As I was roaming the halls of my alma mater last week carrying an extra copy of the “Food & Wine Magazine’s 2002 Cookbook” when I ran into a friend/old classmate/old office mate of mine who now works in the Provost’s office. Knowing he’s an excellent cook and would probably be able to make good use of my extra 2002 edition I gave it to him. We got to talking about our preferred types of cook books. While I (obviously) prefer the gastroporn genre of cookbooks and recipes he prefers the technical manual type.
During our eventual discussion of the appalling lack of decent cookbooks prior to the mid-nineties we both agreed that one of the gems of the period we were mourning was the (earlier editions) of Irma S. Rombauer’s “Joy of Cooking”. My mother has the first 2 editions and I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve referred to these volumes for basics recipes and techniques that are often lost in the gastronomic sciences and the obsession with “the New”. Like a good bread book. The “Joy of Cooking” is a kitchen tool that a proper cook should consider having around.
There are no photos in this book, and very few illustrations, which may seem odd for a gastroporn addict like myself. However, the recipes and basic cooking techniques are an absolute selling point.
The following are two recipes that I use regularly. One is a basic pound cake recipe and the other is one out of a 14-in-one cookie recipe that is beyond gastrogasmic and also happens to be naught but leftover crumbs on my dining table after I made a batch for my hardworking mother the other day for our session of watching “Surface” while she waited for Somalia and Kenya to wake up.
Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until very fluffy and well blended.
- Add peanut butter and beat until combined.
- Add and beat egg yolk until well combined.
- Add and beat egg and vanilla until well combined.
- reduce speed to low and beat in the flour just until combined
- Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour until firm. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or or double wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.
- Roll the dough into 1 tablespoon balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet [I just use a cookie sheet sprayed lightly with Pam and it works fine].
- Using the bottom of a smooth, flour-coated, glass (or a fork), flatten each ball to about 1/8 inch thick.
- Bake at 375 F for 6-8 minutes [10 in my oven, which runs a bit cool].
- When done baking, transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature before serving.
Flo Braker’s Pound Cake
- 2 cups twice sifted cake flour [can use all-purpose flour]
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace (optional) [I never do this since I usually use pound cake as a base for something else]
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 1/3 cups of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Whisk together eggs, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest, orange zest, and mace (if using) in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl beat butter until creamy (about 30 seconds).
- Gradually add sugar and salt and beat on high speed until lightened in color (about 3-5 minutes) while scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Gradually dribble in the egg mixture, about 1 table spoon at a time, until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour in 3 parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.
- Scrape batter into the pan and spread evenly.
- Bake at 325 F in a parchment-lined [or greased and floured] loaf pan for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.
The pound cake recipe sake it serves 6-8 but it can actually serve double that if you are putting something with each slice. You can also divide the batter into 2 loaf pans to achieve this.