Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cookbook Wednesday | Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers

Cheers! It’s National Wine Day!!!

Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers ©1963

I had big plans for National Wine Day! However, they all changed a couple of days ago when I had to take Marion to the hospital. She wasn’t feeling well, which as much as I don’t like saying, is pretty much on a daily basis. Friday was different though. She refused to eat. Now, let me tell you something about Marion, the woman can eat!!! I made ribs on the barbecue (in the midst of a rainstorm mind you) the other night and when I brought her dish to her she said, “only three little ribs” she demolished them!!!

I knew something was absolutely wrong when she said no to her nightly dessert of a Marion Special which, by the way, is a special sundae the new ice cream parlor down the block makes just for her; vanilla ice cream, a layer of fresh chopped cherries, another layer of vanilla ice cream topped with homemade whipped cream with, of course, a cherry on top! (she swears cherries help her gout:)

Marion is doing okay now but must stay in the hospital for a couple of more days. It seems she has/had a blockage in her belly that they are slowly trying to sort of melt away. (surgery is out of the question, after all, she is 96) I know there are a few of you who may not have officially “met” Marion. I did formally introduce her back in 2010. I’ve since updated the post and added a few pictures of her fashion doll wardrobe:)

So my plan was to “wet your whistle” with A Brief History of Wine in America before introducing you to today’s Cookbook Wednesday feature, Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers first published in 1963.

The Lore and Lure of Wine Cookery | Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers ©1963

It’s difficult to fathom a time when domestic dry table wine was poo pooed in favor of cheap “jug wine” and sweet high alcohol wine. Many say this new taste in wines changed as a direct result of prohibition.

”Although the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 meant that California winemakers were back in business, selling their product to American consumers proved to be a significant challenge. Many of the wines that first appeared on the market after 1933 were fortified wines—high in alcohol, sweet, and cheap—while wines imported from Europe were seen as luxuries for the rich, not intended for the average middle-class table. Other consumers continued to reject wine for moralistic reasons, or because they viewed it as a foreign beverage.

Established in 1938, California’s Wine Advisory Board set out to challenge these conventional attitudes and promote wine as a positive addition to the American table. Advertisements produced by the Board during the 1950s and ‘60s reflect this effort, with slogans that encouraged consumers to embrace wine as part of an all-American meal. The Board also commissioned a series of colorful posters in the 1960s to promote California and its wines…”
(Introducing Wine To The Table | National Museum of American History)

The reputation of California wine suffered accordingly. (many of us associate the wine industry as a California legacy and the Charles Krug Winery, established in 1861; the oldest winery in the Napa Valley. However, historians believe the first grapes commercially made into wine were most likely the wild Scuppernong grapes of the South.

”…Legend has it that the first-known cultivation and production of wine in the New World is from the Scuppernong variety of Muscadine grape in the 1560’s by French Huguenots in what is now Florida. In addition, what is considered the oldest-known cultivated grape vine in the world is the “Mother Vine” on Roanoke Island, North Carolina; it is 400 years old and covers a half acre. Scuppernong became the state fruit of North Carolina in 2001…” (Grape of the Week: Scuppernong)

Today’s book was published in part by the California Wine Advisory Board, which was dissolved and replaced with The Wine Appreciation Guild in 1973. As you might guess, it has all the makings of a 60s styled cookbook with cute illustrations by Judy Hibel. Ms. Hibel also contributed a recipe for Baked Mushrooms Contra Costa.

Baked Mushrooms Contra Costa | Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers ©1963

Here’s a recipe for Duck Au Vin courtesy of Mrs. Robert Mondavi. It seems the Mondavi family purchased the Charles Krug Winery back in 1943.

Duck Au Vin | Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers ©1963

And finally, we mustn’t forget, many of us will be “kicking off” the anticipation of Summer this Memorial Day weekend. Hence this recipe for Superb Barbecued Chicken.

