This Week’s Five Best Food Events – 9/2/2014

Recovering from a long weekend away can be tough. Here are five events to help ease you into fall.

VeggiePalooza, Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Avenue — Building 3, Brooklyn, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Celebrate harvest with fresh veggies and sourdough courtesy of Scratchbread at this rooftop dinner and drinks celebration. Brooklyn restaurants including Northeast Kingdom will contribute select menu items like carrot cake. Tickets are $85 and include beer and wine.

$10 Tasting — Shiner Beers, Idle Hands Bar, 25 Avenue B, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Now that fantasy football drafts are over, get ready for kickoff with a $10 deal on beer and whiskey. Representatives from Texas’s Shiner Brewery will be attendance to discuss three of their favorite products, and shots of whiskey will also be available for really friendly and well-behaved customers. Guests can also enjoy the start of the NFL season with the Packers-Seahawks game on Thursday; Houston Texans fans will find a home here all season.

Williams-Sonoma All-Clad TK Launch Event, Williams-Sonoma, 10 Columbus Circle, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Join Per Se chef Eli Kaimeh and Bouchon pastry chef Alessandra Altieri as they showcase Williams-Sonoma’s new cookware line featuring Thomas Keller recipes. The complimentary event will also feature a raffle to win an entire cookware set for free, and attendees who make a purchase will receive a free copy of Chef Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.

From BBQ to Braai — South African BBQ Comes To America, Studio 450, 450 West 31st Street, Thursday, 7 p.m.

This traveling series stars South African chef Hugo Uys, who explores his home country’s barbecue traditions and Braai cuisine. Guests can expect a variety of seafood and meats grilled over a charcoal fire, as well as a variety of South African wines. Tickets are $35.

Drunkle Vanya, The Gin Mill, 442 Amsterdam Avenue, Thursday, 8 p.m.

What happens when you pair Cards Against Humanity with vodka? You can find out this Thursday, at this adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” You’ll play games and drink, plus partake in the practical jokes that are part of this live production. The show runs through September, and tickets are $15.


Spring up Your Pie Game With CIA’s Pies & Tarts

Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York’s best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we’ll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.

Pies and Tarts

By The Culinary Institute of America and Kristina Peterson Migoya, 336 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $29.99

In today’s cookbook culture, even the best, most serious chefs fall victim to over- personalizing and editorializing their books; each recipe comes with a story and a glossy, full-color photograph, and you end up learning more about the chef and his or her background than you do about cooking great food.

But leave it to the Culinary Institute of America, and to pastry chef Kristina Peterson Migoya, to put out a book that declines to frolic in the fields, instead bringing cooking back to the kitchen (and yes, there are still beautiful photos).

In one of our recent chats, Migoya said she tried hard to convince her publisher to sell the book as a package deal: Readers would buy the book along with a digital scale for weighing ingredients, which is how professionals cook.

The author understands that not everyone is, or wants to be, a professional, but she stresses that precision, organization, and care are absolutely essential to achieving one’s desired result with baking.

The book is focused, unembellished, and clear; it’s also a reasonable size for a cookbook, as in, it will fit on your counter alongside your ingredients, cutting board, and mixing bowls, unlike so many other modern cookbooks, which are better off on a coffee table, or cracked for reference, but not so much for day-to-day splashes and splatters.

On the next page, Migoya dishes on crimping and lattices, digital scales, and one very special mentor.

Butterscotch creme pie.
Butterscotch creme pie.

It’s technically spring. What ingredients are you excited to begin working with again?
Well, rhubarb is really the big one; once you start seeing that around, it’s kind of like the harbinger of spring. And strawberries. And that’s just such a classic combination, and it can be done so well, that’s really one of my favorites combinations.

And something that’s perhaps overlooked, or underrated, in the months to come?
Well, you’ll start to see apricots, and there’s a really nice market fruit galette; there’s this one master recipe and you can utilize different fruits with it, and different levels of thickeners, given the different fruits you’re using. It’s just this really easy free-form tart to make: essentially, you just roll out the dough, put the product in, and fold it up. So it’s really easy. That works with different berries, stone fruits, apples, anything. It’s great. It’s just like one big master recipe to cover all of them.

