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Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Glimpse of Astrology & Cooking

Are you sympathetic, organized, witty, charming, dedicated, knowledgeable about good health, modest, shy, meticulous, reliable, practical, diligent, intelligent, trustworthy, analytical, opinionated, over-demanding, fussy, a worry wort, over-critical or a perfectionist? Meet my daughter Michele. Today is her birthday and she was born under the sixth sign of the zodiac, Virgo. The sun sign of Virgo usually begins on either August 22nd, 23rd or 24th depending on the year. Virgo has been identified with the goddesses of fertility, of agriculture, and of the earth.

I had Big plans for today. The last week or so I have been making ever so slight changes and tweaks to the design of this blog. I thought I would be ready to put the icing on the cake by today but, alas, dear visitors, it's not going to happen today. That's okay. I've come up with an alternate, perhaps better idea. In the meantime, I thought I would take today to let you know what's going on. Now, don't fret, I've included a recipe below.

My Plans

First, I'm delighted to report, I'm leaving for Idaho on Tuesday (26th) to visit my daughter, grand children and son-in-law. True to her nature, and at the suggestion of her husband, Michele surprised me with a trip to Idaho just in time for my grandson's birthday. He's gonna be 4! It just so happens, that she and her husband just bought a new house and moved in just two weeks ago. So, I'm going to get to see the new house, clean up the yard, prepare a compost pile and tackle anything else that might come our way. Hey, what are mothers for anyway. (gee could this be the reason for the freebie?) Probably not. Like most Virgoans, Michele is extremely organized and probably has everything all unpacked already. I know they say people born under the sign of Virgo are associated with agriculture. That, is not the case with Michele. She doesn't know the difference between a sunflower and a basil plant. Well, she might know what a basil plant is she makes a killer Bruschetta (she's also quite the little bread baker) Just in case you need a refresher on the difference between Bruschetta and Crostini, visit Susan over at Food Blogga. She also just posted what looks like a zesty Fresh Fig, Arugula, and Marscapone Bruschetta.

As luck would have it, while I'm in Idaho, I will also get to see my grand daughter, Tabitha take her first baby step into the world of education. I will be there for her first day of school:(:) enough said...so why am I boring you with all the gory details? It pretty much comes down to this blog. I'm not sure if/when Michele is going to have any kind of internet connection. More importantly, I will be very busy in Idaho enjoying my family, perhaps cooking:) and certainly playing outside! I'll also be there for the Idaho State Fair which my service-oriented daughter will be working. (another trait of Virgoans) And, without even planning it, I will also be there for grandparents day, September 7, in 2008. (first time EVER, I will be with the kiddies for this special day) It seems my grand kids have a baking surprise for me...Not that I don't look forward to my visitors, I definitely do, but I'm sure you guys will understand if I don't post or comment.

Celebrations & Recipe

I'm going to be gone for two weeks returning on the 9th of September. There are so many days to celebrate in September. September is National Rice Month, National Chicken Month and National Honey Month. I plan on posting about them when I get back. If you can't wait, I've left a few leading links below.

The Earthy sign of Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury. Mercury has control over the brain and the nervous system. For this reason, those born under the sign of Virgo tend to have stomach ailments. In most depictions, Virgo is portrayed holding a spike of wheat in one hand which emphasizes her role as the Goddess of Fertility and Agriculture. Perhaps, that is the reason Virgoans love to bake bread. They like things to be precise and in order. Michele tends to follow recipes to the Tee. I, on the other hand, rarely follow a recipe at all. I thought I would share a recipe published in a book by Sydney Omarr titled Cooking With Astrology. The name of the recipe is Pancakes Mercury. According to the author, "this is probably one of the most exotic pancake recipes you'll ever find. I'm sure meticulous, and sometimes critical Michele will agree.

Pancakes Mercury
1 c. enriched flour, sifted
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/4 c. light cream
2 tbs. melted butter
1 slightly beaten egg
melted butter (for serving)
brown sugar (for serving)
1 marshmallow mix (recipe below)
1 pint fresh strawberries halved and sweetened or, 1-1/2 oz. frozen
Sift together dry ingredients. Add milk, cream, and butter to egg and mix well; add dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Bake 6 inch cakes on lightly greased hot griddle. Brush melted butter on serving plate; sprinkle with brown sugar. Then spread each individual cake with melted butter sprinkled with brown sugar and stack six or more cakes. Cover with marshmallow mix, broil until golden on top. Heat strawberries to boiling point. Cut stacks of pancakes in wedges and serve with hot strawberries.

Marshmallow Mix: Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a saucepan. cook until sugar dissolves. (it doesn't say it but I'm assuming at a very low temp so it doesn't burn) When dissolved, pour over 2 stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly. Beat to stiff peaks. Cool slightly and beat in 1 tablespoon soft butter.

The thought of blending astrology and cooking intrigues me. I only wish I knew a bit more about astrology. Cooking, I can wing! Mike Roy, who was born under the sign of Cancer,  was also intrigued with the thought that food, cooking and astrology have so much in common. When author and syndicated columnist Sydney Omarr, born a Leo and astrologist extrodinaire, sat down with Mike Roy, they developed the above book in 1998. Perhaps, there is more to this in this blogs future.

Resources
1. National Chicken Month
2. National Honey Month (previous post)
3. National Rice Month
4. Fun With Alcohol And Astrology

Monday, August 18, 2008

Majestic Austrian Morsels

It may seem rather odd to be posting about Austria's most famous Emperor, Franz Josef I on a sultry day in August but such is the case because, today, dear visitors, is the day he was born in 1830 and my cookbooks know no boundaries. Besides, Emperor Franz Josef I, had a favorite dish and if you have ever visited before, you know how I am about favorite dishes. Now, I'm not going to go into one of those long drawn out posts that I am trying to trim down a bit. What I am going to do is highlight a few Austrian specialties including the traditional meal of boiled beef (tafelspitz) which also happens to be the National Dish of Austria.

...Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria became an unshakeable symbol of his era. The mutton-chop whiskered monarch managed a whopping sixty-eight years on the Habsburg throne, becoming a much-loved figure throughout the Empire. He liked well-polished shoes, boiled beef and he never missed a chance to chase a fox or shoot a stag. On the minus side, the Emperor wasn't so keen on telephones, elevators or flushing lavatories - newfangled gimmicks that weren't to be trusted. Dutiful and hard-working, he got up well before the crack of dawn, and carried out his manifold duties with dignified aplomb... source

Francis Joseph I

Franz Joseph I (often abbreviated Franz Joseph or Franz Josef, in German and Francis Joseph in English) was born in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria on August 18, 1830. He became Emperor of Austria on December 2, 1848. By most accounts, Francis Joseph was a family man with simple tastes. His political thinking was as uncomplicated and simple as his private life. At the same time he was devoted to duty, to honor, and to the welfare of his people. By the end of his reign, in November of 1921, he was revered in Austria much the same as Queen Victoria was within her Empire.

