Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crudités: Serena Worthington and Terri Griffith

What would a dinner party be without crudités? The Culinary Arts Institute, although doesn't give a recipe, does suggest providing a simple relish tray for guests. I didn't expect with all that fun, elaborate food anyone would eat this plain tray of celery and olives. Sure enough, they didn't.

Our second crudités was Radish Mice. This is really the only place that we strayed from the cookbooks. After all, they're period and I just LOVE radish mice so Serena made me two plates and served them on a bed of Kosher salt. Needless to say by the end of the evening there was nothing left but tails.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canapés: Andrew Breen and Nicholas Alexander Hayes

(editor's note: Nicholas and Andrew used 500 Tasty Snacks (1941) for this recipe)

1. We followed most of the recipe, except we used lumpfish roe in lieu of caviar. The recipe called for lemon mayo, so we mixed fresh lemon juice with store bought mayo to taste. We cut the white bread with a small wine glass, and used the bread scraps for croutons.

2. This recipe was pretty easy, although we had to handle every little piece carefully. We finished several hours before the party, but the canapés held up well – the toast was still toasty and the shrimp was still glistening. When we try this recipe again, we may experiment with using limejuice, and perhaps trying a different marinade for the shrimp.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Culinary Arts Institute Dinner

On Saturday, Serena and I hosted an entire dinner party cooked from the Culinary Arts Institute cook books. Each of our guests selected a recipe for this prescriptive potluck and will blog about their experiences. Over the course of the next week or so, I will post the entries for each course.

Canapés—Andrew Breen and Nicholas Hayes
Crudités—Serena Worthington and Terri Griffith
Soup—Martha Bayne
Salad—Andrew Breen and Nicholas Hayes
Rolls—Serena Worthington
Vegetable—Terri Griffith
Potato—Stephanie Crain
Meat—Terri Griffith
Desserts—Dominic Molon and Lara Hayes

Some of the recipes were a great success, some not so successful. But it was a fun night all around. I hope you enjoy the forthcoming posts and perhaps try some recipes yourself.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Eggs Florentine

After a beautiful, practically summer day on Saturday, I woke this morning to find rain, rain, rain. So I thought it would be fun to make a nice brunch. I started with The Encyclopedic Cookbook (1965) and made “Buttermilk Muffins.” They would have turned out much better if I hadn’t turned the oven off half-way through. I think that pretty much sums up that recipe.

“Eggs Florentine” was also on the menu. Now I’ve heard of Eggs Florentine, but have never actually had it. The recipe seemed really easy. I had a bag of spinach in the freezer and some leftover collard greens from my weekly produce box and it seemed like a fortuitous intersection of weird ingredients at the ready. (Please note the photo in the book. This is the Eggs Florentine before it is cooked. Funny, I wouldn't have made that choice.)

I made a few changes. I used white cheddar instead of American cheese. And I also had a bunch of collards that I had cooked in left over Bagna Cauda. I was introduced to this sauce in the book Twist of the Wrist (2007), by Nancy Silverton. It’s a fantastic cookbook that uses tinned, jarred, and frozen items. Many of the recipes require a high degree of skill. Amazon has it listed under the heading Convenience Cooking. Man, are people pissed when it arrives. By “convenience” most people are thinking quick and easy. A better way to think about this cookbook is: I just got home from my restaurant and brought a few friends with me. It’s two o’clock in the morning. What can I make with ingredients from my pantry that will go with this excellent bottle of wine? Anyway, there is a recipe for Bagna Cauda which she says is sauce. Really, it’s just adulterated butter. It is unbelievably great and keeps really well in the refrigerator.

Bagna Cauda
from Nancy Silverton’s Twist of the Wrist

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
20 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup of 1 2.8-ounce jar)
8 large garlic cloves, minced (about 2 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter, olive oil, anchovies, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic is soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes, breaking up anchovies while they cook and stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t brown. Reduce the heat to low and cook the sauce another 2 minutes to meld the flavors. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley and lemon zest and juice, and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I was surprised by how well this turned out. It had to cook a little longer than stated, but it was really great. Before I started cooking from Culinary Arts Institute cookbooks, I never ever had a need for bread-crumbs. These books are really bread-crumb heavy and I have learned that finishing everything with bread-crumbs tends to make dishes look mighty alike.

