Our latest (Aug/Sept) Cook the Books Club selection was the lovely, and entertainingly intimate, foodie memoir by the late Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking.
The book reads like an extended, laid back conversation between a couple of good friends. You won't agree with everything anyone says, but the dialogue is never boring.
For instance, I happen to love stuffing. (She hates it) Prefer it to the turkey, in fact. And a rolled stuffed flank steak, can be delicious, albeit like anything else, if done correctly. Not haveing had a "gray and stringy" or overcooked one, perhaps I'm biased. Still, reading that chapter gave me the impetus to try it her way, marinated and grilled fast, then sliced paper thin. An excellent idea, especially as it is a much easier way of treating a good inexpensive cut of meat.
The chapter on "Repulsive Dinners" was especially reminiscent of that give and take sharing of experiences, between a few close friends, each outdoing the others with their most horrid dinner experience. So freaking funny. It begins:
"There is something triumphant about a really disgusting meal. It lingers in the memory with a lurid glow, just as something exalted is remembered with a kind of mellow brilliance.....My life has been much enriched by ghastly meals..."
"For dessert we had a packaged cheesecake with iridescent cherries embedded in a topping of cerise gum and light tan coffee."There were quite a number of things from the book that I wanted to try, and a few accomplished so far. The West Indian Black Cake with which she closed her book, is stewing along, awaiting Christmas for the baking and tasting. The descriptions were just so tantalizing, and absolutely could not be ignored. I've been wanting to do that Green Almond Sauce, but it has most likely been the lack of a recipe holding up my attempt. It will take a bit more thought. Also want to try her fail-proof fried chicken recipe and the Creamed Spinach with Jalapeno Peppers.
Curried Chicken Salad with Watercress
adapted from Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin
2 chicken breasts, bone in, slow poached and sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used an excellent prepared one from our Natural Foods store)
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced
2 green onions, sliced thinly - use both green and white parts
1 bunch watercress, leaves separated from thick stems
slices of tomato, paprika or pimento pepper for garnish
2. The meat is skinned and taken off the bone and put into a bowl. Some of the broth is ladled over the meat. The bowl is covered and put into the refrigerator. The next day the meat is removed, the chicken jelly is scraped off and the meat is cut up. The chicken is moist and slightly gelatinous." And that broth from the poaching is wonderful for a later soup.