Not a cookbook for a novice
'The Hudson River Valley Cookbook'
Harvard Common Press, $16.95
Review by Margaret M. Howell
May 21, 1999
(CNN) -- In keeping with the cooking traditions of the Hudson River Valley area of the state of New York, this book features many wild-game and seafood recipes.
The Hudson River is named for English navigator Henry Hudson, who explored the region in 1609. It rises in the Adirondack Mountains of New York -- today a popular pastoral escape for concrete-crazed city dwellers -- and it empties into the Atlantic at New York City. The Hudson, along with the East River, defines Manhattan.
And to no small degree, the Hudson River Valley defines the historic and cultural traditions of many native New Yorkers, "upstaters" and members of some of the great American families -- the Roosevelts and Vanderbilts among them.
Recipes from those traditions here include Roast Goose with Spiced Pears and Wild Rice and Sour Cherry Salad; Boneless Quail Filled with Foie Gras and Black Trumpet Mushrooms; and Rabbit Pot Pies.
The caveat here is that Chef Waldy Malouf's ingredients lists and preparation requirements may be intimidating. For example, Poached Trout Filled with Seafood Mousse not only requires you to run raw seafood through a food processor to make the mousse (big "ick!" factor), but it also lists other recipes as ingredients. One of them: "3/4 cup fish stock, Page 35, and one recipe Red Pepper Vinaigrette, Page 288."
Your skills and kitchen may or may not be up to such tasks, as tempting as they may be. Most of the book's recipes are at least this labor-intensive. So this one isn't for the novice chef, or for someone who's not willing to spend some serious time in the kitchen.
That being said, many of the desserts are fairly straightforward, Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp among them. It's a refreshing change from the usual cookies and cakes to which the average family may be accustomed.
Overall, this book's cooking requires commitment to the kitchen, so test your resolve as you consider adding it to your shelf.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp
For the Topping1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed
1 quart strawberries
1 cup sugar
Heavy cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make the topping: Using your fingers, work the topping ingredients together until they're evenly blended. Refrigerate while you prepare the fruit.
Cut the rhubarb into one-inch pieces. Hull strawberries and cut them in half. In a bowl, combine the fruit with the sugar. Pour the fruit into a 10-inch pie plate or shallow casserole of similar size.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.
Put the casserole on a baking sheet and bake the crisp in the middle of the oven for about one hour, until the juices are bubbling around the edges and in the middle of the dish, and the topping is crisp.
Serve with warm heavy cream or vanilla ice cream.
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