20 September 2014

Requiescat in Pace -- Polly Bergen

A while back we featured Polly Bergen's etiquette book over at Lucindaville.  In 1977, Bon Appetit featured her chili recipe.  We believe this is it.


6 medium onions, finely chopped
6 medium green peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cooking oil
4 pound ground beef round OR chuck
4 (16-ounce) cans Italian-style tomatoes
4 to 6 (16-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
1 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chili powder OR more to taste
4 drops Tabasco sauce

In a large skillet, brown onion, peppers and garlic in oil until golden.

In a separate skillet, brown ground meat in batches. Separate meat with a fork and cook until all meat is browned. Drain off excess oil.

Place onion, green pepper, garlic and meat in a large pot. Add undrained tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato paste, water, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, cloves, bay leaves, chili powder and Tabasco sauce.

Cover and simmer over low heat 1 hour. Add sugar to taste. Simmer uncovered for another hour. Remove cloves and bay leaves before serving.

She was a classy lady.

19 September 2014

Barbeque'n With Bobby

What makes a great pit master?  Well, in Bobby Seale's case you found the Black Panther's, disrupt the 1968 Democratic Convention, go to jail, get arrested again and again and -- oh yes, make really great barbeque.

Well it may not be the most conventional resume for a cookbook author, but it may be the most interesting.What can one say?  Even revolutionaries gotta eat.  Don't for a moment think that you are going to get some ribs spread with Kraft Sauce stuck in an oven.  This is Bobby Seale. The man knows his 'que and there are no shortcuts.  His "quick" barbeque sauce has 18 ingredients! 

Pork is not the only white meat out there.  Bobby grills chicken, turkey, game hens, fish, and beef.  His marinades, rubs, and sauces are complex and involved -- he leaves no stone unturned. 

While the cookbook was published in the late 1980's, it has a very modern feel.   Much of his attention turns to sides and vegetables to accompany the barbeque, though many would make fine meals, in and of themselves.

Seal if fond of "goobers" and points out that the goober is a generic African word that refers to nuts in general, not the peanut in particular.  In this recipe the goober of choice is the black walnut.

Goober Carrot Raisin Slaw

4 medium sized carrots, washed and finely grated
1 cup cabbage (white or red), finely grated
1 1/3 cup raisins
1 cup crushed black walnuts
1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon each ground black pepper, onion parsley salt (or to taste)
Parsley for garnish

In a 3- or 4- quart bowl, combine and mix together grated carrots, cabbage, 1 cup raisins, and walnuts with mayonnaise or salad dressing.  Season to taste with black pepper and onion parsley salt. garnish with bits of fresh parsley and the remaining 1/3 cup of raisins.
 As Bobby Seale says,

"Thousands of culinary experts, particularly in the South, guard and keep their secret recipe methods.  I happen not to be one of them."

Take him up on his barbeque knowledge.

16 September 2014

Nina St. Tropez

Almost every review of Nina Parker's Nina St. Tropez says, "It's the next best thing to being there."  First, let me just clarify -- there is no "next best thing."  There is being there and NOT being there.  We are NOT there and we are not that happy about it, either.

That being said, while we are not in the South of France, that is simply no excuse not to cook like we are.  So grab a copy of this book and go native.  Now it may seem from the cover and very glam shots of the photogenic Ms. Parker, that this is a cookbook for the high end diner.  But it is actually a very comprehensive look at the food of the Mediterranean.  Food served in homes and bistros off the tourist map.  Parker writes:

"I want to show you the classic, often forgotten side of town -- far away from the mega yachts and spray of champagne....This is not the new St. Tropez, it's the real St. Tropez; much of it has remained intact since its heyday in the 1950's, holding on to that old-world charm and glamor all the while."

Don't worry, there are lovely photos of water and boats and beach and markets.  And there is food, food, food.  It is food one immediately wants to eat.  Beautiful and simple.  It is a page turner.  Rarely does one find a cookbook that has something to offer up on every page.  (Frankly, I hate bananas and even the banana split looked like I might even take a bite -- or two!)

The seafood it a stand out.  Alas, as stated before -- we are not there, so finding the gorgeous seafood can be a bit of a problem, but we often find scallops and we do love them.  Here is a great combination.

Brochettes de Saint-Jaques et Chorizo au Thym

350g fresh scallops, roe removed
100g soft cooking chorizo
bunch fresh thyme, leaves roughly chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
150g cherry tomatoes
2 lemons
20g unsalted butter
sea salt and black pepper

Carefully rinse the scallops under cold running water and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Slice the chorizo into chunks roughly the same size as the scallops. Put the scallops, chorizo and half the thyme in a bowl with some of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and gently tumble together with your hands, making sure everything is coated.

