Saturday, October 15, 2011

How a career in the Food & Hospitality Industry Evolved!

New York City 1973.
In the back of my mind I always wanted to own a “Soup Restaurant.” Once settled in Connecticut, I ventured to New York City. On one of these excursions my friend Ingrid met me and my Father, yes he was visiting from Germany, at a Soup Restaurant called La Potagerie, the creation of Jacque Pepin. The restaurant was hopping and the soups were very tasty. I made it a point to meet one of the owners who doubled as a host. On a later date I met Pepin as well.

New York City became very instrumental in how my career in the food and hospitality industry evolved. As a cooking teacher I read everything I could about cooking. One evening I was on the train back to New Haven from New York reading the Cosmopolitan magazine. The gentleman sitting next to me asked, “Why do you read that magazine?”

My prompt answer was, “Would you believe for the food section?” I followed up by saying, “I read every magazine for the food section first.” He than asked me a lot of questions about recipes and cooking. As it turned out, he was the publisher for Glamour Magazine, a Conde Nast publication.  I was invited to visit the magazine. I took him up on the invitation and met some great people at Conde Nast.

The Glamour magazine’s food section was in need of improvement. Ralph gave me some recipes to test cook, which I did and the Editor in Chief at the time was not a happy camper.

I would have loved to cook in the Vogue magazine kitchen which was the best in the building, but it was not to be.

When Estee Lauder launched the fragrance Aliage I did the catering at Glamour magazine. The kitchen was so small it was a good thing I did the prep the day before.

I made my Ham & Cheese au Croute. (The recipe will follow) The food was praised as well as the whole set up for the event. The party went on and on and I knew Ralph wanted it to end so I did what my Mother used to do when she wanted our guests to leave - she opened all the windows. Of course at Glamour that was more difficult.  For extra emphasis, I then took a broom and started to sweep.  It worked - the guests got the message. It also worked for me. This was a fun event and to this day Aliage is still my favored fragrance.

Because of the success at this event I was asked to cater a dinner at Mr.  & Mrs. Newhouse Sr., on Park Avenue. How much fun! I was looking forward to that, and was not disappointed to work in such an impressive environment. Going food shopping with Mitzi in a limousine was an experience by itself.

Of course other high powered parties followed this one in New York City, Connecticut and later in California. More about that some other time.

Ham and Cheese au Croute

Preheat oven to 350*

2 ½ cups flour
3 cups cottage cheese (very dry)
1 ½ to 2 sticks unsalted butter (cold)
1 ½ lb lean ham (cubed)
1 to 1 ½ lb Gruyere or very good Wisconsin Swiss cheese (cubed)
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon water

Measure the flour into a deep bowl add the cottage cheese. (If you can’t find dry cottage cheese take a clean kitchen towel and squeeze the cheese until dry. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the cottage cheese flour mixture. Combine all ingredients with your hands in about 2/3 minutes. Form a ball, place on a plate and cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least for 6 hours.

When ready to bake, butter a 2 quart to 3 quart Pyrex pan; roll out the dough on a pastry sheet or on foil paper dusted with flour, also dust your rolling pin with flour. (The dough is very sticky). Transfer to the Pyrex pan peel of the pastry sheet.  Thee dough needs to overlap the pan on all sides.

Fill with the cubed ham and cheese. Cover with the overlapped dough, clean the edges with a sharp knife and make 1- inch strips from the left over dough. Cover the dish with the strips crossway about ½ inches apart. Brush the top with egg yolk mixed with the water and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until top is lightly browned and cheese is melted.

Note: You can finish the dish the day before, cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve make sure you take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.

The Pyrex dish can not go very cold into a hot oven.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

A nice salad and a crisp wine make this a great party dish.

1 comment:

ocean lady said...

Just recommended your blog on Facebook Sigrid. You've got to get some promotion going! Your articles are too good not to be more widely read!