The diversity in Austrian Cuisine is often attributed to it's historic past steeped in European history. It's fusion originates from all the countries of the former monarchy.

...For over 600 years, until World War I, the Austrian Empire had extended its national borders into modern Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Poland, and old geographical areas that were once called Bohemia and Moravia...
Franz Joseph I was an Austrian Emperor who liked to dine alone. "His frugal meal often consisted of a little broth, a small piece of boiled beef with very few vegetables, a flour-pudding, and two fingers of wine with much mineral water." (source: Francis Joseph and His Court (1917) pg. 210) At Schönbrunn Palace meals were prepared quite the contrary. The vast court kitchens and bakeries were kept busy preparing for balls and state banquets. Below is an excerpt from The Royal Cookbook published by Parents' Magazine Press in 1971.
At the heart of the formal routine of the ball was the buffet set up in the Redoutensaal, one of the largest reception rooms of the palace. Here the dancers quenched their thirst with champagne, mocha, roman punch, ice cream, and almond milk. The young officers crowded around the tables, offering their caps to be filled with petit fours from the Schönbrunn bakeries. After a short supper of five courses the imperial family left the ball at midnight; then began the famous Zuckerschlacht, the so called sugar battle, as the guests eagerly snatched up the contents of tray after tray of sugar sculptures. Here the art of the chef transformed itself into that of the sculptor and painter. Gorgeous bonbon imitations of classical statues, effigies, and miniature portraits of the emperor and his family were prized as souvenirs of the court ball.

Imperial Food & Recipes

So what does one serve in honor of such royalty? Well, I suppose we should begin with the most famous delicacy of the imperial table; Tafelspitz. The "The Emperor's Dish" of boiled beef dinner is also mentioned in the Royal Cookbook.

Taken from the hindquarters of the beef, close to the thigh bone, this cut was considered by Viennese gourmets to be the tastiest part of the animal. The meat was quickly served in a pan similar to a dutch oven and then braised slowly until very tender-the trick of knowing just when the roast was done was one of the secrets of the great Viennese chefs--while the juices were reduced and thickened and flavored with a touch of paprika, cognac, and orange juice. The Tafelspitz rode to the table on an elegantly decorated mound of potatoes and was served with baked celery, puree of young peas in potato jackets, or spears of baked squash.

Another guarded recipe reputedly created on April 28, 1873 in honor of Emperor Franz Joseph I, is the memorable Imperial Torte. This legendary chocolate, almond and marzipan creation is a signature specialty of the Hotel Imperial in Vienna. It too has an image and a story.

I was reading an article published in the New York Times on December 2, 1906 which gives a somewhat intimate glance into the daily routine of Emperor Franz Joseph I. (link below) Up at 5:30, he first sips on coffee and dines on unbuttered toast then off he goes for a brisk walk in the palace gardens. While he is reading his morning paper, which is clippings of condensed news prepared by the imperial secretary, another light breakfast is served promptly at 8 AM. This breakfast most often consisted of a Kaisersemmel roll, or croissant, butter and apricot jelly. The article also illustrates the first introduction of actress Katharina Schratt to the emperor. There's a legend which involves Frau von Schratt and a famous Austrian coffee cake but, we'll get to that later.

Kaiserschmarren or Emperor's Pancakes have a story all their own. Of course, it too includes Emperor Fancis Joseph I as a wandering character. Legend has it that Kaiserschmarren also has many myths.

It is said, Emperor Franz Josef I once remarked Frau von Schratt; (Katharina Schratt) made the finest Gugelhupf in Vienna. The emperor and the actress remained friends throughout his lifetime. I found the information below on a discussion board but forgot to save the link. I do remember the author said the information came from one of two books. Rick Rodgers’ Kaffeehaus (which I have added to my wish list:) or
To Set before the King: Katharina Schratt's Festive Recipes compiled from the Iowa Szathmary Culinary Arts collection.

Gugelhupf acquires its revered status in Austrian history as one of the favourite dish of Emperor Franz Joseph. During the summer, when his court was ensconced in Bad Ischl, it was his habit to end his morning walk at the villa of his great friend, the actress Katharina Schratt, where she always had homemade, freshly baked Gugelhupf waiting for him. In case there was an unforeseen accident in her kitchen, she always had a backup order from Zauner, the town’s premier bakery.

In the Royal Cookbook there is a recipe for Kaiser Gugelhupt (Raisin Cake) which I am including below. There is also a recipe site, which I found that I thought you may like for traditional Austrian recipes. The webmasters have translated German recipes from Austria into English.

Kaiser Gugelhupt
1 pkg. dry yeast
1/4 c. lukewarm water
sifted flour (in directions)
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/3 c. butter
1-1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. raisins
1/3 c. ground almonds
In a mixing bowl soften yeast in lukewarm water and stir in 1/2 cup flour. Sift 1-1/2 cups flour over the sponge, cover with a towel, and put in a warm place until sponge rises through the flour, about 2 hours. Break in the eggs, add milk, and beat thoroughly until smooth. In a small bowl cream butter until light and fluffy and add the sugar and salt. Mix a little of the batter into the butter mixture until smooth and then combine the two. Toss the raisins and nuts with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Turn the batter into a 6-cup Gugelhupf mold or angel food cake pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Unmold on a cake rack and dust with confectioners' sugar.
*The gugelhopf mold is know also as a turban-head pan. Here's the link at Chef Talk that I thought I lost with more info.

The next recipe for Wiener Eiskaffe (coffee parfait) includes 2 egg yolks. If you want a recipe that doesn't include eggs, I did find one here. There's also one at epicurious which is made with Iced Coffee and Vanilla Ice Cream.

Wiener Eiskafee
Coffee Parfait
1/2 c. fresh coffee beans
1 c. medium cream
1 inch vanilla bean
2 egg yolks
1 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 pint whipping cream
Roast coffee beans in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Heat the cream, coffee beans, and vanilla bean to the boiling point. Let stand 20 minutes or more. Strain and discard the beans. Beat the yolks until lemon color; slowly add the sugar and beat until very thick and almost white. Stir in the coffee-cream mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Whip the cream and fold into coffee mixture. Serve in tall glasses. Top with plain whipped cream if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Resources
1. Franz Joseph I @ wiki
2. Francis Joseph and His Court (1917 pg. 210, google books)
3. New York Time (interesting article celebrating the 58th anniversary of his reign)
4. Cooking in Vienna
5. The Viennese Cuisine
6. Kaiserschmarren Recipe
7. Viennese Topfenstrudel with Vanilla Sauce
8. Pancake Day (previous post)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gluttons & Bling!

