Monday, August 2, 2010

"The Madison Avenue Cookbook For People Who Can't Cook and Don't Want Other People to Know It" - Eggs Benedict "Arnold"

Date I made this recipe: August 1, 2010

The Madison Avenue Cookbook For People Who Can’t Cook And Don’t Want Other People To Know It by Alan Koehler
Published by: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
© 1962
Recipe – Eggs Benedict “Arnold” – p. 33

The other day, a friend was telling me about a problem she was having with a neighbor’s rooster. Now this would be interesting anyway but the fact that she lives in urban St. Paul (where roosters should be banned but apparently aren’t) made it all the more so. That, however, is not the point of the story and so moving on…I couldn’t resist emailing her the lyrics to Green Acres where Lisa Douglas sings “Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue” to her lawyer-turned-farmer husband, Oliver.

This then reminded me of another famous New York City street, 5th Avenue, mentioned in the song, Easter Parade (from the movie with the same name) sung by Judy Garland.

But as fun as these two upper-East side streets are, there’s nothing like Mad Ave – Madison Avenue.

Besides being quite the fun shopping street, lined with stores from every famous designer worldwide, Madison Avenue is the famous, or perhaps infamous, home to “Mad Men” – the name given to the advertising men whose agencies basically owned the street in the late 50’s and 60’s.

Mad Men is also one of the most popular TV shows ever and people, I have never waited in anticipation for a Sunday night to come around so much in my entire life (remember the days when we used to whine about it being Sunday night because we knew Monday morning was right around the corner?).

Mad Men is one sharply written show and I think it gives a very accurate (if not naughty) view of life in the 60’s overall and life in advertising in the 60’s most specifically.

And can I tell you how pleased I was to recognize two famous advertising agencies when they were mentioned by their acronyms in the last two episodes - Y&R (Young & Rubicam) and JWT (J. Walters Thompson)? Well, once upon a time I was really into advertising so maybe those famous ad agencies stuck in my brain, who knows? (I can still sing advertising jingles going back to the early 60’s).

The author of this tiny cookbook, Alan Koehler, was himself a “mad” man although it says in his bio that he worked on 5th rather than Madison. I can’t feel like that was the equivalent of being a country mouse to a city mouse back then but maybe not. (Although I can’t say as I ever heard a comparable term for Mad Men used to describe 5th Avenue advertising people!). (By the way, the subtitle of this book “For People Who Can’t Cook and Don’t Want Other People to Know It” is a little misleading because it seems to me that those who worked on Mad Ave probably didn’t give a damn that they couldn’t cook nor did they care who knew it!)

One recipe that I came close to making but didn’t was “Shell Steak in the Bag Ogilvy.” Now, he doesn’t tell you that the “Ogilvy” in this recipe is none other than David Ogilvy, one of the most well-known “mad men” ever but I knew that—again, I seem to be a walking ad agency historian as of late! (So maybe, just maybe, I should suit up in a very cool 60’s dress I have and see if I can’t get a spot on the show and maybe give Peggy Olson a run for her money to boot?!)

As yummy as Mr. Ogilvy’s steak sounded, I chose a very delicious egg recipe, one that has you basically scrambling the eggs in a mixture of cream cheese, butter and half and half—in other words, a light recipe! It was really quite good and I would definitely make it for a brunch—perhaps with some of my Mad Men viewing friends. (I should tell you that when I purchased this book a few months ago, I had no idea of the connection to the advertising world. I just thought it sounded like a fun book about a fun street in NYC—silly me!)

The only complaint I have about this recipe is that I couldn’t imagine eating it while sipping my usual and customary martini. Eggs and gin just don’t go together. So I did what any self-respecting Mad Men viewer would do and finished the eggs, allowed a little time to digest and then made a martini! I think I was channeling my inner Joan who is so adept at problem-solving (while filling out a dress like nobody’s beeswax!).

Eggs Benedict Arnold (so named because instead of poaching the eggs, you scramble them, and instead of ham you use sausage. Living life on the edge…) – Serves 4
1 package cream cheese
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup light cream (Half and Half)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cracked pepper
¼ tsp. garlic powder
6 eggs
2 tbsps. sherry (I used dry sherry)
Chives or parsley
4 English muffins
12 little sausages (optional)

In a double boiler, melt the cream cheese and the butter. Once melted add the cup of light cream and mix well. Note that the author suggests that you scald the milk but since milk is pasteurized these days, heating it up will do nicely.

Add to this mixture the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Break the eggs gently into the sauce and let set briefly. Before the whites are firm, stir the eggs into the mixture and add the sherry. Note: this took longer than I thought—I didn’t want the egg whites to set completely but I got them as close as possible and then stirred.

Continue to stir the mixture until thickened.

The recipe says to serve this on top of toasted English muffins but I used little sausage patties (which I browned) and the put the eggs on top of the sausage which sat on the top of the muffin (which sat on the house that Jack built) and then topped that whole concoction with parsley!

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