With two-crust pies, what tips can you offer for crimping the crusts together?
There are many variations in the book that kind of build on the basic pinch crimp technique, but there are so many other things you can do. You can press the crusts together with indentations; you can vary how you do it. That was actually one of the best parts of researching this book, was the different crimping methods, because I love double crust pies so that was really fun to go in and see. Traditionally what was done — which hasn’t been brought to the forefront, and there are so many variations — was just simply [by pressing] with a fork’s tines; that’s a really great way to do it.

And for lattices? There are so many beautiful crusts in the book.
For lattices, the cover recipe, that was actually done with large cookie cutter lattice, and it looks super hard, and it’s just basically a cutout. So that’s one thing that I think people really think, more complex is better, but really in this case, simple is just as elegant and beautiful. And those kinds of lattices are really easy to do different variations on. So if you’re someone who’s not comfortable doing a lattice for the first time, that’s an easy way to do it. There are also more complex ones; you can vary the width of the lattice pieces, or there are different ways you can weave…You can really go to town with the lattice.

What is one of the more modern recipes in the book, maybe something that’s new to you, or that you wouldn’t have been making earlier in your career?
One that was really interesting to develop was just this really simple butterscotch cream pie. Which actually, is really technically difficult to ensure that a home baker would be able to produce it in their kitchen, because some of the chemistry that goes on with the ingredients. That one was really fun and I really enjoyed it, but there were moments when I just wanted to be done with it. But I persevered with it…It’s just such a simple pie, but for the most part these days, people producing cream pies are using mixes, they’re not really focused on a recipe. So that one is pretty interesting, how you have to put the ingredients together, and that took a lot of research, and a lot of playing with it, until I got it to the right texture and consistency.

What chef you really admire?
Mark Furstenberg has been my mentor for many years, and he is really remarka– well, amazing. He’s 77 years old, and he’s starting his third business. His first was called Marvelous Bread, and he was one of the forerunners of the artisanal bread movement in Washington D.C….He was a staff reporter for the Washington Post, and he just decided he wanted to do something with his hands and create in a different way. He [then] had a very successful business called the Bread Line, it was a hybrid bakery/restaurant, and since then he’s been trying to find the perfect spot for a neighborhood bakery. So, he is now opening a bakery called Bread Furst, so kind of a play on his name. What’s so great about Mark is his understanding of how you have to leave a legacy, and what he’s doing is figuring out ways to leave his bakery to ensure that it lasts beyond him, after he establishes this last bakery. That to me really shows what Mark’s about; from the beginning, how he mentored me, kind of throwing me into the middle of things, and said, “Ask questions.” And I thrived with that, and he thrived with that; we both sort of thrived in that relationship. So he’s really a great, great man.

What’s a simple lesson you, as a teacher instill in your baking students at CIA that also applies to home cooks?
One of the first things we teach students at Culinary is the importance of being organized, and that doesn’t just mean with your tools; it’s also preparation beforehand, reading your recipe, ensuring that your ingredients are there, that they’re prepared and ready to go. So if you need apples, the apples are peeled and diced to the proper size. Then the next step would be to put the product — in this case, the pie or tart, together. So for me, mise en place is absolutely essential.

And to ensure that home bakers do it correctly, I also am a big proponent of buying a scale. For the longest time, I wanted to include the scale with this book, and [the publishers] thought I was crazy. If you look at the recipes, you can see that they’re in volume, but they’re also in weight, and that’s because you’re going to get a better result the more precise and methodical you are. It’s also about how you think and look at recipes. So the more I can push home bakers toward using a scale, the happier they’re going to be with their product, and the more they’re going to be able to take things to the next level.

Market fruit mini-galettes with apple.
Market fruit mini-galettes with apple.