The inspiration for today's post comes from none other than Diamond Jim Brady. Born on August 12, 1856, James Buchanan Brady (aka Diamond Jim; named after James Buchanan fifteenth president of the United States.) was a legendary glutton with a gargantuan appetite. Now, we are not talking hungry man here, we're talking a hungry man. It's unfortunate that he might be remembered as "the best twenty-five customers I ever had" by George Rector of the famous Gay Nineties New York establishment because, he was also a man born of modest means who worked himself up through the ranks first as a bellboy and messenger and later as a salesman for a railroad supply company which eventually led to his wealthy and flamboyant style. Legendary gambler Diamond Jim Brady was known to shower his friends with lavish gifts, especially one of America's first celebrities, stage star Lillian Russell.

...Her musical and stage career spanned more than twenty years and her popularity never dimmed. Despite this, she is perhaps best known for her forty years relationship with wealthy businessman, Diamond Jim Brady. Her affair with the rotund millionaire lasted longer than her four marriages, and he showered her with extravagant gifts of jewelry and other fine luxuries. They were often seen together, dining or cycling in Central Park during the cycling craze of the 1880s. Brady was so impressed with this new form of exercise and saw his love losing so much weight that he ordered a dozen gold-plated bikes made with diamond-encrusted handlebars for Lillian and his other friends...(The chain-driven bicycle with two equal-size wheels was developed in the 1880s and soon Central Park and city streets were filled with cyclists. It was said that so many bicycle lamps glowed in Manhattan streets at night that the streets appeared to be "filled with fireflies.")

"Them as has 'em wears 'em"

There's no justice served if one doesn't mention philanthropist Diamond Jim's obsessions. You may have already guessed one; "Diamond Jim" Brady loved jewelry. He had numerous sets made for himself, one for each month of the year. They included several diamond sets, of which the largest had a scarf pin of 33 carats and a ring of 25.5 carats. Notorious for his collections of precious stones and theatrical style, James Buchanan Brady enlightened "The Great White Way" in New York's gilded era, literally with diamonds. Although Broadway was electrified by the 1890's, Diamond Jim was known for the spectacle he created when he lit up New York's Broadway nightlife. One of the "first Nighters," before and after each of these shows he was a regular at Rector's, Tony Pastor's, Delmonico's, and all the “lobster palaces” of Manhattan. It was not unusual for Diamond Jim Brady to eat enough food for ten people at a sitting. His extravagant lifestyle and love for diamonds are well documented in the book Diamond Jim Brady: Prince of the Gilded Age by H. Paul Jeffers.

"A typical lunch consisted of two lobsters, deviled crabs, clams, oysters, and beef. He finished with several whole pies. This lasted him until dinner at four-thirty. That meal began with a couple of dozen oysters, six crabs, and bowls of green turtle soup. The main
course was likely to be two whole ducks, six or seven lobsters, a sirloin steak, two servings of terrapin, and a variety of vegetables. Desserts were pastries and perhaps a five-pound box of candy. Because Jim did not partake of alcohol, all this was washed down with carafe after carafe of orange juice. When he sat down for a meal he tucked his napkin into his shirt collar because one placed on his knee would have been useless under his big belly. He stationed his chair so that there were four inches between the edge of the table and his stomach. Eating ended when the gap had been closed.
At first Jim's passion for fine clothes and expensive jewelry was merely a sound business in vestment for an ambitious young salesman. "If you're going to make money, you have to look like money," he declared. Accordingly, he acquired a wardrobe of 200 custom-made suites and some 50 glossy silk hats. He further adorned himself with a collection of personal evening jewelry with a net worth conservatively estimated at $2 million. For a single set of shirt studs, vest studs, and cuff links, Jim paid $87,315. His diamond rings were the biggest even seen in New York, and among his 30-odd celebrated timepieces was a single watch that was appraised at $17,500 after his death. Brady was never embarrassed, no matter how gaudy his display of glitter and gilt, and he gloried in his nickname "Diamond Jim." "Them as has 'em wears 'em," he told the world. (source)

"Did you bring the sauce?"

Famous for his appetite and elaborate meals, legend also has it that Diamond Jim Brady became obsessed with Filet of Sole Marguery while visiting France.

...Another legendary story about Brady's food lust concerns a dish called "Filet de Sole de Marguery" which was only served at a restaurant in Paris named Cafe Marguery. The recipe for this dish, which contained a delicous sauce, was a closely guarded secret by the chefs who worked there. A fellow customer at Rector's had described the dish to Brady and he decided he had to have it. After Brady told the restaurant owner, Charles Rector, that he would take his business elsewhere, Rector knew he had to act fast. He removed his son from Cornell University and sent him to Paris to get the recipe. Rector's son went to great lengths to accomplish this task: Using an assumed name, he took a job washing dishes at the Cafe Marguery and toiled in the kitchen for two years until he worked his way up to food preparation. Eventually, the young man was taught the recipe for "Filet de Sole de Marguery". Upon his return to New York, he found "Diamond" Jim Brady waiting for him at the pier where his ship had docked. Brady called out in a thunderous voice, "Did you bring the sauce?" 

I found a recipe for Fillet of Sole Marguery A La Diamond Jim on page 458 of the American Heritage Cookbook published in 1964. 

Fillet of Sole Marguery A La Diamond Jim
2 flounder, filleted
1 lb. halibut or cod
1/2 c. sliced carrots
1 leek, sliced
3 sprigs parsley
10 peppercorns
1 small bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1-1/2 quarts water
salt
pepper
12 oysters, poached
12 boiled shrimp, shelled
1/4 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. butter
4 egg yolks
Ask the fish dealer to give you the heads, tails, and skin from the flounder. Place these trimmings and small chunks of the halibut or cod in a saucepan. Toss in the carrots, leek, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme. Add water and cook to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer gently until liquid is reduced to about 1 pint. Strain through a fine cheesecloth, saving the stock. Arrange fillets in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of fish stock and bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. With a broad spatula, carefully transfer fillets to a hot ovenproof serving platter. Arrange oysters and shrimp on top. Set aside. Pour remaining cup of fish stock into pan in which fillets baked. Cook until stock is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Strain into top of double boiler, add white wine and butter. Cook over hot water, stirring until butter is melted. Beat egg yolks vigorously, then stir in the butter mixture a little at a time. Pour egg mixture into top of double boiler and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is the consistency of a medium cream sauce. Pour over fish. Broil in a preheated broiler until golden brown. Serves 4.

