Sunday, May 18, 2008

Food for Thought

There are actually a decent amount of literary cookbooks out there. But for those of you who either do not have the money to splurge on each and every one of them to feed your literary addiction as well as your tummy I have searched around to come up with a list of literary recipes.

Twice baked potatoes The Boleyn Inheritance
Black Butter Jane Austen's Christmas
Emily Bronte's favorite meat pie
Mrs. Leibowitz’s Lentil-Vegetable Soup Angela's Ashes
Carrot Pudding A Christmas Carol
Turkish Delight The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Louisa May Alcott's Apple Slump
Persian Cucumber and Yogurt House of Sand and Fog
Cucumber and Tomato Sandwiches Women in Love
Jam Tarts Sons and Lovers
Mrs. Ramsay's boeuf en daube dinner To the Lighthouse
Quail in Rose Petal Sauce Like Water for Chocolate
Italian Pea Pottage Shakespeare's Kitchen
Tennessee Williams's Lemon Icebox Pie
Lane Cake To Kill a Mockingbird

Recipes from The Color Purple Cookbook
Jack Kerouac Diner Menu

Tarragon Eggs A La Jane Austen

40g butter
4 eggs
Ground pepper
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons tarragon (fresh or dried)

Mrs B- was not used to disagreeing with the better informed mind of Lady Cumberland, and now, her every cherished opinion of parsley's worth overthrown, she turned her eye to rarer visitors, including the tarragon. She had always thought tarragon a difficult herb and hard to please. 'It refuses to grow here, it refuses to grow there, but fancies itself so very great, disappearing every winter I know not where. I quite detest the plant.'

Clafoutis Grandmere A La Virginia Woolf

500g cherries, 3 eggs
150g flour, 150g sugar
10g yeast, prepared in warm water if necessary
100g butter, 1 cup of milk

When the flour came it was a delight, a touch left on her cheek as she brushed aside a wisp of hair, as if her beauty bored her and she wanted to be like other people, insignificant, sitting in a widow's house with her pen and paper...

Quick Miso Soup A La Franz Kafka

3 dessertspoons fermented miso
150g silken tofu
4-5 small mushrooms
A few leaves of dried wakame

He placed three spoonfuls of the miso into a saucepan and poured on two pints of hot water, shielding the process from the panel as he did so. He became angry with himself for thinking of the new arrivals as a panel; they had not announced their purpose in calling on him and as yet he did not know what position each of them held.

Mushroom Risotto A La John Steinbeck

Extra virgin olive oil
25g porcini mushrooms
1 onion, 2 cloves garlic
200g risotto rice
500ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper,
60g parmesan
1 glass white wine

The parmesan cheese was hard and dry. The cook grated what little she had. The cheese grated coarsely, like maize from the thresher; the cheese grated finely, like the first powder snow; the cheese grated in shavings, like the wood thrown up from her husband's plane.

Truman Capote's Family's Cornbread

- makes 8 wedges -

1 tablespoon butter or bacon drippings
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups stone-ground white cornmeal


1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place the butter or drippings in a 10-inch cast iron skillet; place it in the oven.

2. Combine the eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisking together well with a fork.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, salt, baking soda, and cornmeal; stir well to combine.

4. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, beating just until the dry ingredients are moistened and no more.

5. Pull the skillet from the oven. It should be hot, with the fat sizzling. Swirl the pan to coat. Quickly transfer batter to skillet; return skillet to oven.

6. Bake until browned and pulling away from skillet, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot, in wedges.

Emily Dickinson's Black Cake Recipe

Adapted by Margery K. Eagan

This is a good "do-ahead" cake, since the brandy syrup needs time to soak in...ahhh.

Have a bottle of brandy on hand—you'll need 1/2 c. to pour over fruit plus approx. 1 cup more for cake-soaking syrup. Two large cardboard cake boards will be helpful if you are making a large cake.

The day before baking the cake, if possible, prepare brandy syrup: In a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat, mix 3 c. sugar with 2 c. water until sugar dissolves. Let cool and add brandy (approx. 1 cup) or to taste. The brandy can be a Cognac-type by itself, or a combination of flavors including amaretto or hazelnut liqueur. Your taste buds can guide you here. (See notes about storing any leftover syrup.)

1 3/4 lbs. raisins

8 oz. currants

8 oz. dried apricots, cut in 1/2" pieces (size of raisins)

8 oz. pitted prunes, cut in 1/2" pieces

2 oz. dried pears, cut in 1/2" pieces

4 oz. pitted dates cut in 1/2" pieces

In a large bowl, toss fruit with 1/2 c. brandy. Let stand overnight, preferably, or an hour, or just while you get the other ingredients together.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Butter a 13" X 18" X 2 1/2" pan and line with wax paper or parchment: butter paper or parchment. (See notes about using different pans--you don't have to make just one cake.)

1 1/2 lbs. soft butter (salted or un: if salted, don't add salt to dry ingredients)

1 1/2 lbs. granulated sugar

13 eggs at room temperature

3/4 c. molasses

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Sift together:

1 1/2 lbs. unbleached flour

4 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt (or none if using salted butter)

1 1/4 tsp. each cinnamon, cloves & mace

1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cardamom

1/4 tsp. ginger

In a very large bowl, cream the butter and gradually add the sugar, keeping mixture light. Add eggs 3 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides of bowl several times to keep mixture uniform. Add vanilla. With mixer going, pour in molasses. Mixture might look broken, but that's ok. On low speed, gradually add sifted dry ingredients, mixing just until flour is incorporated. Place fruit on top of batter, leaving any liquid at the bottom of fruit in the bowl. (Save the liquid and add to the brandy syrup.) Fold fruit into batter, taking care not to overmix. (Note: with this much batter, make sure your spatula is sturdy; otherwise, your hands are your best folding tools.)

Turn batter into pan, smooth the top, and bake for at least one hour, or until the middle top of cake is firm to the touch. The cake will be very dark on top and slightly sunken.

Let cake cool in pan. (Note: if you want to present the cake with a smooth top, level the top of the cake with a serrated knife. It will be inverted later, making the bottom the top.) Invert cake onto large wax paper-covered board and back again onto another board. The paper should prevent the top of the cake from sticking to the board. With a skewer, poke several holes through the cake at 1" intervals. Begin brushing/tapping the brandy-sugar syrup evenly over the cake, allowing a few minutes for the syrup to soak in before brushing on more. If the cake seems moist enough, it may not be necessary to use all the syrup.

Wrap cake well in plastic wrap (or slide it into a large clean plastic bag) and allow to stand for at least 1 hour—or, preferably, a day or two, in a cool place. Slide cake carefully onto a large serving platter. (Or, for a smooth top: invert onto platter.) Keep the cake covered until presentation time. Fresh greens and flowers around the cake add a festive touch.


This recipe makes about 20 cups of batter. Since an average loaf pan uses between 4 and 5 cups of batter, this recipe would make about 4 large loaf cakes. In 9" round pans: probably 5 or 6 layers. Or, in a 12 x 2" round, perhaps 2 layers. You get the idea, though: you can bake the batter in any size and shape. Butter and paper the pans, and fill them about 2/3 full for proper baking.

If freezing cakes: Remove cooled cakes from pans and wrap well. After thawing, and at least 1 hour before serving, brush/soak with brandy syrup.

Leftover syrup: Tightly-covered, the syrup will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks. If you've made small cakes and have frozen them, use the syrup as you need it.

This one is actually a drink - Champagne Hemingway

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