I found the dusty well-worn cookbook in an old antique store off the beaten path in Ogden, Iowa. In researching the author, I was thrilled that I had stumbled across a treasure. The Gold Cook Book, first published in 1947 was written by Louis P. De Gouy, the Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for 30 years. He was also one of the original founders of Gourmet Magazine and the author of 16 cookbooks. In the Gold Cook Book I found an entire chapter devoted to something you don’t find as a separate section in many cookbooks today- Compounded Butters. My favorite line opening the chapter reads, “Compounded (creamed) butters in cookery are the finishing touch to food, be it a soup, fish, meat, sauce or vegetable as is powder and make-up to the face of a beautiful woman.” The chapter covered every compounded butter from Anchovy to Truffle Butter, and I was struck at how simple these compounds are, often mixing together just two or three ingredients to the softened butter. The great thing about compounded butters is that they can be made ahead and stored in a closed jar and refrigerated indefinitely for use when necessary. I chose a recipe for a Garlic Butter and loved the idea of paring it with a simple salmon fillet. Adding some fresh squeezed lime juice to the compound gave the salmon a bright and flavorful finish. Choose nice fresh, thick slices of salmon, cook them in a grill pan or skillet with a little salt and lemon pepper, and then drop a dollop of Compounded Garlic Lime Butter on top for a perfect light meal in minutes.
What a delicious way to combine Mother’s Day with a delicious Spring Pie! This Heart Shaped Strawberry Pie has a sweet history that’s worth remembering! In 1949 if you had wanted to know about rural life in Iowa, you would have looked to Evelyn Birkby, the newspaper columnist, author, and radio personality who for almost 60 years shared stories of farm life, recipes and tales from her own country kitchen. Evelyn was also one of the famed “Radio Homemakers” who, for 40 years broadcast across a five-state area on radio station KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa. (In the 1950s, domesticity dominated the lives of most rural Iowa women. Somewhat isolated on the farm, many relied on the radio to hear a friendly voice. The KMA Radio Homemakers were the ones they turned to for advice and information about cooking, gardening, household hints and beauty tips.) Evelyn Birkby was by far the most popular of the “neighbors on the air,” helping women with everything from menu planning to child rearing. For more than a quarter century Evelyn was a regular monthly columnist for Kitchen-Klatter Magazine, and broadcast on the syndicated Kitchen-Klatter radio program. Birkby is the author of ten books radio homemakers. Her book Up a Country Lane stitches together stories, photographs and recipes from Iowa farm life in the 1940s and 1950s. The Strawberry Pie in Up a Country Lane is reflective of all of the recipes in the cookbook. They are fun, simple, and were often sent in to Evelyn from her adoring radio fans and newspaper readers. While so many recipes for Strawberry Pie use a strawberry gelatin as a thickener, the
natural pureed strawberries in this version really gives this pie a through and through fresh strawberry flavor. I think you Mom will enjoy a little neighborly Iowa hospitality with Evelyn Birkby’s summertime favorite!
We’re just five days away from our Southwestern fiesta with friends, Cinco de Mayo! Searching for some salsas? This Roasted Eggplant Salsa was rescued out of my own recipe box—the one I’ve had for years stuffed with recipe clippings, potluck favorites and scribbles on scratch paper. It’s perfect for a Cinco celebration if you’re looking to add something a little different to your salsa spread this year. I’ve also included one of my favorite recipes for stand-out Salsa Fresca. It uses ingredients found in many diced tomato-based salsas, but you can heat it up or tone it down anyway you like. Then grab a chip and dive right in!
In Julie Child’s Menu Cookbook from 1978, she speaks about how French bread “begs to be cooked this way.” Sliced thin, brushed with butter and baked to golden brown, the “croutes” became a hard toasted bread perfect for appetizers. The modern day version is crostini, toasted sliced baguettes used for popular plates like Bruschetta and mascarpone, prosciutto and fig on crostini Hors d’oeuvres.
For this recipe I’m taking a cue from Julia:
“Suppose the boss is coming for dinner—a formidable personage whom you want to impress and whose taste in food runs to the conservative. What to serve? For someone like that I immediately think of beef.”
This recipe for Filet with Sautéed Mushrooms combines the use of beautifully baked toasts sprinkled with grated cheese and then topped with thin slices of flavorful filet topped with a small mound of sautéed mushrooms and onions. If you invite your boss to your next party and serve up these, you just might get a raise!
(This is a great summertime light meal and all steps can be made ahead and assembled when ready to serve. Serve mushroom mixture warmed.)
I appreciate wine so much more after this recipe. Not because there’s wine anywhere in the dish, but because it was the wine that loosened the lips of Mrs. Stebbins that finally got her to give up her secret recipe for the most scrumptious Barbecue Pork ever! I received the recipe and story from Chandler resident Ann Todd and I loved both so much I couldn’t wait to share them with you! “Jan, my mom, Liz Ramsey, makes this recipe for weddings– mine in fact! She also makes it for parties, picnics and other promotions.” Ann told the story of her Mom’s friend, Mrs. Stebbins who would sit in the front of her house cross legged, leaning against the door reading a novel and having a glass of wine in the sunshine. Ann’s Mom had Mrs. Stebbins’ Barbecue Pork at a party and really wanted the recipe. Mrs. Stebbins didn’t want to give it up because she didn’t want the secret out so that she could make it every time she had a party. However one afternoon after one of those reading and sipping in the sunshine sessions, she was a little loose-lipped and let the secret of her great barbecue pork out. She just walked into Liz’s kitchen and said, “Oooooo-kay!” If you’re looking for a delicious and hearty recipe for your Super Bowl spread this year, you’ve got a winner right here. Devour it and raise a glass to Mrs. Stebbins!
Here is a One Skillet Wonder that is so delicious, so savory, so cheesy, and so satisfying that it’s become one of my favorite family meals, and I hope it becomes the same for you! Here, the Italian meatball is smothered in a classic French onion soup gravy, and the result is nothing short of delicioso and magnifique!