250 Cookbooks: Art of Cooking and Serving

Cookbook #246: The Art of Cooking and Serving with 549 Tested Crisco Recipes, Procter and Gamble Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1937.

The Art of Cooking and Serving coobook

This week is the first time I have read The Art of Cooking and Serving with 549 Tested Crisco Recipes. I know that once I opened it and entered the title and publication date in my database, noting that it “no writing in it; probably is Grandmother’s”, but I didn’t read it.

Today I sit down with The Art of Cooking and Serving, expecting it to be glowing with praise of Crisco, much like my 1942 booklet Good Cooking made Easy, Spry, the flavor saver, praised Spry. But no, The Art of Cooking and Serving is quite different, and I’ll get into that later in this post.

My copy of The Art of Cooking and Serving is in excellent condition. I check for copies online, and find a few, all under $15. This booklet is available in 1930 and 1931 editions as well as my 1937 edition. It is not available as full text on my go-to site, the Hathi Trust digital library.

I also learn that Crisco was introduced in 1911 by Procter and Gamble. The brand name is now owned by the J.M. Smucker Company.

Okay, let’s peruse this book. It’s 252 pages long, paperback bound, and 5×7-inches in size. There are some color photos, and a lot of black and white photos.

The short forward does laud the benefits of Crisco brand shortening, but after that, not much is said about it. In fact, many recipes do not include Crisco at all in the ingredients. Here are the first two paragraphs of the foreword:

Next come four chapters that discuss the proper way to manage a kitchen and serve food. Transport yourself back 81 years, to the kitchen of my grandmother, to the culture of America in the 1930s. Here is the beginning of the first chapter:

Here is the breakfast table in a house without a maid:

This chapter goes on for 24 pages describing the proper way to serve food in the servantless home. And if you have a maid? That chapter has 9 pages, beginning with these paragraphs:

And the uniforms should look like this:

The chapter on “Helpful Cooking Equipment” has several vintage photos. I am kind of surprised that the mixing equipment does not show an electric mixer, since I found that these were introduced to American cooks by the 1930s.

“How to Plan Your Meals” is a short chapter on what foods to include in your diet for sufficient protein, energy (fats, starches, sugars), body regulation (roughage and minerals), vitamins, and water.

Next, sixteen recipe chapters cover deep-fat frying, soups, cereals, cheese, fish, meat, poultry, salads, cakes, cookies, pastry, candy, desserts, and sauces. Below are a few examples from this bounty of recipes.

This excerpt includes a Spanish Omelet, a recipe I almost made for this blog.

Here is a photo of the omelet:

These recipes are for main dishes.

These are classic cookie recipes, especially the Hermits (a dark spice cookie filled with fruits and nuts) and the Oatmeal Cookies.

Here is one of the color photos: Thanksgiving Desserts.

My mother’s pie crust recipe is almost just like this one below – except her recipe specifies the amount of cold water. She specified Crisco brand shortening in the recipe I got from her.

And what type of pie to make with the plain pastry crust? Why not old-fashioned Mincemeat Pie, or Mock Cherry Pie:

After the recipes, the last few chapters cover large quantity cooking and menus for all occasions and reference tables and charts. And The Art of Cooking and Serving ends with a very helpful index.

There really are a lot of recipes I could choose to try for this blog. So many in this book are good, homey, from-scratch recipes! I decide to make Sweet Potato Biscuits.

I think this is an amazing recipe. For one, it calls for 1 1/2 cups of sweet potatoes – and that’s a lot! And it calls for only 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3 of shortening. I think the 2 tablespoons baking powder might be a bit much, but I stayed with that original amount. I am going to use my immersion blender to mash the sweet potatoes with the milk, and my food processor for the flour and shortening. Otherwise, I am staying with the original recipe.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
makes about 16

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I use Crisco!)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes (I used one huge sweet potato and it was barely enough)
  • 3/4 cup milk

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse for about 2 short pulses. Add the vegetable shortening and pulse for 4-6 short pulses. Pour the mixture into a bowl.

Mash the cooked sweet potatoes with a fork enough to measure 1 1/2 cups. Add the 3/4 cup milk. Mix well: I used my immersion blender, but an electric mixer or food processor would also do the trick.

Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour-shortening mixture and stir with a big spoon. This is a soft, wet dough. The next step is to roll the dough out on a floured bread board. I got my hands into the dough mass to make this transfer, adding a bit more flour so it would not stick to my hands. It was a bit messy.

Press the dough out until it is about 1/2-inch thick. I found that I did not even have to use my rolling pin to get it to this thickness.

Use a biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits. I actually had exactly 16 biscuits! Bake at 425˚ for 15-17 minutes, until lightly browned.

Here are my biscuits ready to bake. I just got new half-sheet pans and my first Silpat® so I am showing them off:

sweet potato biscuitsHere they are, baked:

Sweet Potato Biscuits

And here is the lovely color of the inside of a biscuit:

cut biscuitMy daughter and I really loved these. Hubby avoided them – he isn’t a sweet potato fan. His loss. And more for us! This was definitely a successful recipe.

Sometimes it’s a good idea not to throw out those old cookbooks! I had fun exploring The Art of Cooking and Serving.

250 Cookbooks: Cookies, Step-by-Step Techniques

Cookbook #245: Cookies, Step-by-Step Techniques, the editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine, Lane Publishing Co., Menlo Park, California, 1985.

Cookies cook bookI’ve saved this book for one of my last entries for this 250 Cookbooks blog because it is special to me. It was my mother’s, given to her by my brother and sister in 1986. Her notes are in it, some pages are stained with food, and many pages are falling out of the binding. I just love it!

note on title page

I like cookies, any time of the year. But especially at Christmas: I used to make tons to give away. Of my 250 cookbooks, 8 are specifically “cookies”. And if you look at my recipe index, you will see how many favorite cookies I have. Although I only rarely make cookies these days, it doesn’t mean I don’t like them!

Sunset put together a good collection of cookie recipes in Cookies, Step-by-Step Techniques. I page through carefully, admiring the photographs and looking for the recipes that Mother marked, and looking for ones I’d like to try. Actually, almost all of the recipes sound very good.

The first recipe she marked is “Oatmeal Raisin Cookies” (she marked them “Delicious”). I make a similar oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips instead of raisins, and a combination of brown and white sugar. This recipe has all brown sugar and I’m sure they would be delicious. Note that Mother didn’t stop with them “as is”, but frosted them with butter-powdered sugar frosting! (And she kept her slim figure somehow!)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

“Brownie Date Drops” are marked “very good”.

Brownie Date Drops

She marked “Coconut Macaroons” as “not special”, and “Buttery Lemon Bars” as “Delicious”.

Buttery Lemon BarsButtery Lemon Bars

“Dream Bars” were “Delicious“. That underline means extra delicious! I smile at all of the food stains on the recipe (below).

Dream Bars

“Peanut Blossom Cookies” are marked “Delicious”. It differs from the recipe I already posted for Peanut Blossoms by having a little more peanut butter (1/2 cup) and a little less flour (1 1/3 cups). Peanut Blossoms are also in my Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook, published in 1982, and in A Treasury of Bake Off Favorites, published in 1969.

I note the “Chinese Almond Cookies” to try, as well as “Old-fashioned Molasses Chews”. “Date-Oatmeal Cookies” are marked “not great”. I’d like to try the recipe for “Fruit Bars”, because they look like fig newtons.

