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Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Fireside Cook Book, What a Gem!

I have been wanting to share The Fireside Cookbook by the one and only James Beard, for some time now. One reason why I haven't is because I wasn't sure my other camera would do some of the images justice.

I wasn't too worried about scanning the images. The book isn't as fragile as some other cookbooks I have in my collection.

As a matter of fact, for a book published in 1949, I'd say it is in excellent condition! Sure there are a few "bumps & bruises" on the corners but, hey, I was "born" a few years later than 1949 and I too show wear for the years:)

It was the "magical" dust jacket I was most concerned about. When unfolded ever so gingerly, the dust jacket opens up into a 24" X 20.5" wall hanger glimmering with whimsical illustrations and quirky prose much like the contents of the book.

It too shows a bit of tattering, but how utterly charming is this?

Or this?

Here's a capsule about the book from The James Beard Foundation.

The Fireside Cook Book: A Complete Guide to Fine Cooking for Beginner and Expert
(Simon and Schuster, 1949.
Retitled in 1982 as The Fireside Cookbook. Reprinted in 2008, in hardcover.)

"The Fireside Cook Book was a comprehensive text, not unlike The Joy of Cooking but with more personality. The charming color illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen deserve credit, as does Beard’s voice, apparent in such menu suggestions as "Dinner for a Gloomy Day When All the Leftovers Are Gone." The book contained more than 1,000 recipes, typically a basic preparation, such as cream soup, followed by a set of variations—cream of asparagus, cream of corn, and cream of celery. Beard made no bones about his desire to create an American cuisine, writing, "America has the opportunity, as well as the resources, to create for herself a truly national cuisine that will incorporate all that is best in the traditions of the many people who have crossed the seas to form our new, still young nation. The volume was, according to Jones, "the most lavishly produced American cookbook to date," and Beard made his culinary reputation on it."
The Complete Works of James Beard article by Alexandra Zohn and Peggy Grodinsky

What do too many cooks NOT do? Well, if you're anything like me, a person who has collected cookbooks for years and managed to amass thousands of cookbooks, yes readers, thousands, cooks simply do NOT take advantage of their cookbooks. Not only do cookbooks influence the choice of "What's For Dinner" they hold the key to the culinary past as well as the culinary future. As soon as you add that pinch of you to a recipe, whether it be a bit more on the pepper, less on the salt, you have made that recipe your own! Not Sally's next door, or Martha's from Yoga class not even James Beard's recipe! In essence, what is a recipe but a formula precisely followed when need be and creatively "tainted" when the feeling arises. A reflection of you, on a journey into culinary history!

Take these ingredients for instance, Corned Beef, Boiled Potatoes Chopped Onions, Fresh Ground Pepper, Nutmeg and Butter. What do they equal? James Beard's Corned Beef Hash.

cyb12 photo 77951578-1914-4b72-8eda-9e40a91183ac_zps331eb4b4.jpg

One day while I was visiting Joyce @KitchenFlavours, I happened upon a new event she is hosting called Cook-Your-Books: A New Cooking and Baking Event. In Joyce's words, "Cook-Your-Books is all about cooking or baking from your many cookbooks or magazines that you have collected over the years." So, "kiddies" that's what I did. And boy oh boy, am I ever glad!

As many of you may have noticed, I sure do a whole lotta talking about cookbooks on this blog. Thing is, I don't do a whole lotta cooking! Well, for one day, I'd like to change that. So, today I offer you the rest of the recipe for Corned Beef Hash from The Fireside Cook Book.

"Homemade hash can be a triumphant dish, especially if you use a fine piece of corned beef that is flavorful and finely textured.

Chop the corned beef. Add 1/3 of that amount of chopped boiled potatoes and, if you wish, 1 small onion, finely chopped. Blend the ingredients and taste for seasoning. You probably will not need additional salt, but you may wish to add some freshly ground pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
Melt 4 to 6 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add the hash and press down into the pan. Cook over slow heat until the hash has formed a crust on the bottom. Fold over as you would an omelet and serve at once."

Since Marion and I were having "Breakfast for Dinner," and we wanted to finish the leftover corned beef from the night before, I decided to go with Mr. Beard's Baked Corned Beef variation with a twist.

"Pack hash into a buttered casserole and dot with butter. Bake in a moderate oven (350°) until nicely browned on top.

Corned beef hash may be served with the traditional poached egg or with scrambled eggs mixed with plenty of chopped parsley. This is perhaps the one dish that requires chili sauce, but be sure it is slightly warm, for a cold sauce on hot meat is most unappetizing.

And since I was already going to have the oven on for baking the hash, I decided to toss in a couple of eggs about 15 minutes into the baking time and also to "throw" another baking sheet in with these simple, but deliciously addicting, Baked Cinnamon Apple Chimichangas that I found at La Cocina de Leslie. Wha La, a journey into culinary history! For more reasons than one I'm afraid.

My timing was a wee bit off:) The recipe for the Chimichangas said to bake for 12-15 minutes. I went with the 15 which was when I cracked the eggs into the little indentations I made in the hash. If I were to do this recipe again, and I just may, I would put both the eggs and the Cinnamon Apple Chimichangas in at the same time. As for the chili sauce, which I think Mr. Beard was spot on about, I would do just as I did; heat it up a few seconds right on the stovetop!

I chose this simple recipe to share with Cook-Your-Books for another reason. The one thing about the King of Concoctions, which is basically "a dish consisting of diced meat, potatoes, and spices that are all mixed together," it knows no boundaries. It may have assorted names in different parts of the world but in some form or another, culturally, hash is oh so versatile!

Thank you so much for visiting today. I'm off to thank Joyce for hosting this event and attempt to link this post to Cook-Your-Books. I hope she doesn't mind kitchen errors:) I'm also going to do a bit of buzzing around the blogsphere visiting you "guys." I'm preparing for the Picnic Game which I'll be posting about next Tuesday, June 18th! Enjoy, Louise