Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Flavored Hospitality

Well, it sure has been a busy month here @ Months of Edible Celebrations. Creating an online calendar of daily food events has been a fantasy of mine for more than 10 years. And, although it entails a constant awareness of dates, events and circumstances, it is precisely what I want to do at this time of my life. There's an endless amount of encouragement and endearment out there in the blogsphere. Frankly, it's mind boggling. On this cold, blustery, rainy, snowy day I have decided to bask in the pleasantry of it all. I also have an announcement to make!

The Neighborly Blogger

Honestly, I don't know when the blogging world came into being. Perhaps, it was there all the time. Over the course of the last two years, it has become a frequent term used in my presence. Kathy wrote this, T.W. went here, Lidian's ad brightened my day, and I visited here, there and everywhere. Most of the people I know don't blog. Less collect cookbooks and even less really care about the history of the food they consume. They all however, speak of "wanting to do something." "Oh if I could only get this done", "I have a great idea I should write it down." I want to learn more about ? Well, you get the drift. Then, there are those who critique the world I blog in. "You spend too much time in front of that computer" they say. I believe they would be happier if I just spoke to them, alone, and on the phone, any phone! I don't like talking on the phone! Just because I no longer have to go to the office everyday, doesn't mean I want to rehash what happened on...fill in the blanks with your favorite T.V. show... I'm not too fond of T.V. Actually, I don't do well in group settings. That's probably the reason why I enjoy blogging. To oneself one can be, or not. The choice is mine and, yours.

Like many bloggers, I am often curious to know who visits here. Sitemeter seems to offer a glimpse, but, I'm not quite sure of its accuracy. We all love comments. There's no denying, comments are a day brightener. They are also a form of verification. The oohs, aahs and promises charm our ambitions while eagerly anticipating our expectations. Like the meals we eat to fortify our bodies, writing about our favorite recipes, cookbooks, culinary events and happenings, reinforces our most ambitious desires. And, much like the sturdy broccoli plant, who flowers again and again, many food bloggers blossom. Their efflorescence can be seen and appreciated in places like etsy, zazzle and within the scopes of their home within the world of blogging. Keep this in mind for, I have an announcement to make, but first, I want to tell you about the two amazing awards which have been bestowed upon my blog.

The Your Blog is Fabulous Award was presented by Cynthia from Gherkins & Tomatoes. Cynthia approaches food and culinary history as passionately as I do. Her article The Hunger of Vincent van Gogh is so engaging, quite frankly, I wish I could have written it and am in awe of the details and effort that it encompasses. Receiving an award from Gherkins & Tomatoes is truly an honor. Although I am so bad at gracefully excepting awards, (I'm also very bad at receiving gifts) I don't feel it would be fair to accept this award without following her example. I realize it sometimes becomes quite time consuming acknowledging each award bestowed, so please don't feel compelled to pass them along. I'm almost ashamed to say, I have gotten other awards that I chose not to participate in because I was overflowing with things that needed to get done. 

I'm not going to mince words here, I had a hard time choosing. I guess it's the mother in me but I don't agree with giving to one without giving to all. That said, this award doesn't seem to take up much time, which is a good thing but, it does require "identifying five great bloggers." As we all know, this is no easy task. Here goes:

1. The Food Company Cookbooks blog is written by "fellow" cookbook collector, Kathy. Kathy's approach to sharing her collection of cookbooks is always informative and reflects her obsession with food and cookbooks.

2. T.W.'s "culinary slice of life" is shared at his blog, Culinary Types. Culinary Types radiates with culinary travels, family & friends, and good ol' comfort food. T.W.'s culinary education resonates in his most passionate posts.

3. Blue Collar Catwalk A small town girl's guide to big style is a new blog started by extremely talented daughter in law, Kyla. Living in a small town in PA can sometimes taint the desires of an amazingly gifted fashion maven. Kyla does it with style, grace and frugality. LOVE you sweetie:)

4. Time to fess up. I have been a "lurker" at Cookbook Catchall for quite sometime. As a matter of fact, her link has been in my side bar also for quite sometime. I delight in the fact that she takes a no nonsense approach to her passion for tackling new recipes. Slathered with useful tips, tempting recipes and beautiful photographs, it is worth a trip just to stop in and say Hi!

5. Granny Two Shoes appears to be new to the blogging world. I'd like to give her a warm bloggers welcome by passing on this award to her. Her blog is a great stop over for a quick silly putty recipe or a Mexican Hot Chocolate. Welcome Granny:)

Following Cynthia's example, and almost reflecting her 5 addictions, I offer my five culinary addictions in no specific order.
1. Perked coffee-only perked coffee for this girl. I think it has to do with the aroma of perked vs. dripped...
2. Mallomars! (does that cover blogging about them too? Yes!)
3. Cookbooks
4. Wine (in my favorite Tiffany wine glass:)
5. Seasonings-you all know I don't bake, often; but boy oh boy do I cook and I LOVE adding anything and everything when it comes to herbs & spices:)

Karen, the blogging "foodvixen" honored me with the Proximity Blog Award. This is what the award says:

This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!

I'm inclined to believe that Karen, her blog FoodVox and I enjoy the tassels of blogging greater than the occasional tussle we may encounter when attempting to accept such a delectable award gracefully. Unlike Karen, who once organized "175 breakfasts, 625 lunches and 85 three or five course dinners all in one week" on a regular basis, delegation is not my forte. You really need to go over and introduce yourself. You won't be disappointed. Thank you Karen:) The award entails the passing of the torch to eight bloggers. Once again, not easy and compliance is optional:)

1. Dennis Villegas-The blogsphere is an engaging place to learn about different cultures. Dennis shares his experiences and compassionate photos on his blog from Manila.

2. A visit to Mae's Food Blog is always garnished with an assortment of exciting travels and culinary show stoppers. May I recommend Virginia Woolf's Kitchen; absolutely fascinating and Edible Art: Photos from the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum as two must sees.

3. Murder on the Menu is Janet's interactive mystery company which organizes "mystery dinner theater, parties and events in San Francisco, California..." She sometimes hosts mystery bookgroups which offer literary dinners. She has recently added Dying for Chocolate to her list of blogs. I appreciate Janet's devotion to collecting mystery cookbooks and wish her much sweetness in her new endeavor.

4. Acey, who lives in the Philippines, has a blog called musings, ramblings, lalalalife. Filled with surprises; good & bad, and oodles of whimsy, she doesn't cook much but boy oh boy she loves to learn about food, especially sweets:)

5. I often recommend Finding La Dolce Vita to those seeking traditional Italian recipes. (6/3/09 Mary Ann has recently decided to leave the blog world for a while. Hopefully, she will be back again.) Maryann whipped up some electrifying dishes just like I remember. Maryann says, "Make every day sweet by surrounding yourself with the love of your family, great food, beautiful music, and a generous portion of laughter." When I was a younger girl, my elders were forever pinching my cheeks while they puckered up and kissed me. They called this type of kiss a bitsageel. I'm sure I didn't spell it correctly but I have a feeling Maryann knows what I mean:)

6. A blog in my blogroll and one I often "lurk" at is, Taste With the Eyes. Lori Lynn offers intriguing recipes often sprinkled with history and mouth watering photographs. 

7. I wasn't going to include Courtney who host the Coco Cooks blog as a recipient of the Proximity Blog Award because I know how she feels about awards. Actually, she shares my feelings precisely. As she says on her blog, "I am horrible with the whole award /meme thing. It doesn't mean I don't appreciate it." Courtney is a devoted food blogger who just launched her own column at the Chicago Cooking Examiner. Her blog is a perpetual place of endearment and her posts are filled with "food porn," well executed recipes, adorned with humor and flight. (Sorry Courtney but you oh so deserve this award:)

8. Do you restaurant hop? I use to. Jan still does and boy oh boy does she have more than a mouthful of knowledge when it comes to all things having to do with restaurant-ing. Restaurant-ing through history is the kind of place you visit with tea cup in hand. It's difficult to pick out a favorite post of hers but, if I absolutely had to, because someone told me I would be rewarded with a box of Mallomars, I would suggest  The saga of Alice's Restaurant.

the announcement

Like I said, an online calendar of daily food events has been a fabrication of mine for a while now. So, I've decided to expand Months of Edible Celebrations into a hang on the wall type calendar. I've been thinking about this for quite a few months. For now, I would just like to let you know a little bit about my plan. Your feedback is more than welcome. As a matter of fact, I'm really interested in what you all have to say.

