Monthly Archives: June 2012

KITCHEN CULTURE BY GERRY SCHREMP

KITCHEN CULTURE is one of my favorite types of cookbooks – not just a cookbook although it does contain many favorite recipes…not just a foodlore book, although it’s that, too.  A combination of both, Ms. Schremp industriously covers fifty years of culinary history. Taking us from (vaguely) remembered ration stamps and margarine capsules to modern-day microwave ovens and salad bars.

I remember when I first began researching material for “A Tribute to Helen’s Cookbook” that I searched in vain for more information about Harry Baker’s chiffon cake.  I knew that it had been created in the 1920s by a gentleman living in Los Angeles; I knew that General Mills bought out the recipe—but there the trail ended. I was unable, at that time, to find any other information     about Harry Baker’s chiffon cake…..and there it was, on page 19 of Kitchen Culture.

(When I first began writing cookbook reviews for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, we didn’t have Google or the internet—all of which has changed how we retrieve sought-after information. Back in the early 1990s, my chief source of information were the few food history books I had added to my reference books. And FOOD HISTORY is a relatively new branch of study).

Cooks and food faddists and trivia buffs will all find something enjoyable in Gerry Schremp’s informative, easy to read book, jam-packed with fifty years of food history.

Many of our favorite recipes are here, as well. I’ve noticed that readers are constantly besieging newspaper food columnists for those old childhood favorites…you’ll find most of them within the pages of Kitchen Culture, everything from tuna and noodle casserole (which I confess not liking) to steak Diane (which I do). Incidentally, many of these old favorites are still popular. At an upscale restaurant in Northern California not long before I received Kitchen Culture to review, I watched Steak Diane being prepared at a diner’s table. And haven’t we all tried tomato soup cake? (very good, too, like a spice cake).

Ms. Schremp’s bibliography is an impressive one; she states that her aim in writing this book was to entertain as well as inform.  For statistics that went into Kitchen Culture, she relied on those that the government has compiled, as well as what manufacturers, retailers, food processers, trade associations      and general magazines had to offer.

The book is packed with an impressive array of photographs, which include pictures of all seven Betty Crockers  (from her inception to present day)—interestingly, Betty has progressively gotten younger while the rest of us are getting older.

It is most interesting to follow the evolution of our eating habits and the streamlining of appliances  – to see how many changes have taken place as we went from mom and pop grocery stores to modern supermarkets.

As one who remembers most of the past fifty years (and then some) and have always enjoyed being in the kitchen,  KITCHEN CULTURE is a kind of book that I can easily relate to, as well.

Like to read? Like to cook? Often wonder where recipes or ideas come from? I think KITCHEN CULTURE is a book you will enjoy reading and refer to over and over again.

KITCHEN CULTURE is available on Amazon.com from one cent (yes, one cent) and up or  new for $4.92.  On Alibris.com you can buy the book for 99c for a pre owned copy or $4.92 for a new copy.

If you – like me – like to know something about the history of food –this is an easy read albeit packed with history and photographs.

HAPPY COOKING & HAPPY COOKBOOK COLLECTING! Although it does contain recipes, I’d consider it more of a food history book than a cookbook.

Happy cooking & happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy

POTATOES & VEGETABLES

POTATOES & VEGETABLES” is the kind of cookbook that proves for sure big things can come in small packages.  As a matter of fact, if you are interested in specializing in a particular kind of cookbook but space is at a premium, small cookbooks might be the answer.  Little cookbooks come in many sizes and shapes and cover a multitude of cooking topics!

Pint-size cookbooks (not including paperbacks) have actually been around for a very long time, so the concept isn’t new. One of the oldest “sets” of small cookbooks in my personal collection is a series of 365 recipes –“365 Tasty Dishes”, “365 Dinner Dishes”,  and “365 Foreign Dishes” (there may have been more than three books to the series but three are all that I have ever found. These were published between 1903 and 1908 by George W. Jacobs & Company and do not credit a particular author. (Another interesting thing about them is that the idea of 365 recipes in one cookbook has come and gone a few times, too).

Another old set of small cookbooks that I have are a small boxed set by Helen Evans Brown, first published in 1950. There’s a Chafing Dish Book, Patio Cook Book and A Book of Appetizers. The three little books came in a green box.

Some cookbook researchers think these little cookbooks were a forerunner of the free pamphlets and booklets that we now pay several dollars for. When I was a child in the early 1950s, these booklets were generally advertised on the backs of boxes of cocoa or baking soda, corn starch or oatmeal. You could get one completely free of charge by sending in a post card with your name and address on it. Post cards were a penny—so, if I had ten cents I could get ten post cards and end up with ten recipe booklets. I guess you could tell which way the wind was blowing even when I was a little girl. By the time I reached my ‘teens, I already had a cardboard box full of those booklets and pamphlets. One such booklet is an early Watkins Cook Book published in 1925 (presumably, you have to use all Watkins products for the recipes to come out exactly right) while another small book was one written by Ida Bailey Allen in 1927,  which expounded the uses of Karo Syrup, Argo or Kingsford’s Cornstarch and Mazola corn oil. (I was surprised to discover that Mazola corn oil has been around so long!)

I have several small spiral bound cookbooks by Ruth Chier Rosen and Ruth and Richard Rosen; there is one called “The Chefs’ Tour/a visit into foreign kitchens”, another called “Tooth Sweet”, one called “Cyrano de Casserole” and yet another called “A Tomato Well Dressed/the Art of Salad Making”. These were published by Handy Aid Books by Richards Rosen Associates so I assume this was a family enterprise. (I discovered, on the back covers, additional titles of “Epicurean Guide”, “Terrace Chef” “A Guide to Pink Elephants” and “The Big Spread”! These little books, published in the 1950s, measure a mere 3 1/2×5”- are cute as the dickens, nicely indexed, and filled with great recipes!)

Some of my other wee favorites include “Make Mine Vanilla” by Lee Edwards Benning and – my all-time favorite little cookbook, “Favorite Fruitcakes” by Moira Hodgson which I have written about previously in the CCE.

More recently, even Mary Engelbreit has published some of these pint-size cookbooks. Tiny cookbooks are usually reasonably priced and make nice little gifts (or even stocking stuffers), when you want to give someone something but not spend a whole lot of money. Often, you can find some of these little books near the cash register of your favorite bookstore or Hallmark card shop. They can also be found in some gourmet shops.

