Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Lemonade for the Lawnboy - The Executives' Wives' Cookbook Committee" & "Corn - Meals & More" & "The Picnic Gourmet" - lemonade, chicken enchiladas and peaches with sweet cream cheese

Still Life: Mrs. Jonathan Hurlinger with martini glass

Date I made these recipes:  September 3, 2012 (Labor Day)

Lemonade for the Lawnboy – The Executives’ Wives’ Cookbook Committee by David W. Cook and Janet Letnes Martin
Published by:  Martin House Publications
ISBN:  978-1-886627-14-7
Recipe:  Mrs. Jonathan Hurlinger’s Thirst-Quenching Recipe for the Lawnboy –p. 5

CORN – Meals & More by Tastemaker-Award Winning Author Olwen Woodier
Published by:  A Garden Way Publishing Book Published by Storey Communications, Inc.
ISBN:  0-88266-456-5
Recipe:  Chicken Enchiladas – p. 78-79

The Picnic Gourmet by Joan Hemingway and Connie Maricich
Published by:  Vintage Books
© 1975, 1977; First Vintage Books Edition , June 1978
Recipe:  Peaches Stuffed with Sweet Almond Cream Cheese - 279

I don’t care if Labor Day typically signals the end of summer as we know it - when it’s time to make “Mrs. Jonathan Hurlinger’s Thirst-Quenching Recipe for the Lawnboy,” it’s time to make Mrs. Jonathan Hurlinger’s Thist-Quenching Recipe for the Lawnboy!

My friend, Lolo, gave me this hilarious cookbook, Lemonade for the Lawnboy – The Executives’ Wives’ Cookbook Committee, a while ago and I truly meant to make the lemonade recipe this summer but things got away from me.  So what if the temperature dipped down a bit by the time I made it?  When you’re thirsty, you’re thirsty and nobody appreciated it more than my own “lawnboy,” Andy.

This book is a total send-up of the classic society cookbook and by “society” I am referring to the Junior League cookbooks that have dotted the cookbook landscape for years now.  From Mrs. Biff Johnson to the fake Mrs. Jonathan Hurlinger, these ladies have submitted enough recipes to paper many a beach-front condo in Boca and then some while raising money for a good cause.  Good causes are a good thing.

Out of all the society ladies featured in this book, none drew my attention more than Mrs. J.H. who was, appropriately, pictured with her martini glass.  Aside from the fact that her green outfit would not look good against my skin tone, Mrs. J. H. and I could be twins as I do so love my martini.  I also think that the look on Mrs. J.H.’s face is quite similar to the look I wear when I am not amused, and lately people, I have not been amused.  (And this is why gin typically fixes everything.)  Lucky for me, Mrs. J.H’s lemonade saved the day.  It was simple, yet elegant and quite refreshing - quite.

By the way, here is my favorite description of Mrs. J.H –and funny how it describes me to a “t!” (This is from page 5 of Lemonade for the Lawnboy – The Executives’ Wives’ Cookbook Committee by David W. Cook II and Janet Letnes Martin.)

“…If that was not enough, the same week she threw a grand and most elegant birthday party for her dear friend, Mrs. Charles Chatterton.  Her devotion to details was unsurpassed, down to party favors of French crystal martini glasses etched with Mrs. Charles Chatterton’s favorite martini recipe.  Her brilliance and creativity is quite amazing.  It is no wonder she was chosen President of The Executives’ Wives’ Cookbook Committee.”

This lemonade paired quite well with my main course, Chicken Enchiladas.  Now people, I don’t know about you, but I expected this recipe to contain some corn seeing as how it came from a corn cookbook, but alas, no.  I re-read the recipe several times and even contemplated using frozen corn in the enchilada mixture but decided against it and instead opted for corn tortillas.  The book said I could make my own cornmeal pancakes but I had enough going on without having to pull another recipe together. 

While most of us are probably used to the “goopy” cheese-laden enchiladas served in most Mexican restaurants these days, this recipe didn’t call for cheese at all and that’s why I liked it, corn or no corn.  But the inclusion of this recipe in the (corn) cookbok, even if it was under “Ethnic Specialties,” still boggles the mind.

