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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
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A Kid’ll eat Ivy too, wouldn’t You?   Have you ever heard that song?

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey. A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you? (sung with colloquial pronunciation “wooden shoe?”)”

-courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mairzy_Doats

I blindly grabbed for a cookbook this past weekend and basically turned to the cookie section (my cookie jar was empty, and therefore ready to be filled) and I made oatmeal cookies.  Not just any oatmeal cookies either.  I didn’t realize my mistake until well after the fact– these were reduced fat cookies, and I was gob-smacked, they were so good.

This means that they are not only heart healthy because of the oats, but they are also designed to have an overall higher healthfulness-quotient.  Honestly, they are one of the best cookies I can remember, and they have chocolate, which only makes them better.  The recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking.

Oven:  375F

Mix the dry ingredients:

1-1/4 c flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Beat together

1/4 c corn or canola oil

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1 c dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1/3 c light or dark corn syrup (I used light, but dark could only be better)

1 Tbsp milk

2-1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and add:

2 c old-fashion rolled oats

1 c  chocolate chips.

Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, to allow the dry ingredients to hydrate.  It will be a soft dough, and this recipe will make 3 dozen cookies, if you portion them at one tablespoon each.  I pushed them down slightly with my fingers dipped in water.   Make sure you space them well apart and bake them for 7-10 minutes on lightly greased baking sheets, rotating them half-way through baking.  After you remove the baking sheet from the oven, allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.  These might become one of your favorite cookies too.

Come to think of it, next time I make these, I will substitute 2 Tbsp cocoa for an equal amount of flour.  More later.

cookbooks!

Exactly one year ago the Dubious Citty Katt (that’s how the local press referred to her in print- honestly) twisted my arm to start this food blog.  I confidently said at that time that I’d share my favorite cookbooks.

For a year I’ve haven’t been sure how to do that, particularly since I learned as a child that we have to keep our  promises.  For one thing I have 3 or 4 bookshelves full of cookbooks.  Really big shelves.  (Please click on the photo if you don’t believe me).

Some books are large and colorful, some are sort of clinical;  but with most of them I would be happy to sink into a chair and just read it like a novel.  One of my favorite aunts proudly and happily admitted that very same thing to me one day in her kitchen (when I was in high school), where I was perpetually hanging out (and do not end sentences with prepositions please).  Everyone EVERYONE loved Aunt Jane’s cooking- and she taught me pie crust- along with my mom and grandmother.  Now, how will I describe my cookbook collection after all my big words.

About 130 a month guests come to this blog, which is amazing, Thank you for visiting.  And I finally figured out how to tell you about my cookbooks.  I describe this blog as a post-modern excursion into ‘food, Native foods, and omni-cuisine’ (or something like that). So I have created 12 completely arbitrary and capricious categories and I’ll list 2 examples of my favorite books in each one, also capricious and arbitrary.  I’ll try to do a cookbook gazette every once in a while until everyone tells me to stop (but please give me at least two chances.)  I hope you all get to look through some of them sometime.  There are more.

Native:

–Native Harvests, Barrie Kavach – a compact, clear volume that has a surprising degree of detail about pre-Contact food preparation practices

–Cuisine of the Water Gods, Patricia Quintana.  This is a beautifully produced book, not only rich in authentic cuisine and history, but a pleasure to read.

Colonial

–The Early American Cookbook, Dr. Kristie Lynn & Robert W. Pelton.  A gift-shop cookbook that has a wealth of surprising information about early cooking techniques.

–The Williamsburg ART OF COOKERY or, AccompliB’d Gentlewoman’s COMPANION:  Being a Collection of upwards of Five Hundred of the most Ancient & Approv’d Recipes in Virginia COOKERY*

[* a ‘B’ here indicates an S-tset, or Double SS, so this is not a misspelling]

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

–Mrs. Beeton’s COOKERY BOOK.  Look it up for yourself, it’s revelatory.

–Classic American Cooking, Pearl Byrd Foster.  This woman is one of the fountainheads of modern American cuisine awareness.

Classic American

–James Beard’s American Cookery.  A cookbook that I never tire of reading.  He’ll tell you how to make Hangtown Fry, a maple glazed doughnut, or Scrapple without batting an eye, with sheer pride of American food traditions.