Monday, April 13, 2009

guest blogger:Daniel Baudanza

I am the kind of cook who is not afraid to invite five or six people over for dinner and have the main course be something I have never cooked before. I am also not afraid of recipes that come from cook books where green mashed potatoes are at home with rings of peas and deviled eggs in aspic are a matter of course.

This recipe is a lot of work for little payoff. First of all there is a long long marinade of dubious flavor and second the whole puff pastry thing just tends to fall to crumbs as you slice the delicate pork inside. Most of this went to the dogs who by the way love puff pastry flavored with pork. I also took the suggestion of making a kicky little decoration with left over pastry dough in the form of a palm frond it being easter and all.

My biggest problem with this recipe are the cooking instructions. Mostly this is my fault, I doubted my own instincts as a cook. The recipe calls for two eight-inch long pork loins to be cooked at 350deg for one hour and forty five minutes!!
I read it twice but gave the book the benefit of the doubt.

My brain did not calculate that this book was written sometime in the late sixties where the difference between eating roast pork and eating a hand full of white sand was salt content. Needless to say the pork turned out very very dry.
Luckily I saved some juice and made a gravy, the time honored tradition of all failed cooks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Guest Blogger:Daniel Baudanza

My mom gave me this great cook book.
Creative Cooking Course edited by Charlotte Turgeon.

I can't tell you when it was published because I don't read roman nvmerals but I can tell you that my mom gave it to me because she would never cook anything wrapped in pastry dough.
Luckily, I would love to go to bed wrapped in pasty dough. Add the words ham or pork and I won't ever wake up!
As fancy as this book gets and it does get fancy (there is a page devoted to butter sculpting) this recipe is no more than a humble ham and cheese quiche with a giant cheese flower on top.

I made my own pastry dough but used a different recipe than the one in the book. It called for 4cups of flour for a 9" pie crust and I just didn't understand why I would need that much dough.
I also changed the cheese flower to petals of cheese sandwiched in between some pastry dough like mini cheese puffs.
Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe which was simple ham eggs parmesan and onions. Although for a ham and herb pie there was only a half a teaspoon of tarragon and some salt. I only use teaspoon measures for baking soda and yeast.
All in all it turned out well and very tasty. New secret ingredient--onion water. I will admit that my cheese flower was not anywhere near as impressive as the one in the book.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

A lazy Sunday morning. I have a pile of papers to grade and it's supposed to snow. Sounds like a job for Blueberry Muffins. Since blueberry muffins are an American staple, I knew The Culinary Arts Institute would be able to help me out. I found a great recipe on page 37 of 250 Breads, Biscuits and Roll (1953), though the title page reads The Breads, Biscuits and Rolls Cookbook.

The recipe was simple:

2 cups sifted, enriched flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup melted shortening
1 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix egg, shortening and milk together thoroughly. Combine mixtures, stirring just enough to dampen flour. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Bake in hot oven (400 F.) 25 minutes. Makes 12 to 15.

Under "Variations" it has you mix blueberries with the dry ingredients. I also assumed that they meant for me to use fresh blueberries, but all I had was frozen. When I used to work at The Sisters it was my job to make the blueberry muffins. We also used frozen. The deal with frozen berries is that you can't just toss them into the dry ingredients, you have to lovingly place them in layers. It doesn't take long and it makes the muffins much more lovely. Besides, layering keeps the blueberries evenly distributed.

Milk is a problem that plagues our household. We don't ever have milk on hand. Sometimes half and half, today just soy creamer. But The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, revised edition (2006) suggests keeping dry buttermilk on hand. We bought a tub of it just for emergencies like this.

The recipe turned out fantastic. Serena said they tasted "old fashioned," meaning they weren't very sweet. They are quite good and I will certainly use this recipe again.