Small Kitchen Cookbook Page 7: Crabmeat Heaven

Slowly but surely, I’m working my way through 1964’s The Small Kitchen Cookbook, attempting each recipe in no particular order to see what frugal fixins from the sixties still hold up.

This week, I whipped up Crabmeat Heaven, an appetizer from page 7 of the hors d’oeuvres section that is simple, tasty, and keeps well for a day or two in the fridge.

Essentially, we’re not talking about more than an open-faced crab salad sandwich here, but that’s not the kind of lunch that always immediately comes to mind — especially in a small kitchen.

It starts with dicing some onions and celery, adding lemon juice and mayo to the crab and veggies, and toasting some bread slices. All very straightforward.

While the bread is toasting, the final two ingredients (which are also page-by-page favorites in this book) are added: white pepper and parsley.

Plating is also easy enough, simply spooning the mixture over toast, which can be quartered into smaller bites if serving a crowd.

The yield was about 4-6 servings and it didn’t last through the week, so overall I’d say this is one of the more successful Small Kitchen Cookbook results I’ve had.

Rating: four out of five jaunty cherries.

SKC Page 4: Avocado Dip

Next up: Avocado Dip, which is not guacamole, but could play it on tv.

We had a friend over for dinner recently, and therefore our first outside-taste-tester in the Small Kitchen Cookbook cook-down.

This is also one of the first times in the book  that the reader/home cook is presented with what seems to my late-Gen-X eyes to be a strange either/or combination. As we wrap this recipe, the instructions ask us to finish things off with the (ever-popular) parsley, or instead paprika.

Not for nothing, as my mid-western friends say, but those are some radically different flavors. That said, there are much more drastic choices to come in this book, so maybe reserve your judgement for then.

We start with halved avocados, and Mortellito counsels us that we can hold on to the pits if we are interested in growing new avocado trees. Points for early ecology — however, I live in the Northeast and don’t think I’m in an avocado-friendly environment. So we move on to mashing and adding ingredients. White pepper, another popular ingredient in this book, makes an appearance along with mayo, lemon, and onion salt.

The consistency at first is a bit gritty, but I made the dip the night before serving — at which time it was much smoother. We went with parsley as garnish, because we still have a field’s worth in our home herb garden. Plus, paprika reminds me of Deviled Eggs, and I hate those.

We figured tortilla chips counted as ‘corn or potato chips,’ so as directed,  we “arranged” them in a chip and dip bowl from Homegoods.

I’ll probably make this again; it was gone at the end of the night and it didn’t brown overnight, like guac often does. It was a little bit weird at first in the taste department though, because the tongue is expecting guacamole and, as we addressed, this isn’t that. But like green tea ice cream, it has an acquired taste.

I give this recipe three and a half bunches of jaunty cherries. Let me know if you make it with paprika, and if it was worth it.

The Small Kitchen Cookbook: Page Eight

My first foray into The Small Kitchen Cookbook was the super-straightforward Cucumber Dip.

Let’s break it down.

The cucumber part wasn’t hard, because we had a bumper crop in our home garden this year. In fact, other than potatoes and parsley, it was the only bumper crop we had. Did anyone else have this problem this year?

Starting with one large cucumber — per instructions — I peeled, sliced, and minced. The draining (of “ALL the liquid,” mind you) proved to be trickier. I placed them in a colander at first, but resorted to blotting the pieces with paper towels when that proved less-than-effective in making the cukes any less juicy. If I make this recipe again, I might roast the veggies first.

Next it was on to combining sour cream, sugar, dill (from the garden again), salt, and white pepper — one of the more popular ingredients in the entire book, I’ve found. Second only to parsley.

After mixing in the cucumbers it’s suggested, if the dip is too watery, to add two tablespoons of cream cheese. Don’t ponder this suggestion; just add it right in to the recipe. The dip is going to be watery (seriously, what is the trick to de-liquifying cucumber?) and the cream cheese is just the right antidote.

We chowed this dip with Wheat Thins ( it said to serve with favorite crackers, so), and since we were also charged with presenting it in a “small serving bowl,” we went with one of our beloved Paul Anthony stoneware pieces.

Herein, I debut our Recipe Rating System for The Small Kitchen Cookbook. I give this recipe three out of five jaunty bunches of cherries.

Political Punch

drink-19202_1280I’ve been working with the comedy troupe The Capitol Steps this summer, creating some fun promotional and content pieces with them and the team hosting their summer residence, at Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort’s new Harvest Barn stage. Recently I teamed up with a local bartender to concoct two summer sangrias — one sweet and one with a little spice — to celebrate the ‘Steps and their satire domination in the Berkshires.

Check out the recipes below, and share your own versions using the hashtag #CapitolCocktails!

Red, Sweet, and Blue

A sweet tea and berry-based sangria. Serves 12.

55 oz. sweet tea

750 ml Sweet red wine (recommended: Bota Box Redvolution)

2 cups mixed-berry juice

2 lbs. strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries — hulled and sliced

 

Baby, You’re a Firework

A whiskey- and wine-based sangria with a little spark. Serves four.

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped

1/3 cup Fireball Whiskey – soak the chopped apple in the whiskey, preferably over night

3/4 cup apple juice

1 orange, sliced

1 blood orange, sliced

1 cup red wine (recommended: Malbec)

Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort is offering a chance to laugh off some election-year stress throughout the summer, hosting the award-winning musical satire group The Capitol Steps for a limited run of performances, from July 1 to Sept. 2. The troupe will be the first to perform on Cranwell’s new Harvest Barn stage, a 220-seat venue.

The Capitol Steps began as a group of congressional staffers who set out to satirize the very people who employed them. Now in its 35th year, the show has since evolved to feature 26 actors and five pianists, who stage shows across the United States.

This year’s show is largely based on songs from The Capitol Steps’ current album What To Expect When You’re Electing, featuring tunes that give a comedic nod to some of our most pressing political issues: “Ain’t No Pipeline, Now It’s Gone,” “Hello, Is it Mitt You’re Looking For?” and “We Warm the World” among them.

The Capitol Steps’ 90-minute show will be performed nightly, excluding Tuesdays, at 8 p.m. Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort offers pre-show dining from 4:30 to 6:30 at its Wine Spectator Award-winning restaurant in the Gilded Age Mansion, as well as casual fare at Sloane’s Restaurant and Bar. Show tickets and an optional dinner may be reserved directly by calling (413) 881-1636, or online at cranwell.com. For more information on Capitol Steps, visit capsteps.com.

Recipes developed by Mitchell Keil