Showing posts with label James Beard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Beard. Show all posts

Friday, August 19, 2016

James Beard and Grilled Salmon

Recently I was talking with a friend, who’s entertained my family on multiple occasions, so I know she’s a good cook. We drifted to talking about cookbooks we liked, and I mentioned James Beard. She said, “Who?”

Oh, dear. And here I thought he was an icon of American cuisine. There’s a cooking prize named for him, right?

I won’t say I met him, but once, years ago, I was having lunch in one of my favorite Berkeley restaurants, the Fourth Street Grill (alas, now gone, but it was terrific when it was new) and in walked the unmistakable James Beard in all his very large glory. Of course I recognized him immediately.

And now he’s all but forgotten. But not by me! When I was growing up, for some reason we had a copy of James Beard’s Treasury of Outdoor Cooking, even though we were living in an apartment at the time and had no place to grill anything. It was almost an art book, with beautiful large format, full-page pictures. It was published in 1960, and—you won’t be surprised—I still have my mother’s copy. 

The recipes are interesting because they’re more broad suggestions than detailed instructions. Some are almost tongue in cheek, like the one where you should find a whole salmon, nail it to a plank of wood, and prop it up at an angle over your fire to cook it. (I didn’t try that one.)

But I had a nice 1-1/2 pound piece of salmon, thick enough to stand up to grilling, so I thought I’d pay homage to the immortal Beard and try one of those recipes. (Note: we have a vintage Weber grill—no frills, no dials or bells and whistles, no propane tanks. It does the job.)

One comment before we grab that fish: mid-20th-century cookbooks tend to be a little conservative with their spicing. To my mind, a half-teaspoon of any spice isn’t worth the effort. So I tend to ramp up the spices, and experiment with substituting ingredients--as I did for this recipe.

Sesame Fish, as inspired by James Beard

Fish (Beard suggested using any largish fish that can stand up to grilling, and also using a whole fish, split. I had that nice big chunk of fresh Maine Salmon. Substitution #1.)

Cooking oil, or oil mixed with butter (I was worried this would be dull, so I added just a dash of sesame oil. Substitution #2)

Sesame seeds (the recipe called for the usual tan ones. Nope, didn’t have any. But I did have black sesame seeds. Since the purpose of the seeds was to give some crunch to the fish, rather than flavor, the black ones worked fine—and hid any bits of the fish that might be a wee bit overcooked. Substitution #3)—enough to provide a layer than will cover the fish (not the skin side).

A fire (Weber grill. Over-the-counter charcoal. A few random chunks of hardwood charcoal. Aha! I have applewood chips for variety. Soak, drain and add the chips to the fire right before cooking—and watch out for the smoke!)


Spread the oil/butter on the flesh side of the fish. Add salt and pepper, then press on the sesame seeds to form a uniform layer.

No, it's not burned--those are the
black sesame seeds
Light your fire. When the coals are ready (for me this usually takes about half an hour), spread the coals out, and add the drained wood chips if you’re using them.

Applewood chips

The fire's ready!
Place the fish on the grill, skin side down (okay, Substitution #4: my fish would no doubt turn into an unholy mess if I put it directly on my grill and then tried to pry it off intact, seasoned though the grill is. But I have a nice tray with perforations for the smoke plus handles to carry it, and laid my fish on that. Problem solved!)

Cook for roughly 10 minutes, depending on the kind of fish and how thick it is. I can attest that this piece of salmon was still nicely pink in the middle after 10 minutes over a very active fire. If you’re worried about cooking it through, you could cover your grill for the first five minutes (more smoke flavor that way!), then open it up for the final five minutes to crisp it.

Divide into portions and serve, with fresh corn and a salad. And remember James Beard!

Seeds of Deception, coming in October from Berkley!

No barbecues--it's mid-December in the book.

If you want to know a secret, the house in the picture is based on one where I lived when I was a child. For the plot I needed a large patio that the neighbors couldn't see.