The chapter I focus on for a recipe for this blog is “Wholesome Cookies”. We try to avoid cookies these days (calories), so if I do make them, I try to use a recipe that contains a lot of nutritious ingredients. I like the “Half-cup Cookies” – they call for 9 ingredients in the half-cup quantity: butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, raisins, and granola. The flour in Half-cup Cookies is whole wheat. Other cookies in this wholesome chapter include many of the half-cup ingredients, plus fructose (sweeter than sucrose, table sugar), bran, carob chips, wheat germ, and tahini.

I am tempted to make Half-cup Cookies right away, but instead I choose the recipe for Graham Crackers. Why? Grandson visiting. He loves to roll out dough, and we all want him to eat foods that are sort of healthy. These graham crackers are made with whole wheat flour and wheat germ and honey, and contain less sugar than most cookies. Plus, I can mix them up the day before, making less work for what will surely be a busy day.

Graham Crackers

The only change I made to this recipe is how we rolled them out. I like to use half-sheet pans lined with pre-cut parchment paper for baking cookies. So we rolled out the dough directly on to a piece of parchment and then carefully transferred the paper and dough to a half-sheet pan.

Graham Crackers
makes two half-sheet pans, about 40 crackers

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (85 grams)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat, not white whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup water

In a mixer, beat together the butter, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Stir together the flour, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. At low mixer speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the water.

Wrap the dough in plastic or put in a sealed storage container and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place one portion of dough on a lightly floured board and press it out as much as you can with your hands. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment, pre-cut to fit a half-sheet pan (a half-sheet pan is the same size as a cookie sheet). Roll the dough until it goes just past the parchment. (This is tough work! My dough was very stiff. But between the two of us, we got the dough all rolled out.) Trim the dough to match the parchment. It will be about 1/8-inch thick.

Transfer the rolled and trimmed dough and the parchment to a half-sheet pan or to a cookie pan. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. We used a pizza cutter (a pastry wheel) and my quilter’s long straight edge tool. Then, poke each “cracker” 3 times with a fork.

(Note: we cut the dough before transferring to the pan and it was kind of tricky because the individual crackers moved around.)

Note: Easier way to roll out dough! I baked the second half of the dough a week after the first batch. The dough was very, very stiff, so I heated it in the microwave. It rolled a lot easier! I don’t think the “refrigerate at least 1 hour” step is necessary. Another trick is using a silicone half-sheet liner (I just bought my first Silpat®). The Silpat® was stiff enough to allow me to transfer the cut crackers easily to the half-sheet pan.

Bake at 325˚ for 20-30 minutes. The cookies are done when lightly browned. You might find the crackers at the edges of the pan getting too brown (mine did), so remove edge crackers when necessary. Start checking and removing browned crackers at 20 minutes.

Here are the crackers, ready to be baked:

graham crackers in panAnd here is a cooked one on a plate:

graham crackerOh yes, there are not just 3 fork pricks in this cracker! Practicing “one-two-three” with a 4 year old sometimes doesn’t work. But who cares? These were actually delicious, although not all the adults liked them. I thought they were even better the next day, but I doubt the rest of the batch lasted that long – my grandson made sure that he put all his crackers in a bag to take home. I saved this one cracker in the photo above to be sure I had one to take of picture of the next day. Then I ate it!

Successful healthy graham crackers! And a lot of fun. I gave Dzo a tiny child’s camera (that really works!) and he took a photo of the pan of cookies too.

Dzo taking photo of cookies

250 Cookbooks: From Julia Child’s Kitchen

Cookbook #244: From Julia Child’s Kitchen, Julia Child, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1975. Second printing, 1982. Hardcover edition.

From Julia Child's Kitchen cookbook“I smile warmly at Julia Child’s complete love of cooking”. These words were mine when I explored Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And I again smile as I open From Julia Child’s Kitchen.

Fourteen years passed between the (initial) publication of these two books. In 1975, Julia Child has a successful television series and is world renown. And she hasn’t lost her love of cooking. That love bursts from the pages of From Julia Child’s Kitchen. And the photographs! Her husband’s stunning photographs and drawings grace the book.

Let me share the first paragraph from the introduction. It’s a perfect illustration of what the book is about and Julia’s style of writing.

FromJCKitchenIntroFrom the above excerpt, we learn that Mastering the Art of French Cooking was written as a textbook, a complete guide, and was written as a collaboration. I used to be a bit intimidated by that first tome. (Now I totally enjoy it!) From Julia Child’s Kitchen is less serious and more fun. Sure, it includes all the important methods of preparing soups, poultry, meats, egg dishes, quiches, homemade sausages, fresh vegetables, French breads, pastries and desserts. But it focuses on the American home cook, with recipes that can be made in a reasonable amount of time and with any level of cooking skill. From Julia Child’s Kitchen also has a chapter on “earthy alternatives”, such as lentils, beans and rice. I find most of the recipes a bit less calorie-laden than in her previous book. And, there are cartoons throughout.

Every chapter and many recipes begin with memoirs of her experiences and travels. Also intertwined are references to her television shows in the 1970s and 1980s. Often a recipe expands on a recipe from a half-hour show that didn’t have time to give all the alternatives.

“Salads, aspics, and summer fare” begins with “Musings upon Caesar and his salad”:

“One of my early remembrances of restaurant life was going to Tijuana in 1925 or 1926 with my parents, who were wildly excited that they should finally lunch at Caesar’s restaurant. Tijuana, just south of the Mexican border from San Diego, was flourishing then, in the prohibition era. People came down from the Los Angeles area in droves to eat in the restaurants; they drank forbidden beer and cocktails as they toured the bars of the town; they strolled in the flowered patio of Agua Caliente listening to the marimba band, they gambled wickedly at the casino. Word spread about Tijuana and the good life, and about Caesar Cardini’s restaurant, and about Caesar’s salad.”

Caesar’s salad! I used to think it originated in Italy. In fact, one of my cookbooks, International Recipes, classified Caesar’s salad as Italian. I have noted recipes for Caesar’s salad in at least four of my cookbooks, and made it for this blog using the recipe in Joy of Cooking. I called that version “a classic Caesar’s, no mushrooms or other vegetables, with the perfect dressing, made on the salad rather than in a bottle.” The Joy of Cooking calls it a famous recipe from California. But no, it is actually from Mexico. At the restaurant with her parents in the 1920s, Caesar himself made the salad for them. She remembers “the only thing I see again clearly is the eggs. I can see him break 2 (coddled) eggs over that romaine and roll them in, the greens going all creamy as the eggs flowed over them.” The salad was a sensation partly because “it was only in the early twenties that refrigerated transcontinental transportation came into being. Before then, when produce was out of season in the rest of the country, there was no greenery to be had. Before then, too, salads were considered rather exotic, definitely foreign, probably Bolshevist, and, anyway, good only for sissies.”

See how I get caught up in this book? Julia goes on to write that she contacted the daughter of Caesar Cardini to get the original recipe for the TV show and for From Julia Child’s Kitchen. Accordingly to Julia, anchovies were not in the original recipe; instead, Worcestershire sauce was used (Worcestershire has a “speck” of anchovy in it). The Joy of Cooking recipe only differs from the recipe in From Julia Child’s Kitchen in the anchovies and the inclusion of a little wine vinegar along with the lemon juice.