He Lives; He Dines

Eventually, the "Prince of the Gilded Age" had his eating habits catch up with him. In addition to being obese, hypertensive and diabetic, James Buchanan Brady also had gallstones and numerous digestive ailments. I discovered two articles reported in the New York Times. The first article appeared in the August 13, 1912 edition. The headline reads, 'DIAMOND JIM' GIVES $220,000 TO HOSPITAL; Thank Offering to Johns Hopkins for Cure, Which He Celebrates with a Dinner. I really hope you get to see the article because it also includes the menu. Number two was reported on May 28, 1915. It seems his friends were "hell bent" on showing him their appreciation for what, I'm not quite sure. Anyway, his businessmen friends, lawyers, railroad men, bankers and brokers played host and had a dinner tribute dinner for him where the clam bar was presided over by Harry Briggs who had presided over the oyster bar at the old Astor House. "Here cocktails were a side line, and though Mr. Brady eschewed them there was no other man who could dispose of so many "Little Necks." "As a tribute to Mr. Brady's well known preference in the matter of refreshment, in the center of the table was a row of fruit-laden orange trees. Mr. Brady drank only orangeade during the meal, and serving them required the entire time of one waiter." Here's an additional article if you want to see it.

I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food.
Erma Bombeck 

Quite frankly, if the quoted amount is really what Diamond Jim donated to the hospital, I'm a wee bit disappointed. I mean really, he was a wealthy man who had lots and lots of money. Okay, even if that isn't enough of a reason. Did I say he was quite wealthy, never married, and had no children. This man was also vice president of The Standard Steel Car Company which was established by him and his partner in 1902. The company was one of the largest builders of steel railroad cars in the US. It later went on to merge with the Pullman Car and Manufacturing Co. in 1934. Perhaps, all is forgiven of this most "generous" man. Perhaps, he enabled the best gift in a "different" sort of way. Not in the spirit of the eggs, pancakes, pork chops, cornbread, fried potatoes, hominy, muffins, beefsteaks, lobsters, deviled crabs, clams, oysters, green turtle soup, whole ducks, terrapin, or in the host of other vegetables pastries and candy he enjoyed but... Well, you be the judge. From Cooks, Gluttons & Gourmets by Betty Wason (1962) pg. 295

No New York gourmet was more ostentatious than Diamond Jim Brady, who divided his time between Delmonico's and Sherry's usually with the beautiful Lillian Russell on his arm. One evening, as Diamond Jim helped Miss Russell alight from her carriage at the Forty-sixth Street Delmonico entrance, a Swiss bus boy employed at the nearby Hoffman House was so entranced with the beauty of this lovely actress that he asked for a job at Delmonico's next day. Within a few weeks a job opened up, and eventually the bus boy became maitre d' of the private dining room at Forty-sixth Street Delmonico's, where at last he achieved his ambition to serve Miss Russell in person. His name was Oscar Tschirky, and his ambition did not end with pulling out Lillian Russell's chair. From Delmonico's he would go to the Waldorf as chef, and the very first banquet at the new hotel on Fifth Avenue in 1893 he introduced a salad made with chopped apples, walnuts, and mayonnaise which would remian a favorite with American hostesses for years to come. "Oscar of the Waldorf" would in time become a household word, when his cookbook in the early twentieth century became a best seller.

I left another link for Fillets of Sole Marguery (it looks easier) below but did want to include a recipe from the remarkable book cited above. My intention was to share a bit more information about Betty Wason's amazing career (she was one of the first war correspondent for CBS during WWII) but I've decided she needs her own post. The tattered book above, Cooks, Gluttons & Gourmets; A History of Cookery was first published in 1962. Touted as "the first book of its kind in the English language" it is filled with 150 "rare and unusual recipes adapted for the American kitchen." Included in the chapter fourteen titled Melting Pot-au-Feu, where the above cite for Jim Brady came from, there's a recipe called Corn Pudding a la Lillian Russell. The "toast of the town" appears to have had a devotional liking to corn on the cob. Here's the recipe from Delmonico Creations.

Corn Pudding a la Lillian Russell
3 cups corn, scraped from the cob
6 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup light cream
Directions: For best flavor use garden fresh corn and scrape the kernels from the cob, then press out every bit of milk and soft pulp. Cream style canned corn can be used, however. For a fluffier pudding, beat yolks and whites of eggs separately, for crusty pudding, use the eggs whole. Combine all ingredients (adding stiffly beaten egg whites last) pour into a 1 and 1/2 quart buttered baking dish, place in oven preheated to 350 degree, bake for 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Resources

  • 1. Gourmandizer article
  • 2. James Buchanan Brady @ wiki
  • 3. The Story of the Sauce
  • 4. Fillets of Sole Marguery

Friday, August 8, 2008

Exploring Cross Creek Cookery

Cross Creek is a picturesque community in Alachua County just southeast of Gainesville, Florida. It is located on Cross Creek, a natural waterway in Florida. Cross Creek gives its name to the community of Cross Creek, which crosses the creek that carries the outflow from Lochloosa Lake into Orange Lake. The creek is about 1.8 miles long and is normally navigatable by small boats. It offers boating, fishing, canoeing, camping, birdwatching and hiking. Perhaps, you have heard of the tall pines and Palmetto lined roads in the quaint little town of Cross Creek. Or, perhaps you recall Cross Creek as the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings who spent much of her time on the creek and wrote about it in her books South Moon Under (1933) and Cross Creek in 1942.

Cross Creek is a bend in a country road, by land, and the flowing of Lochloosa Lake into Orange Lake, by water. We are four miles west of the small village of Island Grove, nine miles east of a turpentine still, and on the other sides we do not count distance at all, for the two lakes and the broad marshes create an infinite space between us and the horizon. (Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek)

As a tribute to the anniversary of Marjorie Kinnan's [Rawlings] birth, I would like to share a few recipes from my 1942 edition of Cross Creek Cookery published by Charles Scribner’s & Sons.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan was born in Washington D. C. on August 8, 1896. Thanks to the vast resources of information available online about her life and writings, I would like to skip ahead to the publication of Cross Creek Cookery. I will leave a few biographical resources I discovered in my travels below.

Although The Yearling is often considered her most popular book, and earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 1939, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote numerous short stories and magazine articles before her first novel South Moon Under in 1933. As a matter of fact, according to wikipedia, "she was interested in writing as early as age six, and submitted stories to the children's sections of newspapers until she was 16. At age 15, she entered a story titled The Reincarnation of Miss Hetty, for which she won a prize.

Inspired by the culture of her rural neighbors, she submitted a collection of fictionalized anecdotes to Scribner’s magazine. They were published under the title “Cracker Chidlings: Real Tales from the Florida Interior” in the February 1931 issue. The piece was the first of more than 40 short works of fiction and nonfiction she wrote for magazines such as Scribner’s, Harper’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s and The New Yorker. “Cracker Chidlings” also began the work that occupied Rawlings for the rest of her life: documenting the culture and folkways of rural Florida.

