Is it Lindy’s?

In the late 1950s Craig Claiborne, The New York Times restaurant critic and food writer, approached Leo Lindemann, the owner of the famed Lindy’s restaurant and deli in New York, and pleaded for his cheesecake recipe to no avail. In 1977, Claiborne claimed he had since come into possession of this treasure via

 Is it Lindys?

Craig Claiborne

Guy Pascal, a distinguished pastry chef who purportedly reverse engineered the recipe by watching a former Lindy’s baker who came to work for him in Las Vegas. Pascal said he did various calculations based on the amount of cream cheese he was purchasing and the number of cakes being produced, and by glancing inconspicuously as the furtive baker went about his business. In six months, claimed Pascal, he had deciphered the secret.
After Claiborne’s article appeared, a flood of letters to the Times disputed Pascal’s claim. Some said the original recipe had been published years before in The New York Herald Tribune. Others wrote the real recipe had been published in Woman’s Day or Family Circle or McCall’s or even the Times itself. One astute writer pointed out that the original recipe had been published in Clementine Paddleford’s seminal book, How America Eats (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960).

 Is it Lindys?

In her book, Paddleford, a food editor for This Week Magazine and a food writer for The New York Tribune, wrote, “the late Mr. Lindy…was a lovable, laughable, unpredictable little man. If he liked you he would give you anything except the way of the cheesecake.” Lindy must have really liked Paddleford if her account is to be believed. As Paddleford finished a piece of the famous cheesecake, she asked Lindy, “how about serving up the recipe?” Lindy summoned his pastry chef, Paul Landry. “He couldn’t believe his ears,” wrote Paddleford. “The cheesecake recipe was being handed over by the big boss. I give it to you as Paul Landry gave it to me.”

Paddleford was America’s best known and most influential food writer for over four decades, read by 12 million people a week. So, why would Craig Claiborne, and a famous pastry chef like Guy Pascal, claim to have unlocked the mystery seventeen years later? And why would Lindy, after decades of holding the recipe so close, share it with Paddleford?

 Is it Lindys?

 Claiborne was probably well aware of Paddleford’s claim and chose to ignore it, for it made his own story all the more sensational. Claiborne began at the Times in 1957, towards the end of Paddleford’s career. But, according to Paddleford’s biographers, Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris writing in Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate (Gotham Books, 2008), there was little love lost between them. Claiborne, they wrote, had a way of covering ground Paddleford had already trod “as if he were the first to discover it.” The competition between them was further fueled by the competition between their two newspapers, with the upstart Times on the rise and the Trib on the decline (it closed in 1966). In his own memoir, A Feast Made for Laughter: A Memoir with Recipes (Henry Holt & Co., 1983), published fifteen years after Paddleford’s death, Claiborne was dismissive of the woman widely considered “the grand dame of food writing.” Paddleford, he wrote “would not have been able to distinguish skillfully scrambled eggs from a third-rate omelet.” Ouch!

The answer to the second question, why Lindy might have obliged Paddleford, is simple. Paddleford was so influential that her mention of a restaurant could, according to Alexander and Harris, “easily double its business.”

 Is it Lindys?

Paddleford’s claim to have been given the original by Lindy himself is bolstered by a memo she wrote to Louella Shouer at Ladies’ Home Journal in which she recounts making and remaking the recipe and finally asking “the reluctant chef to come to our kitchen” where he “made the delicacy while our testers looked on at the step by step procedure.”

Lindy’s cheesecake recipe is included in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, adapted from Paddleford’s book. Whether it’s truly Lindy’s original is anybody’s guess, but it’s a winner.

Shoot!

A good cookbook should not only please your sense of taste (both literal and aesthetic), but should be a feast for your eyes, too. After all, how food looks has a lot to do with its appeal.  Last week we wrote about some of the misconceptions about the culinary landscape of the 1960s: it wasn’t just a world of frozen vegetables, canned fruit and Jell-O molds. Then, as always, there was fine cuisine to be had that was pleasing to the palate and the eyes. To help make the case, we engaged Nina Gallant, an accomplished food photographer, and Catrine Kelty, an equally accomplished food stylist, to shoot a series of color photographs for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by an amateur.

