17 July 2015

Famous Food Friday -- Audrey Hepburn

For most people, this is the image they think of when they think of Audrey Hepburn in a kitchen. Holly Golightly in full tiara examining the contents of her refrigerator: milk and ballet slippers.

Really, to look at Audrey Hepburn one might never think she ate a bite. Such a supposition has a rather sinister truth. As a child in war ravaged Holland, she suffered from acute malnutrition and came very close to starving. Some twenty-two thousand people died of hunger in Holland during World War II.

We also think of Audrey Hepburn as a movie star. Her son, Luca Dotti, says he never knew Audrey Hepburn, and vehemently denied that his mother was an actress telling those who inquired that his mother was, "Mrs. Dotti."

Recently, Luca Dotti shared the Audrey Hepburn he knew as Mum, in a lovely book entitled, Audrey at Home.  It began when a friend pulled a binder off a shelf and Dotti discovered it was a collection of recipes many that, "never made their way to our dining table."  He goes on to say,

"For in the kitchen, as in life, my mother gradually freed herself from everything that was superfluous to keep only that which mattered to her. Those are the recipes you will find  in the pages that follow  -- and the stories that go with them."

As one might suspect, the vast majority of the recipes are Italian. One might not suspect that Audrey Hepburn was a fan of junk food. Here is a recipe that combines the two.  She often ate this sitting in front of the television.

Penne with Ketchup

1/2 pound (250 g) penne or pennette
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Splash of Heinz ketchup or more to taste
Emmentaler cheese, grated for serving

Cook the penne in a pot with abundant slightly salted boiling water; strain when it is "al dente." In the same pot over medium heat, toss the pasta with the butter and oil, mixing for a minute or two. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and wait a few minutes more; this is called "mantecare" and leaves your pasta as smooth as silk. Pour the penne into a serving bowl and toss with a splash of ketchup, just enough to give the pasta a pinkish color. Dot the top here and there with a little more ketchup. Serve with grated Emmentaler cheese.

If you are a fan of Audrey Hepburn, this is a magical book to add to your collection. 

Here a few "extra" photos we have of Audrey in and out of kitchens real and imaginary.

Audrey Hepburn with Mel Ferrer in the rustic kitchen at their home, Villa Bethania.

Audrey in Sabrina.

Audrey in a California apartment.

Gary Cooper and Audrey on the set of Love in the Afternoon.

26 June 2015

Famous Food Friday -- The Algonquin Round Table

"A Vicious Circle" by Natalie Ascencios
Natalie Ascencios' "A Vicious Circle" features many of the key players in the what has been dubbed the Algonquin Round Table.  In this illustration you will find: Robert Benchley, Franklin Pierce Adams, Robert Sherwood, Harpo Marx, Alexander Woollcott, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, (seated) Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, George S. Kaufman, Heywood Broun. This lively group, supplemented by the likes of Tallulah Bankhead, Alice Duer Miller, and Donald Ogden Stewart, held court from 1919 to 1929 at Algonquin Hotel.

They began meeting after John Peter Toohey, a theatrical agent, became angry at Alexander Woollcott for refusing to write about Eugene O'Neill, one of Toohey's clients. Toohey decided to invite Woollcott to lunch as a "thank you" while secretly planning on having Woollcott made fun of.  Of course, Woollcott loved it and began regular lunch meetings that became daily events.

The food came in from Frank Case.  Case managed the Algonquin, buying it in 1927.  It is Case who is credited with the first "round" table.  In the beginning, the group dined in what would become known as the Oak Room and they were seated at conventional tables as if they were any diners. As the group grew, the rectangle table became increasingly cumbersome and the the group was moved to the Rose Room where Case installed a round table.

In 1942, Frank Case wrote a cookbook entitled, Feeding The Lions. It is filled with recipes from the Algonquin kitchen alongside pithy favorites from famous Algonquin diners. Case attributes the title to Edna Ferber.  Ferber writes in the cookbook:
"Highly spiced dishes happen to be my particular weakness and, at the same time, on my dietary taboo list. I manage to be stern with myself, except on those occasions when I lunch at the Algonquin. After looking at all the dishes that I might and should order,I take those curried shrimps with rice that the Algonquin chef does so tantalizingly."
Curry of Fresh Shrimp

2 lbs. raw shrimp (or 1lb. cooked, shelled shrimp)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1.2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups rich cream sauce

Prepare 3 cups rich cream sauce, using half cream and half milk.

