Monday, March 01, 2004

That casserole? So good. A layer of buttery, garlicky spinach, topped with tender mushrooms and roasted tomatoes? With shrimp and browned feta cheese on top of that?? Does it get any better?

Saturday I did most of my Oscar party prep. Marinated the olives, marinated the chicken wings, made the bean dip. I attempted to roll up slices of pumpernickel bread spread with boursin and layered with cream cheese to make salmon spirals, but the pumpernickel would not roll without breaking. I sprinkled a little water on it, per the instructions, and it broke. I tried more water, which was worse. Eventually I gave up and made sandwiches, which I cut into squares. Darn you, Adelaide Bennett (Mrs. John D). I'm not sure that's her exact name, but her pumpernickel rolling is an impossibility.

I also did a little shopping- I got two Le Creuset oval dishes, after debating over them versus the pyrex. the LC was a buy one get one free deal, and it was prettier. It was still way more expensive, but it's an investment, I told myself. I used my Valentine's Day gift certificate to pick up a copy of San Francisco Encore. I will have to comb it for casserole recipes to justify the LC.

Sunday afternoon I made the chive french toast from A New Way To Cook, with leftover challah. If you own this cookbook, go home NOW and try this. With lime sour cream. You won't regret it. If you do not own this cookbook, go buy it, then go home and try this recipe. I also made the cookies (called Whatstis) for the Oscar Party. The fine woman of the Charleston Junior League who contributed the recipe noted that her great grandmother had written in that they were "grand for parties." Then her aunt Little Nell had underlined "Very Grand."

They were good. Very, very good. It was all good. I served the above mentioned food, plus Southern Comfort Punch ("My mother reports that her bridge club loves it," was the comment on that one) and a block of cream cheese with Pickapeppa. I spent a lot of time explaining Pickapeppa.

I will give you all the (simple!) recipe for Whatsits. They are, in fact, Very Grand. But you have to promise me if you like them, you'll buy the book. You won't regret it.


- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup light brown sugar, sifted*
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- 1 tbsp flour

Preheat the oven to 250.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually stir in the brown sugar.

Place the nuts on a piece of waxed paper. Shake the flour over it and mix to coat. Fold the nuts into the egg-sugar mixture.

Drop the mixture by the teaspoonful on to buttered cookie sheets**. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

*I have no sifter. I just unclumped the sugar best I could. It worked.

**I used my Silpat, and a piece of parchment paper. For once, the parchment outperformed the Silpat. But you can butter the sheets if you want.

Makes 3 dozen.

The cookies are chewy and meringue-y and delicious. They remind me of these chocolate meringues my family makes, from a recipe we got from a newspaper. (The Houston Chronicle, I believe. I remember they came from someone who had moved away to be an Actress in New York City.) Those, in turn, were our poor substitute for the chocolate chewies they used to sell at Randall's. That was the biggest disappointment of mine last time I was in Houston, learning Randall's no longer sells those cookies.