From China with Love, Circa 1951

July 31, 2015

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You don't think about Americans eating – much less cooking – sophisticated Chinese fare in the fifties. So I was truly surprised to find recipes for an entire Chinese banquet in this issue – Bird's Nest Consomme, Shark's Fin, Pheasant, Bamboo Shoots, Wined Kinghwa Ham.  And yes, there were even a few recipes for tofu. And here they are…

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I made the tofu last night (reduced the oil to a single tablespoon, added more garlic, ginger and scallions) and served it over rice. It was a perfect little meal for a hot night. Fresh and simple, like eating clouds.   

But there are, in fact, many fascinating recipes in this issue – for French, Italian and even German dishes.  I'll be posting a few more in the days to come. 

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More Vintage Fritos Recipes

July 30, 2015

Last week's vintage Fritos recipes were such a hit that I went trolling through old issues of Gourmet, looking for more.  Here, from the September 1951 issue, are a couple of gems.

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Tomorrow, a few truly surprising Chinese recipes from that issue.  They're remarkable for the time – although I think I'll skip the recipes for bird's nest and shark's fin. 

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Remember Pousse Cafes?

July 28, 2015

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I certainly do. When I was a cocktail waitress, conventioneers loved to come into the lounge I worked in and order pousse cafes all around.  This was a nightmare for the bartender, who had to make the things – but more of a nightmare for the waitress, who had to carry them, very carefully, across the dining room, with a tableful of drunks hoping that you'd trip.  They tasted terrible too – sticky sweet.

But they were very pretty.  And I never knew that this particular contraption even existed:

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Vintage Dal, Lasagna and a Great Old Grill

July 27, 2015

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It's September 1960, and Gourmet has a very good piece about growing up in South America – complete with recipes for empanadas that sound very good. But that recipe also has a "Chilean paella" – pictured on the cover – which is kind of a mess of a recipe. All you need to see are those canned olive-embellished artichoke hearts to know you don't want to try this one.

But a few recipes in the issue sound great – and are rather avant garde for the time. Consider this recipe for Dal (although you might want to think twice about using chili powder, and toss in a few freshly ground Indian spices instead).

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Then there's this recipe, which stunned me.  Homemade pasta? In 1960?

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And just for fun, an ad. This cast-iron, all-purpose smoker, grill and broiler apparently had a rotisserie inside.  Looks fantastic. If this appeals to you, there's a vintage model for sale on Ebay for a mere $850.

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Very Likable Lamb

July 26, 2015

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Romney Sheep

Went into The Meat Market in Great Barrington the other day, in search of inspiration, and spied a very lean-looking leg of lamb.

"It's a Romney," said the butcher.  "We don't get them very often."

"What's different about that breed?" I wondered.

Sheep, he explained, are divided into two categories: wool sheep and meat sheep.  Romney, apparently, are the exception. They have excellent wool – and tasty meat.

Not sure about the wool part, but I can attest that this was the most delicious lamb I've ever cooked. The meat is very mild, without a hint of that gaminess so many people find objectionable.  

I love lamb. I especially love leg of lamb for dinner parties because it's the most forgiving cut of meat- delicious no matter how much (or little) you cook it.  Unlike beef, which is, in my opinion, hardly worth eating unless it's rare, lamb is delicious in every state from rare to well done.  You can put it in the oven with no worries. I always cook lamb with rosemary and garlic, so it makes the house fantastically fragrant as it cooks. 

Now that I've discovered Romney lamb, I've got a problem; when am I ever going to find more?

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