30 May 2014


Truth be told, we do love making those exquisite little cocktails with fresh this and steeped that.  A pinch of herb, a drop of bitters, a soupcon of sugar syrup, with flowers frozen in ice.
But face it, there are time when you really need a big old pitcher of drink.

That is where Punch comes in. Colleen Mullaney has put together a little book of punchy cocktails that will make your party sing.  Or, it could just make YOU sing, but try valiantly to refrain from making a "selfie" video of you singing.  Drinking punch is a no-posting zone!

Growing up in the South, I have seen some godawful concoctions dumped in a punch bowl.  They usually consisted of a ring mold of solid ice, a cheap sherbet, some ginger ale, and rum.  Scary. 

So it is nice to find a book that offers up tasty, elegant and bulk alcohol for those party situations when you don't want to spend all your time making drinks.  One can pick from fruity punches, traditional champagne punches, tea and coffee punches, and the occasional tropical delight.  You don't have to wander all the way to the 1600's to find a drink. 

 We are rather enamored of her citrus cooler.  Lite, refreshing and bursting with summer and a bit of rum.

Citrus Cooler

2 cups light rum
2 cups tangerine juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cherry juice

Lemon and lime slices for garnish

Combine the liquid ingredients in the punch bowl and mix well.  Add the ice cubes, garnish with the slices of lemon and lime, and serve immediately.

Since this is a punch book, one is often told to put everything in a punch bowl, but you can pour it all in a big pitcher which makes it much easier to carry out to the porch.  Be sure and take an extra glass because it won't be long before you have company.

28 May 2014

Hallelujah! The Welcome Table

Maya Angelou died today.  She left us with many great stories, a few life lessons, and a song or two. (Check them out at Lucindaville.)  She also shared some of her favorite recipes with us in her book, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes

For Maya Angelou, everything had a story.  Her recipes were no exception.  In an interview with NPR she said:

"Food served is always more than just food served. That is to say, it is more than just fuel for the body. Depending upon who has prepared the food and who has served it and with what spirit, it can uplift the--and around the world, in every culture, food is used to flirt, to be coy, a raise in the employment or to search for employment. It can bring warring factions together. Food can be used to apologize. So I use it with my respect for the ingredients and I love that it is--there's a science in cooking. I love knowing what heat under certain circumstances will do to certain foods. And then I love preparing it carefully and presenting it beautifully and sharing it generously with my table mates."

This recipe came from her grandmother, a pie filled with lemon and a long story.  Read her story and then, bake this pie.  Somewhere she will be smiling.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups hot water

1 1/2 cups crumbs from soft-type bread (no crusts)

4 egg yolks (reserve whites for Meringue)

1 tablespoon butter

Grated rind of 1 medium lemon

Juice of 2 medium lemons

One 9-inch pie shell, baked

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In top part of double boiler, mix well sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in hot water and combine until smooth. Add bread crumbs and cook over boiling water, stirring until smooth and thickened.

In small mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, and stir in a small amount of mixture. Then combine the two mixtures in boiler, and cook over low to medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add butter, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Cool slightly.

Pour mixture into baked shell. Pile Meringue lightly on top, covering filling completely.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.


4 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

4 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites with salt until frothy. Gradually add cream of tartar and sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry.

26 May 2014

My Paris Kitchen

A week ago I left the wilds of West Virginia to go to D.C. to have dinner with David Lebovitz.  Well it wasn’t just “me and David,” it was David and I and about 90 other people at the very French sounding Buck’s Fishing and Camping.  We all gathered to celebrate David’s new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen.

Originally, my Francophile friend, Anne, was supposed to be my companion, but Anne decided to run off to the actual France to watch something called the French Open.  It’s a tennis thing.   So I made my other friend, Ann, go with me, as she is game for most anything.  We were instructed in the e-mail to be punctual and arrive a bit before the 7 pm seating.  We did and we waited till it was actually 7 before we were let in.  This of course meant that the 7 pm dinner didn’t really get underway till 8 pm.  

