attention to the toothsome was of the pasta – don't get lost in your timing and let this just boil away in the pickup until it is flabby and bloated and disgusting.

Don't "creamy up" the yolk and parm with extra hot pasta water or extra cheese or by adding the cheese early so that it melts – sometimes I have been dismayed to see it go out looking like creamy white pasta Alfredo.

Ideally, we want the strands slick with yellow, eggy egg yolk and smoky, salty, uriney pancetta fat, with all the granules of sweet, nutty, grated parm clinging to the strands. You want to see the black pepper, taste the floralness of it, and feel the warm heat of it in the dish – but don't obliterate.
Ask yourself what other chef you know that would describe pancetta as "uriney." We do love Hamilton.

28 November 2014

The Taste of Black

What better way to celebrate that most American of inventions, Black Friday, than with a black cookbook.

Björn Lindberg had an idea to take photos of black food.  He loved color; he loved food so why not combine the two.  But he needed a partner in crime, so he explained his idea to Jonas Borssén.  Borssén began developing recipes and Lindberg photographed them.  In 1997 they published The Taste of Black.  It is the artistic of food porn.  

Now, I do love black food, but I must confess that most of "black" creations come from my love of charcoal as an ingredient.  There is no charcoal in these recipes, no dyes, no inedible combos of squid and bananas (though there are recipes for squid and also a banana chutney) so don't be tempted to dismiss this book are an aberration.  The recipes are solid and reasonably easy to add to your cooking repertoire.  Some are very familiar like this one.

Black Bean Soup

1 1/4 cup black beans, soaked overnight
1-2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3-4 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1/2 lb. spicy sausage, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons jalapeño, finely chopped 1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon oregano or savory
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Begin by lightly frying the vegetables and sausage in a large casserole with a little oil. Drain the soaked beans and add them with the stock to the pot. Bring to a boil and skim thoroughly. Add all the spices except the oregano. Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the beans are completely soft. Add the oregano, salt and black pepper to taste. Serve in deep soup plates.

Once you see Lindberg's photographs of the food, you will never look at plating the same way again.   The utilitarian black bean soup has never been more radiant.  So enjoy your black Friday.

26 November 2014

Thanksgiving Classics

Thanksgiving by Sam Sifton

Giving Thanks by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver, and The Plimoth Plantation.
A Southern Thanksgiving by Robb Forman Dew

18 November 2014


Cormac McCarthy wrote a handful of serious, literary novels that were largely unread.  Several thousand books were printed, several hundred sold, and the rest were pulped or remaindered.  Nearly 27 years after his first novel was published, he gained widespread fame with the publication of All the Pretty Horses.  After years of toiling in obscurity, McCarthy found himself reading to packed houses.  Everywhere he went, people came up to him and told him they had been reading him for years and loved his work.  He was polite but in interviews he was honest.  He would say there is no way in the world that all the people who swore they read his book for years, actually read them.  If they had, McCarthy correctly surmised, he would have sold more books.

I was a rabid fan of Sean Brock before he was mentioned in the New Yorker, before Lucky Peach was a magazine, before he went to Scandinavia, before Husk, before PBS, before James Beard Awards. Like Cormac McCarthy, I am sure many people say that to him, but it is true. 

Brock is the father, brother, son I never had.  He know not to put sugar in cornbread, he can spot a crowder pea at forty yards, and he has thick Southern dirt under his fingernails and he is proud of it.  Needless to say, I have been waiting for this book for a long time, years....
Frankly, I often wished he would keep his butt home and write the damn cookbook instead of traveling the world being the culinary star he has become.  Finally, his book was published.

In it, he pays homage to the producer who provide him with the raw materials of the kitchen.  It is beautiful, but it is a tad chefy. (I lied, it is a lot chefy.)  Still, the boy can make some cornbread.

Cracklin' Cornbread

4 ounces bacon, preferably Benton's
2 cups cornmeal, preferably Anson Mill's Antebellum Coarse Yellow Cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups whole-milk buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Put a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat for at least 10 minutes.

Run the bacon through a meat grinder or very finely mince it. Put the bacon in a skillet large enough to hold it in one layer and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t burn, until the fat is rendered and the bits of bacon are crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the bits of bacon to a paper towel to drain, reserving the fat. You need 5 tablespoons bacon fat for this recipe.