Makes one 10-inch galette

All-butter pie dough for single crust, or cream cheese dough, chilled*

Stone fruit variation:
7-8 apricots, nectarines, peaches, or plums, pitted and sliced as desired
½ C granulated sugar, plus more as needed
3 T cornstarch
2 T unsalted butter

Apple or pear variation:
3-4 apples or pears, peeled, cored, and diced
⅓ C granulated sugar
3 T cornstarch
2 T unsalted butter

Egg wash, as needed
Sanding sugar or granulated sugar, as needed

(Berry and cherry variation also included in book)

*Cream cheese dough:

1 ½ C all-purpose flour
½ t kosher salt
½ C cream cheese, cold, cut into ¾ inch cubes
½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ¾ inch cubes
1 T water, ice cold
1 t fresh lemon juice

In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and salt.

Blend the dry ingredients on low speed until combined, about 15 seconds. With the mixer off, add the cream cheese pieces to the mixing bowl and combine on medium speed until the mixture resembles cornmeal, 2-3 minutes. Add the butter pieces and combine on medium speed until the mixture appears rough, with irregular pieces of butter no larger than small walnuts and no smaller than peas, 2-3 minutes.

Sprinkle the ice-cold water and the lemon juice over the mixture and mix on low speed for 30-60 seconds, or until just combined. Continue to mix until the dough is rough but pliable. The dough should just hold together when pressed to the side of the bowl. It should not form a ball or mass of dough in the bowl.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a 5-6 inch disc and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight, until firm.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set hte rack in the lowest position.

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the chilled dough to a ⅛” thick, 13″ diameter disc. Transfer the dough on the parchment to a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until pliable.

Combine the prepared fruit of your choice, the sugar, and cornstarch, as well as the spice or lemon juice, if called for. Toss to combine and immediately pile the filling evenly into the center of the dough disc, leaving a 2-3 inch border. Cut the butter into small pieces and and dot them over the top of the filling. Fold the dough border up and over the filling, pleating it every 2 inches and leaving the center area uncovered. Carefully lift each pleat and brush water under each fold to seal. Gently press the dough against the fruit. Brush the outside top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding or granulated sugar.

Bake until the filling is bubbly and thick and the edges of the crust are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Remove the galette from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let cool for 1 hour. The filling will continue to thicken and set as the galette cools.

Individual fruit galettes:
Follow the recipe above, but divide the chilled dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a disc 6-7 inches in diameter and ⅛” thick. Transfer the dough discs to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Proceed with steps 3 and 4, placing approximately ⅓ of a cup of fruit in the center of each disc. Continue with step 5, baking for 20-30 minutes.

Check out our Cookbook of the Week archives for more like this.



Lessons in Eating Well From Simca’s Cuisine Still Resound 40 Years Later

Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York’s best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we’ll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.

By Simone ‘Simca’ Beck, 326 pages, Borzoi Books/Alfred A. Knopf (1972/First Edition)

In 1961, Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle published Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child’s seminal work and the authoritative tome on its subject. The authors released a second volume in 1970. A year later, Beck published her own book sharing her own personal body of work, built on family recipes from Normandy, Alsace, and Provence and her own creations developed from the time of her youth through her decades cooking with American chefs like Child.

Beck’s book is geared to entertaining and looks at dining as a whole experience. Most of the recipes (helpfully indexed by ingredient at the back of the book) are incorporated into menus for every affair — picnics and lunches, dinners and buffets — and in structuring it this way, Beck teaches us how eating well depends on so many things: the season, location, affair, company. Every chef I know who cooks French cuisine carries this book on their shelf.

A “spectacular dinner” with champagne calls for salmon or striped bass in brioche, jellied rolled roast of veal, assorted cheeses, whole lettuce salad with vinaigrette, and Bavarian cream with pears and raspberry sauce…With Brut champagne throughout. But see how she balances the meal — a light, fluffy first course; a heavier main; palate-clearing cheeses (heavy) and salad (light); and a bright dessert of both fruit and cream. On lesser nights, she lets season dictate the menu, offering, perhaps, a “spring dinner from Touraine” with pureed asparagus soup and fresh strawberries or a meal for “after a winter walk in the woods” with oxtails, hearty Provencal stew, and, Beck writes, since “nothing could leave more of a glow on a cold day than [a] banana souffle with warm apricot sauce,” that.

With panache, indeed.
With panache, indeed.