POTATOES & VEGETABLES” might be small in size (actually measures only 4”x5”—but, it’s almost 2 inches thick and contains a whopping 240 recipes with beautiful full-color illustrations of each recipe (I love knowing what the dish ought to look like when it’s finished, don’t you?). Unquestionably, we are a society where visual impact is vitally important to us. If you look at a recipe and the illustration that goes with it looks like something the dog dragged around the back yard, how inclined would you be to give it a try?

Not only does “POTATOES & VEGETABLES” offer full color illustrations of the recipes, there are, additionally, smaller scale photographs of the dish being prepared, and an assortment of variations and extra tips given with each of the recipes.

Although this is a potato and vegetable cookbook, you will find, within its pages, recipes for soups (Indian Potato & Pea Soup, Broccoli & Potato Soup, Potato& Dried Mushroom Soup—and, my favorite, Tomato & Red Bell Pepper Soup); recipes for salads (think: Mexican potato salad, Sweet Potato & Nut Salad, Red Cabbage & Pear Salad). There is a chapter dedicated to Snacks & Light Meals (Thai Potato Crab Cakes, Potato, Cheese & Onion Rosti, Hash Browns with Tomato Sauce, Vegetable Crepes) followed by a chapter devoted entirely to Side Dishes (Potatoes & Mushrooms in Red Wine, Spicy Potato Fries, Steamed Vegetables with Vermouth). Next is a chapter called “Main Meals” followed by one called “Pies & Bakes”

Many of the recipes in both Main Meals and Pies and Bakes could be considered one-dish meals, such as Red Onion Tart Tatin and Lentil & Red Bell Pepper Flan. Sort of what I think of as a quiche. However, Main Meals offers Spaghetti with Pear & Walnut Sauce—which I think would make a wonderful company dish—and recipes such as Garbanzo Bean & Vegetable Casserole and Pan Potato Bake. “Pies & Bakes” offers recipes such as Potato & Meat Phyllo Parcels and Carrot-Topped Beef Pie but there are also recipes for Sweet Potato Bread, Cheese & Potato Plait (a bread), Potato & Nutmeg Scones and Potato Muffins. There are also recipes for Fruity Potato Cake, Pumpkin Loaf, Chili Corn Bread, and Cheese & Potato Bread. All of which just goes to prove – you can eat your veggies in many different ways, even for dessert!

This is a dandy little book with the most beautiful color photography illustrations.

“POTATOES & VEGETABLES” is from Paragon Publishing in Great Britain but it had been designed with American readers in mind (i.e., cup measurements, for instance, are for the American measuring cup of 8 ounces equals one cup).  It was published in 2003 – and best of all, priced at less than $5.00 ($4.69 at Costco).

I am sorry to report that I have been unable to find “POTATOES & VEGETABLES” in either Amazon.com or Alibris.com websites – what did amaze me were the vast number of cookbooks devoted just to the subject of potatoes—but I’m willing to bet that not many of them can compare with this “POTATOES & VEGETABLES” cookbook.  Maybe someone will come across a copy and write to tell us where to find it.

HAPPY COOKBOOK COLLECTING!

 

 

FOOD FESTIVAL U.S.A.

This cookbook review was originally written in July, 2002.

It was the greatest delight to discover “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” in a recent cookbook catalog—the title and the author’s name, Becky Mercuri, jumped right off the page—for I knew that this was our very own Becky Mercuri, with whom I have occasionally corresponded and talked with on the telephone. (Becky used to be a columnist for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, for which I also wrote articles and did cookbook review).

I had known for quite some time that Becky was writing “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” –food festivals interest me, also, so it was doubly delightful to have Becky’s brand-new cookbook to read and write about.  For, of course, this is a combination cookbook and food festival directory. There are, in “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” 250 “Red, White & Blue Ribbon Recipes from all 50 States”.  As a Californian, I turned first to the section devoted to the Pacific, to see which California food festivals had caught Becky’s attention.  The choices are good ones, ranging from Mendocino California’s Abalone Festival to Castroville’s Artichoke Festival. Also included is the Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, California, which I have attended; Oxnard is just a short drive up the 101 freeway and attracts a great deal of attention in the local press every year.  When we drive to Ventura for a weekend getaway, we drive through the backroads that lead to Oxnard and Ventura, through vast farmlands that include the strawberry fields.  Becky notes, in “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” that “Over 148,000 tons, or  about 20 percent of California’s strawberries, are produced in the Oxnard area.  The annual Strawberry Festival pays tribute to the industry while providing affordance entertainment, great food, and support for a host of local charities…”

This year, when my aunt was visiting from Florida, we took her on a day trip to Ventura, stopping at an Oxnard produce stand on our way home to buy a flat of strawberries, which I converted into preserves.  The strawberry festival in Oxnard, Becky observes, “features more than 270 arts and craft booths, three concert stages, Strawberryland for Kids and wacky contests (such as the Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contest).

And, although I knew about the Gilroy Garlic Festival which Becky Mercuri notes is world-renowned, I confess I didn’t know about The Borrego Springs Grapefruit Festival, the California Dried Plum Festival in Yuba City, the California Dry Bean Festival in Tracy, California, or the Goleta Lemon Festival in Goleta, California.  And that’s not all!  There’s a Carrot Festival in Holtville, California, and the Indio International Tamale Festival, in Indio, California—there is even an Eggplant Festival in Loomis, California!

I think it might be fun, if money and time were no object, to travel the width and breadth of the United States, just to attend some of these festivals.  Who wouldn’t want to check out Louisiana’s Sugarcane Festival, Crab Days and Oysterfest in St. Michael’s, Maryland, or the World Catfish Festival, in Belzoni, Mississippi?  Vidalia onion lovers might want to head for the Vidalia Onion Festival in Vidalia, Georgia, while New Yorkers might be interested in the Phelps Sauerkraut Festival in Phelps, New York, or their own Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties, New York.

As one might expect, there is a Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine, every year (that would surely be a great festival to attend!) – and while one might expect  blueberry and maple syrup festivals on the East Coast, would you be surprised to discover the Marshall County Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, Indiana, or the Parke County Maple Syrup Festival in Rockville, Indiana? And although I was born and raised in Ohio and knew about the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio, I was astonished to learn about an Asian Festival held in Columbus, Ohio, and a chocolate festival in Lorain, Ohio! (There’s also a Chocolate Fest in Burlington, Wisconsin.

