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The Texas Cookbook
From Barbecue to Banquetâ"an Informal View of Dining and Entertaining the Texas Way
By Mary Faulk Koock, Tom Ballenger
University of North Texas PressCopyright © 1965 Mary Faulk Koock and Rosalind Cole
All rights reserved.
PEOPLE ARE HERE!
"Mama! People are here!" The "People are here!" cry rang through the house with much excitement, relayed by various sizes of children with the same alarm as "The British are coming!" People were here! Lots of people had always been here at Green Pastures as long as I could remember. There were five of us children who had grown up in the big frame country house: nieces, nephews and cousins had come to live with us while attending school in Austin, and many others whose extended "visits" had lasted anything up to three years. If clients of my father were lonely, he'd send them out for a week or two's "pepper-upper" with his favorite diet of *Hot Water Corn Bread and the fresh buttermilk which Mama churned daily. But this time when the people were here, it was different. These people would be paying to be at Green Pastures—we were in business.
I had always been the one in the family to be in charge of getting ready for company dinner, planning the parties, decorating the house—after recruiting all sorts of "free" help, of course. I remember so well getting ready for a party Camille Long and I gave when we were in junior high school. Colored bread had just come into style, and Good Housekeeping magazine had a section on party sandwiches. We made pink and green ribbon sandwiches, solid pink rolled sandwiches, and pink and white checkerboard sandwiches—all day! We also made pecan fudge with heavy cream. We had an electric milk separator which separated the milk from the cream, and this cream was much heavier than whipped cream and made terrific fudge. We also thought it would really be gay to give out fancy paper caps at the party, such as we'd seen at a New Year's Eve party in a movie; so we cut the colored crepe paper and white tissue paper for fringed tassels, but didn't have time to put them together, as making the sandwiches and fudge had taken the entire day. I desperately took all the cap-makings in to Captain Tally and Daddy, who were upstairs visiting. Captain Tally was eighty-five years old and had been a trail-driver all his life. Making party caps wasn't quite his forte—neither was it Daddy's, which he made clear as he disapprovingly wrapped the thread to secure the tassel on the end of the cap and expounded on how we were spending entirely too much time on the frivolities of life. I donned my pink organdy party dress with picoted ruffles and sallied down the stairs to greet the guests who were coming to dance to the music of our new Panatrope—which Daddy had taken as payment for a case.
I have always loved parties, and after Chester and I came to live in the big house with our seven children the trend became children's parties. Helen Posey and I would often merge talents for birthday parties, entertaining with marionette and puppet shows, and spending hours making elaborate refreshments, mostly for our own amusement, I suppose. I particularly remember a three-ring circus cake with ice cream clowns. Friends would often ask me to help them with their parties, which I loved doing. I really don't know how it did all come about, but I decided to make this a paying hobby. Heaven knows we could use a little subsidy for the increasing number of little feet pattering around. So here it was: we were having our first paying party. The people were here, dressed in their finest. Kenny, aged ten, was out in front showing the ladies where to park. Karen was helping to fill the cookie trays, and the other children scampered upstairs after sounding the alarm—"People are here!"—and peeped over the bannister to watch and later, with much enthusiasm, reported the comments of our first satisfied customers.
Twenty years ago there were few speciality restaurants in Austin, so at the insistence of friends and customers we began serving luncheon and dinner. We were truly amateurs, but the help were so loyal and interested that they turned their hands to any job to cover our inefficiency. Amy, who is still an important part of Green Pastures, mostly looked after the children. I used family recipes, and my friends were all most generous and kind in sharing ideas and recipes.
