250 Cookbooks: Forrest Gump™ My Favorite Chocolate Recipes

Cookbook #132: Forrest Gump™ My Favorite Chocolate Recipes, Oxmoor House, Inc., Birmingham, AL, 1995.

My Favorite Chocolate Recipes cookbool“Forrest Gump” was a cultural phenomenon in the 1990s. Probably most Americans of a certain age have seen the 1994 film, starred in by Tom Hanks as the slow but wise and likeable character Forrest Gump who bumbled through life with a Southern accent and a good attitude and lots of amazing adventures. I admit that it isn’t among my favorite flicks, so I am sort of surprised that I own this book. Maybe it was on sale? Dunno.

The book does not credit an author, but the copyright page credits Winston Groom as the author of the Southern-accented introductions to the recipes. Who is Winston Groom? Aha, the author of the novel, Forrest Gump. He also authored several other novels as well as history books.

The recipes are all chocolate and rich. I did use this book – chocolate stains on the pages! Chocolate, cream, butter, candy bars, nuts, sugar, ice cream, cream cheese . . . it’s hard not to make a good tasting dessert. But as I’ve stated before, these lovelies rarely fit into my diet plan. (Moderation, yes, is the answer, but it’s hard to adhere to.)

For this blog? I decide to make Triple-Decker Brownies. With a slight hint of nutrition from oatmeal and pecans, these will be a sweet treat for Halloween festivities, shared with my daughter’s family to spread the calories around. I am already looking forward to my first taste of these brownies!

Triple Decker Brownies
Triple Decker Brownies

Triple Decker Brownies, Forrest Gump™
makes 2 8×8-inch pans


  • 1 1/2 cups toasted oatmeal (quick type; toast in dry pan on stovetop until fragrant)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted


  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped


  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (sifted if it is clumpy)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Crust: Combine oatmeal, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Add the 3/4 cup melted butter and stir well. Press into two greased 8-inch square pans. Bake at 350˚ for 10 minutes.

Filling: Melt 2 ounces chocolate and 1/2 cup butter in a pan. Off heat, add sugar and eggs and mix well. Combine the 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and add to the chocolate mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spread over the baked crust. Bake at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

Frosting: Melt 2 ounces chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in a pan. Off heat, stir in powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir in an additional 3 to 3 tablespoons water until frosting is desired spreading consistency. Spread on cooled brownies.

Triple Decker BrownieThese are sinfully good. I ate one and wanted more more more! Will I make them again? Only if I have help eating them!

250 Cookbooks: Cooking of Vienna’s Empire

Cookbook #131: Cooking of Vienna’s Empire, Joseph Wechsberg and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1968, 1974, reprinted 1977. Foods of the World series.

Cooking of Vienna's Empire cookbookI looked forward to discovering another interesting author as I opened this cookbook, as I had discovered M. F. K. Fisher in the Cooking of Provinvial France and Emily Hahn in the Cooking of China. I wasn’t disappointed!

Joseph Wechsberg was born in Czechoslovakia in 1907. He took up the violin at age 7, studied music, and then law, worked as a musician on French ocean liners, played violin in Paris night clubs, was a reporter for a newspaper in Prague, and commanded a machine gun company on the Polish frontier. In 1938 he came to the US as a representative of the Czechoslovakian government; after the war broke out, he claimed assylum in the US and remained here until the 1970s. He passed away in Vienna in 1983.

Wechsberg worked at the New Yorker for decades, and contributed to numerous other magazines, including Gourmet Magazine. He was proficient in four languages, and authored many books of fiction and non-fiction. According to the Joseph Wechsberg website, he had some “raffish” occupations as a young man, and:

“He could scarcely have avoided becoming a reporter: he had an intense curiosity about how things worked and how people behaved; he was a natural absorber of sounds and sights and facts; he took nothing for granted; detail enchanted him. His private pleasures and his journalism largely overlapped.”

He had a love of good food. I can see that clearly as I read The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire. In chapter five, “The Influence of Czechoslovakia”, he writes of Marie, the cook in his family’s home: “She was born to cook as other people are born to write or paint. She was an instinctive cook. I never saw her read a cookbook, but her recipes had become part of her life, closely guarded from the curious and envious.”

