vrai-lean-uh

Cooking, eating, making sweeping pronouncements

Posts tagged joy of cooking

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I hope I never stop being amused by the name “hard sauce.”
It is frosting, essentially, and I know it as the frosting that goes on the top of the Gilmanton Cupcakes that my mum makes (as her mother made) every Christmas. The Gilmanton Cupcakes have currants soaked in sherry, and the One True Hard Sauce uses brandy, which in hindsight is a fairly large amount of alcohol in a dessert that was fed to small children. On the other hand, my grandmother both smoked and drank through five pregnancies, so, times were different.
This year, however, my mum substituted half the brandy for vanilla extract when she made them for friends that no longer drink. Never say that WASPs cannot adapt their ways to support recovery.
This recipe is from my grandmother’s 1941 edition of Joy of Cooking. Hard sauce is also included in my 1964 edition, but for some reason the One True Hard Sauce must be the one from the 1941 edition.
And although there is quite a bit of variation in the printed recipe, there shall be no variation in the One True Hard Sauce.
The One True Hard Sauce
Beat 5 tablespoons butter until soft. Gradually add 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and beat until well blended.
Add 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon brandy.
I joke, but it is truly wonderful on top of a spiced cake. I think it would also make a really nice cookie frosting. Joy encourages you to vary the frosting flavor and pudding flavor, so, for instance, use an acid sauce with a bland pudding and vice versa.
Whatever you do, please remember the caution that Joy includes at the end of the Hard Sauce section header:

The success of the pudding with sauce will depend upon your sense of discrimination.


Please note that there is a recipe for “fluffy hard sauce.” Joy of Cooking is a treasure.

I hope I never stop being amused by the name “hard sauce.”

It is frosting, essentially, and I know it as the frosting that goes on the top of the Gilmanton Cupcakes that my mum makes (as her mother made) every Christmas. The Gilmanton Cupcakes have currants soaked in sherry, and the One True Hard Sauce uses brandy, which in hindsight is a fairly large amount of alcohol in a dessert that was fed to small children. On the other hand, my grandmother both smoked and drank through five pregnancies, so, times were different.

This year, however, my mum substituted half the brandy for vanilla extract when she made them for friends that no longer drink. Never say that WASPs cannot adapt their ways to support recovery.

This recipe is from my grandmother’s 1941 edition of Joy of Cooking. Hard sauce is also included in my 1964 edition, but for some reason the One True Hard Sauce must be the one from the 1941 edition.

And although there is quite a bit of variation in the printed recipe, there shall be no variation in the One True Hard Sauce.

The One True Hard Sauce

Beat 5 tablespoons butter until soft. Gradually add 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and beat until well blended.

Add 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon brandy.

I joke, but it is truly wonderful on top of a spiced cake. I think it would also make a really nice cookie frosting. Joy encourages you to vary the frosting flavor and pudding flavor, so, for instance, use an acid sauce with a bland pudding and vice versa.

Whatever you do, please remember the caution that Joy includes at the end of the Hard Sauce section header:

The success of the pudding with sauce will depend upon your sense of discrimination.

Please note that there is a recipe for “fluffy hard sauce.” Joy of Cooking is a treasure.

Filed under joy of cooking hard sauce

15 notes

I was digging through my Joy of Cooking looking for illustrations of stuffing things under chicken skin when I came across their amazing and insane meat section. I try to imagine having a dinner party at my house, and serving tongue in aspic, and having the reaction be, “Well, that is a fine-looking dish.”

I was digging through my Joy of Cooking looking for illustrations of stuffing things under chicken skin when I came across their amazing and insane meat section. I try to imagine having a dinner party at my house, and serving tongue in aspic, and having the reaction be, “Well, that is a fine-looking dish.”

Filed under Joy of Cooking aspic

61 notes

Indexes/Indices*

I never really cared enormously about the index section of books until I started cooking a fair amount. But now I care a lot.

When I first get a cookbook, I like to read it front to back (or close to). I go through the introduction, and the section about cooking tools if there is one, and then I look through the pictures and get a sense of the recipes and see if there’s something I want to make a mental note to go back and try soon.

But once I’ve had a cookbook for a while, I mostly use it as a reference. I’ll look up a new recipe in a few different books to compare. Or I’ll have a vague recollection that one book had meat recipes involving pomegranate molasses, so I’ll go hunting for that. Whatever. But at that point I’m using the index.

And let me tell you, there is a lot of variation in the usefulness of indexes in cookbooks.

I really like The Silver Palate Cookbook, but their index is worthless. I do not know who made that index, but they did not do a good job. For example, they have a fantastic sweet potato and carrot puree. It cannot be found in the index under “sweet potato.” In fact, there is NO sweet potato category in the index. Tarragon Chicken Salad? Not listed under “tarragon.” The beet and roqueford salad with walnuts is actually listed under walnuts, but only as “salads, 160, 218, 219.”

On the other hand, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything has an amazing index. It goes on for pages and pages and pages. It includes everything. Minor ingredients? Check. Alternate spellings? Yes. It identifies the about pages, there’s lots of “see also under specific types of [x],” you can find the bits of reference information in among the recipes. I have faith in that index, and that it will guide me straight.