Garlicky Sautéed Potatoes is a good example of presentation style of recipes in From Julia Child’s Kitchen. Actually, the full title is “Garlicky sautéed potatoes and a pressure-cooked quickie”. “Pressure-cooked quickie?” Intrigued, I read on. I find the title covers three ways to prepare garlicky potatoes, and the third is the pressure-cooked version:

  • Pommes de terre sautées à la catalane, or Potatoes sautéed with onions, peppers, and herbs
  • Pommes de terre sautées à l’ail, or Potatoes sautéed with garlic and herbs
  • Pommes de terre sautées à la minute, or Fast potatoes with onions and herbs, pressure-cooked

Potatoes sautéed in a stove top pan is a staple at dinners at our house. I never use a recipe, just throw them together. It might be good for me to take some time studying Julia Child’s methods, because sometimes mine turn out good, and sometimes disappointing. And I can compare her recipe for the pressure-cooked version with one I tried previously for this blog entry: Country Style Potatoes.

“Egg Dishes” catches my eye. Remember when I discussed how to boil an egg in Kitchen Science? Well, Julia Child uses the same method. Her discussion of hard boiled – or HB – eggs covers 8 pages! I use a push-pin to poke a whole in the egg, but she actually had an egg-pricker. (They even sell complicated egg prickers online these days.) Continuing with eggs, we come to poached eggs. I use silicone cups to hold eggs to “poach” them in boiling water, but true poached eggs are made by sliding a cracked egg directly into boiling water. She calls poached eggs the “purest and loveliest of ways to cook eggs. I have tried the method of poaching eggs directly in boiling water, but was never successful. But this morning, I carefully studied Julia Child’s method and on my first try, successfully made 4 poached eggs! They were almost perfect! And definitely yummier than the silicone cup method.

At first, I kind of want to make Julia’s Garlicky Sautéed Potatoes for this blog. But then I came across her recipe for Rye Bread. I have a lot of rye flour in my pantry that I should use up, and rye flour is a whole grain flour and thus “good for us”. So I decide to try the rye bread first, and then the potatoes some other time. Below are the first two pages of Julia Child’s recipe for rye bread. The entire recipe goes on for another five pages!

FromJCKitchenRye1FromJCKitchenRye2And in the very back of From Julia Child’s Kitchen I find this – what I call very funny – passage in one of the appendices:

FromJCKitchenRye3What tickles me about this? The “or your own holy mixture” clause. Ahem, that’s me! I am always substituting flours like gluten or bread flour or high fiber flour in recipes. And note I have already made three types of rye bread for this blog:

I’ll call my version of Julia Child’s Basic Rye Bread “My Own Holy Mixture Rye Bread”. I will halve the recipe, use my tried-and-true dry active yeast, and a mixture of rye, unbleached white, and gluten flours (see my entry on flours and yeast). I like to add diastatic malt powder (to improve the rise) and caramel color. Finally, I added caraway seeds, because I like them in rye bread. Here is a photo of my malt and caramel:

malt and caramel

My Own Holy Mixture Rye Bread
makes one large 9×5-inch loaf

Yeast starter:

  • 5/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup water

Stir the yeast into the 2 1/2 tablespoons water until it is dissolved, then stir in the flour and the 3/4 cup flour. Cover the mixture and let it stand at room temperature for at least 2 1/2 hours and up to overnight. Here is how my yeast starter looks the next day:

yeast mixtureIt is just lovely and bubbly and has a wonderful yeasty sour smell.

Final rye dough mixture:

  • the yeast starter mixture, all of it (above)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 5/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 cups rye flour, or 8 1/2 ounces (I used dark rye flour)
  • 1 cup of a mixture of unbleached AP flour (75%) and gluten flour (25%), or 5 ounces total
  • 1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon caramel color
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (add at the “beep” of the bread machine)

Put all of the ingredients except the caraway seeds into the bowl of a bread machine. Set to a dough cycle that includes a rising step. Start the machine, and monitor the dough a bit to make sure it is forming a big ball of dough. My dough was pretty sticky, but I didn’t add any more flour. From experience with my bread machine and my yeast, I know that a heavy dough like this will give a better rise and texture if left sort of sticky to the touch.

Add the caraway seeds when the machine beeps that it is time for such ingredients, or fold it into the dough when it is finished kneading and rising.

When the dough cycle is complete, remove the dough to a lightly floured board. Fold and press the dough for a minute or so, then form it into a loaf and place it in a lightly greased 9/5-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 375˚ for 25 minutes, then turn the oven to 350˚ and bake another 7-10 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. When done, it should sound hollow when tapped.

Here is my loaf. In my opinion, the amount of dough was a bit too much for the pan, but I would not change this in the future. If you like, experiment with free form loaves as in Julia Child’s original recipe.

rye bread loaf

The texture was a tiny bit moister than my usual whole wheat bread. But, it was entirely delicious! It stayed together as a slice, but was soft and yummy tasting, especially with corned beef or pastrami on it.

rye bread loaf cut

Success!

250 Cookbooks: The Vegetarian Cookbook

Cookbook #243: The Vegetarian Cookbook, Nicola Graimes, Hermes House, Anness Publishing Ltd, London, 2003.

The Vegetarian CookbookThe Vegetarian Cookbook is pleasantly laid out and illustrated, and Nicola Graimes is a personable author. I probably bought this book at a time when my daughter was vegetarian. I don’t think I’ve cooked many – if any – of the recipes in it! Why not? I really can’t tell you.

Nicola Graimes writes in the introduction:

“Vegetarianism is not purely about achieving and maintaining good health. A meat-free diet is enjoyable, delicious and varied. The choice of fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs, noodles, pasta, grains and cheeses is now more extensive than ever before, enabling cooks to experiment with different flavours, textures and colours, and vegetarian food has become a popular cuisine in its own right.”

And, dear spell checker, “flavours” and “colours” is correct in this Britain-published cookbook!

More from Graimes:

“Today, much of our food is processed and bears little resemblance to the original ingredients, so the recipes in this book specify fresh, unrefined foods whenever possible.”

If you have read any of this blog of mine, you will know that I am entirely in agreement with the above statement. So why haven’t I used this cookbook? Time to settle in and give The Vegetarian Cookbook a good reading. The first fifth of The Vegetarian Cookbook is an extensive guide to ingredients, from vegetables to spices and oils and pastas. Useful, but these days I usually rely on the internet instead.

The rest of the book is recipes, most with an international flair. “Soups” is the first recipe chapter, beginning with chilled soups. (I am not a fan of chilled soups.) I do like several of Graimes’ recipes for hot soups. I’d like to try North African Spiced Soup (potatoes, celery, tomatoes, chickpeas, and lots of spices) and Spiced Lentil Soup. Cream of Courgette Soup? A courgette is a zucchini, so it’s cream of zucchini soup. Garlic and Coriander Soup is an interesting concoction of cilantro (coriander), garlic, vegetable stock, bread, and poached eggs. Roasted Vegetable Soup sounds good too. First you roast butternut squash, carrots, parsnip, rutabaga, and leeks, then combine them with vegetable stock, cook, puree, and serve.

So. There are some interesting recipes in this book. Perhaps in 2003 I wasn’t quite as adventurous in my cooking? Not sure. I turn to the appetizers chapter. I like Asparagus in Egg and Lemon Sauce because the sauce would be lighter than traditional hollandaise sauce. To make Twice Baked Gruyere and Potato Souffles you smash cooked potatoes with egg yolks and gruyere cheese, fold in beaten egg whites mixed with gruyere cheese, and bake in ramekins. Corgette Fritters with Chili Jam are fried in a small amount of oil, and the chili jam is home made.