Boil the raw shrimp in salted water for 5 minutes and allow them to cool. Peel and remove the dark intestinal tract.

Saute them for 5 minutes in 2 tablespoons butter, add the curry powder and the wine and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add to the cream sauce, mix thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes.

Taste for seasoning.

Serve with rice pilaf and chutney.  Grated fresh coconut and chopped toasted almonds are traditional accompaniments.

In 1987, Aviva Slesin won the Academy Award for Best Documentary for The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table.  Unfortunately, it has been out of print for years, but recently turned up on YouTube. The Alan Ruldoph film, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is a pretty good fictional depiction of the era, and an excellent look at the evolving "round" table of Frank Case.

In 1998, The Algonquin received a much needed face-lift and the Rose Room was eliminated. In 2005 the Algonquin produced a new menu incorporating many of the favorites in Frank Case's cookbook.

In this day and age one might ponder if the round table seated a truly vicious circle.  Groucho Marx, brother of regular Harpo, was never comfortable with the luncheon regulars.  A quick wit who possessed his own biting repartee, Groucho Marx said of the Round Table, "The price of admission is a serpent's tongue and a half-concealed stiletto."

17 June 2015

On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life

Lesley Blanch about 100. Photo: Sveeva VIGEVENO/GAMMA
Lesley Blanch is the reason I no longer read much traditional fiction. 

If you were a writer and tried, even tried, to write a fictional account of Blanch's life, a competent editor would tell you that no one would believe it. It is a story too convoluted and rambling, a life both wildly independent and alarmingly sexy, and spanning nearly 103 years. Edit. Edit. Edit.

That was Lesley Blanch. We know of her 103 years (actually she was a month shy of 103) from the numerous books she wrote, a biography here and there, and interviews, but her life still had several large gaps. On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life is a collection of writing that helps to fill in those gaps. Gathered by Blanch's goddaughter, Georgia de Chamberet, we now have a better understanding of Blanch. When the publicist offered me a copy of the book, I jumped at the chance to expand my Blanch collection. When it arrived, it sat on my desk forever. I didn't want to read for I knew that once I had, that sense of anticipation at new revelations would be over. I couldn't wait any longer.

She began life in the English country side in the Edwardian era. It was a very conventional life.  Until a family friend, known as "The Traveller" came into Blanch's life. Though Blanch had always been secretive of his identity, he was Theodore Komisarjevsky, a Russian theatre director and designer. Under the guise of showing her around Paris, a 17 year-old Blanch was escorted and seduced by "The Traveller." Their encounters gave Blanch a flair for the dramatic and a serious case of wanderlust.

She decided to become and artist and attend the famous Slade school at a time she describes as, "post Carrington and Spencer and before the impudent gaiety and colour brought by Rex Whistler or Oliver Messel."

The most amazing revelation in On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life is her writing about her marriage to Romain Gary. She married Gary in 1945 and their marriage was "open" long before there was such a thing. Blanch traveled on her own and Gary indulged in other women. Together they were a golden couple. In 1954, Blanch's The Wilder Shores of Love about four nineteenth-century women travellers was a huge hit and Gary's novel The Roots of Heaven won the Goncourt. The couple became a fixture in Hollywood, hobnobbing with every one from Aldous Huxley to Sophia Loren.

One person Blanch should have, in hind site, kept off the guest list was Jean Seberg. Gary became besotted by Seberg and married her in 1962, weeks after his divorce from Blanch was finalized. Blanch took the divorce in stride and traveled extensively, through Afghanistan,the Sahara, Oman, Outer Mongolia, and Egypt. They continued to have what Blanch described as an amitié téléphonique.

In 1994 Lesley Blanch's house burn to the ground. She lost everything, including her library of travel books as well as her rare collection of Russian and Middle Eastern volumes. For days she sifted through the rubble. She had about given up when she sifted one more corner of ash. There she found two photographs that Romain Gray had entrusted to her years before: one of him as a child and the other of his mother.  Blanch wrote, "They were soul survivors of the disaster....Romain was once more demanding the spotlight."

One could go on and on, suffice to say, if you have never read Lesley Blanch, do. If you are a fan, add On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life to your collection.

15 June 2015

Garden Shots

English Peas

Green Tomatoes

Beans we thought were climbers but not!

Kale &
Rainbow Chard

We spent the day weeding and the next day 
it rained and the next day...weeds everywhere!

