Sunday, June 28, 2009

The 60s

For a printable version click here

Stuffed Artichokes

60s • Crimped, cooked and crazy to be free

Who said if you remember the 60s, you weren’t really there? How is that possible, considering all the changes and events that exploded around us that whole decade?! Chubby Checker twisted us into shape, the Beatles swept our souls, Martin Luther King hiked us up the most glorious mountain and Neil Armstrong walked us onto the moon. Forget? Never!

Gentle families invited us into their homes nightly –– people like the Cleavers, the Nelsons and the Reeds. We weren’t sure what to make of Mrs. Reed (Donna), who vacuumed in high heels and pearls, her perfectly coifed hair a graciously swaying and silken thing of envy as she bent to remove perfectly puffed pastries from her state-of-the-art Kenmore oven.

That same Mrs. Reed certainly wasn’t into burning her bra when it finally came down to that, midway through the decade. And they of the bouffant-hair persuasion, as well, resisted the call to de-girdle and decamp to college campuses where the stirrings of free thought and free love were agitating an already boiling political pot.

By then, string bean fashion was catching on, perhaps representing some sort of compromise between fashion and social consciousness: Twiggy, staring at us, doe-eyed, from magazine covers, her hair short and chic in one of Vidal Sasoon’s asymmetrical cuts, was more than faintly reminiscent of the starving waif you might imagine wandering war-torn Vietnam.

Perhaps, like us, you sought relief from the world’s woes by catching Broadway’s “Hair,” (now in revival on Broadway!) with its cast of naked cavorters dressing up the stage. Or you were swayed, and still are, by the Beatles call to ‘revolution,’ whereupon you grew your own hair extra long, ironed it extra straight, packed up some wretchedly unpalatable rice balls and headed for Woodstock wearing billowy, beaded gypsy garb or a peace-sign printed mini-skirt –– and never looked back.

Though the fashion of the day was all things to all people (which, in turn, initiated the unisex look), the culinary arts were headed down a more distinguished path. Oysters Rockefeller, salmon mousse and Beef Wellington were vividly portrayed on the covers of periodicals both middle class and swank. But the most exquisite of these were the culinary counterpart of that other revolution led largely by the Kennedys, who brought elegant dining as well as superbly sophisticated style back to the White House –– and back into the appreciation of the nation.


How she wore her hair: the Artichoke

A popular hairstyle in 1964, the Artichoke was a set that, when dried, teased and combed became a series of layered curls, resembling the Mediterranean thistle for which it was named. For unknown reasons, women of that era thought it attractive to wear their hair in the shape of a thistle.

We prefer the actual vegetable. For openers, it commands a certain respect at the checkout counter. Customers and clerks alike are clearly in awe of your culinary expertise as they ask, “What do you do with these things?”


Stuffed Artichokes

You’re probably used to seeing them marinated in jars. We like those in salads and sauces but when you really want to impress, buy them fresh, stuff and steam them. Gina’s mother passed this recipe down to her and she has been making it since she was a girl.

4 fresh artichokes

8 scallions finely chopped

12 heaping tablespoons of Italian flavored dried breadcrumbs

12 tablespoons grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

12 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

1 lemon

2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Fry the scallions in olive oil until soft, then add the breadcrumbs and continue frying, stirring often until the crumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile cut stems from artichokes (so they will sit upright in pot) and set aside. Using a serrated knife, cut approximately one and a half inches off the tips of the artichokes (and discard the tips.) Immediately after cutting the tips off, rub the cut side of the artichoke with a lemon half to prevent discoloration. Pound the cut side firmly on a cutting board to help open up the leaves.

Prepare a pot large enough to accommodate the stuffed artichokes. Put enough water in it to come about half way up the artichokes. Bring the water to a boil, add salt, garlic and lemon halves, cover and reduce heat to a simmer while stuffing the artichokes.

Add the grated cheese and parsley to the cooled breadcrumbs. Stir the crumb mixture well. With a small teaspoon and your fingers, drop a spoonful of crumb and cheese mixture in each leaf.

