Monday, March 31, 2014

"Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook" by Ann B. Davis (Alice, the housekeeper) - Fillmore Flank Steak with Garlic-Ginger Sauce

Date I made this recipe:  March 23, 2014

Alice's Brady Bunch™ Cookbook by Ann B. Davis (Alice) with Ron Newcomer and Diane Smolen; Foreword by Sherwood Schwartz (Creator of "The Brady Bunch")
Published by:  Rutledge Hill Press
ISBN:  1-55853-307-9; © 1994
Purchased at Succotash (a very cool retro store), St. Paul
Recipe:  Fillmore (Junior High!) Flank Steak with Garlic-Ginger Sauce – p. 65

F-F-Fil, l-l-lmo, o-o-ore, Fillmore Junior High!

So here's how this all went down:  I belong to a very cool Facebook group called Classic TV:  Television Yesterday where members discuss popular TV shows from 1927-1977. At the end of last week, one of the members posted that he had just received an autographed photo from actress Ann B. Davis who played the housekeeper, Alice, on The Brady Bunch™.  And of course I had Alice's Brady Bunch™ Cookbook at the ready and so I flipped through it and of course just had to have the Fillmore Flank Steak with Garlic-Ginger Sauce because...

...for whatever reason, this episode and this cheer (see above and below) stuck in my head such that as soon as I saw "Fillmore," I was transported back to Season 3, Episode 5 – 1971 – "My Sister, Benedict Arnold."

In this episode (the details of which I had long forgotten – except for the school cheer), Greg is all mad because he was beat out for the basketball team by rival Warren Mulaney.  And of course, sister Marcia ("Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!") happened to be dating Warren.  Greg wanted Marcia to quit dating Warren but she refused.  To get back at her, Greg brought Kathy, a woman who beat out Marcia for the cheerleading squad, over to the house and had Kathy perform the Fillmore Junior High cheer over and over and over again:  F-F-Fil, l-l-lmo, o-o-ore, Fillmore Junior High! 

Now for some reason, I thought it was Jan who did the cheer but silly me – I was mixing and matching my episodes; Jan did try out to be a cheerleader in Season 3, Episode 10, but it was Kathy who led the way with in this episode.   But can I tell you how chuffed I was that I remembered the cheer after all these years?  Answer: Quite chuffed.

And lo, though I remembered this cheer (word for word), color me surprised that Alice has a last name and it was Nelson.  Who knew?  (Not I because I had to look it up!) I doubt whether I am the only one who had to do so—I mean, she was always "Alice" just like the singer Adele is Adele, Madonna is Madonna and Pink is Pink!  Alice was so awesome that she didn't need no stinking last name.

And really, wasn't Alice the coolest housekeeper ever?  (Well, prior to Alice and The Brady Bunch™, Hazel (TV show) was my favorite housekeeper; that show ran from 1961-1966. I just loved it when she said "Mr. B!"). I wanted Alice to come to my house.  Alice was a sport; Alice was fun; Alice loved her job...and she loved Sam, The Butcher (yes, capital "T," capital "B").  And what's more, Alice could cook!  Well, sort of.  As she said in the cookbook:

"I hope this doesn't destroy any illusions, but cooking on television usually has to be faked because of the time and intercutting and camera angles and whatnot.  However, one does like to make it look as legit as possible.  Unless something specific was indicated in the script, I tried to be cooking something generic that would keep me in one place and give me something, like stirring, to do – I did a lot of stirring over 117 episodes.

The stove was actually hooked up, so I liked to have something in a saucepan that would steam and that I could taste or add salt and pepper and stuff to.  Dinty Moore stew worked I found.  In later years, when my acting was less pure, boiling water worked just as well."

Exactly!  It was all done in the interest of acting and given all the Brady shenanigans, it's no wonder Alice didn't really have time to cook.  This book includes a lot of little sidebars about the cast, the script, the dialog and of course, the recipes.  Many are named for characters or episodes like "Tightened Braces Tomato Soup" (remember when Marcia got braces?) or "Peter's Volcanic Mushroom Sauce" (Remember Peter's science project?  I bet they were cleaning that volcanic mess off the set for years!).  Still, tempting as they all were, it was the "Fillmore Flank Steak with Garlic-Ginger Sauce" or it was nothing at all.  You won't be disappointed.

