30 July 2014

Kitchen Garden Experts

We love kitchen garden books.  That being said, Kitchen Garden Experts is quite extraordinary. We came upon this very British book by way of the photographer, Jason Ingram.  We love, love, love him.  He photographed our favorite cookbook of recent memory, The Ethicurean.  So now we have kitchen gardens and Jason Ingram!  Add in Cinead McTernan, the editor of The Simple Things magazine, who manages to corral gardeners, chefs, recipes and dynamic photos to pull it all together and you have a great book.  In the old stereotype, the English were great gardeners but rather lousy cooks.  This book proves that they are both. 

Raymond Blanc's 27 acre Le Manoir garden
 To start with, this is not your raised bed in the backyard type of kitchen garden.  These are farms, educational centers, walled ecosystems, and plots with elaborate greenhouses.  There are a few gardening tips, but the biggest tip is to hire a full time gardener!  As for the recipes, don't think just because these guys grow their own peas that the menu will feature a nice bowl of mushy peas.  These chefs haven't gone to the expense of hiring passionate gardeners and fussing over ingredients to simply toss them in a salad. 

The recipes are often long, with several preparations to achieve the final dish.  There is Chef Duncan Barham's whose dish, Beetroot Textures, requires eight different preparations to pull off  his beet salad.  Then we have the ever elegant, yet simple Ruth Rogers of River Cafe with a Sorrel Frittata. 

The book features venerable names like Jekka McVicar and Sir Terrance Conran along with new kids on the block like the Pennington brothers and Mark Cox at the Ethicurean.  Some of the gardens were gardens in past centuries, some only a few years old.  The mix is intoxicating. 

David Kennedy and Ken Holland in "The Pod" bringing the kitchen to the garden.


One of our favorites, Skye Gyngell, who spent many years cooking in a small kitchen behind Petersham's Nurseries, has moved to a larger canvas, but retains a desire for home grown produce.  Here is her recipe for a simple syrup that transforms a plain, soft cheese into an elegant dessert.

Rose Hip Syrup

1kg/2lb 3oz rose hips
350ml/12fl oz water
750g/1 1/2lb caster sugar

1. Wash the roe hips and remove their stalks.  Pulse the hips in a food processor to chop coarsely.  Quickly place the hip pieces in a saucepan of 175ml/6fl oz boiling water.  Once the water has come back to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.  Then strain, reserving the liquid.  In another 175ml/6fl oz boiling water, repeat the boiling process and strain once more. Having strained off the liquid, this time discard the rose hips.

2. Measure the strained liquid, then put back in the saucepan on the heat.  For each 1 liter/1 3/4 pints of strained liquid add 750g/1 1/2 lb caster sugar.  Stir to help dissolve the sugar.  once it has boiled and the sugar dissolved, remove from the heat and pour the sugar into sterilized jars to cool. 

Kitchen Garden Experts is a must have.  The biggest problem is where to shelve it.  Maybe we should get two copies, one for the cookbooks and one for the gardening books!  Not a bad idea.

28 July 2014

Soul Food

Soul food is like pornography, you know it when you see it.

But very often, seeing it and explaining it are not mutually inclusive.  Then Adrian Miller came along with his book Soul Food.  Miller is about as good as anyone at explaining what soul food is and why it is so important.  This is especially necessary at a time when "Southern cooking" is becoming so prevalent that every city from Juno to Jackson Hole thinks they can throw a piece of chicken on a plate with some greens and claim to be soulful!

Readers of this blog know that my "go to" guide for soulful, Southern is Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies, who knew a thing or two about chitlins, grits, and crawdads. Food used as fodder for jokes in the 1960's now finds its way to restaurants across the country. (and before you e-mail, yes, I know that Granny was actually Daisy Moses, a Clampett in-law and not an actual Clampett, but she was often referred to as Granny Clampett.  Let me also say that I am delighted to find so many Beverly Hillbillies sticklers out there, but I digress...)

It is hard to extricate food, class and race from discussions of soul food.  It is very easy for these issues to be glossed over or generalized to the point of common clichés.  It is the great strength of Soul Food to move the discussion forward.  Miller acknowledges the easy generalizations.  He addresses them, then shifts the discussion to  a larger context, both historical and culinary.  His chapter on chitlins is a prime example.  Walk into an old-fashioned Southern, soul food, "meat and three" restaurant in the South and the food will be remarkably similar.  However, one can tell immediately if the owner is African-American by the inclusion of a single dish -- chitlins.

