Vintage Vegetarian for the New Year

December 31, 2015

I’ve been leafing through old Gourmet Magazines, and found myself intrigued by these vegetarian suggestions for the New Year, spanning three decades of January issues.

From 1975, Parsley Dumplings with Brown Butter and Fried Parsley

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From 1985, Parmesan Scallion Souffle

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And from 1997, Gumbo Z’herbes (you’ll note I’ve omitted the microwave roux; my feeling is that if you’re going to bother making gumbo, you should spend time on the roux).

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Bananas à la Monet

December 29, 2015

From The Luncheon, 1873Artists are often excellent cooks. It’s in their daring. We all have a friend who indiscriminately throws spices into the pot at the last minute, who mixes and matches the contents of the fridge, who takes risks we sometimes wouldn’t. When it works – which isn’t always –  it can really work. 

I’ve been flipping through Monet’s Table, a cookbook compiled from fragments of the painter’s cooking journals, and reveling in the artist’s playful quality. Though Monet ran his household very traditionally (think many housekeepers), he was after something different when he made art.  And when he cooked: along with the usual constellation of rich and laborious sauces – the classic French repertoire –  he played with peasant bread soup and roasted bananas. (Remember that in 1914, bananas were a novelty.) The whole thing’s a delight.

Without further ado, two very different Monet recipes: 

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A Pudding for the Holiday Season

December 28, 2015

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Persimmons are in season.  Briefly. I was just leafing through a 1978 issue of Gourmet, and came across an enchanting description of a wild persimmon hunt.  Do wild persimmons still exist in this country? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one at a farmers market.

According to this article Diospyros virginiana or “American persimmon” has properties similar to the hachiya persimmon; both contain tannic acids that give them a powerful astringent quality. Apparently if you want them at peak sweetness, you wait until after the first frost to harvest the fruit.  Given this year’s weather, that would be tomorrow.

American wild persimmons are smaller than the hachiyas you find in the market right now, but I’m sure any persimmon will work in this recipe. Marion Cunningham always sent me a persimmon pudding as a Christmas present, so this brought back a lot of memories. (This recipe, baked rather than steamed in a water bath, seems more like cake than pudding. Which is, in my opinion, another good reason to try it.)

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From My Kitchen Year: Pork and Tomatillo Stew

December 24, 2015

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For more info and MKY recipes, head here.

SHOPPING LIST

2 pounds pork shoulder, butt, or loin

1 pound tomatillos

1 pound Roma tomatoes (coarsely chopped)

1 bottle dark beer

6–8 juice oranges (to make 1½ cups of fresh juice)

1 bunch cilantro (chopped)

2 jalapeños (minced)

1 lime

STAPLES

salt

1 head garlic

vegetable oil

2 large onions (chopped)

pepper

1 can black beans

white rice

sour cream

Serves 6

Begin by cutting the pork shoulder, butt, or loin into 2-inch cubes. Sprinkle them with salt.

Remove the husks from the tomatillos, wash the sticky surface off, and quarter them. Put them into a pot with the tomatoes, the dark beer, and 1½ cups of fresh orange juice. Let that stew for half an hour or so, until everything has become tender.

Brown the pork in a casserole, along with 8 to 10 whole cloves of peeled garlic, in a few tablespoons of grapeseed or canola oil. You’ll probably need to do this in batches, removing the pork as it browns.

Put the onions into the now empty casserole, along with the cilantro and jalapeños. Add salt and pepper to taste, and be sure to scrape the bottom, stirring in the delicious brown bits.

When the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes), put the tomatillo mixture along with the pork and garlic back into the casserole, turn the heat to low, partially cover, and cook very slowly for about 2 hours.

Squish the garlic cloves into the stew with the back of a spoon, add a cup or so of cooked black beans (or a can of drained beans), and cook for 10 more minutes.

Serve over white rice.

Stir the juice of a lime into a cup of sour cream and serve as a garnish.

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