The Vegetarian Cookbook continues with chapters entitled Lunches and Suppers, Fresh and Healthy Dishes, Entertaining in Style, Side Dishes, Salads, and Breads and Savoury Bakes. I noted several recipes I’d like to try: Jamaican Black Bean Pot, Penne Rigate with Mixed Vegetable Sauce, Baked Cheese Polenta with Tomato Sauce (this recipe calls for the polenta “logs” sold in local stores), Pumpkin Gnocchi, Summer Herb Ricotta Flan (crust-less, high protein, low fat), Polenta Crepes, Avocado, Red Onion and Spinach Salad with Polenta Croutons, and Cheese and Courgette Cluster Bread. Champagne Risotto calls for over a cup of champagne! Graimes writes: “This may sound rather extravagant, but makes a beautifully flavoured risotto, perfect for that special celebratory dinner.”

I had fun looking up ingredients I didn’t know. “Puy” lentils are small green lentils with blue marbling. “Borlotti” beans” are oval with red streaks and can be substituted with red kidney beans. “Quorn” is a British meat substitute. “Con chiglie” is a type of pasta, sort of like small shell pasta. “Gem” squash looks like a plump zucchini. “Garganelli” is a penne-shaped pasta. “Kohlrabi” is a vegetable related to cabbage and I’m not sure I’ve seen it in local stores. “Rocket” salad is arugula salad. Some ingredients might be hard for me to find. For instance, one recipe calls for a mixture of both fresh and mature Pecorino cheese – only a store with an extensive cheese collection is likely to carry both. Pickled walnuts? I’ve never noticed these in any local stores. I don’t have a good source of wild or field mushrooms called for in a lot of recipes.

It’s largely Nicola Graimes‘ excitement about her recipes that makes the book enjoyable. A former editor of Vegetarian Living magazine, she has over 20 books to her credit, and is still writing. I might buy her book Superfood Energy Balls & Bites, since I often eat little bites of protein bars throughout a day of work-outs and other activities.

For this blog, I decide to make Walnut Bread, a whole wheat bread with lots of walnuts.

(This book is hard to open out flat enough to follow a recipe while cooking!)

I will make this bread in my breadmaker. For the “strong wholemeal (whole-wheat) bread flour”, I decide to use half whole wheat and half white whole wheat flours, both from King Arthur Flour. For the “unbleached strong white bread flour”, I will use King Arthur unbleached white bread flour, with a touch of vital wheat gluten too. I used turbinado sugar for the “light brown (molasses) sugar”. I made the dough in a single loaf pan rather than two small round loaves. My version of Graimes’ recipe is below.

Whole Wheat Bread with Walnuts
makes one 9×5-inch loaf

  • 1 cup milk (may need a little more, see below)
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • 12 ounces whole wheat flour (I used a mixture of whole wheat and white whole wheat)
  • 4 ounces white bread flour (I put a couple tablespoons vital wheat gluten and then added white bread flour to 4 ounces total)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Put all the ingredients except the walnuts in a breadmaker. Set to a dough cycle with a rising step. Watch as the kneading begins – my dough wasn’t forming a firm ball so I added a bit more milk.

When the breadmaker signals that it is done, take the dough out and roll it out. Sprinkle with the walnuts and press them firmly into the dough. Knead the dough several times to distribute walnuts. Then, form into a loaf and place in a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Let rise until the bread tops the sides of the loaf pan. Bake at 425˚ for 35 minutes.

Walnut Bread LoafThis bread is excellent! I think I found the perfect combination of whole wheat flours to give it excellent flavor and still have good texture – sometimes whole wheat loaves turn out sort of like heavy rocks. The walnuts made me keep wanting to have another bite! Note that this is a good bread for people on a low-carb diet, because it is whole-grain and also has nuts.

I will definitely keep The Vegetarian Cookbook!

250 Cookbooks: My Party Book of Tested Chocolate Recipes

Cookbook #242: My Party Book of Tested Chocolate Recipes, General Foods Corp. – 4012, USA, 2nd Ptg., 1938.

1938. It’s amazing this vintage cookbook has lasted this long! One tear in the front cover is the only flaw. I open to the first page:

“Now what can I serve that everyone likes?” you ask yourself when you plan party refreshments. And if you decide on “something chocolate” you’re sure to be right. For Chocolate is America’s favorite flavor.

As a true American, I do love chocolate, and would love to try every recipe in this cookbook!

Here’s the rest of the first page:

inside cover“How to have success with chocolate” is the second page:

success with chocolate“For over150 years Baker’s has set the standards for fine chocolate”. Since this book was published in 1938, that  means Baker’s Chocolate was formed in 1788 or earlier. Let’s check. I pull up Wikipedia’s entry for Baker’s Chocolate. In 1764, John Hannon and Dr. James Baker of Massachusetts began a business importing cocoa beans from the West Indies. Dr. Baker took over the company in 1780, when Hannon did not return from a sailing trip. Baker renamed the company “Baker’s Chocolate”. So, the claim is correct. Chocolate itself was discovered in meso-America (Wikipedia’s History of Chocolate). The Americas had chocolate before Europe – sometimes I forget that!

The “How to have success with chocolate” page in My Party Book of Tested Chocolate Recipes also asserts “None of the valuable food elements are removed, nothing added.”. My current package of Baker’s baking chocolate lists “chocolate” as the sole ingredient. And today’s package has a nutrition label, so I can check the 1938 claim that it has valuable food elements:

From the above label, we can see that one-half an ounce  of baking chocolate has 90 calories, 78% from from fat, with a small amount of dietary fiber and 2 grams of protein. No vitamin A or C, no calcium, but some iron. Valuable food elements, yes, I guess. But nowadays – unlike 1938 – chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has been found to be chock-full of trace nutrients and antioxidants and more, as in this article on HealthLine.

I learn from a web search that baking chocolate (unsweetened chocolate or bitter chocolate) is cooled, hardened chocolate liquor, which is melted ground cocoa, and it contains between 50 and 58 percent cocoa butter. On the other hand, unsweetened cocoa powder has 46 grams of fat in one-half ounce, 50% from fat. It is made from roasted cocoa beans that are ground into a fine powder.

Baker’s unsweetened chocolate is no longer sold in a “blue and yellow package” but the “famous Chocolate Girl trademark” is still on it. Today the package is yellow, orange, and brown. I included this package in the photo I took of the recipe ingredients, below on this page.

Ironically, my package also indicates that Baker’s chocolate is now manufactured in Canada.

Just one more comment on the “How to have success with chocolate” page. Baking chocolate used to be sold in eight ounce packages, specifically, each package contained 8 individually wrapped squares of 1-ounce each. This is an important fact, since older recipes call for “1 square of baking chocolate”. Current packages are not individually wrapped, but I will remember that “1 square of baking chocolate” means “1 ounce”. (This fact is also on the currently-sold packages of Baker’s baking chocolate.)

Where did I get this cookbook? I think I got this from my mother’s collection, or perhaps it was my grandmothers. No recipes are marked. Today I find it available on several online used-book stores for about 3 dollars. And, full text is available on the Hathitrust website.

Here are some examples of recipes.

I decide to Chocolate Sundae Sauce for this blog.

This ought to be a good project for my 4 year old grandson to help me with. He loves mixing things! Plus it will be special to have homemade sundae sauce over ice cream for a simple dessert for all of us.