Miller points out that the "face" of nose-to-tail cooking is a Brit, Fergus Henderson.  Henderson has been lauded for his revolutionary approach to eating whole animals, but a subway ride to Harlem (or a drive to any Southern city) would turn up dozens of cooks using snouts, ears, intestines, and tails.  (Once again, I digress but if Daniel Boulud would put squirrel on his menu, just saying...)

Miller dispels that common notion of "white folks wouldn't eat it" by pointing out that chitlins were considered rather high end cooking to the likes of Hannah Glasse.  Still, for both races in the South, there is a classist stigma to eating chitlins.  Of course, that same classist mentality was prevalent in West Virginia where children were laughed at for eating ramps which are now selling for $15 a pound in Brooklyn. 

Historic nineteenth-century Southern cookbooks were devoid of chitlin recipes regardless the race of the author.  Miller finds chitlins recipes in Freda DeKnight's 1948  A Date With A Dish. Miller notes that while DeKnight offers introductions to other recipes, there are no headnotes to the chitlin recipes.  (I cannot confirm this as A Date With A Dish is a book I have been searching for in it's jacked, first printing, but when I find it it is always out of my price range, but again, I digress...)

Miller writes:

"Chitlin eating among whites went private or entirely underground..."

I know that when I go to the Florida Avenue Grill and order chitlins, there is a a definite pause before taking my order.  While I haven't cooked chitlins, I have watched my Mother cook them.  I don't recall either experience being private or underground, but who knows? 
 I say screw class, screw race, lets all get together for a big old chitlin whoop-de-do.  

But first, you need to grab a copy of Soul Food, the worthy winner of a James Beard Award.  And for more info check out Adrian Miller's blog.

24 July 2014

Sweet Paul Eat & Make


Once upon a time, a nice Norwegian boy, named Paul Lowe, found he had a knack for cooking and making the food look really fine. He parlayed this knack into a job as a stylist. But he wasn't simply happy making other people's food look great, he wanted to show off his own food.  So he started a blog and named it for himself, using the nickname he got from his flamboyant godmother, Sweet Paul.  The blog was an immediate success and soon it spawned its own magazine called -- yes, Sweet Paul.  

Then the blog/magazine got its very own cookbook: Sweet Paul Eat & Make.  In addition to his cooking skills, Sweet Paul is also a bit of a crafter and he has included several easy projects in his cookbook.  One look at this cookbook and you will understand why Paul was such a whiz as a food stylist.  The photos are inviting, making you want to cook everything in this book.  

It is no secret that we love eggs and so does Paul.  Here is Sweet Paul's preface to this recipe.

"I’m often asked what my favorite ingredient is. I always answer the same thing: eggs! I never get tired of them; there’s so much you can do with them. Runny, sunny, poached, hard-boiled, scrambled, put into omelets, on top, under, in the middle—any which way, just give me an egg, and I’m happy.
We feel the same way! 
Baked Snug Eggs

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for the pan
8 medium-thick slices good-quality smoked ham
2 scallions, thinly sliced
8 large eggs
4 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, with a rack in the middle position. Butter four small gratin dishes.
2. Fry the potatoes in the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
 
3. Place 2 slices of ham in each dish. Divide the potatoes and scallions evenly among the dishes, then add 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon cream to each dish. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the eggs are set.
5. Serve warm.

What a great way to start the day.  Grab some eggs, play some solitaire, dye a tablecloth, bake a cake, you can do it all with Sweet Paul!

22 July 2014

Olives & Oranges

Sara Jenkins owns the very famous Porchetta restaurant in New York City.  If she did a Porchetta cookbook, it would be slim indeed, as Porchetta serves porchetta.  OK there are a few other things, but people go for the porchetta.  Luckily for us, Jenkins compiled a collection of decidedly Mediterranean dishes in Olives & Oranges. 

There was a huge dust up in the cookbook world when Julia Moskin wrote her now infamous, I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter.  Generally, writers are only tangentially mentioned if at all.  Mindy Fox teamed up with Jenkins to write Olives & Oranges, and her name figures prominently on the cover. 

Sara Jenkins grew up smack dab in the middle of Mediterranean food.  Her father was a foreign correspondent and her mother is the food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins and before she was event a teenager, Jenkins had lived in Italy, Spain, France, Lebanon, and Cyprus.