Place the stuffed artichokes in the simmering water. Peel the stems that you set aside earlier and drop them along side of the artichokes.

Cover and simmer approximately 30 to 45 minutes until tender.

Remove from cooking water with a slotted spoon and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Serves four, if you’re willing to share.

Can be enjoyed hot, room temperature or cold. Use as star of the show or as a side dish. We like it as an appetizer, too!


Hair confessions (Check all that apply):

_ I love my hair.

_ I never like my hair.

_ I love my hairstylist.

_ The wrong hairstyle makes me look fat.

_ I have hair issues but I can live with them.

_ My hair is too thin/thick/curly/straight.

_ I am a shop-hopping slut.

_ Cooking messes up my hair.

_ I’m still looking for the best hairstyle for me.

Write and let us know how you feel!


How she wore her hair: French Twist

To create a French twist:

Brush hair back from the forehead, smoothing and gathering it up as you would for a high ponytail. Twist the hair clockwise, holding the base of the ponytail close to the head. This will give a firm anchor to work against. With one hand smooth, the other twist, folding the hair inward until the ponytail is rolled inside the hollow of hair. A seam of straight pins or bobby pins will hold everything in place

No time to shampoo and style your hair? Put it up in an elegant French twist. Or, if you don’t have the hair or the inclination to do a French Twist, buy yourself a black beret, slip it lazily over one eye, then uncork a good bottle of red wine to serve alongside this yummy chicken liver pate. Slice the baguette and you’re good to go!


Chicken Liver Pate on Baguette

¾ cup butter

1 pound chicken livers, cleaned

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons brandy

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large 10-inch skillet over medium heat, using ¼ cup hot butter, sauté chicken livers and onion until the livers are cooked but still pink inside, and the onion is soft, (about 7 or 8 minutes) stirring often.

Using a food processor, pulse until mixture is smooth, scraping down sides with rubber spatula and incorporating well.

Meanwhile, in same skillet over low heat melt remaining butter, add to liver mixture with brandy, salt and pepper.

Mix well, spoon into a covered crock or small bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Makes 2 ¼ cups or 12 servings. May be made up to 3 days in advance. Serve with sliced and toasted baguette as an elegant first course.


In the 60s...

What's hot?/ What's not?

Dobie Gillis /James Dean

The flip/ Duck's ass (DA)

Jerry Lewis/ Jerry Lee Lewis

HiFi /record player

TV dinners /Sunday dinners

Shake 'n Bake/ Shake, Rattle and Roll

Blush/ Rouge

Twist /Jitterbug

wiglets /Uncle Wiggly

Pampers/ cloth diapers

Does she or doesn't she?"/ "Unpopular because your hair is gray?"

The 50s

50s • What’s Life? A Magazine!

Before housewives were ‘desperate,’ before microwave ovens and Mr. Coffee brought the holy grail of instant gratification to the liberal American palate, there were the 50s. A time when we were weighing the value of thrift and conservatism against the power of progress as our most important product, the 50s shaped the backlash Boomer brand of our nestlings. Moms grew more and more profligate with TV dinners and dads, eager to force-feed science to their offspring in hopes of debunking Sputnik, taught that Tang was not so much a Chinese dynasty as the breakfast drink of astronauts.

Predictability still reigned, however. Maybe roast beef was on your dinner menu on Sundays, pork chops on Mondays. And in our house it was pasta for sure on Wednesday, since that day was Prince Spaghetti Day.

But youth had started to do its own unique dance. Elvis had gyrated his way into the hearts of teenage girls, tossing back his slickly Brylcreemed hair while his hips bumped and ground below camera vision on the Ed Sullivan show. Kids were jiving and jitterbugging to the new rock n’ roll on American Bandstand, the girls with their long locks pulled back tight and anchored up in neat but ever-so-bouncy ponytails. Yet each night, those same bobby-soxers found the energy to set a thousand pin curls that would brush out next day into a sleek pageboy for school.

