Monday, October 22, 2007

"Rodney Dangerfield's 'I Couldn't Stand My Wife's Cooking, So I Opened a Restaurant'" & "Morey Amsterdam's Benny Cooker Crock Book for Drinkers"

Date I made these recipes: October 21, 2007

Rodney Dangerfield’s “I Couldn’t Stand My Wife’s Cooking, So I Opened a Restaurant!!” – Respectable Recipes Spiced with Humor by Rodney Dangerfield
© 1972
Published by: Jonathan David Publishers
Recipe: Whiskey Wafers – p. 171

Morey Amsterdam’s Benny Cooker Crock Book for Drinkers by Morey Amsterdam
© 1977
Published by: Henry Regnery Company
Recipe: Chicken au Grand Mariner – p. 53-54

Well who knew that out of 800 or so cookbooks, two of them would be written by comedians. Everybody wants to get in the cooking act!

Depending on how old you are, you will either know Rodney Dangerfield from seeing him on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson delivering his famous line “I don’t get no respect” or you know him from movies such as Caddyshack or Back to School, both favorite movies of the younger set in the 80’s. At one point, Rodney really did open up a restaurant/comedy club although who knows if it was really because he couldn’t stand his wife’s cooking.

And then there’s Morey Amsterdam. Fans of the Dick Van Dyke Show will know him as the hilariously funny Buddy Sorrell. When he, Dick and Sally (played by Rose Marie) got going that show really cooked with Crisco! Some might remember Morey and Rose Marie appearing on Hollywood Squares together after the Dick Van Dyke show ended in 1966 where they were just as funny as when they were on a TV sitcom.

Oddly enough, both recipes selected contained alcohol. While every recipe in Morey’s book contained alcohol, not all of Rodney’s did but it was just by chance that I decided to make the incredibly delicious Whiskey Wafers. Okay, maybe the booze is what attracted me to the recipe in the first place…but still…. Both books also contained a ton of jokes and it would be remiss of me not to include a couple from the masters of comedy. Don’t groan—some of them are somewhat dated – but they’re a nice compliment to the recipes, which were mighty tasty if I do say so myself…hic! (Kidding!)

From Morey’s book: “Judge: I hope you understand that you are here for drinking. Defendant: Okay, Judge. Get the bottle and let’s get started.” (I’m an attorney and I can assure you that somebody somewhere has probably said the exact thing to a judge. Don’t get me started….)

From Morey’s book: “Doctor: I can’t find anything wrong with you, Mr. Jones. It must be due to drinking. Boozer: Okay, Doc, I’ll come back when you’re sober.”

From Rodney’s book: “I’ll tell you again, I don’t like fancy restaurants! The other day I tried a new restaurant. It looked kind of homey. It was called: YEE OLDE COFFEE SHOPPEE. I said to the waitress, “Do you know what I WANTEE?”

From Rodney’s book: “I’ve always been unlucky in any kind of restaurant. I remember one night I had dinner in a restaurant and some guy stole my wallet. I came home and told my wife. I said to her, “I was in a restaurant and some guy stole my wallet. I’m depressed!” She said, “That makes two of you. You and the guy who found it!”

Whiskey Wafers - makes about a dozen wafers
1/2 cup molasses (unsulfured)
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups cake flour
Dash of salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ginger
½ jigger whiskey

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stir butter into heated molasses (boiling point) and mix until butter is melted. Combine flour, salt, sugar and ginger and add gradually. Add whiskey and mix thoroughly. Spoon out small amounts onto greased cookie sheet, allowing 3 inches between each. Bake about 10 minutes.

Notes: these ended up being more like a candy than a cookie. Also, when they say allow 3 inches between each one, they mean it! I didn’t leave enough space and ended up with one great big wafer at the end.

Chicken au Grand Marnier – Serves 4
1 disjointed frying chicken 2 ½ to 3 pounds
½ cup orange sections
½ cup Grand Marnier
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ cup large sliced frozen peaches
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon basil
1 clove chopped garlic
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ tablespoon vegetable shortening

Combine in a saucepan orange sections, Grand Mariner, sugar, peaches, vinegar, nutmeg, basil and garlic. Cook slowly about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile roll chicken in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and brown in vegetable shortening in a heavy skillet. Remove chicken from skillet. Pour off the shortening retaining the residue in the bottom.

