Saturday, June 25, 2016

"A Man's Whirled - Every Guy's Guide to Cooking with a Blender" - Uncle Gino's Chicken Cacciatore - for Father's Day!

Date I made this recipe:  June 19, 2016 – Father's Day

A Man's Whirled – Every Guy's Guide to Cooking with a Blender by Chris Peterson
Published by:  Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
ISBN:  13: 978-0-7432-7023-6; © 2005
Purchased at Powell's Chicago
Recipe: Uncle Gino's Chicken Cacciatore – P. 78

How timely.  My dad was a great cook and chicken cacciatore was one of his favorite recipes to make and so I present to you, this year's Father Day dinner selection!  ("And the crowd goes wild...")

When I acquired this book last year, I made a note in my calendar to use it on Father's Day.  And then a few weeks ago, when I was looking through it to select a recipe, there it was:  Uncle Gino's Lou Verme's (my dad's) Chicken Cacciatore.  How cosmic!

Except for a few minor differences, this was almost an exact duplicate of my dad's recipe.  My dad used celery, onions, green pepper and canned tomatoes, just like this recipe, but also added peeled potatoes and carrots.  And it seems to me he par-boiled all the vegetables for a bit before adding them to the roaster.  And he added also a few (secret) spices to his canned tomatoes although I don't think thyme was one of them before putting in the chicken and tomatoes.  Although he passed on adding Marsala or similar liquid ingredient to the dish, he sometimes enjoyed a glass of red wine with dinner so I think that counts.

This recipe was one of many in my dad's "go-to" repertoire of culinary delights.  Every weekend, we looked forward to his scrambled eggs and bacon and his doctored-up pancakes.  He was a master of the grill and the broiler and his barbecued chicken (grilled on a tiny Hibachi grill) and his steaks under the broiler (for mere seconds or he considered them ruined) were fabulous. 

In early years, he made a fantastic pasta fagioli (pasta "fa-jewel-eh") (beans and pasta) and in later years, linguine and clam sauce.  He was always – always – in charge of draining the pasta and serving it up to our family of four.  There was never a time when the plate wasn't heaping with too much pasta and yet he always encouraged us to "finish it [the food] up."

That said, he, like most men of his time, left the heavy lifting to the women and so didn't really operate any of the appliances or do the dishes (this is what dishwashers are for!) and so I cannot recall a time he used our blender although maybe he got sneaky and did so after I left home?

Luckily, this cookbook author, Chris Peterson, has it going on.  This book is subtitled "Every Guy's Guide to Cooking with a Blender" which suggests to me that this guy knows a thing or two about kitchen appliances.  The title alone though, is what sold me:  A Man's Whirled, a play on the song "It's a Mans Man's Man's World" by the late, great James Brown.  I often buy cookbooks based on the title and this one had me at "hello."

The recipes in this book range from soup to nuts and all of them are made in whole or in part in the blender.  The cacciatore recipe requires you to blend the vegetables before adding them to the pan but since I don't have a blender, I used my Cuisinart to the same effect.

The only downside of this recipe, and it is not a downside of the recipe itself, is that the temperature rose to a mighty hefty 92 degrees on Father's Day and I was not about to pre-bake the chicken at 350F for forty five minutes as directed.  Nope.  Not even for a minute, never mind 44 more of them, and not even in the memory of my beloved papa.  So I made recipe the day after Father's Day and made it during the day when it was not yet hot out and it worked out great.

As to other incredible edibles in this book, here are some of the chapter headings:  "Game Day Grub;" "Date Food;" "Mom's Best;" "Party Favors;" "Feel-Better Food" and "Sweet Treats."  Most of the recipes sounded really good and I actually had a couple others in mind before settling on the cacciatore.  And because my dad was a hunter, we often had other types of birds in the cacciatore, mostly notably, Ruffed Grouse (which tastes like chicken...well, chicken minus  a stray buckshot or two) so if you need to or want to adapt this, go ahead.  After all, "Chicken Cacciatore" translates from Italian to "Hunter's Stew" so you'd be right on point.  (By the way, I've mentioned in other blogs that my dad was 1st generation Sicilian-American so it was fitting that this was one of his specialties.)

So Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.  As my dad would say, as he called us to the table, "A mangia" (which our family pronounced "Ah mahn-jaa") – Let's eat!

Uncle Gino's Chicken Cacciatore – makes 2 full-meal servings

What You Need
2 large chicken breasts, bone in (about 2 pounds)
½ cup olive oil (divided)
1 teaspoon salt
6 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion
1 small green bell pepper
1 small red bell pepper
1 stalk celery
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme

¼ cup Marsala (Ann's Note:  you can also substitute sherry or port or brandy)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

What You Do -- (Ann's Note:  This is not only a directive on how to cook it but also my Sicilian grandmother's question when she wanted to know what we were up do/doing at the moment:  "What you do?"  Makes me chuckle to think about it—so cute!)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Saturate the breasts with ¼ cup olive oil (Ann's Note:  reserve the remaining ¼ cup for later).  Sprinkle with salt and fresh-ground pepper, and rub into the breasts.  Put the breasts into a baking pan and bake for 45 minutes.  (Ann's Note:  I put the breasts in breast side down.)

Peel garlic and onion.  Chop coarsely and combine in blender with remaining olive oil.  Blend on medium for five 3-second bursts, or until well chopped.  Empty blender into large saucepan.

Seed bell peppers and cut off ends of celery stalk.  Chop into coarse pieces.  Blend each color pepper and celery on their own.  Blend for two to three 2-second bursts, or until the vegetables are coarsely chopped.

Put baked chicken breasts into saucepan and cook on high.  Sauté for 5 minutes, or until garlic begins to brown.  Add vegetables and oregano and thyme.

Add Marsala and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and add tomatoes.

Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, adding water if sauce becomes too thick.  Turn chicken after 45 minutes.  Serve with small side of spaghetti covered with some of the cacciatore sauce. Ann's Note:  In NJ and NY Italian restaurants, it is usual and customary to see [a small side of] pasta listed along with your potato choices that accompany meat and poultry entrees.  If I don't see it, I always ask for one and it is provided, no questions asked.  Gotta have my pasta with my meat, don't you know!

Good Guy Advice [from the author]:  If you have to blend a lot of vegetables to a coarse consistency, take this shortcut.  Put the vegetables in the blender canister and fill to just above their level with cold water.  Blend as necessary to chop the vegetables, then drain the water.

Friday, June 24, 2016

"The Theater Lover's Cookbook" & "Eating Together - Recollections & Recipes by (playwright) Lillian Hellman and Peter Feibleman - Celebrating the Tony Awards with pasta two ways

Date I made these recipes:  June 12, 2016 – The Tony Awards

The Theatre Lover's Cookbook – Recipes from 60 Favorite Plays by Mollie Ann Meserve and Walter J. Meserve
Published by:  Feedback TheatreBooks & Prospero Press
Purchased at Kona Bay Books, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii
Recipe:  Jenny's Spaghetti with Fresh Basil Sauce, inspired by the 1977 play, Chapter Two by Neil Simon – p. 33-34.

Eating Together – Recollections & Recipes by (playwright) Lillian Hellman and Peter Feibleman
Published by:  Little, Brown and Company
Purchased at Kitchen Arts & Letters, NYC* There's a great backstory about the purchase of this book; see below. 
 Recipe:  Bolognese Sauce – p. 50-51.

In a previous life, I was a Broadway musical star, never mind Tony Award winner.  I love to sing, I can act, and with proper training, I can shuffle ball change with the best of them.  Never mind film or TV, this baby is Broadway-bound.

Not that this ever happened, nor will it, but a gal can dream.

This year's Tony Awards were timely because a) they were a respite from the terrible shootings that happened in Orlando and b) because I just bought The Theater Lover's Cookbook a couple of weeks earlier at a used book store while in Hawaii for my wedding anniversary.  I cannot tell you how many times the books I buy end up being "timely."