Thread the scallops, chorizo and tomatoes on to the skewers and scatter over the remaining thyme. Heat the remaining oil in two large frying pans over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the skewers and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning every so often, until all sides are browned. One minute before they’re ready, squeeze half a lemon over each. Carefully stack them on a serving dish. Reduce the heat and squeeze another half a lemon into each pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the juices on the bottom of the pans and add half the butter to each pan. Cook for a moment, stirring, before drizzling the tasty pink sauce over the skewers.

You know you want to make these this weekend. I know I do! I can assure you, it will not be the next best thing to being there, but it may just be the best thing you do this weekend.  If you can't wait, grab a bottle of wine and make them on Wednesday.  It will be the best Wednesday ever!

12 September 2014

A Good Heart and A Light Hand

This is a wonderful African American cookbook from 1968.   It was compiled as a fundraiser for the Fund for Alexandria, Virginia.  The recipes are from the Ruth Gaskins' Collection of Negro Recipes.  Like so many women, Gaskins learned to cook from the women in her family, her mother and grandmothers and the other women of the community.

Gaskins writes:

There is something special that every negro knows that I can only call "the Negro Welcome."  In Alexandria, Virginia, where I have always lived, I can go into any Negro home at any time and know that I am wanted. I don't have to phone first and I don't have to wait for a special invitation.  If I feel like seeing a friend, I'll go, and it it's meal time, I'll draw up a chair and eat. There'll be enough food, because we always cook for the friend who might drop by.

While the language might seem old, the sentiment is one we should all try to live by, the ability to welcome people into our homes and to always have food on the table.

The recipes in this book reflect many old Southern recipes, including a favorite of the Duchess of Windsor, Pork Cake. In addition to the cake, there is a nose to tail approach for the pig. There are vegetables and pickles and a potato wine.

A favorite accompaniment to pork or chicken is the sweet potato.  Baked is good, but fired is better!  According to Gaskins, these are served at special occasions.

Spiced Sweet Potato Balls
3 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon each: nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts
fat for deep frying

Scrub potatoes to remove all dirt.  boil them with the skin on until tender.  Peel and mash.  Beat in butter, salt and spices until fluffy. fold in the nuts. Shape into balls. Roll in flour. Fry in deep fat until browned.

These sweet potatoes would welcome anyone.

03 September 2014

Asian Pickles

We just love us some confiture here.  If you can can it, pickle it, ferment it and write a book about it, chances are we have it.  Here is the problem.  No matter how well it is packaged, the recipes seem to run together.  If you have seen one strawberry jam recipe, you have seen a strawberry/rhubarb, strawberry/raspberry, strawberry balsamic, refrigerator strawberry recipe.  Same with pickles: the is dill, refrigerator dill, garlic dill, dill heads, dill seeds, sweet dill and on and on.  Is there any wonder that people just love Karen Solomon's Asian Pickles.

Yes! Pickles, pickles everywhere and rarely will you utter the phrase, "oh I saw a similar recipe in _______."  (The previous statement reflects the fact that I am white and living in the mountains of West Virginia and the closest Asian ingredient we have is by La Choy, but I digress.)  Let's just say, when you have that moment when you ask yourself, "Do I really need another pickle cookbook?" we can answer a definite  -- YES!

For years my family canned pickles in big quart jars and tucked them in the larder. It was always a big process.  I didn't fully realize until much later that my family also made pickles every few days.  Little bits of veggies were always stewing in some sort of vinegar or brine and they never missed a meal.  The recipes in this book will not have you dragging out that gigantic processing pan as these pickles are brined and fermented instead of canned. The biggest problem is often the waiting period before they hit their pickle prime.  Luckily, many are ready to dig into in just a few hours. 

If there is a problem with this book, it is the fact that there are so many pickles one might want to make, that the whole idea of narrowing it down becomes daunting.  What shall I make first?????

This one caught our eye right off the bat.  Every year we grow beautiful long beans and every years someone invariably asks, "What do I do with these?"  We always gave the the "stir fry" option, but this recipe is absolutely perfect.  In fact, this will probably be the last year we share the beans now that we have this recipe.
Salt Cured Long Beans

10 ounces long beans, or 12 ounces green beans
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 (2/3-inch) piece ginger
2 small cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce

Trim the beans, discarding the ends, and chop into 4-inch lengths. If you’re using green beans instead of long beans, be sure to cut off both ends of the beans (don’t just snap the stem) to allow the flavors to penetrate.

Lay the beans in a single layer in a flat, shallow dish. Cover them with the salt and let them sit for 2 hours, rolling them occasionally. Rinse the beans, discarding any extra salt or residual liquid, and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.

Mince the ginger and finely mince the garlic (or press it in a garlic press) and combine them with the sugar and soy sauce in the bottom of a clean, shallow container with a tight-fitting lid. Add the beans and toss them well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Your beans are now ready to eat, though you should stir them before eating. Kept covered, they will keep at least 3 weeks.

Now don't delay.  Grab a copy of this perfect pickle book for yourself and remember that it will make the ideal gift for Christmas.  (Hey Labor Day is over -- time to move on...)
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