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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shouldn't You Just...? Part Two!

Part Two...a SNEAK PEEK into my soon approaching, new novel Friendship Fog, laced with seasonal menus to feed the heart and mind! Here, our hero Clifford Bowles, the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire, offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. 

by Clifford Bowles

Mr. Bowles offers his sartorial advice and consul on the finer points of one's appearance.

  • Wear a whistle?
  • Wear a monocle to complement your evening attire?
  • Splash cool water on your face more often? It tightens the pores.
  • Sport black velvet riding pants as an antidote to an ordinary day?
  • Consider your jacket as a handy satchel, filling the pockets with necessities such as cigarettes, breath mints, and a comb?
  • Forego all manner of Pride wear?
  • Stop tinting your lashes?
  • Stitch a wide leather belt with your name and telephone number on it?
  • Think of sunglasses as a headband to keep the hair off the face for those of you with longer locks?
  • Have delicious patches of fabric sewn on to your favorite old cashmere sweater with the elbows blown out?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Clifford Bowles' Designs for Entertaining - A September Supper

In which our hero of Friendship Fog, Mr. Bowles, suggests a mindful menu deliciously designed to delight, from his new, best-selling book on entertaining!

Clifford Bowles’ Designs for Entertaining
A September Supper
Serves four

Raspberry Lambic
Endive with roasted chestnuts, gorgonzola, and fig jam with drizzled balsamic honey
Salad of cubed golden beets, corn, and basil with red vinegar dressing
Chicken pot pie in buttercup squash
Latticed McIntosh apple strudel swirl
Spiked cinnamon coffee

As our sunburns fade and summer slips away, we say goodbye to our seasonal friends and leave our vacation vista behind—whether it be a rental cottage by the lake, campground, or family summer place—and prepare to face the fall. Autumn is when seeds are planted like secrets in the ground not yet frozen, where they grow, mature, and develop just beneath the surface, waiting patiently until spring to deliver wondrous surprises. Now that we’ve returned from the shore, so to speak, redolent of salt air, cookouts, and clambakes, I suggest getting back to your roots (and tubers) and setting down to your hometown favorites. For me, it’s the splendors of an autumn in New Hampshire. I’ve created an intimate fall menu perfect to share among four dear old friends. Based on fruits of the season, I’ve incorporated the chestnuts we used to pluck off the trees and roast as children, buttercup squash, and included my Nana’s recipe for latticed McIntosh apple strudel. Trips to the nearby McIntosh orchard when I was a child shine in my memory like the apples. If you are lucky enough to have the weather for it, plan your gathering out of doors with the changing leaves as a backdrop. Perhaps you may just want to clink a glass to the change of the seasons and drink up the last of summer as you and your closest close up your summer home.
Clifford Bowles

Chilled Beet Soup with Grapefruit

Perhaps a drunk, rather overworked intern took the helm one day at Quinciple. I can't confirm that, but the food box delivery service with recipe cards that correspond to the produce enclosed showed up on my doorstep with a recipe card heralding Chilled Beet Soup with Yogurt and Blood Oranges--meanwhile the recipe itself and the produce that went along with it insisted that ruby grapefruit be used for this cheering soup starter. There's even a wooden juicer (not required) in the accompanying photo and half of a frazzled, juiced blood orange next to it. Anyway: of little matter. Our chilly friend is a perfect transitional dish to be served year round--a hint of fresh spring may be found in parsley and scallion garnishes over the lull of a summer of ripe fruit, with earthy beets serving a reminder that cooler months may be soon upon us.

I never made this when the box arrived (I used the ingredients for some other purpose back then), and only dug out the recipe card recently, sometime later, and made it for myself with ingredients already at home. Instead of the nuisance of pulling out a knife to supreme the grapefruit (removing the peel and pith) I used some fantastic pink grapefruit juice that I had on hand, adding in a burst of flavor at the last minute. I recommend chilling the super soup overnight, not just an hour, as the recipe suggests.