By the way, can I just say that I so wanted to have that Jack and Jill bathroom that the boys and girls shared on that show?  So cool—and so 70's!  And then I also wanted all of Marcia's cool clothes.  Then I seriously wanted Jan to quit whining ("Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!!") but other than that (and perhaps a few other things)....

By the way, actress Ann B. Davis will be 88 years old on May 3rd – you go, Ann! 

Fillmore Flank Steak with Garlic-Ginger Sauce – makes about 6 servings
1 cup olive oil (Ann's Note:  This is a bit much and I had to pour some off)
8 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh ginger root
5 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 white onion, minced
1 ¼ cups dry white wine
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon leaf oregano
¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 2 ½-pound flank steak

In a medium-size skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, ginger, and carrots, and sauté for 10 minutes.  Stir in the onion and sauté 2 minutes more.  Add the wine, water, and oregano, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Rub sesame oil into both sides of the steak.  Broil for 5 minutes per side.  Cut the steak diagonally into thin slices.  Arrange the steak on a platter and spoon the sauce over.

Ann's Note:  If I had six kids, a husband and a wife and a dog to cook for, I doubt I would be as anal about mincing and chopping as I am but I find it to be the most relaxing thing ever.  I'm certainly not Food Network worthy, but I'm no slouch, either!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Irish Cooking - Classic and Modern Recipes" - Beef in Guinness for St. Patrick's Day!

Date I made this recipe:  March 16, 2016 (for St. Patrick's Day)

Irish Cooking – Classic and Modern Recipes by Ethel Minogue
Published by:  Shooting Star Press
ISBN:  1-57335-488-0
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Store
Recipe:  Beef in Guinness – p. 61

For once I was prepared.  For once I got a one-day jump on St. Patrick's Day.  And then like that, it came, it went, there were parades, there was drinking, there were likely hangovers (come on – St. Patrick's Day on a Monday?  That's asking for it.) – in other words, business as usual.

And so, our Irish repast:  beef plus beer = the perfect combination?  I don't like lamb so we didn't have lamb, I can take or leave corned beef (I adore it in hash but otherwise not so much) and watery cabbage?  No.  But I have to say that although the dish as a whole was great (the beef was ridiculously tender), I had issues with the – dare I say it – Guinness.

That's right.  I had issues with the Irish national beer.  So good thing I'm not even one teeny tiny drop Irish or I'd likely be bag-piped out of my clan, right?

Here's the thing:  I am not a beer drinker.  I never was but then I have several valid reasons why, namely Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Hamms, Schlitz and Blatz (not to be confused with "Blitz(ed)" as in something many people were after a kegger. These were the beers of my generation and my parent's generation and they are all barley "pop" beverages with a tech of alcohol in them and they smell.  Honestly.  If any of you ever smelled a can of opened beer that was left out after a party, you know what I'm talking about.

Plus, beer can lead to beer guts and I don't do beer guts.  I do wine...or is that whine?  So college keggers were not for me (but trash can parties were) Shall I tell you though, that the popular beer substitute when I was in college – i.e. wine – was also absolute swill?  I cannot even think about a bottle of Boones Farm without shuddering.

But happily for most beer drinks, the beer landscape has now changed and not only are we importing more beers like Guinness but dark beers of all kinds are roaring to the top of the beer sales charts.  And I don't mind a sip or two of a good dark beer (like Guinness, I'll admit) but I don't want a whole glass.  My husband, on the other hand, is all about dark beers and so of course he liked this recipe a lot.  Sadly, although the meal itself was divine, all I could taste was the slightly bitter flavor of the Guinness and for that reason, and that reason alone, I had to slightly ding this recipe.  Perhaps the next time I should have the beer with the food...or just skip the's unclear.

And so speaking of food, I am not a picky eater but since I have a major list of Irish food do's or don'ts, I automatically eliminated oh, a good 75% of the recipes in this book.  Also not on my dinner table this time around?  "Hare Pudding" (p. 83) – ew.  Even Andy wrinkled his nose at this one.   And what the...what?  "Seaweed Salad"? (p. 87) What am I, a mermaid?  And alright, "Seed Cake" in the dessert section (p. 111) doesn't sound that appetizing but the "seed" in question here is caraway seed, not birdseed as you might imagine.  And do not laugh, because years ago, I almost bought a cookbook intended for our friends, the birds.  The shop really needed to move that item to another section but whatever.