There is an introductory chapter on the pantry and as one might guess, there is olive oil and olives, a variety of citrus, pasta and beans, za'atar and sumac and a nice pecorino.  The pantry items are prominently featured in these recipes.

The olive oil even makes it into a favorite dessert.  An olive oil cake is to the Mediterranean as a pound cake is to the South; they are plain, tasty cakes that can be dressed up or eaten right out of the pan. Everyone knows how to make them, and each recipe varies just a bit.  And you can rest assured that my mother makes olive oil cake better than your mother.  Use a really nice olive oil.


Lemon Olive Oil Cake
 
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put oven rack in center position and heat oven to 325°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on high speed for 5 minutes, or until pale and thick. Add yogurt and zest; beat to combine. With mixer on medium speed, add oil in a quick, steady stream. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture just until blended. Whisk batter by hand to make sure that all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour batter into pan. Bake, rotating pan once, until cake is golden, center springs back to the touch, and edges pull away from pan, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for a minute or two on rack, then release from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing. 
So many "Mediterranean" cookbooks feature food from Italy or occasionally Spain, but Jenkins takes the reader on a comprehensive tour of the whole Mediterranean area, pulling the best and spiciest in a single book.

18 July 2014

The Esquire Culinary Companion

Charles H. Baker was quite the man about town.  Actually he was quite the man about everywhere.  Baker traveled the world compiling recipes for food and most notably, drink.  His magnum opus was the two volume The Gentleman's Companion: Being an Exotic Cookery and Drinking Book, published originally in 1939.  Since that time, The Gentleman's Companion has been read, collected, re-printed, and recollected since it was published.  So successful was The Gentleman's Companion, that he fell back on the formula for The South American Gentleman's Companion. 

As a writer for Esquire, he traveled the globe sending back witty and wise dispatches.  Each stop on his culinary adventure around Europe featured a "Baker's" dozen: 13 of his favorite recipes from the sojourn. 

His prose is a flourish of deeply rich purple.  Everything is large, grand, and memorable.  The martini's are the coldest, there are tidal waves of diet-death whipped creams, there are astounding, colossal gardens, and world-famous Alfredo sauce.  I dare say Baker would be laughed out the Esquire offices today, but think back to a time when the biggest celebrity chef was named Boyardee.

Baker's recipes are unmistakably, well, astounding and colossal.  Recipes are filled with instructions such as, " hit it in a 400 oven," "rubbing it into oblivion," "slice with a keen blade," and "put a complex layer of prosciutto on top."

Here is a great recipe from jolly old England.
The Trout

Trick about this simple trout dish is to use twice as much butter as you'd usually plan, and heat gradually until hot but in no way smoking.  Dry fish carefully, season with nothing but salt and hand-milled pepper; dip in a trifle of flour--shaking off all excess.  Then the next trick: Put tail of every fish  into hot butter first until covered 1 1/2 inch or so.   Hold thus for a few seconds each, then lay gently in butter and poach.  This way the fish do not curl up as usual.  Brown over not-to-furious heat.  Fish come out tender and moist.  A bit of fine-snipped parsley and a wedge of lemon, perhaps, is the sole garnish.  No extra flavors to detract from the fish itself , which is correct as can be.
I am liking that "trifle" of flour.  You may not want to cook from a Charles H. Baker book, but reading it will definitely bring a smile to your face.  The grandest most memorable smile, ever!

16 July 2014

America Eats!

Where is the Works Progress Administration (WPA) when you need it? 

Alas, like so many really great government programs, the  WPA ran out of money and vision at roughly the same time.  In the 1930's, the WPA sent writers and photographers into the countryside to document what America Eats! It was an illustrious bunch: Dorthea Lange, Ralph Ellison, and Eudora Welty, to name a few. 

They went to Seders, homecomings, cemetery cleanings and taverns.  They ate barbecue, possum, chittlins, and oysters.  They documented the food with photographs and recipes and in the end, the book was never published.

Then Pat Willard came along.  Willard set out with the blueprint for the unpublished manuscript and searched archives around the country to find the original documents for America Eats! Some were lost, some were lacking the recipes, some were in disarray.  Willard hoped to assemble a book as close to the original intent of WPA project, though she often needed a bit of context to tell her own story.    As she travels looking for old WPA documents, she meets renown chefs lost in their own grandness, family farms, and food traditions carried on for centuries. 