Becky Mercuri has done her homework well for, along with an intriguing assortment of recipes which range from Double Chocolate Raspberry Marble Cheesecake (Central Maine Egg Festival) to Best Restaurant Manhattan Clam Chowder (Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival, Santa Cruz, California), you will also find well-written, interesting capsule descriptions of each festival

In the Introduction, Becky writes, “Street food, carnival food, festival food—by whatever name, this is food that draws Americans together.  Thousands of food festivals are held annually throughout the United States, attracting millions of visitors…”

John T. Edge, who wrote the Foreword to “FOOD FESTIVALS, U.S.A.” notes, “In FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A., Becky Mercuri sings a paean to the diversity of America’s food heritage.  Along the way, she manages to convey a few lessons in culinary history.  So dive in. By the time you hit page 320, you’ll be out the door, stomach rumbling, car keys in hand, hell-bent for the Prairie Dog Chili Cook Off and World Championship Pickled Quail Egg Eating….”   John says “Look for me. I’ll be there, too.  I’ll be the guy surrounded by spent chili bowls, napping under the bough of an oak…”

Becky says that, in writing this book she had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of Americans who work hard to produce the food festivals and ethnic celebrations that make up such a rich part of our collective culture.  She quotes food writer Ronni Lundi, who she interviewed a few years ago, who told her “Music and cooking are my passions.  They provide windows to look at culture.”  Becky adds, “Indeed.  Nearly every festival in this book boasts of that same basic combination of music and food and gives us a peek into the very essence of life in a particular region or ethnic group….”  And perhaps that explains why, after collecting “regional” cookbooks for over thirty years, I find food festivals equally fascinating.  And a cookbook about food festivals?  My cup runneth over!

If you find the food history of the United States as fascinating as I do, I think you will enjoy “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” – you may want to take it along with you on your next vacation, and search out some of these absolutely unique regional tributes to our culinary heritage. There is even a Directory of Festivals by Month, and a Directory of Festivals by State.  Amusing illustrations have been provided by artist Tom Klare.

Becky Mercuri began collecting recipes at the same age as I, (nine years old) and her cookbook collection contains over 7,000 volumes (quite a few more than mine, I think, although we quit counting at 3,000 books over ten years ago).  We also share an interest in cookie cutters but while Becky has over 3,000 cookie cutters and molds, I have no idea how many I’ve accumulated over the years—I can only tell you, they fill 3 large boxes packed in a closet. She has three dogs and a dozen cats, and is donating a portion of the proceeds of this book to the cause of animal welfare.  Along with writing for the CCE, Becky was food editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter for three years.  She is also currently working on a comprehensive bibliography of all English language cookbooks published between 1940 and 1949.

I’ve been out of touch with Becky Mercuri, every so often attempting to find her through the internet.

“FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” by Becky Mercuri, was originally priced at   $24.95 when published in 2002. Amazon.com has copies, 3.67 for a new copy or a pre-owned copy from 05 cents.  Alibris.com has copies for 99c or new at $3.66.

Becky Mercuri is also the author of the Great American Hot Dog Book, published in 2007. American Sandwich published in 2004, and Sandwiches You will Like, in 2002.

Other suggested reading: The Festival Cookbok by Phyllis Pellman Good,  A Feast of Festivals BY Joann Taylor Hane and Catherine L. Holshouser,  California Festivals, Carl Landau and Katie Landau with Kathy Kincade, THE FESTIVAL COOKBOOK by Phyllis Pellman Good, FOOD FESTIVAL, by Alice M. Geffer and Carole Berglie, FOODS FROM HARVEST FESTIVALS AND FOLK FAIRS.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

Happy cooking and happy cookbook collecting!

THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL COOKBOOK/PICNICS UNDER THE STARS

The Hollywood Bowl.  How does one begin to describe it?  In the most simplistic of terms, it is a very large outdoor amphitheater located on the edge of the northern section of Hollywood, as you follow the Cahuenga Pass into the San Fernando Valley (say Kuh-WANG-GA).  And yet – and yet, it is so much more than “just” an amphitheater.  In Southern California, it is an institution, a particular way of enjoying what life has to offer. And on a summer night, it’s a fun thing to get together with friends and all bring something to make up a picnic supper.

The Hollywood Bowl is one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, (and the largest natural amphitheater in the United States) celebrating, in the year 2012, ninety years of existence.

According to a souvenir book about the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood Bowl was built by a group of civic-minded women and men who were active in the area’s artistic and business communities. They wanted to establish an outdoor park and art center to entertain and educate a large and diverse audience.  Only about 5,000 people lived in Hollywood in 1910. The population grew, by 1920, to nearly 50,000 thanks to the movie industry, which had turned the community into a boomtown.

A search for the perfect place resulted, in 1919, in a spot east of Cahuenga Pass—a valley completely surrounded by hills, called Daisy Dell. More exactly, the Bowl is located in Bolton Canyon, one-half mile north of Hollywood Blvd., directly off the Cahuenga Pass, the site of El Camino Real, the original route connecting California’s missions.

The Theatre Arts Alliance bought 59 acres in the area.  (The Alliance disbanded because of disagreements among its members about the type of events to be produced at the outdoor theatre. It was reorganized in 1920 as the Community Park and Art Association). Prior to the first official Hollywood Bowl season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1922, the site was used for presentations of choral programs, pageants, plays and band concerts.  Hugo Kirchhofer, choral director of the Hollywood Community Sing, is said to have looked over the park and named it “The Bowl”.

Another tidbit of history has to do with the Bowl’s first concert season in 1922. It was a community effort; cardboard banks were distributed every where to raise “pennies for the bowl”.  However, students at Hollywood High School donated the money from their performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to purchase an electrical switchboard for lighting.  In appreciation, the school was invited to hold its graduation ceremonies at Hollywood Bowl, a tradition that continues to this day. The cost of admission in 1922 was twenty-five cents!

