14 April 2012

Weekend Cooking: The Unoffical Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin

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Are you a fan of the television show Mad Men? Nostalgic for all things early sixties? Interested in food history? Missing New York of a half century ago? If you said yes to any of those questions, then you'll want to check out Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin's The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men.

As you might expect, the cookbook is heavy on the cocktails; in fact, almost a third of the book is devoted to drinks. But what a fun section it is. Each cocktail is prefaced by a synopsis of the episode in which the drink appeared as well as, when appropriate, information about the bar or restaurant that served it. In addition, Gelman and Zheutlin recount the history of many of the mixed drinks.

The remainder of the cookbook is divided into appetizers, salads, main courses, and desserts and sweets. If you are of a certain age, then you'll remember these recipes from your childhood:
  • Stuffed celery
  • California dip
  • Wedge salad
  • Waldorf salad
  • Beef Wellington
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Pineapple upside-down cake
  • Popcorn balls
As with the cocktails, each of the food recipes is introduced by the Mad Men episode that featured the dish, the history of the dish, and a restaurant or chef profile. The cookbook also includes interesting boxes that cover all kinds of topics from specific ingredients to period cookbooks to party tips. The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is as much fun to read as it is to cook from.

I remember the days when my parents would be invited to cocktail parties and would dress up in evening clothes just to go to a gathering at a friend's house. Thank goodness by the time I was of age, formality had pretty much run its course. All those dresses that could be worn only once or twice because they had already been seen . . . Anyway, back to the cookbook.

The recipes are very doable for the home cook. I'm sure my mother has made pretty much every one of them at some point in her life. And I'm sure I've tasted them all. Thus what called to me were the cocktails. I didn't really need to try fettuccine Alfredo or chicken Kiev for the millionth time, so instead I turned to the section that was not part of my childhood taste memories: the booze.

Thanks goes to Mr. BFR who made the ultimate sacrifice to help me taste test two classic cocktails. What a guy!

Vodka Gimlet
1 drink
From "Meditations in an Emergency": season 2, episode 13
Courtesy of the 21 Club
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Rose's lime juice
Add vodka and Rose's lime juice to a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass or pour over ice on rocks.

The vodka gimlet (which we liked better) is on the left; the rusty nail is on the right (click images to enlarge). Yum!

Buy The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by BenBella Books / Smart Pop, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781936661411
Rating: B
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Louise 4/14/12, 6:24 AM  

I've never seen Mad Men! I know that seems incredible, I think I must be the last person in the world to see it. The book sounds interesting though.

caite 4/14/12, 6:26 AM  

One gimlet please! that looks like a great book!

Marg 4/14/12, 7:17 AM  

Thanks to Mr BFR for taking one for the team!

I must say the mention of Pineapple Upside Down cake had me drooling but not necessarily all the others!

Rikki 4/14/12, 7:35 AM  

I don't know Mad Men, but this sounds like an interesting cookbook just to read.
Love the cocktail you chose. I hate it when you need umpteen ingredients for them.

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/14/12, 7:53 AM  

I've read two Mad men related books- one on fashion by Janie Bryant, the wardrobe designer for the show and a memoir called Mad Women by Jane Maas who was a real-life Peggy. I really like Mad Men, so this book may have to be the 3rd in my series.

I enjoyed your memories of attending parties with your parents, it brought back my own memories of my parents and their friends.

Heather S-G 4/14/12, 8:06 AM  

Oh, I think this is such a fun book! I love the little facts and tidbits thrown in. I've made a couple of throwback things from it so far. Pass me a cocktail! ;)

Julie P. 4/14/12, 8:32 AM  

My husband and I are huge fans of this series and thought the background information was so interesting.

bermudaonion 4/14/12, 8:41 AM  

The sacrifices you make for your blog!

I've never seen the show but the cookbook sounds like fun! By the way, I remember my parents dressing up just to go to dinner with friends.

Libby 4/14/12, 8:47 AM  

I haven't boon watching Mad Men, but - being of a certain age - I definitely remember Waldorf Salad and all the other goodies from my childhood! This cookbook could be used to re-create those menus...I will keep an eye out for it :)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 4/14/12, 9:32 AM  

very fun! I haven't watched Mad Men, but I bet this would be a great gift (with some barware or cocktail napkins?) for fans of the show.

