Thursday, July 7, 2016

California Burgundy Refresher


I’m not sure when we started drinking proper Sangria in California, but I've read that it was introduced to the US at the 1964 World's Fair. Clearly, by 1968, we were mixing up versions of this delightful Spanish beverage with wine, fruit and sometimes juice. This recipe comes from the adorably earnest 1968 publication: “Gourmet Wine Cooking The Easy Way” which was put together by the Wine Advisory Board in San Francisco and is something close to sangria, called a “refresher”. Proper sangria also includes cut up fruit and often brandy or another strong liquor, and sits overnight so the flavors really mix, but this fast version is delicious too. It’s a little more of a punch, which was big for 100 years prior, but begins to use uncomplicated local ingredients and you can see it’s a step towards the Gourmet Food movement of the 1970s.

Gourmet, the easy way...

I love spritzers and sangrias in hot weather, and rarely consult a recipe for them but often just mix up wine, alcohol and fruit, whatever I have around. To serve, I usually add ice and sparkling water to dilute it, but juice is nice as well. In this case, I used pomegranate juice rather than cranberry-apple “drink” (PS I don’t buy anything called “drink”!) and I also garnished my glass with a lemon as well as the called-for mint. It’s yummy but next time, I will mix up a big pitcher-full and add light rum or brandy, and sparkling water. Also, crushed ice - giggle! How 50s!

A note on drinking sangria and punch in general: Since you usually don’t pay close attention to the quantity you’re drinking like you do with cocktails, make sure you dilute with sparkling water or juice, and try to count the times you refill your glass… you’ll thank me later, when you can still stand after guzzling the deceptive concoction all day long in the sun!

Crushed Ice
2 cups California Burgundy
2 cups cranberry-apple drink
Mint sprigs for garnish

The board doesn't seem to exist any longer, but you can rent office space in this building, built in 1907 and which has been LEED certified. Hello, California!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Real 1950s Cherry Pie

For Memorial Day, I felt like doing something TOTALLY American and 50s: baking a cherry pie! In addition to being politically active, that is the kind of thing that makes me feel patriotic. Well, I also happened to have a huge bag of cherries, so….

Keepin it real since 1955...

Cherry pie. It screams summer, but of course you can use canned or frozen cherries and make it any time of year – and to be SO mid-century, frozen would make sense. In the 50s, consumers were told that canned foods were clean, healthy and engineered to be more nutritious than dirty old things you grew yourself. After the war, when people had to grow food in “victory gardens” to eat, you can see why processed foods were "modern" and appealing… but I digress. I used fresh cherries this time but I DID use shortening in my pastry because that’s good and retro. Yuck! But… yum.

This is all you need! No excuses. 

So pie is basically a crust (or two) and a filling, a very simple and stunningly delicious treat that isn’t hard to master and is most certainly worth the effort. For this pie, I chose a recipe from my 1955 Duncan Hines “Dessert Book” which came from the Stagecoach Inn in Manitou Springs, CO (You guys, this place has been around since 1881! Don’t you love it when a recipe has a pedigree like that? I wonder if they still make this pie… HELLO, ROAD TRIP!!!). What I love most about this recipe, and many pie recipes you will find in old cook-books, is that there are limited directions. Implying, dear reader, that you ought already to know how to make pie, so you are presented with the ingredients for this specific one, and a brief sketch of technique. You say you can’t bake a pie? What are you, un-American?

rolling the bottom crust

my helper making the lattice top

Another reason I chose this recipe is that the filling isn’t thickened with tapioca or otherwise (not that there is anything wrong with that, but when you have fresh fruit, you can go very simple and let the fruit be the star). This filling is flavored with sugar (I cut it to just under  1 cup) and a drop of almond extract, which is a fabulous note to add to cherries. I did make a lattice top, simply because I wanted to teach my daughter how to do that (so she doesn’t need to watch a Youtube video, for god’s sake!) but we didn’t get fancy with lemon zest or an egg wash or fancy bird-shaped pie vents. But we should have used a deep dish pan to prevent over-flow... next time. Must go make another right away, this a matter of National Importance. 


Monday, January 25, 2016

Sausage and Kale Soup

Here is a really great winter soup recipe that I had copied from a friend and have no idea of the source, but I can say for sure it was over 20 years ago so we are calling it fair game for “vintage gourmet” and anyway, it’s cold and YOU NEED SOUP!