Possibly the most fascinating bit of trivia surrounding the Hollywood Bowl is the history of Peppertree Lane, the main pedestrian access from Highland Avenue to the Hollywood Bowl’s Entrance Plaza. It was named for the pepper trees that once lined the walkway. Early in Hollywood Bowl’s history, a fence was built along the lane, and in a few years, the fence posts took root and grew into pepper trees!  However, nearly all of the trees died during the 1950s.  Only one of the original trees still stands, just below the Hollywood Bowl Museum, but new pepper trees were planted along the lane in 1997.

The Hollywood Bowl has undergone numerous transformations in its 90-year-old history.  The first stage, in 1922, was a simple wooden platform with a canvas top. Patrons sat on moveable wooden benches.  The following year, the first 150 boxes were built in the front seating section.

In 1927, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a shell for the Hollywood Bowl that was made from lumber and clapboard from the movie set ROBIN HOOD with Douglas Fairbanks. It was considered by many to be the most acoustically perfect of all the Bowl’s many shells, but was only used for one season. Fittingly, the 1927 season’s opening production was De Koven’s operetta Robin Hood.

Other transformations took place as years went by. The following year, Lloyd Wright, the oldest son of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed two shells for the Hollywood Bowl. The 1928 shell consisted of nine concentric segmental arches, which could be “tuned” panel by panel.

In 1929, the engineering firm of Elliott, Bowen and Walz designed the shell that we recognized for so many decades.  The Hollywood Bowl souvenir book notes that Allied Architects constructed this shell, which preserved the visual essence of Lloyd Wright’s 1928 design.

In 1940. artist George Stanley was commissioned to create a sculpture for the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl. Granite for this sculpture marking the entry into the Hollywood Bowl was brought from Victorville. Cost of the project came to $100,000.  The 15-foot high granite figure, “The Muse of Music” (still standing at the entrance today) was built by the County of Los Angeles Engineer’s Department in cooperation with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the Southern California Arts Project.  The “Muse of Music” was dedicated on July 8, 1940, and remains an impressive sight to this day, especially when illuminated at night.

The Hollywood Bowl was slated for yet another renovation again in more recent years. According to an article that appeared in the August 26, 2000, edition of the Los Angeles Times, the proposed changes would expand the shell interior up to 118 feet wide, 66 feet deep and 56 feet tall, allowing the entire orchestra to fit inside the shell. Previously, as many as one third of the performers were positioned outside the shell where, sometimes, they couldn’t hear the other performers.  The new look was a streamline modern style reminiscent of the 1930s. Many people protested the changes, perhaps not realizing that the Hollywood Bowl has undergone numerous changes in its 90-year-old history.

After nine months of construction, the brand new shell and acoustic canopy made their debut in 2004, with a new and improved stage making the concert experience better for both musicians and audiences. Also added were 4 screens, two at stage level and two in bench seating, to bring the concert action closer to audiences.

Bob and I were “regulars” for about a decade at the Hollywood Bowl. We have been thrilled with John Mauceri conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, performing Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (complete with a performance by the San Francisco Ballet), followed by the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture and culminating in a spectacular 1812 Overture, complete with cannons and fireworks.  Mauceri was an impressive conductor; we appreciated his dry wit and ability to captivate the audience with side bars of classical music history.

Mauceri is well known throughout the world as the Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in Los Angeles, which was created for him in 1991 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. At the Hollywood Bowl, he conducted over 300 concerts over 16 seasons. He now has the title of founding director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and recently returned to the Bowl Orchestra to make his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA.

The Hollywood Bowl features a wide range of performers every season and there is truly “something for everybody”.  One of our summer concerts featured California Western music, led by John Mauceri, with a delightful program by Riders in the Sky, a group reminiscent of the Sons of the Pioneers.  Another evening we enjoyed a concert with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, featuring the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  Mr. Brubeck, then in his 80s, brought the house down and charmed the entire audience.

Other recent Bowl performers  have included Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein, Marvin Hamlisch and country singer Randy Travis!  Although the Hollywood Bowl, while well known for its classical music concerts, over the decades it has drawn artists as noteworthy as the Beatles, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Nelson Eddy, Beverly Sills, Mario Lanza, Lily Pons, Placido Domingo. Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, the Beach Boys—and in recent years, Whitney Houston, Aerosmith, Garth Brooks, Madonna, Bonnie Raitt, and Sting!

Need I continue? How about Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Andy Williams, Shania Twain, or Barbra Sreisand?

This impressive roster of performers included a performance in 1961 by Judy Garland – who kept an audience captivated in the midst of pouring rain! (Incidentally, in its 80 year history, rain has interrupted concerts at the Bowl only a few times—the “season” running from June to September, is normally Southern California’s driest time of the year.

Just about everybody who’s anybody has performed at the Hollywood Bowl.  One year, we were privileged to see Charlotte Church (just before I had surgery and had to give away our other season tickets).  Earlier that summer, we heard a Midsummer’s night Dream, featuring actor Michael York who read selections from ROMEO AND JULIET, JULIUS CAESAR, HENRY IV, PART II, AND A MIDSUMMER NIHT’S DREAM. Later, we saw a performance by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Classical music not your style, you say? One of the featured artists one summer was B.B. King.  One Friday night in September, we were treated to “The Big Picture – 75 years of Oscar”—music from Oscar movies, with film clips on a big screen.  Still not your style, you say?

Here’s a sampling of performers who have given concerts at the Hollywood Bowl:  Benny Goodman (1939) while back in 1934, Olivia de Haviland and Mickey Rooney performed in a Midsummer’s Night Dream as Hermia and Puck. In 1936, soprano Lily Pons performed, holding the Bowl’s all-time record performance of 26,410. In 1943, a sensational new singer named Frank Sinatra made an appearance at the Bowl—while a few years later, in 1947, Margaret Truman, the daughter of President Harry Truman, starred in a Bowl performance. (Margaret, in case you are too young to remember, like her father, played the piano).  Peggy Lee made her debut at the Bowl in 1953 and returned many times, her final performance taking place in 1995.  Van Cliburn performed at the Hollywood Bowl in 1958, just before he won the Tchaikovsky International Competition Aware in Moscow, while jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, George Shearing and Sarah Vaughan also made appearances.

In 1964, the Beatles appeared at the Bowl; with a single ad and one blurb on a teenager TV station, 18000 tickets were sold (noise from the screaming overpowered any sound coming from the stage). In 1973, a young Pavarotti made his first local appearance at the Bowl—stealing, we are told, the show, while in 1979, the first Jazz Festival was presented at the bowl and featured such artists as Mel Torme, Carmen McRae and Joe Williams.