I was told to go to Table 2, which was the very big table David Lebovitz was to be seated, but it seems that one of the guests decided to move place cards around.  (For the record, a very tacky and rude thing to do, you ill-mannered little weasel.)  So we ended up at a corner table.  Truth be told, we hit the jackpot for cool tables.  There was Sara, who knew the chef, Lara, who is a talented, amateur baker, Leland, who was the only “guy” at our table with the lovely Amy.  There was Carol, another Francophile among us, and of course, me and Ann.  There were several other people at our table, but given the rather noisy environment, speaking with them was a bit tough.   Needless to say, we were just the most fun table at the whole affair.

Our chef for the evening was Vickie Reh who besides being a chef is studying to be a Master Sommelier.  From what I understand of the process, it is easier to pass the Medical Board Exams than the sommelier exam.  Reh spent a great deal of time in devising the menu focusing on the wines with the help of wine importer Vintage ’59.  It was a truly wonderful meal from the Frog’s Leg Lollipops to the Golden Raspberry Clafoutis. David answered questions and made the rounds of the revelers and all was well and good.

As cookbook authors go, David Lebovitz is one of those masterful writers who make you believe he knows you and wants to tell you something important.  While thousands of people follow his blog, you will always think he is telling his story just for you.  That is a great gift.  While we have always been a big fan of Lebovitz, his specialty seems to be dessert.  He does love his desserts.  We adored his ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop, but really, given the choice for dessert, we go with cheese.  So one cannot imagine our gladness to find that he was writing an official French cookbook.  

Readers of Cookbook Of The Day know that there is not a French cookbook that we will ever turn away.   So it was quite interesting when Lebovitz told the story of receiving an e-mail from someone who said he would not buy his book because he had a tagine in it.  Lebovitz pointed out that a large metropolitan city, such as Paris, is a mecca for immigrants.  People from all over the world flock to big cities and they bring with them their culture.  It is only natural that some of their foodways become ingrained in the “local” cuisine.  It is the way food evolves. It is the way food has always evolved. In David Lebovitz’s Paris Kitchen, he cooks the food around him, and there are new and interesting foods, even in Paris. 

True to form, My Paris Kitchen is a personal and chatty book, which is engaging and fun.  Cooking recipes from it is not necessary to enjoy the book, but one really should doff an apron and give it a try.

Here is one of my favorites.  In America, when one orders a sandwich, barbecue, fried chicken, fish and chips and many other food items, they tend to come with rather small plastic shot glass of slaw.  We rather think of this heaping teaspoon as a “salad” or vegetable with our food.  In France, they are more generous with their carottes rapées.  The French love a grated carrot salad.  Lebovitz makes a point that one doesn’t often find it in cookbooks because EVERYONE can make it and everyone has a slightly different recipe. 

Grated carrot salad

2 pounds (900g) carrots
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar or honey
3 tablespoons mince fresh flat leafed parsley, chervil, or chives, plus additional chopped herbs for sprinkling on top

1. Using the large holes of a box grater or a stand mixer or food processor fitted with a shredding disk attachment, grate carrots.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, mustard, and sugar.  Toss the grated carrots in the dressing along with the chopped herbs. Serve on plates and sprinkle with additional herbs.

See, you, too can be cook like an American in Paris.  Thanks for the lovely dinner, David, and for this really excellent cookbook.

15 May 2014

The Bloomsbury Cookbook

You might think that you know EVERYTHING, yes, everything there is to know about that merry band at Bloomsbury.  You know who slept with whom, who wanted to sleep with whom, who shouldn't have slept with whom, and on and on.  You have read all the letters, diaries, and biographies.  You have visited their houses in person, online, and in books.  There is absolutely NOTHING you don't know about Bloomsbury.


There is something you don't know.  While the literary ensemble that has become its own growth industry few have taken more than a passing look at the food of Bloomsbury.  I mean, after all that sleeping around, they had to have quite an appetite. Well, actually, there has been some peeking into the culinary exploits of the literary gang.  Several years ago, we wrote about a little self-published booklet about Grace Higgens.  Grace at Charleston featured memories and recipes from the housekeeper of Vanessa Bell.