Check out the salmon listing:

Salmon

Basics of, 299-300 
cold poached
    with lime-ginger sauce, 306 
    sauces for, 306 
crispy skin, with gingery greens, 301 
croquettes, 306 
fillets
    with lemon, pan-grilled, 303 
    with lentils, pan-grilled, 304 
    in red wine, 305 
    roasted in butter, 305 
    with sesame oil drizzle, pan-grilled, 304 
gravlax (salt-and-sugar-cured), 300 
kebabs, grilled or broiled, 303 
to remove pin bones, 302 
salad with beans, 120 
sandwich with cress and juniper, 271 
simple ideas for grilled or broiled, 301 
to skin a fillet, 302 
smoked, dip, 21 
steaks, basic grilled or broiled, 301

That is a thing of beauty. Bravo, Index-Maker. You did a really good job.

According to Wikipedia, there are two ways to create indexes— either conventionally with an indexer reading through the text and “identifying indexable concepts” and creating headers or through embedded index headers. But either way, I gather that the process involves imagining what one might want to reference and all the ways a reader could be looking for information, and the more I think about that, the more interesting it seems.

I also discovered, in my googling, that there is a Culinary Indexing Special Interest Group of the American Society for Indexing. If you have been reading this tumblr for any amount of time, you can guess how excited this made me. For newcomers, SO EXCITED. Here’s a short analysis of the indexes in the Joy of Cooking. I cannot even tell you had much restraint I had to employ to keep from clicking on every link in the references section.

* Both are correct.

Filed under indexes Joy of Cooking mark bittman People doing their jobs really well

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Anna left a comment noting that Theme Day(s) needed more squirrel.  Little did she know what I had up my sleeve!*
Behold, from the game section of the Joy of Cooking: a diagram illustrating how to skin a squirrel.
Here’s what Joy has to say on the topic:

Gray squirrels are the preferred ones; red squirrels are small and quite gamey in flavor.  There are, proverbially, many ways to skin a squirrel, but some hunters claim the following one is the quickest and cleanest.  It needs a sharp knife.

* Not actual squirrels.

Anna left a comment noting that Theme Day(s) needed more squirrel.  Little did she know what I had up my sleeve!*

Behold, from the game section of the Joy of Cooking: a diagram illustrating how to skin a squirrel.

Here’s what Joy has to say on the topic:

Gray squirrels are the preferred ones; red squirrels are small and quite gamey in flavor.  There are, proverbially, many ways to skin a squirrel, but some hunters claim the following one is the quickest and cleanest.  It needs a sharp knife.

* Not actual squirrels.

Filed under game Joy of Cooking adventures in cooking

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Buttermilk Redeems Itself!

Yesterday was a rough day for buttermilk.  I thought it had gone bad, it had not gone bad, it got used in a salad dressing that disappointed me.  But today!  Today buttermilk redeemed itself.

1. I made buttermilk muffins with rhubarb.  I used the Joy of Cooking recipe, which, though it involved flipping to three different pages, was fantastic.  The muffins were light and moist and a little bit tangy with chunks of sour rhubarb.  So tasty. 

I used their buttermilk muffin recipe, which is just an adaptation of their sour cream muffin recipe, along with the blueberry or cranberry muffin adaptation.  I’m going to piece the different parts together here:

Buttermilk Muffins with Rhubarb

All your ingredients should be at room temperature, so let the buttermilk and egg warm up for an hour or two first.  It also helps to melt the butter early on and let it cool a little.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used Gold Medal because it has less protein than King Arthur, even though it’s also more processed/bleached/etc)
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup rhubarb pieces, cut into 1/2” chunks (approximately the size of cranberries)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a muffin tin with butter.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and baking soda together into a medium bowl.

Mix the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter together in a separate bowl.

(You should have all the ingredients prepared at this point with the tins greased and the oven preheated so you can cook the muffins immediately.)  Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir once or twice.  Add the rhubarb pieces and quickly fold the batter together.  The Joy of Cooking has a long section about how you’re supposed to keep the mixing here to an absolute minimum: “a light stirring of from 10 to 20 seconds, which will leave some lumps.  Ignore them.  The dough should not be mixed to the point of pouring […] but should break in course globs.”  The key here is you don’t want gluten to develop, which will make the muffins tough and chewy.

Spoon the batter into the tins.  The recipe says this makes 2 dozen 2-inch muffins, but it made exactly one dozen in my tins (which aren’t huge by today’s standards).  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.

"They really are best eaten at once."  Do with that information what you will.  I took it to mean I should have three immediately.

2. I had the leftover dressing on a salad of greens and avocado and it was perfectly good.

3. I found a recipe for buttermilk pudding.  The sauce calls for mixed berries, but I’m going to adapt it to use rhubarb and strawberries, because that’s what I’ve got and I love rhubarb.

Filed under Joy of Cooking buttermilk rhubarb

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I don’t even know what to say about this.  Except that you may want to make an extra batch of stuffing that doesn’t get cooked in the raccoon, because some people don’t like their stuffing cooked in the animal.
I don’t know what the appropriate side dish would be here.  Some braised greens?

I don’t even know what to say about this.  Except that you may want to make an extra batch of stuffing that doesn’t get cooked in the raccoon, because some people don’t like their stuffing cooked in the animal.

I don’t know what the appropriate side dish would be here.  Some braised greens?

Filed under Joy of Cooking game adventures in cooking