04 June 2015

Ube Pound Cake

I ran across a recipe for an ube pound cake online. Now, as with so many things online, especially recipes, a lot of people post them without any attribution, which kind of sucks because when someone posts a recipe, they are happy to share it, they just don't you reposting it on your site without the slightest thank you. 

Over at Asian in America, Betty Ann posted her recipe for an ube pound cake. It was really cool and pretty unique -- the "pound" part not the "ube" part. When she got ready to make this cake, and even though it was a very original idea, she used another pound cake recipe on which to base her cake. She used a recipe from Nancie McDermott's cookbook Southern Cakes and she credited it!

Many years ago, over at Cookbook Of The Day, we did a post about a White Fruitcake. The recipe is credited to Eudora Welty, though Miss Eudora was always quick to point out that she stole the recipe. And speaking of Southern cakes, Miss Eudora's stolen recipe also found its way into McDermott's Southern Cakes. 

I made my ube pound cake in a Lucinda's Wood Cake Box, so I tweaked the recipe a bit.  I would have never made it if my friend, Jurry, hadn't dropped what she was doing to head over to the Filipino market to score my ube. I made the above cake and a spare to send out to Jurry.

One cannot always find a clear attribution to recipes.  I often see MY cornbread recipe printed in many places and I can assure you it is the same cornbread recipe my great-great-on-and-on grandmother made. It's even the same skillet!  So it is mine. People are always writing books on where this or that recipe came from. Go ahead, ask a Southerner the exact origin of the Red Velvet Cake.  Everyone thinks they know...

I think recipes are a lot like songs. You sing them in the kitchen, and sometime you sing louder, and sometime you sing slower, and sometime you have to look up the words, and the vast majority of the time you sing it, even if you didn't write it. But if you do know where a recipe comes from, say thanks.

So join in the chorus:

Click on over to Asian in America for her recipe.

Buy yourself a copy of Southern Cakes, for good recipes and even better stories.

Make friends with Jurry, or another Filipino to help you find unique ingredients

Always bake extra and remember, you are never in the kitchen alone.

03 June 2015

Coo Day Ta

i am taking over this blog.  From now on it will be Teddyville.

 It's coup d'état!  Learn to use spell check!  And you are not taking over.

But i sneeked in under the cover of darkness with my cat-eye-vision because you are not posting...

Teddy should know the reason. Bless his little heart for trying to get me engaged. A blog should be a fun place where you learn things. Not just how cute cats are (they are!) or about your kids or your grand kids or your kitchen or whatever.   Reading a blog should be fun, educational, and interesting.  Not pitiful and sad. So during our pitiful periods, we simply do not post.

Here at Lucindaville we are having a continuation of our sucky year and frankly, you do not want to hear about it. Fine. The entire month of May we had water issues. While I am convinced that nothing would stop me from surviving the zombie apocalypse, I can assure you that not washing my hair would be the end of me.

I can live through hot temperatures.

Cold temperature.

No Internet, though I would be very cranky.

No television, though I would miss Gilmore Girls reruns...and NCIS.

No overhead lighting.

I could even go for days, weeks, months wearing the same jeans and sweatshirt...as long as I could wash my hair.

No shampoo. No conditioner. No life.

It is a pretty tacky thing to state given that hundreds of thousands of people die each year for lack of clean water and I bitch about my hair. So actually, my life could be exponentially worse. However,  in a month without laundry...I was faced the prospect of a closet with one old prom dress, a tattered tutu, and bleach stained Harley shirt. While I would have turned nary a head at ye ole Walmart, the prospect of blogging in a bright orange prom dress with dirty hair was simply inconceivable.

As June dawns, all appears to be working again.  We have water on a consistent basis. The washer (repaired after breaking during a late spring snow) and the new dryer (the old one died the day AFTER the washer was fixed) have us flush with clean clothes.

And, yes, it would be very funny if it wasn't me.  In keeping with that, one last "woe is me tale."

While being without water to properly wash dishes, I managed to drop a nearly full jar of coconut oil.  The good news is the oil was rather solid, so while the glass broke into a hundred pieces, the oil kept the jar close by.  I set it in a bowl and it sat on the counter for weeks.  When I got water, I decided to wash the bowl and dispose of the coconut oil. 

