The Galloping Gourmet

The Galloping Gourmet, the Graham Kerr Cookbook, introduction by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, Rizzoli 2018, $32.50 hardback, 319 pages

An Englishman teaching an American about food is like the blind leading the one-eyed.

A. J. Liebling

I was once at the Smithsonian Museum of American History’s exhibit on Julia Child’s Kitchen where I overhead one teenager describe Child to another:

“She’s that British lady who drinks when she cooks.”

Which is what happens on TV and over time, things become broad and vague–limited to the character created. Basically I had a similar  superficial knowledge of  Graham Kerr–he was British, leapt over things, and drank while he cooked.

And that’s why it’s good to read books–there’s time for more depth. Kerr was raised in English hotels, trained in the British Army, and became Chief Catering Advisor to the New Zealand Air Force where he developed an early fusion approach highlighting foods of the British Empire and the South Pacific.

His career took him around the South Pacific and to Canada, and his show, 455 episodes produced by his wife Treena Kerr, went on location around the world and reached 10 million homes. As Matt and Ted Lee note in their introduction, his approach became a model for travel shows and demo shows, including the humor and showmanship that would become food television standards. The Lees knock down a few more assumptions about Kerr–he didn’t really drink on the set and in the early shows he was thrifty and moderate in his ingredients and dishes.

They also note that celebrity cookbooks are often more about the celebrity than the cooking, but that’s not the case here. First, the book has a production-minded presentation. The recipes are presented by ingredients, measured in US, Imperial and metric amounts. Then you set up your mise en place–prepping the ingredients to cook. Once you’re prepped, the directions move on to cook and serve.

The recipes are meat heavy and arranged in sections on appetizers, soups, fish, eggs, poultry, meat, with briefer sections on pastry vegetables and desserts. Many of the sections begin with basic techniques–everything from adding butter to gently scrambled eggs to a basic method for broiled chicken or thin and thick soups. Once the basics are mastered, you can move on to more interesting dishes, soups like Chicken Pepper Pot or Billabong.

Confident cooks can take on Graduate Recipes like Potts Point Fish Pot, Stuffed Saddle of Lamb Roxdale, or Parramatta Chicken Pie. As for dessert–the recipes are elegant and classic, shuffles in lemon and chocolate, a creme brûlée, a rice pudding, and a yeast-risen rum cake.

The book is a bit of a time warp–the recipes are those clubby dishes that you might see in a men’s magazine–no avocado toast here. And, along with the attention to technique, that’s the value–old dishes that are new again.

Advertisements
Posted in full menu, history, international, personality, what's for dinner | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Historical Notes on Montgomery County Foodways

I’ve been working on a cookbook titled Bread & Beauty, A Year in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Along with interviewing farmers and agricultural advocates, attending events, and developing recipes based on Ag Reserve produce, I’ve had the great pleasure of researching in the Library of Congress. I’ve found some interesting bits of Montgomery’s food history, some of which is not appropriate for the book, but are too good to leave in the stacks.

From The Potomac Adventure, Ann Paterson Harris, 1977

The County’s many streams were the site of mills that took in grain, wood, wool, and guano. The mills were centers of community activity and millers often became storekeepers as well.

Lucy J. Humphrey operated the old Glen Mill, built by Tom Peters about 1870 and she lived in a stone farmhouse off Persimmon Tree Road occupied by the family since 1853. An old business paper from the “Glen Roller Mills” titles her as “Manufacturer and Dealer in The Celebrated ‘White Daisy’ Patent and Consolation Flours, Best Stone Ground Corn Meal for Family Use.” Beneath this, “Pure Ground Rye, Corn, and Oats for Feed, Sawed Stove Wood, etc.”

Posted in Bread & Beauty, farming, history, regional | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Souk, Feasting at the Mezze Table

cover

Souk, Feasting at the Mezze Table by Nadia Zerouati and Merijn Tol, Smith Street Books 2018, $35.00 hardback, 256 pages

You have descended on your own people and have stepped upon the plains.

–Arabic greeting

That is, you are among friends in a land of plenty. And that’s the way this book feels, beautiful but fundamentally simple food, meant to be savored and nibbled.

This is a book of mezze–appetizers, snacks, and bites–that are meant to be shared. No one would go to the trouble of rolling grape leaves,  shaping kibbe, or folding fattayer pastries for themselves alone. Invite friends to help and enjoy.

This is also a book for the way we like to eat now–fresh ingredients, bright flavors, and instagram-gorgeous. Salads put vegetables and spice front and center, without heavy dressings. Meat and fish are spiced and grilled, pastries are lean but flavorful, and dips are vegetable and olive oil rich.

You’ll want to replenish your pantry with some fundamental flavors described in the beginning of the book–pomegranate molasses for a tart sweetness, sumac for an earthy citrus, or ras al hanout for warm spiciness. All to be used in ingredients like sucuk, a Turkish sausage; freekeh, a green wheat berry; and couscous berkoukes, a hand-rolled, coarse-textured couscous.

The recipes include chic, up-to-date interpretations like Rose-Barberry Gin and Lemon Geranium Lemonade or a Rice Pudding flavored with turmeric, tahini, and pine nuts. There may be some unfamiliar dishes like Armenian Stuffed Carrots or Manouche–a flatbread flavored with kashk, which is a fermented and dried labneh. There are dishes you’ll want to spend a weekend on, like roasted quails or Rakakat–fried pastry rolls filled with cheese and parsley. And there are dishes that will pack well for an office-cubicle lunch like Lentil Salad, Quick Crackers, and Lebanese Hummus.

