Quite unintentionally, three cookbooks ended up in a short stack together as I was engaged in my perpetual endeavor to find places for all the cookbooks on my bookshelves. Yes, there are a good many nice solid oak bookshelves throughout the house – many of them hold my collection of cookie jars and recipe boxes (you can’t imagine how much space cookie jars take up when you have a lot of them) – periodically I go on rampages with the cookbooks, thinning out their ranks a little—to make room for more. Anyway, I was sitting on the floor reflecting on how much of my life is spent trying to find space for books, when my line of vision fell on these three particular books. The oldest was first published in 1939, reprinted in 1940. The newest was published in 2009and the one in the middle, in 1996—a span of seventy years from the oldest to the youngest.
Not by any means are these three cookbooks representative of cookbooks in general—and we could spend days discussing all the different types of cookbooks. But I think they do provide some indication of the evolution of cookbooks in the past 70 years.
First then, is a book titled “WORLD FAMOUS CHEFS’ COOKBOOK/RARE OLD RECIPES, ARRANGE FOR THE HOMEMAKER.” This book opens with recipes from Grand Hotel, Stockholm. You may know that our word “smorgasbord” comes from the Swedish, famous for hors d’oeuvres and buffet foods. In the introduction to Smorgasbord, the author writes…While the American buffet table may sometimes be set with one side close to the wall, Swedish smorgasbord is always set so that guests may walk all around it. At one end is placed an assortment of sliced bread, including rye and slabs of Swedish bread; butter molded in fancy shapes and arranged on a bed of ice is found nearby, with suitable service utensil. As the fundamental meaning of the word “smorgas” is sandwich (I didn’t know that!) so the foundation idea of the “smorgasbord” is a “sandwich table”, therefore all kinds of pickled, smoked, dried and salted fish, as well as platters of cold meat cuts and cheese, always appear near the bread and butter supply. The guest helps himself to bread, butter, and an assortment of delicacies from which he may make his own “sandwiches”; however, neither sandwiches nor canapés, as such, ever appear on the authentic smorgasbord.
Then, around the table, are arranged an amazing array of colorful salads of which the Swedish herring salad is a ‘must’. Many clear aspic salads are included too. If the smorgasbord is to serve as a main meal, such as dinner or supper, and there are too many guests to seat at the tale, several hot dishes are also included as part of the menu.
The mistake that most American diners make, when they first see a smorgasbord, is over-emphasis on the appetizer angle. The epicure, however, soon learns that these delicacies are not meant to satisfy his appetite but to stimulate it, and he therefore deftly and delicately serves himself what might perhaps seem but tidbits to the gourmand—for he realizes that the smorgasbord either offers and entire meal or precedes a full-course one…”
What follows in this chapter is a tantalizing assortment of cold sauce recipes, chilled or jellied fish dishes—recipes for herring, crawfish, boiled crabs in Remoulade Sauce, Salmon Mousse with eggs and many others.
I am partial to recipes for relishes and “World Famous Chefs” offers a great selection—from Grape Catchup (which I’d love to try) to a standard tomato catchup, recipes for chutneys and pickled fruits and vegetables. I found a recipe for Spiced Grapes which made me chuckle – I thought I had discovered something new a year or so ago with an Internet recipe for pickled grapes – and here they are, in a 1939 cookbook!