I had not been open for business very long when a lady named Mrs. Davenport (a Marie Dressler type person) came to Austin to lobby for her oil interests. She wanted to have a big party and invite all the legislators and senators, all the state officials and their wives, the governor of Texas, Beauford Jester, and the governors of the bordering states, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana; as well as, and especially, all the officials of Starr County. One definitely had to have a "title"—such as road superintendent or sheriff—to be invited to the party. Mrs. Davenport's ranch was in Starr County, and when the first oil was struck there the county officials had been very nice to her, so she surely wanted them to be invited to her first big party, which was to be a Western party. I sent out eight hundred invitations, hand-blocked on homespun-like gingham. The fifteen-piece orchestra came from Mexico City to play for dancing. A large piñata hung from one of the oak trees on the edge of the dance floor which we had built for the occasion in the front yard. The piñata was filled with all sorts of fancy-wrapped little packages from Neiman-Marcus, and with ten-dollar gold pieces which the guests scampered to catch when it was finally broken by the blindfolded governor, Beauford Jester.
We served the barbecue supper from a chuck wagon. The beef was extra fine, as it had been purchased by Provine Davenport at the 4–H Club showing. To encourage the young boy who raised it, she paid a very rewarding price. In addition to the regular barbecue supper—beef, pinto beans, potato salad, onions, pickles and so forth—Provine and her chauffeur, who was named Roosevelt, came out early the day of the party to make *Son of a Gun Stew. Many was the time she'd made it at the ranch for the cowboys, she said.
There is no such thing as a definite recipe for Son of a Gun Stew. However, Bill Kuykendall, rancher, said this is his general procedure:
* * *
Son of a Gun Stew (from one carcass)
Diaphragm (a little)
Cut these into bite-sized pieces, about the size of a thumb-joint. If available, use about 10 feet of marrowgut (tripe) cut in half-inch pieces. Cover with water, salt and pepper, and then add whatever is available in the way of vegetables, e.g., onions, garlic, tomatoes, English peas; but do NOT use corn. Sweet peppers, jalapeño, chili pequin, or banana peppers may be used if a hot stew is popular.
The point of this stew was that it used up, in a very palatable form, the offal from a butchered carcass which would not otherwise have kept. The meat was dried in molasses and black pepper.
This stew was served from the big black iron pot it had cooked in all day.
Provine was dressed in a shiny, purple satin cowboy suit, elaborately embroidered, and which had been specially made for her to wear when she rode her white stallion to lead the Homecoming Parade in Starr County. Games of chance were played with counterfeit money which was given to each guest as he arrived. Bars (with only the finest whiskey) were numerous. The party was a big success, and after that I felt I could tackle 'most any kind of party, and I guess I have just about done that. I was fortunate to inherit a wonderful collection of recipes from my mother, Cousin Texana and Cousin Loretta, who were truly culinary artists. I have accumulated some mighty good recipes. Still wherever I go, I always try to come home with some new dish to try on my family and customers at Green Pastures.
Madge and Ralph Janes also turned their hobby of raising turkeys into a business venture with great success. They own the Bar-Nothing Ranch, just east of Austin, and when we first started serving meals, theirs was the world's largest turkey ranch. The Janeses have contributed much knowledge to the worldwide turkey industry by their extensive research and experiments in breeding fine birds. They developed the Baby Beef turkeys about this time and they appeared on most of our menus in one form or another. The Janeses excelled not only in raising turkeys, but also in cooking and serving them to perfection. When it was their turn to host the square dance club, Madge served Fried Turkey. I have never seen any platter of food piled so high cleaned so quickly. Fried Turkey is The Best. Madge cut a five- or six-pound young turkey the same way a chicken is cut up for frying; in fact it is prepared the same way as fried chicken, only after it is browned it is removed from the skillet, covered in a heavy pan, and placed in a low oven for about thirty minutes. It is tender and juicy like good fried chicken, only more so. At Green Pastures we featured Turkey Steaks which were cut from the breast of the large birds and flattened like a cutlet. These we seasoned lightly with only a little salt, then dipped in flour and fried gently in a small amount of butter, browning on each side to a golden color. In the drippings we made a cream gravy which was served on the side. These are very delicate in flavor and were very popular with our clientele. With them we served a Waldorf salad, buttered rice with sliced stuffed olives, fresh Kentucky Wonder green beans, and hot rolls, and finished off with one of Amy's good desserts, like *Black Bottom Pie.
