A Fine Day to Cook

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The sky is gray, the air damp; clouds loom.  It's a day to stay inside and cook.

After the silly recipes of the past few days, here's one that sounds like a project worth investing time in.  (I have no Tilsit on hand, so I'll probably substitute a pungent Gouda.)

I imagine serving this with roasted tomato soup, and perhaps a cucumber salad on the side.  Lovely little dinner on an almost-fall night.

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A Cake to Conjure With

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I'm trying to think who would want to create this cake, from the January 1975 issue of Gourmet, and suffering a total failure of imagination.  The same person, I suppose, who'd want to make this Filet of Beef en Gelee.

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Should you, however, be that person, here's the recipe for the cake.  Roll up  your sleeves; it's going to take some time.

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A Truly Ridiculous Recipe

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I'm not sure I even need to editorialize about this recipe, which says a great deal about what the notion of "gourmet cooking" was when it was printed, in January 1975.  I imagine Gourmet readers, with a great deal of time on their hands, spending hours making these fussy little hors d'oeuvres. Every single step is time-consuming.

It gives me great pleasure to see these old recipes. And even more to know that this is one I won't be trying any time soon. Or ever.

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 Tomorrow, another recipe from the same  issue.  It may be even more absurd.

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A Recipe for a Cool Fall Day

It's hard to believe that Gourmet ever published a recipe for blood sausage, especially one that casually begins, "For every four cups pork blood...." Perhaps in 1951 the average American could go next door and borrow a few pints of blood from the neighboring farmer? 

Here, for your delectation, is the recipe.

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And if you're in the mood for those sausages, perhaps you'd like some of these as well?

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Good Sauce, Fancy Booze

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From 1983 - an unusual green sauce, requiring all manner of interesting herbs

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And a stunningly expensive bottle of booze (and remember, this is 1983 dollars).

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Stir-Fried Potatoes - and More

A couple of fascinating recipes from the February, 1984 issue of Gourmet.  Although they're from a winter issue, they could not be more timely.  If you're going to make these stir-fried potatoes from the much-lamented Auntie Yuan restaurant, what better time to try them than right now, when new potatoes fill the markets?

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 As for zucchini - well, if you have a garden, you'll be grateful for this simple recipe.  I made it last night - using red peppers in place of green and upping the amount of basil, and it vanished so quickly I never even got to take a picture!

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And I could not resist this ad: farm to table, circa 1984:

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Vintage Popcorn

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File this under: Everything old is new again. From a 1984 issue of Gourmet, a whole slew of fascinating suggestions for gourmet popcorn.  Do not miss the bacon-Cheddar version!

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Farm to Table Squared

 

 

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This might be the most delicious chicken I've ever eaten. If you want to taste it too, you need to go to Fish & Game, Zak Pelaccio's ur-local restaurant in Hudson, New York. It's a beautiful restaurant, a former blacksmith shop that's all dark wood and local craftsmanship, with an open kitchen and the scent of wood-smoke wafting through the romantically-lit room.

But it is definitely not for everyone. 

If you're intrigued by the notion of a restaurant so dedicated to using local products that the chefs make their own fish sauce, their own Worcestershire sauce and spend the summer canning vegetables to use in winter, you'll want to eat here.  Fish & Game does more than pay lip service to the notion of local food; they're serious about the whole notion of local, seasonal and nose to tail. But like all great restaurants, this kitchen disdains the notion of playing it safe; the chefs are constantly experimenting, and not everything succeeds. 

But first, the chicken: an exciting expression of how great simple cooking can be. The menu says it serves 2, but this prodigious bird (which costs $65) is easily enough for 4. The skin is so crisp it crackles, the flesh so soft, smooth and velvet-tender that had I not seen the bird emerge, whole, from the oven I would have sworn the breast had been cooked sous-vide. We tucked in, eating it with our fingers, savoring every seductive bite.

And then, when we thought we were finished, the carcass arrived at the table. IMG_6401

I've always believed that meat is sweeter close to the bone, and I sat there, unabashedly stripping the meat away, placing it on the damp, rich bread tucked beneath the bird. Saturated with the moist bacon-scented drippings, this was a Tom Jones moment.  But the best was yet to come.

I woke at 4 a.m. with the bright light of the crescent moon pouring into the bedroom. Outside the tree frogs were having too much fun.  I looked up to find Orion spread across the sky. Tiptoeing into the kitchen, I snatched the chicken from the fridge and took the carcass outside. Alone in the clear, star-dappled night I listened to the wind calling softly through the leaves, eating the last of the chicken.  

There were other fine moments in this meal. These oysters, with their spicy vinaigrette:

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Lobster fried rice, an irresistible tangle of textures and a symphony of sensations: rich, soft, crisp, crunchy, the lobster gentle among those brittle fried grains of rice.,

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And this corn with clams and caviar - an inspired combination.  The brininess of the clams underlined the sweet intensity of the corn in the most wonderful way.

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Beans, tossed with all the herbs and vegetable of the season, pure summer.

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And a puree of potato that paid homage to the great Robuchon dish - pure decadence - a mountain of butter with a bit of potato whisked in.

It would be difficult to end on a higher note than this simple panna cotta, sparked with plum, zinged with balsamic, just the right note of sweetness.

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The wine list is impressive. We drank an extremely delicious Sicilian rose - Susucaru - from a slightly mad winemaker who, like the restaurant, is rigorous, organic and iconoclastic.  Still, I wish there were more affordable wines on this list.  The wines are fairly priced, but it's for rich people; there's almost nothing below $60. 