Oh so many of the food blogs I visit have such delightful offerings. I relish their enthusiasm and sheer love of sharing. However, I must give credit to my daughter Michele for this most recent inspiration. You see, Michele is not a blogger, yet. However, she loves to cook and bake. She often visits blogs in my sidebar but rarely, if ever leaves a comment. (Uh oh, I raised a lurker:) It isn't that she is shy, let me tell you she isn't! It isn't that she is antisocial, the girl owns the title Mrs. Sociable. Anyway, she often complains about my lack of gorgeous, mouth watering, ever so tantalizing images. As she puts it, "Mom, sometimes, your blog is boring!" Now, I respect Michele's opinion probably more than anyone I know. She can be harsh with her opinions, sometimes a wee bit salty but always honest. At first, I tried to explain to Michele that this blog is regulated by months, dates and events. Sure, I could probably whip up a dish to photograph, include the source recipe and add a dab of historic significance and make her happy. No can do. (I feel I would lose the essence of the calendar platform I oh so wanted to provide.) So, after many sleepless nights, a few trips around the food blogging world and way to many Mallomars, I devised a plan. Heck, I even started a new blog just for the purpose of the Months of Edible Celebrations Calendar. It's still under wraps but well on its way to being finished. I don't know if you know this but I already have three other blogs. The great thing about those blogs is they require less attention. The Tasteful Inventions blog may slowly be incorporated into this blog but for now, its on its own and fulfills my intentions. The Kettledrum tests my schedule at the end of the month when I usually post the food events for the upcoming month but it too resides in peaceful surroundings.

This project is going to be a year long event. Each month I will be highlighting a celebrated food day from this blog. Since I want the calendar to reflect the kinds of days that I have posted on the google calendar, created at the inception of this blog, it more than likely won't include the typical days usually included on the most calendars. I'd much rather have a calendar brimming with red letter days pertaining to food. I'm creating the calendar for my own personal use. As a matter of fact, I've decided to offer 10 calendars for free! I haven't completely worked out the details so for now, I would really like your opinions. I can hardly contain my excitement although, it may not seem like it as I type. That's probably because I don't want you, my treasured visitor, to think I intend on capitalizing on this endeavor. Quite the contrary. This blog, like so many of the food blogs I visit, is a true labor of love. The love of food, history and culture as I uncover it on a daily basis. My ambition is to enlighten my readers with dollops of culinary parlance in my own measurable way and hang it on my new kitchen wall in Pennsylvania.

I look forward to your feedback. What do you think?

This is going to be my last post for January. The end of the month is always a busy time organizing next months celebrations while choosing cookbooks to feature and recipes to include. The Kettledrum needs to be filled and I want to finish the new blog before the end of the month. I won't be writing much on the new blog but I want it to look inviting because it is where I will be posting the pictures and recipes which I will be putting on the kitchen calendar. I will, however, be checking my comments and visiting as usual. Have I said thank you lately? Thank you so much for visiting and sharing. It truly is a bloggers' world of flavored hospitality.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Newman's Own Recipes

On the birth anniversary of the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman, I thought I would share a few recipes from the undated booklet Newman's Own Favorite Recipes, produced by Ursula Hotchner. These are not recipes from the Newman's Own Cookbook published by Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner in 1998. If you would like to see a review of that book head on over to the Global Gourmet.

The recipes included in the slide show all use Newman's Own products. Many of the contributed recipes are from people who have used the product, two were submitted by Paul Newman and the Victorian Savouries were contributed by Martha Stewart. The recipes include, Filet of Beef Salad, Chicken & Grape Salad, Pasta Salad, Shrimp & Melon Salad, Chef's Salad, Bloody Mary Cornish Hens, Turkey Salad, Tomato Endive Salad, Loquesto's Ratatouille, Meatballs, Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, Chicken Marinara, and Victorian Savouries. Additional Paul Newman resources are available below. From the introduction:

Little did we know, on the momentous day that we prepared Newman's recipe for salad dressing, how many millions of mouths we were destined to feed.

And then when we followed that up with Newman's own recipe for marinara spaghetti sauce, how were we to know that half the Italians in the United States would eventually stop making their own.

But that's what happened, and what also happened was that hundreds of customers and food editiors began sending us recipes for dishes they cooked using salad dressing and spaghetti sauces. It's been tough choosing, but here are 21 of our favorites.

P.S. Thanks to you, in its first year of operation Newman's Own has earned almost one million dollars which Paul Newman has given away to deserving charities-this sum represents all the profits that Newman's Own corporation has earned. And in the future Newman will continu to give 100 percent of the company's profits to good causes.

His vision helped found the first Hole in the Wall Camp in 1988, and has since grown into the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious medical illnesses, operating in Connecticut, New York, Florida, California, North Carolina, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, France, The United Kingdom and regions in Africa and Asia. Paul’s kindness and generosity has touched more than 135,000 children and it was Paul’s dream that the camps continue to thrive, providing a place filled with warmth, compassion, laughter and most of all acceptance. Paul’s liveliness, energy and dedication will be missed by all who knew him, worked with him and who were touched by his kindness. source

FYI: January 27th in the birth anniversary of Mozart. Visit Mozart's Hidden Kitchen where you will find a host of celebrity chefs joining the festivities.


  • 1. Paul Newman @ wiki
  • 2. Newman's Own: company history
  • 3. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
  • 4. Newman's Own Organic Recipes
  • 5. Newman's Own Cookbook (Global Gourmet)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Brr...Arctic Recipes

Brrr...On January 24, 1922, the United States Patent Office granted a patent for the frozen novelty presently known as the Eskimo Pie. Patent number 1,404,539 was granted to Christian K. Nelson, the inventor of the "I-Scream Bar," (later to be renamed Eskimo Pie:) Since I posted about the invention of the Eskimo Pie on more than one occasion, I thought it was high time I explored a few more Arctic Recipes.

Arctic Food

Once known as Eskimos, (The name they call themselves is Inuit) the Alaskan Inuit inhabit the west, southwest and far northern region of Alaska. Far within the Arctic Circle, their use and array of tools, spoken language, and physical type have changed little. For centuries, food in the Arctic has been the symbol of life and struggle. Polar Bear steaks, walrus tongue, seal liver, and whale hamburger are just a few of the dishes that have graced the table of the Alaskan Inuit. In the January 1934 issue of American Cookery Magazine, Elizabeth Chabot Forrest gives a vivid account of the years she spent working for the U.S. Bureau of Education among the Eskimos in northern Alaska. A chronicle of her 13 years spent in the Alaskan frontier was published in 1937 under the title of Daylight Moon, which is long out of print.

"The sameness of our diet there was at peace with the monotony of our surroundings...Level tundra, snow covered for at least nine months of the year, stretched to the north, to the east, and to the south of the government school building which was my home, while to the west lay the frozen Arctic Sea. Day after day I climbed to the "warm-storage" room above the kitchen and stood facing rows and rows of too familiar cans; kegs of pickled meat and butter; hams and bacons in their "Alaska seal" coating dangling from the ceiling."

In a land where even a small climatic change can affect an entire animal population, the diet and preservation techniques of the Inuit were imperative to their well being. The methods used by the Inuit were the source of inspiration adopted by Clarence Birdseye in the 1930s with the birth of the frozen food industry. While Birdseye was trapping Caribou in the Arctic, he adapted the techniques used by the Eskimos, who preserved their capture naturally in the fast freezing temperatures of the Arctic by burying it in the ice.

While stationed in Alaska, Elizabeth Forrest was just over 1,000 nautical miles from the North Pole in the northernmost point of the United States known as Point Barrow. The water surrounding Point Barrow is normally ice-free for only two or three months out of the year. It is close to the scene of the airplane crash that killed aviator Wiley Post and his passenger, the entertainer Will Rogers.

"Along the windswept coast of the Chukchi Sea, about 13 miles south of Barrow, America's beloved humorist, Will Rogers, along with pilot Wiley Post, died when their small aircraft crashed On August 15, 1935. The adventurous duo were seeking a better route to Siberia via Alaska." source

From the American Cookery:

"Our year's supply of food was brought to us by freight boat each August and it must last until the following August. To make sure of this, on its arrival I carefully portioned out each thing--one can of crab per week, one of asparagus tips, two tins of butter. But somehow, towards spring, all of the choicer edibles had disappeared, gone to celebrate special occasions or to brighten days when spirits and appetite were at lowest ebb. Nothing remained but bare essentials. It was then that I returned oftenest to the native foods to supplement our menus."

The story continues in detail with regard to the Inuit preparation of reindeer. I find it quite interesting but you may not. I don't need much of an excuse to scan so, if you are interested in that portion of the article, click the image.

Arctic Recipes

We learned about the filming of Nanook of the North, the groundbreaking Alaskan documentary last year on Eskimo Pie Day. That was when I discovered the Inuit are traditionally hunters and fishers whose native diet consists primarily of seal and walrus. It just so happens that I have a booklet of Arctic recipes. Undated, it was published by the Department of Northern Affairs & National Resources in Ottawa, Canada.

"To the ranks of the Eskimo housewife has been added the housewife who has gone to live in the Arctic. Her basic food supplies probably come up once a year by sea or river, air freight is high. Though for the most part she uses foods from her own storeroom for there are strict regulations governing the taking of game on which Eskimo life may depend, her husband from time to time receives a present of game from an Eskimo. Or, for some reason, the family must rely temporarily on country foods. When this happens these recipes show she can adapt to an Arctic situation as readily as the Eskimo women..."

