September 4, 2016
Couldn’t resist this. It’s from the 1974 issue of Gourmet – and it’s so far from a meal that anybody I know would conceive of serving to guests tomorrow that I stared at the pictures for a while in shock. Then I thought, who knows – you may actually feel like creating a tomato aspic. Or roasting a few ducks. This squash sounds interesting, although it certainly tells a tale of a different time. And who among us doesn’t have a soft spot for peach upside down cake?
August 31, 2016
Searching through my cookbook collection the other day I came upon this book by Helen Evans Brown, who was, in her time, the authority on West Coast cooking. Long before anyone was talking about “California Cuisine” Helen Brown was writing about it. And writing well. Why has she been so neglected by history?
Helen Brown and her husband Phillip were close friends of James Beard; Beard’s letters to Helen are collected in a book called Love, Kisses and a Halo of Truffles (published in 1995.)
Was Brown forgotten because she died young, before the great cookbook revolution of the seventies? Perhaps. Or has she been been overlooked because she wrote about American recipes with a seriousness that was ahead of its time? Listen to Brown discussing what kind of recipes she’s included in her 1952 West Coast Cookbook, and why:
The first group are those of the early settlers- recipes that were brought from various other places, and which proved to be so right for the new world that we now think of them as natives. There were those brought to California by the Spaniards and the Mexicans; and they weren’t new even then – they’d been favorites in Mexico since the days of Cortez. There were the recipes of the pioneers of the Oregon Territory, which included what is now the State of Washington, recipes brought over the plains and changed to suit the supplies of the new land. Many of these have a Yankee flavor. Then there are those that show their origin to be of other lands – favorite dishes brought by the many people who came to this new country to dig gold, or build railroads, or to seek adventure or security. Of all these, I have admitted only those that have been generally adopted or adapted by us.
That “us” stopped me short. Who is this “us?” and was it really “us” who did the adapting?
Still, when it comes to food Brown is on solid ground. In the early fifties, when this book was published, I’d bet that few people in this country had ever tasted fresh coriander.
Next up? Garlic – which was still viewed with suspicion by the majority of Americans. (In the seventies, when some friends moved to South Dakota, they begged me to send them garlic; there was none, they said, in the entire state.)
Note, incidentally, Brown’s different use of “us” in this instance.
Now that we’ve overcome our fear of garlic, we can make these fine-looking popovers Portland:
August 30, 2016
I was so taken with my meal at Pao Walla a couple of weeks ago, and I kept thinking about the fact that the chef, Floyd Cardoz, is from Goa. I wanted to know more about the cuisine. Then I I found this Madhur Jaffrey article on Goan food in the October 1976 issue of Gourmet magazine.
The recipes look great. I want to try them all, but here are a couple that particularly appeal to me.
August 26, 2016
I couldn’t resist: from the August 1951 issue of Gourmet Magazine, a true American original. Straight from Frances Parkinson Keyes (a prolific author whose most famous book was a mystery called “Dinner at Antoine’s.)
August 23, 2016
This is among the stranger tomes in my collection, but given the current political climate, it just caught my eye.
It was published in 1968, and the author had a notion that captains of industry made excellent cooks. He collected their recipes and arranged them into rather fascinating meals.
I found the Mexican recipes especially interesting. In the introduction he notes that the rich were flying off to Mexico instead of Monte Carlo, and returning with recipes like these….
It’s a fascinating tome, with the strangest mix of recipes I’ve ever encountered. What other book, I wonder, would offer three different recipes for shad roe? (Not one of them, incidentally, involves bacon or a simple saute.) NExt spring, when the shad are running again, I’ll post all three of them.
In the meantime, here’s a little bit of nostalgia. This was, I think, my mother’s favorite party dessert.