However, there is a lot more to “going to the Bowl” than sitting under the stars, listening to your favorite performer.

In the 1950s, the Hollywood Bowl suffered from a financial crisis. According to an article written by mystery writer April Smith (author of “NORTH OF MONTANA”) and published in the Hollywood Bowl magazine, “What rescued the Bowl was wine and cheese”.

“Along with a facelift,” writes Smith, “And Dorothy Buffum Chandler, who headed the ‘Save the Bowl’ campaign with such focus it was back in business before the end of that summer. One of her innovations was to remove the stern “No Food” signs and capitalize on the park-like grounds by encouraging the art of competitive picnicking. Contests were held for the best-decorated picnic baskets, and the leisurely experience of outdoor pre-concert dining attracted a new audience…”

Since then, picnicking at the Hollywood Bowl, prior to the concert, is as much a part of the ambiance as the concert itself.

For our picnic suppers one summer, Bob and I enjoyed shrimp cocktail, cubes of cantaloupe and honey dew melon, crackers and cheese, grapes, salami, and White Zinfandel wine. We generally parked our car in a parking lot where buses came to pick up Hollywood Bowl-goers. It was far easier than driving into Hollywood and dealing with the heavy traffic.  The cost was something like $6.00 roundtrip per person. Everyone you see climbing onto the bus is carrying picnic baskets or blankets or other comfy objects. (Whenever we were leaving, boarding the bus, people were cheery and humming the music we had just heard).

When you enter the Bowl grounds, the first thing you will notice are the picnicking concert-goers—they are spread out on every patch of grass and alongside both sides of the walkway into the amphitheater.  They have laid down tablecloths and have vases of flowers and candlelight to enhance their picnic suppers that range from hamburgers from Burger King to Sushi, elegant suppers from Gelson’s (a local up-scale market) to gourmet picnic dinners that (if you are lucky enough to have box seats) can be delivered directly to you. Gourmet suppers can be ordered and picked up, as well, and if you don’t feel like packing your own meal, you can order a variety of appetizers, main course salads and pastas, rotisserie chicken—and even poached salmon—from refreshment stands located throughout the Bowl grounds.

But, if you are interested in preparing your own picnic supper, as I do, you might be interested in the latest cookbook, titled “THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL COOKBOOK/PICNICS UNDER THE STARS”.

You don’t have to attend the Hollywood Bowl to enjoy this spectacular cookbook, which features a wide range of recipes particularly suitable for picnics and pot lucks.  Appetizer recipes include such finger-licking good treats as spicy Italian Chicken fingers, Cocktail shrimp with Mango Chutney, Chicken Pate, Blueberry Ketchup, Spinach Dip in Red Cabbage Bowl and Salmon Log.

There are soup recipes (yes, indeed—bowl patrons bring hot or chilled soups in thermos jugs) so you can enjoy recipes such as Chilled Cream of Cucumber Soup with Curry or tomato, Crab and Avocado Gazpacho.

Enjoy Rosemary Clooney’s recipe for Corn Chowder or Spicy Black Bean Soup. There are inspiring sandwich recipes such as Wrap Sandwiches or Patafla Sandwich, which is a favorite Hollywood Bowl picnic dish that can be prepared a day in advance so the flavors can blend; choose from a very wide assortment of salad recipes which range from Armenian Cabbage Slaw to Summer Salad with Pecans and Pears—or perhaps Bleu Cheese Potato Salad or Cucumber and Jicama Salad!

The Hollywood Bowl Cookbook: Picnics Under the Stars” was published by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Affiliates of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association in 2002.  It features a cover photograph taken by Otto Rothschild.  Because the Los Angeles Philharmonic Affiliates believe that “music matters” in the lives of young people, proceeds from the cookbook will be used for music education projects they sponsor in the community and for the support of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The cost of that cookbook in 2002 was $19.95. I am unable to find any listings for it under either Amazon.com or Alibris.com., POSSIBLY because another book was published in 2003 (same title) and the list price of THAT cookbook, same title, is $39.95.  However, that being said – I am unable to find any available copies for that one either.

To add to my bafflement, I removed from my own bookshelves not one but two copies of THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL COOKBOOK published in 1985. I will attempt to scan this cookbook since it does not appear any copies are available at this time. Perhaps I can also scan THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL COOKBOOK/PICNIC UNDER THE STARS which is the edition I received to review in 2002.

If you ever happen to find yourself in my neck of the woods, you might want to visit the Hollywood Bowl. Visitors can park free daily until 4:30 p.m. to shop at the Bowl Store, visit the museum or explore the grounds.

The Bowl Store offers a fascinating collection of books, music, clothing, games and toys.

From the Hollywood (101) freeway, exit at Highland Avenue.

The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90068.

You can also visit the Hollywood Bowl via the Internet – at www.hollywoodbowl.org.

Maybe, someday, we’ll see you at the Hollywood Bowl!

Review by
sandy@sandychatter.

FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT COOKBOOK

‘FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT COOKBOOK/Feasting with your Slow Cooker” by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good is a recent offering from Good Books of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, published in 2000.

You may recognize the name of Phyllis Pellman Good; I have reviewed her books previously on the pages of the Cookbook Collectors Exchange. She is the author of THE BEST OF AMISH COOKING and THE FESTIVAL COOKBOOK. Phyllis co-authored several cookbooks, including RECIPES FROM CENTRAL MARKET, FAVORITE RECIPES WITH HERBS, THE BEST OF MENNOITE FELLOWSHIP MEALS and FROM AMISH AND MENNONITE KITCHENS.  Phyllis and her husband, Merle, reside in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and are co-directors of The People’s Place, a heritage interpretation center in the Lancaster County village of Intercourse, Pennsylvania. (I’d love to visit it!).

You may also recognize the name of Dawn Ranck. She is the co-author of A QUILTERS CHRISTMAS COOKBOOK and FAVORITE RECIPES WITH HERBS.

It may surprise you to learn that the concept of a slow-cooker really isn’t  new.  In fact, while researching some years ago for an article I titled  “KITCHENS WEST” for the CCE, I learned about something called a Hay Box, surely a predecessor of the slow-cooker we are all familiar with today. The Hay Box dates back to pioneer times, when pioneer women and men were trekking across the plains. Hay box Cooking was practiced extensively by pioneer women in their covered wagons, as well as by ranch cooks on the trail.