"Seed Cake" aside though, the dessert section was looking mighty appealing and God Bless the Irish, almost every single recipe contained booze.  Talk about my kind of cookbook! But just having made a Caramel Custard Pie for Pi Day (03.14.14), I was in the mood for something more substantial and since I like beef and Andy likes beer, we were golden with this recipe for "Beef in Guinness."

My only addition to this otherwise yummy and hearty stew (the taste of the beer aside) was potatoes and quite frankly, I was amazed that an Irish recipe didn't call for them up front – Irish Potato famine, anyone?  I added two peeled and quartered Idaho potatoes during the last 30 minutes of cooking time and they were perfect.  And the beef I bought (chuck steak) was so tender it was ridiculous.  This recipe calls for "braising" beef and a quick Google search lists many type of options for beef suitable for braising (quick sear the beef then simmer in liquid for a few hours until tender).

And so there you have it, another successful St. Patrick's Day meal made by someone with not a single, solitary drop of Irish blood in them but with perhaps a wee bit of alcohol – a happy cook makes a happy meal!

Beef in Guinness – serving size not indicated but probably 6
2-3 lb beef for braising
Seasoned flour (Ann's Note:  I used salt and pepper and that's it but you could likely season however you wanted.)
Oil or dripping
2 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, whole
3 carrots, sliced
1 large bunch of fresh herbs (Ann's Note:  all I had on hand was parsley)
Salt and pepper
Beef broth (see Basic recipe) (Ann's Note:  buy a large can or carton and add to the pot per the directions i.e. enough to cover the beef)
2 bottles of Guinness (Ann's Note:  or more!  Two bottles for the recipe...two bottles for the cook)
1 oyster per person (optional) (Ann's Note:  option not taken!)

Cut the beef into large chunks and dip in seasoned flour.  Fry in hot oil or dripping.  Fry and brown the onions and garlic.

Place the meat, onions and other vegetables in a casserole dish.  Add the herbs and seasoning, and cover with beef broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over low heat for 1 ½ hours.  Add the Guinness, bring to a boil and simmer for another 30 minutes.  (Ann's Note:  at this point, I added two quartered Idaho potatoes to the pot.)

Lift the meat out of the sauce with a slotted spoon and serve; reduce the sauce to half the quantity over a high heat.  Pour it over the beef again, season to taste, and add the oysters, if liked. 

Serve with wedges of white crusty bread with mustard and a pint of Guinness.

"Pie Shell Creations from Pet-Ritz" - Caramel Custard Pie for "Pi" Day - 03.14.14

Date I made this recipe:  March 16, 2014 (to commemorate Pi Day 03.14.14)

Pie Shell Creations from Pet-Ritz®
Published by:  Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen/Meredith Publishing Services
© 1979
Purchased at Hopkins (Hennepin County Library) Library Sale
Recipe: Carmel Custard Pie – p. 60

Folks, if not for the Internet, would any of us have realized that Pi Day was upon us?  I think not. 

Actually, Pi Day was discussed on my local radio station's morning show (The Current – 89.3 FM – the most fabulous station ever!) but you know how that goes, right?  You're waking up, you turn on the radio, you hear announcers talking but it all sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher and then you think you hear something about "pie."  Okay...sure...and then maybe if you're me, you doze off for a bit and forget you heard any of this...

....until you sit down at your computer and you pull up the local news and there it is – Pi Day.  A day set aside to celebrate a mathematical constant – 3.14.  Wow—are we a great country, or what?

Now if you are mathematically challenged like me, "pi" – the number – means nothing.  It's not like I've ever walked around with that knowledge stuck in my head.  3.14?  Yeah, what about it? 

But when you talk about "pie" as in an incredible edible, then we're onto something.  This is language I can speak. This is a concept I can retain. This – the baking of "pie" – is something I can do.  And so I did.

And so to the bookshelves I went and I have to say that the main reason I selected this book above all others was that it is musty and I wanted it off my shelf and into storage ASAP to avoid further allergic moments.  That and the fact it was taking up shelf space; recipes were secondary.

