Classic Cookbooks: A Treasury of Great Recipes

A Treasury of Great Recipes

If you judge a book solely by its cover, one of the most used cookbooks in my library might look too outrageous for your kitchen. A Treasury of Great Recipes, by Mary and Vincent Price, is a plush volume, all embossed copper and gilt leatherette like a photo album. The book does, in fact, have loads of pictures, but most are of food or lavish restaurant interiors, with just a smattering of its famous Hollywood authors. Published in 1965 and given to me two years later, Treasury is a compilation of the Price's favorite dishes from their travels around the world. An epicurean grand tour, you might say, capturing that diaphanous illusion of an early 1960's world where turbulence was nowhere in evidence. The glamour of the book does not make it frivolous, though; recipes were well tested by Anne Seranne (long an editor here at Gourmet) and range from plebian cheese-stuffed ball-park hotdogs to homemade butter, churned in the blender. Far more exotic for the era was coconut milk and cream from scratch, used in a chicken curry. Among my favorites is the Virginia Museum's game hens in orange sauce, so elegant to a 20-year-old college student who threw dinner parties in Santa Fe, so just-plain-small for the mind-altered guests who quickly devoured them. Paella "Good Friend" from Madrid's Palace Hotel is really just a good, soupy Spanish chicken and rice fancied up with green olives and blanched almonds; the recipe has anchored casual dinner parties of mine for forty years. A final love, the boccone dolce from Sardi's, consisting of meringue, whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate, is every bit a sweet mouthful. It graced my dinner table as recently as Easter and will appear again the moment local berries come into the farmer's market. Such a very sweet, very innocent-looking icebox cake, courtesy of a man famous for very scary movies.

You can dig up a copy of your own at Amazon or Ebay.

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