Chilled Beet Soup with Yogurt and Grapefruit
Serves 2
Open up a package of fantastic already peeled and cooked Love Beets (usually four beets) and quarter them. Add in half a sliced green apple, core and stem removed along with the white parts of two scallions cut into 1/2 inch pieces in a small-ish, sturdy pot with a tablespoon of olive oil (I used coconut oil), sweating for about 10 minutes. Add some water to barely cover, bring to the boil and reduce heat to simmer gently, until vegetable are truly tender. This does not take long. Add salt and pepper and throw everything in a blender, until a smooth puree is achieved. Add in about a 1/2 cup of fresh pink grapefruit juice and chill, covered! Overnight, is preferable, I think. Serve with drizzled plain yogurt and chopped green parts of scallions and parsley. Easy? You bet! Perhaps serve with a crisp white wine, as undoubtedly that intern I mentioned did. Do enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ginger Cookies

I discovered Clementine Paddleford in an article about the culinary pioneer back in 2002 when Saveur featured her recipe for Sweet Potato Tipsy, now a holiday go-to for me and mine. Hers is a strange case. Unlike Amelia Earhart, she didn't vanish entirely; she merely disappeared into near obscurity. Similar to Earhart, Paddleford too piloted her own plane. But among other means of transportation as well, her purpose was to cover thousands and thousands of miles of American territory over the course of 12 years to explore the courses of its regional home cooks. The results may be found in 1960's considerable, culinary tome, How America Eats. Ms. Paddleford also has the enviable credit on her C.V. of being the New York Herald Tribune's food editor for 30 years. I am delighted to report that I recently won a bid for a first edition, autographed copy of How America Eats in mint condition on eBay.

While the collection features a host of gripping, curious recipes that may threaten to pull at the palate of today (cabbage and scrapple, pretzel clam soup, cheese muff, fish balls) there are also gems such Dr. Coffin's Lobster Stew, Mrs. Dull's Perfection Sponge Cake and homespun comforts such as baked beans, butterhorn rolls, Southern fried chicken (with charmingly archaic 'broilers'), and ginger cookies. I went for the latter first, adapted here, in my own personal exploration cutting the recipe in half (full recipe below). I didn't want to roll out 8 dozen cookies! The note included says that the  cookies are 'very hard' and I found that to certainly true, too hard in fact. Unsatisfactory! I let them sit out for a few days to get stale, I suppose you'd say, to make them more malleable, so they may actually be enjoyed without a notion of cracking the teeth. Delicious with a slather of softened cream cheese and a sprinkled  flurry of confectioners sugar for the kids--or a casual Champagne and tea party for adults!

Cream the butter with the spices to get started...

18th Century Ginger Cookies
1 cup butter/margarine
4 TB ginger
1TB nutmeg
1 TB cinnamon
Dash of salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups dark molasses
1/2 pint light cream/evaporated milk
8-9 cups sifted flour
Blend butter, spices and salt. Add sugar and cream thoroughly, Warm together molasses and cream; add gradually to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in flour until a moderately stiff dough is formed. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 10-12 minutes.

About 8 dozen 3-inch cookies.

Note: This recipe makes a very hard cookie.

Add the warmed molasses and cream together with the creamed mixture...

Finally, mix in the sifted flour!

I made a fine mess rolling out the dough on a floured counter but at least I was armed with Baby's great grandmother's rolling pin! It was the only thing she took, fleeing Belaruse at the turn of the last century, possessing the forethought to carry a kitchen tool and possibly a weapon as well; both for the sake of her family.

Couldn't you just abandon civility, embrace depravity here and lick this deep chestnut-colored confection right off of the counter?

Now, the little buggers stuck, so I would recommend working quickly (ie don't pause for a photo shoot) flouring liberally both counter and rolling pin, and chilling the mixture first. Continue to do so while each batch bakes until lightly browned--I don't have the capacity nor the inclination to bake eight dozen cookies, so as I mentioned, I made four dozen, a dozen at a time in the oven.

Another suggestion: line a trifle dish with these cookies to enhance your banana pudding. Now, onto the pretzel clam soup!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shouldn't You Just ... ?

A SNEAK PEEK into my soon approaching, new novel Friendship Fog, laced with seasonal menus to feed the heart and mind! Here, our hero Clifford Bowles, the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire, offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. 

by Clifford Bowles

Mr. Bowles offers his advice on modern etiquette.

  • Sneeze more privately in public to avoid too much of a fuss?
  • Talk more conservatively on your cellular phone in public? The conversation does not involve two cans and a string. The person on the other end of the line can hear you. We all can hear you.
  • Use note cards for thank yous? Rather than a mere email, a phone call is preferable the next day too as a thank you for a dinner or cocktail party. Take the extra time as your host did for entertaining you.
  • Rein in your Vuitton wheelie bag when traveling? It needn’t be more than a foot behind you. Statistics show that most tripping accidents in airports and railway stations occur because of an unduly extended suitcase on wheels.
  • Discourage your pets from soaking others’ garbage with their urine streams? If only to lessen the work of the sanitation engineer?