Sunday, February 12, 2017

Elegant Food

  We are a few snow days in, shoveled out and partially melted but tomorrow threatens another missed day of school due to predicted high winds and blizzard conditions.  Ugh.  Thankfully, I have a February winter reading arsenal at my disposal.  Among the books I secretly ordered from Amazon, I have two of the Pink Smock Provender cookbooks (Pink Smock Provender, 1980 and More Pink Smock Provender, 1988) put together by the ladies of the Falmouth Hospital Auxillary for fundraising  purposes and bragging rights.  I also scored the Woods Hole Golf Club Centennial cookbook, Simply the Best Course which features an array of favorites from ladies who know how to golf and entertain.
  In this food-focused time of super chefs and cutting edge restaurants, cookbooks, food blogs, competitive cooking shows and internet sensations, it can be hard to believe that some of these featured recipes were sought after secret weapons for these society dames.  Among some of my favorites: "Cheese Things" to be served as an appetizer with cocktails, "Deviled Egg Salad" made with mayonnaise, hard cooked eggs and gelatin to firm it all up, "Hot Dog-A-Cheapie" for lunch and let's not forget, "Tomato Soup Cake"  as dessert.  For dinner guests, "Beef Casserole" that according to my grandmother's good friend, Frances Eastman as she is quoted at the end of her entry, "Easy casserole to make and elegant to taste."  When Mrs. E deemed something to be "elegant", it was of the highest compliment.  If you need something to wash all this food down, you can find in all the books' pages some type of punch like the one Mrs. Eastman often served at bridal showers and luncheons.  It featured Cold Duck, a can of Hawaiian Punch, pineapple juice, ginger ale and 1 pint of vodka. This light and refreshing beverage is called simply, "Summer Punch".  Elegant, indeed.
 Although there are plenty of entries that leave me scratching my head at the list of ingredients and not at all eager to try them, there are a few (only about 3 in total, don't get excited) that I tagged with my trusty post-its.  In particular, "The Famous Faxon Fudge Brownies" are a must try.  A brilliant addition of 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk makes them super fudgy.  However, I did opt to leave out the walnuts and bag of coconut since my people would have frowned upon the use of those ingredients.  They deemed the brownies utterly delicious.  I now have the recipe earmarked as a favorite to be baked numerous times again, in the future.

  While relaxing and perusing this tome late one night, I leaped out of bed in joy when I discovered Marty Patrick's recipe for her famous "Key Lime Pie", a dessert that I had tasted but one time in my life, but it still haunted me.  The taste of sour lime perfectly blended with smooth, sweetened condensed milk, nestled into a graham cracker crust. Marty had mixed in fresh blueberries that popped when bitten and added something for your teeth to sink into amidst all that creamy filling. I had felt that I may never get the recipe as sadly, Marty is no longer with us.  You better believe I tagged that one with a post-it.
  Many of these featured recipes may not stand the test of time but I enjoy reading what people ate in the past .  Val and I had a laugh when she texted me this photo of Mrs. E's "Summer Punch".

  I then I had to google Cold Duck...I was not surprised at its slip from popularity when I read the beverage's ingredients.
  Who knows?  Maybe someday, there will be someone just like me reading this blog and laughing out loud at my go-to recipes and concoctions.  Time and recipe ideas march forward for all of us. Until then, I will continue to create recipes and menus, trying out and tweaking some of the old ones and hoping that Mrs. E would think they are as "elegant" as I do.

I opted to make a graham cracker crust instead of the regular pie crust used in Marty's recipe in "Simply the Best Course".  Also, she does not mention adding fresh blueberries they way I remember her pie.  Like many talented cooks, I am sure she often played with her own recipes depending on ingredients on hand.
Key Lime Pie
(adapted from Marty Patrick, Simply the Best Course)
makes one pie

graham cracker pie crust
3 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Key lime juice or fresh lime or ReaLime
1 teaspoon  salt
grated rind of 1 lime

Mix sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and salt.  Fill pie crust and chill until firm.  Garnish with grated lime rind.

To make a homemade graham cracker crust:
1 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers (regular or gluten free)
6 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a standard 9"pie plate.  Mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar.  Press into bottom and up sides of pie plate.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely before adding filling.

The Famous Faxon Fudge Brownies
(Sandy Faxon, Simply the Best Course)
makes one 8x8 pan

4 squares (ounces) unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, whipped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1/3-1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 can walnuts (optional)
1 small bag coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 pan.  
Melt chocolate and butter on low in a heavy bottom saucepan.  Add sugar and mix well.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix again.  Add flour and salt; mix until just blended.  Pour batter into greased pan and top with condensed milk.  Swirl and mix in the milk a little bit.  Bake approximately 30 minutes.  (slightly under cooked)

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