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The Fallingwater Cookbook grew from a 1991 newspaper interview that author Suzanne Martinson conducted with Elsie Henderson, who cooked for the Kaufmanns from 1947 until the house was given to the conservatory. The book contains both Henderson's stories and her recipes.
Because Henderson relied on her memory and experience instead of written directions, Martinson worked with her to develop the recipes for home cooks, determining measurements, pan sizes, and temperatures. In addition, Henderson was not responsible for cooking many of the meat and fish dishes served to the Kaufmann family, so Martinson contacted Jane Citron and Robert Sendall (both of whom are involved with Fallingwater) to help fill in the gaps. The cookbook also contains recipes from the Cafe at Fallingwater, bringing the book into modern times.
Most of the recipes are classics family dishes from the mid-20th century: sour cream coffee cake, quiche Lorraine, corn pudding, and roast beef. But there are also more upscale recipes, such as lamb chili, tomato and roasted red pepper tart, and fennel-cured salmon.
The recipes look easy enough to make, especially the everyday dishes. However, I couldn't help but notice some odd techniques (like adding liquid and dry ingredients at the same time). Regardless, Martinson tells us she has tested and retested every recipe to make sure home cooks will have success.
There is quite a lot of information about the Kaufmann family and their way of life. They were department store moguls who loved to entertain at home. Their cook, Henderson, remembers some racy stories (guests skinny dipping in the creek, for example) as well as normal family life in the famous house. Henderson's memories of the Kaufmanns and her years of cooking for them take us back to a time gone by.
Although The Fallingwater Cookbook is informative and the few photographs are gorgeous, it's difficult for me to wholeheartedly recommend the book. If you have an interest in architecture or are curious about how the rich and famous ate in the post-Depression era, then this book might deserve a place on your shelves. For others, I suggest seeing if your library has a copy. It's definitely interesting and worth looking through.
For an interview with author Suzanne Martinson, see the History News Network and for another review and three recipes, see the Post Gazette. Note on the photos: The photo of kitchen in Fallingwater is from Wikimedia Commons and is copyright free. The photo of the cookies comes from the cookbook; all rights remain with the publisher. (Click the images to enlarge them.)
Pine Nut Cookies
Makes 35 cookies
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- Salt to taste (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts, divided
In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar, blending well. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, flour, and salt.
Reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pine nuts and finely chop the rest. Add the chopped nuts to the dough and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Form the dough into small balls, place on greased baking sheet, and flatten each with the tines of a fork. Garnish each cookie with a few whole nuts.
Alternately, the dough may be rolled on a lightly floured board and cut into squares with a pastry cutter before topping with pine nuts.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes until the cookies are a pale gold. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.
Published by University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008
Source: Can't Remember (see review policy)
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