Combine the cornmeal, salt, baking soda, baking powder and bits of bacon in a medium bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and combine the remaining 4 tablespoons fat, the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just to combine; do not overmix.

Move the skillet from the oven to the stove, placing it over high heat. Add the reserved tablespoon of bacon fat and swirl to coat the skillet. Pour in the batter, distributing it evenly. It should sizzle.

Bake the cornbread for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm from the skillet.

I was overjoyed that this book was finally published.  It is his rock star chef opus. But I am glad it is out of the way.  I long for that other cookbook in Sean Brock, the one that his grandmother would pick up and move to the shelf because she had the recipes memorized.

12 November 2014

Baked Occasions

We love those "Baked" boys, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito!  We loved Baked.  We loved Baked Explorations. We loved Baked Elements, though we never wrote about it.  We were wondering why we didn't write about it, and whether we should write about it before we wrote about about Baked Occasions, but we couldn't decide and we couldn't wait, so here is Baked Occasions.

We usually don't go all in on baking books.  We don't like a lot of sweet, we don't like anything that doesn't contain chocolate, we don't like to read we need glucose, or meringue powder, or orange water, or sheet gelatin and on and on.  (We do love having to buy a speciality pan of some sort to bake in, but I digress....)

We are not going to lie to you -- these recipes are quite long and involved.  Don't panic.  As with much baking, you need several leaveners, so there is baking powder, baking soda and salt; then a mix of white and brown sugar, plus confectioner's sugar for glazes, whole eggs and an occasional extra white or yolk, and flavorings -- these things add up to long recipes, but not unmanageable.  Read the recipes -- basically, most baking boils down to dry stuff, sweet stuff, oily stuff and wet stuff.  Those four things in a myriad of combinations is baking.  

Lewis and Poliafito specialize in making desserts that harken back to childhood, retaining that wonder and elevating the baking with a modern spin on flavor.  Every cookie, cake, and tart is, indeed, an occasion. Each year the pair celebrates Dolly Parton's birthday by making this special cake. 
"It would be easy, almost lazy, to categorize our yearly birthday tribute to Dolly Parton (forever known far and wide as just “Dolly”) as mere kitsch. While we are partially attracted to Dolly’s camp factor (who isn’t?), we are equally, if not more, fascinated by her business acumen and all-around talent. She is Martha Stewart with a banjo. She is Oprah with a country heart. Her musical accolades are well known and well deserved"
They have done Dolly well.  This recipe was featured in Sweet Paul a while back.  Yes, it is long, but you can do it.  Do it for Dolly!  Just divide and conquer!  The cake has four parts.  The cake, the filling, the glaze and the sprinkles.  

Dolly's Doughnut

For the Coconut Bundt Cake:

3 cups (385 g) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces (2 sticks/225 g) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan

21/2 cups (500 g) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons coconut extract

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

11⁄3 cups (315 ml) unsweetened coconut milk

For the Dark Chocolate Coconut Filling:

5 ounces (140 g) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup (40 g) lightly packed unsweetened shredded coconut

6 ounces (170 g) dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), melted and cooled

1 large egg

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Simple Coconut Glaze:

4 to 6 tablespoons (60 to 90 ml) coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (225 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

6 ounces (170 g) good quality white chocolate, melted but still warm

Red or pink food dye or gel

For Décor:

Pink or rainbow sprinkles (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Butter the inside of a 10- or 12-cup (2.4- or 2.8-L) Bundt pan, dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour. Alternatively, spray the pan with cooking spray. Either way, make sure the pan’s nooks and crannies are all thoroughly coated.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl again, add the coconut and vanilla extracts, and beat until just incorporated.

4. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the coconut milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, mixing after each addition until just combined, about 10 seconds; do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer, transfer the batter to a large bowl, and clean and dry the mixing bowl.


1. In the now-clean bowl of the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the unsweetened coconut, melted dark chocolate, egg, and granulated sugar and beat again until completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for a few more seconds. Add 1/2 cup of the cake batter to the filling batter and fold until incorporated.