What I love about this book – and this will crush many bakers, including my husband – is that I didn't have to prepare the dough.  My husband, Andy, loves to make pies.  I do not love them as much.  They're not hard, but there is an art form to making the perfect crust and I wasn't in the mood for a tutorial (or more likely, a crash and burn).  And so when the recipe ingredients told me to buy a frozen pie crust, I was all over that one.  And then pre-bake the crust for 6 minutes – what?  How easy is that?

The next (easy) decision I made was what kind of buy to make.  Andy tends to like sweet pies (as opposed to savory) and he loves custard (crème brule, flan, etc.) and loves caramel and so decision made. Other than the pie crust, all I had to do was purchase a can of evaporated milk and that was that!

 Now just because Pet-Ritz mass-produces these pie crusts, doesn't mean they don't pay attention to the details of making a pie.  The first couple pages are instructions for making the (perfect) single crust pie; double crust pie; lattice topped pie; graham cracker crust pie and so on.  There's even a section for Microwave (pie) cooking – a first for me!  And then there are instructions for keeping pie fresh and this is always good to know.  A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a fresh blueberry pie.  For whatever reason, I didn't think it needed refrigeration and so it sat out on my counter for a few days.  You should know that  this was not a good idea as my stomach just roiled and I was sick for the rest of the day after eating a very small slice.  Ah – life's lessons learned!  (Never turn your back on the ocean and never trust a pie that's been sitting out!)

Once you get past all the preliminary instructions, then you can knock yourself out with any number of recipes in this book – pot pie, taco pie, quiche, turnovers – you name it.

I'm glad we went with the simple and easy approach – as easy as...pi(e).  I can't say the texture was to my liking but the taste was great.  I find custard pies to be challenging as you don't want them too underdone but you also don't want to move in the direction of them looking too eggy.  This one was close to that but we didn't care as the caramel was fabulous.  And you can be sure that this sucker went into the refrigerator shortly after cooling.  Safety first, folks!

So Happy Pi(e) Day, everyone!

Caramel Custard Pie
1 Pet-Ritz "Deep Dish" Pie Crust Shell
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tall can (13 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
2/3 cup water
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter

Prebake unpricked pie crust shell on preheated cookie sheet in 450 degree oven for 6 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Reduce temperature to 400.

Combine eggs, evaporated milk, and water.  Combine brown sugar and flour; cut in butter until crumbly.  Add milk mixture; beat well.  Pour into partially baked pie shell.  Bake on preheated cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until knife inserted just off center comes out clean.  Cool.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Southern Living - The Creole Cookbook" - Ham Jambalaya for Mardis Gras!

Date I made this recipe:  March 9, 2014 (for Mardi Gras)

Southern Living – The Creole Cookbook
Published by:  Southern Living/Oxmoor House, Inc.
© 1972
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Store
Recipe:  Ham Jambalaya – p. 63 – Recipe submitted by Mrs. J.R. Hightower, Itta Bena, Mississippi

Fat Tuesday already?  The month of March is just stacked with holidays and I'm bracing for the onslaught!  Mardi Gras started on Tuesday, March 4th but I was busy that day so I made a Mardi-Gras recipe as soon as I could.  The Jewish holiday, Purim, starts on March 15th, St. Patrick's Day follows hot on its heels on March 17th and the first day of spring, should I choose to recognize it, is March 20th.  And these are just the holidays I know about!  And not that I consider this a "holiday" but daylight savings time – "Spring Forward!" - was March 9th.  Whew.  I'm exhausted already.

For this year's Mardi Gras repast, I consulted my growing collection of Southern Living Cookbooks and is there one more perfectly suited to this event than The Creole Cookbook?  No, there is not.

Although I am not a follower of this magazine, I can surmise that these cookbooks are all collections (primarily) of favorite reader recipes.  This recipe for Ham Jambalaya was submitted by Mrs. J.R. Hightower who, like other wives at the time, went by her husband's name rather than her own.  Only rarely do I see the woman's given name listed and when I do, it's likely because the woman is/was a widow; for whatever reason, reverting to a given name was absolutely acceptable after the husband died but using it beforehand was frowned upon.  Okay then!

As to the recipes, I've always said that reading cookbooks is like reading history books as you get a sense of time, place and regional differences.  This book, for instance, contains a lot of Jell-O mold desserts, some of which look appetizing, some of which don't.  For "don't" winners see a photo of Dividend Dinner – page 35, containing chunks of...stuff, or worse, Vegetable Jubilee Salad – p. 37 consisting of cubes of Jell-O containing chunks of...more stuff. (We will not discuss the Flounder Salad on page 39.  We will not.)