According to Ms. Forrest, "Seal is the Pièce de résistance on the iglu table." Scanned below you will find recipes for Seal Casserole, Seal Liver, Mutuk (whale skin) and Arctic Salad which, by the way, is enhanced with caribou moss. I have also scanned recipes for Fricasee Of Arctic Hare, Bearburgers (Polar Bear Steaks) an Arctic Mixed Grill and Saddle of Caribou or Reindeer.

"Stewing is the commonest form of cookery in the iglu (igloo), not only for seal but walrus, whale, and bear as well, though all of these meats are as readily consumed frozen raw. Stewing, itself, is a very sketchy process. The seal is hacked into pieces convenient to grasp later with the fingers, packed into a kettle filled with snow; and placed upon a tiny coal-oil stove; or blubber-burning stove, (image) fashioned from empty coal-oil tins. As soon as the snow melts and the water begins to steam, the stew is done...One favorite method of preparing meat during the flush hunting season of July, is to strip the skin from a seal, removing the carcass through the mouth and leaving the hide intact, stuff this sack or "pulkrah" with chunks of whale and walrus, fill it with seal oil, and fasten it shut to pickle for some months. Needless to say, I never sampled this native delicacy..."

Once again from American Cookery"

"I could place before you juicy brown hamburger steaks of whale or walrus and defy you to notice any difference from your usual beef...There is one portion of the whale which most white dwellers in the Arctic enjoy, and that is muk-tuk, the thick, black, outer skin of the whale. Narrow strips of it are hard boiled, then pickled in vinegar, bay leaf, and spices, and kept on hand as a relish. Freshly boiled, it had to me the texture and consistency of India rubber and, although its flavor was faintly reminiscent of hazelnuts, I did not enjoy it..."

I have scanned a few more highlights of the article below. (including an encounter with a Polar bear) Although I found it quite fascinating and educational, others may not. It certainly gives a distinct description of the Arctic table during the time Elizabeth Forrest was stationed there. 

When it comes to beverages mentioned in the article, there is only one, tea. It appears, Ms. Forrest is not to fond of what she describes as muk-pow-rah, "a sort of pale, sodden, unsweetened doughnut fried in seal oil." "I could not even bring myself to sample one of the crisp, puffy doughnuts fried in my own kitchen in seal oil by my own cooking class of school girls." "I was still less able to sit down in an iglu to tea and muk-pow-rah, although they were hopefully urged upon me by hospitable hostesses almost daily," she writes. And as for the tea:

"Perhaps the Eskimos borrowed the tea drinking habit from their Russian or Oriental neighbors across the water. Wherever it came from, they are inveterate tea drinkers. One finds them perpetually sitting in a circle on the floor of the snow covered igloo in winter, in an open air gathering place in the center of the village in summer, sipping streaming cups of the black liquid. The supply is practically inexhaustible, for the same tea leaves occupy the big tin teakettle (purchased from some whaling captain) week after week, snow or water being added whenever tea is wanted, and the kettle placed to boil. If times are prosperous, just after the arrival of a whaling vessel or a trader, sugar is added generously to the kettle. If times are lean, salt takes its place."

Enjoy Eskimo Pie Day and don't forget, tomorrow is Irish Coffee Day!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pie by the Slice

I hadn't planned on posting for National Pie Day this year especially since I posted last year but, that all changed when I learned today is not only National Pie Day, as sponsored by the American Pie Council, today is also National Rhubarb Pie Day as mentioned right here.

Cherry Pie

I can tell you right now, there will be no pie baking for me today. Instead, I would like to serve you a few more "slices" of pie I found interesting.

We are all aware of the traditional mincemeat pie Christmas tradition in England. (The post I did last year includes a minecmeat pie die-cut booklet) But did you know, that according to the American Pie Council "English tradition also credits the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I." However debatable that notion may be, we do know that not only did Queen Elizabeth I decree that roast goose should be eaten on the Michaelmas she was also quite fond of sweets. From the Royal Cookbook.

Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) was very fond of sweetmeats and often received gifts of marchpane (marzipan), sometimes molded into fantastic shapes. Marchpane castles, mermaids, dolphins, eagles, and camels appeared on great occasions. One winter loyal subjects gave her a marchpane model of Old St. Paul's, a marchpane chessboard, and many other sweets as a New Year gift.
When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing.
Wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before a King?

While I have the Royal Cookbook in front of me I may as well leap head first into at least one pie nursery rhyme.

An enormous pie, out of which flew a flock of living birds, was a variety of soteltie that appeared at some medieval banquets and was still popular in Stuart England. One example is immortalized in the nursery rhyme about "four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie..." On one occasion a dwarf underwent such an incrustation: About the year 1630, when Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria were entertained by the Duke and Dutchess of Buckingham at Burleigh, Jefferey Hudson, a dwarf, was served up in a cold pie...

The best cherries I ever had, EVER! were while I was traveling across the USA eating my way from state to state. Those cherries were in Michigan! Since Michigan celebrates Statehood in the month of January (26th) and because they have IMHO the best cherries EVER, I am including a recipe for Traverse City Cherry Berry Pie from the cookbook the Best of the Best from Michigan Selected Recipes from Michigan's Favorite Cookbooks. (1996, Quail Ridge Press) From the Preface:

Michigan, the Great Lakes State, is a cornucopia of wonderful things...Traverse City, the Cherry Capital of the World, offers everything from cherry pie to cherry hamburgers...

Savory Breakfast Pie

"In many families a feast would be incomplete without pie and they are served even on ordinary occasions at least two or three times per week. ''Handy as pie for breakfast'' is an old saying we consider obsolete in application at present time, but in spite of the warnings of those who go out, even unto the byways, calling upon all those who still indulge their appetites contrary to the advanced rules of hygenic eating, we find a surprising number of our stout-minded and old-fashioned folk still cling to the notion that pie is a nice and handy relish for breakfast." Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, Jan. 24, 1902

Simply, any dish composed of pastry crust and filling is considered a pie. Or is it?

Now you’d think that such a simple word as pie would have been verbed years ago, but even the big Oxford English Dictionary hardly gives it house-room, briefly citing three usages: a once-off coinage from 1657 in the sense of repeating one’s words like a magpie, a local term that means to put potatoes in a heap and cover them to protect them from frost, and a specialist printing term for accidentally jumbling up type. source

The term pie may is sometimes expanded to include any food with a crust and a filling. Hmmm...Eskimo Pies comes to mind for some reason but that could be because the Eskimo Pie is celebrating an anniversary tomorrow. For, it was on January 24, 1922, that the United States Patent Office granted patent number 1,404,539 to Christian Kent Nelson for Eskimo Pie. Now, you know I had to celebrate Eskimo Pie at least once on this blog. It was in March on Eskimo Pie Day!

Basically there are two types of pie. The dessert pie such as the cherry pie recipe above and savory pies; those that are filled with meat and served as a main course. Both types of pies can be served hot or cold depending on the ingredients and personal preference. Back in April, when I celebrated National Empanada Day, I discovered that these savory turnovers are usually filled with just those ingredients but are sometimes also treated as dessert pies.

You might be surprised to know that I have quite an affection for breakfast pies with one odd twist. I like to eat them for dinner. I'm sure this oddity is a reflection glaring from my childhood and the evenings when we didn't eat meat on Fridays. There were usually three vast choices for Friday dinner. A dish which contained macaroni, such as Pasta Fazoule, peppers and eggs, onions and eggs or any other non meat containing omelet. I think they call this combination frittata. We just called it plain ol' peppers and eggs, even if there weren't any peppers in it! My choice, if I was given one, which usually I wasn't, unless I was cooking was breakfast pie. Now, I must tell you, my definition of breakfast pie and the definition of breakfast pie as described in the Guide to Breakfast Pies from Mr. Breakfast vary slightly. I tend to favor those such as the Marie's Savory Vegetable Ricotta Pie, found at the Proud Italian Cook blog.

A breakfast pie is a pie served for breakfast whose defining ingredients include items which could be considered breakfast foods at the time the pie is made. Guide to Breakfast Pies

It could be breakfast or dinner! It can be prepared the night before and refrigerated. It's an impressive breakfast or brunch casserole and dare I say, it is adaptable for use with refrigerated rolls (used as a "crust") or the once very popular ingredient in the 70's Bisquick! Come on, everyone has heard of Impossibly Easy Breakfast Pie. Since I'm discussing one of my favorite dishes, I should also mention a little bit about Quiche. As I noted above, frittata in essence is a crust-less quiche. Quiche also enjoyed somewhat of a heyday in the 1970s. Quiche is one of those dishes that depends on the best quality ingredients. It was once one of my favorite ways to clean out the refrigerator and one I should revisit in these times where frugality is more than necessary. Quiche "shows well" and is only limited by the imagination as long as the basic rules and ingredients are included. First, let me share a historical note about Quiche that I found in the book Fashionable Food by Sylvia Lovegreen. It's titled, Who Really Put the Quiche on the American Table?