1. Spoon half of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Spoon the filling on top of the batter, keeping it in the center of the batter and away from the sides of the pan. Then pour the remaining half of the batter over the filling. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 55 minutes, until a small sharp knife or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

2. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack. Place a baking sheet (lined with parchment if you like, for easy cleanup) underneath the wire rack.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of the coconut milk, the coconut extract, and vanilla extract. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Slowly stir in the warm white chocolate. We prefer a thick yet pourable glaze; if the glaze appears too thick, thin it out with additional coconut milk, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Stir in the food dye, a few drops at a time, until the desired color is reached.

2. Pour the glaze in large, thick ribbons over the crown of the Bundt, allowing the glaze to spread and drip down the sides of the cake. Top with sprinkles, if using. Allow the glaze to set before serving, about 5 minutes.


The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

We are thoroughly enamored of the ribbon of chocolate running throughout this cake—it is a tasty and fun surprise. However, if you are not a chocolate fan (the horror!), you can turn Dolly’s Doughnut into a straight-up (and quite tasty) coconut-y Bundt. Simply omit the dark chocolate filling in its entirety, pour all of the coconut batter directly into the pan, and bake per the recipe. We leave it up to you whether you want to omit the white chocolate glaze (and whether you consider white chocolate to be chocolate, anyway).

Yes, making this cake an occasion fit for a Dolly, or anyone else you might adore!

07 November 2014

A Kitchen In France

A Kitchen in France is one of those "aspirational" cookbooks.  One aspires to be in this kitchen...actually one aspires to be author Mimi Thorisson.

Here's the deal, Mimi marries gorgeous photographer Oddur Thorisson and they settle in Paris and have lots of kids.  Then, they move to farm in Médoc where they have more kids, dogs and she cooks while he takes photos.  She starts a blog, writes a cookbook, has a baby, all looking way better than you ever will!  Lets rehash, farm in France, 5 kids, 2 step kids,  a bunch of dogs, blog, cookbook, television show, hot photographer husband...it's like the Brady Bunch with Michelin stars.

I am sure she is a wonderful women, but feel free to hate her.  I won't tell.  Aspire till the cows come home, but you will not be in that kitchen...unless she invites you to dinner.  As for her blog, Manger, I would advise anyone looking to start a blog to marry a photographer.  Think of the money you will save when you don't have take those "Photos For The Internet" courses!

So, let's aspire!  If you never cook a single recipe from this book, you will want to spend hours just thumbing through it.  Now here is the rub (if you didn't hate her before, you will now) the recipes are quite wonderful.  OK, you probably don't have foie gras, Guinea hen, nor escargots at the local 7-11, but there are dozens of great recipes in this cookbook.  Here is a lovely potato dish that you can make in your tiny kitchen.

Potatoes  à la Lyonnaise

2 pounds/900 grams new potatoes, peeled

About 11 tablespoons/150 grams unsalted butter

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 onions, thinly sliced

A bunch of fresh parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Put the potatoes in a large pot, add enough salted cold water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook until parboiled, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cool running water. Let cool for a few minutes, then slice the potatoes into 1/8- inch /3- to 4-mm-thick slices.

In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add about one-quarter of the potatoes and fry, seasoning them with salt and pepper, until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Continue frying the potatoes, adding more butter each time (you should use about 8 tablespoons/120 g in total), until all of them are cooked.

Meanwhile, in another sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons/30 g butter over medium heat. Cook the onions until golden, about 5 minutes.

Return all of the potatoes to the pan, add the onions, and mix gently. Cook for 5 more minutes for the flavors to combine.

Transfer the potatoes and onions to a large baking dish. Bake until gently sizzling, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the parsley over the potatoes and serve.
This is the stuff of Francophile's dreams.  Read it and weep.

04 November 2014

Midnight Feasts

May Southworth  wrote a series of cookbooks at the turn of the last century for a small publishing house in San Francisco called Paul Elder.  Most of the tall, thin cookbooks have titles like 101 whatever, like cake or Mexican dishes or sandwiches.  The 1914 Midnight Feasts broke that mold, featuring a collection of different types of recipes in a larger selection of 202 recipes.

In her introduction Southworth writes:
" There are few social relaxations that are pleasanter than midnight suppers, and they have always had a certain secret fascination, as of forbidden temptations."
Now days, a midnight feast might be cold pizza or peanut butter, but May Southworth had other ideas. She was looking for recipes that would be easy, mostly salads and lightly cooked fare from that miracle of culinary devices, the chafing-dish.