Back then everyone loved Lucy. Are you old enough to remember? She had thick, curly hair that we just knew was almost as flaming red as the lipstick on her big, wildly expressive mouth. We didn’t need a color TV to tell us that. We watched her while Mom listened from the kitchen as she grated the fixin’s for macaroni and cheese (Fridays?). Or maybe it was meatloaf? You tell us.


How she wore her hair: pin curls

Hard to believe women slept in these at night –– but we did.

How to do a pin curl set: Use a rattail comb to create finger waves around the head. Moisten hair with wave set (or you can use beer), create a short part, then comb hair into an “S” formation around temples on each side of the head. With the tail of your comb, lift a one-inch section from top part of the “S” (top row). Twirl the section of hair around your finger and anchor with a straight pin or bobby pins. Make sure you do not twist the hair as you wind and pin the curl directly on top of the hair base. When dried, brush hair and then use your fingers to arrange curls in the desired style.


Cauliflower Ears

Is that all you’ve heard about this wonderful vegetable?

Here is some of the best cauliflower you’ve ever tasted! Remember to use the heel or rind or the end of the cheese that’s difficult to grate. It has a waxy consistency so use a large sharp knife to cut it.

Back to the cauliflower. Are you all ears?


Keep-the lid-on-it Cauliflower

2 heads of cauliflower, no blemishes, separated into flowerets and sliced about ½ inch thick including the stalks, peeled and sliced

4 oz. of salt pork, diced

¾ cup of Parmesan Reggiano crust, cut into small cubes 

1 to 2 bunches of scallions (chop both the white and the greens) 

1 can of tomato paste, 6 ounces 

salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces wine with 1 teaspoon sugar dissolved in it

½ cup bread crumbs toasted in olive oil

1 pound short pasta such as mostaccioli

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a 5-6 quart pot (that has a tight-fitting lid), place a layer of salt pork and

scallions in the bottom of the pot. You do not need oil or water. The salt pork will
 provide the fat and the cauliflower will provide the moisture needed. Next is a layer of cauliflower until the bottom of the pot is totally covered, and you can’t see the pot anymore. Now a little bit of salt (remember, the salt pork is salty), freshly ground pepper, and then put 7 or 8 cubes of Parmesan Reggiano rind. Do not let the cheese sink to the bottom of the pot (it will stick.) Must be on top of the cauliflower.

Place 3 or 4 dollops of tomato paste and repeat layers until you run out of cauliflower (at least 3 layers are recommended.) Make sure your pot has a tight-fitting lid because you’re not going to add any liquid. This dish will steam for a 2-3 hour period, until all is tender.

First put it on the stove on a high heat with lid and wait about 5 minutes until you hear the ingredients have come to temperature and then turn the heat down to the lowest setting.

Now here’s the hard part: don’t take the lid off for at least an hour and a half because you will release the steam. Then you can peek.

There should be at least 2 or so inches of liquid at the bottom of the pan. Depending on the time of the year, the cauliflower will give off varying amounts of liquid. Then you have the option of stirring and getting all the dollops of tomato paste from the top layer mixed into the liquid. 
Cook until tender, 2-3 hours. When cauliflower is tender, add wine and sugar, turn heat up to a quick boil for 5 or 6 minutes.

Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, put the lid on and turn off the heat.

Boil the water for pasta, and cook as directed. Heat non-stick pan and toast breadcrumbs (we like homemade) with a little bit of olive oil.

To serve, mix pasta with cauliflower and top with toasted breadcrumbs and more grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6-8.

What kind of pasta should you use for this cauliflower dish?

Pasta size adds interest to your dish. It should complement your sauce or topping and most people have a preference or a reason for their pasta choice. Gina will tell you that if she’s cooking with peas she likes to use shells, because this way the peas fall inside the shells. We’ve noticed some men don’t care for angel hair pasta. Children love elbow macaroni. Irene’s a ziti girl. We suggest mostaccioli for this cauliflower dish.


In the 50s...

What's hot?/ What's not?