The "Creole Meats" chapter was a little less intimidating although I hope you understand that I passed on the Chitterlings recipe – p. 60 and the Creole Tripe - p. 63. In the "Creole Seafood" chapter, Pickled Eel with a Taste of Crawfish – p. 95 also got a pass.  But fear not, readers, because the rest of the cookbook contains some awfully good and good-sounding recipes like our featured recipe today – Ham Jambalaya.  (PS—I don't think anyone can go wrong with a good southern dessert so have at it!  Recipes are at the end of the cookbook).

Now I've made plenty of jambalaya in my day and I like jambalaya because it is easy to make and pretty flavorful; this recipe is no exception to that rule.  A dash of hot sauce and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce helped kick up the flavor profile just enough to make it interesting and delicious.

Enjoy and remember:  Laissez les bon temps roulet  - Let the good times roll!

Ham Jambalaya – 6 servings
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, mashed
1 green pepper, chopped
2 T salad oil
1 T flour
1 cup canned tomatoes
½ tsp thyme
½ bay leaf, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cups boiling water
2 cups diced cooked ham
½ lb cleaned cooked shrimp
1 cup rice
Dash of hot sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cook the onion, garlic and green pepper in oil in a large saucepan until tender but not browned.  Stir in the flour and cook until smooth.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper and water and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the ham and shrimp.  Bring to a boil and stir in the rice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Roy's Feasts from Hawaii" - Roy's (Yamaguchi)Chocolate Souffle (a/k/a "Molten Lava Cake")

Date I made this recipe:  March 7, 2014 – to belatedly celebrate my husband's birthday

Roy's Feasts from Hawaii by Roy Yamaguchi and John Harrisson
Published by:  10 Ten Speed Press
ISBN:  0-89815-637-8
Recipe – Roy's Chocolate Soufflé (a/k/a "Molten Lava Cake") – p. 205

People, I find it highly amusing that one of the best things on the menu at Roy's (Yamaguchi) restaurants in Hawaii (several locations) is not fresh Hawaiian fish, is not Hawaiian classics like roast pig or even poi, it's a chocolate soufflé cake.  Yup.  Chocolate.  And yet I cannot even begin to tell you how good it is; think "celestial!"

A few months ago, I mentioned Roy Yamaguchi when I blogged about a cookbook about Hawaiian rising star chefs.  Since that cookbook was published, Roy has been slowly and steadily building a world-class reputation and has increased his restaurant empire to include operations in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada and Texas.  (I must say that Illinois and Maryland don't make much sense to me but who am I to quibble?).  All of my dining experiences have been in Hawaii and were it not so far and had we not just been there (in October), we might have considered another trip just so that my husband could have that chocolate soufflé cake for his birthday.  Instead, yours truly was charged with making this cake and while it wasn't hard, it was a little daunting because what if I failed?  It's not like I could fly Roy over here to fix it, now could I?  (Although maybe he could have talked me down off the ledge – not that I was on it – by phone.  Should have thought about that!)  But hubby wanted this cake and so I had to soldier on.

As the nickname suggests, this cake has a "molten lava" center of warm, gooey chocolate and the menu warns you right off the bat that this masterpiece takes time.  In my case, I would have made it for my husband's birthday on March 1st (instead of March 7th) but for one little item that I missed in the recipe:  "Place [mixture] in the refrigerator overnight."  Damn, I hate it when that happens (and if you ask me, and you didn't, the publisher should have bolded that instruction or at least made it 20 feet tall so I couldn't fail to see it)!

The other thing I learned – and who could know this ahead of time – is that if you want that molten lava center, you are going to have to invest in the metal rings called for in the instructions.  Why?  Because what you do is to place these rings on parchment paper that lines a baking sheet.  This provides a more direct heat source (batter on parchment to baking sheet to oven heat) than what I did which was to use individual ramekins that does not allow for direct heat - batter into ramekins, ramekins onto baking sheets equals more layers; the chocolate melted but did not become molten and wasn't this the whole point of the recipe?  It was.  The recipe notes that you can also bake the whole recipe in a small casserole dish but again, I'm thinking that the casserole dish impedes the lava-making process.  Your call.

