March 2012 Archives

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I always heard growing up that a guy appreciates a good home-cooked meal, luckily for me that is true, and my husband enjoys cooking just as much as I do. For an after Valentine's Day meal I decided to try a recipe from the numerous Playboy cookbooks we have (6+). Yes, most of the recipes are chuck full of classic beef and potato sides, but I decided to try Breast of Chicken with Curry Dumplings. Looking at the empty bowls I think it was a success.

Breast of Chicken with Curry Dumplings
6 boneless breasts of chicken
6 tablespoons butter, room temp.
1 small green pepper, 1/2 inch dice
1 small red pepper, 1/2 inch dice
2 tablespoons cognac
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup light cream
3 tablespoons flour
salt, pepper

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy wide saucepan fitted with a tight lid. Add chicken and peppers, saute uncovered slowly, turning chicken once, until it just begins to lightly brown. Add cognac and sherry and set aflame. When flaming subside, add chicken broth and cream. Bring to a boil. Mix to a smooth paste with remaining 3 tablespoons butter and flour. Add to sauce. Simmer until sauce is thickened, stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper. Add dumplings, following procedure in recipe that follows. Cover pan. Keep over ver low heat 15 minutes. Place chicken in center of service platter. Spoon sauce over chicken and spoon dumplings around. (We didn't want to waste the yummy sauce, so I served over rice. I added a dash more of curry and turmeric to the sauce.)

Curry Dumplings
1 cup AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 cup of milk

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, curry powder and turmeric. Cut in butter, until pieces are no larger than rice grains. Add chives, egg and milk, stirring until well blended. Batter should be a little lumpy. Drop mixture by large spoonfuls into pan with chicken. Cook as above.

A bit later I made the classic martini from the Playboy Bar Cookbook; the more olives the better, and gin only please, don't waste my time with vodka!

Found Poetry: Stuffed Calves' Hearts


Anatomical Heart
While flipping through Casserole Cookery by Marian and Nino Tracy for yesterday's hot dish blog post, I came across a recipe for Stuffed Calves' Hearts in Claret with Apples, that I couldn't help but read as a poem. A colleague tells me this is known as a "found poem." Here it is:

Sear hearts. Make a stuffing with dry bread, melted butter, onions, celery, sage, marjoram, thyme, salt, pepper, and enough water to make a dough. Stuff in hearts, place in casserole, and pack surplus stuffing (if any) around them. Encircle the hearts with the apples. Pour claret over everything. Bake in medium oven of 350 for 1 1/4 hours, or until tender. Serves 4.

Image: "Wax Anatomical Heart in a Glass Dome" CC BY-NC-SA by Curious Expeditions

Hot Dish Then and Now

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If you're from the Midwestern United States, you're probably familiar with hot dish or as it's known elsewhere, casserole. I pulled two books from the shelf of the Kirschner Collection today that give us a glimpse into how both hot dish and American culture have changed over the last 60-ish years. The books: Casserole Cookery: One-dish Meals for the Busy Gourmet (1950) by Marian & Nino Tracy and Hot Dish Heaven: Classic Casseroles from Midwest Kitchens (2006) by Ann L. Burckhardt. The former is an exhaustive array of recipes from "lazy" cooks who liked to entertain. Some of the ingredients such as rabbit, claret, squab (pigeon), and calves' hearts used in this book would be difficult or strange to come by today, but are fascinating to read about.
Hot Dish Heaven, on the other hand, waxes nostalgic about casserole recipes from the era of Casserole Cookery, but the author has taken care to update these recipes for her 2006 audience. She has done this not just in terms of ingredients (e.g. "chicken" instead of "young fat hen"), but also in terms of cooking times and methods.
To provide you with a concrete example of what you'll find in these two books, I'm including a recipe from each:
from Casserole Cookery by Marian & Nino Tracy
Time: 4 hours if you marinate the hare; if not, just 1 1/2 hours
1 rabbit cut in small pieces
1/2 lb. salt pork diced
1 cup claret
1 bunch small carrots scraped and cut in 1-inch pieces
8 small white onions
8 small potatoes scraped
1 buffet-sized can mushrooms or 1/4 lb. fresh ones sliced
1/4 lb. butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon thyme
pinch of leaf sage
8 whole peppercorns

Melt butter and blend the flour. Brown the rabbit and salt pork in this. Place in a deep buttered casserole; add carrots, onions, potatoes, mushrooms. Mix the butter gravy from skillet, claret, 1 cup of water, and seasoning and pour over the rabbit. Cover tightly and simmer about 1 hour in a medium oven (375 degrees) until everything is tender. If you were forehanded enough to marinate the rabbit, just add the marinade to the gravy
Serves 4 or more

Pork Chop Bake
from Hot Dish Heaven by Ann L. Burckhardt
From the author's note on this recipe:

In adapting this 1970s recipe for today's kitchen, I had to switch from thin chops to thicker ones that would match the cooking time of the rice. Today's pork has been bred to be much leaner than the meat of the past. And thin-cut lean meat cooks very quickly, more quickly than the rice.

Three 1 1/4-inch thick boneless pork chops
Flour for coating
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 large tomatoes
1 large onion
1/2 green pepper, halved crosswise (for rings)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon leaf thyme or oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut each chop in half. Dredge pork pieces in flour and brown in hot oil in large skillet, about 5 to 8 minutes. Grease a 9-inch-square baking dish. Spread rice in prepared dish and arrange pork pieces on top. Slice tomatoes and cut onion and green pepper into rings. Distribute vegetables over chops. Sprinkle on seasonings and then pour broth over ingredients.
Cover and bake 1 hour or until rice is tender and pork is done.
Makes 4 servings

The Modern Hostess



If you are a scholar or fan of mid-century food and culture in North America or a Mad Men style aficionado, I cannot recommend a visit to the Kirschner Collection enough. Case in point: The Modern Hostess: Entertaining Ideas from Salada Foods Kitchens. There is no date on this small book, but it seems to be from some time around 1960 and was targeted at the Canadian homemaker to help her "not only [with] home and family entertaining, but [with] some of the many public-spirited and charitable responsibilities which are part of modern life." In addition to many recipes featuring Salada and Shirriff products, the book offers advice on serving tea and getting one's timing correct when toasting and smoking:

"In Canada, the toast to the Queen is proposed at public luncheons and dinners. It is not correct to smoke until this toast has been proposed. If a prominent representative of another country is present, courtesy requires a toast to the head of his government."