The old Fulton Fish Market shipped 10,000,000 pounds of shelled oysters a year.  The Oyster Bar of the Grand Central Terminal is a far cry from the original 3 seats it had in 1913.  But the oysters remain famous.  For America Eats!, Allan Ross Macdougall was given this recipe by the chef in 1941.

Grand Central Oyster Stew

Melt 1/4 ounce of butter in a double boiler; add 1/3 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon celery salt, 1/3 teaspoon paprika, one shake of white pepper, 8 drops of Worcestershire sauce, 2 large tablespoons of oyster (or clam) liquor.  Boil briskly for a few minutes with constant stirring.  As mixture bubbles high add 8 oysters and cook 3 minutes more, all the while turning the oysters gently.  Add 1/2 pint of rich milk and continue t stir.  When mixture begins to boil, pour out into a bowl, add a at of butter and s shake of paprika,  Serve with small round oyster crackers.

With a large mess of a manuscript (actually, about a hundred small, disparate manuscripts) Willard has done a fine job of giving a feel to this lost project.




14 July 2014

Buvette

Happy Bastille Day, y'all.  Actually, the French never seem to say "happy" Bastille Day. In fact, they are much more happy with la Fête Nationale on a calendarOr simply saying today is le 14 juillet.  Truth is we Americans seem much more happy about it than the French. 

Alas, we are in West Virginia but if we were in New York City, (or now, in Paris ) we would be at Buvette right now.  Since we are here not there, we thought Buvette would be the very best cookbook for today.  By her own admission, Jody Williams is a self-taught cook and a bit on the intuitive side.  Those are the cooks we love.  A cook that can tell us about a dish and we can cook it, no amounts or ingredients lists needed. Of course, in today's market, such a cookbook would be an impossibility. But we like to walk into the kitchen thinking it is the way to go.

Williams is known for her careful sourcing of eclectic, vintage items that she uses in decorating the restaurant and many of those items make their way into the photographs in the book.  The team of Gentl & Hyers did the photos.  They are known for making the most mundane objects look as though they were painted by Dutch masters. 

If there is a problem with this book, it is that every time you turn a page w you want to eat what is on the page.  One might actually starve trying to decide just what to make.  Did we mention we are wishing we were in NYC right this minute?  

The book has its fair share of French classics, but if there is one dish that Buvette is known for, it is the Mousse au Chocolat.  Williams has shared the recipe and made the mousse on television on numerous occasions.  In keeping with her self-taught aesthetic, Williams has offered up the recipe in various fashions.  The most disconcerting was a recipe that offered up the whipped cream as "optional."  Not a chance.  Here, now, is the definitive recipe.

Mousse au Chocolat

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks)  unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 pound (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate,roughly chopped
1 tablespoon water
3 large eggs, separated, plus additional egg white
Pinch coarse salt
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
Crème fraîche or lightly sweetened whipped cream


Put the butter and chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl along with a spoonful of water and set over a small pot of barely simmering water.  Stir until completely melted.  Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the 3  egg yolks together in a large mixing bowl with the salt.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the 4 egg whites in a large mixing bowl, or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the yolks, one-third at a time, into the chocolate mixture, making sure each addition is completely combined before adding the next.  Don't be tempted to add the egg yolks all at once  -- adding in batches will help regulate the temperature of the egg yolks and keep them smooth and uniform.

Next, carefully fold the stiff egg whites into the chocolate mixture, being as gentle and careful as possible so as not to lose any of the volume you have worked so hard to create in the egg whites.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the refrigerator until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days in advance.

Scoop the mousse, which will have become a striking combination of fluffy and dense, into serving bowls and serve with crème fraîche or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

While the French love to open their restaurants in America, few Americans load up their French restaurants and open them in Paris.  Really, who doesn't just love Jody Williams.   With Buvette, any day is a happy one.

11 July 2014

Not A Cookbook --Wes Anderson


"Twee" has always been one of my favorite words.  It was a lost, slightly obscure word that is now a cultural buzz word.  I am not too sure I like that!   Anyway.   The Twee-King is Wes Anderson.  (That would be Twee-King, not twerking which is horrific enough when Miley Cyrus does it, but god-forbid we ever had to see Wes Anderson with Robin Thicke! But I digress...)

