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It’s been some time since I reported on cookbooks, but I have 2 additions that I have to mention, or lightning will strike me. The first is a 2011 Solstice gift from Diane, “BULL COOK and AUTHENTIC HISTORICAL RECIPES AND PRACTICES, by GEORGE LEONARD HERTER  and BERTHE E. HERTER,  Herter’s, Waseca, Minnesota“,  (c) 1960, 61, 62, 63 – in total 7 editions, and a treasure.  To give you a teaser, it provides the instruction for preparing “DOVES WYATT EARP”.  Mine is a 1963.

And today I found another real gold nugget:  a first-edition of “Brown Derby COOK BOOK”, (1949), forward by Rbt. H. Cobb, President, The Brown Derby Corporations, which finally closed in 1985, amid significant national nostalgia, having served generations of Hollywood’s elite.  It has a handsome brown leather cover, with speckled edges – and the seller asked only $6.  It’s worth $50 on Ebay, if you had the heart to sell something irreplaceable.   The Derby opened in 1926.  Sixty years is not a bad run.  The menu was famous for Grapefruit Cake, a cocktail, a Blackbottom Pie, Cobb Salad, a Red Velvet Cake, and a long list of other major & minor culinary credits.

(photo courtesy http://www.etsy.com/listing/78806862/hollywood-vintage-postcard-brown-derby )

Here is the renowned

Brown Derby Black Bottom Pie (10″, serves 8)

Start with Shell Pastry Dough For Open-Faced Pies, 2 10-inch shells

3/8 c (1/4 c & 2 Tbsp) sugar

1 egg

1/4 tsp. lemon rind, grated

Small pinch salt

1/2 tsp vanilla (bean or extract)

2/3 c butter

2-1/4 c flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Use an electric mixer to combine egg, lemon rind, salt, vanilla, until creamy.  Knead butter till smooth, and add to egg mixture.  [* that’s apparently correct – knead the butter?  Counter-intuitive = good. ]  Then combine all in the mixer at slow speed until a paste is formed.  Beat at high speed for only a moment or two.  Allow the paste to relax, and roll out thin on a lightly floured board, baking the shell at 400F for 10-12 min.  (probably best to do a blind-baking w some aluminum foil and/or pie-weights.)

Now on to the Black Bottom Pie

BROWN DERBY’S BLACK BOTTOM PIE

2 tsp (one envelope) unflavored gelatine

1/2 cup milk

1 oz. sugar (that’s 2 Tbsp)

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg yolk

3 ounces sweet chocolate

1 pt. cream, whipped (that’s 2 cups of heavy cream, not yet whipped)

1 prebaked baked pie shell

Soak gelatine in small amount of cold water for 15 minutes.  Bring milk to boiling point.  Beat together sugar, salt, half of vanilla, and egg yolks until light, thick, and creamy.  Add 1/2 of the boiling milk over egg mixture.  Blend well, then add to remaining hot milk.  Return to heat, stirring constantly, for a few seconds.  Remove from fire before boiling point is reached.  Press soaked gelatine free of any excess water and dissolve in hot mixture.  Strain through a very fine sieve.  Add 2 ounces of the chocolate, which has been shaved; beat until smooth.  Cool until it reaches creamlike consistency.  Fold in half of whipped cream and remaining  half of vanilla.  Fill prebaked pie shell.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Top with remaining whipped cream 1 inch thick.  Remaining chocolate is now shaved into curled spears and stuck in top.  Dust with grated chocolate.

For reference, here is a little more background and some modern context for this famous Hollywood eatery,  as well as an updated read on this recipe:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2011/10/from-the-culinary-sos-archive-the-brown-derbys-black-bottom-pie.html

I have a favorite bread recipe that I’ve used for decades – and I don’t usually follow recipes when I bake bread – which can be once a week.  This requires a 1-hour first proofing before shaping into loaves, so it’s quick.  It keeps well, but disappears quickly, it’s so delicious.  This Wholegrain Wheat Bread recipe comes from Mildred Ellen Orton’s “Cooking with WHOLEGRAINS, THE Basic WHOLEGRAIN COOKBOOK, NEW REVISED EDITION WITH NEW RECIPES $1.95“, originally published in 1951.  Quite a trailblazer.

1-1/2 c warm water

2-1/4 tsp (1 pkg) dry yeast

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 c powdered milk

4+ c whole wheat flour

1/4 c brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 liquid shortening

I have halved the original recipe, so this will make 1 loaf pan, or 2 round loaves.

Dissolve yeast in the water, along with 2 tsp brown sugar, and allow to stand while mixing dry ingredients.  Combine 4 cups flour, with powdered milk, 1/4 c brown sugar and salt.

Add half of the flour mixture to the water – and I use an electric stand-mixer – mix thoroughly.  Add liquid shortening (I use ordinary vegetable oil) and remaining flour mixture.  For some reason I have found that sometimes I need at least another cup of flour to make a workable dough – it will be quite soft, but that’s ok.  I usually let the dough-hook knead for about 10 minutes when all the flour has been added.

Allow this to rise for an hour, punch down & separate into 2 equal parts.  Fit the two small loaves into a 9 x 5 buttered bread pan and allow to rise for another 1/2 hour.  The loaves may be separated after they have baked.  Or you can bake them as free-standing round loaves.

Bring oven to 400F and bake the bread for 15 minutes, reducing the heat to 350F.  Continue baking for 25-30 minutes.  Remove bread from pans immediately and place on wire cooling racks.  Brush tops with butter.

This bread makes unbelievably magnificent toast!

One of the things I look forward to in May is the arrival of green almonds at the Iranian deli/market in Minneapolis.  A few years ago I was exploring the aisles and shelves of the Persian pantry & I came across some fresh produce – which included a pile of unrecognizable and significant looking fuzzy things.  They were green almonds, and the grocer invited me to taste one, pointing out that they were available only for a very short window each year – and therefore a delicacy.

So after a few years of arriving in May so I could taste them again and again, today I found out that there’s yet another delicacy – sour plums (Gojeh Sabz).  They are closely related to apricots.  The grocer said that people like to put them in salads, or snack on them as appetizers.  I also discovered a few interesting links dealing with green almonds, from Israel to Morocco:

http://mypersiankitchen.com/gojeh-sabz-persian-sour-plums/

http://www.applepiepatispate.com/main-course/lamb-fava-beans-green-almonds/

http://www.israelikitchen.com/eating-local/green-almonds-mean-springtime/

http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2010/05/01/green-almonds/

Here is the Bistro/market where I buy them:  http://www.caspianbistro-mn.com/

I like the sour plums (watch out for the tiny pits) dipped in a dab of salt – they are mouth-puckering & delicious.

And for fans of durable kitchenware – I found a treasure – an ancient Mezzaluna at an estate sale for $5.  I shined it up and restored its blade, but it is going to take me some practise to get good at using it well.