Nothing easier – put stuff in a pot, heat, eat. I like to warm up fresh sour dough bread in the oven to serve with soup, but plain old crackers or cheese straws work nicely too.

One trick: buy nice quality sausage from the deli and squeeze it out of the casing, then brown like ground beef – it tastes much nicer than slicing a sausage and leaving the casing on. Also, if you think you don’t like kale, try this. 100% better than raw kale in a salad, let me tell you, but don’t forget to cut away the tough stems first!

Now get a big pot out and cook up some soup! This works nicely doubled.

  • ·         Saute 4 ounces crumbled sweet sausage until crisp. Pour off fat.
  • ·         Add 8 oz chicken broth, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp tomato paste and stir.
  • ·         Add ½ tsp fennel seed and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Salt as to taste.
  • ·         Add 2 cups rinsed, torn kale and cook till kale is tender. Serve

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Original Swiss Chocolate Fondue

Things are about to get fancy...

Though I have hundreds of fondue cookbooks, I have always loved this one for its extra groovy cover art, and the name: “The Fabulous Fondue Cookbook”!  Straight out of 1970, yo. The recipes here are by William I. Kaufman, and the very stimulating intro to each section (“But then we got to dessert. I dipped a fresh strawberry into the softly simmering chocolate fondue, and offered it to him. That did it! He proposed. Chocolate fondue is so sexy.” AND I QUOTE) were penned by Ms. Carmel B. Reingold. Nice work, you swinging cats!

Groovy, baby!

If you seek a proposal (or, in my case, just a tasty dessert), here is a fondue you can whip up in a flash that will melt anyone’s heart. (Melt, get it? Haw) The fact that Toblerone is a complex chocolate bar makes it seem like you spent way more time on it than you did, and fortunately chocolate fondue isn’t terribly messy. It also makes ANYTHING taste like heaven. Heck, it’s fabulous.
cheers to fondue!

Just a couple notes: Once you’ve made the fondue in the double boiler, you pour it into a ceramic bowl which is kept warm (and melted) over candle flame. This, however, is hard to regulate, so you may find it bubbling, in which case BLOW OUT THE CANDLE or your fondue will scorch. Then light it again in a few minutes. Yes, you have to work for it, but you’ll be glad you did. Also, dipping bananas into the chocolate tastes GREAT, but is really hard. You may lose one (or more) but the ones you get will be deeeeeelish. Other things to dip are: cubes of pound cake, mandarin orange segments, mini pancakes. And if (yeah right) you end up with fondue left over, serve it as sauce for waffles! Enjoy.

Original Swiss Chocolate Fondue

4 bars (3 oz each) Toblerone chocolate
1 1/3 cups heavy cream (to taste – pour in by the tablespoon)
2 Tbsp kirsch (I use Cointreau)
Whole fresh strawberries
Apple slices
·         Break chocolate into pieces. Over hot water, combine chocolate, cream and kirsch.
·         Stir until mixture is smooth.
·         Serve with strawberries and apples for dipping

I'm MELTING.......

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Chocolate Pound Cake

Do you ever just REALLY. NEED. CHOCOLATE. CAKE? Come on, I know you do. Well that was me the other night, so I pulled out a card from my beloved 1973 “McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection” (oh you know, the one with the red white and blue logo with the huge American eagle? Yeah, that one. Hard to miss.) and made cake. Because I needed cake. Immediately.

The problem is, this cake isn’t ready immediately. First off, they don’t tell you till step 3 that the butter needs to be room temperature, which means you have to put the eggs and sour cream back in the fridge and watch an episode of “Murder, She Wrote” while you wait. Then get back to it. Second, for a small cake, it needs to bake for over an hour – people, you’ve just bought yourselves another episode! Hello, Angela Lansbury! But have no fear – the cake is good – but the batter? THE BATTER IS THE BEST PART. Make sure to enjoy some while you wait…

And after the 3 (or 200) hours it takes to prepare it, this is actually a nice cake, with decent chocolate flavor similar to my favorite cookies (DSers, see recipe here)  HOWEVER, since I am a very picky customer, I will point out that for a pound cake, it was a little too light and fluffy. Too light and fluffy you say, how is that even possible? How can you complain about that? Well, I prefer a light and fluffy angel food cake but a dense pound cake, call me nuts. Still, this has a nice flavor and is quick to make will give you something to do while you wait for your online stream to buffer ;)

going in...