Also pertinent is the second cookbook I used – Eating Together – Recollections & Recipes by famed playwright Lillian Hellman (& Peter Feibleman).  This book has been sitting on my shelf for years now, just waiting for the right opportunity to shine and tonight is it!

Although much of the fun and focus of the Tony Awards is the musical, a goodly portion of awards and respect must be paid to the plays.  Remember, it was Shakespeare who said "The play's the thing" and on Tony night, it is indeed.

This year, it occurred to me that I really should tune in to this award show more often.  There's just something different about a Broadway actor or actress and not just because they perform in New York.  Plays and musicals are demanding on the actors and I think that we see the stuff that they are made of when they bring their A-game performance night after night, week after week, eight shows a week to a live audience.   It's hard to articulate why but to me, the caliber of the actor or actress is just a cut above their Hollywood counterparts.  That doesn't mean that Hollywood actors don't come to New York or vice versa because that happens quite frequently, but "Broadway Babies" generally stick to Broadway probably because it's fun, they have a posse of friends in that business and it demands so much more of them than a couple minute spot in a TV commercial, TV show or movie.

A great example of the do-si-do done by actors throughout their careers was when host James Corden pointed out a few actors in the audience who had appeared in that TV juggernaut, Law & Order (and all its spin-offs) over the years.  This "sketch" was one of the funniest moments of the night:

James Corden:  "Those of you watching at home who aren't theater buffs, don't worry.  You may not know some of these Broadway actors by name but you will recognize them from your favorite television shows."  And then he proceeded to call them out:  "Claire Danes is here and you'll recognize her as [character name] in Law & Order.  Billy Porter is here and you'll recognize him as [character name] in[brief pause] Law & Order.  Michael Shannon is best know to all of us as [character name] [brief pause] in Law & Order" and so on and so on ending with Danny Burstein who, it turns out, played several roles in Law & Order which James named off, ending with "And finally, who could forget his wonderful turn as [character name] [brief pause] in Law & Order.

I about busted a gut.  And speaking of Law & Order, and other TV shows, these Broadway stars also crossed over from the stage to TV screen:

  • Jerry Orbach was star of the Broadway production, The Fantastics (and was first to sing this incredible song, "Try to Remember" )long before he became know as the hilariously funny Detective Lennie Brisco in...brief pause...Law & Order.

  • Funny lady Elaine Stritch who most of you know as Jack's mother, Colleen, on 30 Rock, as well as a defense attorney on...brief pause...Law & Order, made a name for herself starring in many Broadway productions, and even a one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty in 2002.  Two songs for which she is/was known are "I'm Still Here" (from the Sondheim musical, Follies) and "Ladies Who Lunch" from the musical, Company.  The last refrain is my favorite:  "Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch.  Everybody rise!  Rise!  Rise!...."

  • Actress Beth Howland recently passed away and was best known for her role as the ditzy but delightful Vera Louise Gorman on the TV show Alice, but prior to that, she too, was a Broadway baby, originating the role of Amy in Stephen Sondheim's Company (same as Elaine Stritch).  One of the songs she sang in that production, "Getting Married Today," later resurfaced on the TV show, Glee.

Which is to say folks, that what goes around, comes around.  Books become musicals, plays become musicals, musicals become plays, actors and actresses do si do between Hollywood and New York and what we get is some great entertainment.  I have been lucky enough to see several productions – plays and musicals – on Broadway and have also been treated to some outstanding touring companies in Minneapolis.  And although my collection of musical theater CD's is not as vast as the cookbooks, it is also none too shabby and goes back to songs from musicals staged in the 1940's.  On my to-acquire CD list is Hamilton which will cost me far less than an airplane ride and tickets to the production in NYC to be sure.