Quiche Recipe

I was delighted to read about that first line that states, "One of the first U.S. recipes for quiche appeared in American Home Magazine in April 1941 as "tart" Normandy." I didn't know that, was elated to discover that tidbit of history, I have another date dish to include in April's calendar, Quiche:) Seriously, everyone should revisit Breakfast Pies and Quiche! Why not begin with this recipe for Quiche Lorraine that I found using my updated search engine. It was posted by Deborah at Taste and Tell.

Squab Pie

Why pray tell would I take this particular moment to discuss Squab Pie? Well, at the beginning of this new year, I declared I was going to share the January 1934 issue of American Cookery Magazine. I thought it might be interesting to look back 75 years ago. Keep in mind, In old recipes "squab" usually refers to a young pigeon. The following question pertaining to Squab Pie was asked in the Queries and Answer section of the magazine:

Question: Why No Squab in Squab Pie?
Answer: Like the fish cake that is not a fish cake, there seems to be a squab pie that is not a squab pie. Both may be compared to the play Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark left out. We too have a recipe of English origin for Turnip and Squab Pies that calls for mutton chops and young turnips, and names not the ghost of a squab. We have never tried it, not daring to see it before possibly unimaginative folk, but it reads mighty good.

I left a recipe link below, just in case you get an inkling to explore the ingredients (or lack of) in Squab Pie. You might also get a chuckle from the Pie-Eyed Banana posted by Lidian over at Kitchen Retro. Very Funny:)

1. The Rhubarb Compendium
2. Great American Pie Festival, April 23 - 25, 2010
3. National Pie Day (last year's post:)
4. What would you serve to Queen Elizabeth?
5. Bake Metes & Mince Pies "In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mince pies, like lumber pies, were also made in eccentric shapes and arranged in kalaidoscopic form. They were sometimes called shred or secrets pies."
1. Old-Fashioned Cherry Pie Recipes
2. Lower Alabama Breakfast Pie (Bay Breeze Bed & Breakfast)
3. Peach & Blueberry Breakfast Pie (Holly Hill House B&B)
4. Shepherd's Inn Breakfast Pie
5. Blueberry Breakfast Pie and a Popeye Omelet (gluten free)
6. Ham & Eggs Breakfast Pie w/ Peach Salsa (Bisquick)
7. Bacon Breakfast Pie
8. Breakfast Pie
9. Crabmeat Breakfast Pie
10. Italian Sausage & Provolone Flat Pie
11. Gloucestershire Squab Pie

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yankee Doodle Sweet Potato Pie

"All cooks are debtors to history
either gone by or in the making."
Peter Van Rensselaer Livingston

Happy Inauguration Day! While I have always found Presidential food and entertaining at the White House quite fascinating, when it comes to Presidential cuisine, I find Mr. Obama's enthusiasm for nourishment irresistible. I mean really, the future president eats pretty much anything! Granted, vittles are a non-threatening ice breaker however, Mr. Obama ate his way across the campaign trail with such fervency, its hard to imagine he was ever accused of being aloof. Is there any food today's pioneering Yankee Doodle Dandy, doesn't like?

When the Revolutionary Wars broke out in 1775, the Brigadier General Hugh Percy's troops marched from Boston playing Yankee Doodle to reinforce the British soldiers already in battle with the Americans at Lexington and Concord. Ironically, this was the war that gave America its independence from the British. Even more ironically, the New England colonists not only came to dismiss it as an insult, but came to take pride in being called Yankees, and appropriated the song as their anthem of defiance and liberty... Later on in the Civil War, the Confederates took the song and turned it into an insult directed to Union soldiers and northerners. Fuelled by the southern hatred for the northerners, this song survived not only the war but the Reconstruction period that followed, and even after that...What comes around goes around. Southerners had insulted their northern counterparts with Yankee Doodle during the 19th century; when the world saw its first World War the British reclaimed the insult and took to referring all American soldiers, be they northern or southern, Yankees. George M Cohan's war song Over There, which popularised the term Yank sealed the fate of the Americans as Yankees. Eventually this term came to refer to all citizens of the USA...source

When it comes to food, some say, you can tell an awful lot about a person by their likes and dislikes. Take Macaroni & Cheese for example, we now know, Barack Obama likes macaroni and he like cheese (Mr. Love informs us he's partial to cheddar.) Now there's a cheese to celebrate on World Cheese Day, which happens to be today:) We must assume he then enjoys a warm plate of macaroni and cheese every now and again. As T.W. over at Culinary Types so eloquently reveals, "Many people don't know that Thomas Jefferson, our gourmet president, introduced a macaroni machine to the United States in the late 18th century." Could Jefferson have invented our most favored comfort food? You need to drop by T.W.'s to harvest the answer and feast your eyes on his mom's recipe for Double-Good Macaroni and Cheese.

I use no porter or cheese in my family, 
but such as is Made in America.
-George Washington-

Macaroni and Cheese may be a "shoo in" when it comes to comfort food loving Americans but what about fruits and vegetables? We all know, we've had a few Presidents who objected to eating their vegetables and quite a few who actually enjoyed their fare share of veggies and fruits. As a matter of fact, I posted a few Presidential recipes for Presidents Day last year. What a congenial brunch dish Jefferson's Rum Omelet would be for today's inaugural festivities. This article in the Telegraph shares Mr. Obama's own chili recipe which confirms he likes his legumes spicy. It also uncovers his personal feelings about junk food. Before I forget, The Library of Congress has also compiled a resource guide on Presidential Food.

"Honest" Abe Lincoln, who favored lemon custard pie, Mary Todd's "Great Cake" (also posted above:) and oyster parties doesn't appear to have had as much zest for food as Mr. Obama. Apparently, oysters were not on Lincoln's first inaugural menu but he sure did capture the flavor of New York's pioneering oyster cultivators "When the Oyster Was Their World." I just thought I would mention this because Mr. Obama is suppose to be clasping Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Bible at today's inaugural event.

...among Abraham Lincoln’s favorite dishes was scalloped oysters. During his aspirations to become the next President of the United States, he served thousands of oysters at rallies in Illinois. He popularized oyster roasts as a way to get voters to political rallies. Oyster parties became such "the rage," that the seemingly perishable oyster had to be somehow be transported from New York Harbor to American tables.

Recount. (I couldn't resist:) Let's see, chicken wings, steamed broccoli, barbecued ribs, vanilla Pennsylvania ice cream or, Yes Pecan ice cream, waffles, cookies, provolone, salami, gumbo in New Orleans, hush puppies, tuna fish, Mexican food, and Red Velvet Cake all seem to be on Mr. Obama's food agenda, I still haven't found one morsel of food he does not like. What about drinks?

George Washington may have been a beer lover despite the long tradition of serving wine at the White House. We are reassured by the recipe for Jefferson's Rum Omelet that Thomas Jefferson liked the taste of rum:) I saw one interview, I think it was on Check, Please when Obama did an informal review about Chicago's Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop, I believe he had a glass of red wine before him. Mr. Love had suggested Mr. Obama often drinks "hard-to-find" Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. Well now, there's Roosevelt's "good to the last drop" coffee, and now Barack Obama's favorite Honest Tea.
"Honest Tea, the nation's top-selling organic bottled tea company, offers healthy and delicious beverages. Always refreshing, all Honest Tea varieties are USDA-certified Organic, low in sugar and high in antioxidants. Each variety in 16 fl oz glass bottles contains 1/3 the sugar of most bottled teas with 0 to 40 calories per serving. Always committed to sustainability and social responsibility, Honest Tea was the first to introduce an organic bottled tea and the first to introduce a Fair Trade Certified bottled tea. Today, Honest Tea offers 5 varieties in 16 fl oz glass bottles - now that's a sip in the right direction!"

Grab your Tide Pen, Mr. Obama. I baked you a pie and its Messy! (If you remember, Reggie Love knows these things and Norah his girlfriend tells all at Whopping Cornbread.) That reminds me, Mr. Obama also like hush puppies. You see what I mean, his culinary enthusiasm captivates me. I'm so dazzled by all the reports of his food loving escapes, I had no choice but to bake him a pie. And, as we all know, I Do Not bake! The YouTube video Too Much Pie For One Guy got my rolling pin to palpitating. Yes indeed, I made the crust from scratch which by the way was no easy feat especially with this rolling pin.

