July 8, 2016
What a surprise to open this 1958 issue of Gourmet and find ads for all my parents’ favorite restaurants! My father’s office was right above The Dubonnet, and my parents ate there a few times a week. Now I see why: a 7-course dinner was $3, and given my mother’s cooking it was probably the safest, most economical option. (Besides, Mom would never have eaten seven courses, so she probably reduced her cost to about a buck.) How lucky for me: our favorite waiter, Max, used to take me into the kitchen and introduce me to exotic spices. I remember mostly French food, but now I see that it was French-Hungarian and its appeal to my German father becomes clearer.
We ate at the late, lamented Luchow’s at least once a week. My father usually had Kassler Ripchen with a side order of chanterelles. Mom always ordered the apple pancake (the size of a large pizza, it was flambeed at the table). I think I ordered something different every time I went; the menu was huge and there was so much to explore.
Charming. Old. And the place where my parents were married. (After a hitch; when the management discovered that the minister marrying them was African-American, they tried to wriggle out of the contract. My indomitable grandmother wouldn’t have it.) Sadly, after an eighty year run the restaurant closed last month.
Another Mom favorite. Also charming and old. (This too had a long run; it just closed last year.)
July 7, 2016
With high summer in the Hudson Valley comes high wedding season. Last weekend I was driving, windows down, along a back road (on my way to a smoked brisket feast), when I caught a delectable waft of suckling pig skin.
It made me think of this recipe for stuffed spit-roasted pig, straight from the annals of Colonial Virginia Cookery, Jane Carson’s finely researched historical cookbook.
This recipe is originally from Mrs. Glasse’s Cookery, one of the most popular cookery books of its day. It’s a reminder of how much recipe styles change over time; although this sounds delicious, most modern cooks would have a very difficult time following these rather vague instructions.
Looking for a recipe you can use? The truth is, nothing’s easier than roasting a suckling pig. Here’s Kenji Lopez-Alt’s encouragingly easy recipe:
July 5, 2016
Can you possibly resist a recipe called “Pantycakes”?
I’m intrigued by this recipe from the April 1951 issue of Gourmet (sorry – wrong cover, but that one’s vanished). I also like the cooking directions; this is the most accurate discussion of the importance of having the griddle at the correct temperature that I’ve seen. Really makes a difference with pancakes – and very difficult to describe.
July 3, 2016
Shopping list: purslane, tomatillos, a green chile, corn tacos, queso fresco.
Staples: onion, garlic.
Begin by making a quick green salsa. Peel the papery husk off 4 tomatillos, wash them and toss them into a blender with 1 small green chile, half a small onion and a clove of garlic. Whirl them into a thin liquid.
Take a big heap of purslane, wash it well, chop it and boil it for about 10 minutes. Drain.
Slick a skillet with oil and add the salsa. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down and add the purslane. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Diana Kennedy adds cumin as well.) Cook it down until it’s thickened.
Sprinkle some queso fresco across the top and served wrapped into warm tortillas.