Cross Creek

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings first encountered the people and landscapes of the Cross Creek region in 1928, when she and her first husband Charles Rawlings vacationed there. Later that year, with a small inheritance from her mother, the Rawlings bought a home on the creek. They purchased a 72 acre orange grove in the small town of Cross Creek. Their homestead included an eight-room dingy farmhouse, a tenant house, barn, and hundreds of fruit trees. The acquisition also included two cows, two mules, 150 chicken coops, two chicken brooders, a planter, reaper, cultivators, sweeps and an old Ford truck on its last leg. When the Rawlings moved to Cross Creek making a living in the small community was not an easy task. Farming and hunting were both livelihoods and pastimes for the local folks. Miz Rawlings, became fascinated with the remote wilderness and the lives of Cross Creek residents. It was love at first site. She felt a profound and transforming connection to the region and the land.

On March 16, 1942, Cross Creek was published. In essence, Cross Creek, was an autobiographical account of her relationships with her neighbors, their lives and their experiences living in the backwoods of the Florida river country. In Cross Creek, she wrote of the river: "If I could have, to hold forever, one brief place of time and beauty, I think I might choose the night on the high lonely bank above the St. Johns River." Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings saw beauty and inspiration in the lives of poor farmers struggling to survive in an often harsh wilderness.

When I came to the Creek, and knew the old grove and farmhouse at once as home, there was some terror, such as one feels in the first recognition of a human love, for the joining of person to place, as of person to person, is a commitment to shared sorrow, even as shared joy...I do not understand how any one can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to. In the lakeside hammock there is a constant stirring in the tree-tops, as though on the stillest days the breathing of the earth is yet audible. The spanish moss sways a little always. The heavy forest thins into occasional trees, live oaks and palms and pines. In spring, the yellow jassamine is heavy on the air, in summer the red trumpet vine shouts from the gray trunks, and in autumn and winter the holly berries are small bright lamps in the half light...

Cross Creek received immediate critical acclaim, with some reviewers calling her a "female Thoreau." The New York Times wrote, "she catches the community of land and people in the strength and mirth and loveliness of her book." Her memoirs in Cross Creek rose to the top of the best sellers list and remained there for many months. Additionally, Cross Creek was added to the long list of Book-of-the-Month Club books. 

Cross Creek Cookery

America was at war during the publication of Cross Creek. The armed forces published a special edition of the book also in 1942, which was sent to servicemen serving during WWII. The popularity of the book led to Marjorie being inundated with mail from servicemen all over the world. Marjorie tried to answer each and every letter. At the request of the many readers and servicemen who continued to write her, Cross Creek Cookery was "born." It's a beautiful book with each chapter heading illustrated by Florida painter Robert Camp Jr. There are also full page illustrations which are magnificent. Cross Creek was a melting pot of cultures, from African-American to classic "Florida Cracker" and many of the recipes reflect this diverseness. There are also many personal recipes belonging to Ms. Rawlings memories of her mother, grandmother and relatives.
"Florida Cracker" is used informally by some Floridians to indicate that their family has lived there for many generations; and/or that they were born and raised in the state of Florida. It is considered a source of pride to be descended from "frontier people who did not just live but flourished in a time before air conditioning, mosquito repellent, and screens."

Marj or Miz Rawlings, as everybody around called her, prided herself on her cooking as much as her writing. She was a passionate cook and an entertaining hostess often inviting guests to her farmhouse on the creek. Cross Creek Cookery is a compilation of recipes filled with anecdotes of central Florida life in the 1930s and 1940s. As a cook's companion to Cross Creek, it guides the reader through the rich culinary heritage of the deep south with a loving regard for the rituals of cooking and eating.

One of the chapters in Cross Creek, is titled Our Daily Bread. In it are vivid descriptions of the differences between cornbread, cornpone, and hoecakes. I suppose it just put our servicemen over the top when they read it.

I opened a letter this spring from an aviation cadet at Maxwell Field. The first sentence was startling.
"To preserve discipline in our armed forces, I demand that Cross Creek be banned in or near any encampment."
Of what dangerous influence was I guilty? I continued reading.
The chapters on foods, if read by many soldiers, will wreck the morale. Our food is good, but it is not that described in "Our Daily Bread." My stomach is just recovering from the torture it received as a result of matter over mind."

Another wrote, "Lady, I have never been through such agonies of frustration." Men write from Hawaii, the Philippines, Australia, Ireland, and even Egypt! She wrote, "Always there was a wistful comment on my talk of food." "Eight out of ten letters about Cross Creek ask for a recipe, or pass on a recipe, or speak of suffering over my chat of Cross Creek dishes." Although letter after letter arrived with one request or another, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings humbly denies that it is because of these letters that Cross Creek Cookery is written.

It would be inaccurate to say that I assembled this Cross Creek Cookery in response to widespread popular demand. I need only the slightest interest and curiosity to give me an excuse to pass on my better dishes. Some one wrote, "Scratch a cook and you get a recipe."

You can imagine how difficult it is to choose a few recipes to include today. I think I will leave out the breakfast section as it was also published in the November 1942 issue of the Woman's Home Companion. Not that anyone just happens to have an issue hanging around mind you. It's just so hard to pick just one recipe especially when there are so many filled with appetizing stories and memories. I hope you don't mind, I chose desserts!

Cross Creek Cookery Desserts
I have no intention of giving a comprehensive list of desserts. I offer only my specialties that I consider a little out of the ordinary, and over which friends at the Creek have proved enthusiastic. I myself have little taste for a rich dessert after a hearty meal. I like to sit down on a summer afternoon and eat a whole quart of Dora's ice cream. I like to sit by the open hearth-fire on a winter's day, about four in the afternoon, and eat a quarter of a devil's food cake, with a cup of tea or coffee. But "company" seldom refuses dessert, and I have been known to invite ten for dinner just because I was in the notion to make cake. (page 149.)
The most superb cake I have ever eaten in my life was Mother's almond cake. It made its appearance spectacularly for the Embroidery Club, at Thanksgiving, and on my birthday, when I was allowed to choose my own dinner menu. One of the regrets of my life is that I did not procure the recipe while Mother was alive. With all the recipes, added in her handwriting, to my childish cook book, I cannot understand how I failed to have her write down the recipe for this confection that makes all other cakes seem like sawdust. It took a day for the making. The almonds must be shelled, soaked in boiling water, the skins removed, the meats laid on a towel over the old-fashioned floor radiator to dry and blanch. They were chopped fine by hand in a chopping bowl-no heresy of the meat chopper for Mother, when she was making something special. The cake, as white as a virgin's breast, as tender as a mother's heart, was made in four layers. I can taste it still. I have never, from memory, duplicated it. The closest I come is as follows:
I think this is the most delicious pie I have ever eaten. The recipe from which I first made it was sent me by a generous correspondent, and originated at an old hotel in Louisiana. It seemed to me it could be no better. Then another correspondent sent me a recipe for Black Bottom Pie that varied in some details from the first one. Having tried both, I now combine the two to make a pie so delicate, so luscious, that I hope to be propped up on my dying bed and fed a generous portion. Then I think that I should refuse outright to die, for life would be too good to relinquish. The pie seems fussy to make, but once a cook gets the hang of it, it goes easily. (pg. 174)

Resources
1. Rawlings's Life: Biography
2. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers
3. "Rediscovering Rawlings, a River and Time"
4. Cross Creek Speak: A Glossary of Florida Vocabulary
5. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings National Historic Landmark
6. Cross Creek Kitchens (previous post)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pop Quiz!