You see, since I don't bake, I no longer have many of the essential tools one might need to bake a pie. My daughter, Michele, is the proud new owner of our family rolling pin which was handed down from generation to generation so, I got to use the dowl from my hand crafted napkin holder. I'm a complete spaz when it comes to rolling pie crust, the "rolling pin" didn't hinder the process, much. I wish one of the many cookbooks I referred to, in search of the perfect sweet potato pie, would have mentioned mixing the pie crust first. It sure would have saved me about one hour's worth of time. (I was suppose to be heading back to New York in the AM and just wanted to get done but, perfectly) After rummaging through a pile of cookbooks, I wound up coming with my own rendition from three different recipes. (another reason I don't bake, I can't follow recipes. It drives me crazy:) I wanted a recipe which would reflect Mr. Obama's diverse heritage and I wanted it to be easy, very easy, simple, if you get my drift. I probably would have been better off, time wise, baking Sweet Potato Pie Cupcakes like Stef did at the Cupcake Project but nooooo.....Okay, I did follow the Short Crust Pastry recipe as suggested in the Time Life Foods of the World: American Cooking; Southern Style recipe booklet. It was really good and probably would have reached full peakness in the hands of an experienced baker. Here's the recipe.

Short Crust Pastry
6 tbs. unsalted butter chilled & cut into 1/4-inch bits
2 tbs. lard, chilled & cut into 1/4-inch bits
1-1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 tbs. sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 to 4 tbs. ice water
Pastry Dough:

1. In large, chilled bowl, combine the butter bits, lard, flour, sugar, and salt. with your fingers rub the flour and fat together until they look like flakes of coarse meal. Do not let the mixture become oily.
2. Pour 3 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture all at once, toss together lightly, and gather the dough into a ball. If the dough crumbles, add up to 1 tablespoon more ice water by drops until the particles adhere.
3. Dust the pastry dough with a little flour and wrap it in wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Pastry for Unfilled Pie shell: On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a rough circle about 1 inch thick. Dust a little flour over and under it and roll it out, from the center to within and inch of the far edge of the pastry. Lift the dough and turn it clockwise about 2 inches; roll out again from the center to with an inch or so of the far edge. Repeat-lifting, turning, rolling- until the circle is about 1/8 inch thick and 13 to 14 inches in diameter. If the dough sticks to the board or table, lift it gently with a metal spatula and sprinkle flour under it.
Drape the dough over the rolling pin, lift it up and unroll it slackly over the buttered pie tin. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tin, being careful not to stretch it. with a pair of scissors, cut off the excess dough from the edges leaving a 1/2 inch overhang all around the outside rim. Fold the overhang under the outer edge of the dough and crimp it firmly around the rim of the pan with your fingers or the tines of a fork. To prevent the unfilled pastry from buckling as it bakes, spread a sheet of buttered aluminum foil across the tin and press it gently into the pastry shell.
To make a Partially Baked Pie Shell: Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 2 minutes.
To make a Fully Baked Pie Shell: Bake the shell on the middle shelf of the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 8 minutes, or until shell begins to brown.

I almost used the recipe for sweet potato pie also in the Time Life book but, it just didn't fit my needs, completely. Normally, I wouldn't worry about adding some of this or substituting a pinch of that but since this was a pie in tribute, and it was me doing the baking, I didn't want to take any chances. I did anyway:) The two main ingredients I had decided on, besides the sweet potatoes of course, were pineapples (Hawaii) and coconut because I know Mr. Obama likes Coconut Custard Pie. Including pecans was also a matter of thought. I know now it wasn't very diverse but, at the time it seemed to be to me. I pretty much followed the following recipe except, I added one cup of crushed pecan halves, I used the rest for the make shift pecan praline topping (I can't bake, you can imagine what I did to the praline topping, I added light cream to make it more agreeable to work with, omitted the maple syrup flavoring and halved the recipe:) Some how, it worked. It is so creamy and sweet with a hint of pecan.) Actually, my very best favorite piece of the pie. Unfortunately, since I had to remedy a sticky problem I don't know how I did it. I really dislike when that happens:) Here are all the recipes which will open larger if you click them:)

The adjusted recipe not only included pulverized pecans. I also included one cup of pineapple juice macerated coconut. I let the coconut sit up until the very last moment. Then I squeezed out the pineapple juice, which I happened to use on a ham slice I was also making for dinner, and added it to the pie mixture. The only real problem I had was grating the lemon rind. I decided to use the smallest part of a cheese grater which I feel was a mistake. The lemon zest could have, should have been finely grated. I'll be buying a new lemon grater ASAP, just in case:) I was thrilled to use my antique nutmeg grater. It's a keeper! As you can imagine, I wanted my first pie baking post to look amazing! I took tons of pictures. I don't know how you food bloggers do it. After concocting this tribute pie, I have gained even more appreciation for you guys. It's a lot of work! Thank goodness it is frosted with pleasure. So, I will spare you the enormous amount of pictures. My favorite is the one at the top. I only wish I had my Obama 7-11 cup here in PA. I sliced a piece of the pie as soon as the pecan praline glided to the edge of the pie plate. I think I should have waited. It hadn't firmed up yet and the flavors didn't get a chance to settle. It was good but not fit for Mr. Obama. However, this morning, I'm still in PA., it was absolutely delicious if I do say so myself! Silky sweet potatoes garnished with a hint of diversification. Oh yes, I substituted the white sugar in the pie crust with vanilla sugar which I have had stashed safely for I think, years. I guess sugar does keep that long when preserved with vanilla beans. I have decided to call the recipe Yankee Doodle Sweet Potato Pie. Hey, it's my recipe!

Happy Inauguration Day!


  • 1. Feasting on Obama Nation
  • 2. The President's kitchen
  • 3. Menu Collection of the Heinz Bender Collection (Bender executive pastry chef for the White House during the Ford administration)
  • 4. Michelle Obama's Shortbread Cookies
  • 5. Campaign Cuisine
  • 6. Mr. Obama's Zodiac Menu Ideas (previous post from Election day)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy Winnie the Pooh Day!

Hallo everyone. Today is...Winnie the Pooh Day! Winnie the Pooh Day was created to celebrate author Alan Alexander Milne (A.A .Milne) who was born on this day in 1882. A. A. Milne was an author of many children's story books, most famously those which include Winnie the Pooh and his pals from 100-Acre-Wood; Christopher Robin, motherly Kanga, bouncing Tigger, gloomy Eeyore, nervous Piglet, little Roo, bossy Rabbit and ol' smarty the Owl.

It's all in the Name

The origins of the name given to Winnie the Pooh begins during WWI. During World War I, troops in transit to eastern Canada stopped at White River, Ontario. Lieutenant Harry Colebourn purchased a small female black bear cub for $20 from a hunter who had killed its mother. He named her Winnipeg, after his Canadian hometown, Winnie for short. “Winnie” became a pet for the soldiers, sleeping under the cot of her master even after they reached the Salisbury Plains in England. As Winnie got bigger, she loved to climb the centre pole in the soldier’s tent and give it a shake. It was becoming a concern that the tent might collapse during the night, so she was tethered to a pole outside the tent. In 1914, Colebourn asked the London Zoo to keep an eye on the bear until he returned from France. Eventually, on December 1, 1918, Captain Colebourn officially donated the growing bear to the zoo when he noted how much attention the bear was receiving at the zoo. Christopher Robin Milne and his father A. A. Milne were frequent visitors to the zoo and soon the bear became Christopher favorite zoo animal. These meetings inspired Christopher to name his own teddy bear, given to him on his first birthday, Winnie.

A.A. Milne writes "Well, when Edward Bear said that he would like an exciting name all to himself, Christopher Robin said at once, without stopping to think, that he was Winnie-the-Pooh. And he was."

Winnie-the-Pooh's Winnipeg connection began in August of 1914 when a young veterinarian, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, enlisted in the Canadian army. Harry's regiment, The Fort Garry Horse, soon left Winnipeg on a train bound for Quebec. The train stopped at White River, Ontario. There, on the station platform, Harry spotted a hunter carrying an orphaned black bear cub. Harry bought the cub for twenty dollars and they continued on their journey together. Harry named the bear Winnie after his current home base of Winnipeg. The two soon became good friends and after a short stay in Quebec they sailed for England. While camped at Salisbury Plain Winnie stayed in Colebourn's tent, slept under his cot, and became a favourite of the Canadian soldiers. When Lt. Colebourn's unit was ordered to the battlefields of France, Harry placed Winnie in the London Zoo for safekeeping. Four years later, in 1918, Harry returned to London to take Winnie home. It didn't take long for Harry to realize what a hit Winnie was with the children. Harry donated Winnie to the London Zoo permanently and Harry, now a Captain, returned to Winnipeg alone...
Over eighty years ago, the community of White River, Ontario, Canada, bid farewell to a little black bear cub. This bear would become the inspiration of author A.A. Milne and subsequently became one of the most loved bears in the world. This is her story.
Cooking with Pooh
Each year on the 3rd weekend in August, the White River Historical Society celebrates Winnie's Hometown Festival. Since August is a long way off, I thought perhaps I would share a smackerel from Cooking with Pooh written by Marlene Brown, pencilled by Ed Murietta and painted by Bretchen Van Pelt, copyright 1995. I found additional recipes from Cooking with Pooh online and have left the link below. The scanned recipe is for Pooh's Honey Cookies on a Stick. I will be sending another box to Idaho in the near future. I think it is high time I send this book since I think Tabi & Noah already have the cookie cutters which came with the book. They are quite the little bakers you know:)
'Winnie-the-Pooh' was published on October 14th, 1926, the verses 'Now We are Six' in 1927, and 'The House at Pooh Corner' in 1928. All these books were illustrated in a beautiful way by E.H. Shepard, which made the books even more magical. The Pooh-books became firm favourites with old and young alike and have been translated into almost every known language. A conservative figure for the total sales of the four Methuen editions (including When We Were Very Young) up to the end of 1996 would be over 20 million copies. These figures do not include sales of the four books published by Dutton in Canada and the States, nor the foreign-language editions printed in more than 25 languages the world over! source