Chocolate Sundae Sauce
1 cup sauce

  • 2 1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of salt

Put the chocolate and the water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and salt and boil 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Serve hot or cold over ice cream.

We get all the ingredients together:

ingredients for chocolate sauceHere’s my helper, doing the stirring chores!

Dzo stirring the chocolate sauceLater, after dinner, we enjoyed the sauce over vanilla ice cream and berries.

Chocolate Sauce over ice creamYum yum yum! It was pretty special to have our own homemade sauce.

This sauce will store – we had a little left over. The next day it was stirrable at room temperature, but pretty thick, and would not pour unless heated. Not a real problem, just heat in a microwave oven – a convenience that was not available in 1938.

Below are scans of the front cover, back cover, and the inside-back cover.

250 Cookbooks: Crock Pot Stoneware Slow Cooker

Cookbook #241: Crock-Pot® Stoneware Slow Cooker, Owner’s Guide, Rival, JCS/THG (The Holmes Group), 2006.

Crock-Pot Stoneware Slow Cooker cookbookThis is my current crock pot. It replaced a nearly-broken one in about 2006. This one has a removable stoneware crock that makes it easy to clean, a high-low setting, and a timer. This is my first crock pot with a timer, and I’d always get one like this from now on.

This is the last of my 11 crock pot cookbooks. Below is a list of those cookbooks and their publication dates, in the order that I covered them for this 250 Cookbooks blog. Crock pots are also called slow cookers, crockery cookers, or stoneware slow cookers. (I am reminded by Crock-Pot® Stoneware Slow Cooker that “Crock-Pot®” is a registered trademark.)

Crock-Pot® Stoneware Slow Cooker is a small booklet, 5×7-inches, 15 pages. Instructions and warranty take up 6 1/2 pages, and recipes 8 1/2 pages. I count 23 recipes. (Actually, there is another 15 pages, but those are upside down and in French.)

I am going to keep this cookbook, largely because it has “official” instructions and also warranty information. And also, the handful of recipes really look like they will “work”. If you read any of my other crock pot posts, you will know that I think crock pots turn good food into indiscernible mush with a bad recipe.

I find this in the question and answer section of the instructions:

QCan I cook a roast without adding water?
A Yes – if cooked on LOW. We recommend a small amount because the gravies are especially tasty. The more fat or “marbling” the meat has, the less liquid you need. The liquid is needed to properly soften and cook vegetables.

This hits home to me, because lately I have been slow-roasting beef roasts in the oven. I might try my crock pot next time.

The first recipe in Crock-Pot® Stoneware Slow Cooker is for Pot Roast of Beef. Someday I’d like to try this recipe and compare/contrast with the method I now use from Cook’s Illustrated (Cover and Bake).

The second recipe is for Beef Bourguignon, and that is what I’ll make for this blog. Another recipe I have my eye on is Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic, something I’ve always wanted to make. I might also consult the recipes for meat loaf, pork chops and roast, whole chicken, Swiss steak, French onion soup, jambalaya, and game hens (roasted with no added water).

Here is the recipe for Beef Bourguignon:

My version is below. I added more stock and more wine, and found that these changes gave just the right amount and thickness of gravy at the end. I used double the amount of tomato paste. I did not add the 3 tablespoons butter plus 3 tablespoons flour at the very end to thicken the broth, but I suggest you do that if you want a really thick gravy.

Beef Bourguignon
serves 6-8, and freezes well

  • 6 strips of bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • beef rump, chuck, or cross-rib roast, around 3 pounds, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup (about) red wine; divided
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf (I used a big fat one recently purchased at Savory Spice Shop in Boulder)
  • 1/2 pound tiny white onions (you could leave these out, but I like them; the ones I used were frozen)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside.

In a clean pan, use a little bit of the bacon grease to sauté the beef chunks. Do this in batches and at fairly high heat. (You can anso brown the beef in the pan used to cook the bacon.)

Place the browned beef chunks and the cooked bacon in the crock pot.

Add a bit of oil or bacon fat to the pan used to brown the beef, then add the carrot and onion and cook until brown. Add the 3 tablespoons flour and mix in as well as possible, then add the beef broth; mix well and add the vegetable-broth mixture to the crock pot.

Add about half the wine, the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and tiny white onions to the crock pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours (in my crock pot, the meat was tender at 8 hours). An hour before serving, sauté the mushrooms in the butter, and add them and some more red wine to the crock pot and continue slow-cooking. (Remove the bay leaf and any fresh thyme sprigs before serving.)

Serve!

Beef BourguignonThis was totally yummy. I loved the rich, dark broth-gravy. I am glad I didn’t add the flour/butter mixture at the end to thicken the gravy. It was rich and thick enough for me as it was – it was indeed “especially tasty”. I’m also glad I added more wine than called for in the recipe. I liked the sautéd mushrooms added for the last hour – their texture and flavor were not lost by 8 hours of cooking.

To serve, I cooked some potatoes, carrots, and peas and stirred them into our servings of bourguignon. I often like stew prepared with potatoes added later, because for the two of us, I usually cook a lot of stew-type meat at once and freeze some for another meal, and potatoes do not keep their texture after freezing. Also, this method opens up variations: you could serve the bourguignon over mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, gnocchi, polenta – you name it. Or keep it without added carbs for a nearly low-carb meal.

I get to enjoy this delicious bourguignon a few more times, and quickly, by thawing the portions I stowed away in my freezer. This recipe was a success!

250 Cookbooks: Nabisco’s Snack Book

Cookbook #240: Nabisco’s Snack Book, The Pillsbury Company, 1970.

Nabisco's Snack Cook Book cookbook“Dear Homemaker,
Snacking today certainly is a great pastime. With the leisure time we have, one really can relax and enjoy a tasty snack.”

So begins Nabisco’s Snack Book. It continues:

Note the author of the introduction – Mary Ellen Baker, Home Economist. “Baker”? Really?
Her signature is right there. Web searches pulled up nothing about her.

Like so many appetizer books of the sixtie and seventies, most recipes in Nabisco’s Snack Book call for cream cheese, sour cream, various cheeses, packaged meats, and condiments. And, in every recipe in this book, there is a Nabisco brand-name ingredient: Triangle Thins Crackers, Chippers Potato Crackers, Triscuit Wafers, Dromedary Pitted Dates, Flaked Coconut Snack Crackers, Sociables Crackers, Waverly Wafers, French Onion Crackers, Premium Saltine Crackers, Mister Salty Veri-Thin Pretzels, Snack Mate Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread, Whirligigs Caramels, Nabisco Rice Honeys – to name just a few!

Nabisco makes me feel so . . . American.

I find Nabisco’s Snack Book for sale online. On Amazon, today it goes for $3.50. But on this site, the asking price is $25! And to think, Nabisco’s Snack Book originally sold for 99 cents. I really don’t think this cookbook is vintage enough or has enough good recipes to be worth $25. But one reviewer on the referenced site loves this book – SHOUTS about it:

“Here for your delectation is the SPECTACULAR & RARE–NABISCO’S SNACK COOK BOOK by Mary Ellen Baker. TERRIFIC RECIPES for DELICIOUS SNACKS using NABISCO PRODUCTS!! PLUS—-there are L-O-A-D-S of gorgeous, mouth-watering FULL-COLOR photos!!

This book was my mother’s. She did not comment on any of the recipes, and it’s in very good condition. If I keep it, it will be for nostalgia: it is a classic style of 60s and 70s manufacturer’s cookbook. Or I’ll keep it because any item that can go from 99 cents to 25 dollars . . . might be a good investment!

