30 January 2016

Weekend Cooking: The Fallingwater Cookbook by Suzanne Martinson

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

The Fallingwater Cookbook by Suzanne MartinsonI'm almost ashamed to admit that I've never been to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, which is about 140 miles east of me in Pennsylvania. The house was built for the Kaufmann family in the 1930s and remained in the family until becoming part of the Western Pennsylvania Conservatory in 1963. It is now open to the public.

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.

Kitchen in FallingwaterThe 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
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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
ISBN-13: 9780822943570
Source: Can't Remember (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 1/30/16, 7:22 AM  

Cookbooks with family history and stories are great, I love those. I have never been to Fallingwater either and I always wanted to. Somehow I would never have thought about putting line nut in cookies but it appears to work by your photo and recipe,

jama 1/30/16, 7:55 AM  

Will have to look for this one at the library. Sounds like it could be an interesting read whether I try any of the recipes or not.

Mae Travels 1/30/16, 8:48 AM  

A cookbook with a sense of history and place would normally appeal to me -- but I see your point about this one, that doesn't quite make the cut! Have you read the Georgia O'Keeffe Cookbook? By her cook? But somehow appealing!

Fallingwater is close to my frequent route across PA but I've never managed to stop there -- Maybe a book about the architecture would be more interesting than a cookbook.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

bermudaonion 1/30/16, 9:05 AM  

I bet the parts about the Kaufmann family and the house are as good as all the recipes! You must go visit the house!

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/30/16, 9:25 AM  

It sounds like this is a book more for people who like history and family stories than a straightforward cookbook, but it does sound interesting.

Jackie McGuinness 1/30/16, 9:55 AM  

Yeah, doesn't sound like I would buy it for the recipes. Might just flip through it at the bookstore.

Katherine P 1/30/16, 10:16 AM  

As I was reading the review I was thinking that this would be a good book to get from the library. The pictures and stories sound interesting and I do enjoy seeing how people ate in different time periods but this doesn't sound like a must go buy kind of cookbook! Don't feel bad about not visiting Fallingwater. We have a Frank Lloyd Wright about 70 miles away that is actually in the town my older daughter attended college and I've yet to see it!

Vicki 1/30/16, 10:53 AM  

This sounds interesting, I'll see if my library has it.
I hope you go visit Fallingwater and write a post about it.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 1/30/16, 11:07 AM  

The cookies look amazing! I love trying new recipes.

Deb in Hawaii 1/30/16, 11:46 AM  

I have always found Fallingwater and food from different decades to be fascinating so this does sound like a book worth looking into at the library. Those pine nut cookies look like they would be perfect with a cup of tea.

BTW--Thanks for moving my post. I changed the link to match. I'll get the hang of it someday. ;-)

JaneGS 1/30/16, 3:28 PM  

Those pine nut cookies sound like something I would love! I have wanted to visit Falling Water for years. Hope you make the trek to see it.

Cecelia 1/31/16, 10:43 AM  

This book might not be for every cook, but I have an uncle who is both an architect and a gourmet cook. I think this might be the perfect gift for him!

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