Sunday, January 29, 2012

All Hail Kale!

Well, it's that time of year again, the time of the year when my weekly Newleaf produce box is full of kale. I love kale, but it does have a way of building up in the fridge. I have a few recipes I make a lot where the kale is cooked, like Gourmet's potato and kale gallette or the ever popular black-eyed pea, kale and chorizo soup. Sometimes, though, I like to use the kale raw.

Usually, I'm meticulous about keeping track of the source of my recipes, but this is a recipe I found at my sister-in-law's. I snapped this photo, certain that I would remember where it came from. But guess what? I don't. Anyway, I've made this recipe a couple of times and it's fantastic. A little browsing on the interwebs reveals this to be a traditional Italian salad. The real key to this salad it to shred the kale thinly. I love this salad. It's cheap, healthy and elegant.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A very Gourmet New Year's round-up, 2001 style!

I'm not sure about you, but so far my resolutions are going pretty well. As part of this year's get better plan, I vowed to clean out that stack of papers that's been moving around my house for about a year now. First here, then there. You'll be glad to know it's gone now...well, mostly. One of the gems I found in this pile was this list of the 50 best restaurants of 2001. I don't remember cutting it out, but I did. And it's only taken me 11 years to figure out what to do with it. So I thought that before I toss this in the recycling, I'd share it here on the interwebs. It's a good list. Many of these restaurants would make it on the list today. My only regret? That I didn't make it to the Herb Farm when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Oh well, at least I have Topolombopo and Blackbird.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Google eBookstore

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of Google’s eBookstore. If you move past the first page of bestsellers and serial fiction, you’ll find a ton of digitized magazines from the past. My friend Meg Onli is doing a project based on Black World / Negro Digest magazine, but if you go back a hundred years earlier you’ll find a wealth of ladies’ journals from the 1800s. My favorite are Godey’s Lady’s BookAmerican Cookery: The Boston Cooking School Magazine (of Fannie Farmer fame), and my favorite, The Delineator.
    The Delineator is the magazine produced by the Butterick company from 1873 to 1937. If the name Butterick sounds familiar, it might be because they’ve been making sewing patterns since the mid-1800s. You can still buy them today. In fact, The Delineator’s main purpose was to introduce current fashions and then show you how you might reproduce the same at home with the aid of a hand dandy Butterick pattern. If you ask me, the clothes look so complicated I couldn’t imagine getting dressed by myself. Making those clothes seems impossible! The ongoing discussion of fasteners and safety pins is fascinating, and there is always a section on at-home millinery in case you want to make your own hats.
    The other thing that’s so interesting about The Delineator is that it is also the acorn from which spring the tree of the Culinary Arts Institute. Every issue of The Delineator contained recipes as well as general tips on cooking and housekeeping. The articles are fun as well.
    One of the great things about Google ebooks is that they are full scans of the magazines. This means you get all the amazing ads as well. It’s through this ephemera that I can see into the past. History books never meant much to me, but to be able to read what women of the time were reading, is fascinating. Today I saw a young women reading a crappy entertainment magazine about the Oscars and wondered if Google were to digitize that, what would readers a hundred years from now think.
    Although it’s great fun to read these magazines, don’t look for them to be easy academic research. The metadata is sucky, magazines are called by different titles depending on what source digitized them. Most of the ones I have run across are scanned in volumes, which on the surface seems easy, but really makes it hard to find things again, especially because the pagination of the journal does not match the pagination of the scan.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes

You know what's good? Potatoes are good. I mean, they are so yummy it's hard to even fathom it. I recently made Scalloped Potatoes from pretty much my favorite of the Culinary Arts Institute cookbooklets, 250 Ways of Serving Potatoes. You might remember a similar dish that my friend Stephanie made for The Culinary Arts Institute dinner party back in 2009. This is not the same recipe, but from the same chapter of the same book. I reread her suggestions before I started this one. But really, it's potatoes and butter. How bad can it be?

6 medium potatoes
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter

Pare potatoes and cut into thin slices. Place in a greased baking dish in 3 layers 1 inch deep, sprinkling each layer with salt, pepper and flour and dotting with butter. Add milk until it cane be seen between slices of potato, cover and bake in moderate oven (350 F) until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove cover for the last 15 minutes to brown. Serve from baking dish. Serves 6.

I fancied-up the top so it would look Frenchified. But if there's one thing I have learned about CAI recipes is that the potatoes always cook longer than it says. I'm pretty sure this isn't the sort of thing where people in the past liked their potatoes toothier either. It's something else that I just can't put my finger on. Perhaps oven temp? Maybe I should have cooked it at 375. One thing I did account for was the use of the word "milk." Nowadays, we have all kinds of milk. I assumed they meant whole milk, which I didn't have, so instead I used half two percent and the remainder half and half, which is a common substitution. It ended up baking nearly two hours, but I'd planned for that. All in all, this was an easy recipe and the potatoes were crazy good. Even better the next day. We had it warmed up with a salad for lunch. I'd certainly make this again.