The food is also fairly priced; you're going to spend a lot of money, but if you're a food-focused person you'll think it's worth it to experience this intensely focused kitchen.  And if you're not..... you may just be annoyed. There's a cool arrogance to this restaurant, which leaves you feeling that they're more concerned with what they're doing than how you're feeling.  They have a mission, but it's not, ultimately, about making you happy. I know people who hate this place.  And I understand why.

As for me, I admire what they're doing.  But you'll have to excuse me; I have a chicken carcass waiting to become soup.  

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Three Swell Recipes

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The January 1977 issue of Gourmet has three recipes I can't wait to try. Two are for unusual pancakes. The first, from an article by Fanny Todd Mitchell on the pleasures of Auvergne, are for buckwheat pancakes. They're served as dessert, usually with jam or honey, but I imagine them with slices of ripe peaches and a dollop of sour cream.

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The next, a reader request for some pancakes sampled at the Buena Vista Hotel in Nassau, are an innocent version of crepes suzettes.

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And finally, a recipe I could not resist, for a basil and fennel-scented chicken stew from La Mere Blanc. This sounds exactly like what I'll want to eat in early autumn!

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A Fine Souffle

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Today's vintage recipe - don't you love this photo? - is from the January 1985 issue of Gourmet. Although it's a winter issue, it's perfect for the current season, when markets are filled with just-picked peppers, young eggplants, scallions and garlic. I'll be making this for Labor Day lunch, using fresh red peppers and tomatoes in place of the jars suggested here. 

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And here, as promised yesterday, is the young Jacques Pepin and his recipe. 

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About Chiles...

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This is from the January, 1985 issue of Gourmet - one of those issues that's filled with fantastic food and intriguing articles.  Trolling through I found a wonderful photo of a young Jacques Pepin, some souffle recipes I can hardly wait to try, an ode to parsley, an article on young American cheesemakers. And part one of the series on The Cuisine of Mexico by the always wonderful Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz.  

In this article she's dealing with dried chili peppers, offering recipes for moles, tingas, and pipians. The recipes all sound wonderful, but this one, pictured above, sounds both easy and very delicious. Here's the recipe. 

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The World Expands: 1978

These ads, from a 1978 issue of Gourmet, prove that everything old is new again. The anglo-American palette was widening its horizons, and “exotic” products entered the ad market. In the current age of coconut craziness, the idea that it was being "introduced" is extremely enlightening. 

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What can you do with coconut cream? The world is wide: Trout coco amandine, coconut bread, cornish hen coco casa. Oh my!

It's equally hard to think about a time when buckwheat (kasha is roasted buckwheat) seemed exotic. If only we could peak inside this kasha cookbook: 

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I couldn't find a copy of the cookbook, so I offer in its place this treasure trove of kasha recipes, from Birkett Mills, which has been operating since 1797, turning out, among other things, Wolff's Kasha. 

 

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The Mutton Chop of Fish

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What, you might ask, is this?

No, this little fantasy is not dessert. And yes, that fish is real. This improbable confection on the cover of a 1952 issue of Gourmet Magazine is  filets de sole Joinville.  

I like to imagine America's bravest cooks eagerly devouring this recipe, running out to buy the (extremely long) list of ingredients, and then balancing that final mushroom in the middle. Had their friends arrived yet? What else was for dinner? Did anybody request the recipe? And where did they find the truffles?  We’ll get to the recipe, but first, a word from Gourmet’s editors: 

“The ancient Romans and before them the Greeks, no mean gormandizes, wisely considered the sole the most dedicated of fish and esteemed it for its nourishing and light flesh.  They went so far as to compare it not to the mutton chop in the Englishman’s tribute but to the partridge.  And, of course, they recommended sole, along with other fish, as an aphrodisiac, which was always their perfect and ultimate tribute…”

And for the curious, a note on M. de Joinville, after whom this delightful dish was named: 

"Filets de Sole Joinville was named after the son of King Louis Philippe of France. “Prince de Joinville” was by training and inclination a sea-faring man and had commanded the ship which brought the remains of Napoleon home from St. Helena. Like Lafayette a war or two earlier, Joinville came to the States, no longer United, to offer his services and those of his son and his two nephews to the government at Washington.  After the war was over, Joinville wrote an count of the Campagne du Potomac, La Guerre d’Amerique. For this Joinville, otherwise remembered very little for his services to his country and to ours, a dish of filets of sole was named. It is a most worthy dish, very beautiful, as you can see on GOURMET’S cover this month, most delectable, as you will find for your self when you have ventured it. “

Now for the recipe. It speaks, I believe, for itself:  IMG_4021 (1)

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A Note from Pappy

Found this ad in the September, 1960 issue of Gourmet.  

What stopped me was the picture - it looked so much like the label on my bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Bourbon.  Then I saw the name.  

But I pass it on because it's difficult to imagine anyone writing ad copy like this today. 

 

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This is, I believe, the same Julian Van Winkle whose picture adorns my favorite (and sadly almost empty), bottle of bourbon. Although I must say he looks a whole lot happier here.IMG_6345

A bottle of Pappy is hard to find, really expensive - and a total treat. Old Fitzgerald is another matter. It's a wheated bourbon, and very affordable. And it's still Bottled-in-Bond.  

 

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Vintage Vegetables

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Sitting here staring at a huge pile of vegetables from the farmers market, trying to figure out what to cook. Trolling through a pile of old Gourmet Magazines, I came upon a couple of  interesting old recipes.  These are retro classics,far richer than anything a modern cook is likely to come up with. Both intrigue me: the braised cucumbers, because I think we too rarely consider cooking this versatile vegetable, and the stuffed eggplant because, well, it's from Galatoire's and it's really extreme.  