The smell of pineapple upside down cake was wafting down the driveway as Judy pulled up to Catrine’s house for photo shoot about 9 o’clock one late spring morning. It wasn’t the first cake our intrepid stylist had whipped up that morning; she’d been at it since 5:00 am. Catrine is nothing if not efficient. There isn’t a wasted movement, or a wasted minute, in her carefully choreographed kitchen routines.

As the stylist it was her job to prepare the food for the shoot and to select period-appropriate linens, place settings, and other props so we wouldn’t have, say, ultramodern Swedish utensils in a book trying to evoke the 1960s. Catrine usually has on hand every prop you could imagine for a food shoot, but this was a special collection assembled for our book and she obviously had fun coming up with the pairings for our recipes.

We knew, of course, that we’d have to be selective: in a book with over 70 recipes, you can’t have a full color photo of everyone without breaking the budget. So, Nina, Catrine and Judy went back and forth before the shoot trying to discern which finished dishes would photograph well and whet the appetites of readers. Salads, with their multiple and often colorful ingredients would appeal, but the more complex hearts of palm salad seemed a better choice than, say, the simple (but delicious) wedge salad. And a photo of the avocado and crabmeat mimosa, which isn’t familiar to most people, would be more informative than a classic shrimp cocktail. After debating the virtues and vices of many of the recipes in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook about a dozen dishes were selected for the shoot, with each major food group represented. No, we don’t mean the food groups you learned as a kid in school; we mean the food groups in our book: cocktails, appetizers, salads, main course and desserts.

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Nina and Catrine setting up a shot.

For those of us to whom photography is a point and shoot enterprise, it’s astonishing to watch the preparation that goes into each shot when you are working with a pro like Nina. She tried to take maximize the use of the natural light in Catrine’s home, but each shot still required framing the shot, trying different linens (there’s always an offending wrinkle in the linen!) and drink ware, finding new colors, and tinkering to eliminate shadows. When to Judy’s eye, everything was perfect, well, Nina and Catrine tried something else. The background martini glass is too large. We need another fork. Let’s move the olive tray. The pears need to re-glazed. There’s always another idea to try and Judy soon began to wonder if it might take a full week to do it right.

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Lunch!

By noon, many of the dishes were still to be styled and shot, but lunchtime is lunchtime and since Catrine had prepared Gambas au beurre d’Escargot (Shrimp in Snail Butter), blini with caviar, hearts of palm salad, gazpacho, and canapés for the morning shoot, a delicious lunch was ready and waiting (being a cookbook author can be very tough work). To wash it down there was no choice but the Canadian Clubhouse Punch.

For Nina and Catrine it’s all about controlling the color, the light, the texture. But the most admirable control of the day was the self-control of Catrine’s dog, Caper. He’s like a part of the crew, his tail or nose just barely off-camera. But how he restrains himself in the face of a rib-eye in the pan is truly remarkable.

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Caper doesn’t seem the least bit interested in the rib-eye on the table.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by a couple of pros.

Even Don Draper and Roger Sterling had to go back to the office, no matter how many oysters, Martinis and Old Fashioneds they’d had at lunch, and so it was for the photographer and stylist. But with seven photos to shoot after lunch could all thirteen be done by 6 p.m? When that hour rolls around it’s down to the final two: the crabmeat mimosa and Oysters Rockefeller, but the oysters still need to be shucked, a job no one is looking forward to…and Catrine’s book club is arriving in a half hour for a non-Mad Men-style dinner! The last two shots will have to wait until morning.

 

The photo shoot was more work for this dynamic duo than we ever imagined, but the results…well, they speak for themselves and prove that when it comes to taste, a picture can be worth a thousand words.

What About the Jello Mold?

