Cookbooks in the Kitchen
BY Lindsay Kastner
Looking for culinary inspiration? There s no need to look beyond the Port City. We asked three celebrated cookbook authors with Wilmington ties to share their stories along with some of their favorite seasonal recipes.
Fanny Slater grew up in a family that loves food so much that they begin talking about what to make for dinner while still eating breakfast.
Her parents owned the wildly successful Rachael s Brownies in the 1980s — a venture that led to a luncheon with President Ronald Reagan and an appearance on The Phil Donahue Show.
I m sort of part of a brownie legacy Slater says.
But cooking never figured into her childhood ambitions. Instead she wanted to be an actress; to live in Los Angeles under the Hollywood sign.
After college Slater fulfilled her goal moving from her family in Raleigh to the West Coast where she knew no one.
The thing that s really getting me by is that I m out here by myself cooking Slater recalled. It kind of clicked for me there: This is what I think I want to do.
Two years ago Slater left LA and moved to Wilmington with dreams of launching her own catering business. She worked desk jobs while laying the groundwork for what would become Fanfare a one-woman catering outfit specializing in gourmet sandwiches.
Fanfare s client base grew steadily and Slater created more and more of her own recipes. Then she mused to her boyfriend that she d like to start planning for an eventual cookbook.
About one month later a text message from Slater s grandmother tipped her off to a contest on The Rachael Ray Show.
The prize? A cookbook deal with Rachael Ray Books an imprint of Atria.
Slater entered with a video pitch featuring vintage home movies of her as a little girl. It begins with a clip of her dad asking her to name three things she would buy at the grocery store. At age 4 or 5 little Fanny replies Well um grapes and peas and champagne.
A book of recipes tied to childhood memories several months and a few television appearances later — Slater learned her concept won the book deal.
She s now hard at work on the cookbook which is due out next year and temporarily shelved her catering business to devote herself to the project full time.
An instinctual cook Slater says the most difficult aspect of the book has been the precision required to write recipes for others to follow.
The idea of cooking and having to measure every little thing has been the hardest she says.
She has already tested about 100 recipes and is now working on writing the personal stories to go along with them.
It s supposed to be very witty Slater says I like to think of it as kind of Tina Fey meets Rachael Ray.
Slater appeared on another episode of The Rachael Ray Show in September and won a zany cooking competition against four other celebrity chefs.
She ll be back on air next year to promote the book which she says will definitely not be her last.
She already has ideas for other cookbooks such as one centered on sandwiches.
I adore sandwiches she says. You can take a gourmet meal and put it between bread and it becomes this handheld casual food but it s still sophisticated.
She s also mulling over an idea to write a cookbook for fans of her favorite television show Friends.
Somehow I know that I would be able to relate Friends back to food she says.
Fanny Slater s Recipes
BUTTERNUT SQUASH WINTER ROLLS WITH POMEGRANATES & PUMPKIN FIG JAM
Butternut Squash Winter Rolls
Makes 16 rolls
2 small butternut squash (1 pound each) peeled seeded and diced into 1/2 inch thick cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or substitute maple agave)
1 tsp coarse salt (such as sea salt or kosher salt)
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
16 rice paper wrappers
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds dry toasted in a pan over medium low heat for 5 minutes
2 tart apples (such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady) cut into matchsticks
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
Pumpkin Fig Jam (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil maple syrup salt pepper and sage and evenly spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until the squash cubes are lightly golden and tender about 20 minutes. While the squash is still warm sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Set out an assembly line of ingredients starting with the rice paper wrappers a rectangular platter of warm water and a damp outspread dishcloth. Next the butternut squash pomegranate seeds pumpkin seeds apples and cabbage. Prepare a serving platter at the end for the finished rolls.
Make the rolls: Submerge a rice paper wrapper into the warm water until it s pliable 5-10 seconds. Carefully transfer the wrapper to the damp towel. Equally layer the fillings across the lower third of the wrapper. Fold the sides over the filling (like a burrito) and continue to roll away from you until the edges are sealed. Transfer the wrapped winter roll to the serving platter and repeat until all of the rolls are complete.
