Monday, September 10, 2007

Cookbook of the week #6: The Diner's Club Cookbook: Great recipes from great restaurants

Author: Myra Waldo
Published in 1959.

Most of the recipes in this book came from restaurants and were adapted for home cooking by the author.

This book dates back to the time when curry powder was a perfectly respectable, even exotic, ingredient in cookbook recipes, whereas now it has become rather gauche and you hardly see it except in recipe collections by exceptionally honest authors who are willing to admit to using it. The difference is that now the author will tell you which specific curry powder (e.g. X-brand red curry paste, Madras-style curry, Thai green curry, etc.) they have in mind, whereas back then "curry powder" meant the mild western version.

Most Icelanders of my generation and older remember that curry and I am sure many people of my age group in other western countries remember it too. The brand may have differed from country to country, but the taste not so much. If there was any chilli in it, it was in miniscule amounts. The powder was always a very evil looking yellow (indicating a lot of turmeric) and it was often used more as a colouring than a condiment. There are a number of recipes in this book that call for this curry powder, and I have avoided them as best I could, having developed a hearty dislike of it as a child (although I must admit that poached lamb with curry-flavoured bécahmel sauce does bring up some nostalgic feelings for me…)

Apart from the curry powder many of the recipes in this nearly 50 year old cookbook might be found in a modern cookbook. Since they come from various restaurants all over the USA, the recipes are quite diverse and cover a number of different cuisines, and the book is bristling with bookmarks where I have marked interesting recipes. Here are some of the ones I would like to try:

Scalzo's Grundbeif de Calabrei. Sounds imposing, but theses are actually Italian meatballs.
Chicken Gumbo. I would love to try making gumbo, but I doubt I'll be able to make it authentic, as okra is not widely available here. (I have hopes of finding it at one Asian market)
Potaje De Garbanzas (Spanish chick-pea soup).
Delices de Sole L'Ecu de France. (Fillet of sole with mushroom-Hollandaise sauce)
Jamaican style curried chicken with rice. Ok, so there is curry powder in this one, but I happen to know where I can get Jamiacan-style curry powder.
Kan's walnut chicken.
Murgi Ka Korma. (Chicken korma). The "curry" here is made from scratch, which is perhaps no surprise, since the recipe came from an Indian restaurant.
Chopped beef à La Lindstrom.
Ranch kitchen chili and beans.
Kzartma (Shank of baby lamb).
Armenian shish kabob.
Hawaiian Chinese spareribs.
Osso buco Livornese.
Cassoulet Toulousain (French bean casserole).
Baked eggplant à la Armand.
Chinese blintzes.
Baba au rum. What! Only one dessert recipe?

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