A suitable wooden box was prepared by lining it with straw; pioneer women often used flannel and shavings. A nest was left for the receptacle, which was usually an earthenware pot. A stew was partially cooked at breakfast, and as soon as the wagons began to move, the stew was poured into the earthenware pot, and put into the hay box, and covered with the remainder of hay or flannel.  The meat continued to cook in the insulated box, and at the end of the day a hot meal was ready for immediate serving.

Various detailed descriptions of preparing meals without fuel can be found other books.  During World War I and again during World War II, when rationing was in effect and it was necessary to conserve fuel as well, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used the hay box method with much success. The primitive hay box evolved into the “asbestos box” and the “copper double-tank cooker”.

The author of one cookbook offering a recipe for a Dutch Oven roast also suggests burying a Dutch oven as a great way to slow cook a dish, claiming it will tenderize the toughest game or beans.  The authors tell us never soak or scour your Dutch oven as it will rust (true) and “never blame anyone but yourself if you can’t remember where you buried dinner”.  (that’s one problem I’ve never encountered).

“Hay Boxes” were the forerunner of the Fireless cooker, actually a very similar device, which enjoyed a spurt of popularity during World War One and Two, especially in Great Britain and places where fuel was strictly rationed.

The Browns (Rose, Cora & Bob Brown) wrote about the fireless cooker in their book “MOST FOR YOUR MONEY” published in 1938, and M.F.K. writes about the Hay Box in her book “HOW TO COOK A WOLF” first published in 1942.

Under a chapter titled “Handy Hints”, the Browns wrote, “We seldom hear of fireless cookers these days, but at one time no so long ago, they were a part of regulation kitchen equipment, and they cut dollars off the yearly fuel bills.  World War propaganda further popularized them, for then all housewives were urged to save coal, not so much for their own account as for the dear Allies…Metals, which are wasted in peace times on all sorts of useless contraptions, had to be conserved to death-dealing ends. So the press carried instructions for making fireless cookers at home. All one needed was a wooden box or paper carton, and a lot of old newspapers to insulate it, layers of paper fitted into the bottom of the box and around the sides, with a cylindrical hole left in the center to receive a boiling pot of soup or stew then wads of paper on top to hold in all the heat for hours. An excellent device for long, slow cooking of cheap foods.  Dried beans, peas, and lentils, tendered in their unbroken skins, and cereals, started the night before, are still hot at breakfast time and have attained a jelly-like and delicate consistency which only many hours of low heat can give…”

M.F.K. Fisher, in “HOW TO COOK A WOLF”, observes, “Hayboxes are very simple. They are simply strong wooden boxes, one inside another with hay packed between, and if possible, a stout covering of linoleum or oilcloth on the outside. You bring whatever food you want to a sturdy boil, put it tightly covered on a layer of hay in the inside box, pack hay all around it, and cover the box securely. Then you count twice as long as your stew or porridge or vegetables would have taken to cook normally, open the haybox, and the food is done….”

So, you see, what goes around comes around and there is very little new under the sun. Fast forward, and it’s August, 1970, when the Rival Company acquired the assets of Naxon Utilities  Corp. This acquisition provided Rival with an old fashioned looking appliance called “The Beanery”.  The Beanery was a simple bean cooker, with a blazed brown crock liner.  The people at Rival experimented with this kitchen appliance, making bean dishes and other recipes with meat and vegetables.  They were pleasantly surprised to discover that the meat turned out better than beans.  They did some work on the little bean pot and an initial order of 25,000 units was produced.  By associating the crockery liners with its pot-like shape, the people at Rival came up with the name of Crock-Pot®.  It wasn’t long before the Crock-Pot became our favorite slow cooker. And for many of us, the name of Crock-Pot is synonymous with slow-cooker.  According to Rival, more than 80 million Crock Pot® Slow Cookers have been sold since 1971.  (Some of us even have more than one; I have two oval-shaped 5½ quart slow cookers. We had two others before that, smaller ones that I gave away—which I regret now, when I am no longer cooking for two. And yes, I use them quite a lot).

For many years, the only recipes you would find for slow cooker recipes would be those that came with the appliance (I must have several dozen of these pamphlets). However, in recent decades, as we became busier and busier, juggling careers and raising children, PTA and Little League, the Slow Cooker became more popular than ever.

In “FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT COOKBOOK”, Dawn Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good provide more than EIGHT HUNDRED slow cooker recipes, apparently collected from numerous contributors (the authors don’t explain how they went about collecting the recipes. However, there are eough to keep you cooking over two years, by my estimation. “FIX-IT and FORGET-IT COOKBOOK” provides recipes for a lot more than chicken and condensed mushroom soup!  And yes, Slow Cooker cookbooks have come a long way since those 70s pamphlets. Who knew?

Dawn and Phyllis provide us with a great wealth of Slow Cooker recipes, recips for appetizers, snacks and spreads, breads, soups and stews, main dishes (many!) and a lot of desserts.  I’m sure you know you can make applesauce and puddings with your slow cooker, but did you know you can also make lemon pudding cake? Apple cake? Hot fudge cake? Harvey Wallbanger Cake? Chocolate fondue? Seven Layer Bars?  (yes! in your slow cooker!).  There are a wealth of main dish recipes in “FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT COOKBOOK”.

Understandably, main dish recipe is our all-time favorite way of using this kitchen appliance.  Look for Paul’s Beef Bourguignon, Beef Burgundy or Chinese Pot Roast, Eleanor’s Corned Beef and Cabbage or Cranberry Pork Roast.  You won’t believe all the selections – and they all sound delicious!

FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT COOKBOOK” is a wonderful addition to our kitchen cookbook favorites. It’s become one of my favorites. I think it will be one of your favorites too!

FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT COOKBOOK” published in 2001 was a soft-covered cookbook, selling for a reasonable $13.95 when new.  Now, here is a curious update – the book was republished in 2005 (Alibris has the best price for the 2005 edition @ 99c); it was reprinted in 2008 and a preowned copy on Amazon.com is $9.74.  It was reprinted  yet again in 2010; a new copy on Amazon is $8.49, pre-owned $7.85.  And oddly enough, Amazon is listing a Fix it and Forget 5 INGREDIENT COOKBOOK for sale pre-owned at $3.39.  And apparently, there are plenty of copies to go around.