The mezze are sorted into cold and warm, with a chapter on the grill, and on after-dinner sweets. So–perfect for the summer porch or the warm winter kitchen–and all easy enough to become part of your regular repertoire.

 

Posted in full menu, international, recipe, technique, what's for dinner | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bread & Beauty, A Year in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve

We are so close! We’re busy finalizing copy and sending it to our designer who is laying out elegant pages of stories, recipes, profiles, and photos of the landscape and the food it provides.

Last night we had a Founding Publisher event at Rocklands and want to thank everyone who bought a book, Rocklands’ creative and delicious wine, and Pizza Brama’s local veggie misto pizzas.

As founding publishers, they’ll also get a mention in the book’s acknowledgment page, and if you want to see your name in print, it’s not to late! Hop on to our website and grab your reserved copy.

And consider joining us next weekend at Historic Button Farm for Drinks on the Veranda with bites from Chef Brian Patterson of Glenstone and books from Bread & Beauty!

Posted in Bread & Beauty | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cleaning Out the Basement–Pardon my Foie Gras

I love books like this–blithe and bright, they have an American exceptionalism attitude that says we get to eat and enjoy good things.

It’s full of cliches like casque-helmeted policeman, the kiosk, and fleur de lis. This 1956 book is barely the size of an index card and yet it claims to be “fully illustrated.” Nonetheless, recipes like Poulet Souffle or Caneton a L’Orange are presented with admirable efficiency and a few stock photos.

Of course, they are not the marathon that would come in 1961 with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is more of a friendly backyard sprint. Tuck it in your purse, drive the station wagon to the A&P, and enjoy Gay Paree for dinner.

almost “quick and easy”

It is one of the “Handy Aid Books” published by Richards Rosen Associates, Inc. Another opportunity for nostalgia, a lost time when publishing little books like this could earn enough for  a place in the city, a summer home upstate, and funds to raise two sons. The author, Ruth Chier Rosen, worked with her husband. But this was no housewife hobby, Rosen went to Smith, planned to work at the UN, but found she and her husband shared an entrepreneurial spirit and so she spent some time with Dione Lucas and ended up writing a lot of books on a lot of topics.

be careful!

In fact, her description of how they put these books together is fascinating–using a printer in the neighborhood, cutting and binding the pages themselves, as well as fulfilling orders. Actually, in an interesting way it sounds like a self-publishing effort I’m in the middle of. We’re doing the content and design ourselves, and though we won’t be binding, we are taking orders!

 

Posted in cleaning out the basement, full menu, international, novelty | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Historical Notes on Montgomery County Foodways

I’ve been working on a cookbook titled Bread & Beauty, A Year in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Along with interviewing farmers and agricultural advocates, attending events, and developing recipes based on Ag Reserve produce, I’ve had the great pleasure of researching in the Library of Congress. I’ve found some interesting bits of Montgomery’s food history, some of which is not appropriate for the book, but are too good to leave in the stacks.

From Home on the Canal, Elizabeth Kytle, 1983

Mary Colbert Mose grew up “boating” and recalls, “bean soup was the boatsman’s great meal. Bean soup and rivvels made with eggs. Fried chicken. Fish. Coffee. Anything at all. If we wanted to bake, we had our little baker—a regular oven.” She also recalls that when the boat arrived in Georgetown the children would be given a dime and head directly to Candy Kitchen on M Street where she had her first banana split. They’d buy blocks of taffy, licorice, and cough drops bought in boxes for a Christmas treat, and peanuts by the can. Back home they’d eat buckwheat cakes and butchered pigs to make pinehorst (scrapple).

 

Posted in Bread & Beauty, farming, history, regional | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Risotto & Beyond

cover image

Risotto & Beyond by John Coletta, Rizzoli 2018, hardcover 240 pages, $37.50

Each month is gay, each season nice, when eating chicken soup with rice.

Maurice Sendak

Or when eating Risotto with Oysters and Prosecco, or Rice Tart with Prosciutto, or Rice Crespelle with Almonds and Organic Honey.

John Coletta is the founding chef of Quartino in Chicago, where there are four risotto on the menu. But in this book, he dives deep into rice, offering risotto with vegetables, seafood, and meat in familiar Italian flavors like tomato and mozzarella and more wide-ranging flavors like Speck and Fennel, Seafood and Saffron, Leeks and Grana Padano.

And to make sure you get a velvety risotto, he gives guidance on rice–look for thick, short-grained varieties like Vialone Nano–a semifino rice–or another superfino rice that have a creamy exterior and cook to an al dente center. With his encouragement, you’ll move beyond Arborio.

For the “beyond” recipes–soups, salad, tarts, one-dish meals, antipasti and dessert dishes–he recommends one of the 70 varieties of Italian rice. Together, the book’s recipes expand our notion of Italian food beyond pasta. In fact, Italy is Europe’s largest producer of rice and so not surprisingly, there are easily a book’s worth of recipes and techniques for cooking it–from tempting fried rice balls to impressive, layered timbales, to a strawberry rice gelato.

Coletta points out that rice is healthy, and gluten-free, but the real motivator are these recipes.

 

 

 

Posted in food focus, international, technique, Uncategorized, what's for dinner | Tagged , , | Leave a comment