Monday, December 15, 2008

250 Delicious Soup Recipes

Monday was the last day of school and when I got home I was so tired and cold, that I needed a remedy. Even though the supermercado is only two blocks away, I just couldn't face the walk. So I turned to 250 Delicious Soup Recipes (1950) to help me out. On the train home I had been mentally running through the contents of the refrigerator and remembered that I still had all that half and half and also some mushrooms. Cream of Mushroom soup has always been a favorite of mine, but I have never made it from scratch. In one of the old Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple movies she gives a recipe for mushroom soup. Something like: mushrooms, stock, flour, cream, bit of salt. At the time I remember thinking, Is that all there is to it?

In 250 Delicious Soup Recipes, they give two different versions. The regular kind and "Chef's Cream of Mushroom Soup." Of course I picked the chef's version. I followed the recipe pretty faithfully except that I used half and half. I was fresh out of veal stock so used chicken. The only thing I would do differently next time is to start with a roux and then add the mushrooms. The mushrooms released so much liquid that it made browning the flour difficult.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

250 Ways to Make Candy

Serena and I had a happy cooking morning, listening to NPR and making candy. From 250 Ways to Make Candy (1950) I selected "Inexpensive Milk Caramels." I made it mostly with half and half because both Serena and I came home with half and half and now we have like a gallon of it. We finished the caramels with gray sea salt, a suggestion made by Serena not 250 Ways to Make Candy.

Unlike some of the other Culinary Arts Institute recipes I have tried, this one ROCKED! It was great, though difficult to cut. I'm a really big caramel fan and occasionally splurge on the artisinal caramels from Whole Foods. I can't remember their name, but they are made here in Chicago and come in a small white box. Mine don't rival their creamy, gentle goodness, but mine turned out well anyway. Candy making is fun although I'm not quite as excited when it comes to eating it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meat Muffins

The "Meat Muffins" were a complete success! The recipe was easy and I followed it exactly. There was, however, a bit of hesitation at the glaze. It called for half a cup of ketchup mixed with half a cup of brown sugar to be brushed on top about mid-way through baking. In the refrigerator I have some Sweet Baby Ray's Hot 'n Spicy Barbecue Sauce, which is my absolute favorite. It would have been simple to just brush the top of those meaty little muffins with that, but I really wanted to give the recipe a go. I'm glad I did because the glaze became quite smokey and nice as the muffins cooked and the brown sugar did its magic. I used only a quarter cup of each of the brown sugar and ketchup and I'm glad I did because I had more than plenty. I would be interested in knowing what ketchup was like in the early 40s, if it was made with corn syrup or sugar. It seems to me that this glaze would be just as good or better if made with tomato paste.

The picture on the right does not accompany any particular recipe, but is a serving suggestion from 250 Ways to Prepare Meat (1969). It reads, "Sausage, ground pork, lamb or beef can be shaped many interesting ways." Why yes, yes they can.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

This evening I will be making "Meat Muffins" which can be found on page 36 of The Ground Meat Cookbook (see previous post). There are no specific serving suggestions, though earlier in 250 Ways of Serving Potatoes (1941) I saw a mention of "French Potato Balls" but there was no recipe. There was a picture which mentioned using a melon baller, which sounds like a great idea to me. Since they will be so little, I'm just going to cook them in a pan.

Here are two versions 250 Ways of Serving Potatoes (1941). The only difference is the cover. Both are dated 1941, but it is obvious that the blue one is the older of the two. Also, it is numbered 13 while the color photo cover is 113. Curious.

Friday, December 5, 2008

204 Intriguiging Ground Meat Recipes

Yesterday through Coudal Partners Serena found this great site where someone has posted the full text of The Ground Meat Cookbook (1954). I haven't seen this book before so you know how excited I was to read it. The resolution is pretty good, so it is possible to work from it. As you can see by the cover, it's a stunner.

The books I have are all from the 1940s or the 1970s, but this is from the 1950s series. Although I've seen the covers, I've never looked inside. The contents are spectacular and there are some differences between this and the ones I own. First, there is playful use of illustration and color. For example, the charming illustration of lambs in swimsuits at the beach atop the recipe for "Frosted Lamb Loaf." At first I thought they were poodles, but why would there be poodles at the beach? Another of the illustrations depicts a tarted up row of dancing pearl onions adorning the recipe for "Liver Dumplings."

The thing that is noticeably missing is the name of Ruth Berolzheimer. This seems odd to me because the two series I have 40s and 70s both have her name on it. So I am wondering if when the original series of the 40s was re-worked, they simply kept her name since it was she who compiled the recipes in the first place. Up until now, I thought that her tenure at Culinary Arts Institute was un-interrupted throughout that period.

Please try a recipe or two and let me know how it turns out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday Cheese Log

I planned to use the Amy Sedaris Cheese Ball recipe that I cut from an issue of BUST Magazine. She republished it in a slightly different form in I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2006). There it's called "Lil' Smokey Cheese Ball." This recipe is by far the best basic cheese ball recipe I've ever used. You can make lots of changes and it still turns out great.

Amy Sedaris's Cheese Ball
BUST Magazine, 2001

2 8oz packages cream cheese
2 cups shredded smoked gouda
1 stick unsalted butter
2 Tbs milk, cream, or 1/2 and 1/2
2 tsp A-1 Steack Sauce
2 cups crushed nuts

Allow ingredients to soften to room temperature. Beat them all together in a mixing bowl and form into a ball, or small balls to suit your needs. Roll in crushed nuts and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator and allow to soften about 20 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers of your choice.