Serve immediately with the pumpkin fig jam or prepare up to one hour ahead. If you re making the rolls ahead of time layer each level with a damp paper towel so they don t stick together.Pumpkin Fig Jam
Makes 1 cup
Fig jam Ingredients:
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup stemmed and halved dried Turkish figs (or substitute dried mission figs)
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
In a small saucepot combine the canned pumpkin figs orange juice vanilla brown sugar cinnamon a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup water over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Using a handheld blender or transferring the mixture to a food processor puree the jam — adding additional hot water as necessary to thin out the sauce. It should reach the consistency of a smooth jam.
Preschool teacher Elena Rosemond-Hoerr never gave much thought to writing a cookbook.
The Durham North Carolina native was hungry for home cooking while attending art school in Baltimore. An internet search for recipes resembling her grandmother s country-style steak came up dry.
I missed home and I wanted to eat something familiar Rosemond-Hoerr says.
She created her own version of the beloved dish and the recipe became her first post on biscuitsandsuch.com her blog with a southern cooking focus.
But Rosemond-Hoerr readily admits she wasn t the most experienced cook when she began chronicling her kitchen adventures in 2008.
Over time both her readership and her culinary prowess grew but she was still a bit surprised when British publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK) contacted her to ask whether she d like to work with another cookbook writer on a book about American cuisine.
Rosemond-Hoerr jumped at the chance and The American Cookbook: A Fresh Take on Classic Recipes came out in the US earlier this year garnering a mention in the New York Times Review of Books.
Writing The American Cookbook was intense says Rosemond-Hoerr who devised and tested about 90 recipes for the book in three weeks.
Rosemond-Hoerr wrote several recipes for parts of the country she wasn t actually familiar with. She had a friend with New England roots test her clam chowder recipe and asked her Philadelphian husband to sign off on her take on the classic cheesesteak.
But Rosemond-Hoerr had a little bit of a culture clash with some of the British recipe testers hired by DK.
The testers I remember were horrified by how sweet the sweet potato casserole was she says. And one of the testers suggested we boil the brisket to cut down on cooking time. And I was like I d like to go back to Texas at some point.
Rosemond-Hoerr has since collaborated with DK on two more cookbooks the just-published Meat Cookbook and a forthcoming book with quick and easy recipes. She s working with an agent on a proposal for a fourth book all about biscuits.
I would like to do more cookbooks that speak a little more to what I do on the blog she says.
There the focus is on real and whole foods.
No margarine no shortcuts it s really the way my grandmother cooked and the way she taught me to cook Rosemond-Hoerr says. So it s a lot of butter.
Elena Rosemond-Hoerr s Recipes
Chocolate Chess Pie
This pie is Elena Rosemond-Hoerr s favorite and is frequently requested by her friends including one whose vegan husband makes an exception when it comes to this butter- and egg-filled dish. The recipe comes from Rosemond-Hoerr s grandmother Barbara.
Pie dough ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup ice water
1 cup chocolate chips
1 stick melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
Whipped cream ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ginger
Pie dough directions: Sift dry ingredients. Using your hands work in shortening. Cube butter and work it in. Continue to blend until the consistency is that of coarse cornmeal. Stir in the water a little at a time until your dough forms a ball. Divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Filling directions: Pour hot butter over chocolate chips and stir until fully incorporated. Whisk together remaining ingredients and add to chocolate.
Remove half of the dough from the fridge. Roll it out on a floured non-stick surface (like a silpat) so it is 1 foot by 1 foot wide and 1/4 inch thick. Drape the crust over the rolling pin transfer then press it into the pie dish. Scoop filling into the pie dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Let cool completely.
Whipped cream directions: Whip together cream sugar vanilla and ginger. Serve pie topped with whipped cream.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Bacon from The American Cookbook
Rosemond-Hoerr s family is split firmly down the middle on the subject of marshmallows on sweet potato casserole. This bacon-topped version from The American Cookbook is for the anti-marshmallow faction.
4 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 sticks butter melted and cooled
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Bacon Topping ingredients:
1 lb bacon
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain well mash until smooth and set aside.