Three questions. Who was born on August 6, 1928? What was his favorite lunch? Where did this inspiration come from?

Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company

While you're contemplating the answers to the above questions, I thought I would bring you up to snuff on the beginnings of the "Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company." The Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company had its beginnings in Camden, New Jersey. Although, Joseph Campbell usually gets top billing for his place in the company's history, some credit should also go to Abraham Anderson, a tinsmith who had opened a small canning factory in Philadelphia.

Abraham Anderson was a tinsmith and icebox manufacturer who was interested in exploring another relatively new food preservation method, the tin can. As a result of his foresight, he capitalized on the public’s mounting demand for freshly preserved foods, and by 1868, he was producing 50,000 canned goods a year...In 1869 fruit and vegetable merchant, Joseph Campbell, joined Anderson and the two began doing business under the firm name Anderson & Campbell in 1873. Together they canned fresh produce, such as fruits, vegetables, jellies, condiments, catsup, and mincemeat. Their specialty was beefsteak tomatoes, and they became one of hundreds of small canneries that dotted the American landscape at that time. Building on the previous reputation of Anderson, the two men were best known for their canned beefsteak tomato, which became the first advertising symbol of their company. The Anderson & Campbell beefsteak was touted as being so large each one would fill a single can. In 1874 the firm of Anderson & Campbell trademarked the term "Beefsteak" tomatoes with the "figure of a gigantic tomato, borne on the shoulders of two men. One product line was "Beefsteak Tomato Catsup." Anderson and Campbell disagreed about the future of the firm, and the partnership dissolved. (source)
...The 1869 incorporation of a company that still lists Camden as its headquarters was another significant achievement. The firm of Anderson and Campbell erected a canning and preserves factory at 41 North 2nd Street in that year. Anderson withdrew from the company, leaving Joseph Campbell to continue as sole proprietor until 1882, when he formed a partnership with Arthur Dorrance, Joseph S. Campbell (his son), and Walter Spackman. This partnership is the ancestor of today’s Campbell Soup Company.. (source)

In 1876, Abraham Anderson sold his interest in the company and the two men parted ways. In 1885, Abraham Anderson formed The Anderson Preserve Company which produced and sold its "Boston Market Catsup" throughout the eastern United States. Joseph Campbell joined with Arthur Dorrance to form a new firm, which in 1891 was named the Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company and was incorporated 1901. The Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company initially specialized in canned tomatoes, vegetables, jellies, soups, condiments and minced meats.

By the time Campbell and Anderson were forming their partnership, canning techniques had developed and canned food was taking off. In these early days cans were carefully crafted by hand and as such were very expensive to make. So it was premium luxury products that were first canned and not the everyday items that we enjoy today. Campbell's first products were jams, jellies, condiments, minced meat and beefsteak tomatoes. The major turning point came in 1897 when a Dr John Thompson Dorrance, nephew to the general manager, was employed and the following year he invented condensed soup. By eliminating the water in canned soup, he lowered the costs of packaging, shipping and storage – making it possible to offer high quality products at value for money prices. The condensed format also added versatility – allowing the consumer to customise the soup by diluting to taste. A year later the world-famous red and white labelling was introduced - immortalised in the 1960s by the artist Andy Warhol. As condensed soup became more popular, all other products were discontinued and the company was was incorporated as the Campbell Soup Company in 1922, centering its efforts on its most famous and profitable product; condensed soup. (source)

Answers

Who was born on August 6, 1928?
Andy Warhol in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
What was his favorite lunch?
Campbell's Tomato Soup
Where did this inspiration come from?
His lunch box?
In Souper Tomatoes by Andrew F. Smith, "Warhol's mother served him tomato soup for lunch for twenty years which was why he painted tomato soup cans!" There's more about the book at Rutgers Press.

from MoMA website

As Warhol said of Campbell's soup, "I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again."

In 1898, Herberton Williams, a Campbell's executive, convinced the company to adopt a cherry red and bright white color scheme, which he had seen at a football game between Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. Campbell Soup Company decided to use these same colors and changed their soup labels which looked quite different before the red and white metamorphosis. To this day, the layout of the can, with its red and white design and the metallic gold medal seal from the 1900 Paris Exhibition, has changed very little and most recognize a Campbell's Soup can because it is red and white. The Campbell Soup Company used different advertisements over the years. In 1904 they began using the Campbell's Kids the same year Campbell's pork and beans were "born." In the 1930s they started using their jingle "M'm! M'm! Good!" on the radio. In 1950 the first Campbell television commercials were broadcast. There are wonderful photographs of Campbell Soup advertising at the Golden Age of Advertising website which I have provided a link for below. By the 1960s, the company opened two mushroom growing facilities and 11 new plants on three continents. New products continued to be rolled out, with two particularly noteworthy: Franco-American SpaghettiOs, which debuted in 1965, and Goldfish crackers, introduced by Pepperidge Farm in 1962. Okay, that's enough about the company, Let's get to Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol

Andrew Warhola was born at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 6, in 1928. His father migrated to the USA in 1914, while his mother joined him in 1921. Their modest home was not far from Pittsburg where Andy's father worked. Andy Warhol showed an early artistic talent and studied commercial art at the School of Fine Arts at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University). In 1949, he moved to New York City where he got his first big break when Glamour Magazine asked him to illustrate an article called "Success is a Job in New York." This was also about the time he changed the lettering in his name by dropping the "e." It seems, when the magazine article was published, the credit mistakenly read "Drawings by Andy Warhol." This inspiring artist and filmmaker is considered a founder and a major figure of the pop art movement. During the 1950s, he gained fame for his whimsical ink drawings of shoe advertisements. In 1960 Warhol made his first comic strip painting, "Dick Tracy." A fascination with the broad market of consumer goods led him to turn his attention to supermarket products. In 1962, he began to use silkscreening techniques to mechanically reproduce consumer images such as his series of iconoclastic Campbell's Soup Can. (he also made paintings of dollar bills) Each can was hand painted to perfection and almost machine like in quality. Every detail was considered just as the original down to the gold and black script of the word ‘SOUP’ to the simple red print of each flavor. The pop artist not only depicted mass products, other subjects given similar treatment included Jackie Kennedy and Elvis Presley. The same year he took part in the New Realists exhibition held at Sidney Janis Gallery, in New York. Many of these images are now on display at the Andy Warhol Museum which opened in 1994. (source; wikipedia below)

"Campbell's for dinner,
For supper, for lunch-
Eating this soup
Is what gives me the punch!"