I took my mother's old Tupperware colander that has been around the kitchen since before I was born and dumped the glass and oil in it and set it out in the sun to separate oil from glass. In my excitement over having mounds of clean clothes, I forgot it was outside.  During the night, a raccoon stole my colander.  This colander had survived at least twenty moves, three generations of cooks, and my carelessness in leaving it on a hot stove resulting and lima bean sized hole that had to be plugged with finger when washing lentils.

A raccoon stole my colander!  This is my life.

So, if you see a raccoon running around with an old, green Tupperware colander, it's probably mine. Tell him I want it back!

21 May 2015

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

You may thing you know nothing of Tennessee Williams' life, but if you have even a vague understanding of popular culture, you know an awful lot about Williams.  It is virtually impossible to extricate the life of Tennessee Williams from his work.  Any biographer will admit this fact and delve into the man to explain the work. John Lahr in his book Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, did the opposite; he looked at Williams' work to explain the man.

If Tennessee Williams is one of the leading dramatists of the last of 75 years, John Lahr is one of the leading drama critic and uniquely qualified to unravel the work to find the artist.  In addition to the plays that are ingrained in American culture, Lahr was the first biographer to be allowed to look at diaries, letters, journals, and other ephemera.

Williams made it very clear that Lyle Leverich was to be his biographer, alas his literary executor, Maria St. Just, refused to allow Leverich to quote from letters or journals.  In 1995 he published Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams, the first volume of the two-volume biography.  When Leverich died, he left his archive to John Lahr.   Lahr once famously said that Maria St. Just, "was neither a lady nor a saint nor just."  Upon her death, the flood gates of Williams' material became available and Lahr was privy to the information.

With all this information, Lahr turned the tables looking at Williams' life within his work.  The biography reads like an extended Tennessee Williams play.  Lahr has seen and studied enough plays to brilliantly understand drama and he brings all the drama, trauma, and comedy of Williams life alive. In addition to a wide cast of supporting characters, the book is filled with photographs.  The photos alone illustrate vast history of the American stage.

While its style is a bit unusual and it is quite long, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh is a worthy binge read.

19 May 2015

Lilac Syrup

 Every year I have that same day.  I walk out into the yard and discover this, sweet, cloying small that makes me think I dropped a bag of sugar somewhere.  Then I notice the blossoms on the lilac bush and remember that sweet smell emanates from those white petals.  Several years ago, I harvested those blossoms and made a lilac jamely.   I loved it. 

This year, I harvested the flowers and made a simple syrup.  While it was, in preparation terms, a true simple syrup, it was in culinary terms a complex and vibrant syrup; sweet, aromatic, and slightly floral.  A perfect accompaniment to cocktails, an added jolt to ices tea, a surprising glaze for chicken, and so much more.

 Lilac Syrup

4 cups prepared lilac blossoms
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

To get to this point, one needs to pick the flowering buds off their stalks.  It is time consuming as any hint of the green will leave a bitterness that distracts from the sweetness.  It a job that can be done by hand, of if delft, a pair of sharp embroidery scissors.  To make approximately one quart for syrup, you will need four cops of lilac leaves.  Pack them down to insure a good four cups.  Place them in an sealable container and add 2 cups of sugar and leave them over night.  (It is fine to leave the container sitting out, but should you get distracted and find you need an extra day or two before making the syrup, place the container in the refrigerator. )  When you are ready to make the syrup, put the lilacs and sugar into a large pot, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Cover and let steep for several hours.  Into a large glass container or bowl, pour the now cooled syrup through a strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the solids.  Discard the solids.  Store the lilac syrup in the refrigerator
Another great use for lilac syrup is as a base for sorbet.  Blues berries, cantaloupe, honeydew, or my favorite, raspberries.

Raspberry Lilac Sorbet

1 1/2 cups lilac syrup
2 cups fresh raspberries

In a blender add the raspberries and the syrup.  Blend for about 45 seconds.  Place the mixture into an ice cream freezer and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Think about it, the world is a better place with flowers in it.  And so is your sorbet.

15 May 2015

Famous Food Friday -- Zora Neale Hurston

Hurston in Eau Gallie
Today's Famous Food Friday features Zora Neale Hurston.  Hurston was so much more than a novelist; she was a writer, folklorist, activist, and anthropologist. Most people might remember Hurston from reading Their Eyes Were Watching God in school, but know little else. If one were ask Hurston, she would have said she was born and raised in Eatonville, Florida, but in truth, she is an Alabama girl, born in Notasulga.  Since she was just a child when the family moved to Eatonville, she probably had little memory of Alabama. Her favorite spot may have been Eau Gallie, Florida where she wrote to friend,  "Somehow this one spot on earth feels like home for me. I have always intended to come back here. That is why I'm doing so much to make a go of it."