Tell someone you’re writing a cookbook designed to take readers back to the 1960s and you’ll get questions such as these:

“Will you include a recipe for jello mold?”

“Do you have Grasshopper pie?”

“How about a tuna noodle casserole made with canned soup?”

“How many recipes involve Spam?”

But when you read The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook you’ll find that the answers to these questions are, “no, no, no and none.” True, there are no recipes in the book that call for goat cheese, wasabi or balsamic reductions, either. And, certainly there was some pretty tacky food that was popular in the 1960s. But there was a lot of fine food, too, even if some of it isn’t as ubiquitous today as it once was.

We didn’t set out to simply compile recipes from the 1960s in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook; the foods had to be featured in Mad Men, served in the restaurants and bars featured in the show, or have some other close connection to the storylines. We also wanted to ensure 1960s authenticity which is why we never settled only for updated recipes for, say, Waldorf Salad or Oysters Rockefeller, though we sometimes included both the old and the new. We worked with chefs, bartenders and restaurant owners to dish up the recipes used in their establishments in the early 1960s, when Don Draper and Roger Sterling might have walked through the door.

il fullxfull.88513562 300x221 What About the Jello Mold?Our quest for authenticity took us deep into the shelves of special cookbook collections and to the pages of magazines and newspapers of the time. Sometimes it was obvious which cookbooks to turn to: on her kitchen counter Betty Draper kept copies of The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, the so-called “Red Plaid,” and Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook. But we Scan 11 300x171 What About the Jello Mold?dug deeper, in some cases into Julia Child’s personal cookbook collection now held at Radcliffe College’s Schlesinger Library. Holding a cookbook in which Julia Child had inscribed her name is simply a thrilling experience. Sometimes you never know what might fall out of an old cookbook: a handwritten family recipe for scalloped potatoes, or an old Frito’s “Party Games of the Stars” pamphlet featuring Art Linkletter.

We consulted cookbooks by the pre-eminent food writers and chefs of the time: Child along with James Beard, Clementine Paddleford, and Craig Claiborne. Old copies of

 What About the Jello Mold?

James Beard

Life magazine, Gourmet and Woman’s Day, to name a few, also delivered insight into food trends and recipes for canapés, eggnog, and a Bacardi Rum Frappè. Then there were the truly quirky cookbooks we gleefully stumbled upon which were reflective of the times, books such as Poppy Cannon’s New Can Opener Cookbook, a cookbook built around a new utensil of convenience (others were specific to the electric skillet or the blender), and Nina Mortellito’s Small Kitchen Cookbook which showed urban dwellers, such as Joan Holloway, how to make big meals in their tiny apartment kitchens. (In Season 3, Episode 3, “My Old Kentucky Home,” Joan prepares a crown roast in her tiny kitchen.) Betty Draper was insecure about her culinary skills so Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Bookwas a logical place to hunt for recipes and it was there that we found a Turkey Tetrazzini recipe we adapted for our book. Why Turkey Tetrazzini? In Season 1, Episode 9 (“Shoot”), Betty reveals her doubts about her cooking

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Sardi’s Hearts of Palm Salad from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

skills as she serves Don Turkey Tetrazzini for dinner one night. At times we felt like culinary anthropologists, or at least sleuths, as we tried to track down recipes that were both authentic to the time period and connected to Mad Men.

So, no to jello mold — yes to Hearts of Palm Salad, Devlled Eggs and Beef WellingtonAnd is this retro-food tasty? It all disappeared quickly at cocktail and dinner parties where our friends tasted many of the recipes in our book. But there was one part of the1960s social scene we avoided like the plague: there was no smoking.