So to summarize:  we used ramekins instead of rings and got a very moist center but not the molten lava flow we were expecting.  Taste-wise, they were awesome so it's just a matter of whether you can swallow (hahahaha) your disappointment at missing out on the chocolate lava flow or not.

By the way, on this last trip to Hawaii in October, the federal government was shut down and that meant we could not take a trip to Volcanoes National Park.  I'm taking this as a sign for how our soufflé would turn out!

Now, should chocolate not be your thing (inconceivable!), you cannot go wrong with this cookbook as it provides a wonderful assortment of appetizers, soups, salads, pastas and pizzas and so on and so forth so that you get the complete island experience without leaving home.  On our first trip to Roy's, we ordered appetizers, entrees and then of course saved room for the soufflé.  On this last trip to Hawaii (the Big Island), we were so full from an absolutely fabulous and ridiculously large pulled pork sandwich at lunch that we ordered appetizers at Roy's and then talked to a guy next to us at the bar who was tucking in the short ribs and the soufflé cake.  We like to think that we ate vicariously through him.

Besides all the incredible edible recipes in this book, the other reason to buy it is for the photography (the food photos are phenomenal) and the stories.  I always like a cookbook that gives me a little bit of both.

Part of the reason that I used ramekins instead of metal rings is that I didn't want to invest in purchasing the four metal rings called for in Roy's recipe.  I will not repeat that mistake again.  Next time, it's rings of molten lava, or bust!  (PS—Andy loved them!)

Roy's Chocolate Soufflé – yield:  4 servings

Author's Note:  This is the all-time, absolute favorite of my daughter, Nicole.  Casey Logsdon, our pastry chef at Roy's Kahana Bar and Grill on Maui, has perfected this recipe to the point where frequent visitors to the island claim they return just for this soufflé.  We've made things easier for them now, by also serving this dessert in Honolulu.  This recipe is best when started the day before so the chocolate mixture can rest overnight in the refrigerator.  If you prefer, you can bake the whole recipe in a small casserole dish and serve it at the table, or make individual soufflés in ramekins.  We make our individual chocolate soufflés in metal rings that are available from J.B. Prince Co. in New York (212-302-8611). (Website is

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
¾ cup sugar
1 ¾ tabelspoons cornstarch
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together.  Add the melted butter-chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture and combine thoroughly with a wire whisk.  Stir in the eggs and whisk just until smooth.


The next day...preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line 4 metal rings (about 2 ¾ inches across and 2 inches high) with greased parchment paper.  (Alternatively, use 6 smaller molds.)  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the molds on the sheet.  Scoop the mixture into the molds so they are two-thirds full, and make sure the molds are not leaking.

Bake on the top oven rack for 20 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and, while holding each mold with tongs, slide a metal spatula underneath, carefully lift, and transfer to a serving plate.  Gently lift off the mold and remove the parchment paper.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"The Casablanca Cookbook" & "Pilar Wayne's (John Wayne's wife) Favorite and Fabulous Recipes - Oscar Night!

Date I made these recipes:  March 2, 2014 – Oscar night!

The Casablanca Cookbook – Wining and Dining at Rick's by Sarah Key, Jennifer Newman Brazil and Vicki Wells
Published by:  Abbeville Press Publishers
ISBN:  1-55859-474-4
Purchased at The Strand (Bookstore) NYC
Recipe:  Couscous Marocain – p. 25, using a spice mix found on page 15

Pilar Wayne's Favorite and Fabulous Recipes (Pilar was married to actor John Wayne) by Pilar Wayne
Published by:  PAX Publishing Company
© 1982
Purchased from Etsy - RetroMarketplace
Recipe:  Cream of Carrot Soup – p. 55

As so just like Christmas, this year's Oscar celebration came and went...and went...and went.  Honestly people, I am no expert on telecasts but really – three and a half hours for this show is a bit much.  When husband Andy finally threw in the towel (somewhere around hour three), he said "Have they even done the best actor and actress yet?"  Ha!  (Snort) "Not even close, honey.  We're still at Best Adapted....something."

And so off he went to bed (he has an early start for work) and I endured the remaining half an hour as if I was involved in some kind of Chinese water torture.  I don't remember feeling this antsy before but the older I get, the more I just have limits on how much time I want to "invest" in something like this. 