For Hurston, home was Florida.  In his book, Zora Neale Hurston on Florida Food, Professor Fred Opie delves into Hurston's early twentieth-century ethnographic research to examine the food of Florida that appears in her writing.  A graduate in anthropology, Hurston conducted ethnographic research with Franz Boas and worked with both Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead.  After her death, Hurston's papers were ordered to be burned, but a friend happened to pass by the house and stopped, put out the fire and saved the collection.

Fred Opie has studied Hurston's ethnographic research and her literary works to look specifically through the lens of food. The book is loaded with historical photos that bring the period to life. There are fields of collards, enormous barbecue pits, chicken frying, church picnic, and advertising encouraging the consumption of lots of corn.

He augments Hurston's writings on food with a collection of recipes belonging to Hurston and to the African-American community from traditionally black newspapers and other period cookbooks. Opie spends special attention to the descriptions of how foods were cooked whether braised or barbecued, smoked or fried. There is also an emphasis on traditional ingredients such as cornmeal, fish, and rice and peas along with folk remedies Hurston collected. Many of the farm laborers and sawmill workers had little or no access to doctors or medical attention so plant based cures were common among workers.

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tea Cake is bitten by a rabid dog and his mind deteriorates from the infection. He needs a doctor but the closest one is in Palm Beach and there is no way for Tea Cake to be saved.  In her research, Hurston came across a remedy for "Loss of Mind."

Loss of Mind Remedy

Sheep weed leaves
Bay leaf
Fig leaf
Poison oak
Sarsaparilla root
2 cups water

Take the bark and cut it all up fine. Make a tea. Take one tablespoon and put in two cups of water and strain and sweeten.  You drink some and give some to the patient. Put a fig leaf and poison oak in show.  (Get fig leaves off a tree that hasn't borne fruit.  Stem them so that nobody will know.)

 We may make a big jug of this and keep it handy!

We collect cookbooks not just for a collection of recipes, but because they root us in a specific time and place. What we eat is embedded in our lives and history.  It reveals who we are.  Zora Neale Hurston's life can be found in the food of her beloved Florida.  We might never have known that if not for Fred Opie.

13 April 2015

Beth's Gluten Free Carrot Cake

I sent my friend, Beth Ellis a Lucinda's Wood Cake Box. Though she claimed not to be the greatest baker (great cook yes!) she said she had a recipe to try. 

Later she sent me a photo (see above) and said it looked OK, she would tell me later if it was any good. If it was she would forward the recipe. Frankly, if I had just pulled that cake out of the oven, I would have cut into it way too soon and tried it! Later, I got and e-mail stating it was wonderful -- hence the name.  So here it is.

Wonderfully Magnificent Gluten Free Carrot Cake
Makes 1 large cake
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Parchment paper and Butter for greasing the pan

3 cups All Purpose Gluten free Flour
1 Teaspoon baking powder
¾ Teaspoon baking soda
¾ Teaspoon fine sea salt
2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ Teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ Teaspoon ground all spice
2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup white granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Qia cereal or chia seeds
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 lb. carrots, trimmed and peeled and coarsely grated on the largest holes of a box grater or on the grating blade of a food processor.
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. salted butter
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
4 oz. chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the baking dish.  Butter the paper well then put back in the cake pan.

Measure then Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the brown sugar and white sugar and the Qia cereal or chia seeds and beat on the lowest speed to break up any lumps. Add the oil slowly while the mixer is running. Add 1 egg and continue to mix on low until smooth and incorporated. Shut off the mixer and scrape down the bowl and paddle.

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, using a large rubber spatula to fold the mixture together until just incorporated. Fold in the carrots, along with the nuts and raisins, if using.
Pour batter into a 9 by 9 deep-dish cake pan.  Bake for 2 hours 45 minutes.

Directions For the Frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat on medium until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Shut off the mixer and scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add the cinnamon and vanilla.  Add the confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time and beat on low to medium speed, scraping down the bowl and paddle as necessary, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the walnuts.
Frost the cake!

Well, Beth confided that she never did frost her cake (as she is busily getting lean and mean) but I would go on and frost it as I am simply getting mean!

Thanks, Beth.
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