Tomato Soup Recipes

Somewhere in my notes I have jotted down that the company published its first full-length cookbook in 1941, titling it Easy Ways to Good Meals. I'm not sure what I meant, where it came from or what I was thinking. The pictured die-cut Campbell's Soup booklet was most certainly published before 1941, although, it is undated. Perhaps, I should have noted first full-length hard cover cookbook because Help For the Hostess was published around 1910, which has a cover of the Campbell's Soup Kids all gussied up and Campbell's Menu Book was published in 1908. I also think it's important to mention about now that Campbell's did not invent tomato soup. Campbell's was the first to introduce condensed soup which was based upon a discovery made by Dr. John Thompson Dorrance who joined the company in 1897. Tomato soup was "invented" by James H. W. Huckins who I posted about back in May. I'm leaving the link at the bottom for those who may be interested in him or his recipe. Yes, dear visitors, there is a recipe for tomato soup. While I'm thinking about it, there is also another die-cut tomato recipe book at that post too!

I'm only going to scan a few of the recipes from this edition of the Campbell's Tomato Soup booklet. Not so much for the recipes but because I really want you to see the adorable Campbell Soup Kids created by Grace Gebbie Drayton Wiederseim. Although Campbells' quickly embraced Grace Drayton's "funny babies", in 1905, her name never appeared as their creator on any of the Campbell's Soup advertisements. But, after she left Campbell's, she finally got the recognition she deserved from her Dolly Dingle paper dolls. Grace Drayton was the author and illustrator of numerous children's books, but presently is probably best remembered for her creation of the cherub-cheeked Campbell Soup Kids.

Before I go, there's one more recipe I would like to mention. It's called Mystery Cake by Campbell's Soup. I was just about to include it in this post when I gleefully discovered it at Kahakai Kitchen. I'm thinking the poster's name is Deb. She's living in Hawaii (Kahakai is Hawaiian for beach) and has quite an interesting blog focused on "Cooking, Eating and Living in Paradise." She replied to a comment I made at her site and this is what she said about the recipe: "it was fun to make and better tasting than I thought it would be."

August is also National Inventors' Month! Check out my other blog, Tasteful Inventions, for some celebratory ideas. The link is below.

Resources

1. Little Known Facts About Campbell's Soup (best link for campbells soup history)
2. Spotlight on Golden Age Advertising-Campbells (very cool:)
3. Andy Warhol @ wiki
4. Andy Warhol Chronology
5. Andrew Warhola (bio)
6. Mini Biography
7. Andy Warhol Museum
8. James H. W. Huckins (previous post)
9. Tasteful Inventions

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mustered Mustard Musings

The most challenging task for today's post was coming up with an enticing title. Sure, I could have just titled it Happy National Mustard Day (celebrated annually on the first Saturday in August) or simply Mustard Day but that just wasn't going to cut it. I originally thought "Not Without Mustard" would be the best lure and yet, it just didn't seem to blend. How difficult could it be? I know dabs of this and dabs of that about mustard. Heck, I've even mustered up a few of my own mustard concoctions through the years. How difficult could it be to come up with a label for mustard day? After mulling around and researching an assortment of sources, I decided on Mustered Mustard Musings. Say that fast 3x! Apparently, not everyone has a hard time coming up with a title that's as "keen as mustard."

Seeds of Pungency

Mustard comes from the same botanical family as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cress. The aroma and flavor of mustard comes from the essential oil of the tiny mustard seed. Mustard becomes pungent when the crushed seeds are mixed with cold water to activate the appropriate enzymes. Powdered mustard has essentially no aroma until it is moistened. Boiling water, applied to the dormant enzymes kills them, vinegar inhibits them, and both create a weak aroma but bitter taste. Mustard seed and seed products are used extensively in the food industry, in meats, sausages, processed vegetables, and relishes. Mustard is the second most-used spice in the United States, its popularity exceeded only by the peppercorn. Mustard seeds are processed to yield mustard flour, ground mustard, powdered dry mustard, prepared mustard, and mustard paste. There are two basic styles of mustard: those that are smooth and those that contain whole or rough ground seeds. I left an extensive mustard glossary in the resource section but, here's a grain of the different kinds of mustards.

White mustard:
is generally used for flavoring. The white mustard seeds are the traditional seeds used in yellow mustard or Ball Park mustard. (mixed with salt, spices vinegar, and turmeric which enhances the golden color.) Ball Park mustard was first manufactured in America around 1904 by George T. French as "Cream Salad Mustard." It has become the standard for “Classic Yellow” mustard in America and has been owned by British food company Reckitt Benckiser since 1926. White mustard seed is also used as a spice in cucumber pickling.
Black and Brown mustards:
are generally used for aroma. They produce the hottest mustard, especially the black which is more difficult to grow. They are popular in Indian cooking in a range of dishes from curries and lentils to bread and breadsticks. Brown mustard seeds are usually found in prepared English mustard along with other ingredients such as capers, white wine, vinegar or water. Originally, many mustards were made with black mustard seeds but many preparations now use brown mustard seed which is easily available.
Creole Mustard:
was first introduced to New Orleans by a German man by the name of Mr. Wolff. I found a documented interview with Mr. Emile Zatarain, president of Zatarain Food Products regarding the introduction of creole mustard to New Orleans. I left the link below. It's an image file and rather short and enlightening. Creole Mustard, or grainy mustard as it is sometimes called, is a variation of wholegrain mustard where the seeds are slightly crushed. They are not ground nor are they whole. Creole style mustard is mostly found today in Mississippi and Louisiana. Creole Mustard can be used as a substitute for classic yellow mustard in most recipes. I believe, creole mustard usually has some horseradish in its basic recipe. Mine does anyway!
Garlic Mustard:
Garlic mustard is also in the Mustard family. Garlic mustard was introduced in North America as a culinary herb in the 1860s. The leaves, flowers and fruit are edible and are best when they are freshly sprouted. The sprouts have a mild flavor of both garlic and mustard, and are used in salads and pesto. It can also be steamed, simmered, or sautéed. In Europe, they use it in sauces. Cook no longer than five minutes, or the leaves will become mushy. Like other members of the mustard seed families, garlic mustard was also once used for medicinal purposes. Garlic mustard can be very invasive in the garden

Mustard's Valor Women

According to George and Berthe Herter in their book Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes, "the finest mustard the world has ever know was invented by an Italian woman by the name of Lucrezia Borgia. The book states, "she tried literally thousands of different spices, flavors, and oils. she finally discovered that anise flavoring added to mustard gave it a clean, crisp, spice taste and takes away its raw irritating taste." Here is the recipe. I have tried this speciality mustard concoction and no one is ever the wiser. I used French's mustard as the base.