And now, after that trip down memory Broadway lane, let's on with the cookbook show, starting with The Theatre Lover's Cookbook – Recipes from 60 Favorite Plays.  Here's a smattering of plays and musicals featured in this cookbook:
  • Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring (1941) – Old Lace Pot Roast
  • Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward (1941) – Hysterical Mousse
  • Chapter Two by Neil Simon (1977) * featured recipe – Jenny's Spaghetti with Fresh Basil Sauce
  • The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekov (1904) – Cherries Jubilee
  • The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare (1592-1593) – Creamed Capon
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (1949) – Boiled (Steamed) Lobster (I probably read this play at least twice in high school and who knows how many times in college and I cannot say the play, nor main character, Willy Loman, are my favorites.)
  • The Fantasticks by Tom Jones and Harvey L. Schmidt (1960) (Starring Jerry Orbach of Law & Order fame.) – Fantastick Bean Rolls with Cilantro
  • For the Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Notzake Shange (1976) – Fried Bananas (I read this book my last year in high school.  The title has always stuck with me even if the details of the book are now fuzzy.)
  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (1945) – Ingenue Salmon Loaf (Yet another play that has been done to death.)
  • Harvey by Mary Ellen Chase (1944) Pooka Pot "Rabbit" (tofu) (Also a delightful movie starting Jimmy Stewart)
  • The King and I by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (1951) – Anna's Rice (My parents had the 1956 movie soundtrack album and my third grade class performed many selections from it for a class production.)
  • The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman (1939) – Addie's Frozen Fruit Cream (*Lillian's cookbook is our second featured cookbook today.)
  • The Miracle Worker by William Gibson (1959) – Breakfast Bisquits (Patty Duke, who played Helen Keller on stage and screen, passed away this year.)
  • The Odd Couple by Neil Simon (1965) – Felix Ungar's Linquine (Loved the TV show and especially love "The Oscar Song."  YouTube it!)
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder (1938) – Mrs. Gibb's Wedding Day French Toast (Aaron Copland wrote the music for this play and the opening number is just haunting.  I love it.)
  • South Pacific by Joshua Logan, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (1949) – Nellie's Normal Blueberry Pie (My parents loved this musical and film but I remain lukewarm.  That said, there has never been a time when I visited Hawaii when I haven't broken out into [the song] "Bali High."  Catchy song, that one!)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (1947) – New Orleans Pork Chops (You know I have to say it:  "Stellllllllllaaaaaaaa")

And so on and so on.  Each  play comes with a little recap and a recipe.  Sometimes the recipe is something mentioned or featured in the play, sometimes not.  Overall, it's a fun read and for me – an English major and musician -  who "could have been a contender" (On the Waterfront) had things gone a little differently.  ("Here she is boys!  Here she is world!  Here's Rose Ann!  - Rose's Turn from the musical, Gypsy)

Anyway, the recipe I selected here is from Neil Simon's play Chapter TwoChapter Two is about second relationships and second chances.  The protagonist, a recently widowed George, meets a newly-divorced Jenny and they get married shortly thereafter.  The play is the tale of that second marriage.

According to this cookbook, in "Act I, Scene 1, she [Jenny] promises to make spaghetti with fresh basil sauce."  I thought the dish sounded good and so made it and it was very tasty and very simple to make. I was a tad worried about basil overkill (the full recipe requires 6 cups) but I worried for naught and in fact, liked it better than pesto, a dish I can take or leave. (My people do not "do" pesto.  We're straight-up red sauce, period.)

So that was one easy dish down with one to go from Eating Together – Recollections & Recipes by (famed playwright) Lillian Hellman and Peter Feibleman.

This book is divided into parts:  Part One:  Her Way and Part Two: His Way with each author telling stories and sharing recipes, most often of their travels together.  Mr. Feibleman was a close friend of Miss Hellman's and it sounds like they shared a love of writing, food and travel.  Since I don't know Mr. Feibleman though, I elected to cook something from Miss Hellman's "Her Way" section and don't you know, found several pasta sauce recipes from which I selected "Bolognese Sauce."

