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Eating Well: Goodbye, Gourmet

Lifestyle

Eating Well: Goodbye, Gourmet

What were you doing when you heard the news that Gourmet magazine, founded in 1941, was ceasing publication?

I was listening to National Public Radio while peeling and slicing apples for one of my favorite desserts, apple crisp with an oatmeal topping. The recipe – the only one I know by heart –  is from the August 1983 edition of Gourmet, The Magazine of Good Living.

The November issue will be its last. A decline in advertising sales has caused the demise of this cherished magazine and, it is surmised, readers preferred the easier Bon Appétit, another Conde Nast monthly cooking magazine.

Gourmet is known for its beautiful covers, lush food photography, travel essays, poetry, articles about culinary history, cookbook reviews, charming drawings – many of them done by the late Michael Ricci of Portland – and, of course, reliable recipes for the exotic things we would definitely attempt to cook when we could find the time and the ingredients. For many Gourmet readers, cooking isn't as important as reading about the food and knowing about the recipes. Gourmet's recipes will be available online at epicurious.com, and we can also turn to the many cookbooks published by Gourmet.

On Gourmet's Web site, gourmet.com, there are great recipes. Under the heading "Most Commented On," I read (three times) and am considering trying a recipe by Andrea Albin for frozen peanut butter pie with candied bacon.
The crust is chocolate wafer crumbs mixed with butter. The filling is sugar and milk heated together to which peanut butter and vanilla are added. The mixture is cooled in an ice bath, and then whipped cream, chopped peanuts and chopped candied bacon are folded in. The top is decorated with short strips of candied bacon arranged in a sunburst, and the pie sits in the freezer for five hours.

The people who commented on it said it is great to serve at parties.

So, you may be wondering, how do you make candied bacon? Cook bacon strips in a skillet, drain them on paper towels, pour the fat out of the pan, put the cooked bacon strips back in the pan, sprinkle them with white sugar mixed with a dash of cinnamon, and cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved and caramelized, about eight minutes.

As Julia and Elvis would say, bon appétit.

Apple Oatmeal Crisp

This recipe appeared on the Sugar and Spice page of the August 1983 Gourmet, and was contributed by Mrs. C. Budd of Flushing, New York. Substitute other fruits, if you like, and omit the lemon juice and salt.

4 cups peeled, thinly sliced cooking apples (about 1½ pounds)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

In a well-buttered 9-inch square baking pan, combine the apples, the lemon juice and the granulated sugar. In a bowl, combine the flour, the oats, the brown sugar, the cinnamon and the salt, add the butter, and combine the mixture well. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and bake the dessert in a preheated moderately hot oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes or until the apples are tender.

Spanikopita

When you want to wow people, serve this Greek spinach pie from "Gourmet's Menu Cookbook, A Collection of Epicurean Menus and Recipes," published by Gourmet Books, 1972. I use frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and omit the dill.

3 pounds fresh spinach
Salt and pepper
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 pound Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped dill
Phyllo pastry, one box, thawed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Wash thoroughly 3 pounds spinach and drain it. Chop the spinach finely, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and let it stand for an hour. Press the spinach to draw out the bitter liquid. In a large skillet, saute onion in olive oil until it is golden. Add the drained spinach and cook it, stirring, until it wilts. Combine the spinach and onions and oil with Feta cheese, pine nuts, parsley and dill, and salt and pepper to taste.

Brush a shallow baking pan with melted butter and line it with 1 sheet of phyllo pastry (paper-thin pastry, similar to strudel, used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and sometimes available frozen). Brush the sheet lightly with melted sweet butter and cover with 4 more phyllo leaves, brushing each with melted butter. Fill the dish with the spinach mixture and cover the top with 4 more buttered sheets of phyllo. Trim the edges of the top sheets to fit the dish, brush the edges with water, and fold over the bottom sheets to seal the pie.

Bake the pie in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden. Cool it slightly before cutting and serve warm or cold.

Gougere

Gougere must be French for yummy cheese puffs. Serve them with a glass of Burgundy wine and a crisp salad after raking leaves or skiing. Gougere can be frozen, so all you need to do is heat and serve. The recipe is from "Gourmet's Menu Cookbook, A Collection of Epicurean Menus and Recipes," published by Gourmet Books, 1972.

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sifted flour
8 eggs
6 ounces natural Gruyere or Swiss cheese cut into fine cubes

Scald milk and cool it. Strain the milk into a large saucepan and add cut up butter, salt and a dash of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and add flour all at once. Cook the paste over low heat, beating it briskly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan clean.

Remove the pan from the heat and beat in eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg thoroughly before adding the next. When the paste is shiny and smooth, mix in cheese, cut into very fine cubes. Let the dough cool.

Divide the dough in half. With an oval soup spoon, scoop out from one half of the dough pieces the size of an egg. With a rubber spatula push them off the spoon onto a buttered baking sheet in a ring, leaving a space in the middle about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Use a teaspoon to make smaller ovals on top of the first layer. Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough, to make 2 rings.

Brush the gougeres with milk and sprinkle each one with 2 tablespoons finely diced cheese. Bake the gougeres in a moderately hot oven (375 degrees) for about 45 minutes, or until they are well puffed and golden brown.

Gougere is traditionally served with red Burgundy.