To every six level tablespoons of mustard add one-eighth level teaspoon of anise flavoring. Stir it in well and let stand for at least one hour before serving.

In 1720 a Mrs. Clements of Tewkesbury, England founded the modern era for mustard making by milling the center of the seed into a fine flour. She used a similar processes used in the making of flour from wheat. Its pungency and taste were far superior to any mustard that had been produced before. It quickly became the standard process for use as a seasoning in cooking and for preparing mustard sauce. Mrs Clements was awarded a patent for her mustard by King George I. In 1804, Jeremiah Colman started producing his now famous mustard, which is still prepared by a similar process. (source)

Colman's Mustard & Recipes

Mustard was first exported from the British Isles by Jeremiah Colman, the man who founded Colman's Mustard, in 1814. According to Barry Levenson, curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin, "Colman’s is the classic ‘clean’ English mustard, where all the heat comes from the mustard itself." Through the years, the very recognizable yellow tin for Colman’s Mustard hasn’t changed much. Pictured below is a scanned recipe for Chow Chow from 12 New Recipes with Colman's Mustard which was probably published around 1936.

For more than 100 years Colman's Mustard has been the standard of quality. Colman's is a dry English Mustard made from only the choicest of English Mustard seeds, the finest in the world...Great chefs and great wives the world over find colman's Mustard indispensable. They use it as frequently as they do salt and pepper...Insure YOUR success in the preparation of these recipes by using Colman's Mustard.

There's a limited supply of recipes in the Colman's recipe book so I left a few recipe links below. This recipe for Pickled Mustard Eggs, I specially harvested for T.W. over at Culinary Types. Recently, T.W. has been quite the pickler (is that even a word?) and I thought perhaps, pickled eggs may be his next endeavor:)

Mostarda

One of my favorite ways to use the hot spiciness of mustard was taught to me by my paternal grandmother who came to this country in 1909. It was a favorite treat at Christmas time although, she prepared it often. I'm not sure how to describe it but it's sort of like an Italian chutney. I know it as mostarda (moh-star-dah). Some people refer to this delightful condiment as fruited mustard. Mostardo is made with a smidgen of essence of mustard, usually from mustard oil, it is beautiful whole fruits bathing in glowing sugar syrup. Cremona, a province of Lombardy, Italy is said to be the birthplace of the finest Mostarda. (It also claims to be the birthplace of ravioli and a number of Italian specialties) 

To my mind's eye, mostardo was "born" in my grandmother's kitchen on Attorney Street in the Lower East Side many many years ago. I'm not sure how my grandmother extracted the oil from the mustard seed or, if she even did. However, I do know mustard oil sometimes irritates the skin. In Italy, it is used in very small amounts. I found step by step instructions for making mostarda at about.com and I have provided the link below. My recollections of mostarda are woven in childhood moments. Chocolate pudding on Sundays, during the Ed Sullivan show or was it Perry Como? Block ice cream cartons my father brought home on payday which I think was Friday or was it Thursday? And, donuts on horse race night, if he won. That, I remember. Otherwise, you see, I feel the memory but I just don't remember:( In my adult life, I have prepared mostarda using dry mustard which is also the way it is prepared by Amy over at Cooking with Amy. She developed her own recipe which was influenced by numerous authors. 

Personally, I prepare mostardo the same way I conger up friendship fruit. Some call it Friendship Cup or "Brandied Fruit." I ferment the fruit with the usual ingredients (yes the brandy too) and add little dabs of dry mustard. I can't give you the exact recipe because I don't cook by recipes, unless I'm baking, which I don't do often. If I get in the mood, I just start concocting. It may not look as pretty as I remember but, for me it works. Fortunately, there are many websites that offer recipes for the "real" thing and I would like to call your attention to a few. The thrill in preparing mostardo lies in the fact that almost any fruit can be used. There's all sorts of combinations only limited by the imagination. The sweetness of the fruit and the pungency of the mustard may seem like an unlikely marriage but believe me, it works divinely. And served with a rich cheese you'll be in heaven! Here, take a look at this recipe for Pear Mostarda. As I mentioned before, mustard oil is not easily found in this country. I happened across a blog post titled On Mostarda, Mustard, and Mustard Oil at the endless banquet blog which seems to clear up some concerns. There's also a recipe for Cranberry Mostarda which sounds quite interesting. 

Mostardo is often served with mascarpone cheese. It also goes quite well with any assortment of rich cheeses. Some serve it with boiled meats or cured sausage meat such as Mortadella. Here's a recipe for Smoky Mortadella Wedges with Fruit Mustard which uses purchased Mostarda di Cremona. It's quick, easy and I'm sure delectable. Many recipes for mostarda refer to it as a fruit mustard. Perhaps, it's easier to remember that way. Anyway, I found a recipe at recipe cottage called Many-Fruited Mustard which resembles my way of preparation. In this instance, it's more of a fruit preserve which the author claims "keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator." I know, grandma wouldn't be happy with me if she knew. But, I was blessed with the real mccoy, now only if I could remember how to make it her way. (write recipes down people so future generations will remember!) On Long Island, where I am now, you can sometimes find a fruit mustard called Plum Mustard Mizzle, which is created up at Paumanok Preserves by Joan Bernstein, a native Long Islander, whose family has farmed here for over 100 years.

Well, it looks like I've plum ran out of time. I hope you've enjoyed your mustard day visit. I should mention the annual National Mustard Day festivities going on at the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum. Happy Mustard Day & Happy Friendship Day!

FYI: If you’ve ever wondered where the expression to cut the mustard came from, it’s another way of saying to accomplish or to meet expectations. Legend has it that O’Henry coined it in 1907 in Heart of the West where he speaks of "looking around and finding a proposition that exactly cut the mustard."

Resources

  • 1. Marvelous Mustard
  • 2. Mustard Glossary
  • 3. Tangy Mustard Coleslaw (new 2009)
  • 4. Zatarain Interview
  • 5. Creole Mustard Vinaigrette
  • 6. Creole Mustard Recipes
  • 7. ZATARAIN'S® Creole Mustard (just in case you rather not make it:)
  • 8. History of Colman's Mustard
  • 9. How to Make Mostarda