Recently, Stewart MacKay wrote a slim biography of Grace Higgens, The Angel of Charleston.  Expanding on Grace's memories, and her correspondence, MacKay looked at references to Higgens in the many memoirs and letters of others at Bloomsbury, as well as the memories of Vanessa Bell's children and grandchildren.  While Higgens and Bell had moved past the rigors of the traditional Edwardian upstairs/downstairs dichotomy, there was still a broad chasm between the life of the very privileged Bell and her housekeeper. 

In an interview with the BBC, Higgens spoke about her time with Vanessa Bell.

When we last visited the kitchens of Bloomsbury we wrote:
"Grace at Charleston, though small, is the closest thing to a Bloomsbury cookbook there is, an I find it to be a treasure." 
A treasure, yes, but now we are blessed with mother lode of treasures, The Bloomsbury Cookbook.   Jans Ondaatje Rolls has produced one of the most beautiful and literary cookbooks ever.  She has combed the archives of the Charleston Trust and many other sources to assemble a cookbook that reflects the food of Bloomsbury.

Lets face facts, there was very little cooking actually done by the Bloomsbury group as they were occupied with sleeping around, painting, writing, dancing, gardening, and other things.  But they always had dinner and they were writing about it and painting it with reckless abandon.

Ondaatje Rolls has artfully gathered together the paintings and writing that frame the food.  The recipes have been drawn from actual cooks for Bloomsbury like Grace Higgens and from hand written recipes from the collections of Angelica Garret and Helen Anrep and Lydia Lopokova. When an event is recounted with no direct recipe attribution, Rolls uses the popular cookbooks of the day to recreate the recipe or she makes her own.

 The Bloomsbury Cookbook is a truly memorable work of art.  It is filled to the brim with painting and photographs.  There are excerpts from memoirs and novels.  There are hand written recipes and memories.  And there is food.  If you are a fan of any one of these literary characters or a fan of cookbooks, this book will blow you away.  One cannot merely pick it up, flip though it and set it back down.  Every time you pick it up, your mind swims in the information.  It is all at once a book of literary criticism, an art book, a culinary history, a recipe book, and a whole lot of fun.

Mark Gertler Portrait of a Girl Wearing Blue [Dora Carrington], 1912

One of my favorite characters at Bloomsbury was Dora Carrington.  It seems that Carrington was quite the master of the kitchen.  Sadly, her collection of recipes has been lost, but the memory of them lingers.  David Garnett wrote of Carrington:
"Her cowslip wine was nectar, her sloe gin unequaled.  Then the jams, bottled fruit and vegetables, chutneys, pickles,preserves.  Her pickled pears were a revelation.  The making of these was part of Carrington's secret life."
A similar sloe gin comes from the pages of Mrs. Beeton's All About Cookery.  

Sloe Gin

Half fill clean, dry wine bottles with the fruit [sloes] previously pricked with a darning needle.  add to each, 1 oz of crushed barley-sugar, a little noyeau, or 2 or 3 drops of essence of almonds.  Fill the bottles with good unsweetened gin,cork them securely, and allow them to remain in a moderately warm place for 3 months.  At the end of this time strain the liqueur through fine muslin or filtering paper until quite clear, then bottle it, cork securely, and store away in a cool, dry place until required for use.

If you are a fan of Bloomsbury, a fan of cookbooks, a fan of art you must add this to your reading list.

14 May 2014

My Irish Table

One of the things I miss most about D.C. is Virginia.  Particularly that little corner in Alexandria on King Street where Eamonn's sits.  I love fish and chips and short of flying to Ireland, Eamonn's is the place to go.  The owner, Cathal Armstrong, is famous for his Restaurant Eve, a fine dining mecca.  How fine, you ask?  Chef Armstrong was a Best Mid-Atlantic Chef nominee by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, 2012, 2013.  He was one of Food & Wine magazine’s “10 Best New Chefs 2006” and honored in Food & Wine magazine’s “50 Hall of Fame Best New Chefs” and Best Chef Award Winner by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington D.C. 

It is often quite acceptable to joke about Irish food, but such sentiments will be a thing of the past by adding My Irish Table to you cookbook collection.  The book does offer up a selection of rather chef-y dishes from Restaurant Eve, but it is much more fun when offering up recipes for rugby matches, Irish breakfasts and vegetables from his father's garden.  Yes, he is a big time French trained-chef, but he's an Irish boy at heart. 