I have always been a huge fan of Wes Anderson all the way back to his pre-tweeness.  One of my favorite things about Anderson is his obsessive attention to detail. 

In the hands of less creative director, Moonrise Kingdom, would have a Boy Scout Camp, easily recognizable book titles, and a pop-driven score.  Not Anderson. In Andersonville, there are Khaki Scouts, The Girl from Jupiter, and Benjamin Britten.  Nothing screams teen romance more than Benjamin Britten. Yes, somewhere there is a Khaki Scout Handbook. And yes, of the six books that Suzy Bishop held dear, including The Girl from Jupiter, Wes Anderson wrote long passages for each book just in case one needed to read aloud these fictional fictions.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou featured first time actor Seu Jorge, a famous Brazilian singer who sang David Bowie covers in Portuguese.

Did you notice the typefaces in The Royal Tenenbaums? Wes Anderson did.

In Andersonville, the worlds are self-contained and the most simple of things are fretted over with great detail.  Nothing is off-the-rack.  Everything is plotted and created.  There is always a back story that Anderson can commandeer at any moment.

His latest movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel is based on a story by Stefan Zweig.  I must admit a fondness for moody Austrian writers.  I simply adore the late Ingeborg Bachmann.  Anderson swears that he stole much of the movie from Zweig's Beware of Pity.   The Grand Budapest Hotel features Mendl's Bakery as another location and key plot element.  Mendl's has its own distinctive packaging and a famous confection: the Courtesan au chocolat.  In a Wes Anderson movie, if there is a bakery with a special recipe, one can rest assured that that recipe is one that you too, can make.   Further more, that particular recipe will have its own back story.

"The exact recipe for the Courtesan au chocolat has never been published or publicly disclosed as per the conditions of Herr Mendl’s will. However, the following has been collated and adapted from a several “pirate” sources in the Nebelsbad archives (including a 1963 recipe from the kitchen of the Grand Budapest Hotel using powdered eggs that was printed in the Lutz Daily Fact)." 
There would be a recipe:
Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat


THE PASTRY
Make a choux pastry of flour, water, butter and eggs. Though correct proportions may vary depending on one’s elevation and humidity, we recommend:


1 cup plain flour
1 cup fresh water
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
4 eggs beaten in a bowl
A pinch of salt
A larger pinch of sugar


Bring the water, butter salt and sugar to a boil. Remove from the fire and quickly mix in the sifted flour. Return to heat for a few minutes, stirring, and cook until the dough forms a single lump. Allow to cool just enough to keep the eggs from cooking and stir in very gradually with a strong wooden spoon.

Cover your tray in parchment and pipe the dough into spoon size dollops. You will need small, medium, and large size pastry balls (large tablespoon, teaspoon and hazelnut size dollops) to make a courtesan. Bake in the oven at 350F(180 C) for about 25-35 minutes. The smaller pastries are best put on a separate tray as they will cook more quickly.

Remove from the oven and discreetly make a small piercing in the choux to allow the steam to escape.


THE FILLING


Once cooled, the large and medium choux should be filled with a crème pâtissière of chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.


1 1/2 cups whole milk
Several large pieces semi-sweet chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 spoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon flour
Cornstarch to thicken


Heat the milk gently and add chocolate, stirring to melt into a rich, almost-steaming chocolate milk. Whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa and a few spoons of cornstarch into a smooth mixture. Add half of the hot chocolate milk to the bowl, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Then add this mixture back into the rest of the hot milk, stirring over gentle heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a custard. Remove from heat and chill.


ASSEMBLAGE


Once cooled, spoon the chocolate crème into a pastry bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.

Prepare sugar icing of confectioner’s sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. Separate into 3 small bowls and add food coloring to each - one pink, on lavender, one pale green. Reserve a small amount of white icing.

To assemble a Courtesan, dip a large ball of filled pastry in the pink icing (to the midline) and place icing side up on a small tray. Repeat with a medium pastry into the lavender icing, and place it, iced side up, atop the first ball. Press it gently so it sticks in place. Repeat with the smallest pastry in the green icing. Decorate with filigree of white icing as desired. Place a cocoa bean atop the tower as a garnish.

Serve fresh.
And there would be an instructional video:


I must say, The Grand Budapest Hotel is not my fave Wes Anderson movie, but so far, it seems to be the only one that comes with a recipe. 