The recipes are rather cryptic with simple titles that bear no resemblance to the dish that they describe.  Salads are called Devonshire, Daisy, Old Virginia, Grotto, and Sing Lee. 
Just as the titles give little idea what we will be making, the directions, too, carry that vague quality of early 20th century cookbooks.  Here is one salad option:


Wash shell-mussels clean, using a brush.  Place them in a wire basket, and set in boiling water.  When the shells open, lift the basket, remove from the shells and drop them into hot melted butter, seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon-juice. Set on the ice, and when ready to serve mix with shredded lettuce and French dressing.  With it serve thin buttered sandwiches of Boston brown bread.

While these recipes don't offer a lot of direction, on can see that a salad of cold mussels and bit of bread would make a fine midnight snack.  Like many an early cookbook, these little gems are a fine place to glean ideas if not actual recipes. 

28 October 2014

Favorite Recipes of Famous Men

We are suckers for collections of recipes by "famous" folk.  So naturally, Favorite Recipes of Famous Men a 1949 cookbook collection by Roy Ald is a great one.  Let's be honest, there are very few recipes in famous collections that will have you says, "I'm going to go right out and make that dish!"  But these types of books are great fun.

First, it is always fun to see who is considered "famous" at different time.  In Favorite Recipes of Famous Men the introduction is written by Eddie Cantor. The men in this book are mostly actors with a smattering of singers.  The is Jimmie Durante, Red Skelton, Edward g. Robinson, Gene Autry, Cary Grant and more.

There are the ever appetising dishes like Meat a la Tyrone Power. Rudy Vallee's Scrambled Eggs Valle Style.  Spaghetti Fairbanks,by--you guessed it-- Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. There famous guys do love to name their dishes after them...or their mothers.

As one might imagine, there are a lot of meat and potato s, a dessert or two and some real interesting, if odd dishes.  This zippy dish from the debonair Rex Harrison is one of our favorites...

Clam Juice Stiffener

3 cups clam broth
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup catsup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons horseradish, freshly grated
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients.

Ah those pesky famous guys...

24 October 2014

The Bachelor and the Chafing Dish

Long before the microwave, the student, spinster, poet, or bachelor kept a chafing dish in their humble garret.  Yes, that chafing dish was nearly as big as your whole microwave.  Yes, it does seem a bit counterintuitive that a single person or couple would procure something as large as a chafing dish to cook for one or two people, but they did. 

Much like the microwave, the chafing dish spawned a collection of cookbooks to go along with its cult status (One even has the word "cult" in the title!).  In order to get the word out about this wonderful kitchen implement, Deshler Welch wrote The Bachelor and the Chafing Dish.   Welch waxes poetic on the dish:

"The new chafing-dish--which is a most delightful evolution--is accomplishing much more as a civilizer.  It is certainly an important factor nowadays in breaking formality and bringing people around a festive board under the happiest of circumstances. Its very general use by both men and women, its convenience for a quick supper and for a dainty luncheon, and its success as an economical provider where it is necessary--all this is putting the chafing-dish upon a queenly dais."

He then proceeds to make a midnight snack of Welsh Rabbit and calls for two pounds of cheese.  That's a lot of cheese toast for a bachelor--especially at midnight!

Welsh's book was written at the very end of the Victorian Era and just a few years before the Edwardian Era.  It was a kind of precursor to the changes that one would see at beginning of the twentieth century, even though the great manner houses were still flourishing, if only on borrowed money. 

Interspersed with rather tame recipes, the book has a bit of history, a bit of poetry, and a few line drawings to keep our bachelor amused. Frankly, even the most lame of bachelors could cook with this book in hand a fine looking chafing-dish!

Try this recipe:


Put half a walnut of butter into the chafing-dish, and , when melted, add two tablespoons of jelly--and fruit--a dash of red pepper, and half a glass of sherry.  Place sliced or cut-up ham in this and simmer for a few moments.  Dried beef may be served the same way.

Serve this up and you will be on Match.com hunting a wife in no time!

