Saturday, November 5, 2011

Free (Literary) Lunch

Way back in my undergrad days I attended a launch party for Alison Armstrong's The Joyce of Cooking. It was a heady affair for me, not least of which because I was in the midst of my very first graduate level class in James Joyce, having become rather smitten with Ulysses, and I felt utterly, absolutely accepted as an equal there, thanks to a very kind introduction by my then teacher Sydney Feshbach, who later became president of the James Joyce Society in NY where the launch was held. I've since had at the back of my mind that I would also like to do a literary cookbook of some description - combining my love of books with a love of eating (and even greater of love reading about people eating).  That hasn't really happened, not least of which because I'm not a chef, but I did put together a fun little cookbook titled The Literary Lunch: Recipes for a Hungry Mind, which involved scouring some of my favourite books and developing recipes based on meals that characters actually ate.  Most of the books didn't provide recipes, but I had a go at formulating my own and tested each one and they were all pretty nice.  Most are easy - only one was a little complex and that's in keeping with the complexity of the novel that inspired it The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. So here's the one complex recipe from the book.  If you'd like the other easier ones, you can have them for the not very complex price of $0.  To grab a copy just drop by my website and sign up for my newsletter there (I don't send out many - just updates when new books come out - and don't worry - I'm not that prolific!) and a copy will be yours.  Happy cooking!

From The Magic Mountain
He dressed conscientiously for the evening meal, and sitting n his place between Miss Robinson and the schoolmistress, he ate: julienne soup, baked and roast meats with suitable accompaniments, two pieces of a tart made of macaroons, butter-cream chocolate, jam and marzipan, and lastly excellent cheese and pumpernickel. As before. He ordered a bottle of Kulmbacher. But, by the time he had half emptied his tall glass, he became clearly and unmistakably aware that bed was the best place for him. (83)

Magic Mountain Macaroon and Butter-Cream Chocolate Pie

Butter Cream

1 tbsp cocoa
12 tbsp very soft butter
1 tbsp hot water
2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar

In an electric mixer bowl, mix the cocoa and water. Then add the egg yolks and sugar. Place the bowl in a pan of hot water over medium heat, beat with an electric mixer until the smooth and shiny. Then beat in the butter until smooth. Set aside.

Pie Pastry

1 ¼ cups flour
¾ tsp salt
7 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
5 tbsp ice water.

In a food processor (put into the freezer 10 minutes beforehand), combine flour and salt. Add butter and process until like bread crumbs. Sprinkle water on and process into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out and fit into a greased 9 inch pie pan. Crimp the dough to form a decorative border (using a fork). Prick the pastry with a fork. Chill for at least 30 minutes before filling and baking.



2 cups single cream
8 oz dark couverture chocolate
½ cup sugar
8 oz ground almonds
2 egg whites, whipped until stiff

Bring the cream to simmering point in a saucepan. Put the chocolate into a bowl and stir in the hot cream. Keep stirring until it has combined to form a sauce. Stir in the almonds, and sugar, and let cool to room temperature. Gently mix in the whipped egg whites until combined, and place in the tart shell. Bake at in a preheated 350ºF or 180ºC oven for 45 minutes until the filling has set and is slightly puffed. Cool on a pie rack. When cool, pipe butter cream frosting around the edge and over the top in a lattice effect. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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