Here is an example of recipes in this book. Note the Stuffed Grape Leaves – more exotic than I expected. Note that it calls for “75 Cheese-NIPS Crackers”. Can you see counting those out? Or even “18 Triangle Thins Crackers” in the Stuffed Pimiento Slimmers. Note too that the “Slimmers” recipe includes a calorie count. A handful of recipes throughout this book include this data for dieters.

Here are some more pages from this book.

Sweet Snacks include Coconut Orange Dreams (stacks of three vanilla wafers layered with frosting – count out those 54 Nilla Wafers!) and Apricot Coconut Pixies.

Below is “Shimmering Party Pate”, with a cream cheese-liver pate mixture embedded in jello:

Cheese Neapolitan, pictured below, has 3 layers. The bottom layer is cream cheese and Parmesan cheese colored with tomato paste, the middle layer cream cheese and ricotta cheese, and the top layer cream cheese and Bel Paese cheese covered with parsley.

And one more, Curried Chicken Tidbits.

I decide to make “Cuke ‘N Tuna Rounds” for this blog:

Mine will not be “round”, because I don’t have Ritz crackers in the house. Maybe Nabisco Triscuits? I have a box of those. (In the end, I leave out the crackers altogether.)

I would (if I had them) substitute fresh red bell peppers for the canned Dromedary Pimientos. I covered pimientos in my post on the Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 9. Here is a quote from me:

“Pimientos are red bell peppers. It is interesting that red bell peppers are actually green bell peppers that have reached a further state of maturity. The pimiento variety of bell peppers are heart-shaped and very sweet. You can find them canned in the markets, often in small glass jars. I usually substitute fresh red bell peppers for pimientos in recipes.”

In my opinion, red peppers have more flavor than expensive, hard to find canned pimientos.

Tuna these days comes in 4- to 5-ounce cans (at least that is what I had in my cupboard), so I down-sized this recipe.

Cuke ‘N Tuna Rounds

  • 1 5-ounce can tuna, drained
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped dill pickles
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely diced red pepper (I left this out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • cucumber slices
  • crackers of your choice (I left these out)

Combine the tuna, cream cheese, mayonnaise, pickles, red pepper, and pepper. Chill. To serve, place a mound of tuna mixture on a cucumber slice. It would be good with crackers beneath the cucumbers too, but I left those out.

Tuna Rounds

We enjoyed these. In fact, it was our low-carb lunch on a picnic with our grandson to Meadow Park in Lyons. For us, it was “lunch” rather than a “snack”!

For now, I am keeping this cookbook. It’s fun to look through old recipes.

250 Cookbooks: Italian Regional Cooking

Cookbook #239: Italian Regional Cooking, Ada Boni, Bonanza Books, NY, 1969. Translated by Maria Langdale and Ursula Whyte.

Italian Regional Cooking cookbookIn my “250 Cookbooks” data base, I entered the publication date for this book as “1969?” Huh? Why the question mark. I went to the copyright page of Italian Regional Cooking and found “© MCMLXIX”. Oh, I see, and sure enough, when I read the whole field in my database, it reads “1969? MCMLXIX”. I had translated the Roman numeral to an Arabic numeral as “1969”, but didn’t check to see if I was correct. Turns out I was: search engines today quickly pulled up the conversion of MCMLXIX to 1969. Kids today no longer need to learn those rules in school, I guess.

Italian Regional Cooking was a gift to my husband and me on 5/25/77 from a couple-friend of ours. We were living in our trailer in Boulder at that time – opening this book brings back memories. But have I ever used this book? I don’t think so. It is a lovely book to page through, with full page glossy photos of regions in Italy. We have always loved Italian food, and I love to cook, so it was (in theory) a perfect gift.

I looked up Italian Regional Cooking online. It is still for sale as a used book; I do not see a newer edition. On thriftbooks.com, several people wrote reviews about this cookbook. I learn from them that this tome is considered a classic Italian cookbook, kept for years by families and cooks alike for its authentic Italian recipes. Readers of this book who had traveled to Italy write that it reflects accurately the cooking of the regions of Italy in the 1960s.

The “perfect gift” and a “classic” cookbook. So why haven’t I used Italian Regional Cooking a lot? Let’s see. I take Italian Regional Cooking and settle in a comfy chair and begin to read, to learn what book I hold in my hands, and to wonder why I have never embraced it as a favorite cookbook.

Each of the 14 chapters covers a different region of Italy, and the first region is “Piedmont”. Here are the first paragraphs in Italian Regional Cooking:

To me, this is an abrupt beginning. It had me looking on the previous page, to see if I missed something. And I looked for an introduction to this book, but, there is none.

I continue through the Piedmont region. The print at the beginning, informative part of the chapter is in a large font, accompanied by glossy pages of photos. Like this one:

I see what might have turned me off about this book: the dead rabbit staring at me from a stick placed above a plate of its cooked bunny friends. And the handsome dead birds on the table. Ironic, since the friends who gave us this book were vegetarians.

After these written and photographic descriptions of the Piedmont region are several pages of recipes. These are printed on rough, grey paper in a smaller font. Bolded recipe titles are in Italian, with the italicized English translation beneath. Here is an example. Recipes for gnocchi (two types, and made from scratch), rarebit (learned about in my Encyclopedia of Cooking), fondue, and polenta.

Here is another example of recipes in the Piedmont chapter. These ingredients aren’t as “Patty-friendly” as they are sweetbreads, oxtail, and frogs legs.

I come to the second chapter, on the region of Lombardy. This time, I look forward to the informative first pages:

“King’s soup”. Now I begin to appreciate that Ada Boni is starting each chapter with an interesting story. I look up the Certosa, the great Charterhouse of Pavia. The author is probably correct as to what has happened to the cottage near the Certosa, because the current website states that the Certosa “was once located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti family of Milan, of which today only scattered parts remain.”

Saffron colors many of the dishes of the Lombardy region. When we traveled to Turkey, I bought some saffron at the Spice Bazaar. Saffron today is one of the world’s most expensive spices, at about $13 per gram (gold today is about $45 per gram). But in fourteenth-century Milan, saffron began as a simple paint pigment, not a “spice”. It was adopted as a culinary ingredient to color food a gold color:

I turn to the third chapter, the region of Veneto. Ida Boni tells the story of how corn came to Italy. Corn “caused a sensation” in the market of Rialto in the Veneto region: 

To this day, polenta, made from corn, is a popular dish in the region of Veneto. And polenta, as a grain or pre-cooked, is easily available in our local supermarkets. Even I have served it as part of an Italian meal. The recipes in the Veneto chapter include polenta recipes, recipes for noodles from scratch, and recipes that call for ham, duck, mutton, chicken, pork sausage, shellfish, beef, lamb, pigeon, rice, liver, tripe, cod, guinea fowl, turkey, snails, eel, and a variety of vegetables.

Pesto is the traditional sauce of Genoa, in the Liguria region.

Here is a recipe for pesto:

I find a recipe for zabaglione, mentioned in my Encyclopedia of Cookery Volume 12.

And so Ida Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking continues. I turn the pages and enjoy new stories, and more wonderful photos of the regions of Italy. It is a very good read.

The recipes? I can’t get the ingredients for a lot of them (even if I wanted too) and many require a lot of work (making your own pasta and gnocchi). I now have the time and ability to make my own pasta, so eventually I may try a few of the harder dishes.

