60 Minute Gourmet - Fond Memories

The reference to 60 Minute Gourmet last week brought back fond pre-marriage memories of the routine Margie and I had for Wendesday nights when we were dating. The 60MG column ran in the NYT on Wednesday. That night, I'd cook whatever was in the column, whether we thought it appealing or not. Margie would sit on my "folk music star" wooden stool at the doorway to my kitchen, which was too small for me to cook and her to sit at the same time. She would have a glass of wine, usually red and often Marietta Old Vine Red, and prop her feet against the door jamb. I cooked, she did most of the cleanup. It was a great night to look forward to, as it gave us a mid-week connection, despite the commute from Naperville to Oak Park.

Just as we followed a set routine for Wednesday nights, so there was a 60MG system. There were usually two recipes - an entree and a vegetable or rice/pasta dish. Almost all the ingredients were staples that a good cook should have on hand, including fresh staples - shallot, plum tomato, peppers, fresh herbs and so on. So all that one needed to shop for were the entree item and a few perishables - say beans, or fennel. The recipes rarely if ever required a true specialty ingredient, so shopping would be contained to a single grocery, no running all over for exotic stuff. The only problems encountered might be if a recipe called for a cut of meat or a type of fish, and that fish was not available. But often as not, he'd list several equivalent fishes to choose from. It was a very well tuned system, and I'm not sure that many people were aware of how well composed these recipes were on the point of shopping and use of staples.

So if any of this iterests you, here are links to the books created from the NYT columns. Cuisine Rapide is the best book of the bunch, but doesn't follow the format of the columns as orginally published. Also, the CR recipes are not particularly limited to "60 minutes" of prep time. other two books pretty much just publish the columns themselves, in book form. You'll find a few of the recipes a bit dated, and may want to cut back amounts of butter and cream, but for the most part these are classic dishes and are pretty timeless. And, best of all, they definetly meet the criteria for shopping and preparation I described above.

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