Feeding Frenzy

A professional gastronaut feeds the blogosphere with tales of his culinary adventures - sometimes on-the-job, sometimes just-for-the-hell-of-it.

Monday, February 07, 2005


I've slowed the pace of my cookbook-buying in the last few years. It's a matter of self-defense, really. The time came when our house and our catering office bulged with cookbooks. The collection outgrew the many bookshelves we own and began to crystalize in teetering stacks on every horizontal surface. Finally I realized I had to winnow some books, those which were more collectible than functional, into boxes which crowd our attic spaces.

Nowadays when I buy a cookbook, it's mostly to support some research project such as the one I undertook a year ago for a spate of English teas we were catering. That effort added a dozen or so often rare and almost always slender books to the collection. We now abound in heirloom recipes for seed cakes, scones and little crustless sandwiches.

But the sight of an out-of-town used book shop makes me weak in the knees. I particularly savor the tottering musty kind you find in old, rural settings. The best kind are the ones begun decades ago in small buildings to which additions have been heaped, creating strange burrows of warmth and bookish intimacy. On vacations we usually ship books home from every stop. Even day trips in the car find us sniffing around for cookbooks.

This last weekend, for instance, when we joined some friends in Lincoln City, Oregon we used the trip down and back as an excuse to find several nice, little bookstores along the way. In Portland, of course, we stopped as we always do at Powell's Books for Cooks in the Hawthorne neighborhood. And in Lincoln City itself we found one, Robert's Book Shop (3412 SE Hwy 101, Lincoln City, OR - (541) 994-4453), that was really special. I came away with some treasures, including the great Hilda Leyel's little book "Puddings", a couple of books on Mezes (small dish eastern Mediterranean foods), a book on the cookery of Caracas and an exceptional little book called "A Book of Hors D'oeuvres" written by an American named Lucy G. Allen and published in Boston in 1925 .

Here are a few things from this last book:

Harlequin Crusts

Saute oblong cuts of bread, spread with horseradish butter and over that place rows of chopped green pepper, pimiento, sifted egg yolk, smoked salmon and green pepper.

Casino Relish (hot)

Cut thin slices of boiled ham into small oval shapes. Spread one slice of ham lightly with dry mustard and then with Col. Skinner's Chutney. Cover with another slice of ham and grill quickly in a hot pan, using some fat from the trimming of the slices. Place these upon thin slices of bread which have been cut the same size and sauteed in olive oil. Serve hot.

Mushroom Meringues

Peel and break into small pieces one cup of fresh mushrooms. Cook them in two tablespoons of butter and season with salt and pepper. Mix one tablespoon of heavy cream with one slightly beaten egg yolk, add to mushroom mixture, and cook until thickened. Spread on rounds of sauteed bread, sprinkling freshly grated parmesan cheese over the top. Over that heap stiffly beaten egg white to cover entirely the muschroom; sprinkle Parmesan over the egg white and place in the oven until the egg is set and slightly browned. Shake paprika over all and serve.

Assorted Appetizers served on platter

The arrangement of appetizers given in the accompanying photograph is as follows: in the center of the platter is a mound of sardines. Grouped around the sardines alternately are four cubes of salmon masked with heavy mayonaise with one shrimp garnished with a tiny sprig of parsley on each cube, and small portions of Salad Relish arranged in four small lettuce cups. At each end of platter is another salad cup and in the intervening spaces are four artichoke bottoms which have been marinated in French dressing* and filled with Czecho-Slovak pickles. Around the outer edge are six half slices of lemon with notched edges, each garnished with three tiny diamonds of cooked beet. Here and there is a half a pickled English walnut which is not only a relish but sets off the colors of the various hors d'oeuvres.

* Note from Daniel: the French Dressing refered to here isn't the strange tomato dressing sold in bottles under that name in this country but is a fairly simple vinaigrette.


Blogger Zan said...

Hey- I was just going to email you about this article in the LA Times about cookbook collecting: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-dish16feb16.story. Seems you have company in your addiction.

February 16, 2005 8:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home


It's a frantic, hungry world.
We're feeding it -
one party at a time.

Powered by Blogger