Sunday, May 24, 2015

A "Mad Men" Finale Repast, with recipes from "Sardi's - The Story of a Famous Restaurant;" "The Colony - Portrait of a Restaurant..." & "Tanqueray The Perfect Entertainer"

Date I made these recipes:  May 17, 2015 – Mad Men Finale

Sardi's – The Story of a Famous Restaurant by Vincent Sardi, Sr., and Richard Gehman
Published by:  Henry Holt and Company
© 1953
Purchased at Kitchen Arts and Letters, NYC
Recipe:  Chicken Tetrazzini – p. 223-224 with assistance from Betty Crocker

The Colony – Portrait of A Restaurant And its Famous Recipes by Iles Brody
Published by: Jarrolds Publishers (London) Limited
© 1946, 1st edition
Purchased at Julian's Books, NYC
Recipe:  Haricot Beans A L' Itlaienne – p. 164

Tanqueray® The Perfect Entertainer – A Collection of Recipes for Cocktails, Canapés & Hors D' Oeuvres
Published by Barron's
© 1984
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores
Recipe:  (Tanqueray®) Martini – p. 26

As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end," and so endeth the fabulously entertaining Mad Men TV show.  Most people I know who watched and loved the show said some variation of the same thing:  "It was like watching my childhood (or young adulthood) all over again." 

The thing I loved most about the show is that it stayed true to form of telling a story that fit the ages and didn't change it just because people wished it otherwise.  As an example, women had a hard time then (and now) making headway in the marketplace.  Harassment was rampant and I could tell you chapter and verse of some of the things I witnessed in the workplace.  Smoking at work was definitely a cool thing and drinking during hours was not seen as the next step to heading to AA.  In fact, during the early 80's, my boss used to take my department out for liquid lunches every quarter.  In the first years of the show, many people – my guess men and women a lot younger than me – complained that all of this seemed unreal.  It wasn't.

When the character Sal, the art director left, some people thought the world would end and "surely he'll be back, right?"  He wasn't.  In real life, it was rare for someone to leave a company and then return and if they did, they often left shortly thereafter for the same reasons that drove them from the place in the first place.  I was glad that creator/director Matt Weiner didn't cave in to popular demand.

I could spend hours writing about how I loved this show and how the research and dedication to costuming and set design and props and character development and music is something we will likely never see again but the point of this particular writing is, of course, to talk about cookbooks.  So let's talk!  (As an aside though, a friend watched all of two seconds of the next to last episode and commented that the tie was wrong. Apparently, that was his only take away.  But I'm here to tell you pilgrim, the tie was NOT wrong!  Every article of clothing, down to the "unmentionables," was researched to the nth degree.  The tie was correct.  End of rant.)

During the course of the seven year run, Matt Weiner also talked about how he envisioned how the show would end pretty much from the moment he wrote the first script.   I too, thought about what to make for the "last supper."  And so I selected three books that I thought would be a good fit:  Sardi's cookbook, The Colony cookbook and the Tanqueray® cookbook – two venerable NYC restaurant cookbooks and one from the makers of Tanqueray® gin.  The gin book was thrown in at the last minute but it's fitting seeing as everybody on the show was drinking like fish and smoking like chimneys.

Out of all the restaurants featured in Mad Men during the seven-year run, Sardi's is perhaps the most famous. (Check out Season 2, Episode 5 where Don dines with (character) Jimmy Barrett and his hell-on-wheels wife, Bobbie.) Opened in 1927, it became famous for all the celebrity caricatures that continue to adorn the walls.  Back in the day, if your visage was on that wall, you had definitely made it!

Unbeknownst to me, Sardi's is listed as the "birthplace" of the Tony Award and Broadway stars continue to frequent the place which is still in business after all these years.  I'm going to have to add a visit there to my NYC bucket list. 

This cookbook, acquired a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, is not exactly a cookbook but rather, the story of Sardi's and how it became such an "it" destination. Recipes don't appear until Chapter 14 – Some Sardi Specialties – and even then, only a select few.  Many of them, like the chicken tetrazzini, call for sauce "in a can," a product Sardi's created and sold – see page 209 for details. I imagine that back then, Sardi's Jiffy White Sauce was likely all the rage, but I tell you what, trying to duplicate that sauce (no longer sold) for this recipe took some doing and I must confess to you that I cheated and called upon Betty Crocker for assistance.  What would we all do without Betty? By the way, and I just have to say this, my nose turned up when I read about white sauce in a can because...ew?

So that's the skinny on Sardi's and now you probably want to know about The Colony so I'm going to tell you (thanks to Wikipedia).  The Colony opened its doors in 1923, four years before Sardi's and operated until 1971.  Unlike Sardi's which was located at 44th Street (Times Square area), The Colony operated on the city's Upper East Side at 61st and Madison ("Mad Ave!").  According to Wiki, once the Vanderbilt's discovered it, it rocketed to fame.  Another interesting tidbit was that restaurateur Sirio Maccione (well-known in NYC but perhaps not so much elsewhere) served as The Colony's bar captain from 1960 to 1970 before leaving to found the equally famous Le Cirque in 1974. 

The Colony cookbook is similar to Sardi's in that the story of the restaurant comprises most of the book, but unlike Sardi's, there are a lot more recipes to play with.  Still, each recipe takes up the tiniest of space in the book (usually, a paragraph) and so instruction is lacking (and good luck with the ingredients as well).  

