Monday, February 18, 2008

"The Casserole Cookbook" by James Beard & "The Seducer's Cookbook" by Mimi Sheraton - Veal and Noodles and Apple-Pecan Tart

Date I made these recipes: February 17, 2008

The Casserole Cookbook by Jim Beard (as in the legendary James Beard)
Published by: The Bobbs-Merril Company, Inc.
© 1955
Recipe: Veal and Noodles – p. 25

The Seducer’s Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton
Published by: Random House
© 1962, 1963
Recipe: Apple-Pecan Tart - p. 58-59

Valentine’s Day this year found me working days and my husband working nights. I left him cupcakes and a card for when he came home and he left me cookies and a card for when I woke up. It was actually kind of fun—sort of like Santa coming only in February.

So dinner had to wait until the weekend when we were both home. I don’t know why I pulled out Jim Beard’s Casserole book but I just did although I’ll argue that a veal casserole is slightly more romantic than say, tater tot casserole.

As to dessert, I thought the Seducer’s Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton would be a good place to look for a recipe although the chapter it came from - How to Get Him to Marry You - is a moot point seeing as how we already passed Go on that almost 17 years ago. Recipes in this section, however, were a far better choice than The Gay Divorcee and Can’t We Be Friends.

On the “how cosmic is that?” front, I had just finished making out a shopping list that included Damson Plum Jam when a neighbor popped over to check out our kitchen (we remodeled years ago and she wanted to see what we had done). As I was showing her the panty, I opened the door and danged if right there, front and center, was a jar of Damson Plum Jam, given to us by friends who now live in Maine. I was meant to make this tart!

As to the recipes themselves, they were good but not great, certainly not the level of a seductive meal. I never anticipated the difficulty in finding a simple veal cutlet in a city of this size but we went to a couple of stores before finally settling on veal stew meat. I cut down some of the pieces so as to make them stretch as buying three pounds of veal was out of the question at $12.00 a pound. So we had ourselves noodles and veal instead of veal and noodles! Were I to do this recipe again, I would also substitute small, white onions with diced onions as the white onions tend to run on the large size and therefore get picked out of the recipe.

As to the tart, it was good although I thought the topping was a little heavy for the thinly sliced apples resting below it but it didn’t affect the taste at all. I forgot to buy pecans but my husband is not a big fan of nuts so it all worked out in the end.

Veal and Noodles - Serves 8
1 pound noodles
1 pound small white onions (or substitute sliced or diced onions)
1 can condensed chicken broth
1 can white wine
1 package frozen peas
**note, I had to double the broth and wine in order to make the 2 cups necessary to finish the dish
3 pounds veal (I used 1.5 pounds)
Flour for coating the veal
Dry mustard, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper to season the veal
Grated lemon rind, enough to coat veal slices
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water about 9 minutes until tender, not mushy. Peel 1 pound small white onions and boil until tender in 1 can condensed chicken broth and an equal amount of white wine. Skim out onions, reserving broth (note, you will need 2 cups by the time you are done; if you fall short, add broth and/or wine to the pan).

Dredge well 3 pounds of veal, sliced very thin, in flour seasoned with dry mustard, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Brown the veal well in fat in a skillet. When browned and drained on absorbent paper, sprinkle each slice with grated lemon rind. Cook 1 package of frozen peas according to instructions.

In a large, shallow casserole place layers of veal, noodles, onions and peas.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in top of a double-boiler then blend in 6 tablespoons of flour. Add 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of the onion broth. Stir constantly until creamy smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour this mixture over the layers in casserole and bake at 375 until bubbly – about 45 minutes.

Apple-Pecan Tart - serving size not given
4 apples (firm but not too sour)
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup Damson Plum Jam
1 tablespoon rum
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
½ lemon rind, finely grated
1 tablespoon flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups breadcrumbs, preferably made from light pumpernickel
1/3 cup finely ground pecans
2 egg whites

Peel, quarter and core apples and slice into thin lengths. Put 1 ½ tablespoons butter into a 10” skillet and when it bubbles, add half the apple slices. Saute until apples are golden brown on both sides and are firm but tender. Put them into a buttered 8” baking dish about 1 ½” to 2” deep. Add another 1 ½ tablespoons butter to the skillet, sauté the remaining apple slices and put them into the baking dish when they are done.

Rub the jam through a sieve into the skillet and add the rum. Cook slowly for 4 or 5 minutes so that the jam melts, but be careful that it does not scorch. Add this mixture to the apples and turn it through them gently.

Cream 3 tablespoons butter with the sugar in a mixing bowl, add yolks, lemon rind, cinnamon and flour and mix lightly before adding breadcrumbs and ground nuts. Add salt to the egg whites, beat until stiff, and fold into egg-crumb mixture. (Pet peeve: how MUCH salt? She doesn’t say so I threw in a very small amount. I would have liked to have known what effect this would have on the mixture but alas, it will remain a mystery).

Spoon mixture onto apples and spread evenly over them with a spatula. Bake in 325 oven for 40-50 minutes or until the topping is a deep golden brown.

This tart is best made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator overnight. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving and/or whipped cream.

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