Balance extravagance with simplicity.
Along with that hearty Provencal stew, Beck serves plain buttered noodles; for fowl grilled with Madeira and cream, she prescribes potatoes sauteed with unpeeled garlic; with curried pork ragout, saffron rice. She answers the question of pairing starch and protein, but her nuance for matching the flavors draws on centuries of French cooking, still the bedrock of all modern cuisine.

Eat with wine.
Beck punctuates each menu with wine pairings. With a crab souffle, a dry, white, Loire valley wine; a dinner of cheese souffles; chicory, beet, and endive salad; rich, soft cheeses; and almond tart matches a red Bordeaux. Take her pairings as scripture — they’re classic and foolproof — or play around and substitute a restrained California Cabernet for the Bordeaux.

Make cassoulet.
It’s winter, which means beans and meats are in, and the city has been feeding a mounting cassoulet craze for several seasons now. Beck’s version of this Provencal standby is comparatively easy — her duck is neither properly confited nor aged — yet the dish remains classically French.

After dinner: a stiff drink.
“‘A good cognac is the inevitable conclusion to a fine dinner with fine wine,'” Beck quotes a “great connoisseur of cognac” as saying at the end of the book. For “‘what is more agreeable than warming a beautiful glass in which the master of the house has just served you a fine old cognac?’ In these thoughts I concur,” and we’ll take her at face value on this. Let’s bring some gentility back into dinner, shall we?

Soupe Normande (Pureed soup of beans with butter & cream
Serves Six


1 pound flageolet beans, dried pea beans, or dried baby lima beans
1 cup celery, sliced
5 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, to make 1 cup, sliced
4 medium carrots, sliced
½ cup leeks, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream or evaporated milk
Bunch of Chervil, finely chopped (2-2 ½ teaspoons if dried
black pepper

Put the beans into a heavy-bottomed three-quart saucepan and cover them liberally with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil, add two tablespoons of salt, and simmer until the beans are tender and slightly in puree (about 1-1 ½ hours).

Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Add the sliced celery to the cooking liquid, and simmer until it has reduced to seven cups. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, set the celery aside with the beans, and clean the pan.

Heat three tablespoons of butter in the pan, add the sliced onions and carrots, and saute them slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to cook them evenly. Then add the sliced lieeks and cook for about five minutes longer. Sprinkle on the flour, and stir for two to three minutes to coat the vegetables with the flour. Remove from the heat.

Pour in the cooking juice from the beans, return to the heat, stirring until smooth, add a little pepper, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until all vegetables are tender.

Add the celery and the beans, reserving 18 beans for decoration, and reheat the soup. Then put it through a food mill or spin briefly in the blender at low speed. Pour the puree back into the pan, set over medium heat, and stir in the cream or milk by spoonfuls. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and add half of the chervil.

Serve in warm soup cups or a tureen, decorated with the remaining chervil and the reserved beans.


Noah Fecks & Paul Wagtouicz’s The Way We Ate, Our Cookbook of the Week

Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York’s best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we’ll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.

The Way We Ate
By Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz, 256 pages, Touchstone Books, $35

In 2011, esteemed food photographers Paul Wagtouicz and Noah Fecks decided to cook, eat, and photograph their way through the entire archive of the late, great Gourmet Magazine, which, after chronicling American taste for nearly 70 years, released its final issue in November 2009. That’s 815 issues, and blogging at a rate of one issue per week, the project should take approximately…15 years. Check out their blog, The Way We Ate, for near-daily dining inspiration and gorgeous, full-color photographs of the foods that shaped the nation’s palate.

In October, Fecks and Wagtouicz released their debut cookbook, named for the blog, which follows a similar format. It’s 100 years of history, with one recipe per year from venerable chefs like Jaques Pepin, Daniel Boulud, Anita Lo, and food critics and editors, including Ruth Reichl, who edited Gourmet from 1999 until 2009. And of course, those glorious photographs…Because every dish has its moment.

In this interview, Fecks talks fun and failure, famous food feuds, and the key to eternal youth.