What a Difference an “E” Makes

Whiskey or whisky? That is the question. If Don Draper were answering he’d clearly call for whisky, which is how Canadian Club, his preferred brand, spells it. The American usage is “whiskey,” but Canadian Club, which hails from Ontario, uses the Scottish spelling, “whisky.” This explains why a bottle of Jack Daniels from Tennessee says “whiskey” on the label and a bottle of Glenfiddich, distilled in Dufftown, Banffshire says “whisky.” It was enough to give the proofreader for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook fits.CC Bottle 1956 to 19621 85x300 What a Difference an E Makes

There are many types of whisky/whiskey. Bourbon is a corn-based spirit distilled to no more than 160 proof (80 percent alcohol) and aged at least two years. Tennessee whiskey is similar, but is filtered through sugar maple and charcoal. Rye makes a lighter flavored, but still full bodied whiskey and is often blended with other whiskeys to make a final product. Such blended whiskeys are often simply called “rye” despite the additional ingredients. Canadian Club is such a blended whisky, made of corn, rye, rye malt, and barley distillates. Almost all whiskeys are aged for years in charred wooden barrels to add flavor and are typically 80 to 100 proof. And what is malt? Malt is cereal grains made to germinate by soaking them in water, and then dried with hot air.

Though Seagram’s and Crown Royal were also popular in the 1960s, Don’s fealty to Canadian Club is admirable: an ad man has to have a brand, whether it’s the cigarette he smokes or the whisky he sips morning ‘till night.

Seagram’s Seven Crown was an “American whiskey blend” distilled and blended in Connecticut by the Canadian company, Seagram’s, and Seagram’s V.O. was a blended Canadian whisky made in Canada. Crown Royal is a blended Canadian whisky distilled and blended in Canada by The Crown Royal Company of Connecticut. (Both the Seagram’s and Crown Royal brands are now owned by the British firm Diageo.) If this all sounds terribly confusing, remember this: if you’re drinking whisky it’s almost certainly from Scotland or Canada and if you’re drinking whiskey, it is just as certainly from the United States. And if you’re drinking Canadian Club you can be sure it was distilled and blended in Canada by a Canadian company that knows its whisky.

Now that we have that cleared up, if you’re not sipping your whisky (or whiskey) straight (or “neat,” as Roger Sterling might say), you may want to mix yourself Don’s favorite cocktail, an Old Fashioned. There have been many variations over the years with much attention paid to how to dissolve the sugar: some say water, others seltzer, and still others the bitters. The first recipe calling for orange and cherry together, as part of the cocktail itself and not simply a garnish, appeared in 1933, but various recipes have incorporated orange curaçao, pineapple, lemon peel, simple syrup (instead of sugar), and even Absinthe.

There is no definitive Old Fashioned recipe, but if Don were making it, he’d almost certainly use his “beloved rye,” as Roger once described it (season 1, episode 7; “Red in the Face”). And he loved no rye more than Canadian Club. (Bourbon can also be used.) Our recipe for an Old Fashioned in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is courtesy of the legendary Grand Central Oyster Bar located inside New York’s Grand Central Station.

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The Grand Central Oyster Bar circa 1960

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 19 minutes

1 drink

 What a Difference an E Makes

The classic recipe for Don Draper's preferred Old Fashioned Cocktail, from one of his favorite Mad Men haunts: The Grand Central Oyster Bar, New York, New York.

Ingredients

  • Note: Bourbon or rye may be used in the Old Fashioned. Rye was originally used, and the Grand Central Oyster Bar is starting to use rye again in these drinks; they use Michter’s, but Don would, as noted, likely choose Canadian Club.
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Few drops of Angostura bitters
  • A splash of soda water to muddle ingredients
  • 2 ½ ounces rye or bourbon

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle orange slice, cherry, sugar, bitters and a little soda water: using a muddler, push around and break up cherry and orange until flavor is released.
  2. Add soda water so cherry is wet and sugar is melted. Add bourbon or rye and serve over rocks, if desired.
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Canadian Clubhouse Punch

Another terrific Canadian Club recipe is Canadian Clubhouse Punch, but you’ll have to wait for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook for that recipe. We expect to be serving this flavorful punch at some of our book events. If you’re in the area stop by and we’ll make a toast to the upcoming season of Mad Men.