Available for pre-order at Amazon (where it seems to be on sale at this moment, although who knows how long that will last?) and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Linguine with Tomato-Shrimp Sauce

by Sheila Connolly

And the other cookbook I bought in Northampton was (drumroll) Beard on Pasta! Published in 1983, it’s a companion to Beard on Bread (1974), which I’ve owned since before I was married. I’m not sure I’ve ever baked any of the recipes, but Beard is a good storyteller so it’s fun reading. (Confession: I also own a copy of The Tassajara Bread Book, which is even older, not that I've used it much, but back in the day you had to have a copy.) Obviously I’ve been collecting cookbooks for a long time!

Beard goes through the whole “make your own pasta” thing at the beginning of the book. Yes, I own a hand-cranked pasta machine. I’ve even used it, now and then. Not much lately.

But to get to the recipe (at last! you say). This one caught my eye because it’s quick and simple and tasty.

Linguine with Tomato-Shrimp Sauce
Adapted from Beard on Pasta, by James Beard

28 ounces (2 cans) canned whole or chopped tomatoes in puree
olive oil
2 small onions (or one large), sliced
salt and pepper to taste
dried basil or oregano (optional; I had fresh oregano—from my herb pot!—so that’s what I used)
1/2 pound peeled raw shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tblsp Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tblsp olive oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound linguine

In a large pot, cook the sliced onions in a little olive oil over medium heat until they are just soft. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and herbs and continue cooking over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

If you like a smooth sauce, you can run the sauce through a food processor, or use an immersion blender. (I bought my Cuisinart immersion blender at a neighbor’s yard sale for three dollars. It’s come in handy.)

Taste for seasoning. When the sauce is finished, add the other ingredients and simmer until the shrimp turn pink (not too long).

Cook the linguine according to the package instructions. Drain, place in individual bowls, and spoon the sauce over it.

You can use frozen shrimp, or smaller shrimp, or scallops, or seafood chunks—the possibilities are endless. It’s still quick and easy.

This recipe easily serves four (we’ve got leftovers!).

When Nell Pratt isn't digging into murders (I know, a bad pun!), she gets to visit a lot of Philadelphia restaurants--which of course means that I have to investigate them thoroughly. Oh, the life of a writer is hard!

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble 
(and a lot of other bookstores, I hope!)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Warm Gingerbread with Whipped Cream

by Peg Cochran

Oh the weather outside is frightful...not quite that bad yet, but our temps here in Michigan are going down to the 20s in the next few days.  Brrrrrr!  Perfect weather for warm gingerbread with some cold whipped cream!  This is an old-fashioned favorite--and for a reason!  Spicy and sweet, it's a delicious end to a good dinner.  This recipe is from a very old James Beard Cookbook.  My paperback copy fell apart and my sister-in-law found a hard cover copy for me at a book sale.

James Beard was the consummate American chef called the  “Dean of American cookery” by the New York Times in 1954.  He hosted the first food program on television in 1946 when television was in its infancy, long before Emeril, Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay.  And like Julia Child, he wasn't afraid of butter and cream!  And Julia Child lived to be 92 and James Beard to 82, so maybe they were onto something!  Eschew processed food, eat real food in moderation, and live a long life.

This recipe is easy but oh, so, delicious on a cold winter's night! 

1 cup molasses
1 cup butter
2 1/3 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sour cream

Put molasses and butter in a saucepan and heat until they boil.  Let cool slightly.  Sift the flour with the salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.  Stir the sour cream into the cooled molasses/butter mixture and stir in the flour and spices.

Bake at 350 for approximately 40 minutes in a pan sprayed with cooking spray or greased with butter. Serve warm (if desired) with a dollop of whipped cream.   

Heat butter and molasses until boiling and butter is melted.

Sift spices and flour together

Bake in a square pan coated with cooking spray


Delicious topped with whipped cream!

If you enjoy culinary mysteries you might like my Gourmet De-Lite series.  
Iced to Death is the latest book

Available at Amazon and B&N and most bookstores

Lucille Mazzarella, the protagonist in my Lucille series is always cooking huge Sunday dinners for her family and friends.  Unholy Matrimony is the second book in the series.

Available at Amazon and for all e-readers. 

Visit me on my web site, Facebook page or Twitter -- @pegcochran