What is the oldest recipe in this book and where did you come from?
You’d have to duke it out between a few. Jacques Pepin’s recipe from 1961 is an actual vintage recipe. Some of the other ones are more current recipes that are a response, or a postmodern interpretation, but I would say Pepin all the way. His recipe from 1961 actually inhabited that space and time, it’s a recipe from his archive, from his library that he graciously provided for us. This was also one that we couldn’t find a good image for, so what we did was this: We worked with Jacques, took his recipe, and tried to give it new life by making it and photographing it and putting it in the context of 1961.

Another of my favorites is 1973: Sally Darr did these fluted brioches for a 1973 issue of Gourmet. So that’s an original recipe as well. Sally wrote those recipes based on the original Cuisinart — the first Cuisinart — and you always forget that this was this revolutionary new item that completely eradicated these long prep times, so Sally wrote these recipes for this machine that nobody had any idea what to do with. And what’s so cool about it is that you use that recipe today, and it’s air-tight. Rock solid.

If you could give one piece of cooking advice to the world, what would it be and why?
Woah. I think the takeaway is that failure is part of the package. You have to accept that the greatest successes come through repeated failure. I forget this all the time, and I get so frustrated when I fail, and I get really angry, but all of my failures, I try to make them into learning experiences…In the kitchen at least! It’s really that whole thing about try, try again.

What cook(s), living or dead, do you most admire and why?
I’m really into this lady right now, Madeleine Kamman. She’s still alive, and much older. She did this landmark book called The Making of a Cook and had this huge, famous feud with Julia Child. And the quote was, and Julia Child said this exactly: “I shall take her by the short hairs, wearing gloves, of course, and grind her up bit by bit in my food processor.” Julia Child said that about her. She is somebody who lived and died by technique, lived and died by tradition. And I don’t necessarily agree with her, but man do I respect that. And I love that she really — whenever she’s nervous or unsure, and we all get that way — she really falls on tradition. So when I’m unsure of something, you can read her words, and she’s so steadfast, and so self-assured, she’s a precursor to the egomaniacal male chef of now. But to be so confident and self-assured as a woman, in the 1970s, it’s so rare. She’s practically beating her chest, she’s so loud and aggressive. I love it.

What’s your go-to seasonal ingredient right now, and what do you love about it?
Thyme. Fresh thyme. I cook a lot at home, and I’m constantly testing things. I made three things yesterday, and I’ve got three things going today. But thyme is just so seasonal right now; I made some muffins with thyme, I put it in my breakfast, I made a Shephard’s pie. I love an apple pie with herbs: with rosemary or thyme. I love to cut up a whole bunch of apples, and stuff a chicken with them and whole sprigs of rosemary and cover it with rosemary. So rosemary and thyme, both of them.

Name one unusual/unexpected/unique recipe from the book.
Definitely Claudia’s Crunchy Salad. It’s 1970, and it’s by Claudia Gonson, who is the drummer for the Magnetic Fields. I met Claudia when I was on assignment for Saveur, and we were shooting her in her kitchen. So while we were shooting, I was like, ‘What are you making,” and she was like, “Claudia’s Crunchy Salad,” named after herself, of course. She said it’s kind of different every time, but she said, “I only put things in that are crunchy.” So it’s like fennel, cucumbers, celery, sunflower seeds, and onion, and then she chops it all up and puts in rice vinegar and olive oil and sesame oil with a whole bunch of sunflower seeds. And it’s like, OK, that sounds good, and you think it’s going to be good, but holy shit. It’s like, wow. We need to eradicate one of the three meals of the day and make it this. Because if you eat this every day, you will live forever. It’s so empowering. After you eat it, it’s kind of like if you just got a tattoo. It’s like, “RAAAAR!” You’re ready to take on the world.

Wanna live forever? Click to the next page for the recipe.

Claudia’s Crunchy Salad (1971, from Claudia Gonson)
Makes 4-6 servings

2 large cukes (peeled if you want)
1 bulb fennel
2 stalks celery
2 carrots, peeled
Bit of sweet white onion, finely chopped
1 small green or colorful bell pepper
Cherry tomatoes (if you want, I don’t usually add them, because they’re not crunchy)
1 big handful unsalted sunflower seeds
Salt and pepper
1 scant tablespoon safflower or canola oil
Dash seasoned rice vinegar
3-5 drops sesame oil

Chop it all up, add dressing, and toss. Best after chilling!