Besides her play, The Little Foxes, Miss Hellman also wrote the play, The Children's Hour which was made also into a movie staring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner.  I've seen this movie, as well as The Little Foxes with Bette Davis, but I didn't know much about Miss Hellman until I saw the movie, Julia, with Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.  

The movie, Julia, is a story excerpted from Miss Hellman's play, Pentimento, and tells the story of a friendship between "Julia," a Nazi-resistance fighter, played by Vanessa Redgrave, and Lillian (as in Hellman), a budding playwright, played by Jane Fonda.  Both women end up in dire situations as Lillian is convinced by Julia to smuggle money into Nazi Germany to help the resistance movement.  This is a dangerous task for Lillian who is Jewish.

The movie then, is rather tense as we wait to find out the friend's fate but it was beautifully acted and the costumes made me just drool; the late 1930's and early 40's yielded some unbelievable dress designs.    The movie itself was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.  And now that I've talked about it, I'm thinking I'm going to purchase this DVD and re-watch it.  (Besides, there are scenes involving cocktails of the martini kind so...)

So that's the background on Miss Hellman. And although both co-authors provided some yummy-sounding recipes, since I was making Jenny's Spaghetti with Fresh Basil Sauce from the theater cookbook, I went all in and made half the "Bolognese Sauce" recipe from this book and we were good to go.   The recipe takes a little longer than the fresh basil sauce but it was worth it.  Plus, I liked having two sauces for dinner instead of one.

And so that's my very long, long....long Tony Award show blogpost, featuring anecdotes about things Law & Order and other fun factoids to amuse and enlighten.

Curtain up!

Jenny's Spaghetti with Fresh Basil Sauce – For a party of 6 – from TheTheatre Lover's Cookbook
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound uncooked spaghetti
Romano or Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, for topping

Heat a large skillet over low heat and add the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté about 2 minutes.  Add the basil, salt and pepper.  Sauté about 15 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, cook the spaghetti one minute less than called for on package directions and drain.  Add the spaghetti to the skillet, increase heat to medium and cook, carefully tossing continuously until the spaghetti is cooked al dente, about 1 minute.  Test the spaghetti for doneness by tasting.  Transfer to a warm serving platter or individual plates.  Top with the grated cheese and serve immediately with crusty Italian bread.

Bolognese Sauce – Serves 12 – from Eating Together – Recollections & Recipes
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-ounce can plum tomatoes *See Ann's Note below
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 cups water or meat broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Pepperoni sausage (optional)

Ann's Note:  I made half this recipe which meant that I only needed a 5-ounce can plum tomatoes, something that really doesn't exist.  But while I was in Target looking at canned tomatoes, I noticed they had a can (still too large) of fire-roasted tomatoes and thought "Ah ha!"  So at my next shopping stop – Trader Joe's – I purchased a small bag of small Roma tomatoes and roasted them using a variation of Ina Garten's directions:  slather the tomatoes with a generous amount of olive oil.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Roast on a cookie sheet or roasting pan at 450F for 15-20 minutes (depending on size).  Let cool.  And then after they cooled, I pulsed them in the food processor and added them to the rest of the sauce – delicious!!

Put a small amount of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the meat, turning it until it browns.  Add the onions and garlic, the tomatoes and the tomato paste.  When you have removed the paste from the can, add 2 cups of water (or broth), scraping the remaining paste from the sides of the tin.  Season the sauce with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme and Tabasco.  Simmer for 2 ½ hours.  It is often very nice to add to this sauce a small amount of very finely chopped pepperoni sausage.

*This cookbook, Lillian Hellman's Eating Together, was sourced for me by my friend and (used) cookbook store owner, Bonnie Slotnick, who, at the time, was finding and filling requests for out-of-print books from people like me at Kitchen Arts & Letters (NYC).  This was the very first "official" cookbook I collected after seeing mention of it in a food magazine (can't recall if it was in Bon Appetite or Gourmet.)  When Bonnie moved on, I thought all was lost but managed to find her, first in the West Village and now in her new home in the East Village.  Her used and out-of-print cookbook stock is not available for online viewing but if you can't make it to NYC, call or email her and she will try to track down your desired book and/or make recommendations.  And PS—she ships!  My only request:  please leave some books for me!