–Masters of American Cookery, ed. Betty Fussell.  Here is a recent and reliable look at the emerging consciousness of food in the US.

Comprehensive  Cuisine

— Joy of Cooking (aka Joy), Irma Rombauer, Marian Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker.  There are many editions and iterations of this classic.  I have a double set of paperbacks, as well as a battered 1-volume version.  They all look like they have weathered a category 3 hurricane.

–Mastering, etc, Julia Child, Volumes I & II.  Ditto, category 4 hurricane.

Vegetarian

–Laurel’s Kitchen, Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, Bronwen Godfrey.  A brilliant, beloved, admired classic.

–The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook (Revised), ed. Louise Hagler.  A little-known, brilliant, beloved, admired classic.

Baking

–Beard on Bread, James Beard.  This is Beard at some of his best.  No wonder they named a national award after him.

–The Art of Baking, Paula Peck.  This volume deserves to be much more widely known and used by everyone.  This is where I learned how to make Genoise and Viennese specialties.

World Food

–Delightful Thai Cooking, Eng Tie Ang.  A very helpful and correct introduction to a favorite ethnic cuisine in the US and world food scene.

–Flavors of India, Madhur Jaffrey.  This is another one of my severely battered cookbooks.  It was a Christmas present from my parents many years ago, and I’m surprised the binding is still holding together.  This author has produced more fine books than I can count.

Reference

–Chilies to Chocolate:  Food the Americas Gave the World, Nelson Foster, Linda Cordell.  A brilliant analysis, critique and meditation on the role of Indigenous foods in world history.

–On Food and Cooking:  The Science & Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee.  One of the undisputed bibles of modern Gastronomy- the marriage of aesthetics, cuisine and science.

Desserts

–The Art of Viennese Pastry, Marcia Colman Morton.  This slim volume, written by the wife of a diplomat, harks back to the twilight of the Habsburgs, and a world before the onset of Post-modernity.

Gourmet’s Best Desserts, the ed.s of Gourmet

Food Writers

—Memories of My Life, Auguste Escoffier.  Brilliant European food history.

–As They Were, MFK Fisher.  Brilliant American food history.

Quirks

–The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, Alice B. Toklas.  Don’t make the brownies.

–The Little House Cookbook, Barbara M. Walker.  A comprehensive walk through the food world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, well worth reading.

You want to say Chocolate in Nahuatl (Aztec)?  This is SO cool:  http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=xocolatl

Xocolatl was always reserved for the royal court before the arrival of the Spanish.

Hueytlatoani Matecuhzoma, Rey de los Mexicas de 1502 a 1520- aka Montezuma, if you have read ‘Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook’- served this food of the gods in golden goblets.  It was definitely not your gamma’s can of Hersey’s Chocolate Syrup (remember those?).  “Cacao beans had been roasted, ground, then mixed with corn meal, vanilla, peppers, spices, and herbs.” This is actually more or less correct- yay for Betty Crocker.  And Betty also correctly notes that cacao beans served as currency in the primarily cashless economy of the Aztec empire.

I visited Teotihuacan a little over a year ago and was able to climb the Temple of the Sun with a friend from Fiji and a Maori woman visiting from New Zealand.  Those Aztecs knew what time it was and they made some pretty big clocks and calendars to keep everything on schedule.  They drank their chocolate out of solid gold goblets, which were probably melted down and are now probably adorning the alter of the cathedral in Barcelona or something.

Around the time of the Quincentennial (1992), Peruvian people on the other side of the Equator made a collective statement and demanded of Spain the approximately One Trillion dollars worth of silver alone that was stolen from a mountain in their ancestral domains.  Before Columbus arrived and so rudely interrupted everyone’s civilizations they had been engaging in marvelous, sophisticated agricultural development in the middle of the Amazonian region, terraforming the earth with terra preta.   Of course at the time all of Europe was primarily a gold-based economy, and the Far East was strictly silver, and had been for about 200-300 years already since the Dutch Bourse was founded.  Looking back a century or two before that, the Champagne Fairs had previously confirmed that China and India preferred to trade in silver rather than gold as the precious metal underpinning the economies of their numerous kingdoms and empires.