1. Winnie the Pooh Day: Ambassador of Friendship Day
2. Alan Alexander Milne
3. The History of Winnie
4. Winnie-the-Pooh FAQ
5. A real Pooh timeline
6. Meet the characters @ Disney
7. Other Cooking with Pooh recipes
8. Owl's Recipes
9. Pooh-inspired recipes

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reductions a la Pierre Franey

At the very end of one of the long bookshelves, there lies a secret shelf, way, way, way down at the bottom of the bookcase. Now hush, I devised this shelf with a purpose. To ignore it. The books are concealed for their own good. I don't particularly care for them. In order to arrive on this shelf, the book's title must either have the word microwave or diet associated with it. There is one exception, Cooking with Insects. The rest of the books have titles like The Microwave Gourmet, Hollywood Glamour Cook Book and...drum roll...Low-Calorie Gourmet by Pierre Franey. Now mind you, there isn't a thing wrong with any of these recipe books. On the contrary, I know The Microwave Gourmet was on the New York Time's Bestseller List and I'm quite sure Mariposa's Hollywood Glamour Cook Book made its way down the Hollywood red carpet in one way, shape, or form. It's all about reductions.

Yes, I know, there are many forms of reduction. There's clutter reduction, there's kitchen reduction, heck, there's even cooking reductions but the reductions I most want to sliver over today is weight reduction. Kicking my feet and flagging my arms, I am protesting this post and vow to make it as easy to digest as possible. January is National Diet Month.

Personally, I'm one stack away from clutter reduction but redeem myself in kitchen reduction. With the exception of canned beans, which I almost always have in one pantry or the other, I passed Mark Bittman's test for 10 things to get rid of in the kitchen with flying colors. (He suggest dried beans which really are less expensive and handy to have around.) Believe it or not, I'm quite good at kitchen reductions. Innovating too! I'm a firm believer in stock and have reduced many an item that didn't even know it needed to be reduced. It's the method I use to rescue bits and pieces of this and that within the confines of the freezer. That's a whole other story I'm afraid. As for the diet reduction, under normal conditions, no holidays, or extra boxes of Mallomars hanging around this house, I don't really eat very much. Don't get me wrong, I can sit down with the best of them and devour any number of tasty dishes. I just don't.

Pierre Franey

French Chef Pierre Franey, sometimes touted as the grand father of all food bloggers, was born on January 13, 1921. (source) He and N.Y. Times Food critic Craig Claiborne shared more than a 31-course dinner together. They collaborated on at least seven books. The explored the low fat profile of the "well bred" sausage. I know of at least one person, besides myself, who would have loved to attend the screening of the historic PBS film produced in 1976. As a gala celebration for America's 200th birthday celebration, Claiborne and Franey prepared a feast that would have been served at the White House during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. I have put the dvd on my secret wish list:) The Creative Arts Television archives has a summary of the film. 

In the early 1970's, Mr. Claiborne resigned from The Times, and for a while, he and Mr. Franey published a food and restaurant newsletter. When Mr. Claiborne returned to the paper in 1976, he insisted that Mr. Franey come with him. Thus began ''The 60-Minute Gourmet'' column.

Arthur Gelb, a retired managing editor of The Times who was instrumental in hiring Mr. Franey, said yesterday: ''Before Pierre Franey, haute cuisine was confined to the palates of the privileged. In partnership with Craig Claiborne, he popularized it, leading the way in making it understood and relished by the general public.'' source

The Recipes

Before I get to the Low-Calorie Gourmet cookbook, let me tell you about the fabulous Souffle au Fromage which Courtney from Coco Cooks adapted from The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet. I thought it was a perfect dish to celebrate Mr. Franey's day of birth which happens to be today in 1921! 

Approach to Lightness

From the inside cover:

Pierre Franey's Low Calorie Gourmet (1984), which is based on the theory that lots of people want to cut their calories without punishing thier taste buds. In creating this new approach to food, Franey has invented 250 recipes that cover every food group and every course. They use no cream, no flour based sauces, relatively little butter, and only a touch of salt, but they still taste wonderful.

From the introduction:

...many of the values and approaches to cooking that were mine decades ago are no longer mine. My approach to food-which has its foundations in the haute cuisine that reigned in the 1930s-has evolved from one that was heavily laden with the silken fats and oils of traditional French cuisine to one that tends to use them only as a minimum...

Shame on me for retiring this book to the deepest, darkest corner of the bookshelf. I really like this book. Actually, I have one and only one complaint. No pictures! If there is one thing I have come to learn, while hip hopping on the internet blog world, is the need and desire for mouth watering, criminally tempting "food porn." The introduction to the book is quite informative and offers a great deal of history related to weight loss. Franey brushes upon Escoffier's contribution to lighter cuisine, ["Escoffier was the first to banish the heaviness of espagnole, a kind of burnt roux, (a mixture of butter and flour), which was constantly in French cooking until then. He preferred to use arrowroot as the thickener and he was indeed trying to achieve greater lightness.] He also submits his thoughts on nouvelle cuisine as seen through his eyes while chef at the bewitching Le Pavillon. [..."One saw, for instance, the sudden popularity of cuisine minceur, the invention of Michel Guerard at his spa, Eugenie-les-Bains...]

The section on "the Art of Presentation" is one I should study. He proposes seven rules. The seven rules minus the narrative are:

Rule 1: Serve on Individual dishes.
Rule 2: Serve on warm platter for hot foods & chilled plates for cold food
Rule 3: Don't over crowd the plate
Rule 4: Strive for striking color combinations
Rule 5: Strive for precise patterns
Rule 6: Be aware of textures
Rule 7: Learn the three fundamental presentation techniques; saucing, slicing, molding rice:)

My favorite aspect of the book is, the commentary that introduces most recipes. First there is an introduction to the chapter which is followed by the recipe itself. For instance, the introduction to Franey's recipe for Broiled Lamb Chops A La Francaise reads:

"The Dutchess of Windsor (if I can be forgiven for dropping a name) would come to the Pavillon when I was its chef and practically survive on the simplest and leanest of lamb dishes. The secret is entirely in the preparation rather than the seasonings. The cooking is so rapid that everything else should be prepared ahead of time."

You see what I mean about pictures. Tell me why there is no picture to follow this oral presentation.

Presentation: The lamb is so simple that you want to accompany it with flavorful vegetables. Place the lamb toward the top of the dish with the meat overlapping and the bones going in the same direction. Place a broiled tomato on either side with a small portion of Zucchini Bordelaise below it.

I find myself slightly:) in the same culinary category as the Dutchess of Windsor. I often survive on a quick plate of lamb chops in any form! I will have to give the Zucchini Bordelaise a try. Copy it down, I didn't find it printed anywhere online!

Zucchini Bordelaise
1-1/2 lbs. small zucchini
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper (6 turns of the pepper mill)
2 tbs. fresh bread crumbs
1 tbs. butter
2 tbs. chopped shallots
4 tbs. chopped fresh parsley leaves
1. Rinse zucchini and pat dry. Trim off ends, but do not peel them.
2. Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan and, when it is hot, add the zucchini. Saute the zucchini over high heat, shaking the pan and tossing the vegetable gently. Add the salt and pepper. Cook a total of 5 minutes.
3. Add the bread crumbs and butter to the pan. When the crumbs start to brown, add the shallots and toss mixture for another minute. Serve the zucchini hot, sprinkled with parsley. Yield: 6 servings Calories per serving: 70

As an added touch, each recipe is offered with a presentation suggestion and calories per serving. Thank goodness, the back cover of the book has 6 small colored pictures. I've chosen to scan the recipe for Chicken Breast with Curry Sauce, pictured above.

Funny the way these things seem to fall in place. Today also happens to be Peach Melba Day. You can find a non diet recipe for Pêche Melba at the Old Foodie. It is said Chef Auguste Escoffier prepared the famous dessert, while chef at the Ritz Hotel in London. He created Peach Melba, as a thank you to opera star Dame Nellie Melba, who had given him two tickets to the opera "Logengrin". There are actually a few versions of this story.

