Vintage Recipe: Mincemeat Pie

November 24, 2015

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Mincemeat pie seems to have fallen out of favor, but in 1978 it was still very much on people’s minds (and tables).  Here, from the December issue of Gourmet, was the editors’ suggestion for the perfect holiday pie.

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The suggested accompaniment?  Ginger ice cream.  Even though it uses preserved ginger (fresh ginger was not a supermarket staple in the seventies) it still seems rather food-forward for the time.

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And here, just because it’s almost impossible to imagine a modern epicurean magazine putting this on the newsstand, is the cover of the issue. (The image, incidentally, is from the Rottenbuch parish church in Germany.)

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The Missing Coq au Vin Rouge

November 24, 2015

For all those annoyed by the omission of this recipe from the recent post of You Asked For It recipes (around the office these were known as “Yafi’s”) from January of 1951, here it is.

What’s interesting to me is the addition of sugar; it’s an indication that “good Burgundy” was a different wine in those days.

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Vintage Limes and Green Peppercorn Fruit Cake

November 23, 2015

IMG_4407I can’t imagine hollowing out whole limes for lime sherbet. But it’s hard to deny that they’re adorable. And look at that mirrored fern vase!  Shades of Studio 54. Actually, it’s Gourmet 1974. 

The sherbet, on the other hand, might be great on the Thanksgiving table; a fine counterpoint to all those heavy pies.  And if  you don’t want to spring for sauternes, a less exalted sweet white wine should work as well.  

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Switching gears, here’s a recipe for an unusual fruitcake (green peppercorns?) from the same issue. Do the green pepper function like the black pepper in pfeffernusse? 

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You Asked For It: 1951

November 22, 2015

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It’s January 1951 at Gourmet, and the editors are celebrating the magazine’s tenth anniversary by reprinting their most frequent requests.  The article offers a few fascinating – and often surprising – insights into what America was eating in the middle of the last century.  The recipes literally span the globe. Here are a few that most intrigued me.  (Others include Shrimp Creole, Coq au Vin, Chopped Chicken Livers, Onion Soup, Salt Rising Bread and that most ubiquitous of recipes, Lindy’s Strawberry Cheesecake.)

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First Impressions: Lowlife

November 21, 2015

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I wanted the inhabitants of gut-rehabbed Georgian houses to hear the cries of murdered prostitutes when they settled in for an evening of plasma screen television. I wanted Sunday afternoon strollers to see the bones of the dead beneath their feet as they circled the blocks below Houston Street admiring the architecture.”

Luc Sante, Lowlife

Is irony intended in the name of this brand new restaurant?  Walking into the cool, modern space on the Lower East Side, with its bare wood walls and its beguiling scent of freshly hewn wood, I couldn’t help thinking about Sante, whose book is one long wail against the gentrification of New York.

Prosperity gleams at you from every corner of Lowlife, from its quirkily wonderful wine list to the fastidiously composed plates of local, seasonal ingredients. No bones here.

The restaurant, which opened this week, has an impeccable pedigree; it is the brainchild of Hugh Crickmore, who was a partner in Mas Farmhouse and Alex Leonard, formerly chef de cuisine at Blanca. There’s nothing remotely casual about the service, and the food is almost formal in its conception.

Consider, for instance, the opener above: beet puree, trout roe, local cream laid out like a small edible Rothko.  It’s an unusual composition, as bright in the mouth as it is on the plate, the salty roe rubbing up against the sweetness of the beets in the most appealing way.

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Or this: sardines and herring in a medley of herbs that does nothing to impede the sheer strength of the fish which comes powering through.

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Or this little tangle of perfectly cooked garganelli tossed in a lamb ragu and laid out so precisely you imagine a food stylist, tweezers in hand, contemplating where to place each tiny leaf.

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A pristine square of halibut, Rauschenberg now, from his white period, with a little squiggle of  mussels and sorrel on the side.

IMG_7047Chicken “yakitori” (grilled over fancy Japanese charcoal), with smoked cabbage and green onions. It comes in whole or half versions; the whole one’s $54 but it’s a lot of food. This is the one truly robust dish I tried.

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 Fat bay scallops on crunchy vegetables in a light lemongrass sauce.

IMG_7050The most impeccable little apple galette: all layers of crunch, butter, fruit and glaze – and a lovely little paean to the past.

I loved everything we ate at Lowlife – and I particularly loved the wine, an Aligote from Milkuski. (There are unusual bargains on this list.)  And yet…

Walking out the door my mind was on  Sante again, remembering this neighborhood before it was, in his words, colonized by prosperity, a time when it belonged to poets and painters squatting in old tenement buildings, dreaming art.  Of a time when this part of the city still welcomed people for whom hundred dollar dinners were not a way of life.

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