Today’s Herb: Rose Geranium

July 13, 2017

But first, a word from one of the sponsor’s of this July, 1960 Gourmet:

And here’s an ad I do know something about; in my childhood, these lobsters, delivered straight from Damariscotta, Maine, were the highlight of our summers.

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Forgotten Foods

July 12, 2017

Salad Burnet: I came upon this herb in the July 1960 issue of Gourmet, and wonder why I’ve never encountered it anywhere.  According to this article, it is pretty, easy to grow, and has a  cool cucumber-like flavor.  Here are a few suggested uses.

Although the article doesn’t suggest it, I’d throw a little burnet into this Bloody Mary mix….

And here’s another nearly forgotten cooking suggestion from the same issue:

Should you actually want to try potatoes cooked in pine resin, you’re in luck.  The Diamond Forest Products Company still sells kits.  Sounds a little like frying a whole turkey: the resin is extremely flammable, and you use a lot of it. Best done outdoors.

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Strawberry Pancakes, Anyone?

July 11, 2017

In July of 1960 Gourmet Magazine cost fifty cents – and some of the recipes were completely crazy.  One, for eggplant, has you roast baby eggplants, peel them, cut them in half, seed them, stuff them with an herbal mixture, tie the halves together, pack them in sterilized jars, cover them with oil and vinegar and leave them to marinate for two weeks.  I can’t even imagine the result.

But there are also some terrific-sounding recipes for unusual herbs like burnet – which I’ll give you tomorrow.  Today, some really good berry suggestions.

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Sour Cherry Crostata

July 8, 2017

Sour Cherry Crostata

Most sour cherry recipes are too sweet, which ruins the unique flavor of this elusive fruit.  This one, I think, is just about perfect.  Another bonus: unlike so many pastries, this one is better when it’s had a little time to itself, and it tastes better on day two (provided it actually lasts that long).

Crostata Crust

This can be a soft and difficult dough to work with in the heat of summer.  But unlike regular pie dough, it’s a cookie-like pastry that’s very forgiving, and refuses to get tough, no matter how much you handle it. When it gets too soft, simply put it back in the refrigerator for five minutes to let it cool off. It will become much more accommodating.

Mix one and a half sticks of soft butter with a third cup of sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy. 

Break an egg into a small dish; reserve a bit to wash the pastry later, and add the rest of the egg to the butter. Toss in a teaspoon of vanilla.

Grate the rind of one lemon into 2 and a quarter cups of flour. Add a pinch of salt and slowly add to the butter/egg mixture until it just comes together.  Divide into two disks, wrap in wax paper, and put in the refrigerator to chill for half an hour.

Meanwhile, make the cherry filling by removing the pits from 2 pints of fresh sour cherries; you should have 4 cups once the pits are removed. To pit the cherries, open a paper clip one fold, and use it to flip the pits out.  Works like a charm!  The pitted cherries freeze well; I try to freeze enough to last at least until Christmas.  Do not defrost before using.

Melt three tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.  Add the cherries, a half cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon and stir gently, just until the liquids come to a boil. Don’t cook them too long or the cherries will start to fall apart.

Make a slurry of 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water and stir it into the boiling cherries. Cook for about two minutes, stirring, just until the mixture becomes clear and thick.  Allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 and put a baking sheet on the middle shelf.

Remove the pastry disks from the refrigerator.  Roll out the first one, between two sheets of plastic wrap, to a round about twelve inches in diameter.  This is the tricky part: invert it into a 9 inch fluted tart pan, preferably one with high sides.  It will probably tear; don’t worry, just patch it all up and put it back into the refrigerator.

Roll out the second disk in the same manner, put it onto a baking sheet (still on the plastic wrap), remove the top sheet of plastic and cut this into 8 or 10 strips, about an inch wide.  Put the baking sheet into the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes.

Remove the tart shell and the strips from the refrigerator.  Pour the cherry filling into the tart shell. Now make a lattice of the strips on the top, criss-crossing them diagonally.  Don’t worry if they’re not perfect; no matter what you do, the tart’s going to look lovely when it emerges from the oven.  Brush the strips with the remaining beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and put into the oven on the baking sheet.  (You need the sheet to keep cherry juices from spilling onto the oven floor.)  Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden.

Cool for an hour, on a rack, before removing the side of the tart pan.

Eat gratefully, knowing that fresh sour cherries are a short-lived summer treat.

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