Don't forget National Fig Newton Day (16th) and, give a toast to the remembrance of prohibition which was enacted by the eighteenth amendment on January 16, 1920 and thankfully later repealed. I posted recipes from Vernor's Ginger Ale last year in recognition of prohibition. The link is below. I probably won't be back before the 17th, so you might want to check the post I did for Benjamin Franklin's birth date last year. It's called Blogging Ben and what better way to celebrate ol' Ben's birthday but with Hot Buttered Rum Day (a favorite of his.) The 17th is also National Hot Buttered Rum Day. I will "see" you quickly on the 18th. It's Winnie the Pooh Day and I have the cutest Winnie the Pooh cookbook to share. I just can't resist no matter what they say!

1. National Diet Month!
2. Kitchen Reductions
4. Pierre Franey NY Times obit
5. Pierre Franey's Potato Pancakes
6. Selected Milestones In The History Of Dieting
7. Prohibition, Gin & Ginger-Ale

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Quick Links: Soup Month

"A hasty plate of soup"

As I sorta promised way back in December:) I am trying to trim down some of my posts. Not a big surprise considering January is not only National Soup Month but also, UG, National Diet Month.

The "Quick Links" label, which I first used the other day for Elvis's birthday, is my solution for now. I'm in the midst of trying to re-organize this blog, as I'm sure many of you are also doing, and also experimenting with the updated Hospitality Search Engine on the left. It's really working out good especially for posts like today. There are so many comforting recipes beneath the ever growing tree of blog posts, I thought it might be interesting to revisit some soup posts I have encountered trying out the search engine. Some of the recipes may be as recent as this year and even more are those posted eons ago. First, I would like to share the poem I posted for National Soup Month last year. For those of you who have already seen it, please bear with me but I just LOVE these kinds of poems:) I also posted two recipes. One for Joan Fontaine's Soup from A Meal In Itself by Mary Frost Mabon copyright 1944 and the other, which I scanned from The Master Book of Soups by Henry Smith, published by Spring Books and printed in Czechoslovakia. You can see that recipe for winter soup as scanned right here. (I hope:) It is a hearty winter soup made with oatmeal. Quite appropriately, I thought, since January is also National Oatmeal Month.

"One morning in the garden bed,
The onions and the carrots said
Unto the parsley group
"Oh when shall we three meat again
In thunder, lightning, hail or rain?"
Alas, replied in tones of pain
The parsley, In the Soup!"

Neither can I ignore the introduction given to soups in the 1894 edition of Recipes Tried and True available to read online right here. (its the cookbook nut in me, I'm afraid:)

The best soups are made with a blending of many flavors. Don't be afraid of experimenting with them. Where you make one mistake you will be surprised to find the number of successful varieties you can produce. If you like a spicy flavor, try two or three cloves, or allspice, or bay leaves. All soups are improved by a dash of onion, unless it is the white soups, or purees from chicken, veal, fish, etc. In these celery may be used.In nothing so well as soups can a housekeeper be economical of the odds and ends of food left from meals. One of the best cooks was in the habit of saving everything, and announced one day, when her soup was especially praised, that it contained the crumbs of gingerbread from her cake box!

Creamed onions left from a dinner, or a little stewed corn or tomatoes, potatoes fried or mashed, a few baked beans--even a small dish of apple sauce--have often added to the flavor of soup. Of course, all good meat gravies, or bones from roast or fried meats, can be added to the contents of your stock kettle. A little butter is always needed in tomato soup.

Stock is regularly prepared by taking fresh meat (cracking the bones and cutting the meat into small pieces) and covering it with cold water. Put it over the fire and simmer or boil gently until the meat is very tender. Some cooks say, allow an hour for each pound of meat. Be sure to skim carefully. When done take out meat and strain your liquid. It will frequently jelly, and will keep in a cold place for several days, and is useful for gravies, as well as soups.

This list of soup recipes is only a small selection of what I uncovered in the Hospitality Search Engine. It's working out so well, I've decided to add more links when I find time. They are in no particular order and gleaned from an assortment of bloggers. I've chosen to omit the blog names as I thought it might be fun to be surprised when you arrive. I suppose I am really in a soupy mood today because the forecast here in New York, which is going to prevent me from going home to PA tomorrow:( is dismal, cold and "snow like." I have a feeling it is already snowing in PA:(Have FUN! Stay warm:) 

1. Oven- Roasted Mushroom Soup
2. Baked Salmon in a Saffron-Tomato Broth
3. Broccoli and Sharp Cheddar Soup
4. Tony Roma's Baked Potato Soup
5. Broccoli Cheese Soup (in a bread bowl)
5. Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Soup
6. Lung Cleansing, Nutritious Watercress Soup Good For Smokers
7. Split Pea & Chorizo Soup
8. Curried Carrot Ginger Soup
9. Carrot & Kale Soup
10. French Onion Soup
11. Creamy Beetroot Soup with Horseradish & Caraway
12. Artichoke Soup with Pesto
13. Artichoke & White Bean Soup
14. Chicken Tortellini Florentine Soup
15. Healthy Chinese Chicken Soup
16. Macaroni Soup
17. Red Miso Soup
18. Mexican Winter Squash Soup
19. Potato Chive Soup
20. Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup
21. Red Lentil & Mint Soup
22. 16 Bean Soup
23. Bacon & Lentil Soup
24. Pinto Bean Soup

I stumbled upon Karen Cooks just this morning and was delighted to discover she has a cookbook giveaway going on just in time for National Soup Month. The book is titled Simply Soup. The giveaway is opened to everyone so you might just want to check it out! I'm also thinking about offering a giveaway, I just haven't figured out what and when. I have so many plans simmering this year but first I must get a bit more organized!

P.S. If you have a soup link you would like to add, be my guest. I'm trying to figure out how the "create a link" works but alas, I think I might be "create a link" challenged! As I end this post, It is Snowing!

Oh! one more thing, The "catch phrase" Where's the Beef? was first spoken on this day by that spunky little lady Clara Peller. These days, fast food visitors are more likely to ask "Where's the Beef? Look Hard to Find It!"

Resources (these links are previous posts)
1. National Diet Month! (except this one:)
2. National Soup Month 2008
3. National Oatmeal Month
4. Oatmeal Day January 2, 2008
5. The Invention of Tomato Soup
6. Dr. John Thompson Dorrance and condensed soup

Friday, January 9, 2009

Precocious Apricots

Question. What do the words precocious and apricot have in common? Answer. Both words come from the Latin root word praecos which means, "early ripening." Cool Huh?

APRICOT: According to Columella, the Persians sent the Peach to Egypt to poison the inhabitants; and a species of Apricot is called by the people of Barbary, Matza Franca, or the " Killer of Christians." The Persians call the Apricot of Iran, the "Seed of the Sun." The ancients appear to have regarded it as a prophetical or oracular tree. - It was in the solitude of a grove of Apricot-trees that Confucius, the venerated Chinese sage, completed his commentaries on the King or ancient books of China, and beneath this shade he creeled an altar, and solemnly thanked Heaven for having permitted him to accomplish his cherished task. Apricots are very plentiful, and in great variety, in China; and the natives employed them variously in the arts. From the wild tree, the pulp of whose fruit is of little value, but which has a large kernel, they extract an oil; they preserve the fruit wet in all its flavour; and they make lozenges of the clarified juice, which afford very agreeable beverage when dissolved in water. The name has undergone curious transformations: it is traceable to the Latin prerocia, early; the fruit being supposed by the Romans to be an early Peach. The Arabs (although living near the region of which the tree is a native) took the Latin name, and twisted it into al burquq; the Spaniards altered its Moorish name into albaricoque; the Italians reproduced it as albicoces; the French from them got abricot; and we, in England, although taking the name from the French, first called it Abricock, or Aprecock, and finally Apricot. Gough, in his British Topography, states that the apricot tree was first brought to England, in 1524, by Woolf, the gardener to Henry VIII. Gerard had two varieties in his garden. The Apricot is under the dominion of Venus. To dream of this fruit denotes health, a speedy marriage, and every success in life. (Plant lore, legends and lyrics by Richard Folkard (google books) 1884)

Happy Apricot Day!

Why National Apricot Day would be proclaimed by the Apricot Producers of California in the early part of January, which by the way is not peak time for apricots, is beyond the scope of this post. Especially since there isn't a kernel of proof available at their website, although, there are some interesting recipes. Does it really matter? Not to me it doesn't. I once had the fortunate experience of plucking an apricot off an apricot tree some years ago while traveling interstate 90 from New York to Washington. To this day I can remember the sweet delectable surprise I encountered, although, for the life of me I can not remember what state I was in. Up until that very moment, I had never eaten a warm freshly picked apricot because, I was wary of touching it. Perhaps, I should explain. I'm weird:) I think one of the reasons I don't bake is because I can not stand the feel of flour. Actually, it's worse than that. I can't stand the feel of flour, corn starch or baby powder. I've known this most of my life so the thought of touching an apricot or a peach for that matter was never one of my priorities. That all changed that day. And boy oh boy, am I glad it did. 

"In the Chinese culture, "Apricot Forest" is another term for the medical community. Medical professionals often call themselves "persons of the Apricot Forest". I knew apricots were high in Vitamin A. However, I didn't know they were a good source of potassium. That's a good thing for me to know because sometimes I get cramps in my legs at night and I'm sure it is from a lack of potassium:) They are also low in fat, calories and sodium. That's a GOOD thing!