It is those heartfelt recipes that fill this book.  With all of Armstrong's training and history, he is most influenced by the garden his father made behind the house he grew up in.  He argues that the garden, not the kitchen, was the heart of his house.  The vegetables that came from Da's garden were the beginning of his love of food.  This is simple and straightforward dish.  The hardest part is washing the leeks.  Leeks like to hold the soil in their layers, so clean them well before proceeding.
Creamed Leeks

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and washed well (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Melt butter in a flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Stir in leeks and salt, and let the leeks sweat uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cream and nutmeg. Lower heat to medium and cook the leeks for 5 mores minutes, until sauce is thickened and leeks are completely soft but still bright. Serve immediately.

Next time you think of meat and potatoes, think meat and leeks instead. 

12 May 2014

Dining at Delmonico’s

What do Lobster a la Newburg, Eggs Benedict, Manhattan Clam Chowder, and Baked Alaska have in common?  Along with the Delmonico Steak they were created at Delmonico's restaurant.  Charles Ranhofer, who many credit as being New York’s first star chef, created many of these dishes.  They remain on the menu, and menus around the country to this very day. 

The Del Monico brothers were the American success story.  They started in the food industry by importing barrels of wine and rebottling it and selling it at a large profit.  They moved on to a bakery, then a café in 1830.  While today’s chefs are busy patting themselves on the back for buying local, sustainable food and knowing their farmers, or farming themselves, Delmonico had its own farm in the 1830’s when it bought a 220- acre farm in Williamsburg.  So not only was it farm-to-table but it was also in Brooklyn! 

After a few years, a fire devastated the financial district, but Delmonico’s café survived. The brothers decided to establish a larger restaurant to fulfill their dining ambitions. In 1837, the modern Delmonico’s restaurant opened and history followed. 

Delmonico’s was the first dining establishment in America to be called by its French name, restaurant.  It was the first restaurant:

to offer a separate wine list

to have printed menus

to have tablecloths

where guests sat at their own table

that allowed women to congregate as a group

to have a female cashier

to accommodate a ball outside a private residence

Needless to say, the tradition of exquisite food served in a luxurious setting continues to flourish today. Dining at Delmonico’s is part history, part cookbook.  Prolific food writer, Judith Choate and chef James Canora offers up many old and new recipes. The book is filled with archival information and stunning photographs of the food by photographer Steve Pool. 

Delmonico Steak

This is, to us at Delmonico’s, the one and only Delmonico Steak. We use a boneless, 20-ounce, prime rib eye steak that has been aged for at least six weeks. Extremely tender yet unbelievably flavorful, this steak is cut from the center of the rib section. To finish it, we top the sizzling steak with a bit of what we call “Meat Butter,” a herbaceous compound butter mix that is easy to make and simple to keep on hand. Because fires vary in degree of heat, it is difficult to estimate the length of time it will take a steak to cook. Since restaurant stoves are so much hotter than those in most homes, we have given instructions for grilling on a gas grill heated to medium-hot. At home you can grill a steak on the stovetop using a heavy-duty grill pan. It makes a mess of the stovetop because the grease splatters, but it cooks a pretty good steak.  An instant read thermometer is used to tell doneness.   Rare steak will have an internal temperature of 120° to 125°F (48° to 52°C); medium-rare to medium should read 130° to 150°F (54° to 65°C). This should take somewhere near 20 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the meat and the precise heat. Above 150°F (65°C), a steak is considered well-done, which is not a desirable temperature for a really good steak. A steak should sit for 5 minutes or so before cutting, so remember that the meat will continue to rise a little in temperature as it rests.
Six 20-ounce prime rib-eye steaks, at room temperature
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Meat Butter

Clean, oil, and reheat the grill.

Wipe excess moisture from the exterior of the steaks with a paper towel. Season the one side with salt and pepper.

Place the steaks on the hot grill, seasoned side down. Grill for 3 minutes. Season the top side and, using tongs, turn the steaks and grill for 3 minutes to just sear the exterior.