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And then, just because it's the salad season and you might be interested in exotic dressings, here are a few suggestions from May 1973 including a few I've never heard of.  Lorenzo Dressing, anyone?

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This issue, incidentally, just might have one of the strangest covers ever printed. 

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It is, should you be curious, "a covey of doves, symbolizing the peacefulness of the Burgundian countryside." The photograph is by the great Ronny Jaques.

Tomorrow, an odd ad from Julian P. Van Winkle, circa 1960. If I'm not mistaken, that's old Pappy himself. 

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More Vintage Gourmet: August 1951

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I love these old Rheingold ads.  With their perennially blond women doing their best to make a working class quaff classy, they say so much about the culture of the time,  

But you don't need to stick to the ads to for that information. The recipes also tell us a lot about the times.  Here, for instance, are a couple of dishes from Gastronomie sans Argent, the column the editors created for people with more taste than money. 

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Because we're at the height of the peach season, here's a recipe you might actually be inclined to make. A friend just dropped a load of windfall peaches on my porch, and some of them are destined to become peach leather.  What I love best about this recipe?  You do the drying in the sun.

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And given our newly coffee-conscious culture, this ad leapt out at me.  I couldn't find out anything about Senor Pinto, but I did discover that in the fifties coffee was San Francisco's second most important industry. 

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A Vintage Surprise: Bindaeduk

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Today’s Gourmet is from 1982, but if you excise the airbrushing and the ads - mostly for cigarettes and booze - it’s easy to feel that you're floating in ambiguous culinary time. Sitting down with this issue, I’m transported to Cartagena (eating ceviches and rich soups), and then South Carolina, where I’m drinking an egg white cocktail (which was, of course, already retro in 1982.)

But nothing surprised me more than a recipe for  bindaeduk, the Korean mung bean pancake. For one, there aren’t any shortcuts. Can't wait to make this. 

For extra punch, use kimchee liquid to bind the mung bean and rice mixture instead of water. Just be sure you adjust the salt accordingly. 

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And a delicious looking recipe for pyeonyuk, or pressed beef (above picture.) 

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London: The Finale


 ......Dinner at Dinner, continued

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 "Powdered duck"

This is duck that’s been dry-brined (“powdered”) then cooked sous-vide so it’s incredibly tender.  On the side, an astonishing concoction of blood pudding and cream, along with ‘umbles - the offal.  In this case, fried duck hearts. 

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Pork with a ruffle of cabbage.

The pork, thank you very much, is the black foot Iberico, fed exclusively on acorns.  The sauce is Robert, made from chopped onions cooked in butter, with demi-glace, pepper and a white wine reduction, finished iwth mustard.  A version of the dish can be found in Varenne's Le Cuisinier Francois, published in 1651. Although the book is in French, Varenne was Henry the fourth's chef.

 

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 Lamb. Really great lamb. With a little rectangle of cucumber heart. That's borage on top, and mint. 

 

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  Sea bass.  Mussels. Seaweed.  Salmon roe. 

 

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Beef for 2; the English classic, beautifully done and served with mushroom catsup, which predates the tomato sort. 

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The potatoes are sublime (butter with some potatoes whipped in) and the beef is aged, beautifully cooked, delicious. 

 

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Beans  (not crisp!) with shallots

 

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Carrots, beautiful carrots, cooked with caraway.

 

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Tipsy cake with spit-roasted, rum-drizzled pineapple.

 

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Roasted peach, yogurt, peach sorbet, jasmine. A very feminine dish.

 

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 Strawberry tart, deconstructed. I wish it didn't look so similar to the roasted peach.  l

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 The dessert to dessert, a chocolate and Early Grey pot de creme served with a rye and caraway biscuit. 

This meal wasn't cheap.  Still, with a lot of (good) wine, some cocktails, tax and tip, it came to about $150 a person. (It was, after all,  celebrating a significant birthday.) I’d say that the price/quality ratio was excellent; I can't think of a restaurant in New York where you could get a meal of this quality at that price.  London’s not cheap, but this meal... well I can’t wait for the next person in my family to have a big birthday.  As they say in France, vaut le voyage

 

 

 

 

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London, Part 2

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Why did  I never realize what a truly beautiful city London is? Maybe because it’s been years since I was here in summer.  But you can’t walk more than a block or two before coming upon a park or a garden. Fountains play everywhere, and even subsidized housing flats are a riot of colorful wildflowers. 

Passed these flowers on the way to Borough Market. Has it changed this much since last time I was here?  It's a madhouse, so packed it's almost impossible to move. Still, there are some highpoints.  

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Tiny little lamb legs at The Ginger Pig.

Wandered over to Neal's Yard, where they no longer make the fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches.  "They're making those at Kappacasein’s."  We found it more by smell than anything else, an aromatic scent of melting cheese floating over the market.  And there it was, that fabulous sandwich of Montgomery cheddar melted onto Poilane bread with lots of different alliums.  

But they also make raclette, Ogleshield (yes, the same cheese we had last night at Quo Vadis), melted onto potatoes with onions and pickles.  

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It's made on this ingenious melting machine. 

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 Afterwards, walked over to the Tate Modern. If you're there while it's still on, don't miss the remarkable Agnes Martin show.  Like a visit to spa: a calm oasis in the midst of madness.

Museums pop up where you least expect them.  Wandering past smoky Lincoln’s Field - filled with picnickers grilling meat - we came upon the John Soane Museum.  Soane was a famous architect and teacher and obviously a little mad.  His house is packed with architectural models, drawings, artifacts - all piled upon each other in vast profusion.  One tiny room contains 180 paintings - including the complete Rakes Progress by Hogarth. The museum is free, quirky and should not be missed.