09 July 2014

Tante Marie's French Pastry


In 1954, Oxford University published Charlotte Turgeon's translation of Tante Marie's French Pastry.  One of the reasons we love to read and write about cookbooks is the cultural analysis that a small cookbook can bring to light.

At the time, Tante Marie's French Pastry was considered quite complex and technical.  Cooks, mostly women, were admonished that spending the day making a French pastry might seem like some sort of drudgery, but the finished product was worth it. We were told that there might be days that making pastry would seem like a breeze.  We were told that even if we did commit to making pastry all day, we had the luxury of freezing some of the dough for later use; so again, this expenditure of time was well worth the effort.


As with so many books of this era, the instructions are slim.  A cookbook today probably has a vast list of ingredients, defines terms, illustrates difficult techniques, and warns of possible pitfalls.  In 1954, you were on your own! 


Recently the Huffington Post featured a list of 7 things your grandparents know how to do that you don't.  Among them, cooking, ironing, sewing and canning. All these skills (with the possible exception of ironing) are commonplace among young whippersnappers.  But it does illustrate the pitfalls of an old cookbook.  In 1954, a twenty-something woman was probably a wife, had children, and cooked at least once a day, probably twice a day.  She knew how to bake: cakes, bread, and pies all came rather naturally.  Scant directions were the norm.  


Consider the above illustration. What is this an illustration of, one might ask.  Well, this is to show the novice French baker how to incorporate butter into dough.  Does that jump right off the page?


Now let us take that pastry darling the macaron. There are thousands of photos of these bite-sized confections and in recent years there have been nearly 50 books solely dedicated to the baking and eating of macarons.  There are cooking aids that will outline the precise measure of your macaron.  And if you screw it up, just go out to the Starbucks and buy a box.  And what of "macaron" itself.  Current writing would have us use the French "macaron" as that is what we are making.  In America, our macaroon is a coconut confection.  At one time, we used the term interchangeably, as did Turgeon.  But the difference between a "macaron" and a "macaroon" are rather substantial and our use of the language has caught up with this culinary difference. 


In 1954, it was a little harder.  Here is the 1950's recipe for making the glorious macaron.



Macaroons

These macaroons are brittle and delicious.

1 cup ground almonds
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Preheat oven to 275

Mix ground almonds thoroughly with the sugar and vanilla.  Stir in the beaten egg whites.  Line a baking sheet with shelf paper.  Drop the mixture in small mounds from a teaspoon, leaving a little space around each cookie.  Flatten each cookie with the bottom of a small glass dipped in powdered sugar.  Bake 20 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the paper.  To remove them, moisten the underside of the paper.  After 2 or 3 minutes the cookies will life off very easily.

Sometimes it seems that these stripped down recipes might actually be easier to follow than the more complicated type.  Who knows? But it is fun to try.

30 May 2014

Punch


Truth be told, we do love making those exquisite little cocktails with fresh this and steeped that.  A pinch of herb, a drop of bitters, a soupcon of sugar syrup, with flowers frozen in ice.
But face it, there are time when you really need a big old pitcher of drink.

That is where Punch comes in. Colleen Mullaney has put together a little book of punchy cocktails that will make your party sing.  Or, it could just make YOU sing, but try valiantly to refrain from making a "selfie" video of you singing.  Drinking punch is a no-posting zone!

Growing up in the South, I have seen some godawful concoctions dumped in a punch bowl.  They usually consisted of a ring mold of solid ice, a cheap sherbet, some ginger ale, and rum.  Scary. 

So it is nice to find a book that offers up tasty, elegant and bulk alcohol for those party situations when you don't want to spend all your time making drinks.  One can pick from fruity punches, traditional champagne punches, tea and coffee punches, and the occasional tropical delight.  You don't have to wander all the way to the 1600's to find a drink. 

 We are rather enamored of her citrus cooler.  Lite, refreshing and bursting with summer and a bit of rum.


Citrus Cooler

2 cups light rum
2 cups tangerine juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cherry juice

Lemon and lime slices for garnish

Combine the liquid ingredients in the punch bowl and mix well.  Add the ice cubes, garnish with the slices of lemon and lime, and serve immediately.


Since this is a punch book, one is often told to put everything in a punch bowl, but you can pour it all in a big pitcher which makes it much easier to carry out to the porch.  Be sure and take an extra glass because it won't be long before you have company.
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