Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cook Club: Lost Recipes: Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget

Highest Scoring Dishes: Sunday Sago and Salted Butter Cookies
Lowest Scoring Dish: Brown Sugar Fudge

Rachel headed up our July/August Cook Club and picked out the recipe-filled Lost Recipes: Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget.  In Rach's words:  "I think I found something that will be fun for everyone. The July/August cookbook is actually a hefty magazine from Cook's Country - Lost Recipes: Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget. I love to read old cookbooks - the older the better - but I rarely cook out of them because the recipes seem so weird or the ingredients are too hard to find in a modern store.  The promise of this collection of recipes is that they are original recipes that let you "taste our culinary past" without the risk - they have passed the Cook's Country test and each one should be worth making. You can find the ingredients without a time machine, and the techniques have been updated where necessary to fit the modern kitchen."

I was excited to try this cookbook (I quite heart Cook's Country and its sister company, America's Test Kitchen).  I decided to check out the cookbook for myself at my local Barnes & Noble, and as it turns out, this cookbook has expanded into not one, but two cookbooks: America's Best Lost Recipes: 121 Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget and Cook's Country Best Lost Suppers.  The recipes we sampled span these two cookbooks . . . and the cookbooks offer many more recipes (with loads of helpful tips and hints).  The first cookbook tends more towards desserts and baked goods, and the second cookbook, as its title implies, more entrees and savory dishes.

Thanks Rach for introducing us to this cookbook!

Lisa W's Brooklyn Cheese Puffs
Score: 4.0

I chose this recipe because I am always looking for fun appetizers for entertaining. Other cheese puffs/ball that I have made in the past have been fried. Needless to say, I was very excited when this recipe required baking of the puffs. This is a very simple and tasty recipe. My only suggestion is that if you make puffs that are ping pong ball size (as I did), I would bake them for 20 minutes , instead of 10 minutes. I will definitely make these again!

Amanda's Corn Oysters
Score: Corn Oysters Alone = 2, With Remoulade = 4.  Score = 3.0

I was both intimidated and excited to make this recipe. Intimidated, because it involved deep frying, and excited, because I like fried food. :) The corn was very fresh and sweet, which gave the "oysters" an interesting flavor. The recipe was fairly quick and easy to assemble, and I managed to live through my first deep frying experience without any major disasters. Once cooked, the oysters were kind of...bland. They needed salt, at a minimum, and lots of other spice intervention. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to make remoulade sauce in advance, which helped quite a bit! I think this recipe is great, but I will definitely add spices to the batter next time...or make remoulade again. :) (Anjali scored this dish as 3.25)


Anjali's International Date Line Chicken
Score: 4.25

I picked this dish because I feel like I always make the same old chicken dishes. The recipe was straightforward, as was the prep. It is the first time I have worked with bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, but I didn't find them to be difficult. The end result smelled so good and it tasted yummy. It is relatively healthy, too! (The recipe calls for removal of the skin after cooking) I will definitely keep this in my arsenal.

Jackie's Oh My God Chicken
Score: 4.4

I was in search of recipes that I could make and enjoy the leftovers for days to come...  I admit I was intrigued by the name of this dish and thought that I had vaguely heard of "Oh My God Chicken" before.  And really, how could "Oh My God Chicken" not be good?  Happy to say, it was delicious.  The mixture of slow cooked onions and peppers with the chicken broth and white wine made the chicken thighs deliciously flavorful (boned-in, skin-on ... how rarely I used chicken thighs these days, but didn't want the chicken to dry out!  So chicken thighs was the cut of choice!  Not til after I already bought the chicken thighs did I notice that the recipe also provided times for chicken breasts... note to self!).  Our house smelled amazing.  A note that I should have heeded better -- the recipe warns to be careful with your salt seasoning...and I should have followed this because I was a bit heavy handed on the salt, which was perhaps the only downside to this dish.  Definitely will make again!

Stephen's Sunday Sago
Score: 4.5

I tackled the Sunday Sago and the Salted Butter Cookies. Overall both were excellent, I'd give each a 4.5. A few modifications were made to the sago, sorry, but it was totally necessary. I grew up with a family who literally made this every Sunday. Old Italian tradition, and a damn good one! The original sauce had almost no flavor. So to help it out, I doubled the oregano, added an equal amount of thyme, and 2 bay leaves. That still wasn't enough so I then added 2 teapsoons vegetable base, a bottle of pinot noir, and let it simmer an extra 2 hours. That did the trick :) So I mighta went a little overboard, but I can't help it, this is one dish I have high standards for, and will always be the one that only mom could make.  (Anjali scored this dish as well with 4.25 and YUM!)