"Apricot Forest" originally came from Dong Feng, who was a highly skilled doctor in the period of the Three Kingdoms (220 – 280 A.D.). Dong Feng, also named Jun Yi, was born in Fujian. Dong Feng and other two well-known doctors, Zhang Zhong Jing and Hua Tuo, were called the "Three Miracle Doctors" in that period. Dong Feng once practiced medicine in Mountain Lu, where his deeds were praised and he became a legend.

The California Fresh Apricot council suggests selecting "plump, well formed, fairly firm apricots with a delicate aroma and a golden orange color." They also say, ripe fruit should be refrigerated. They have the pictured apricot ice cream recipe available at their site. (this link may longer be working) I was grateful to be able to download the picture with their permission but ever so grateful to feast my eyes on that dish of oh so cold yet glowing bowl of sun kissed fruit. The image at the top of the page was kindly offered by wikipedia. They also have an extensive sampling of apricot history from cultivation to etymology. As wonderful as that is, I think you might prefer to visit the Morsels & Musings blog where you can find a recipe for Apricot Summer Soup and the wiki info too.

Did you know apricots could be frozen? I didn't. Gee, its kinda good National Apricot Day is in January. When that new crop lands in the supermarket, I'll be sure and buy extra so I can experiment with the suggestions for freezing apricots offered at about.com. They can also be frozen in sugar or syrup which may be more convenient for baking. 

Selection & Preparation of Apricots:
Select firm, ripe apricots with deep yellow to orange color.
To prevent browning while preparing apricots for freezing, canning, or dehydrating, place apricots in a solution of 3 grams ascorbic acid to 1 gallon of cold water.
Ascorbic acid is available in several forms:
Pure powdered form: seasonally available among canners’ supplies in supermarkets. One level teaspoon of pure powder weighs about 3 grams. Use 1 teaspoon per gallon of water as a treatment solution.
Vitamin C tablets: economical and available year-round. Buy 500-milligram tablets; crush and dissolve six tablets per gallon of water as a treatment solution.

Apricot Recipes

Among the many fruit trees in the Italian Orchard at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson planted a variety of apricot trees. In the list of foods named after people, it is written, Apricots with rice à la Jefferson was created by Charles Ranhofer author of The Epicurean in 1894. I did a quick check to see if I could locate the recipe but, alas, no can do. However, I did post a recipe on Presidents' Day last year for Jefferson's Rum Omelet which not only uses 4 tablespoons of rum but also 4 tablespoons of apricot preserves. Marion Harris Neil has another omelet recipe which includes apricots in The Story of Crisco

Apricot Omelet:
Cut 6 preserved apricots into dice, and heat up in a little fruit juice. Beat up 5 eggs, add pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon sugar. Melt in an omelet pan or frying pan 2 tablespoons Crisco, when hot pour in beaten eggs and stir over quick fire till they commence to thicken, put in the prepared apricots, then shape quickly into an oval form by folding the ends. Allow the omelet to acquire a golden brown by putting it in the oven, turn out on to a hot dish, dredge with sugar and serve at once.

The creations which can be brought to life with the addition of apricots are endless. We won't be celebrating National Amaretto Day until April, oooh, just before Apricot harvest in California:) but the Italian liqueur has a pleasant affinity in all sorts of desserts like Apricots in Amaretto which I found at A Spoonful of Sugar. Feeling feisty? Apricot Wine may just be "just what the doctor ordered."

Battenberg Cake not only has a checkered history (the theory is, the cake was created in honor of the marriage of Queen Victoria's granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg) it is also joined together with apricot jam. Now, you know I'm not much of a baker but if I were, I would certainly want to try my hand at making this glorious cake. It looks like it may take some time and energy to assemble but WOW doesn't it look AMAZING!

When I first posted the following recipe back in June for St. John's Eve, it seemed like the perfect recipe to bestow among the haze of Midsummer's Night Dream. I was also intrigued by my lack of finding another recipe by the same name online. I thought perhaps, it was known by a different name. My guess was right. As you may have read, the etymology of apricots has been romanticized through the ages. I'm guessing it is one of these dazzling entremets but, I'll be darned if I can figure out which one. So, my question is, which of the following entremets best describes the recipe for Apricot Floating Pudding (Pudim De Clara's Com Damascos?)

From Menus Made Easy by Nancy Lake (1907) available online at Chest of Books.

Apricots Abricots
à l'Americaine are cut in halves, stewed, and dressed on croûtes of fried bread; glazed with sugar,and served with custard.
à la Cécile are cut in halves, stewed, and put together again, filling the space the stone was taken from with crushed macaroons moistened with liqueur; set in little blocks of lemon jelly coloured green, and garnished with whipped cream and chopped pistachio nuts.
à la Condé are stewed, dressed round a mould of rice cream garnished with cherries, angelica, etc, and served with apricot syrup. Apples, pears, peaches, plums, etc., are dressed in this way.
au riz are stewed with rice.
Compote d' abricots is apricots boiled in syrup. It is also made of green apricots. A la créme, it is served with cream or custard.
Compote d'abricots half apricots sprinkled with sugar and à la Breteuil broiled, and served with apricot and raspberry syrup.
Croûtes aux abricots are fried slices of bread spread with preserved apricots, and served with a syrup of apricots.
Meringue d'abricots is apricot marmalade with custard over it, and meringue mixture on the top.
Pain d'abricots is a mould of apricot purée; it is served with cream in the centre.

So, I was thinking. Since this recipe is what I would like to call "rare," wouldn't it be fun for it to have it's own post. Now, you know, I'm not about to tackle meringue of all things, but, I know there's an awful lot of you out there that have no problem and would probably welcome the challenge. Any one up to creating their version of Pudim De Clara's Com Damascos? If you are, let me know and I'll give Apricot Floating Pudding permanent air space, with links to everyone's recipe:)

Pudim De Clara's Com Damascos
Apricot Floating Pudding
1 cup dried apricots
4 egg whites
5 tsp. sugar
Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
Wash apricots and cut into small pieces. Cook until tender. Cool. Beat whites of eggs until very stiff. Add 5 teaspoons of sugar and beat some more. Mix with apricots.
Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy skillet over a low flame until light brown. Remove from heat and slowly add boiling water. Place skillet back on low flame and simmer 10 minutes more. Spread mixture over bottom and sides of an angel food mold. Cool. After the mold has cooled, pour the apricot mixture into it. Bake for 25-30 minutes in 300 degree oven in a pan of water until done. Cool. Remove from mold and cover with sauce below.
4 egg yolks
2 tbs. sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat egg yolks and sugar. Blend in milk and vanilla. Cook over hot water in double broiler several minutes. Stir frequently.

I think this recipe, also from Chest of Books, may be an earlier version of Apricot Floating Islands. It's under Cold Fancy Sweets in "Larger Cookery Book Of Extra Recipes", by Mrs A. B. Marshall. (1891)

Apricot Meringues Meringues D'abricots
Take half a pound of finely sifted castor sugar, and mix with it a teaspoonful of Marshall's Apricot Yellow and a saltspoonful of Vanilla essence; rub it well together and allow it to thoroughly dry. Put in a whipping-tin four large fresh whites of egg and a pinch of salt, whip them quite stiff, then add the prepared sugar by degrees, taking care not to stir the mixture more than possible after adding the sugar. Take a hot baking-tin, rub it all over with white wax, then leave it till cold; put the meringue mixture into a forcing bag with a plain pipe and force it out on to the tin in portions of about the size of apricots, dust them over with castor sugar, and put into a moderate oven till quite dry and crisp on the top, but the under side should be somewhat soft; then take them from the tin, and by means of an egg work a little well in the bottom of each, holding the top of the meringue in the hand; return them to the tin and place them in the oven (care must be taken that the meringues are not hurried in the cooking or they will lose their colour); when quite dry remove from the tin and set aside till cold, then place in each of the little wells a small round of cooked apricot; place another meringue on the top of this, mask them over with Maraschino glace (vol. i.) coloured with a little apricot yellow, and dish up round a pile of stiffly-whipped cream sweetened and flavoured with vanilla; serve as a dinner or luncheon sweet, or for any cold collation. These meringues can be kept ready for use if put in a dry place.
1. National Apricot Day (@ Yum Sugar)
2. The Apricot Hex?
3. Selection & Preparation of Apricots
4. Raiders of the Lost Cocktail: Apricot Brandy
1. Home-made Apricot Cinnamon Jam (@ Dhanggit's Kitchen)
2. Caprese Salad & Apricots (@ Kalyn's Kitchen)
3. Sour Cream Panna Cotta & Fresh Apricot & Amaretto Sauce
4. Opera Cake: Intensely Apricot
5. Winter Squash & Apricot Glaze Casserole (Chef Kevin Enright, O.C.C. Culinary Arts Institute)