Happy cooking and happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy

 

POST SCRIPT TO 1001 4-INGREDIENT COOKBOOK

POST SCRIPT TO 1001 4-INGREDIENT COOKBOOK

For those who expressed an interest in this topic, here are a few of the “X ingredient cookbooks in my collection:

THE 2 INGREDIENT COOK BOOK – ADELINE ROSEMIRE (1996) signed copy

COOKING WITH THREE INGREDIENTS – Andrew Schloss (1996)

ROZANNE GOLD RECIPES 1-2-3 (1996) hard cover

THE BEST OF COOKING WITH 3 INGREDIENTS – Ruthie Wornall  (2002)

THE FOUR INGREDIENT COOKBOOKS AS EASY A 1 2 3 4 – Linda Coffee and Emily Cake (really? Cake and coffee?) (spiral bound)

4 INGREDIENT RECIPES FOR 30 MINUTE MEALS – Barbara C. Jones (2005)

FAVORITE BRAND NAME 100 BEST 4 INGREDIENT RECIPES –(spiral binding) 2003

BETTY CROCKER 4-INGREDIENT DINNERS – (2005) hardcover

The 5 in 10 APPETIZER COOKBOOK 5 INGREDIENTS IN 10 MINUTES OR LESS – Paula Hamilton (1994)

The 5 in 10 PASTA AND NOODLE COOKBOOK  5 INGREDIENTS IN 10 MINUTES OR LESS – Nancie McDermott (1994)

The 5 in 10 CHICKEN BREAST COOKBOOK – 5 INGREDIENTS IN 10 MINUTES OR LESS – Melanie Barnard and Brooke Dojny (1993)

GOURMET COOKING WITH 5 INGREDIENTS –Deborah Anderson (spiral binding) (2002)

SIX INGREDIENTS OR LESS – Carlean Johnson (1982) (spiral binding)

SIX INGREDIENTS OR LESS PASTA & CASEROLES – Carlean Johnson (1996)

You can only judge for yourself how useful these books are to you. I like them!

Happy Cooking!

Sandy

LET US EAT CAKE!

LET US EAT CAKE” by Sharon Boorstin, published in 2002 by ReganBooks, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, is the kind of non-cookbook food-related memoir type of book that I find myself reading more and more often. For one thing, they’re “comfort reading”, like comfort food. You can read and relax, drifting back in time with the author.

For another, it’s really interesting to discover how women, often very close to my own age, grew up in different parts of the country, and in which ways our lives were similar and in which ways they were completely diverse. It always intrigues me, as well, how all these food writers, (and I include myself with the lot), developed an interest in food and cooking at a very young age.  We all have childhood memories of our earliest experiences in the kitchen.  That appears to be a common thread that runs through so many of these books.

(Indeed, even famed-author Jean Anderson, in her book “JEAN ANDERSON COOKS”, relates how her love affair with food began at the age of five and her disastrous experience when, left to her own devices, she began to improvise. She added nuts and raisins to the ginger cake batter; she decided to bake it as cupcakes in muffin pans, and turned the oven heat up so they would bake faster—and in her burst of creativity, she forgot to add baking powder and shortening. She also overfilled the pans, which she neglected to grease…slid the cupcakes into the searing-hot oven and went outside to play.  Jean says it’s a wonder she didn’t burn the house down – she did destroy two muffin pans and wrecked an oven). But I digress!

Initially, as I began “LET US EAT CAKE”, I was reminded of “Close To The Bone”, Ruth Reichl’s memoir of her life growing up in New York City – however, as I began to read Sharon Boorstin’s “LET US EAT CAKE”, I realized that the only real similarity is that they have both worked as restaurant critics. Sharon, for one thing, grew up in the state of Washington.

Sharon Boorstin’s “LET US EAT CAKE” was inspired, she says, by a long-lost recipe notebook.  She explains that she is the opposite of a pack rat—when things are no longer useful, she gets rid of them. The exception to this is a desk in her house that she has never cleaned out. She describes it as a burnished antique Federal desk with dusty cubbyholes and worn drawer pulls, the first major purchase she and her husband, Paul, made when they got married thirty-three years ago.

“It was under the thank-you notes in the bottom drawer of the Federal desk,” Sharon explains, “that I discovered the inspiration for this book—a loose-leaf notebook of recipes I had gathered from girlfriends and relatives when I was a newlywed.”

Sharon says that among the recipes were “Irma’s Tandoori chicken, Aunt Hannah’s Chocolate Cheesecake, Mary Ann’s Grapes Brulee, and Mom’s Egg-Bread Stuffing.” She says that each recipe brought back memories of the woman who gave it to her, “of the occasions when we made and enjoyed the dish, and of the friendship we shared….”

Sharon wrote an article about the discovery of the notebook—and the old times and old friends it brought to mind—for MORE magazine. “In doing so,” she says, “I realized just how important food, recipes, and cooking are in connecting women of different generations in a family and in connecting friends….”

Sharon also realized how much her friendships had changed over the years. She says that when she was a newlywed, she devoted so much emotional energy to her husband that she gave “short shrift” to her childhood and college girlfriends. Her husband became her best friend and together they had “couples” friends. Later, when her children were toddlers, she became friends with their playmates’ mothers.  Sharon says she did not develop any new female friendships that existed apart from her husband and children. Eventually, of course, her children grew up; Sharon gave up screenwriting with her husband to concentrate on food writing and journalism.  She discovered it was now easier to have time for girlfriends.  (on a personal note, I have to say, I have never been without girlfriends. My two oldest friends are Carol and Patty, whose families both lived on our street when I was a little girl—I don’t see them very often anymore because they’re in Ohio and I’m in California – but we stay in touch, more often now that we have the Internet. I’ve always had girlfriends and realized the importance of having them in my life. But I digress (again)  and this is Sharon’s story, not mine).

