23 April 2010

Famous Food Friday -- Spécialités de la Maison

Saved from the ravages of discarded cookbook hell, Spécialités de la Maison has been given a new life. Some of us have old, beaten up copies, but if you do not own a copy, you can now get a pristine new copy as the book has been reprinted and featured in the New York Times.

The book was put together in 1940 by the American Friends of France. France had many friends, especially among the rich and famous. Spécialités de la Maison is filled with recipes from Tallulah Bankhead to Vivien Leigh to Katherine Hepburn. The are Hearsts, Vanderbilts and Harrimans and Brooke Astor when she was still Mrs. Charles H. Marshall. Throw in Igor Stravinsky and Cecil Beaton and you have quite a cookbook!

Aldous Huxley's...

Paella a la Valenciana

Pork Sausages
Any fish like fresh cod

This dish is composed of many ingredients. The taste will be richer if all of them are used, but some of them can be omitted if preferred. Cut chicken and pork up small and fry in oil, adding onions, garlic, tomatoes and green peppers. When well fried, add rice (Valencia preferably). Mix well and add boiling water. Cook the fish separately and add parsley, mint leaves and saffron. Add to the first mixture. Add red sweet peppers and peas when rice is half cooked. Artichoke hearts may be added when everything is done. This dish is best cooked in and earthenware casserole, not too deep.

Gogo Schiaparelli's...

La Petite Marmite

3lb.s round beef
Wings and legs of 3 chickens
1/2 lb marrow bone
3 carrots
3 white turnips
3 leeks
A few celery leaves
Salt, pepper, spice to taste

Put the meat and bones in 3 qts. cold water. Skim very thoroughly just before it begins to boil. Add vegetables cut in quarters. Season. Bring to a boil, cover pan, and let simmer very slowly for 4 hours. Take off fat, remove bones. Cut up meat and serve meat, vegetables and bouillon all at once in soup plate.

Noel Coward's...

Filet de Chevreuil

Soak venison filet for 48 hours in a marinade of wine, onions, spices and herbs to taste. Roast it or broil it 20 minutes to the lb.'basting constantly with melted butter mixed with some of the marinade. Reduce the remaining marinade on very hot fire, and add it to the gravy. Bind with yolks of eggs and a few spoonfuls of good mustard.

Let's eat.


  1. OK, so this is a cookery book that I must own. Not only for the contents (which sound divine), but that cover! Thanks for the post.

  2. little augury: glad she arrived, not the prettiest one out there, but filled with fun.

    Reggie Darling...you do need this one, of course there are very few cookbooks I don't think people need!


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