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks
28 East Second Street
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Cooking for the Champ - Muhammad Ali's Favorite Recipes" by Lana Shabazz - "The Greatest's" passing (June 3, 2016)

Date I made this recipe:  June 3, 2016 – boxing legend Muhammad Ali passed away

Cooking for the Champ – Muhammad Ali's Favorite Recipes  by Lana Shabazz
Published by Jones-McMillon
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks – NYC – July 2013
Recipe:  Banana Pudding – p. 100

"...Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" this is a recipe for Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali passed away today and that makes me very sad.  What a legend!  What a boxer!  What a trash talker!  I loved him.

When I was a kid (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), we watched sports, including boxing, in our family, all day, every day.  And one of the greatest boxers of my time, if not all time, was Muhammad Ali. I loved watching the fights. 

And if you were watching Muhammad Ali, then chances are good that you were also watching ABC's sports commentator, Howard Cosell, or, as he said it, How-ard Co-sel-l in that very funny and clipped way he had.  Those two together were pure gold—as gold as the ABC jacket Howard wore while on the air.

These two men could not be more different and yet they struck up a friendship that lasted until Cosell died.  I think Howard didn't know what to make of Ali (formerly known as Cassius Clay).  Ali was not a shrinking violet and took to interviews the way he took to the ring:  with gusto.  When Ali said "I am the greatest" he was speaking truth and I think Cosell was just enamored with a guy who said such things with no apologies given.

Mind you though, as a kid, I was rather put off by Ali because I thought he was overconfident to the point of being rude.  But when you are 11 or 12 or 13, you think these things.  Still, when Ali fought Joe Frazier in 1971 (a fight dubbed "The Fight of the Century"), I was all about Joe.  And unbelievably, Frazier won.  I don't remember much of that event itself but do remember Ali.  Regardless of the decision that night, he was a force.

Some of you "youngsters" might recall when Ali lit the torch at the 2012 Olympics in London.  It was a moving moment to be sure.

And so ends another era and sheesh people, the list of people passing away who I grew up watching on TV, whether in sports or TV shows or also in films is getting longer and longer.  It makes me sad.  But it also makes me happy that I can honor some of these folks by cooking, the activity that helps center me and calm me when life just takes a detour.  And this cookbook, one I purchased several years ago, helped make things right.

After Andy and I each went through this cookbook, we had a long list of potential recipes – "Baked Stuffed Summer Squash" – p. 20; "Lana's Meat Loaf
 – p. 20 as well as "Lana's Meatloaf for Ali's Gang" – p. 21; "Asparagus Pie (With Meat)" – p. 23 and so on and we had barely left the Meat section.  Dessert was even more overwhelming but for whatever reason, that day we settled on Banana Pudding and was it ever delicious!  Neither one of our moms made it growing up but we wish they had.  Rich custard + bananas + vanilla wafers + meringue = our kind of dish!

And here's the thing:  I seem to recall that when I first purchased this cookbook at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in NYC (a rare find that I snapped up), I didn't see much of anything in this cookbook to float my boat.  Was I nuts?  This book was great and this banana pudding sealed the deal.

Muhammad Ali had many riches in his life and his cook, Lana Shabazz, was one of them.
Fare the well to The Greatest.

Banana Pudding – Yield:  8 to 10 servings
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
5 eggs
 2 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon banana extract (Ann's Note:  I substituted almond extract)
1 box vanilla wafers
6 medium-size ripe bananas, sliced
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Ann's Note:  I made half a recipe and it turned out great but it's best if eaten right away because the bananas will start to grow brown.  Tastes great but that can't be said for the appearance!

Heat oven to 425.

In a large sauce pan combine flour, salt, and 1 cup sugar.

Beat together 2 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks and add to mixture; beat until consistency is paste-like.  Add milk, stirring constantly over low flame until mixture thickens and begins to boil (about 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and add vanilla and banana extracts.