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But then it was time to eat again.  We stopped for an ice cream and found this sitting on the table.  Never seen such a thing before- America conquors the world!

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 My dinner at Dinner 

Lot of hype.  Number something or other on the list of 50 Best Restaurants.  And I loved it last time I was there, just after it opened.  So I knew I was letting myself in for a big disappointment.

But it was my brother’s birthday, and I thought he’d like the whole idea of eating history.  So I, almost reluctantly, made a reservation.

I don’t think we’d been there ten minutes before we all relaxed into the experience.  The service was.... wonderful.  Enthusiastic. Caring. Welcoming.  Endlessly professional.  You couldn’t help feeling that these people were proud of what they did, wanted you to have a great experience, and would do anything to ensure that.   

And the food - from the first bite of bread to the last morsel of pudding - was pure pleasure.  We ate almost everything on the menu, and there’s not a single dish I wouldn’t happily order again. 

To begin: great bread.  Fabulous butter.

A wine list that has some stars - 82 Bordeaux abound - but also good wines at reasonable prices.  And a sommelier who helps you find them.

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Meat fruit.  This is, believe it or not, liver pate.  Fantastic.  Unbelievable.  Gorgeous. Delicious.  A relic from the 13th century, when they loved playing with food, making one substance look like another.  Back then it could never have tasted this good. 

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Porridge. Frog’s legs. This is what I thought: I have to start paying attention to oatmeal.  It has as much potential as rice.  Garlic.  Parsley. Fennel. 

 

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But then, of course, there was the risotto.  It’s not called that on the menu.  It’s called rice and flesh- and it comes from 1390  - but it is, in essence, the best risotto you’ve ever eaten.  Intense.  The rice cook in saffron with red wine, tasting of beef, of rice. 

 

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Marrow bone.

Marrow’s become a kind of joke; everybody serves it now. But not like this.  This was not just a blob of richness in a bone. It was chewy.  Against something even chewier: snails. And served with the loveliest little pickles. 

 

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Crab and toast.  What is there to say?  Except that maybe it also has trout roe.

 

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 Salmagundy.

A dish dating back to 1720. Chicken oysters - the tenderest part of the chicken - served with salsify, horseradish. 

This was just the start to a roller coaster ride of a meal.  But this post is getting very long; think I'll save the main courses (and dessert) for tomorrow.

Stay tuned. 

 

 

 

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A London Odyssey, Part 1

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Landed in London, checked into the truly welcoming Charlotte Street Hotel.  We walked in with some trepidation; it was a family reunion, and our little group spent months arguing over where to stay, switching back and forth between various hotels and an airbandb place before settling on this little boutique hotel.  The staff was fantastic, the rooms attractive and comfortable.  We settled in and set off to find a small bite.  It was noon, and we were HUNGRY.

Wandering around we came upon Barshu.  I stared at the menu in the window.  I had a memory, in the back of my mind, that Fuschia Dunlop consulted to them. The offerings were enticing.  And it smelled - well, irresistible. In we went.

We'd promised not to eat too much until the rest of the group arrived, so we ordered modestly.  A few dan dan noodles.

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some smashed cucumbers

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and that red pepper chicken up above, which may be the most fun you can have at the table. This is food to play with, searching through that bright pile of peppers until you happen upon the crisp, lip-numbing bits of fried chicken scattered abundantly about. I could do it for hours.

We wandered the streets - London in the sunshine is the most glorious city - until the rest of the group arrived.  Then made our way to Barafina; the raucous tapas bar doesn't open til 5, but at 4 o'clock there was already a line.  Little wonder; this is a lively place where neighbors share food and the wait staff never seems to stop laughing. Can't help wondering if they remain equally cheerful as the night wears on.

This is what we inhaled in a matter of minutes. 

crisp shrimp

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 baby octopus they call chipirones

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 razor clams

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empanadas filled with a really rich crab filling

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tiny slipper soles, 

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langoustines.  I longed to order one of the carabineros - huge prawns - but at 16 pounds a pop couldn't bring myself to do it.  Besides, this was only a little snack before dinner.

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We went on to one of my favorite places in London, Quo Vadis, a fantastically old-fashioned restaurant where chef Jeremy Lee is making thoroughly modern fare.  This first dish was a revelation - an entirely new take on humous.  Hiding beneath that sprightly mash of fresh peas and mint was a puddle of  chick peas swirled with little more than olive oil and lemon so the flavor of the legume itself came singing out.  It was light, refreshing, entirely exhilarating. And those crisp chips put pita in its place; I much prefer these delightfully cheesy triangles.

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But there was much more to love.

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Ogleshield toasts: welsh rarebit between crisp buttery slices of bread

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Squid. Lemon. Tomatoes. So light and lively.

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Lamb!

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The BEST fried potatoes ever!

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And a duck, elderflower and plum salad so delicious that the duck-hater in the group decided

she must be wrong. 

 

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A lovely piece of hake, bathing so elegantly in its tasty parsley and anchovy pond.  

  

We were up early the next morning, to visit the Smithfield Market, a gorgeousVictorian edifice that was once the central market for all of London. Today it deals exclusively in meat and poultry.  Our timing was off;  apparently Europe's most modern meat market starts around 11, gets going in the wee hours, and by the time we arrived at 7 a.m. it was nearly deserted.

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 Happily, we encountered Biffo, who made the entire trip worthwhile: 

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If you've seen My Fair Lady, you will instantly recognize (and love) this man.  He’s a philosopher who’s been working in the market for 47 years. “We’re family,” he said.  “You spend more time with your mates 'ere than with the people at 'ome.” He told us that in the old days men swung the beef carcasses up on hooks.  “You had to be professional. If you missed it fell - and that was your lot. Broke your back.”