Remove the steaks from the grill and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each steak with olive oil.

Return the steaks to the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until the exterior is nicely charred and the interior has reached the desired degree of doneness on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the steaks from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving with a generous pat of Meat Butter.

Meat Butter

3 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Combine the bay leaves, thyme, and salt in a spice grinder and process until powdery.

Place the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered mixture and, using a hand­held electric mixer, blend well.

Scrape the butter mixture onto the center of a sheet of plastic film. Pull the film up and over the soft butter and, using your hands, form the butter into a roll about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week or wrap in freezer wrap, label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months.

When ready to serve, unwrap the flavored butter and, using a sharp knife, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, allowing one slice per steak.

Classic recipes and a slice of New York history make Dining at Delmonico’s a real joy.

07 May 2014

Ginger Pig Meat AND Farmhouse

Today is a Ginger Pig twofer. 

Once upon a time, Tim Wilson, antiques dealer and house refurbisher found a lovely little farm.  There were ducks in the pond, chickens under foot, cows in the pasture and though the farm needed much work, Tim was smitten.  Once he owned the farm he returned to find no duck, just and ugly mud hole and a hovel of a house.  In that moment, he realized that what made the farm special was the livestock living there.

He went to work on the house and added ducks and pigs and chickens.  Then more pigs and cattle and soon he was breeding animals, and soon he outgrew the little farm, so he got more land.  Instead of antiques he was now selling meat at the farmers market and before long, he had a beautiful butcher shop called the ginger pig.

Many restaurants started telling their customer that their meat was from the Ginger Pig.Often, the butcher was more famous than the chef.  Who knew better how to cook this famous meat than Tim Wilson.  His first book, Ginger Pig Meat Book, was filled with meats including pork, lamb, beef, and venison. There is poultry of all kinds from partridge to chicken to duck to guinea fowl.  There is even pie, but it's not apple.

The Ginger Pig beef bourguignon pie

For the filling:
1.3kg (3lb) chuck steak, cut into 2cm (3/4 in) dice
350g (12oz) cooked dry-cured bacon, diced
200g (7oz) button mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed then peeled
1 tbsp soy sauce, preferably Kikkoman
350ml (12fl oz) red wine
2 tbsp cornflour
leaves of 4 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

For the suet pastry:
700g (1lb 9oz) plain flour
350g (12oz) suet
½ tsp salt

For assembly:
25g (10oz) lard, melted
1 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 4. Place the beef and bacon in a roasting tin and brown in the oven for 15 minutes, then stir and cook for 15 minutes more. Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, soy sauce and wine. Cover with baking parchment, pushing it down to touch the ingredients, seal with foil, and cook for 1½ hours.

2. Drain off all the liquid into a saucepan. Blend the cornflour with a little water and mix into the cooking juices, then place on the heat and stir until boiling and thickened. Return the liquid to the meat, add the parsley, mix, and leave to cool completely.

3. Place the flour, salt and suet in a food processor and blitz. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add 300 milliliters (1/2 pint) water and mix until smooth. If making individual pies, divide the dough into eight balls, four weighing 185 (6 1/2oz) grams and four weighing 115 grams (4oz). If making one large pie, divide it into two balls, one 740 (1lb 10oz) grams and the other 460 (1lb) grams.

4.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/350F/gas mark 5. Brush the inside of the tin or tins thoroughly with lard, then dust lightly with flour. Roll out the larger pastry balls and use to line the tin or tins. Divide the filling between them. Brush the pastry edges generously with egg, roll out the smaller pastry balls and place on top, pushing the edges together. Trim off the excess with a knife and crimp around the edge. Brush with egg, and decorate with pastry trimmings, if you like. Cook for 50 minutes. Leave to cool for five minutes, then turn out of the tins and enjoy hot or cold.

For his next book, Wilson decided to broaden his horizons and published Ginger Pig Farmhouse Cook Book.   This time the pie is gooseberry.  There are jams and marmalades, some veggies and bread, but once again, Wilson sticks to what he knows -- meat.
  Pulled Spicy Pork

2kgs (4lb 8oz) boned shoulder of pork (roughly half a whole shoulder)

For the spicy rub
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp onion granules or flakes
2 tsp garlic salt
1-2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp English mustard powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp brown sugar

1. Place all the rub ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Add the pork, rub the spicy mixture all over it, then cover and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours, turning and basting occasionally.

