Category Archives: modern and contemporary

Recipe of the Week

Sweet and Sour Radish Salad

Sweet and Sour Radish Salad

This recipe is taken directly from the pages of Joyce Chen’s 1962, The Joyce Chen Cook Book. Chen was a chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, author and TV personality who is credited for introducing Chinese cuisine to a broad American public. She was the first to serve buffet-style meals in her Cambridge, MA restaurant, the first to print menu in both English and Chinese, and the first to number menu items to make for easy communication between diner and server.

When she opened her first restaurant in 1958 it was described by a former Harvard University president as “not merely a restaurant but a cultural exchange center.”

Her radish recipe is a game changer.

2 bunches radishes
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sesame oil

Trim both ends of radish, wash and drain. Cut large radishes in half and crush radishes gently using the side of a knife.

Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt on the radishes and let set for 15 minutes. Drain their liquid.

Mix the sugar and vinegar and pour over the radishes. Garnish with a little sesame oil and roasted sesame seeds and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

image by Gina Salazar

Pan de Elote

Pan de Elote

Pan de Elote is a type of Mexican cornbread that’s slightly sweet and way more creamy and custardy than it’s American counterpart. This recipe is a variation of my both my mom and Lesley Tellez’s version in the Mija Chronicles. My mom’s original recipe was adapted from one of Josefina Velasquez de Leon’s cookbooks.

(From the 1930s to 1960s de Leon wrote and published around 140 cookbooks, opened a popular cooking school, was regularly interviewed on the radio, and had her own TV show. My grandmother was an early student of hers.)

4 cups fresh corn
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons flour
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place the corn in a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. With machine running, add the egg yolks one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next.

Add the corn puree, flour and pinch salt and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Gently fold the beaten whites into the corn batter and pour into a buttered 9-inch round or square pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe of the Week

Onion Custard

Onion Custard

Malinda Russell’s “A Domestic Cook Book” of 1866 is the first cookbook published by an African American woman. A treasure of American history, its 39-pages provide a peek into the lives of free African Americans during the Civil War and reveal that there was so much more to Southern cooking than “soul food.” This elegant Onion Custard recipe is delicious evidence.

“Pare and boil twelve large onions; mash when cooked soft, and strain through a sieve; stir in, while hot, 1-4th of a lb of butter; beat half a lb sugar with the yolks of six eggs; stir into the sugar three tablespoons flour, one pint of rich cream; stir all together until smooth; on tablespoon cinnamon, half spoon cloves, stir well; beat the whites of the eggs, and stir it in last; paste your pans with rich pastry; bake in a quick oven.” – Malinda Russell

This recipe below is a simplified, unsweetened version of Russell’s recipe.

2 tablespoons butter
2 small yellow onions, minced (about 2 cups)
salt and pepper
4 egg yolks
1 ½ cup milk or cream
pinch nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a medium skillet, melt butter. Add onions and cook until soft, translucent, and they begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Taste, adjust seasoning, remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with milk, pinch nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Divide the onions evenly among six 4-ounce ramekins. Evenly divide the custard mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Place in a large baking pan with 2-inch sides. Pour enough boiling water in pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins and transfer to oven. Bake until custards are just set, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove ramekins from hot water bath and serve warm.

Serves 6

Cream of California Herbs

Cream of California Herbs

“California’s climate is just right for a lot of things, including herbs. They all flourish here, though one has to get pretty north to have luck with chervil, I admit.” – from Helen Evan Brown’s “West Coast Cook Book” of 1952

Brown’s recipe is thickened with egg yolks. This recipe has potatoes to add a little creaminess.

2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
3 baby potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups parsley
1 cup basil leaves
½ cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the parsley, basil, cilantro and tarragon to the soup. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender, or puree using an immersion blender. Return the soup to the saucepan, add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a dollop of crème fraiche to each bowl and serve.

Serves 6