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The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

Bass for Picasso

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Bass for Picasso

One day when Picasso was to lunch with us I decorated a fish in a way that I thought would amuse him. I chose a fine striped bass and cooked it according to a theory of my grandmother who had no experience in cooking and who rarely saw her kitchen but who had endless theories about cooking as well as about many other things. She contended that a fish having lived its life in water, once caught, should have no further contact with the element in which it had been born and raised. She recommended that it be roasted or poached in wine or cream or butter. So I made a court-bouillon of dry white wine with whole peppers, salt, a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a blade of mace, an onion with a clove stuck in it, a carrot, a leek and a bouquet of fines herbes. This was gently boiled in the fish-kettle for ½ hour and then put aside to cool. Then the fish was placed on the rack, the fish-kettle covered and slowly brought to a boil and the fish poached for 20 minutes. Taken from the fire it was left to cool in the court-bouillon. It was then carefully drained, dried and placed on the fish platter. A short time before serving it I covered the fish with an ordinary mayonnaise and, using a pastry tube, decorated it with a red mayonnaise, not coloured with catsup — horror of horrors — but with tomato paste. Then I made a design with sieved hard-boiled eggs, the whites and the yolks apart, with truffles and with finely chopped fines herbes. I was proud of my chef d'oeuvre when it was served and Picasso exclaimed at its beauty. But, said he, should it not rather have been made in honour of Matisse than of me.

Copyright © Alice B. Toklas, 2007

 
A Tender Tart

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A Tender Tart

Half cup and 1 tablespoon butter, 1 cup and 2 tablespoons flour, 1 egg yolk, blend with knives or pastry blender, add only enough water to hold together, knead lightly, put aside in refrigerator. Stir 2 eggs and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar for 20 minutes. Do not beat. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup finely chopped hazel nuts. Roll out a little more than half the dough, place in deep pie plate with detachable bottom, fill with egg-sugar-nut mixture. Roll out remaining dough and cover tart, press the edges together so that the bottom and top crusts adhere. Bake for half hour in 350° oven. Exquisite.

Copyright © Alice B. Toklas, 2007

 
Tricoloured Omelette

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Tricoloured Omelette

Make a purée of spinach by placing 1 lb of well-washed spinach in a saucepan without water over medium heat. Turn constantly from the bottom so that it does not scorch, until it boils. Then turn flame to lower heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from flame, drain off water, place under running cold water until cold. Drain and press out as much water as possible. Return to saucepan over very low flame and dry out completely. Then press through fine sieve with potato masher. Mix this with 4 eggs and half teaspoon salt. Make an omelette cooked only enough to fold. Put aside and keep hot. Make another omelette of 3 yolks of eggs and 4 whole eggs, half teaspoon salt and quarter teaspoon powdered saffron. Place the spinach omelette on this and fold the saffron omelette over it. Place on the serving dish with a tomato sauce made by heating 4 tablespoons purée of tomatoes with 2 cups dry white wine. When hot pour slowly into 4 tablespoons melted butter that has been mixed over medium heat with 1 tablespoon flour. Stir until smooth and about to boil. Then add half teaspoon salt, quarter teaspoon pepper, a pinch of cayenne, of cloves and of nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon onion juice. Allow to simmer for quarter hour and add 4 tablespoons butter. Do not allow to boil. Pour around the 2 omelettes and serve. This is an effective and tasty entrée.

Copyright © Alice B. Toklas, 2007

 
Haschisch Fudge (or Hashish Fudge)

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Haschisch Fudge (or Hashish Fudge)
Which anyone could whip up on a rainy day

This is the food of Paradise – of Baudelaire's Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies' Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one's personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by 'un évanouissement reveillé.'

Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverised in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of canibus sativa can be pulverised. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.

Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognised, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.

Copyright © Alice B. Toklas, 2007

 
Scheherezade's Melon

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Scheherezade's Melon

Cut a piece from the stem end of the melon. Scoop out in as large pieces as convenient as much of the pulp as is possible without piercing the melon. Empty all the juice, dice the pulp in equal quantities (this will depend upon the size of the melon) as well as pineapple and peaches. Add bananas in thin slices, and whole strawberries and raspberries. Sugar to taste. When the sugar mixed with the fruit has dissolved put the fruit and their juice in the melon. Cover with four parts very dry champagne and one part each of Kirsch, Maraschino, Creme de Menthe and Roselio. Put in refrigerator overnight.(N.B. Roselio is a Catalan liqueur or cordial which is also made round about Perpignan. It has not been imported into England since the war: Grenadine might replace it.)

This dessert and a complicated Bavarian cream which had a similar flavour from its including the .same fruits and precisely the same liqueurs and cordials were early favourites. The recipe for Scheherezade's Melon is preserved in my mother's hand written cook-book.

Copyright © Alice B. Toklas, 2007

 
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