2.  Preheat the oven to 170 C/320F /gas mark 3. Place the marinated pork in a small roasting tin, spoon over some of the marinade and cover with foil. Place in the oven for two hours. Reduce the heat to 150 C /300F/ gas mark 2, turn and baste the pork, cover with the foil again and cook for a further 2 hours.

3. Remove the foil and drain the cooking juices into a sauce pan. Increase the heat to 170 C/325F /gas mark 3, return the meet to the oven, uncovered, and brown for 20 minutes. When cooked, cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, skim off and discard the excess fat from the cooking juices, then place the pan over low heat to warm them through.

5. Once the pork is rested, peel off the skin and tear the meat into shreds using two forks. It should be so well cooked that falls apart easily. Pour the warm juices over the meet and serve and in ciabatta rolls or on top of a crunchy salad consisting of bean sprouts, iceberg lettuce, chopped carrots, cucumber and red peppers all tossed in lime juice.

We have been eating a lot of gluten lately, so we ventured out to add more protein.  Seriously you have to love a guy who cooks pulled pork for nearly 3 hours and suggests you serve it in a salad.  That is definitely our  kind of salad. We can't think of a better place to look for tempting meat-centric cooking ideas than in the duo from Ginger Pig.

05 May 2014


Michael Ruhlman can wax poetic and philosophical about most anything in the food world. So one can simply imagine our joy when we found he was working on a book about our favorite food -- the egg.  We do love our egg cookbooks and this one, appropriately titled: Egg, is no different. 

Now we know what you are going to say,  duh, everything has eggs in it so what's the big deal. True, eggs are eggs. We know that better than most, as we have an entire shelf of egg cookbooks.  Ruhlman, however, brings his excessive/compulsive geek-y-ness to the subject of eggs.  In the introduction, he describes a conversation with Alton Brown.  Brown says "...the egg is the Rosetta Stone of the kitchen."  Ruhlman is like the Food Language of Rosetta Stone software, follow along and soon, you too, will be fluent in no time.

First we get a look at all the ways one can cook the egg. Boiled, poached and fried lead us to gently fried, aggressively fried and deep fried.  Shirred and coddled make their way into the mix. Speaking of mix, we get eggs in cake mix and yolks in pasta as well as meringues and mayonnaise. There is even a drink or two, like this one.

Nineteenth-Century Ale and Rum Flip

3 ounces/85 milliliters spices Christmas or pumpkin ale
2 ounces/55 milliliters dark rum
1 egg
Pinch of ground coriander (or whole coriander seeds shaved on a Microplane) or ground ginger (optional)
Grated orange zest (original)

Combine the ale, rum, and egg in a large mug.  Whisk or blend with a hand mixer.  Or toss the drink back and forth between two large mugs, as Jerry Thomas might have done.  Heat it for 40 to 50 seconds n the microwave (or use a red hot poker). If desired, top with a pinch of coriander or ginger and some grated orange zest.

Did we mention omelets and custard? Sous vide? Pancakes or potato pancakes?  How about cookies?  We are more than happy to add Egg to our egg shelf.

Now get the kitchen and get cracking.  (Give us that one. We never used the word "eggcellent.")

03 May 2014

The Cook is in the Parlor

A nifty little number from 1947, The Cook is in the Parlor was written to make entertaining fun and allow the cook...well, allow the cook to socialize in the parlor. Even in the 1940's no one wanted to spend their time in the kitchen while the party is in the parlor.  As Marguerite Gilbert McCarthy says:

I wanted to write a cook book that will make cooking seem so easy and entertaining such fun that everyone who reads my book will want to dash to the telephone and invite all her friends in for a party.
Mrs. McCarthy wanted her book to appeal to both the bride and novice cook and the more seasoned cook.  As with a book of this age, there is not a lot of instruction for the reader.  This book also takes full advantage of the wide variety of tinned foods that were coming into vogue.  There are a lot of lovely little sandwich ideas, including 23 different forms for the versatile hamburger.  Salads lean toward canned fruit and vegetables are doused in sauce. This is one of those cookbooks that features a high kitch value on the surface, but delves into the way we once cooked and entertained.  It is definitely not the way we cook today.  It is very interesting to look at the recipes for vegetables, for example, and think how one might serve them without the sauce.