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Tomorrow: a little-known museum, a few surprises, and a memorable dinner at a truly great restaurant. 

 

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A Country Weekend

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It's the weekend.  And you are - if only in your dreams - in the country.  In June 1984 Gourmet offered a few recipes to celebrate summer. 

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I particularly like the idea of this cold lettuce soup - accompanied by what were - at the time - very racy hot pepper toasts.  Today I'd probably use Sriracha - and top them with some of the fresh hot peppers which are starting to fill the stands at the farmers market.

And for dessert - how about this frozen cappuccino?  You'll note two things about this retro recipe: it was long before the coffee craze, so it asks for nothing more than instant coffee powder.  (The truth is that instant espresso powder was a Gourmet staple for years.)  It also predates the egg crisis, when salmonella became a household word, so while the whites remain raw the recipe lacks the now-ubiquitous warning about danger lurking in uncooked eggs.  

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Cowless Curds

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It’s 1952 and Gourmet columnist Lawton Mackell is about to try tofu for the first time. The host of Ho-Ho restaurant, George Seto, has persuaded him to deviate from his usual favorite, winter melon soup, and order dow fo choy sum instead. What follows, under the title “Cowless Curds" is pure delight - and a reminder that the magazine was ahead of the curve in acknowledging New York's culinary diversity: 

“Abandoning the idea of winter melon soup, a specialty which the Ho Ho’s chef does superbly, I put my soup fate into their hands. Result: Chinese tureen of dow fo choy sum— clear, flavorful chicken broth containing sliced water chestnuts, hearts of bok choy (Chinese cabbage), julienne of pork, and quite a few cubes of delicate bean curd.  Though the admission came hard, honesty compels me to acknowledge that the opaque white cubes were as fascinating in taste and texture as the translucent green ones of my yearning and that the soup was an equal success.

 I was puzzled, though, by soy bean’s ability to be always dark in soy sauce and always snow-white in curd.  Host George explained that soy sauce, besides being a vehicle for salt, contains caramel. The curd, on the other hand, is made from crushed bean sans coloring.  It comes from the manufacturers in square flat cakes which, even under refrigeration, deteriorate within twenty-four hours. Hence, they are a rarity in restaurants anywhere outside the radius of an active Chinese colony. I might add that cubed curd melts in the mouth."

 

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More Vintage Ads from the Fifties

 

Sometimes the ads are as interesting as the editorial.

We're still in 1951, here, still in that same issue of Gourmet.  I don't think I need to explain why each of these ads delights me.  Although it's possible you'll miss that little line in the Blue Nun ad about vintage 1937 Auslese. Blue Nun, incidentally, was the largest international wine brand in the fifties. 

 

 

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What is a Fireplace Oyster?

Sorry - can't seem to get enough of this January 1951 issue of Gourmet.  There's a delight - and a riddle - on every page.

Consider, for example, this ad for "fireplace oysters" from the "oldest oyster cultivators in U.S.A."  I hoped that the J & JW Elsworth Company was still cultivating their oysters, but the only oystermen I could find in Greenport Long Island were Little Creek Oyster and Widow's Hole.  Neither, sadly, offer "fireplace oysters." I did discover that Fireplace Oysters were served at the Plaza Hotel in 1951 - presumably from the Elsworths.  But I could not find a single other reference to this particular creature.  If anybody has any information on them, I'm curious. 

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Then there was this interesting ad for a "yogurt incubator"; who knew Americans were making their own yogurt in 1951?

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And finally, a recipe I find hilarious for so many reasons.  Dating from a time when skinless, boneless chicken parts were not a supermarket staple, a time when white bread stood in for rice, it's hard to imagine that this simple dish was actually served in a restaurant. Should you be wondering about that "Key Sauce," it's nothing other than a Pakistani brand of soy sauce.  (My guess is that it's made mostly from water, sugar and caramel coloring, but I couldn't find a picture of the back of the bottle.)

And then, just for fun, an interesting remedy for ailing cats.

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As Promised....

Without any fanfare, here is the Angel's Tit as published by Gourmet in 1951.  I can hardly think of anything that sounds worse.

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Well, to be honest, these other Angel Drinks sound equally loathsome.

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There were, however, some really good suggestions in this issue - often in the form of ads.  This, for instance:

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Since I've become increasingly interested in whole grain, stone-ground flours, I went online to see what I could find out about Bear's Mill.  I was expecting nothing - but I was wrong. Bear's Mill is still a working grist mill, still grinding flour, still selling it.  There is, it seems, some hope.

And then I found this: an ad for the first electric coffee grinder.

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 I happen to have one, and like it very much.  Kitchen Aid started making this retro model again about ten years ago.  Apparently it was not a huge success and the model is now discontinued. But you can still find it in a few places.  Here, for instance. 

And then there is this interesting ad.  My mother used to buy ripe black olives, but it's been years since I've even thought about those bland black orbs. This recipe brought back a sharp taste memory; I'm pretty sure my mother once made this dish.

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A Few Blasts from the Past

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It's 1951 in Gourmetland, and Chiquita Banana is wiggling her hips (and cooking with coconut), men are (to everyone's apparent amazement) washing up,

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and inquiring minds want to know how to cook peacocks.

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Tomorrow, from this same issue, a recipe for haunch of wild chamois and, I kid you not, a drink called "Angel's Tit."

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Something Fishy from the Past: Eel Mania

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It would be hard to imagine a mainstream epicurean magazine running an entire feature on eel recipes - but that's exactly what I found in the August 1951 issue of Gourmet.  After an opening ode to the eel, the magazine offered a number of recipes.  I liked these two best:

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And in case you've been thinking that Rheingold was the only beer that ever advertised in Gourmet, here's a word from their competition.