Sharon writes that she also realized that now, even more so than when we were younger, my friends and I share an interest in food—cooking, recipes, dining out. Unlike our mothers, we don’t cook just because it is expected of us as wives and mothers. And unlike our former unliberated single selves, we don’t find comfort in food when we can’t find a man, or use cooking to find one. When we entertain now, we do it with less effort, and we cook—and savor food—because we find it enjoyable, nurturing, and creative…”

It was while Sharon was writing the article for MORE that she connected with a girlfriend, whose recipe for Tandoori Chicken she discovered in her old recipe notebook. This was a girlfriend she hadn’t seen or heard from in over twenty years.

The two friends reconnected and now remain in close touch. They talk about their children, their work and their lives. Rediscovering her friend made Sharon realize what a treasured gift she had lost and inspired her to reconnect with other long-lost friends. “In each case,” she says, “my friends and I shared the joyous—and painful—experiences we’ve gone through since we last met.  We also discussed our delicious shared food memories: what we ate (sometimes with guilt for pigging out), what we cooked, and what was going on in our lives at the time. Girlfriends, I discovered, never forget these things…”

Sharon learned, “Food is one way all women connect, and I have included not just my own food memories but those of others as well. Some are family or friends; others are food professionals I have met through the years…”

Travel back in time with Sharon Boorstin, as she recalls her childhood with two sisters, growing up in the fifties in Washington. Her mother had only one cookbook, says Sharon (no, it wasn’t Ida Bailey Allen’s Service Cookbook!) – it was a copy of “THE SETTLEMENT COOKBOOK” which Sharon says only collected dust on the shelf. She says her mother was a self-described shiterein cook—that’s Yiddish for “she just threw stuff in”.

However, at a time when most families had just a small freezer compartment at the top of their refrigerator, Sharon’s parents had a twenty-cubic foot Sears chest freezer in which her mother froze virtually everything. Her father was also vice president of a fish company and brought home canned tuna, salmon, and crab by the case. (I can’t help but think, just imagine how many recipes her mother could have created with just those canned items!) – but no, Sharon says her mother’s dinner repertoire revolved around the following dishes:

Roast beef

Pot roast

Chicken baked with Lipton’s dry onion soup mix

Tongue

Liver

Tina-noodle casserole made with her father’s canned tuna fish

Salmon loaf made with her father’s canned salmon

Top round steak tenderized with Accent

Meat loaf

Ground-beef casseroles

All of these, says Sharon, were served with ketchup.

It was from Sharon’s Grandma Ann that she learned to make blintzes, even though her grandmother spoke very little English and Sharon didn’t understand Yiddish.

Sharon takes us with her as she grows up, moves away from home and headed for college. One early experience which obviously influenced Sharon very much was meeting Dorothy, the mother of one of her boyfriends. Dorothy was a journalist and the first person Sharon ever met who loved to cook. She describes Dorothy as a patient, upbeat teacher. Sharon was thrilled to find herself learning from a gourmet cook.

“I helped Dorothy prepare steak tartar,” Sharon recalls, “who ate raw chopped beef in Seattle?—and duck (and who ate duck?) that she roasted on a rotisserie until the skin was crisp, the meat succulent. She made French fries in a big cast iron pot—she knew the oil was hot enough when she threw in a piece of bread and it cooked. On Sunday mornings she whipped up puffy soufflelike German pancakes and served them dusted with powdered sugar. Dorothy loved the color purple, and she garnished her dishes with candied violets and purple grapes that she coated with sugar. She always smelled like Estee Lauder’s classic perfume and she always wore pearls—even when she was cooking…”

After graduating from Berkeley in 1966 with teaching credentials, Sharon accepted a job with the Los Angeles Unified Schools. Before that, however, and she three of her childhood friends spent a summer traveling throughout Europe. It was there that Sharon began to really learn about food.

“Everywhere we went,” she recalls, “we savored tastes we didn’t know existed. I learned the profound difference between real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the powdery stuff in the green Kraft container that my mother sprinkled on spaghetti casseroles, and between a salade Nicoise and my mother’s tuna fish salad….”

Although “LET US EAT CAKE” is not a cookbook in the strictest sense, like other memoirs of this genre, it does contain some recipes. You’ll find Grandma Ann’s recipe for making blintzes, Sharon’s updated version of the 50s Canlis Salad, girlfriend Mary Ann’s Fresh Fruit Brulee, and her girlfriend Irma’s Tandoori Chicken, Sharon’s mother’s Egg-Bread Stuffing recipe and a few others, including some celebrity recipes: James Michener’s Favorite Gazpacho and Paul Newman’s Favorite Angel Food Cake.  And, I think that even though Sharon Boorstin’s book is about food, it’s really more about friendships and relationships.

I’ve really just touched lightly on Sharon Boorstin’s experiences which cover decades, as she relates them in “LET US EAT CAKE”.  I don’t want to tell you too much; I want all of you to get a copy and read it.  Mystery writer Faye Kellerman describes it as “a captivating memoir built around the kitchen, where the great dishes as well as the bonds of amity are created and nurtured side by side…”

And in case you are wondering (as did I) what a Canlis salad is – Paul Canlis is the creator, who was taught how to make it by his Lebanese mother.

CANLIS SALAD

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 slices country white bread,
cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,
to taste
1 egg, at room temperature
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 lb. slab bacon, cut into 1⁄2″ cubes
1 cup grated pecorino
1 cup mixed red and yellow
grape tomatoes, halved
1⁄2 cup torn mint leaves
3 tbsp. oregano leaves
5 scallions, chopped
2 heads romaine, cored and cut
crosswise into 1″ strips

1. Heat oven to 325°. Toss butter, oregano, thyme, bread, and garlic together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring frequently, until croutons are golden, about 15 minutes. Set croutons aside to let cool.

2. Whisk together egg and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly to make a smooth vinaigrette. Season with pepper; set aside.

3. In a 10″ skillet, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook until bacon crisps, about 5 minutes; let cool. Toss bacon, reserved croutons, vinaigrette, and remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl and season with salt and pepper.

SERVES 4

LET US EAT CAKE” by Sharon Boorstin sold originally for $24.95.  It is available on Amazon.com for one cent and up for preowned copies and for 99c on Alibris.com.

Sharon Boorstin was the restaurant critic for the LOS ANGELES HERALD-EXAMINER and her writing has appeared in BON APPETIT, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, PLAYBOY, MORE, FOOD ARTS, CONDE NAST TRAVELER, UK and PORTHOLE.  She and her husband, Paul, have two children and live in Beverly Hills, California.

Happy Cooking!

Sandy