07 July 2008

Kickin' It Martha Style--or Not

I own one Martha Stewart cookbook. It's called "Entertaining" and the copyright reads 1982.*

It is divided into different entertaining events: "Midnight Omelette Supper for Thirty", "A Chinese Banquet for Ten to Twelve", "Afternoon Cocktail Reception for Fifty", "Sit Down Country Luncheon for One Hundred Seventy-Five", and so on. If you have ever looked at a Martha Steward cookbook, you know I am not making these titles up.

I am not known for my fabulous cooking. I have no ambitions to cater large events. But I have made a few of the simpler recipes from this cookbook.

For example, I have made "Snow Peas with St. André".** The ingredients list reads: snow peas, cheese (she suggests St. André or Boursin or Boursault) and fresh mint (optional). That's right. Three ingredients and one of them is optional. That's the level of cooking I can get behind.

It wasn't entirely without a curve ball: I have never heard of St. André or Boursault outside of this cookbook and I like cheese. A lot. They may really exist. (It's possible.) But Boursin! Boursin, I know. It is a garlic/herbed cheese spread you can get at the regular old grocery store (and eat with crackers if you don't have the snow peas and/or mint (optional)). So, yeah, I had to read beyond the title. It was challenging but I did it. I made this recipe and people liked it. They did!

Here's a recipe I will not be making: Coulibiac of Bass. It's on page 148. This may be an awesome dish. I couldn't tell you. I've never actually read the recipe because I can't get past the first sentence of the introduction that Martha provides. It reads: "This is a complicated recipe but if you allow 2 days for preparation you will feel less rushed."

I can barely parse that so let's break it down:

Complicated. It's complicated for Martha, mistress of the ridiculously complex.

2 days.
It requires 2 days in Martha time. Can you imagine?

Less rushed. Martha starts 2 days ahead and she feels less rushed.

I get nauseous just reading that sentence.

* Please refrain from adding a comment which reads "1982? I wasn't even born then!" I know I'm old and decrepit and Martha is even more so. We don't need you rubbing it in.

** Sounds fancy, no?


Bilbo said...

I love to cook, but anything that takes two days to fix (unless it's all time something spends soaking in a fairly simple marinade) just isn't worth it. Note to self: if invited to a party at lacochran's, expect Kraft Mac'n'Cheese or Beanie Weenies and practice gracious declinations.

SingLikeSassy said...

I will spend two days making something, but it will be sweet, sugary and fattening.

GreenCanary said...

When I entertain, I fully expect people to arrive and help me finish the cooking. I've also made everyone eat out of a communal bowl before.

Kristin said...

I totally want to have a "Midnight Omelette Supper for Thirty." Unfortunately, I don't think I know 30 people who will eat omelettes at midnight.

Lemmonex said...

Yeah, I won't be taking that on. Cannot say I blame you. Leave thta for restaurants.

Gilahi said...

The thing about these recipes is that they often call for some exotic ingredient like "veal glaze". And it only calls for a half a teaspoonful. Assuming you can actually find veal glaze at your local gourmet store, it only comes in 55-gallon drums and it's more expensive than platinum. Or, as is so often the case, you can just look up the "veal glaze" recipe that's conveniently in the cookbook and calls for you to kill your own calf.

rs27 said...

I would got a midnight omelette dinner for 30.

Make mine extra omeletty.

lacochran said...

Bilbo: Hey, I can entertain with the best o' em...I got Papa John's number.

Sing: Wow. Sounds decadent to the extreme! I'm coming to your parties.

Green: Like a fishbowl?

Kristin: If you make it extra omeletty, rs27 will attend.

Lemmonex: If you change your mind, be sure and blog about it! I'd want to see what the results are like (both to the bass and to you!) :)

Gilahi: ! So true. I hate recipes that have multiple embedded recipes. So if you want to make the thing that caught your eye, you have to make 3 other recipes first. Ack!

rs27: Kristin's got you covered. When I hear something like "Midnight Omelette Supper for Thirty", I can't help but think of the main character in "Keeping Up Appearances" talking about her candlelight suppers!

GreenCanary said...

Sort of like a fish bowl! It was more like, "Do we really need plates?" and when they indicated we didn't, we just ate out of the serving dish. Made clean-up a breeze.

D.C. Confidential said...

Cooking and entertaining are in my top ten favorite pasttimes, but if it takes two days to prepare a dish, forget it. Not worth it. The only foods worth two days of prep are desserts and the second day should only involve cream and whipping it!

Barbara said...

I long ago learned that the success of a recipe in no way depends on the number of ingredients or the length of prep time. Here's one that has 5 ingredients, takes 5 minutes, and has never failed to get raves:

Salmon fillet
Sliced mushrooms of any sort
Lime juice
Olive oil (lemon olive oil is nice)

Line a Pyrex pan with enough wax paper to cover the fish. Place the fish on the wax paper. Top with the mushrooms, the juice of 2 limes, some olive oil, and any sort of seasoned salt. Lightly seal the wax paper. Microwave for 2 minutes or until the fish is done to your liking.

My husband learned this recipe from a French woman while waiting for his fish at the Whole Foods fish counter.

I would wager I am older than you are!

Reya Mellicker said...

If I had to cook every day, like for a family or something, Martha would not be my fav, but since I can cook when I feel like it, she's one of my heroes.

I love complicated recipes that take two days to put together. I feel like a mad scientist in the kitchen, marinating and stirring together exotic ingredients. I switch on some good music, pour a glass of wine, and take my time. It's so fun.

The other great thing about labor intensive cooking is the results: YUM!!

The Zuni Cafe cookbook is another one of my favorites. The author admits that if she can make something labor intensive, she always will.

You should come for dinner sometime. You'll see.

lacochran said...

Green: Double dipping! Ack!

DC: Sounds reasonable to me.

Barbara: Thanks for the recipe! Sounds amazingly easy and deelish!

Reya: You are a better woman than I! (And I'm okay with that! :)) If you want to cook, I'll be happy to eat.

charlotteharris said...

For some reason what comes to my mind is the recipe that you get when you tour Mt. Vernon by candelight at Christmas. For "Cake with 40 Eggs." Un-tackle-able in my opinion.

lacochran said...

Wow! My mother makes a sponge cake with 12 eggs and I say that's enough for anybody!