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My Favorite Weed

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Purslane!

I love this crisp, juicy, slightly lemony green - and I was thrilled to find it at the farmer's market today.

To my mind purslane makes every salad taste better - simply wash it well (the leaves tend to cling to dirt, so don't be careless about this), and strip the leaves right into the bowl alongside your garden-variety salad greens.  It makes terrific tacos, quickly steamed,  stirred into a quick green salsa and topped with queso fresco.  Steamed and mixed with tomatoes and olives, it makes a fine Moroccan salad. 

But today, I think, I'm going to mix it into a cucumber and tomato salad with a very lemony vinaigrette.

Begin by peeling, seeding and dicing a few cucumbers until you have about 2 cups.  Dice a pound or so of tomatoes, until you have an equal amount.  Add some chopped scallions or a half of a diced red onion, and a cup and a half of coarsely chopped purslane leaves. 

Now stir in a cup of chopped Italian parsley and then mix it all with a lemony vinaigrette (2 tablespoons of lemon juice whisked into 3 tablespoons of olive oil, along with salt and pepper). If I have the time, I think I'll add a few whole pieces of lemon as well, although peeling lemon sections can be annoyingly time-consuming.

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Past Peppers

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You and I are going to live longer!  

That's the takeaway from a new scientific report that eating spicy food reduces your risk of death by ten percent.  If you're a hot food fan - and that includes just about everyone I know - this is great news.

But it turns out that Gourmet got there first.  Trolling through a vintage issue of the magazine, I came upon this article on chili peppers - an upbeat users manual - in a thirty-one year old issue (June 1984).

Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger walk us through a market in Guadalajara, describing the different notes of each pepper they come across. It’s totally instructional. Better yet, they offer this very appealing recipe for a corn and chili pepper soufflé. 

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The authors throw in a well-meaning (if patronizing) note of caution. Their disclaimer: 

“Some cautionary notes are in order for novice chili pepper consumers. In cultures where large amounts are eaten, people develop a tolerance for their pungency.  The best way to achieve this tolerance is to begin by eating small amounts frequently.  If you are not accustomed to eating hot peppers, consuming a large amount at one time can cause a great deal of unpleasantness." 

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Things I Love: Roe Rocks My Boat

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This is Mentaiko - spiced pollack roe.  Originally Korean, it's become a Japanese staple. I think of it as soft Asian bottarga with a little chile kick.  And I use it in almost everything I'd use bottarga in. Sometimes it stands in for uni, although more for texture than for flavor, and it makes a really delicious pasta dish.  You can find mentaiko at most Asian markets; I bought mine at Sunrise Mart.

But my favorite way to eat mentaiko?  Very simply.  Squeeze the roe out of the sac onto a small bowl of hot rice and mix like crazy.  

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If you're looking for a good pasta recipe, here's one I like very much from Grace Keh: it's not only an excellent recipe, but a very good explanation of exactly what to expect when you're using mentaiko.

And while we're on recipes I like.... A recent post on Zester about savory peaches intrigued me too much to resist. I've never thought of using peaches as if they were a vegetable and the result was really fantastic.  The peaches I used were hard as rocks - so hard I peeled them like apples - but in the end they were tender, fragrant and absolutely delicious.  If you've never thought about peaches with ginger and garlic, they're a fine surprise.  They made a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of spicy Chinese noodles. 

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Edouard de Pomiane's Tomates a la Creme

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De Pomiane's Cooking in Ten Minutes may be my favorite cookbook.  If you don't know it, you're in for a treat.  

I wait all year to cook his extremely simple tomatoes in cream, which may be the first three-ingredient dish I ever attempted.  All it takes is butter, tomatoes and cream.  (Although I admit that I occasionally break down and sprinkle on a little salt as well.)  And of course, you do need a bit of bread to mop up the spectacular sauce. 

Here's the recipe, via Elizabeth David, from the 60th anniversary issue of Gourmet (September 2001).

I'd print the photograph - the tomatoes are right here, sitting in front of me - but this dish is the best argument I know against taking pictures of your food.  And I wouldn't want to do a single thing that might deter you from cooking this most delicious summer dish.

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(Although the version printed above is the one I've always used, I've just discovered that the version in the first English translation, pictured above, from 1948 is slightly different. It includes not only salt and pepper, but also onions.  Do what you will with this information.)

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And since I'm looking through this book, I thought I'd toss in the preface so you get some sense of the delightful Dr. de Pomiane.  (He was a serious scientist who also had a long-time cooking show on French radio.)

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Meet the Frog Man of Florida

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As promised, that cherry soup from the tenth anniversary issue of Gourmet (1951).  

And then, just because I agree with the author, Samuel Chamberlin, that the trout recipe sounds delicious, I'm including that.  Along with one for salt rising bread; this is different than the one Marion Cunningham gave me, years ago, but it too captures natural yeasts from the air.  I'm going to try it. (Marion's salt rising bread has the most remarkable cheese-like flavor; I wonder if this one does too?)

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A Requested Recipe: Fast, Easy, Delicious

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"Help!" a friend of a friend wrote.  "I've lost the recipe for an easy cake printed in one of the last issues of Gourmet."

She said the cover was a beautiful apple (actually, it was a beautiful quince).  A group of us scrambled around, trying to find it.  And here it is.  

You could make this with just about any fruit.  Hard to think of a better way to spend fifteen minutes. 

