Any residual high school class-cutting guilt can now been assuaged by a fantastic modern invention: podcasts. The Culinary Historians of Southern California (CHSC) has launched a new website that includes podcasts of recent lectures. That means you can catch Jonathan Gold's recent talk on regional cuisines in the San Gabriel Valley — and find out why giving a lecture to room full of local history buffs makes him nervous — without getting out of your PJ's. Although, early birds do get the free homemade lecture-themed snacks afterward. For this Saturday's “Pop Goes The Soft Drink: The History of Carbonated Beverages” lecture by Danny Ginsburg, owner of Real Soda in Torrance, the CHSC is serving
Ginsburg's member Don Corbett's homemade root beer.
The redesigned website also has a handy archive of past newsletters, edited by local cookbook author Amelia Saltsman, where CHSC president and former LA Times Food section staffer Charles Perry regularly pontificates about the good old days when roasted ox head was the preferred local grub.
According to Perry, Spanish cattle ranchers wrapped large pieces of the meat in burlap sacks and cooked it in the ground with hot coals. Eight to twelve hours later, the beef was uncovered and served with tamales, chile rellenos and enchiladas (pork and today's more traditional BBQ sides didn't enter the LA landscape until much later). Perry demonstrated the fine art of burlap-sack roasting at a member event two years ago (die-hards camped out all night to stoke the coals; most folks showed up the next day for the ceremonious unwrapping and eating).
Handy tips from guest newsletter authors include skills such as how to research culinary patents at the downtown library — the CHSC's primary mission is to pursue food history while supporting the culinary collections at the Los Angeles Public Library. But if you're looking for the next get rich quick scheme, do take note that a patent for a pasta server crossed with the spoon, otherwise known as the “pastoon”, has already been filed.
There's a new section on the website with photos and recipes from recent events, like the Austrian goulash, beer-braised carrots, and schokostreusal kuchen (German chocolate streusel cake) served at a recent members-only Oktoberfest potluck.
You can also thank these history-minded sorts for many of the new cookbooks in the downtown library's special collections section. The CHSC recently donated The Big Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal, among Gold's food must-reads last year, to the library. Now that you can take that $250 whopper of a book off your Amazon wish list, the $25 CHSC membership donation is looking pretty affordable. Not to mention the unlimited access to next year's beer-braised carrot member event. In the meantime, try the 19th century trifle recipe below.
Culinary Historians of Southern Calfornia: Membership begins at $25 for individuals, $40 for households. Lectures are free and open to the public. “Pop Goes The Soft Drink: The History of Carbonated Beverages” Saturday, Nov.14, 10:30 a.m. at Mark Tape Auditorium at the Los Angeles Public Library. 630 W. 5th street, downtown. Free and open to the public, light refreshments to follow. For more information, visit the website.
Note: From How We Cook in Los Angeles, Simpson Methodist Episcopal
Church Ladies Social Circle, 1894. Recipe adapted by Amelia Saltsman.
Makes: 16 servings
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
Zest of 2 oranges
2 cups fresh orange juice (4-6 oranges)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1 pint cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 package ladyfingers
1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1⁄2 cup water and set aside to soften. In medium saucepan, stir together orange and lemon juices, zest and sugar, and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. In a bowl, whisk yolks until well blended. Whisking constantly, pour a small amount of hot juice mixture into yolks. Whisk this mixture back into the pot with remaining hot juice. Cook egg-juice mixture, stirring constantly, in bain-marie or double boiler until
slightly thickened. Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into mixing bowl.
3. Stir in softened gelatin and mix until gelatin is completely dissolved. Set this bowl
into larger bowl filled with ice and whisk until mixture is consistency of thick cream.
4. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into orange mixture 1/4 at a time. Line sides of 8-inch spring form pan with ladyfingers. Pour in the orange mixture. Cover and chill until set, several hours or overnight. To serve, unmold onto serving platter and garnish with additional orange zest or candied orange slices.