Saturday, April 23, 2011

Retro Kitchen

I have been thinking about recipes that my grandmother, grandfather and mother made when I was younger. Recipes to follow in subsequent posts. The nostalgia caused me to pull out two cookbooks that started me down the path of loving to cook.

The first is Fannie Farmer Cookbook... the one I have was printed in 1965 (before I was born), and it's original printing was in the late 1800's. This book is a mess. LITERALLY. I learned how to make pancakes from this book, every cookie and brownie, how long to cook a turkey, and so on. It is covered with years of batter,spatters and love. I should really get it rebound so I don't lose it entirely. You can still get it. The latest revision was in 1996 and Amazon has the Anniversary Edition. And even though anything and everything can be found on the internet these days, there is nothing like the intimate experience of using a cookbook. I have notes in the margins and I would take it over a Google search just about any day.

The other is The New York Times Cookbook published in 1995, the most recent also available on Amazon.

I cannot speak to either  reprinting. But will most likely get them for my girls to start their collections.

The recipes are classic, simple and free of any artificiality. The most amazing thing to me is that these books are both picture free. I have dozens of cookbooks. Most with beautiful photographs. But I always turn to these again and again and again.

My walk down memory lane has me wanting to make (3) dishes in particular: Salmon souffle; creamed chipped beef, and Finnan Haddie.

Fish souffle was a common occurrence in my childhood. And strangely I have never tried to make one (or any other souffle for that matter). So that will be first. A great way to use canned pink salmon.

Cream chipped beef was my grandfather's specialty (among many other dishes that I have never and will never be able to reproduce - he canned his own 'heirloom' tomatoes and any dish he made using them has NEVER tasted the same when I make them - I see a canning and pickling post in my future). Shit on a shingle... great on toast and boiled potatoes.

Finnan Haddie... my grandmother made this. She was not a great cook. Far from it. Prune whip and scalloped cabbage took up an entire session in therapy:) Finnan Haddie is smoked haddock (Scottish) and it gets soaked in milk, incorporated into a white sauce and served on potatoes. The sauce is a gorgeous saffron gold. Smokey. Delicious.

Next post: Bechamel or white sauce. Once you know how to make a basic white sauce (that both the souffle and Finnan Haddie require) you can make any number of things, including: homestyle macaroni and cheese, Mornay sauce, moussaka, lasagna, pot pies, cream soups, and casseroles. Bechamel is considered to be the mother of all French sauces, and is used in many Italian (besciamella) and Greek dishes as well. It's a good skill to have in your cooking arsenal.

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