As someone who has the unofficial title of "Event Planner" on her resume, let me just offer up a few suggestions on how to make this excruciatingly long evening a success:  a) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler guest host...everything.  Not only are they funny but they move it along, Douglas!; b) no offense to the people who worked their butts off in areas like sound editing and visual effects and costuming, but let's be real, shall we:  what we want to see boils down to a few select categories, specifically:  Best Supporting Actor/Actress; Best Actor/Actress; Best Director; Best Picture.  Wait—that list is too short so I must have made a mistake.  No, upon further review, I think that sums it up.

Item c):  Really, John Travolta?  Did that toupee on your head scramble your brain?  The woman who sang the theme song from the movie, Frozen, is Idina Menzel—even I can pronounce that. Instead, the buzz on the internet today is how would John Travolta mangle your name:  Idina's became "Adele Dazeem."  Snort.  Moral of that story:  please do quit your day job, John. 

Okay, so that's the long and short of what I thought of the Oscars, let's get down to dinner.  I recently acquired both The Casablanca Cookbook and Pilar Wayne's Favorite and Fabulous Recipes cookbook and so put them aside with the intent to use them for the Oscar broadcast.  No problem.  What was more challenging was tying these recipes together – Casablanca/Moroccan recipes with Pilar Wayne's fondness for Tex-Mex/Peruvian food.  In the end, I decided the "safest" route was to pair the cream of carrot soup recipe with the couscous recipe because in my head, at the time of selection, I pictured a less creamy carrot soup than what I got.  With a less creamy soup, the carrots would have gone nicely with couscous and all its accompanying vegetables and spices.  But let me tell you, "pilgrim" (John Wayne often called someone "pilgrim") the soup was damned good.  It almost didn't turn out that way because I had an inattentive moment at the stove (thought the burner was off and it was on simmer, almost wrecking my soup ingredients) but we liked it a lot.

As to the couscous, I really enjoyed the spice mixture in this recipe.  I vacillated between making a whole batch or a half batch and decided on a whole but you can easily divide this.  To round things out, I poached two chicken breasts and mixed them into the couscous mixture.

So let's talk about the cookbooks and why they were perfect for Oscar night! 

Casablanca has to be one of my favorite movies, not so much for the love story (although it's awesome, am I right?) but because of the sheer wit of the dialog and the droll way it was delivered.  In case you have never seen the movie (making you one in about a bazillion) here's the story:  American expat, Rick/actor Humphrey Bogart, owner of Rick's Cafe American, is running his little gin joint in Casablanca in the middle of WWII. Enter his former lover, Elsa/actress Ingrid Bergman, who, along with her husband, Victor Lazlo/actor Paul Henreid, is trying to get out of Casablanca (now run by the French Vichy government) and needs Rick's help (Victor is a leader in the Czech Resistance and is trying to get back to his people). Rick sums up the situation thusly: "Out off all the gin joints, out of all the towns in the world, she walks into mine."  Damn you, Elsa!

So that's your basic plot.  It gets better and funnier ("Round up the usual suspects") as the movie goes along, culminating in the resolution to the Rick-Elsa-Victor conundrum (in a beautiful scene and you cannot tell me that you have not seen this scene before – cannot) and one of the best ending lines, ever:  "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."  (Sniffle.)

So as you might imagine, The Casablanca Cookbook is filled with Moroccan-inspired delicacies, along with other memorable movie quotes and photos. To this day, I am still bummed that my husband, Andy, refused to wear a white formal dinner jacket– ala Rick – to our wedding (and not the tacky, modern white tux but a classic 40's and 50's white formal dinner jacket...and yes, there's a difference).  Oh well.  To soothe my soul, I'll just have to watch the movie again...and again.

And so now we turn our attention away from Casablanca to westerns.  Make that John Wayne westerns. 

Nobody, but nobody, not even Clint Eastwood, although he comes close, embodies westerns like John "Duke" Wayne.  That voice, that swagger, that stature (the guy was 6'4") all worked to turn him into a cinematic legend.  All this from a guy named "Marion" at birth – glad to see that name change worked out for him.

Although nominated for an Oscar on three occasions – 1949 – Best Actor Nominee for the Sands of Iwo Jima (he lost to Broderick Crawford for All the King's Men); 1960 – Producer – The Alamo (he lost to Billy Wilder of The Apartment) and 1969 – Best Actor for True Grit, he only won 1969 Oscar for Best Actor in True Grit.  Although best known for his westerns, Duke also performed in an equal number of WWII films.  Actually, any time a movie needed a "man's man," John Wayne was "it." 