just out of the oven

1 cup boiling water
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, cut up (Note: 2 oz)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter (NOTE: room temp)
1 ¾ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream

1.       In small bowl, pour boiling water over chocolate; let stand 20 minutes to cool.
2.       Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease well and flour 9x5x3” loaf pan. Sift flour with soda and salt.
3.       In large bowl of electric mixer, let butter stand at room temperature until softened. At high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
4.       At low speed, beat in flour mixture (in fourths) alternately with sour cream (in thirds), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture just until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
5.       Bake 60 to 70 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

6.       Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Transfer from pan to rack; cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Makes 1 loaf.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Golden Gate Lasagne

from the archives 


When I was about 10, in the year 1981, I went through a huge cutting-things-out-of-the-newspaper phase, and this recipe is one of the survivors from that period. I clipped this, along with several other recipes long-since forgotten, from the San Francisco Chronicle, and carefully taped it into my recipe book, where it has remained these 33 years. And I’ve actually made this recipe several times, so my labors were not in vain, it would seem. Go, 10 year-old me with my scissors and tape and obsessions!

making the sauce

The reason lasagne is so easy is that you just make pasta sauce, build layers of cheese, noodles and sauce, and then bake. I consider it one of those all-purpose meals in that you can make what you like of it, and there are endless variations. Often I make it without meat, which is still tasty and filling. (Throw almost any vegetables in: mushrooms, peppers, spinach, corn… you name it.) Once, however, I made it without cheese: a sad, soupy affair. Not recommended.

building layers

My adaptation of this recipe is such that I use fresh herbs when I have them, and instead of the cottage cheese and mozzarella, I just use ricotta. I also top it with grated parmesan before baking, because: cheese. Finally, I am now using the noodles which don’t require pre-cooking. (Imagine! No fighting with noodles that rip in half as you try to un-stick them from each-other, like devil mating octopi!) I had a real hard time accepting those noodles at first - yes, I’m suspicious. You mean you literally just pull them from the box and place them in the baking dish? Raw? And they work! Hallelujah. 

optional: sprinkle grated parmesan on top before baking (= yum)

Golden Gate Lasagne

½ pound ground beef
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
¼ tsp ground pepper

1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 can (8 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
½ 10-oz package lasagna noodles
¾ cup cottage cheese
¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Brown the beef. Stir in the garlic, onion, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles as package directs until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.
Place a third of the noodles in an 8-inch loaf pan. Layer with the beef sauce, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Repeat, making two more layers.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serves 2 or 3

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Coffee Jell-O

It is no secret that I love Jell-O, even the 50s experiments that were once referred to as “salad” that often featured seafood, mayonnaise, onions and other unappetizing ingredients. Jell-O doesn’t have to be disgusting, though! Not only can it be quite refined, the history of gelatin-based foods goes back over one hundred years. 
Here I am, about to enjoy a delightful coffee Jell-O!

This recipe for the perfect after-dinner treat / pick-me-up actually comes from a 1971 book on fondue (the cheerfully titled “Fondue on the Menu” by Beverly Kees and Donnie Flora) but coffee gelatin desserts date back to the turn of the last century. The variety here would have been served after fancy dinners; huge vats of Jell-O made with leftover coffee have been common at church pot-lucks for nearly as long.

Even Fondue cookbooks sneak in Jell-O recipes

This is an easy treat to make, and if you have a fear of the Jell-O mold / un-mold process, make each one in a cocktail glass or small ramekin instead, which gives each guest their own little pot of shimmering caffeinated goodness to enjoy with a demitasse spoon! Word to the wise: the liqueur does not get cooked out, and these will be as strong as the coffee you use.

I'm thrilled to use my new Chemex coffee maker as well as my very own coffee liqueur!

2 Tbsp (2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
½ cup coffee liqueur
3 cups coffee
¾ cup sugar
Pinch salt
Sweetened whipped cream

In a bowl sprinkle gelatin over liqueur to soften. In a saucepan, warm the coffee and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Add the gelatin mixture and salt; stir and heat until all the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture is perfectly clear. Pour liquid into individual molds and chill several hours. Unmold; garnish with whipped cream.