Amanda's Galveston Shrimp Creole
Score: 3.5

This recipe was fun to make...mostly because it involved making a roux, and I am always interested in learning new and different techniques to make one.(Before making this recipe, I wasn't aware that different techniques existed...thanks for the tip, Dad!) The recipe was fairly involved in the begininng, but was very easy towards the end (simmer for 2 hours, add shrimp, serve). Overall, I thought the finished product was lacking quite a bit in flavor-it needed more salt, and Tabasco! :)


Anjali's Maryland Caramel Tomatoes
Score: 3.5

I like Maryland, caramel, and tomatoes, so this seemed like a good option for me. Again, incredibly straightforward, which I always appreciate. Not that it wasn't disconcerting to put brown sugar on tomatoes! Nevertheless, they turned out well and all of us enjoyed them. An easy side dish.

Lisa W's Great-Grandma's Corn Fritters
Score: 3.0

Great-Grandma needs some spice in her life! These corn fritters were very simple to make, but the flavor was greatly enhanced by the addition of red chili pepper. I made two batches, one following granny’s recipe and one adding some spice. My husband definitely preferred the batch with the chili pepper. Since the batter required tartar sauce, I served them with the tartar sauce. The tartar sauce was a nice complement to the fritters.


Stephen's Salted Butter Cookies
Score: 4.5

As for the cookies, I was surprised. Didn't know what to expect, but I liked them a lot. I didn't change anything in the recipe. I was really nervous about the chocolate filling. I've never heard of mixing it in that fashion, but it worked for the most part. It would have been much better to use heavy cream. The cookies had a nice crunchy/chewy texture, the salt flavor stood out just a bit more than a usual cookie and I liked it. The leftover cookies were taken care of that night with a big glass of milk. This was followed by the next night where I demolished the rest of cookies from the leftover dough that I saved.  (Anjali scored this dish with a 4.5 and "I jokingly called these Pepperidge Farm Cookies - SO GOOD")

Jackie's Sugar Cookies
Score: 4.25

These cookies were pretty fantastic!  I originally picked these a dish I could make with my niece, but ended up baking these for my office instead...  These cookies don't actually contain much sugar -- just a 1/2 cup -- and they were just sweet enough.  Even better, they were wonderfully fluffy, soft, and cakey.  If you like crisp cookies, this isn't the recipe for you.  Lucky for me, my go-to cookies are soft...  I think that I rolled my dough out a bit too thick, but I didn't mind having thicker cookies!  The recipe was a multi-step process that included at least a 2 hour chilling period, so plan accordingly :)  I think next time I might try these as snickerdoodles with sugar AND cinnamon.  Yum.

Rachel's Brown Sugar Fudge
Score: 2

I don't like fudge, but I love brown sugar, and since I don't make candy very often I thought I'd give it a try. I don't have a candy thermometer, and I don't recommend trying to make this recipe without one. It never really lightened or got matte the way it was supposed to when I was stirring it after cooling, which probably means I did not cook it for long enough, or maybe didn't get it hot enough. After an hour in the pan, it thickened but never set up and it was clear I wasn't going to be able to cut it into pieces.

The flavor is very good - butter and molasses notes, mostly - but not very interesting at all. I think it would make a good frosting for a not-very-sweet spice cake, so I scraped it all into a tub and stuck it in the freezer to use sometime this fall. I'll just thaw it and thin with a bit of whole milk.

Not recommended. You can make normal brown sugar frosting with a lot less work (this recipe requires 10 minutes of vigorous beating by hand!).

Amanda's Peach Puzzle
Score: 3.0

I found this recipe to be a little frustrating. The directions were a bit unclear-it said to peel the peaches, but I wasn't sure what to do after (half, slice, leave whole), because the recipe didn't mention it. I finally decided to halve them, for the sake of time, which worked out pretty well. The crust completely confused me, simply because I don't have tons of experience with making my own crust (pillsbury makes great ones, just saying :)), but I pressed on, and ended up with a lumpy, cobblerlike crust. The flavor was fine, but it definitely did not match the description in the recipe! Ha. I would have added a little cinnamon to the sauce before drizzling it over the peaches, had it occurred to me to taste it beforehand. Inverting the dessert made for a nice presentation, but overall it was not one of my favorites. (Anjali scored this dish with 3.5 - "always love peach desserts!")


Jackie's Fluffies
Score: 3.3

I originally picked this recipe based on its name (I had no idea what "fluffies" would be) and it made perfect sense when I found out they were pancakes.  I made these small pancakes for my pancake-loving parents-in-law one weekend while we were at the beach.  Although I loved just how fluffy the pancakes were (the secret is in the whipped egg whites!), I wasn't as big of a fan of the sour cream flavor.  My parents-in-law were very kind, and said they enjoyed their "fresh" flavor (from the sour cream), but that flavor wasn't for me.  Still though, a good recipe, although I don't know if I'll be making these for myself again.