21 October 2014


We love shrubs.  During the summer, we get gigantic boxes of blueberries and look forward to a good blueberry shrub.  Over at Lucindaville, our reoccurring drink posts, Cocktails At The Burnpit, featured the Last Hurrah, our farewell to summer cocktail featuring both blueberry shrub and vodka. We always keep a bottle of Pok Pok Som Drinking Vinegar on hand. So as soon as we heard that Michael Dietsch was writing a book about shrubs, we  clicked the pre-ordered button. 

Shrubs are not terribly hard to make.  They are basically a mashed fruit or vegetable, some sugar, some vinegar, steeped and strained.  That being said, the thought of moving past blueberry or raspberry seemed a bit difficult.  Well, not if you have Shrubs.

Dietsch starts out with history of shrubs, filled with references to many cookbooks, bar guides, and botanical treatise...and we do love a good cookbook reference!  Then he moves on to shrub recipes for every occasion.  Yes, there is Benjamin Franklin's Shrub as well as Martha Washington's.  There are simple fruit shrubs and a veggie shrub here and there.  Great combinations here and there and finally a collection of cocktails featuring the delightful shrubs in the book.  Our burnpit is going to jumping!

A lot of times, we need a single stalk of celery for something.  Then, we have a big bunch of celery that just sits in the crisper getting limp.  This is the perfect antidote to that occurrence.

Celery Shrub

1 pound of celery, leaves still attached
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

1. Wash celery stalks and, if necessary, scrub with a vegetable brush to remove dirt.

2. Cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces.

3. Add the celery to blender and and cover with about 1/2 cup water.

4. Start the blender on low, and as the celery starts to get chopped up, turn the speed up to puree.  If after about 30 seconds, the mixture is still very thick and chunky, add a little more water.

5. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.  Line with a piece of cheesecloth if desired. Pour the celery mixture through the strainer. Press or squeeze the celery puree to express the juice into the bowl.

6. Pour the celery juice into a jar.  Add sugar and cider vinegar.  Cap the jar and shake to combine.

7. Refrigerate, shaking well every other day or so to dissolve the sugar.

If you have never had shrub, you are missing out!  Now you know exactly what you are missing and how to remedy that situation.  Now grab up a copy of  Michael Dietsch's Shrubs for yourself or some other cocktail maven.  They will be king of the bar...or queen of the burnpit.

15 October 2014

Fifteen New Ways for Oysters

Sarah Tyson Rorer, known in her books as Mrs. Rorer, was a prolific writer of cookery books in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  Over 50 books and countless articles bear her byline. 

Born in 1849, she spent a great deal of time with her father, Charles Tyson Heston, who was a pharmacist. In her father's laboratory she learned about chemistry and laboratory work methodology. She would use this interest in science in her writing on food. In 1871 Sarah married to William Albert Rorer and had three children, only two survived. Her curiosity never waned and in 1879 she enrolled in a cooking course at Philadelphia's New Century Club and soon she was teaching the classes.  She was so successful that she started her own cooking school in 1882.  The Philadelphia Cooking School not only offered cooking classes, it offered chemistry classes and classes on diets for both the healthy and infirmed.

Her fame spread as she began writing a column in Philadelphia's Table Talk magazine and in the national Ladies Home Journal.  He first cookbook, Mrs. Rorer's Philadelphia Cook Book was published in 1886. She was a direct and pithy writer.  She debunked popular thoughts on fish with this statement:

"Fish is not brain food, because no fishermen of my acquaintance are overly brilliant."
She advocated no activity after a large meal, no fried foods, no food in the morning, and lots of fresh air.

Along with her full length manuscripts, she published a series of small, pamphlet-like books, among them, Fifteen New Ways for Oysters, published in 1894.  It was just that -- 15 recipes for oysters.  This is one of them:

Baked Mushrooms

Peel and cut short the stems from a pound of good sized mushrooms;put them in a baking pan, gills up; put a tiny bit of butter on each; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Run them in a hot oven for fifteen minutes; then pour in the pan about a gill of cream and one gill of oyster liquor that has been boiled  and strained; bring to boiling point. Dish the mushrooms, cover them over with the oysters, add two tablespoons of sherry to sauce.  Make it very hot and pour it over.

Mrs. Rorer was quite the writer and really needs a biography!  There are a lot of Mrs. Rorer's books out there, so keep an eye out in dusty old bookstore!

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