We love a cooked beet.  Check out this recipe.

Creamed Sweet and Sour Beets

Drain 1 can of tiny beets and save the juice.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add 2 tablespoons of sugar, mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour.  Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and gradually add 1/2 cup of the beet juice.  Let cook until thickened. (Prepare in the morning and reheat.)

Heat beets in double boiler and pour into a glass casserole.  Add 1 cup of hot cream  to the beet juice mixture and pour over the beets.  Cover thickly with ground nut meats.  Brown lightly under the broiler.

Creamed beets are not high on our list of yummy veggies.  Simple roasted beets are high on the list.  So if you roast the beets, add a touch of lemon juice and topped with crushed nuts, this would be a fine option.  But if you really want some creamed beets, this one's for you.

01 May 2014

The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook

Most people who live outside of Mississippi's the Water Valley first heard of Alexe Van Beuren in this New York Times article about four women who moved to a little town in Mississippi and revived downtown.  The biggest change in downtown came from Van Beuren's B.T.C. grocery.  B.T.C. comes from a Gandhi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Rumor has it the towns folks thought it stood for Beans, Tomatoes, and Corn.

Now we all know gals who fix up dusty old building and say, "Let's start a galley!" Or theater, music venue, boutique, card shop, even bookstore!  But who opens a grocery store in the middle of nowhere?  Well, Alexe Van Beuren did.  The good news is, she had actually shopped in a grocery store.  But other than shopping in one, she knew very little, if anything about running a grocery.

It became clear that what B.T.C needed was a lunch crowd. The town needed a place for soup and sandwiches.  B.T.C. went through five cooks in six months and then, Dixie Grimes walked in, literally walked in off the street one morning. Here is her job interview:

Dixie: "Heard you were looking for a cook."
Alexe: "Know how to slice?"
Dixie: "Yes, ma'am."
Alexe: "Can you start right now?"

Dixie walked to the lunch counter, and the rest, as they say, is history.  This is the kind of story one sees on the Hallmark channel.  The kind of story that makes you think it IS a story and not real life.  But there you have it.  Well, now here you have it as Alexe and Dixie wrote a cookbook.  The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook.

The book is true to its name, it is an old-fashioned grocery store cookbook.  There is pimiento cheese, tomato soup, meatloaf, catfish, fried pies, and lane cake. There are several recipes for squash casserole.  We just took the last bag of last summer's squash out of the freezer to make squash casserole. Here is B.T.C.'s recipe.

Southern Yellow Squash Casserole

2 pound(s) yellow squash, chopped
1 medium yellow onions, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
1/4 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/4 pound pepper jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 (4 ounces) jar diced pimientos, drained
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9- by 13-inch casserole dishes with non-stick cooking.

In an 8-quart stockpot set over medium heat, combine the squash, onion, and bell pepper. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook until squash is just soft, 10 minutes. Drain the mixture, discarding the liquid, and return to the pot. Add the cheeses, pimentos, eggs, mayonnaise, vermouth, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, basil, granulated onion, granulated garlic, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well, scoop into prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes.

 While you might think there are no groundbreaking recipes in this cookbook,  you will find one groundbreaking (or shall we say, universal) concept -- people want to eat good food.  Not hot dogs and chips, not nachos with liquid cheese, not ding dongs, not 7-11.  

There are millions of people, many elderly that live in food deserts.   Food deserts exist in metropolitan areas and rural areas.  A rural food desert is a county where residents must drive more than 10 miles to the nearest supermarket chain.  (For example, we drive 15 miles to the nearest small grocery and 34 miles to the nearest Kroger. We are ambulatory and have a car.)  So the next time you are looking for a small business to start, skip the gallery and go with the grocery.  Buy the The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook and you will have a fine blueprint, not to mention a fine squash casserole recipe!

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