In this continent, the Aztecs could eat their currency if need be- and that’s an interesting contrast to King Midas, who was not able to eat the food he turned to gold with a touch of his hand.  Not very nutritious, plus it sits a bit heavy on the stomach.  But it was in part gold the reason Cortés showed up in the 1500’s and was introduced to chocolate and maize:  silver showed up on the radar of the Spanish court soon thereafter, and then the ravaging of South America began as well.

Chocolate is one of many foods that we Native American people have developed over the past 10,000 years or so, and which now constitute three-fifths of all crops in cultivation across the globe.  If you sit down to a conventional Thanksgiving dinner, you know what I mean:  Potatoes, corn or cornbread stuffing, cranberries, turkey, pumpkin pie, beans.  Yup that’s all Indigenous – these form part of our collective Native intangible assets, our cultural and intellectual histories.

Until “1492, Europeans had never tasted avocados, beans (lima, kidney, pea, shell, string and others), cacao (for chocolate), cassava, chicle (for chewing gum), chilies, corn, hickory nuts, jicama, maple syrup, manioc, papayas, peanuts, pecans, peppers, persimmons, pineapples, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, tapioca, tomatoes or vanilla. Nor had they worn clothes woven from long-fiber cotton. In all, Native Americans have contributed more than 300 food crops to the world.

“Native Americans in the central Mexican state of Puebla began collecting and domesticating wild plants about 7,000 to 9,000 years ago. By about 6,000 to 7,000 years ago about 10 percent of their food came from cultivated products; by about 5,400 years ago the amount ratcheted up to some 30 percent. Archaeological evidence indicates that by 5000 B.C., Native Americans began farming using indigenous agricultural practices as well as those learned from Mexican and Central American cultures.”  This is a pretty decent summary of the history and impact of Native foods on modern and post-modern human history.  http://www.allbusiness.com/agriculture-forestry-fishing-hunting/331083-1.html

Wikipedia has a more comprehensive examination of Native foods; and an excellent reference book I recommend is “Chilies to Chocolate:  Food the Americas Gave the World”, edited by Nelson Foster & Linda S. Cordell, University of Arizona Press, 1992.  Since that book appeared, another important book has since come to print, although its focus is not specifically on food.

“1491:  New Revelations of the Americas Before Columus” by Charles C. Mann, confirms all of this and additionally presents important new evidence of previously unknown agricultural practice in ancient South America.  “Having secured their food supply, Mesoamerican societies turned to intellectual pursuits.  In a millennium or less, a comparatively short time, they invented their own writing, astonomy, and mathermatics, including the zero.” — from “1491” (c) 2005 Knopt Press. – please see chapter 6 in Section II.

So back to Chocolate.  You want to show some love to your loved-one for Saint Valentine’s Day, and of course chocolate is the one of the holy trinity of Valentine’s Day traditions.  Chocolate, flowers and Valentine’s day cards.  It’s a little more elaborate than A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness,” (Omar Khayyam -1048-1131- a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer).  I don’t know, this could be a serious toss-up, depending on the wine and the Thou (wink).  Valentine was a Christian martyr and I’m still not completely clear on how Roman religious persecution and violence eventually got conflated with Cupid (who is a primordial god, son of Venus and Mercury- who knew?).

If you crave even more obscure origins of Valentine, go all the way back to Lupercalia, a fertility festival in the pre-Roman world:  “ Lupercalia was a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral festival, observed on February 15 to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia subsumed Februa, a possibly earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February its name.”  God I love Wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupercalia

So, eat some Godiva chocolates (you know, the lady who rides around naked on a horse), make a batch of fudge, paint your lover’s body with a little melted ganache- and connect the dots between ancient pre-America and ancient pre-Europe.   And thank whichever gods are responsible for giving chocolate to the whole world.

(image courtesy of http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://webhost.bridgew.edu/phayesboh/Clipart/aztec2.gif&imgrefurl=http://webhost.bridgew.edu/phayesboh/&usg=__24rybt6BnKgdQsxLCZ9EY3PXsq0=&h=420&w=419&sz=102&hl=en&start=18&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=wlq8U2gQCEwfVM:&tbnh=125&tbnw=125&prev=/images%3Fq%3Daztec%2Bclipart%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26um%3D1)