Wechsberg’s Definition of a ‘Serious Eater’ (the New Yorker, 1949):

“My friends were ‘serious eaters’; they loved truly good food and scorned the snobbism of self-appointed ‘gourmets and one-dish amateur cooks. They didn’t consider themselves gourmets, but they would confide to each other, with the air of brokers divulging something hot in the market, the addresses of good restaurants.” (Aaron Mattis)

Happily, I have discovered another interesting culinary writer of the twentieth century. I plan to look up a few of his books. In the meantime, I am enjoy reading The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire. It is called a “coffee table book” (can’t help but think of Kramer of Seinfeld fame!). Alongside full page color photographs, Wechsberg describes the cooking of the Old Empire, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia (note the names/borders of these countries have changed). A whole chapter is devoted to the “Pastry Paradise”.

Searching for a recipe to cook for this blog, I know I would love to cook just about any recipe from this book – but they are pretty heavily laden with cream and butter and dumplings and sausages and . . . calories. Some recipes include fish or game that is not available here.

Then – “paprika” and “onions” and “lard” catch my eye:

“The foundation of modern Hungarian cooking is the use of lard, onions and paprika . . . Perhaps the most critical thing in Hungarian cooking, according to experienced cooks I have talked with, is the frying of onions. On this process depends the subtlety of color and flavor that lovers of such food expect. The onions are fried in lard – slowly and with great care. Paprika . . .  Hungarian cooking is famous for it – but it is nonsense to believe that any dish containing a handful of this strong red spice is good Hungarian food. Good cooks agreee that it should be used sparingly.”

I know that cooking and seasoning onions properly is the basis of a lot of dishes that I make, and I enjoy the process. I am interested in following this cookbook’s suggestions on preparing an onion-lard-paprika dish, so I choose to cook “Potato Paprika” for this blog.

Potatoes Paprika RecipeI made this pretty much as the recipe above.

Potato Paprika
serves 2-3

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes (I used russets but I suggest red or yukon potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Spanish or Hungarian paprika
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken or beef stock (or use water)
  • 1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 of a green bellpepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, then cool, peel, and cut into 1/4-inch slices. (They will not be totally cooked at this point.)

Heat the lard “until a light haze forms over it”, then add the onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Off the heat, stir in the paprika. Stir until the onions are well coated. Return the pan to the heat, add 1 cup of stock (or water), and bring to a boil. Add the caraway seeds, potatoes, tomato, green pepper, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the liquid evaporated. If the liquid evaporates before the potatoes are done, add more stock or water as necessary.

Here is my Potato Paprika, during the cooking. By the time I served this dish, most of the liquid had evaporated.

Potatoes PaprikaThese were good. To me, they had a hint of Middle Eastern flavors. I had a problem with my potatoes, since I chose big russets and the initial 10-minute cooking left them raw in the middle (as in, very hard). I had to cook my Potatoes Paprika a long time, almost an hour. I have changed my version of the recipe to reflect this suggestion.

Would I make these again? Yes. They are very flavorful and different from all my other recipes for potatoes. And I think they would be really good with sausages added, as the original recipe suggests.

250 Cookbooks: George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine

Cookbook #130: George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine, Salton, Inc., 2000.
George Foreman Grill instructions CookbookThis is the instruction booklet for my George Forman “grilling machine”. I re-discovered this appliance in another blog post: George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine Cookbook. There is a just a handful of recipes in this instruction booklet. But, since it has instructions ffor the grill’s use (including a cooking chart), I will keep it as a reference.

I decide to try “Mustard Lemon Chicken Breasts” for this blog.
Mustard Lemon Chicken Breasts recipeThese are really simple! If they work, should be nice for a quick meal.

Mustard Lemon Balsamic Chicen Breasts
serves 2-3

  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 12 ounces boneless chicken breast (I used chicken breast cutlets)

Mix the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and paprika. Add the chicken breasts and let marinade at least 30 minutes.

Preheat a Foreman Grill for 5 minutes. Place the marinated chicken on the grill and close the lid. Let cook for 3-4 minutes. (Thick chicken breasts will take a little longer.)

Mustard Lemon Chicken BreastsI liked these. I put them inside toasted french rolls and added jack cheese, tomatoes, sliced red onion, lettuce and avocado. The chicken was so tasty on its own that I didn’t bother adding mustard or mayonnaise to the rolls. Once again, I am reminded to keep using my Forman Grill!