I do have another cookbook by Gelman, and enjoy her writing style.

rhapsodyinbooks 4/14/12, 9:51 AM  

I am so glad we are out of the wedge salad phase!!!

jama 4/14/12, 9:54 AM  

Haven't watched Mad Men either, but I'm a sucker for cookbooks with TV/movie/book tie-ins, so will definitely have to check this one out.

Thanks for tasting those cocktails on our behalf. All in the line of duty. Ahem :).

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 4/14/12, 11:14 AM  

I'm slowly reading Kitchen Counter Cooking School and just read the chapter about how cooking was redefined in the 50s and 60s for "convenience"--thus more boxed cooking. Funny that this post should come now. It's amazing the difference between mother or grandmother's generation and idea of "ease"

LOVE Mad Men. Will have to check this one out!

Linda 4/14/12, 11:27 AM  

I've never seen Mad Men but I do love a good cocktail.

Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook 4/14/12, 11:27 AM  

I don't watch Mad Men but I do love a vodka gimlet! Looks like a fun cookbook.

Margot 4/14/12, 11:40 AM  

The book looks good but the drink sounds really good. Some of my best drink recipes over the last few years have come from you. Thanks for every one of then.

Joy Weese Moll 4/14/12, 11:42 AM  

What a terrific concept for a cookbook! I still make Waldorf Salad for carry-ins -- people get all nostalgic over it!

Uniflame 4/14/12, 12:23 PM  

I don't really know any of this. But I know that it can be a lot of fun of tasting drinks and cocktails :)

Cecelia 4/14/12, 2:07 PM  

I'm not in on the whole Mad Men craze myself, but I have several friends who are. I recognized all of the recipes you mentioned - not sure I'd use this one for the food, but maybe for the booze, as you did! Mmm...

Narineh @ The Novel World 4/14/12, 2:47 PM  

I'm terrible with cocktails. I'm such a beer drinker, that when I go out to a nice place and want to order cocktails, I never know what to get!

But I love Mad Men. I'm just bummed I can't watch it on TV and I can't find the episodes streaming online. I'll have to wait for the season to end and catch up on Netflix.

Carole 4/14/12, 3:13 PM  

Thanks again Beth. You might also be interested in my new Food on Friday post which collected egg recipes via Mr Linky. Next week I am doing asparagus. Food on Friday

Peaceful Reader 4/14/12, 7:43 PM  

I'm of the few that do not watch Mad Men-just never got started. I love that your husband helped you out with those beautiful cocktails though. Hurrah!

Esme 4/14/12, 8:34 PM  

I must confess I have never seen the show. These recipes remind me of a retro 60's party.

Stacy 4/15/12, 9:21 AM  

I watched Mad Men once it came to netflix. I was so hooked... two weeks to watch all the seasons. My sister is taping the new season for me now but I am not as excited to see it as I thought I would be. Oh well. I love how they get that whole era so right. All that detail. I have seen this book around the web and it sounds like it would be fun just to read it. I will have to have a look when I make a trip the bookstore next.

Michelle (my books. my life.) 4/15/12, 12:08 PM  

What a fun idea for a cookbook. And, as much as I love going to a friends house in my yoga pants for some cheap wine, I think it'd be fun to dress up for cocktail evenings with friends.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 4/15/12, 12:28 PM  

Mad Men is my favorite show. I'm asking myself how the heck I missed this book. I know I would enjoy reading it as much as trying to cook from it! Glad I saw this review.

Unknown 4/15/12, 7:52 PM  

I used to drink gimlets with my mother and grandmother all the time. Very nummy. Also admit to loving that whole wedge salad thing - it's such a steak house classic.

Heidenkind 4/16/12, 12:22 AM  

I'm still waiting for this to come in at my library. So excited!

Daryl 4/16/12, 9:07 AM  

lots of food was eaten, lots of wine drunk .. a weekend filled with fun .. and I now wish we'd had that cookbook with us ... anyway I posted a shot of a toast

Meg @ write meg! 4/18/12, 8:44 AM  

How cool and creative! I actually watched my first episode of "Mad Men" on Saturday (and that quickly turned into three episodes, though I think they were from three completely different seasons... drat!). I was just telling my sister we should get the first season on DVD and start the series from the beginning. This book sounds like lots of fun!

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