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Some Pig from the Past

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This issue of Gourmet, January 1951, has lost its cover.  Which is too bad; according to the copy inside, the illustration was a pig's head in honor of the magazine's tenth anniversary.  (The first cover also sported a pig's head.) But what's left is rich indeed. A great article by Louis Diat about the Ritz.  Some fine Food Flashes from Clementine Paddleford.  An article about halibut by the great Robert P. Tristram Coffin.  Samuel Chamberlin on Franche Comte (along with a recipe for cherry soup that I'll print tomorrow).

Then there is this rather remarkable article that tells you how to cook the pig's head - along with every other part of the pig. Herewith, a small sampling. Personally, I find La Pompadour's recipe really does make me want to eat my heart out. 

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Very Corny: Gourmet, 1974

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Heading off to the farmers market, where I know I'll buy some corn.  Who could possibly resist this time of year?  And so, as promised, a vintage corn recipe from the stack of old Gourmet magazines. This one is from an October issue; in 1974, was there still corn in the markets in October?  

This year summer has been so lush that the corn will certainly be gone by the time fall rolls around.  So the time to make corn soup is now.

 

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And here, from the same issue's article on breakfast sausages, are

Corny Sausage Puffs  

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Couldn't resist this ad from the issue.  Not because I find the idea of a long cigarette so compelling, but because whatever these two are traveling in (train? plane?), I'd like to join them.  Look at those seats!

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Vintage Parsley Spirals

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This is another recipe from yesterday's vintage issue of Gourmet, June 1983.  

Looks very appealing to me.  

Tomorrow: a couple of corn recipes from the past.

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Vintage Chicken

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It's June 1983, and on the cover of Gourmet two chefs in Wales head out to the kitchen garden to gather food for dinner. Early farm to table!

Inside the ads are primarily for cigarettes and booze - although there is this rather wonderful ad which says a great deal about what people worried about at the start of the eighties.

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As for recipes.... this one, for a sort of Spanish chicken, impressed me as very much of its time.  (Although I am puzzled by the size of the chicken; when was the last time you saw a bird this small?)

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Perfect Recipe for this Beautiful Day

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Peach Upside Down Cake

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This is from this September 1974 issue of Gourmet.  Please not that this cover dates from a time when the magazine had no thoughts of newsstand sales, and was confident that its readers did not need to be persuaded to open the magazine.  (The doors belong to the Beau-Rivage Hotel in Lausanne; inside Joseph Wechsberg "details the delights of this splendid hotel on Lake Geneva's shore.")

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And here, for your further entertainment, is my favorite ad from the issue:

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Another Vintage Food Processor Recipe

From Gourmet, 1975 

As promised yesterday, here's another recipe from Gourmet's inaugural piece on the food processor in 1975.  This one looks like quite a project.  I wonder if it's worth it?

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And for your further delectation, here are a couple of ads for artisanal food products  from an earlier era.  These are from the September 1951 issue. Eight lobsters plus a peck of steamers for $14.95!

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Another Great Vintage Issue of Gourmet

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April, 1975 is such a rich issue you could spend hours reading articles by Joseph Wechsberg, Naomi Barry and Lillian Langseth-Christensen.  There are wonderful restaurant reviews by Jay Jacobs and Caroline Bates.  And then you could go on to spend days cooking from the issue. Literally; some of these recipes are stunningly time-consuming. 

This was the issue that introduced the Food Processor to the American public.

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And here is the first recipe; it would make a perfect little summer supper.

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And - sorry, I couldn't resist this - here's a rather shocking example of what is now being called "native advertising,"  smack dab in the middle of the article.  

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Things I Love: Head on Shrimp

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Finding head-on shrimp is increasingly difficult - and that's a shame. 

Why do you want the heads on?  Because they make this gorgeous red stock (the color comes from the fat in their heads):

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This is what the stock looks like when it's cooking:

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And here is how you make it:

Stock

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

heads and shells of ¾ pound medium shrimp

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

¾ cup wine

4 cups water

 

Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp and put them in separate bowls. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the shrimp heads, onion, carrot, and parsley, and cook over medium heat, covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp shells, ¾ cup of white wine, and 4 cups of water and simmer very gently, uncovered for about an hour and a half to make an intense stock (it will turn bright orange from the fat in the shrimp heads). Strain the liquid into a bowl and set aside. There will be about 1 ½ cups stock. 

What do you do with it?  It will improve almost anything you're making with fish.  As part of the liquid in paella, it's superb.  If you're making a seafood pasta, cook the pasta just al dente and finish it, briefly, in the stock.  It's the start of a lovely bisque....

Where did I find these wonderful, sustainable (and expensive)  sun shrimp?  You can order them by mail - or if you're lucky enough to live in the Berkshires, you can order them from Rubiner's every week. 

 

 

 

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Italy in America, Circa 1951

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Some early issues of Gourmet were absolutely stellar. This one, April 1951, was one of those issues. Yesterday we looked at a few Chinese recipes.  Today I'm adding a few recipes from an article on produce in the Veneto by a writer named Dorothy Giles.  I haven't been able to find any information on Ms. Giles, who wrote this wonderful little aside on American produce of the time:

"Throughout the United States, even in good fruit-growing regions, fruits are like children brought up by an emotionally unstable mother.  Either they early give up the struggle for security and grow neurotic themselves, or they develop a tough hide and a self protective lack of personality. "

In Italy, she said, things were quite different.  She went on to extol peaches, pears, stracchino cheese, fresh ricotta - and this lovely-looking vegetable tart.

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Made the torta last night, which reminded me that in the fifties Gourmet didn't have a test kitchen. This recipe needs a LOT of help.  Basil, for one thing, which was unavailable in 1951.  (Angelo Pelligrini didn't publish the first American recipe for pesto until the middle of the decade.) I'd forgotten that eggplant slices were such serious assassins of olive oil; they simply soaked it up.  Next time I'll salt them before frying, which draws out the water and makes them less absorbent.