 

I will definitely keep Italian Regional Cooking as a “classic” Italian cookbook. Back in 1977 when we received this cookbook, I would have only been looking for recipes for pasta and pizza, because that’s all I thought of when I thought of Italian cooking. But now I have traveled to Turkey, near Italy, and have savored the very fresh vegetables and seafood ubiquitous to that country. I have made my own pasta, and learned how to make a very good tomato sauce. I have cooked polenta, and used saffron. I understand and appreciate how Italian regions’ cooking depends on the very fresh game and fish surrounding them – what they ate was controlled by what they could harvest, not by a huge food industry. I can appreciate that this book reflects older Italian cooking, now often overtaken by convenience foods in the current busy cultures.

Note: I covered Italian Light Cooking a couple years ago. In it, the author states that “light” cooking is the more traditional Italian cooking, with less red meat and cheese. That is what this book is all about too.

For this blog, I will make Pallottoline in Brodo, or Sicilian Meat Ball Soup.

This is a simple soup, just meat balls and noodles in broth. The only herb is parsley. As I was preparing it, I had to keep my hand from grabbing my usual Italian spices, like oregano, basil, and thyme. I also had to stop from adding vegetables to this soup, like carrots, celery, and onions. The only change I made was to halve the recipe to serve only two people, but keep the amount of ground beef the same (1/2 pound). Oh – at the last minute I added about 3 tablespoons tomato sauce. I’ll leave that as optional.

Tagliatelle noodles are similar to fettuccine noodles; if possible, find flat noodles about .25 to .375-inches wide.

Sicilian Meat Ball Soup
serves 2

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons (freshly) grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for the top of the soup)
  • 2 tablespoons soft bread crumbs
  • chopped fresh parsley, about 2-3 sprigs
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups meat stock (I used a combination of beef and chicken stock)
  • (3 tablespoons tomato sauce; optional – this is largely for color)
  • 4 ounces ribbon-style noodles (see above)

Mix the meat, egg, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper in a bowl. (I used a mini food processor to make the bread crumbs and chop the parsley and garlic.) Knead until smooth, then break into pieces and roll into balls about the size of a hazelnut.

Bring the stock to a boil. Add the meatballs and cook about 5 minutes. Add the noodles and cook until the noodles are tender but still firm. Serve immediately with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Sicilian Meat Ball SoupThis was a very thick and very filling soup. It was good, but actually too much for the two of us. I might make it the same way again, or I’d use half the amount of meatballs and serve it as a first course. The flavor was good and I always like meat balls, so I wasn’t complaining!

250 Cookbooks: Silver Anniversary Bake-Off Cookbook

Cookbook #238: Silver Anniversary Bake-Off Cookbook, the Pillsbury Company, US, 1974.

Pillsbury Silver Anniversary Bake-Off cookbookThe Silver Anniversary Bake-Off Cookbook is one of the 22 cookbooks or cookbooklets on my shelves. The publication dates vary from 1959-2000, and most were my Mother’s. Some have good recipes, and some not-so-good recipes, but they reflect Americana of late twentieth century USA.

This booklet was my mother’s, and it is of the “not-so-good” recipe sort. Why? Because I can find only 4 recipes in 80 pages of recipes that do not call for pre-packaged convenience foods. What are these products? Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix, Refrigerated Quick Crescent Dinner Rolls, Coconut Pecan or Coconut Almond Frosting Mix, Hungry Jack Au Gratin or Scalloped Potatoes, Yellow or Fudge Cake Mix or (non-branded) custard or pudding and pie filling mix. I just don’t buy that type of packaged food. I like baking from scratch, and I like choosing my own type of flour and shortening/oils. I want very few foods in my diet that come in packages with long lists of chemical ingredients.

As I go through this booklet, I note that even my mother did not mark as tried a single recipe in this book!

Here are some typical examples of the recipes in this book:

What are the four recipes that do not call for packaged mixes? That short list follows:

  • Easy Peach Spice Cake made with AP flour, sugar, spices, grated orange peel, peach or apricot preserves (I could use my own jam!), orange juice, eggs, nuts, and a frosting of powdered sugar, preserves, and butter
  • Pocket-of-Chocolate Cake (bundt cake made with sweetened condensed milk, “creme” cheese, chocolate chips, nuts, AP flour, sugar, sour cream, rum, eggs)
  • Quick Apple Spice Bars made with brown sugar, eggs, 3 chopped fresh apples, AP flour, cinnamon, 1 cup cheddar cheese, nuts, and coconut
  • Fiesta Chicken Kiev (chicken breasts cooked in the microwave)

For this blog, I choose to bake “Quick Apple Spice Bars”. Note that they have apples and cheese in them –  classic combination for apple pie. I think these bars sound good, unusual, and close to being a “healthy” recipe. (They don’t even call for butter or a cooking oil.) A side benefit is that these spice bars would be a good way to use up fresh apples (maybe those partially chewed on by a certain grandson!).

The fresh apples, cheese, nuts, and coconut in this recipe are all on our approved list of foods. Note that there is no butter or shortening in the recipe. The sugar? A no-no for us. I’ll wait to make these until we have company.

Quick Apple Spice Bars

  • 1 cup brown sugar (reduce to 7/8 cup at high altitude, over 5200 feet, like me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups peeled, finely chopped apples (about 3 medium)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut

Combine the brown sugar and eggs, mix well. Stir in apples. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, add to the sugar and egg mixture and stir only until the ingredients are just mixed. Stir in the cheese, nuts, and coconut.

Bake in a greased and floured 13×9-inch pan. Bke at 375˚ for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

I’ll add a photo when I make these! Gotta wait for company.

250 Cookbooks: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 12, Top-Z-Index

Cookbook #237: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 12, Top-Z-Index, Woman’s Day, Fawcett Publications, NY, 1967.

Encyclopedia of Cookery Vol. 12 cookbookI am on the final 15 cookbooks in my “250 Cookbooks” database! It’s time to do the last Encyclopedia of Cookery in my collection. I open the volume and settle in to another discovery of unusual food items and historical trivia. As well as some useful recipes, of course. Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 12, Top-Z-Index covers “topping” to “zwieback”.

A very, very useful feature is in this volume: the complete recipe index for volumes 1 to 12.  This 96-page index takes up almost half the book. It is invaluable to search the entire set for foods and recipes. I feel lucky to have the entire, intact set.

What is a torte? It is a rich cake, made with eggs, sugar, jam, liqueur, (very little) flour, and nuts or dry bread crumbs. Often a luscious filling is spread between cake-like layers. Next are recipes for tortillas (I’ve run across a lot of tortilla recipes in my journey through this blog). Tortoni is an Italian dessert made from liquor- or sherry-flavored whipped cream combined with macaroon crumbs. The mixture is put into little paper cups, sprinkled with crumbs and almonds, and frozen. Yum. Trifle is another dessert; of English origin, it is made from jam-covered, spirit-soaked sponge cake, with a rich custard and whipped cream and fancy almonds and glacé fruit on top. It’s also known as a “tipsy cake”. I’d love these three desserts, as I wake to a Valentine’s Day morning with no hopes of anything but protein and vegetables for the day.

Tripe? I actually bought it once years ago. It’s the inner lining of the stomach of beef. I don’t like it. But I do like trout, especially the rainbow trout we get in Colorado, and especially if very fresh and wild-caught. (I am not a fisherwoman. Although there are photos of me when young with a fishing pole, happily catching fish in the High Sierras.)