Last, but not least, was a (fresh) peaches dessert recipe taken from The Picnic Gourmet written by Joan Hemingway and Connie Maricich.  Joan Hemmingway is celebrated author Earnest Hemingway’s granddaughter.  (On my list of books to read is A Moveable Feast, written by “Papa” Hemingway in 1961 that recounts his days in Paris in the 1920’s and includes names and addresses of all his watering holes. (Somehow, this was one of the few Hemmingway books this English major did not read in high school or college.)

This book is divided into two parts.  Part one lists picnics by theme and contains menus for a Sunday Ski Picnic, a Boating Picnic (Oh darn, I forgot my boat-bummer) and an Italian Beach Picnic just to name a few.  The second half of the book contains recipe by category – soups, salads, fruit, etc.  As the title Picnic Gourmet suggests, this book does not contain your average Labor Day cook-out recipes of beans and weenies although many people would consider that “high end” picnic food if the beans were a mix of heirloom beans and the weenies were fancy stuffed sausages.  But although the recipes sound high end, many of them are pretty easy, like the recipe for Peaches Stuffed with Sweet Almond Cream Cheese.  Whew. 

All in all, this was a great meal to make on Labor Day and that’s a good thing as neither Mrs. Jonathan Hurlinger nor I like fuss or muss when it comes to holiday entertaining.

Mrs. Jonathan Hurlinger’s Thirst-Quenching Recipe for the Lawnboy – serving size not listed
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
5 ounces of reconstituted lemon juice
1 ¾ cups ice water

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Chill for 3 to 4 hours.  Pour the mixture and the ice water into a tall pitcher and add the lemon juice.  Cut the lemon into thin wedges and put them in a pitcher.  Stir the mixture and pour it into chilled glasses.  Add ice to each glass.

Chicken Enchiladas – yield:  4 servings
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
¼ cup chicken stock, tomato juice, or water
6 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons chunky Mexican sauce (salsa) (mild or hot)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (3 cups)
1 3 ½ -ounce can green chili peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ vegetable oil
8 6-inch tortillas
1 ½ cups sour cream (optional)
¼ cup chopped chives or scallion greens (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Put the chicken breasts in a skillet, pour in the stock, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Reserve 1/3 cup of the liquid.  Thinly slice the chicken breast.  Blend the cream cheese, reserved liquid, and Mexican sauce together.  Stir in the chicken strips.

While the chicken is poaching, heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet and saut√© the onion and garlic for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, chili pepper, and coriander.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

Heat the ¼ cup oil in a skillet and drop each tortilla into the hot fat for about 10 seconds.  This is not to cook them but to make them pliable.  (Note:  this did not work well at all for the corn tortillas as they were too soft.  My guess is that this method would work well for flour tortillas.)

Remove immediately to a baking dish measuring approximately 12” x 9” x 2” and spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture along the center of each tortilla.  Roll up and place seam-side down in the dish.  Repeat until all tortillas and the filling have been used up.

Spoon the tomato sauce over the top and bake for 15 minutes.

Mix the sour cream and chives and spoon over each cooked tortilla.

Peaches Stuffed with Sweet Almond Cream Cheese – serves 6
3 large peaches
½ pound cream cheese
3 good macaroons, crumbled in a blender (or three biscotti or other “hard” cookie)
1 teaspoon ground almonds (grind in blender)
Peach pulp from seed cavities
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Choose large ripe peaches, and scrub the outside skin.  Cut each peach in half, take out the seed, and enlarge the seed cavity with a spoon.  Reserve the peach pulp taken out.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.  [If going on a picnic] Pack the peaches and filling separately.  To serve, place a teaspoonful of filling on each peach center.  Garnish and decorate the plate of filled peach halves with fresh mint leaves. 

Ann’s Note:  this last line just makes me hoot:  [mint leaves] “These can usually be picked on the trail or at the picnic site.”  Hahahahaha……Hardly.

**Both Corn and The Picnic Gourmet were purchased at the Bloomington Crime Prevention Association Sale held in June.

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