And then there's the Tanqueray® gin cookbook about which I just must rant:  call me crazy, but wouldn't you expect a Tanqueray® cookbook to include Tanqueray® in every recipe?  I would, I did and yet not one single recipe for appetizers, etc. contained gin.  Well this was disturbing!  And try as I might to get excited about some of the recipes, I just couldn't and so finally gave up trying to make a dish from the book and focused instead, on my very favorite drink – a martini.  And this is so "Mad Men" that it just all worked and now I can get on with my life.

Before I get into the gist of the recipes, let me just say that I loved Mad Men's ending.  Loved it.  And without giving anything away – in case you haven't seen it yet – there was an "ending" and then there was another ending, one last scene that just tied everything together.  My husband and I clapped at the first one and then after that one last scene, just screamed "It's perfect!  It's just perfect!"  So thank you, Matt Weiner! 

Chicken Tetrazzini – the original recipe with modifications to follow – Serves 4
4 ounces spaghetti
1 can white sauce (Ann's Note:  this product no longer exists)
¾ cup of milk
1 cup cooked diced chicken
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 three-ounce can chopped mushrooms

Okay, so.  Since white sauce no longer exists, I had to decide whether or not to make a basic white sauce, coming up with proportions equal to the can – size unknown – or whether to "cheat" (such a Don Draper thing) and modify the recipe to something that was easier on everybody.  I modified it by following a Betty Crocker recipe that I got off the internet that uses cream instead of white sauce.  You could also make up a white sauce (recipes are everywhere) and then add the milk as directed.  Since we are a two-person household, I opted for the cream rather than keep milk in the fridge that neither of us will drink.

Boil about 4 ounces of spaghetti to taste and drain it.  Set aside in a colander.  To one can of white sauce add three-quarters of a cup of milk, bring it to a boil, and smooth with an egg beater.  Add one cup of cooked diced chicken, four tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, and a three-ounce can of chopped mushrooms and their liquid.  Mix the ingredients well.  Put the spaghetti in a buttered baking dish.  Pour over the sauce.  Shred over it more Parmesan cheese and dot with lumps of butter.  Brown under the broiler.

My modifications come to you from Betty Crocker as follows (serves 6)
1 package (7 ounces) spaghetti, broken into thirds
2 cups Green Giant™ frozen sweet peas (Ann's Note:  many modern-day tetrazzini recipes call for peas.  We like them so why not?)
¼ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup Gold Meal™ all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup Progresso™ chicken broth (Ann's Note:  and wouldn't you know, that's the chicken broth I had in my pantry)
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry or water
2 cups cubed deli rotisserie chicken
1 jar (4.5 oz) Green Giant™ sliced mushrooms, drained
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Ann's Note:  butter + flour + milk = white sauce.  This recipe called for 1 cup of cream instead of 1 cup milk making for a richer white sauce.  That said, although the dish started out being oh-so-creamy, the sauce dried out a bit after baking, leaving me to think that making approximately 10 ounces of white sauce and then adding the extra milk was really the way to go.  Lesson learned.

Heat oven to 350F.  (Ann's Note:  the original recipe asks you to use your broiler to finish the recipe.)  Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on the package, adding peas during the last three minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for one minute.  Stir in sherry/water, spaghetti and peas, chicken and mushrooms.

Pour mixture into an ungreased 2-quart casserole.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until bubbly in center.

Ann's Notes:  No way was this all going to fit into a 2-quart casserole (are they kidding me) and so I used two, two-quart casseroles.  And then I am iffy about the 30 minute cooking time uncovered because the dish wasn't creamy like I expected and that disappointed.  It was all good, but I think it suffered from baking without a lid.  Next time around, the lid goes on and instructions be damned!

Haricot Beans A L' Italienne – serving size not given
1 quart (approximately) 1.5-2 pounds haricot vert (a fancier form of green beans)
1 tablespoon butter (approximately)
1 pound butter (2 sticks)
1 ½ - 2 cups hot stock
1 egg yolk
Juice of one half lemon
Parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)

Ann's Note:  once again, I found myself having to translate this recipe into something more modern.  It was almost a disaster until we got the amount of stock to use right.  The numbers given above – 1 ½ - 2 cups – is an approximation.  I think I might have used two cups but am not sure.

Here are the original instructions:  Parboil a quart of beans, drain and finish cooking them in a pan with melted brown butter.  Stir well and serve with the following sauce poured over them.

To make the sauce, melt a pound of butter, stir in an ounce of flour till it is smooth, add enough hot stock to make a sauce, and bring it to a boil.  Strain the sauce and put it back on the fire.  Stir in the beaten yolk of an egg, the juice of half a lemon, and some fine chopped parsley.  Serve very hot.

Tanqueray® Martini – serves 1 (Ann's Note:  I am a huge fan of Blue Coat gin, but Tanqueray® will do)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) Tanqueray® Gin
¼ teaspoon dry vermouth
1 olive or twist of lemon

Place a shaker in the freezer for 1 hour before beginning.  Place Tanqueray® gin in shaker with vermouth.  Add 2 or 3 ice cubes.  Stir well then strain into Martini glass.  Either drop in an olive or dangle a twist of lemon on the rim of the glass.  Serve very cold.

Okay, folks, here in my Martini recipe:  Pour gin of any amount desired into a shaker.  Skip the vermouth all together if you want a dry martini (I do) otherwise, measure out ¼ teaspoon as directed (and this made me chuckle—"a quarter teaspoon?") and add it to the gin.  Add an olive(s) that are either pitted or stuffed with pimiento and most certainly not the gorgonzola-filled ones which are precocious and nasty.  Do NOT add lemon, not as a garnish, not as anything.  Sip.  Breathe out.  Relax.  Rinse and repeat.

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