Enjoy with me this entry from Lucy Kavaler on legends of the elusive truffle:

And now from truffles to the lowly can of tuna. I am not surprised to find a “Tuna Cook Book” in this 1960s cookbook. “Tonno con Piselli” is tuna with peas, yes, just canned tuna and peas. The “Tuna-Macaroni Bake” is like the tuna casseroles I remember; this one is topped with crushed potato chips. (I love potato chips on tuna sandwiches.)

Turkeys are native to America. I guess I knew this fact, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I think “turkey”. They were domesticated by native Americans. Here is Ben Franklin talking about bald eagles and turkeys:

The Turkey Cook Book might be useful because it has a lot of recipes for using leftover turkey. Next come turmeric, turnip, and turnovers. Oh, turtle soup! And if I want to know how to dress a live turtle:

Upside-down cakes include a recipe for blueberry upside-down cake, which I’d surely like to try. “Utensil” gives a check list of utensils needed in a well-equipped kitchen. Let’s see, I have beaters and mixers, a blender, cutting boards, bowls, deep fryer, egg poachedr, ice-cream freezer, pressure cooker, rolling pin, teapot, thermometers, toaster . . . looks like I am good to go. Vacherin is a “delicious creamy white dessert cheese” from Switzerland or France. Vanilla is from a plant related to orchids. (And boy, has vanilla gotten expensive lately! I just bought a small bottle yesterday for nineteen dollars!) I am not a fan of veal, but this Encyclopedia has a Veal Cook Book.

James Beard wrote the section on Vegetable Cookery. He and I are like-minded: don’t overcook vegetables. I’d like to try his recipe for Braised Leeks and one for Zucchini with Walnuts. Gratin of Greens is suitable for a no-carb diet, and Tangerine Swirls is an interesting take on sweet potatoes. I learn that Vichyssoise is a “very elegant cold leek and potato soup”. It has lots of cream in it and is served cold.

A “vinaigrette” need only be a mixture of oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, but can have herbs. While traveling in Paris and London, sometimes there was a bottle of oil and a bottle of vinegar at the table, meant for salads. If it’s not mixed, I guess it’s not a vinaigrette. (My vinaigrette recipe is here.) Vinegar itself has a long history, stretching back thousands of years. Yeast fell into fruit juice and it turned into wine, and bacteria fell into wine and turned it to vinegar. “Vin aigre” is French for “sour wine”. (As a chemist, I know vinegar as containing acetic acid and water.) Here’s a section from this book on vinegar:

Vitamin, vodka, vol-au-lent (a puff pastry formed into an enormous patty shell). I’d like to try the Old-Colony Gingerbread Waffles. “Water” has it’s own entry. Water chestnuts are a “fruit of a water plant”, common in Asia, shaped like a tree-chestnut, and crispy in texture. Watercress, watermelon, and welsh rabbit or rarebit (melted cheese on toast, often with beer or wine added to the rabbit).

“Western Cookery” begins with a long essay by Idwal Jones. She describes “western” as the cooking of California, Oregon, and Washington.

“There is a mystifying phenomenon in the order of courses in the West.” Namely, salads are served first. Yay for California for starting this trend! It’s the rule at my house, and I learned it from my college roommates.

In the 1960s, one could find frozen whale steaks in local specialty food stores, and I learn that 3 1/2 ounces raw whale has 156 calories. Apparently you could still find whale meat at online specialty shops in the 1960s (and maybe online today). Lots of fish begins with “wh” – white fish, whiting, and whitebait are examples. And of course two of my favorite things begin “wh” – wheat and whiskey. Wild rice is a native American grass that is not directly related to Asian rice.

The wine entry takes up many pages. I skip them. Maybe I’ll come back to them another time.

Worcestershire sauce contains garlic, soy, vinegar, anchovies, tamarinds, onions, shallots, molasses, sugar, salt, and spices. It originated in England. Wormwood flavors the “powerful spirit” absinthe. This book states that absinthe is illegal in the US (and I think it still is, although other countries allow its sale).

Yams are tubers grown mainly in the tropics. But what about those “yams” that I see in local stores? There are a few varieties of moist-fleshed yams grown our country. Mostly, though, we see sweet potatoes. “People often think that yams and sweet potatoes are the same thing, but although they resemble each other closely in taste, they belong to entirely different families of plants.” (I discuss yams at the end of another post.)

Lucy Kavaler wrote a long article on “yeast”, and Helen Evans Brown wrote “How to Cook Superbly: Yeast Rolls and Buns”. Yogurt is a “semisolid milk product that has been made acid by the addition of bacterial cultures”. Yorkshire pudding is a savory British dish made by baking a batter of egg, milk, and flour in beef drippings.

Zabaglione is an Italian dessert of eggs, sugar, and wine, and zeppole is an Italian doughnutlike pastry. (Yes, I guess doughnutlike is a word, according to Wiktionary.) Zucchini also comes from Italy.

And the last entry, on page 1962 of the entire Encyclopedia of Cooking volumes, is zwieback. These are “a sweet biscuit or rusk which is first baked and then sliced and toasted in the oven to make it into a kind of dry toast. The word comes from the German, and means “baked twice”.

I decide to make one of the “West Coast Salads” for this blog: California Parmesan-Walnut Salad.

I like this salad for several reasons. I love toasted walnuts in salads. I like Parmesan cheese too, especially when it is freshly grated from a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano. I like the fact that you make a special salad dressing, just enough for this salad. And, I like using “coarsely torn and loosely measured salad greens”. That’s my typical way of making salads! I am sure I used a lot more salad greens than one cup per person, though. I like my salads.

If you don’t keep small amounts of tomato juice in your pantry or refrigerator, you can use diluted tomato sauce. (I buy single serving cans of tomato juice because I often add just a bit to a sauce.) Or use V-8 juice. Or, use and entirely different salad dressing.

California Parmesan-Walnut Salad
serves 2-4

  • 1/4 cup salad oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion (you could use dried onion from a jar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, sugar, and dried basil
  • about 4 cups mixed salad greens (if you use large leaf lettuce, tear it into pieces)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts (toasted); whole-halves or coarsely broken
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To toast the walnuts, heat a pan on the stove top, then add the walnuts and stir and watch constantly until they begin to brown – watch them closely because they can burn quite quickly. Or, put them in a 450˚ oven for – again – just a few minutes, watching closely.

Mix the oil, tomato juice, lemon juice, onion, and seasonings in a bowl with a whisk or in a lidded jar.

Plate the greens, sprinkle with walnuts and cheese. Pour just enough of the salad dressing to coat the ingredients lightly. (Or, place the salad ingredients in a bowl, add dressing, and toss lightly.) Serve at once.

California Parmesah-Walnut Salad recipeThis is a great-tasting salad that I will make again. Refreshing, after my usual salads overladen with fresh cut vegetables. Entirely suitable for a special dinner! Note that I used walnut halves. Coarsely broken walnuts might give a slightly different taste to this salad.

I goofed and added 1 tablespoon of grated onion instead of 1 teaspoon. Next time, I’ll either finely chop just a teaspoon of fresh onion or shallot, or I’ll use a quarter teaspoon of dried onion powder or flakes.

And so I come to the end of my coverage of the set of Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cooking, begun with “abalone” on November 19, 2012 in the Encyclopedia of Cooking, Volume 1. Abalone to zwieback. A good journey.