* * *
Black Bottom Pie
This is fussy to make, but once a cook gets the hang of it, it goes easily and is well worth the trouble.
14 crisp ginger snaps
5 Tbs. melted butter
Roll out cookies till fine. Mix with melted butter. Line a 9-inch pie tin, sides and bottom, with buttered crumbs, pressing flat and firm. Bake 10 minutes in 250-degree oven; cool.
1 Tbs. gelatin
4 Tbs. cold water
1¾ cups milk
½ cup sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
4 egg yolks
For chocolate layer
3 squares or 3 1-oz. bars unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
For rum-flavored layer
4 egg whites
½ tsp. cream of tartar
½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs. rum
Soak gelatine in cold water. Scald milk, add ½ cup sugar mixed with cornstarch, pinch salt, then beaten egg yolks. Cook in double boiler, stirring constantly, until custard is thick enough to coat spoon. Stir in dissolved gelatine. Divide custard in half.
(1) To one-half, add melted chocolate and vanilla. Turn while hot into the cooled crust, dipping in carefully so as not to disturb crust.
(2) Let remaining half of custard cool. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar, adding powdered sugar slowly. Blend with cooled custard. Add rum. Spread carefully over chocolate layer. Place in icebox to cool thoroughly. It may stand overnight.
2 Tbs. powdered sugar
1 cup whipping cream
When ready to serve, whip heavy cream stiff, add powdered sugar slowly. Pile over top of pie. Sprinkle with grated bitter or semisweet chocolate.
* * *
Hot Water Corn Bread
1¼ cups (approx.) of yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
3 cups boiling water
4 Tbs. shortening
1/8 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
Add cornmeal to boiling water, stirring with wire whip constantly to prevent lumping. Stir in salt and soda. Remove from fire; this will thicken quickly.
Take by spoonfuls and pat into little oval flat cakes. Mama would always keep her hands wet when patting these. Heat shortening in iron skillet and fry cakes, browning slightly on each side. Drain on paper towel and serve with lots of butter. My! How my father loved these! Three hundred and sixty-five days of the year!
Well I remember those first frantic weeks of food operations! Every night my children had the restaurant fare of Turkey Steaks or a Filet Mignon—until they finally protested: "Are we ever gonna have any more food?" "What you mean, food?" asked Amy. "We want some beans" (meaning pinto beans, of course), "and no more Turkey Steaks, and no more Filet Mignon—ever!"
We have indeed been fortunate at Green Pastures in having both family and friends come to the rescue on special occasions to help with the pièce de résistance, such as when we have a dinner for Dr. John Bickley of the Business Administration Department at Texas University. Several times during the year, Dr. and Mrs. Bickley entertain the visiting insurance representatives from all over the United States, and also from foreign countries, who come to attend insurance seminars at Texas U. John really likes to go all out and serve an epicurean five- or six-course dinner, accompanied by the appropriate wines.
On such an occasion we call Esther Allidi to come and lend her expert hand to the sauces that will satisfy John's gourmet palate! Mrs. Allidi was born and grew up in Grasse, France, but now, outside of her accent and flair for French cuisine, she is a full-fledged Texan. My favorite among Esther's fine touches is Braised Duckling Country Style.
* * *
Braised Duckling Country Style
2 5½-lb. ducks, cleaned
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium-sized carrots, quartered
2 medium-sized onions
2 whole cloves
2 small bay leaves
8 sprigs of fresh parsley
6 sprigs of celery tops
1 cup white wine
1 cup hot consommé
½ tsp. grated orange rind
Singe ducks over gas flame, then wash in hot water. Fill the cavity (which should be as small as possible) with *Rice Stuffing; sew cavity together, not too tightly. Place stuffed birds in an open roasting pan, after rubbing them with salt and pepper and a very little bacon fat. Roast in a slow (300-degree) oven, basting every 10 minutes with some of the hot drippings; this should take about an hour.