Throwback: 10 Lessons from 55-Year-Old Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two Cookbook

Betty Crocker never actually existed in flesh-and-blood form, but long before she started churning out boxed cake mixes and frostings, she was used for an ad campaign for Gold Medal flour in 1921. Shortly thereafter, the company used her name to answer all manner of baking questions posed by women around the country and even gave her a radio show.

She went on to publish several cookbooks, including The Betty Crocker Cookbook, which debuted in 1950 and remains in print to this day. Lesser known is Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two, published in 1958, which is tailor-made to city-living whether you’re in a couple or not; recipes are simple, easy to source, and short, and they make only enough food for two people. So if you’re single, you’ll have some leftovers; if you live with another, it’s just enough for one meal.

But that’s not to say the book isn’t hilariously dated (although the illustrations by Charles Harper remain fantastic). And despite sweeping changes in how we think about ingredients, cooking and gender roles, there is still plenty that rings true in Crocker’s classic take on cooking.

Below, graphic wisdom and wackiness from Ms. Crocker herself.

What every cook should know:

If you want to have your friends saying “She’s a wonderful cook,” Crocker advises knowing how to prepare coffee, biscuits, gravy, pie and cake, and also green salad, broiled steak, hamburgers, fried chicken, roast pork, and mashed potatoes.

And how about that cake?

Crocker suggests a “Brown Beauty Cake.” Bring it to the next Box Social you have scheduled and you’ll be a star… Want the recipe? Take the ingredients next to the picture and prepare as follows:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8″ square pan. Stir boiling water and chocolate together until chocolate melts. Cool. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir in chocolate mixture. Add shortening. Beat for 1 minute, medium speed on your mixer, or 150 strokes by hand. Add remaining ingredients. Beat 1 more minute. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes until cake tests done. Cool and frost.

Maybe you’d like to bake that cake for a special occasion? Crocker has advice on those, too:

For birthdays, anniversaries and celebratory dinners, Crocker thinks it best to “Use you best table linen, china, and silver. Center the table with an arrangement, floral or otherwise, appropriate to the day– with candlelight for a happy glow over all.” You know, make it special; borrow your man’s hammer-and-nails and tack up a “Happy Anniversary” sign.

Click through to the next page for what to do when company shows up.

When company comes, ladies, best make sure your lipstick is perfect. Also, a good host must: “Remember that true hospitality is what you give of yourself in your own home, it’s not measured in the number of courses you serve or the elaborateness of the setting.”

Crocker also advises, “To entertain successfully, do it often enough to keep it from being an ordeal; do it simply enough to keep it from being a strain; and do your work before the guests arrive, then join them for a good time.”

Maybe you’d like to treat your guests to an international dinner experience?

Go find your best global tablecloth and brush up your chopstick skills.

In 1958, Crocker observes, the nation was going multicultural and thus: “American homemakers are becoming expert in the art of turning out the pizzas of Italy, the rice dishes of the Orient, the pastries of France, and other national favorites,” a trend she hopes will “Bring happy memories or intriguing visions of lands from afar, [and a]lso… serve as an international language in promoting a better understanding between the countries of the world.”

Lofty goals, but her heart’s in the right place, no? And to accomplish this, Crocker specifically recommends using a “small cart filled with red, white and blue flowers” to “recall the streets of Paris” or using “a low bowl or piece of driftwood filled with cherry blossoms or chrysanthemums” to make an “authentic Japanese centerpiece.” Also, cover the lights with Japanese lanterns.

Next up: how to make a soufflé.

Maybe your guests would be impressed by a simple dish of flour, eggs and cheese?

This lady seriously loves her soufflé, and who can blame her? It’s rising practically to the heavens.

If you’d like to make it, it’s apparently super easy, and if you get it right, you’ll be the star of your next soiree.