Wine Barbecued Chicken | Favorite Recipes of California Winemakers ©1963

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday weekend. I’m thinking Marion will be home from the hospital on Friday, good Lord willing and the creek don’t freeze:) I’ll be around to catch up with your delicious blogs in between errands and visits to the hospital. (I know, she’s fine up there but I like to stay there with her as long as I can:)

Memorial Day Postcard

Thank you all for visiting. I’ll “see” you next week with the new calendar for June and a few other “surprises.” Louise:)

P.S. As luck would have it, as I finished preparing this post, I popped by Janet's blog Dying for Chocolate where she was celebrating National Wine Day; on May 24th. It seems she also has provided a link documenting why National Wine Day is celebrated on May 24th. All I can say is whoops and, these food days sure do get confusing don't they, lol...Sorry "guys":) Check out Janet's recipe for Chocolate Red Wine Bundt Cake and this link if you're as confused as I am:)

Cookbook Wednesday | Share Your Favorite

1. A Conversation with Pinot Noir specialist Merry Edwards (inspired by some cookbooks from the California Wine Advisory Board.)
2. Grapes, Ghosts and Florida’s Wine History
3. The History of Wine in the United States
4. National Wine Days of the Year

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cookbook Wednesday | Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

If after reading today’s post, you choose to “blame” someone for its contents, you’ll have to take it up with Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts authored by the undisputed Queen of Desserts.”

”…Although Heatter, a James Beard Foundation Cookbook Hall of Fame Award recipient, is revered as royalty in baking circles, her style of writing and recipes are down-to-earth and unpretentious. Recipes for cookies like Petite Trianons (brownies) and Mrs. L.B. J's Moonrocks, as well as cakes such as Old-Fashioned Coconut Cake, make it possible for bakers of every level to achieve success. If you are new to baking, stick to the recipes and follow them precisely. Your rewards will be great and you'll soon be hooked on one of the most fulfilling aspects of cooking…” Bake Happy with The Queen of Desserts, Maida Heatter.

It all started with today’s “designated” day. That would be I Love Reese’s® Day! I say designated because according to The National Peanut Board, I Love Reese’s® Day was officially declared in 2012 through the efforts of the Facebook community.

Since today is “a celebration of the great combo taste of peanut butter and chocolate,” I thought I would refer to Maida Heatter’s book for something to really WOW you all AND, satisfy the craving for that unbelievable deliciousness that occurs when chocolate meets peanut butter or visa versa. While I was thumbing through the book, I remembered the “interesting” cover beneath the dust cover. It isn’t something you see often these days. A book that actually has a illustrated hardcover shielded by a dust jacket.

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

It was innocent enough, thumb through each delicious page seeking out an amazing recipe which includes peanut butter and chocolate. Easy Peasy? Well, kinda. You see, my first choice was a recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crescents found on page 413. Oh my, I contemplated it for more than a day. As you know, I’m not much of a baker and when I read Ms. Heatter’s introduction to the recipe, I had to second guess myself.

”These are small, candy like cookies that take time and patience. They have a crisp chocolate dough wrapped around a peanut butter filling and are formed into crescent shapes…”

Her directions for forming the cookies threw me for a loop and that was it, I didn’t take another step. Oh I know, just call me a chicken, lol…However, thankfully for us all, Anna over at Cookie Madness baked the cookies just as Maida wrote the recipe. She too confessed to the need for patience. If Anna found the dough “testy,” and she’s a terrific baker, imagine what I would have done!!!

Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Heatter’s recipes are thorough, fun to read, personable, and always memorable! If you are a fan of Ina Garten, you really should check our Maida Heatter’s books and recipes, especially her recipe for The Queen of Cake. (I’ve left some links for you below:)

I did find another recipe to share though. No, I didn’t bake it for you today but, when apple season arrives, I may just be baking this Chocolate Applesauce Cake Maida’s way:) You, on the other hand, may just want to warm up for Applesauce Cake Day which is June 6th:)

Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts | Chocolate Applesauce Cake

I have many times proclaimed my love for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on this blog. I was once “addicted” to those mouthfuls of chocolate peanut butter delight. However, I no longer indulge:( Well, until now!!! You see, after I gave up on the elaborate thought of Chocolate and Peanut Butter Crescents, I had to go simple. I mean easy peasy oh so simple, simple. And I did. That’s right you lucky peanut butter chocolate lovers out there, I made home made peanut butter cups right in my own kitchen! Not only that, I also made Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Graham Crackers too!!!

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups | Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

What happened was, I couldn’t find just the right recipe in any of my cookbooks for home made peanut butter cups. I was running late and finally decided on doing a quick search online. My oh my, peanut butter cup recipes abound online! There were Organic Peanut Butter Cups made with honey. There were Clone recipes, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipes, 4 ingredient recipes and even Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge recipes. Nope, there was no shortage of recipes online. However, many of the recipes included either crushed graham crackers or rice cereal for texture.

A light went off in my head. I’ll make two different versions. I adapted the recipe for the Organic Peanut Butter Cups above. I omitted the honey. I melted Ghirardelli Chocolate chips and two tablespoons of the peanut oil from the jar of organic peanut butter over the top of a double boiler on very low. (you could use two tablespoons of butter if you prefer; it just makes the chocolate more pliable for biting:) With my mixer, I blended 1/2 cup of the creamy peanut butter with about 1/4 cup of confectionery’s sugar. I “painted” mini cup liners with the melted chocolate, put them in the freezer for a while, took them out, scooped a dollop of peanut butter in the center and then covered the whole with more melted chocolate and put them back in the freezer to set up. I then transferred them to the refrigerator. The peanut butter cup with the yellow decorations was a last minute thought. I added a bit of Kahlúa to the chocolate before finishing it off. I haven’t tried it yet. (I know, I should have but, to be honest, I ate so many of the chocolate covered graham crackers, I just couldn’t take another bite. Yes, they are that good!!!

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups | Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

As for the chocolate covered graham crackers, well, the inspiration for those occurred when I happened upon this recipe for Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers over at Wendy’s The Monday Box. I don’t know if they are still available in the cookie aisles, but when I was a kid, chocolate covered graham crackers were a rare and yummy treat! I think I stopped looking for them because the last time I can remember, the chocolate wasn’t as good. Since so many of the recipes called for crushed graham crackers in the peanut butter, I figured why not cover the graham crackers in peanut butter sandwich style and then dip them into the chocolate. I’m not sure but I bet they are probably a “healthy” version of the peanut butter chocolate combination especially since I used dark chocolate chips. And boy oh boy, are they ever good!!! They are even Marion approved:)

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups | Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

I know the pictures didn’t come out that great but the goodies sure did!!!

Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts was first published in 1974. Please don’t let that influence you if you ever happen upon one of her exceptional books. Maida Heatter's cookbooks have been the recipient of three James Beard Foundation Awards, and she herself was inducted into the Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America in 1988. (right up there with Dorie Greenspan, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Alice Medrich, Marion Cunningham and others) She has also been inducted into the Chocolatier Magazine Hall of Fame.

Thank you so much for joining us for Cookbook Wednesday. Do indulge yourself with something peanut buttery and chocolately, any time. Louise:)

P.S. Don't forget tomorrow, May 19th is Devil's Food Cake Day!!!

P.S. S. The yard sale was cancelled due to rain. Whew! I didn't have to decide:)

Cookbook Wednesday | Share Your Favorite

1. Maida Heatter | Our First Culinary Patriot
2. Maida Heatter-about her
3. Baking through her recipes
4. Maida Heatter’s 86-Proof Chocolate Cake
5. The James Beard Foundation Lists The 13 Baking Books You Need to Buy Now