Recipe for a Snowy Day
February 6, 2015
I've been reading Alice B. Toklas a bit, and just came across this funny recipe. Seems perfect for a snowy winter day. (Should you be fresh out of mutton, plain old lamb will do.)
The recipe for the Roast Beef of Mutton is by no less a person that Alexandre Dumas, senior, author not only of the Three Musketeers but of The Large Dictionary of the Kitchen. This recipe is entirely devoted to the manner he recommends for skewering the hind half of a sheep that is to be roasted on the spit. For this reason it is not given, but there are in my collection two other of Dumas' recipes. They too are for the preparation of mutton:
Seven-hour Leg of Mutton
In an earthenware pot place the rind of pork fat cut in small pieces. Interlard a leg of mutton with ham, garlic and lard. Put your leg of mutton into the pot with salt, pepper, 2 large onions, 3 glasses water, 1 glass white wine. Cover the pot with a plate and paste paper around the pot and the plate. In the plate pour some wine and allow it to simmer for 7 hours.
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HI – The Alice Toklas book is a good read, but her recipes (followed to the T) are pretty bad. I think your readers should be wary. You’re such a good cook that you could make anything taste good. The rest of us mortals are another story. ajp
At the Strand Bookstore a couple of years ago, I picked up a book by Gertrude Stein–it may have been The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, but my memory is patchy. What I do remember vividly is the very striking design and typography of the title page. It was so eye-catching, that I searched for the name of the book’s designer, and it was your father Ernst Reichl. Surely you own a copy of the book I am talking about. I’m sorry I didn’t buy it.
It’s true, you have to know how to cook if you use Toklas’ recipes – but that’s pretty much true of all old cookbooks. They just assume a level of knowledge that no modern cookbook writer can count on.
But her scrambled eggs are the BEST!
I think you’re probably thinking of Portraits and Prayers. Dad did a lot of Stein’s books, but that one is memorable. It was the first time a photograph was used on the cover (not the jacket) of a book – printed right on the binding.
Dad wanted to put her face on the front and the back of her head on the back, so it would seem like the book held all her thoughts. Bennett Cerf, head of Random House, wouldn’t let him do it. I don’t think Dad ever quite forgave him.