Line bottom of large casserole with vanilla wafers.  Place a layer of sliced bananas over the wafers then pour portion of custard over bananas.  Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard, ending with custard on top.  In a small bowl whip remaining egg whites, add cream of tartar, remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Pile on top of pudding and bake for 5 minutes or until delicately brown.  Serve warm or chilled.

Ann's Note:  If you half the recipe like I did, be sure to also divide the ingredients listed in the above steps (like eggs and sugar) accordingly.

"The Donut Book" by Sally Levitt Steinberg - Pennsylvania Dutch Doughnuts for National Doughnut Day (June 3, 2016)

Left:  My collection's "Uncorrected Proof;" Right: Final version (photo from internet)

Date I made this recipe:  June 3, 2016 – National Doughnut Day

The Donut Book by Sally Levitt Steinberg (Ann's Note:  This is an uncorrected proof of the book, not the final version)
Published by:  Alfred A. Knopf
© 1987
Purchased at Half Price Books (for a whopping $1.98!)
Recipe: Pennsylvania Dutch Doughnuts – p. 141

I tell you what, folks, it seems to me that someone out there is just making up these national food days just to mess with me because I sure as heck don't recall celebrating a National Doughnut Day before but what do I know?  Perhaps these holidays have been in existence forever and are now only coming to light because of the internet?

And there are so, many of these holidays (once a day and twice in Sundays), that I cannot possibly keep up even if my collection is filled with books for every occasion.  And so most of them have flown by, without cooking recognition from me (mea culpa) except I did manage to stop the presses on National Doughnut Day.  Whew.  That said, making a dish on the exact day of said food holiday is a challenge and so we celebrate D-Day (Doughnut Day) a few days later.

Now I ask you, are not some of these national food observances overkill?  Because in my house, every day is "national" chocolate day, coffee day, bakery day, and so on.  But okay fine, if we must designate a specific day for these things then we must.

I may or may not have told this doughnut story before on my blog but it bears repeating and it goes something like this:

Once upon a time, in a Catholic grade school, far, far away, my posse and I ditched the playground one day to head to the local bakery which was only a few blocks from the school.  The fact that we managed to slip past the eagle eye of the supervising playground nun in the first place is amazing (and true!).  One of my friends told me that one of her nuns always said "I have eyes in the back of my head" and she wasn't kidding.

So all of us rouge and very naughty 6th graders went to the bakery, got our sugary delights including doughnuts, and then walked back as sweet as you please (pardon the pun) to the playground only to find it deserted save for one person:  Sister Rita.  "SR" was our 6th grade teacher and the school's principal.  SR was not amused.  As a note, it was 1970 and most nuns I knew had yet to find a sense of humor under that uniform.

At any rate, SR asked us where we had been and all six of us chirped "No where, sister."  And then she asked what we were eating and we said "Nothing, sister."

We should have been struck down by a lightning bolt (something I feared growing up when I told a lie) for this huge fib and really, we had only ourselves to blame if that happened because the evidence was damming:  vestiges of powdered sugar and jelly were smeared all over our faces, hands and uniform, plus, it should be known that we were still carrying our bakery bags.  In other words, SR had this one in the bag (yes, again with the pun)!

It should be known that soiling a uniform is akin to soiling the U.S. flag i.e. it just is NOT done and, in the Catholic church, I suspect it is on the list of Cardinal Sins for which we were surely doomed to hell right then and there.  And this explains much of how my life went for me thereafter but that's a whole other story, even book, folks.

As was usual and customary at the time, my posse had to clap erasers (to clean them, Goggle it) and had to also clean the classroom to atone for our sins.  I received worse punishment while in that Catholic school but this ranked pretty high on the list.  Naturally, we were also expected to confess all in the confessional although I'm betting none of us did it and if we did, we still lied about it because that's what Catholic kids know how to do best:  lie.  Like a rug.  People always laugh when I say this but let me assure you that I am not kidding.  Swear to God. ;)

By the way, holding a séance on the playground was also not our best idea (fun though) and we once again received SR's wrath.  Frankly, I think our very existence ticked her off but that's another Catholic School Survivor story for another day.