Here's a list of some of Duke's notable movies:
Rooster Cogburn – 1975 – with Katharine Hepburn
Rio Lobo – 1970; Rio Bravo – 1959; Rio Grande - 1950
Chisum – 1970
Hellfighers – 1968
The Green Berets – 1968
The Son's of Katie Elder – 1965
How the West Was Won – 1962
The Longest Day – 1962
The Quiet Man – 1952

And on and on and on! 

Now I must disclose that while I loved Duke in the Sands of Iwo Jima (a film that hit home for me because my dad was a Marine on that island during the same battle), I did snort at the...I don't know....over the top portrayal of valor.  I mean, Duke went down as only Duke could go down but it was rather "Hollywood," and far less realistic than the bloodbath it actually was.  But hey, he gets points for trying.

And I must also disclose that my favorite John Wayne moment did not come from any of his movies, good though they were but from my favorite TV show of all time, I Love Lucy. In Season 5 (1955), episode 2 (the Hollywood episodes), Lucy gets the bright idea to steal John Wayne's footprint from Grauman's Chinese Theater and manages to break it into pieces.  In the scenes that follow, Lucy has to then try to get "Mr. Wayne" to redo his footprint.  Bedlam ensues.  In the end, Lucy gets to meet John Wayne, his footprint is restored and all is well as Lucy and Ethel jump up to try to kiss that very tall man.  Hopefully, neither Desi Arnaz (a/k/a Ricky Ricardo), Lucy's real-life husband and co-star nor John Wayne's wife, Pilar were put out over that innocent kiss although the massage scene (yes, you read it right) might be another matter.  Hint:  watch the episode!

 Born in Peru, Pilar Pallete met John Wayne when he was in Peru scouting locations for The Alamo.  Although John was 29 years her senior (oy!) they were together for 27 years until 1979 when John died (they separated in 1973).  Today, Pilar – actress, mother (she and John had three children) cookbook author, restaurateur, interior designer and artist – makes her home in California.  Her artwork (including many paintings of John) can be viewed at

Although Pilar just published a second edition of her cookbook, I knew I had to have her first edition the minute I spotted it on Etsy.  Although I was not a follower of John Wayne's career, I was aware that Pilar was his wife and so I put this book in my shopping cart and there it is!   This book is a great mishmash of recipes – some Peruvian, some not and – be still my heart – there's even a recipe for (Jell-O) Lime Mold.  Scoff all ye may, but I love Jell-O and would have made it had I not been obsessed with other dishes in the book.

So there you have it – Ann's Oscar Night Dinner 2014.  And the Oscar for Best Culinary Creation goes to....

Cream of Carrot Soup (serving size not given)
1 lb carrots
1 lb potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
6 cups chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
1 cup cream
Tabasco (just a little)
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cold milk

Peel carrots and potatoes.  Cut carrots into rounds and cube potatoes.  Melt butter in a pot and add onion.  Add the carrots, potatoes and chicken and bring to a boil.  Add thyme and bay leaf.  Reduce heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until carrots and potatoes are tender.

Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Return to pot; add remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly.  Serve hot.

Couscous Marocain – makes 6 to 8 servings
16 ounces couscous
1 recipe Abdul's Secret Spice Mix (see below; in the book, see p. 15)
1 cup raisins
19-ounce can chick peas
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 red onion, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups unsalted chicken broth or water

Abdul's Secret Spice Mix
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon salt
Ann's Note:  per the book, you can also use this spice mix for Marinated Black Olives (p. 16), Goat Cheese Purses (p. 28) and this recipe.

Mix spices in a small bowl.

For the couscous:
Place dried couscous in a fine strainer.  Pour cold water over the couscous until it is completely wet.  Let drain for 30 seconds.  Spread couscous on a cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  Then take couscous and pour it into a large bowl.  Separate it into grains with your fingers.  Mix in all remaining ingredients.  Up until this point couscous can be prepared ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days.  When ready to serve, place couscous in a large ovenproof dish with water or chicken broth.  Bake covered at 400F until couscous is hot and all the liquid is absorbed (about 20 minutes).  Couscous goes well with kebabs.