“World Famous Chefs” offers recipes from the Netherland Plaza—I gasped to see it; this was a famous restaurant in downtown Cincinnati when I was growing up. Included in the book are many of the meat entrees served at the Netherland Plaza back in the day—including – be still my heart – a quite authentic recipe for Hungarian Goulash! (see recipe below). This section is followed by recipes from the Pennsylvania Hotel, New York—you must bear in mind, these were the top notch restaurants 70 years ago. If I were to choose one from the Pennsylvania Hotel, I think it would be the Chopped Cowboy Tenderloin Steak.*
Next is Hotel Adolphus, in Dallas, which opened its doors in 1912 and was still going strong in 1939. Chicken legs can often be purchased inexpensively, so I will include the Adolphus recipe for Deviled Chicken Legs.*
There are also recipes and chapters dedicated to Canadian Hotels as well as many others – but this is a book well conceived and curiously compiled. It was compiled by Ford Naylor and arranged and edited by Irene Hume Taylor, a home economics lecturer and writer/consultant. “Every recipe in this book,” writes Ford Naylor, with few exceptions, is a secret recipe which has been jealously guarded…” Well, the secret’s out. FYI, you know I generally try to find out through Google if a book I am writing about is available. Amazon.com has one used copy of “World Famous Chefs” listed at $29.95.
TO MAKE SPICED GRAPES YOU WILL NEED
4 LBS grapes
2 lbs sugar
1 tsp mixed spices
¼ up cider vinegar
Crush grapes in a preserving kettle; cook over gentle heat until seeds separate. Rub through fine colander. Add sugar, spice sand vinegar to pulp; cook 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour into scalded jelly jars and seal.
TO MAKE THE HOTEL ADOLPHUS DEVILED CHICKEN LEGS YOU WILL NEED
12 cooked chicken legs
6 TBSP butter
1 tsp prepared mustard
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp vinegar
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup bread crumbs
3 cups hot seasoned mashed potatoes
1 ½ cups Bearnaise suace**
Put chicken legs under broiler for 10 minutes. Cream the butter, mustard, pepper, salt, paprika and vinegar together. Remove legs from heat, dip in beaten egg, then rub each with the butter mixture. Place in baking pan, cover with the bread crumbs and bake in a moderate oven until browned. Serve 2 deviled legs with a scoop of mashed potatoes and 4 TBSP Bearnaise sauce.
To make a simple Bearnaise Sauce you will need
½ tsp ground white pepper
Little chopped tarragon
2 soupspoons white wine
5 egg yolks
1 lb sweet butter, melted
1 little chopped tarragon chervil
Cook shallot, cook with ground white pepper, tarragon chervil and w hite wine until no liquid is left. Cool it then add the egg yolks stirring well. Cook in double boiler until it starts to thicken, add the melted sweet butter very slowly. Strain, season, add the second chopped chervil. Serve with broiled meat or chicken. Serves 5.
Sandy’s cooknote: I know, I almost fainted over a pound of butter going into the recipe. But I THINK the leftover Bearnaise would keep a long time in the frig and would be available to go on other recipes for steaks or chicken.
From the Pennsylvania, here is their recipe for Chopped Cowboy Tenderloin Steak:
1 lb chopped steak
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced onion
Mix ingredients, then shape into small flat 4-oz cakes. Fry or pan broil in clear fat. Serves 6. Easy, yes?
And from the Netherlands Plaza, here is their recipe for Hungarian Goulash:
4 lbs beef from the neck or shoulder
2 onions minced,
Salt, pepper, paprika,
2 tbsp flour
1 qt stock
2 TBSP tomato puree or paste
2 fresh tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
2 large potatoes, diced
1 tsp chopped parsley
Cut the meat into 2” cubes. Place in a frying pan with 1 TBSP of lard (or cooking oil) and brown for a few minutes. Remove the meat and place a stew pan. Add the onions, little garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and flour. Mix this well together. Add stock, tomato puree, chopped fresh tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then add carrots and cook for about 1 hour. Next add the potatoes and cook until tender. Place the stew in a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve, Serves 6.
(Sandy’s cooknote: Judy, if you are reading this, this one’s for you.)
Well, it wasn’t my intention to make this a two or three part post but I really got carried away with World Famous Chefs and OMG, I could spend another week rhapsodizing about it. I am trying to think where my copy came from – I THINK the book may have originally been one of my sister Becky’s.
End of Part One
Happy Cooking and Happy Cookbook Collecting!