And so this brings us back to the matter at hand:  donuts (or doughnuts).   Love them.  Love bakeries.  Love, love.   These days, I'm more of a cookie or brownie gal but every now and then I simply must have a doughnut.  And like many people, I can't decide if I like raised and glazed over cake doughnuts but luckily, nobody has a gun to my head forcing that decision.  And I have fond memories of both types of doughnuts.  When in New York and New Jersey visiting relatives, we had Entenmann's which I love.  And while on vacation in California in the early 70's, one of the hotels we stayed at served us chocolate covered cake doughnuts for their continental breakfast (they were way before their time) and my brother, a chocoholic, just about swooned.

As to The Donut Book, today's featured cookbook, there are more stories here and doughnut lore than recipes although as a reminder, I own an uncorrected proof of this book, not the final version with photos.  Just thought you should know that.  But all this is fine by me because I like the story as much as I do the recipes.  In the version I have, here are some of the recipes:  Pumpkin; Buttermilk; Graham Cracker; Beignets; Salvation Army Doughnuts; Elderberry Funnel Cakes and mine, Pennsylvania Dutch Doughnuts (originally published in Gourmet Magazine).

You will also read how and why soldiers returning from war were called doughboys, how the donut got its hole (no calories in those, no sir!) and so on.

As between making a yeast doughnut and a cake doughnut, "cake" won out hands down.  Plus, there is something about a yeast doughnut that requires the skill of a bakery baker and that is most decidedly not me.  And so to cake....

This is an easy recipe although actually shaping the doughnuts per the instructions was another matter.  I put my best baker – husband Andy – on that detail and after a fashion, he just gave up trying to follow the book's design specs and just made up his own!  He can be such a rogue in the kitchen.

These doughnuts can flavored with either nutmeg or cardamom.  Since I am not a nutmeg fan, I went with cardamom, a flavor I don't dislike, but one that doesn't float my boat, either.  And in my opinion, it was kind of hard to detect the flavor even though I used what I thought was a generous amount.

Still, our first attempt at making doughnuts was not half bad. If I had more time to experiment with some of the others (sour cream?  Oh yes!) I would be time marches on, food holidays come and go and so it's on to the next kitchen session.

Pennsylvania Dutch Doughnuts – serving size not given
3 large eggs
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cream
Generous grating of fresh nutmeg, or powdered cardamom seeds (Ann's Note:  by which I think they mean us to give some seeds a good whirl in a coffee/spice grinder or food processor?)
Pinch of salt
About 3 cups cake flour (Ann's Note:  I added as I went along and ended up using 2 cups.  I think for best results though, stop at 1.5 cups and see what you think as our dough ended up just shy of "easy to handle.")
Deep fat or oil for deep frying
Powdered sugar

Beat eggs until foamy, add granulated sugar, and beat again until well mixed.  Add cream, nutmeg (or cardamom), and salt to taste.  (Ann's Note:  I always chuckle when it is suggested that I 'salt to taste' a recipe involving raw meat or eggs because that is not going to happen.  When I was a kid, sure, we ate raw cookie dough but now that is verboten so food companies have figured out a way to allow kids to eat raw dough without the threat of salmonella.  And for this, we salute them!)

Blend the mixture well and sift in enough cake flour to make a soft dough that is easy to handle.

Roll out dough as thin as possible on a lightly floured board and cut it into narrow triangular shapes about 5 inches long.  In the center of each triangle make a cut about
 1 ½ inches long and pull point of the triangle through it.  Fry these twisted shapes in hot deep fat or oil until they are lightly browned.  Drain them on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve hot or cold.

Ann's Note:  These weren't bad "cold" but they aren't great, either.  I mean, we'll eat them and are eating them but the best doughnut is one that has just been pulled from the fat vat!