You also need really great tomatoes (which I lacked),  a little garlic would be good, and unless you've got real mozzarella, use some other cheese like a fresh teleme in place of those supermarket slices that turn to rubber. And next time, I'll use half and half instead of milk, and sprinkle the top with grated parmesan. 

I'll let you know how that turns out.  Meanwhile, should you be interested in another vintage ad, here's your chance to help select Miss Rheingold, 1952.

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From China with Love, Circa 1951

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You don't think about Americans eating - much less cooking - sophisticated Chinese fare in the fifties. So I was truly surprised to find recipes for an entire Chinese banquet in this issue - Bird's Nest Consomme, Shark's Fin, Pheasant, Bamboo Shoots, Wined Kinghwa Ham.  And yes, there were even a few recipes for tofu. And here they are...

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I made the tofu last night (reduced the oil to a single tablespoon, added more garlic, ginger and scallions) and served it over rice. It was a perfect little meal for a hot night. Fresh and simple, like eating clouds.   

But there are, in fact, many fascinating recipes in this issue - for French, Italian and even German dishes.  I'll be posting a few more in the days to come. 

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More Vintage Fritos Recipes

Last week's vintage Fritos recipes were such a hit that I went trolling through old issues of Gourmet, looking for more.  Here, from the September 1951 issue, are a couple of gems.

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Tomorrow, a few truly surprising Chinese recipes from that issue.  They're remarkable for the time - although I think I'll skip the recipes for bird's nest and shark's fin. 

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Remember Pousse Cafes?

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I certainly do. When I was a cocktail waitress, conventioneers loved to come into the lounge I worked in and order pousse cafes all around.  This was a nightmare for the bartender, who had to make the things - but more of a nightmare for the waitress, who had to carry them, very carefully, across the dining room, with a tableful of drunks hoping that you'd trip.  They tasted terrible too - sticky sweet.

But they were very pretty.  And I never knew that this particular contraption even existed:

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Vintage Dal, Lasagna and a Great Old Grill

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It's September 1960, and Gourmet has a very good piece about growing up in South America - complete with recipes for empanadas that sound very good. But that recipe also has a "Chilean paella" - pictured on the cover - which is kind of a mess of a recipe. All you need to see are those canned olive-embellished artichoke hearts to know you don't want to try this one.

But a few recipes in the issue sound great - and are rather avant garde for the time. Consider this recipe for Dal (although you might want to think twice about using chili powder, and toss in a few freshly ground Indian spices instead).

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Then there's this recipe, which stunned me.  Homemade pasta? In 1960?

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And just for fun, an ad. This cast-iron, all-purpose smoker, grill and broiler apparently had a rotisserie inside.  Looks fantastic. If this appeals to you, there's a vintage model for sale on Ebay for a mere $850.

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Very Likable Lamb

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Romney Sheep

Went into The Meat Market in Great Barrington the other day, in search of inspiration, and spied a very lean-looking leg of lamb.

"It's a Romney," said the butcher.  "We don't get them very often."

"What's different about that breed?" I wondered.

Sheep, he explained, are divided into two categories: wool sheep and meat sheep.  Romney, apparently, are the exception. They have excellent wool - and tasty meat.

Not sure about the wool part, but I can attest that this was the most delicious lamb I've ever cooked. The meat is very mild, without a hint of that gaminess so many people find objectionable.  

I love lamb. I especially love leg of lamb for dinner parties because it's the most forgiving cut of meat- delicious no matter how much (or little) you cook it.  Unlike beef, which is, in my opinion, hardly worth eating unless it's rare, lamb is delicious in every state from rare to well done.  You can put it in the oven with no worries. I always cook lamb with rosemary and garlic, so it makes the house fantastically fragrant as it cooks. 

Now that I've discovered Romney lamb, I've got a problem; when am I ever going to find more?

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Two (Old) Recipes and One (Hilarious) Ad

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It's July 1960, but this couple doesn't seem to realize they've left the fifties behind.  Another interesting note: nearly all the ads in this issue of Gourmet are for liquor of some sort.

Little surprise then, that the recipes tend to be rather boozy.  Here are two:

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A Little Taste of 1960

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 The fifties were over; it was the first summer of the new decade, and what were New Yorkers dreaming of?  An all-inclusive trip to Hawaii, which could be had, airfare and hotel included, for less than $800.  How times change!

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To prepare you for that trip, the editors kindly threw in a recipe for the  kind of Chinese shrimp toast you might encounter in Waikiki.  (Gourmet of the era seemed quite enamored of MSG, but I'd skip it.)

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Not your cup of tea?  How about some savory summer pancakes? This all-American recipe sounds quite intriguing; I've never seen one like it. 

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But maybe you'd prefer a drink?  Go outside, snip some herbs, and make yourself a potent Bloody Mary. (There's that MSG again....)

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How to Store Basil

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If you're tired of opening your refrigerator and finding that the basil you bought two days ago has wilted into a sludgy black mess, take a look at the basil above.  I bought it at the farmers market three weeks ago.

"Treat it like flowers," said the young woman I bought my bunch from.  "Just put it in a jar of water."

"And put the jar in the refrigerator, right?" That's how I've always stored it.

She shook her head.  "Nope. Just put it on the counter and leave it there.  You'll be surprised how long it lasts."

For weeks now, I've been surprised.  The flavor? Still powerful, still green, still pesto-perfect.

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About this journal
Where am I eating? What's for dinner tonight? And what books have I been reading? For a look at what's going on in my life lately, take a look at this journal, which I try to update on a regular basis.