Friday, January 15, 2010
Mark Peel and Martha Rose Shulman
Mark Peel has been hosting his famous Monday Night Dinners at Campanile for over ten years. Served family-style, everyone eats the same meal. Not only is the serving style homey, but the dishes are typical home-cooked comfort food, raised just one notch higher by Peel's deft hand. The co-author of New Classic Family Dinners, Martha Rose Shulman shadowed the chef in the kitchen, measuring the ingredients as he cooked. The recipes didn't need too much fussing with, as most of them originated in the home kitchen.
Monday night Campanile hosted the book release party. Both of the authors were on hand to meet and greet, provide photo ops and sign books. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres included Southern Fried Chicken Drumsticks, Campanile Beef, Pork and Chicken Meatballs, Clams Casino, Onion, Potato and Bacon Tart, and other "culinary delights" from "New Classic Family Dinners." The Tonnato Rolls were fascinating, with tuna wrapped around veal. But of all the standard crowd-pleasers my favorite dish of the night was the spectacular Minestrone. I can't wait until the weather cools down - it is the first recipe I will be making out of this book, and probably not the last.
One of the authors' intentions was to bring back the forgotten classics like Pasta Carbonara and Goulash to remind everyone why these dishes were once so highly regarded. Host a retro dinner of Clams Casino and Breaded Veal Scaloppine, or serve some of the old-school first courses to go with the retro cocktail craze that is still going strong.
Speaking of cocktails, the signature cocktail of the nice was scrumtuous, as was the bartender.
The cookbook wanders from everyday staples like Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf and Spaghetti with Meatballs to the more exotic Grilled Squid, Potato and Asparagus Salad or Lobster Newburg, the recipes are intriguing and tempting. Using clear instructions. Mark Peel teaches you step-by-step how to disjoint a rabbit, and he finally reveals the truth about mashed potatoes!
The cookbook itself is shiny and appealing, begging to be pulled off the shelf. I have a pet peeve with cookbooks, and it's that right when I am up to my elbows in pasta dough the cookbook slams shut. I have tried every gadget and gizmo to hold the books open, but none of them works very well. This book was designed and bound to fall open to a page and stay open on that page. Nice. The attractive book is also highlighted by the mouth-watering photography of Lucy Schaeffer.
Thank the holder-uppers
It was touching to see Mark Peel watching his wife speak.