Fridge/ icebox

drive-in/ dance hall

Red Skelton/ Charlie Chaplin

Felix the Cat/ Rosie the Riveter

girdle/ corset

Ovaltine/ cocoa

Lindy hop/ Fox trot

banquets/ rationing

martini/ bathtub gin

Monroe/ Harlowe

High Noon”/ “Double Indemnity"


Sputnik Meatloaf

Named for the world’s first artificial satellite launched by Russia to orbit the world in 1957, we consider this dish to be out of this world. Serve it with mashed potatoes and peas and carrots as they did in the 50s.

1 and a half pounds lean ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

2 cups fresh (not dried) bread crumbs, made from about 4 slices of day old bread

1/3 cup grated onion

1 small carrot, peeled and shredded

3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley

2 egg yolks

juice of two lemons

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup ketchup

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1-2 lemons, sliced thin (need at least 8 slices to top individual loaves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 cookie sheet (to form mini loaves) or use 8 individual custard cups or 1 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, pork, bread crumbs, onion, carrot, parsley, egg yolks, juice of 2 lemons, salt and pepper.

Shape the mixture into 8 individual Sputnik loaves and place on greased cookie sheet, or fill custard cups with meat mixture, or simply make one large loaf (one large loaf will require longer cooking time.)

Bake individual size loaves on baking sheet or custard cups for 20 minutes. Cook the large loaf one hour.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce in a small bowl by combining ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, allspice, and cloves.

Spoon sauce over each loaf (or the one large loaf) and top with lemon slice/s.

Return loaves or loaf to oven and continue cooking for 30 minutes longer basting with sauce. Serves eight.

Food is an important part of a balanced diet. ~ Fran Lebowit


Childhood food traumas (Check all that apply):

__ Mom said: "No desert unless you clean your plate.” (You didn’t, so you couldn’t.)

__ You had no pet dog to help “clean your plate.”

__ Mom said: “Starving kids all over the world would be happy to have this ____________.”

__ Broccoli or anything green


__any fish not in the shape of a stick



__anything that isn’t a hotdog

__anything you can’t put catsup on

Or tell us about your food trauma:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Welcome to our blog

Changing hairstyles may seem to have nothing to do with evolving cuisine trends, but don't kid yourself. What you put on the table last night (or at your last dinner party) and how you're wearing your hair these days are intimately related. Why? Because what we set out on our table and how we style our hair reflects how we’re feeling about ourselves and the ways in which we’re experiencing the world.

Think of the flattop crew-cut. Big in the uptight, well-controlled 50s, it dropped off the style map for decades once the freewheeling 60s took hold. Now, with the millennium past and our national security (and tanking economy) at stake, it's back.

A coincidence? We think not.

Consider comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, a Wonder Years favorite (and not even kissin' cousin to the packaged, trans-fat-riddled elbows the food industry dreamed up in the 80s). Real mac and cheese was nice for kids after a day of scooting under their desks at school ducking imagined Soviet missiles. It's back on the menu at some of the trendiest restaurants these days.

For some, of course, there's no such thing as trends –– food or style. These stalwart individuals have changed neither bangs nor butter substitute in years. But we're pretty sure that's not you.

Pull up a chair and we'll tell all we know about how the times have been a 'changin' for a good long time now, and inevitably how we look and what we cook have been changing right along with them.

It's all about style (food, hair and otherwise) and how they mirror the culture of our times.

Who are we to say? Not two "experts," surely. Just two experienced cooks who also happen to be professional hairdressers. Like many of you, we've raised children, fed a thousand dinner guests, had our hearts broken by empty nests and empty promises (a few of which we made ourselves), and worked a few careers to pay the piper as well as the grocery bills.

Years on, we are content with life and delighted to be able to practice some of our favorite things in the world: cooking, eating or simply talking about food.

Making a fabulous dish, we both agree, is like fashioning a perfect hairdo for the woman who will wear it. Both are among the great "mediums" in which to work one's art.

Welcome to our (somewhat interactive) style cookbook. We hope you enjoy it!

Gina and Irene

Copyright 2009 by Gina Weckle and Irene Sherlock