Armed with my shopping list, Serena and I took the bus down to Jewel because you can't buy anything but queso fresco or cheadar in our neighborhood. But when we got to Jewel there was not a single scrap of smoked gouda left! I was outraged. Was everyone making cheese balls for Thanksgiving? From our slim choices we decided to use an extra-sharp cheddar and smoked white-cheddar mix. It turned out great. The thing about this recipe is that it is so forgiving. Yummmmm.

250 Tasty Snacks

This week I have three parties. My friend Victoria's birthday, Thanksgiving at Paula and Terri's, concluding with a pie and hors d'oeuvres with Lara, Dominick, Andrew and Nicholas. As you can imagine, that's a lot of cooking. I decided to make a single dish that I can bring to multiple parties. And obviously that dish is a cheese log.

I turned immediately to 250 Tasty Snacks #1 (1970, original copyright 1965), which I knew would help me out. There was an interesting looking recipe for "Nut-Cheese Log," that used both cheddar and roquerfort, but it called for a half a cup of white wine and honestly, I just didn't trust it. So I've decided to stick with my trusty old standby.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dinner Party

So I had some friends over for dinner tonight. All in all the meal went well. I used a lovely Polish sausage that I got at Lincolnwood Produce and I made my mashed potatoes from small, unpeeled red potatoes instead of instant (yuck!). It was a hit.

For sides, I served asparagus with pimento strips, just like The American FAMILY Cookbook suggests. I thought I would have a hard time finding pimento, but it was right there on the shelf at Lincolnwood. Of course, the store had a lot to do with it. We also had a great Ceasar Salad with a nice anchovy dressing from The Joy of Cooking.

Serena made the "Pots de Creme Chocolat" from 150 Delectable Dessert Recipes #13 (1971). She really likes to follow a recipe the first time out with a dish. They tasted pretty good, but the instructions were poor. It proved what I had been thinking all along as I read through these books--many of these recipes have not been tested.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Frank 'N Potato Pie

I've decided to make the Frank 'N Potato Pie with turkey kielbasa and actual mashed potatoes instead of instant. First of all, old school Culinary Arts Institute books would NEVER have used instant. But in reality, no one eats instant potatoes anymore and I would imagine them to be intolerable to a modern audience, but doesn't it look good.

I'm watching my favorite television program, The Bob Newhart Show. This episode originally aired on November 24th, 1973 (You gotta love Hulu!). That is one week shy of 35 years ago. You have to admit, Emily is pretty cute. The title theme "Home to Emily," makes me want to be home to my own Serena. I wonder if Emily ever made these dishes. It seems unlikely.

The American FAMILY Cookbook #8

I'm having a few friends over on Sunday. They're colleagues of my girlfriend, Serena, and I want everything to be nice. She already told them about my project, so really the goal is to make something that will be authentic, but still palatable to a contemporary audience. For Sunday I have selected a lovely main dish from The American FAMILY Cookbook #8 (1971) called "Frank 'N Potato Pie." Though I have to say, the frank in the photo looks much more like a kielbasa and not a hot dog. The latter books from The Culinary Arts Institute are obviously re-works from the 40s and 50s editions. Many are exactly the same recipes, even the same photos. This makes it hard to tell precisely when frankfurters metamorphosed from sausage to wiener.

Of course, there will be salad to offset the starch of the potatoes. Also, I will serve grilled asparagus wrapped in pimento (all long green vegetables: asparagus, green beans are bound by pimento). And I am serving a delightful chilled Lambrusco from Trader Joe's. I still can't decide on a dessert. The one I want to make requires a star-shaped Jell-O mould. Sadly, I'm fresh out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dishes Mother Used to Make #126

Sadly, Dishes Mother Used to Make #126 (1942) hardly looked as if it had been cracked. It had been checked out a few times. But really...This is so pathetic. Five times in 62 years? Even if you account for the REMOTE STORAGE this book seems better than that. But then I wondered, Was it the title, Dishes Mother Used to Make? Now, when I was growing up my mother made it pretty clear that women had better things to do than cook. And my mother wasn't such a great cook anyway, and maybe even the women a generation before me had mothers who weren't such great cooks. What if our romantic ideals of women from the past (mothers) who made such great food wasn't really true. Of course, I'd batted this idea around before, but faced with the reality of people's indifference to Dishes Mother Used to Make, I've come to the conclusion that perhaps we are not so fond of mother's cooking.

The Library is My Friend

I started my search for books by The Culinary Arts Institute through the state academic library system. Who would have thought that someone might still have these jewels on their shelves. Well, come to find out The University of Illinois had a few. You can't imagine how shocked I was by this. I went ahead and requested them, though I didn't have great hopes. Because these books are really slight I figured they were probably just lost through non-specific library attrition, of which most of the books I really want seem to be victim. Well they came! Sure, they were marked REMOTE STORAGE on the front. Sure, they hadn't been checked out for a decade or four, but they came. The first one that came is called Meals for Two #128 (1942). (Please note the PostModern self-reference of the cover.) It was a little beat up, which indicated use. Honestly, that seems like a lot of food for two. And wasn't everyone thin back then?