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!

02 October 2014

Merchant of Sonoma

As one might expect, we just love Williams-Sonoma.  So it is fitting and proper that we feature Merchant of Sonoma on Chuck Williams 99th birthday.  William Warren's Merchant of Sonoma tells the story of Chuck Williams and his now famous cookery store.

On May 1, 1953, Chuck Williams saw Paris for the first time...and as they say, the rest was history.  Williams was a fine amateur cook living in the sleepy village of Sonoma.  He was looking for a business opportunity when he ran across a  hardware store.  The building would house a couple of other small businesses and provide an income. He would keep the hardware store and add a few household items.  It would be a big move, so he left with friends for a trip to Europe.

In Paris, Williams found wonderful items to stock a kitchen.  Items that were unknown to most of America.  Williams loved the simple foods and fancy cookware and an idea was born.  Williams kept his hardware store, but gradually realized that the hardware he wanted to sell was the hardware for the kitchen.  Williams began importing items he had seen in France to Sonoma and selling them in his shop and through the mail.  

Clearly, it was an idea whose time had come.  It is still coming.  Along with hardware, Williams included a few select pantry items.  One of his first was Italian balsamic vinegar.  This simple salad was one of Williams' favorites.  He carefully explains that in Italy, the oil and vinegar are not mixed together. A salad is tossed first in the vinegar, then tossed in the oil.  They believe the oil holds in the vinegar and prevents it from dripping to the bottom of the bowl.

Blacksmith Salad

6 servings
1 large or 2 small heads butter lettuce
1 piece Parmesan cheese, 3 oz.
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Chill salad bowl but do not allow it to become too cold or the lettuce leaves will stick to it. 

Discard any tough or discolored outer lettuce leaves. Separate, rinse and thoroughly dry remaining leaves, then tear any larger leaves into pieces. Place in chilled salad bowl. Using vegetable peeler, slice Parmesan cheese into very thin chips and scatter over lettuce. Sprinkle with vinegar and salt and toss well. Drizzle oil over top and toss again. Serve on individual plates. 

With his expert eye for detail and his love of great food, Chuck Williams built an empire, an adult candyland for the home cook.  

                                                         Happy Birthday Mr. Williams.
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