2T plus 2t butter
2T plus 2t flour
¼ t salt
cayenne pepper
¼ t mustard (powder)
⅔ c milk
⅔ c shredded sharp cheese
2 egg yolks, well beaten
2 egg whites
¼ t cream of tartar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter over low heat in heavy saucepan. Blend in flour, seasonings. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbling. Remove from heat. Stir in milk. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Stir in cheese. Remove from heat; stir in egg yolks.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff. Fold in cheese mixture. Pour into un-greased 1 quart baking dish. Fro High Hat Souffle, make groove one inch from edge. Set baking dish in pan of hot water (1″ deep). Bake 50-60 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately with mushroom, tomato or seafood sauce.

And you’ll want to make sure you’ve prepared the perfect dessert. Maybe one of these gems?

Nothing says glamor like a sundae bowl brimming with melonballs, bananas and strawberries (“Glamorous Fruit Dessert,” bottom right). Although, that Peach Melba is tempting: half a peach over vanilla ice cream with raspberry-currant sauce? We’ll take it. And what if you brandied the peach first?

Next, everyday dishes and skills every homemaker must know.

On marketing (neé, grocery shopping):

When you go to market, line up with the other ladies and wait for the nice gentleman to tell you what the day’s specials are because, Crocker advises, “Good marketing is as important as good cooking, and the good chopper will always be prepared for any emergency,” like when unexpected guests show up or friends come over on a Sunday afternoon for snacks. If you can handle these situations, “this will make your reputation as a good homemaker and a cordial and unflustered hostess” without causing “any strain on you.” And really, what more could any gal aspire to?

But beware buying fish:

Cooking fish was a sure-fire way to become a cat lady… But in all seriousness, this book came out before so-called “sustainable seafood” was even a glimmer in some environmentalist’s eye; many of the fillets Crocker recommends were so overfished during this book’s time that since it was written, their populations fell to crisis levels. Some, like sea bass (not the Chilean kind), bluefish and flounder, have even bounced back from historic lows but others, like cod and salmon, remain extremely underpopulated.

But one sure-fire way to eat sustainably is to hunter-gather yourself a meal. So, sally forth to the forest (in your bonnet, of course) and gather ye some berries, and hope your Davey Crocket husband is good with a gun.

And for Chrissakes, don’t forget ye shopping cart!


Where to Find Japanese Fried Chicken in NYC … And How to Make It at Home

Tokyo and New York City have a lot in common. In each cramped city, millions of people pay sky-high rents for tiny apartments, and a lot of those tiny apartments have even tinier kitchens. This partly explains why there are so many great restaurants in both of the neon cities: People don’t want to deal with cooking at home when they have no counter space.

But what if you’re craving authentic kara-age (Japanese fried chicken), good versions of which are somewhat hard to come by in NYC?

I’ve been underwhelmed by much of the kara-age I’ve tried in this city, so I took matters into my own hands and scoured the internet for a recipe. And I found it: Amid all the versions floating around online, I can absolutely attest to the quality and authenticity of the one depicted in the video below. When I fried up some chicken the other day, the result was better than any of the kara-age I’ve eaten since I moved back to the States from Japan. It was also easy to make with a bare minimum of counter space and equipment–just make sure you have sugar and soy sauce on hand to marinate the bird, which is the key distinguishing factor between this Japanese fried chicken and the regular version.

A couple of cooking notes:

  • His recipe calls for white wine, but mirin or sake will also work in the marinade. I used mirin.
  • If you use fresh ginger, keep the ratio of garlic higher, about three to one.
  • A little extra sugar is recommended.
  • The type of oil you use for frying will impart a lot of flavor. Using coconut or peanut oil would probably be delicious. Due to a supply shortage, I used a three-to-one blend of canola and olive oil. Frying in olive oil alone is not recommended because of its low smoke point. Do not set your stove on fire.
  • If you have the time and supplies, kara-age goes great with Japanese curry and rice. It also keeps well in the fridge as a snack.

If this seems too hard, check out the kara-age at these NYC establishments, which should hold you over until you can find or make the real thing:

Ichibantei, 401 East 13th Street

Udon West, 11 Saint Marks Place

Shinobi Ramen, 53 Morgan Street, Brooklyn

Jin Ramen, 3183 Broadway

Sunrise Mart, 4 Stuyvesant Street: Don’t be put off by the pre-packaged bento here. It’s the best kara-age I’ve found in New York.