Return chicken to the skillet and add contents of saucepan. Cover and simmer about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"The 'I Love Lucy' Cookbook" - Hotel Royale Steak au Poivre

Date I made this recipe: September 30, 2007

The “I Love Lucy” Cookbook by Sarah Key, Vicki Wells and Jennifer Newman Brazil
Published by: Abbeville Press Publishers
ISBN: 1-55859-855-3
© 1994
Recipe: Hotel Royale Steak au Poivre – p. 8

Three weeks ago on September 16, 2007, the 59th Emmy Awards were broadcast. I intended to make this dish that evening but one thing led to another and well, I made it this past weekend. We were busy on Emmy weekend, the following weekend we were in Lambeau Field watching my Packers play (!) and so it fell to this weekend to make the dish.

Although I watched the broadcast, I can tell you very few names of those who won, seeing as how I tend to watch more cable than network TV. But if asked, I can bore you to tears with scenes and lines of my favorite comedy show of all time, I Love Lucy.

I Love Lucy premiered in 1951 and in 1952 received its first nomination for Best Situation Comedy. It didn’t win that year but won in 1953 and 1954. Lucille Ball won Best Comedienne of 1953, which is equivalent to today’s Best Actress-Comedy, as well as Best Actress-Continuing Performance of 1956, and Vivian Vance who played Ethel Mertz won Best Supporting Actress in 1954.

This cookbook, which really isn’t a cookbook per se as a walk down memory lane of the show, contains some quotes that are just hilarious. On page 45, for instance, the authors have a quote from one of my all-time favorite episodes – Lucy Does a TV Commercial. In the episode, Lucy has to demonstrate Vitameatavegamin, an health syrup that is loaded with alcohol, such that she becomes quite drunk the longer the demonstration goes on:

“and get a great big bottle of Mightameatamigamin. Remember that name, Mightavatameatymat.”

But my favorite line from that episode was: “Are you unpoopular? Do you pop out at parties?” when she should have said “Are you unpopular? Do you poop out at parties?” Ah, poor Lucy—so close to making it in show business and yet so far.

To this day, I record I Love Lucy episodes on TV Land and still howl with laughter at most of them such as “The Operetta;” “The Indian Show; “Equal Rights;” Lucy Learns to Drive (“Who knew you couldn’t make a U-turn in the Holland Tunnel?”); Lucy’s Mother-in-Law (where she pantomimes that they’re having chicken and rice for dinner to Ricky’s Cuban mother who doesn’t speak English) and Ethel’s Home Town (“Ethel Mae Potter, we never forgot her”), just to name a few.

This recipe is meant to compliment the episodes where Ricky, Lucy, Fred and Ethel went to Europe on a band tour. Of course they stopped in Paris and of course, the episodes were hilarious. This recipe, however, is pretty staid and typical of what you’d find in a French bistro. My only caution is to not over-poivre (pepper) the thing. I can only imagine what Lucy would have done with that!

Hotel Royale Steak au Poivre – makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns (see note below)
4 boneless strip steaks (8 ounces) trimmed of all fat
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2/3 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cognac
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Note: we cut the recipe in half as two steaks cost about $22. The sauce seemed to work fine cut in half.

Spread cracked pepper on a plate. Press pepper into both sides of each steak. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Saute steaks in hot oil over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked to desired doneness. Remove steaks to a warm serving platter and discard any oil in the pan. Add the remaining tablespoons oil to pan with shallots. Saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add cream and salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add cognac and thyme sprigs. Continue to simmer over medium heat for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add vinegar and adjust seasoning. Pour sauce over steaks. Garnish with whole peppercorns and sprigs of thyme if desired. Traditionally, steak au poivre is served with potatoes and watercress.

Note: To crack pepper, spread whole peppercorns on work surface. Press with the bottom of a heavy pan until peppercorns are crushed. Precracked pepper is also available.

Ann’s Notes: Be very careful that your pan doesn’t get too hot and the steak doesn’t stick. This happened to me and so when I flipped the steaks after 4 minutes on one side, I cooked them for 2 minutes instead of an additional four so as not to have them be too crusty. I like my steaks medium rare and they came out perfect.

Also, although the recipe calls for adding the shallots to the pan along with the remaining oil, I used a clean pan; the browned bits didn’t scrape up very well and I didn’t want my shallots to end up as one brown glob. But it’s your call and if you don’t get the pan too hot (although I swear mine was on medium-high), you might be just fine.