Dry fry the bacon over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes turning occasionally until evenly browned and crisp.
Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside. When it is cool enough to handle crumble the bacon.
Place the eggs sugar and melted butter in a large bowl and whisk until well combined; the mixture should be golden and silky. Add the milk and vanilla extract then mix in the potatoes until well blended. Spoon the mixture into a large ovenproof casserole with a capacity of about 7 pints.
Melt the butter and combine with brown sugar crumbled bacon pieces and pecans. Sprinkle over potato mixture in the casserole. Bake for 45 minutes. If the topping starts to brown cover with foil. Serve hot.
Mary Ann Caws
An academic who writes mostly about French art and literature Wilmington native Mary Ann Caws might seem like an unlikely cookbook author.
In fact The Modern Art Cookbook is Caws second foray into the genre. Her first Provencal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France was published in 2008.
For The Modern Art Cookbook published last year by Reaktion Books Caws spent about three years researching and translating recipes written by and for the titans of modern art.
The book was inspired by Caws grandmother the late Margaret Walthour Lippitt a Wilmington artist and accomplished home cook whose recipes for Lane Cake and Sherried Crab are included in the book.
Other recipes are attributed to Vincent Van Gogh Paul Cezanne and Georgia O Keefe. Instead of photos of the finished dishes images of modern art illustrate the recipes. Several are also paired with poetry such as an excerpt from Pablo Neruda s Ode to the Artichoke.
It s a book that Caws says is meant to be read as well as used for cooking.
Caws a distinguished professor of French English and comparative literature at the Graduate School of the City University of New York notes she is lazy in the kitchen. She says even a novice cook could tackle the recipes.
Everything in here tastes wonderful. There s only one thing that flopped Caws says. It really flopped. It s called Heavenly Hors d oeuvres — it was given to me by the estate of Helen Frankenthaler and it was terrible.
Caws included the Abstract Expressionist s recipe anyway but says when she gives talks about the book she often warns listeners about the dish which includes caviar poppy seeds and raw mushrooms.
I think if you cook them it would be slightly better she says.
Caws resisted altering the modern artists recipes to suit today s tastes.
I haven t lightened things really but I have said sometimes how one could do that and I also sometimes doubled the recipe Caws says. I didn t feel it was up to me to make changes to Cezanne s cooking. Or Cezanne s housekeeper s cooking.
Mary Ann Caws Recipe
Margaret Walthour Lippitt s Lane Cake
This recipe from The Modern Art Cookbook comes from Caws late grandmother a painter and avid cook who lived on Nun Street in downtown Wilmington. Caws calls her grandmother s version of this classic Southern cake the best of all the Lane Cake recipes.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups cake flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
8 egg whites
8 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 1/4 cups pecans chopped
1/2 tsp mace
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup glace cherries quartered
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup bourbon (apple grape or cherry juice if preferred)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Cream butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Sift together flour baking powder and salt twice. Stir flour mixture into batter alternately with milk. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Stir 1/4 whites into batter fold in remaining whites into batter and spoon into pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and turn onto cake racks.
To prepare filling mix together yolks sugar and orange rind in a heavy pan or in top of a double boiler. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon. Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Let filling cool. Fill the cake layers and top and sides of cake.
Optional icing method as shown in photograph: Fill the cake layers and top with filling and ice the sides with a classic Seven Minute Frosting.
Ministering Circle Celebrates 125 Years of Service During Annual Gourmet Sale
Founded in 1888 the Ministering Circle of Wilmington is a nonprofit nondenominational organization that supports healthcare projects and scholarships in the Wilmington community.
For 30 years the Ministering Circle has been selling gourmet foods relishes pickles baked goods and one-of-a-kind specialty dishes to support healthcare programs at local nonprofits and educational facilities.
In celebration of the group s 125th anniversary a local charity will receive a $25 000 gift. The recipient of the gift will be announced during Ministering Circle s annual gourmet sale November 1 at the Elk s Club on Oleander Drive from 10 a.m. until noon.
Admission is free. For more information contact Margaret Robison 910-251-8783 or email [email protected]