Transfer half-roasted ducks into a braising kettle; add quartered carrots, onion stuck with cloves, and the bay leaves, parsley and celery tops tied together. Cover tightly and continue cooking for 1½ hours without disturbing. Remove ducklings to a hot pan; keep hot while making the gravy as follows:
Drain all liquid from the braising kettle. To the carrots, onions, bay leaves, parsley and celery add the white wine, consommé, and grated orange rind; let this boil 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly after mashing cooked vegetables to a pulp. Strain, add salt and pepper to taste and a grating of nutmeg (optional) and serve.
½ cup butter
2 large onions, minced
1 tsp. sage
½ cup minced celery leaves
1 qt. meat stock
¼ tsp. each: thyme, clove, mace
1 Tbs. minced parsley
1½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1½ cups washed rice (wild or white)
Melt fat and add all ingredients except rice; cook for 3 to 4 minutes over low flame. Add rice and simmer gently for 40 minutes, or until rice is tender and moisture is absorbed.
Esther's many friends kept insisting that she should open a restaurant, which finally she did; and it became famous very soon and so popular that her husband, Peter, who was an accomplished mural artist, insisted that it was too much work for her—so she sold it, much to the displeasure of her ardent clientele, and concentrated only on making salad dressings. This too soon became big business. Esther's fabulous salad dressings are now distributed to food stores throughout Texas.
The former governor of Texas, Coke Stevenson, was a great patron of the restaurant, and he asked Esther if she would cook the antelope which he had brought back from a hunting trip in New Mexico, and a good dinner to go with it, as he wanted to entertain some guests from out of the state. Esther was delighted to do so, and set about to ready her establishment for the occasion; she covered the tables with red and white checked cloths, made an arrangement of fresh fruit, autumn leaves and pine cones for a centerpiece, and placed red candles all down the table. She wrote the menus for each place on gilt-edged cards; and this is what they said:
Melon with Prosciutto
* French Onion Soup
(I could have made that the dinner—Ester's onion soup is superb!)
Mixed green salad, with her famous French salad dressing
* Roasted Antelope
* Sweet Potato Casserole
White Asparagus on Toast with Parmesan cheese
Tray of stuffed celery and radishes
* Sherry Tarts
Esther said that after dinner Governor Stevenson put his arm round her shoulders and told her that that had been the most wonderful dinner he had ever eaten in his whole life! Another guest said that he would like to marry her, if her husband should ever die! All in good-natured fun, of course, but Peter was very jealous, and didn't speak to her for a week.
* * *
Onion Soup (serves 6)
4 large onions
3 Tbs. butter
3 pints of beef stock
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste
1/8 tsp. pepper
½ tsp. paprika
Thin slices of bread, toasted
Grated Parmesan cheese
Slice onions thin, and brown in butter; add more butter if necessary to keep onions moist while cooking. When onions are tender, add hot stock, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning. Bring to boil, pour soup in individual casseroles and arrange the sliced toasted bread on top. Sprinkle grated cheese generously and put under low broiler flame to brown. Serve at once.
* * *
Soak overnight in marinade containing: dry red wine, thyme, sage, onion, mashed clove of garlic, salt, pepper, 1 bay leaf, 3 or 4 whole cloves, ½ cup celery tops and a little nutmeg. Remove from marinade, slit at intervals and insert cubes of salt pork. Brown in hot (400- degree) oven to form crust; then place in roasting pan with the same marinade, cover, turn oven to 300 degrees and cook slowly, allowing 20 minutes per pound.
When done, strain juice, thicken slightly with cornstarch (1 scant tsp. for each cup of liquid), add 1 cup of sauteed mushrooms and ½ cup small black pitted olives cut in half.
Excerpted from The Texas Cookbook by Mary Faulk Koock, Tom Ballenger. Copyright © 1965 Mary Faulk Koock and Rosalind Cole. Excerpted by permission of University of North Texas Press.
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