Thursday, July 13, 2006

Celebrity Cookery

Only rarely does a "celebrity" cookbook interest me. Celebrities should be able to purchase ingredients that those who read cookbooks can't. In any event, celebrities mostly shouldn't be cooking anyway. Not as celebrities. Not unless you are a chef, e.g., Wolfgang Puck. He makes sense with his cookbooks.

During my usual flâneuring through life, I came across the following "celebrity" cook book:

The Stage at Ease / Marian Squire (Idaho : Caxton Printers, 1938).

the date, being old enough, interested me enough to be intriguing. And much to my surprise, when I read it, the "who's who" was extraordinary. Celebrities of all sorts: FDR, Rob't Benchley, Jack Dempsey, John Dos Passos, Robert Frost . . . yep! even a poet! What caught my eye more, were the names: William S. Hart, George Jean Nathan, Barney Oldfield ('inventor' of the Oldsmobile automobile) and Ed Sullivan (remember 1938, pre-television, Sullivan was a sports writer). But most amazing were names, you, dear reader, won't recognize, but names I've come across in the panoply of American Culture: John Held, Jr. (illustrator), George Ade (The Old Time Saloon, Not Wet, Not Dry, Just History), and Herbert Asbury (Gangs of New York).

Although I've known these names through their writings or successes for a long time, not all of them contributed worthy recipes. For example: William S. Hart gave his recipe as: Roast Beef and Horseradish. Nothing! Bah!

One Robert Nathan offers Crêpe Suzette without the accent mark over the e

1 whole egg
3 T. flour (level tablespoons)
1 pinch of salt
1 T brandy

jelly or powdered sugar

Brandy for flaming

Beat the egg and salt. Whisk in the flour. Add the brandy. Make crêpes in a sloping sided sauté pan over medium heat. Cook on both sides, about 60 seconds each side. When all are ready, add 1 teaspoon of jelly or a sprinkle of powdered sugar in each. Transfer back to a pan, add 2 T. of brandy and flame.

Herbert Asbury's recipe is given verbatin:

"Fillet a samllmouthed black bass, preferably caught in an Adirondack lake, then dip the pieces in milk and roll in yellow corn meal in which cinnamon has been mixed to taste--the more the better. Then fry crisp in butter. This not only tastes better than it sounds, but is very nice to sniff while cooking."

George Jean Nathan, theater critic gave:

Canapé Colony

8 ounces of beurre blanc sauce. (Which is a butter sauce, flavored with: shallots, and vinegar, or white wine, or lemon juice. Rasp the shallots, use salted butter, heat the butter in a sauce pan. When the shallot aroma fills your nose, add either: vinegar, white wine, or lemon juice. Remove to a bain-marie (double boiler) and keep warm.

4 ounces of lobster sauce

32 ounces of cooked, flaked crab meat.

44 toast points

2 egg yolks
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of the crabmeat/lobster sauce, above

Beat the yolks, add the sauce and blend in the cheese.


Onto each piece of toast, put a tablespoon of the sauce and then cover with a few drops of topping.

Place each piece onto a baking sheet and run the batch under the broiler for glazing. Serve nicely browned.

But enough! I've made myself hungry and must now go eat!

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