To Rome with Love (and Celery)

In Mad Men Season 1, Episode 9, (“Shoot”) Don Draper is wooed by Jim Hobart, an executive with a Sterling Cooper rival firm, McCann Erickson. Hobart sends Don a membership to the New York Athletic Club and a set of golf clubs, and promises that Don will enjoy working in a bigger shop with more glamorous, big name clients such as Esso (now Exxon) and the world’s high-flying airline, Pan Am (now defunct). By contrast, Sterling Cooper’s major aviation client is tiny Mohawk Airlines, a regional carrier. To Rome with Love (and Celery)

Pan Am is also the name of a new television drama set in the 1960s that debuted a week ago on ABC, along with The Playboy Club, which premiered a week earlier on NBC, also set in the 1960s. Both shows have drawn inevitable comparison to Mad Men since they seek to tap into nostalgia for the same time period.

When Betty Draper sought to bring an international flair for dinner guests, she hosted her Around the World Dinner in Season 2, Episode 8 (“A Night to Remember”). The meal she prepared reflected a surge of interest in international cuisine inspired by Julia Child and other factors, including the growing number of people traveling by air to international destinations. Pan American World Airlines had its own cookbook, published in 1954, The Complete Round-the-World Cookbook: Recipes Gathered by Pan American World Airways from the 84 Countries They Serve, by Myra Waldo (Doubleday & Company, Inc.) Waldo called this new-found culinary curiosity, “the gradual maturity of our country, gastronomically speaking.”

 To Rome with Love (and Celery)In the only episode of Mad Men to date set outside of the United States, Don and Betty Draper fly to Rome (Season 3, Episode 8, “Souvenir”). So, we turned to Myra Waldo’s book to see what Italian delicacies the pilots and stewardesses of Pan Am sampled when they flew there. From stuffed peppers and anchovy and rice soup to shrimp in wine sauce, fillet of beef with Marsala, and almond spongecake, Italy then, as now, was a gourmand’s slice of heaven.

But one recipe in Waldo’s book especially caught our eye because we remembered Betty trying to dress up a humble celery stalk while preparing hors d’oeuvres for the adult guests at daughter Sally’s sixth birthday party. (Season 1, Episode 3, “The Marriage of Figaro.”) She settled for filling the celery with cream cheese and capers (we include this recipe in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook). But a more ambitious celery recipe can be found in The Complete Round-the-World Cookbook. If Betty had had Waldo’s book on her kitchen counter she might have made Celery Parmigiana Style (sedani alla parmigiana). How?

Celery Parmigiana Style (sedani alla parmigiana)

Cook Time: 1 hour

2-4 servings

Untitled To Rome with Love (and Celery)

Celery is delicious in this easy to make side dish (or main course) and you can easily prepare a vegetarian version by omitting the ham. Adapted from The Complete Round-the-World Cookbook: Recipes Gathered by Pan American World Airways from the 84 Countries They Serve by Myra Waldo.

Ingredients

  • Note: This recipe calls for Gruyère or American cheese, but we prefer good quality Cheddar cheese.
  • 3 bunches celery
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup stock or ½ bouillon cube dissolved in ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ cup chopped ham
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyère or American cheese (see note)

Instructions

  1. Wash the celery thoroughly and remove the leaves.
  2. Cut into ½ inch thick slices .
  3. Melt butter in a skillet.
  4. Add the celery and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring gently so as not to break up the slices.
  5. Add the stock, ham, salt and pepper.
  6. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Drain carefully. Preheat oven to 425˚ F.
  7. Place the celery in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
  8. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is delicately browned.
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 To Rome with Love (and Celery)

One of Mohawk Airlines' glamour destinations

 

Perhaps Don should have made the leap to McCann Erickson after all, because unlike Pan Am which flew to such glamour destinations as Paris, Honolulu and Tokyo. Mohawk Airlines flew to Utica, Albany and Poughkeepsie where the most exotic native fare may have been corn on the cob and kielbasa.