In a New York state of mind

BOOKMARK

August 20, 2008|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,Sun reporter

ARTHUR SCHWARTZ'S NEW YORK CITY FOOD An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes By Arthur Schwartz Stewart, Tabori & Chang / 2008 / $27.50

Defining New York cuisine is as difficult as listing which are our most American dishes, for New York reflects the country's breadth, and its food is truly a sum of its parts, cooked by the immigrant cultures, new and old, that continue to make this teeming city great.

Veteran food writer and New York native Arthur Schwartz fittingly details a culinary history from the Native Americans and Dutch straight through to final chapters on soul food, contemporary classics and the fare favored by the Russians, Koreans, West Indians, Greeks, South Asians, Poles and Mexicans who have flocked to the city in more recent decades.

I made distinctively Italian, tomato-flavored Manhattan Clam Chowder and Black and Whites, the harlequin-style cookie-cakes found in New York diners and bake shops. Boiled fresh cherrystone clams gave the soup extra punch, but be careful not to overpower it with too much clam broth. The flavors are best if the cooked soup stews in the fridge for a day before serving.

For the Black and Whites, I baked the cookie batter one day and iced the cookies the next. Substituting whole-wheat pastry flour, I hope, offset any harm inflicted by the shortening and corn syrup.

THE FOOD LIFE Inside the World of Food With the Grocer Extraordinaire at Fairway By Steven Jenkins with recipes by Mitchel London Ecco / 2008 / $29.95

New York's specialty grocers are just as integral to the city food experience as the restaurants themselves. Fairway, Zabar's, Sahadi's, the Union Square Greenmarket, Balducci's - these are among New York's great food institutions.

This tome combines nearly 30 years of anecdotes from Fairway's specialty foods buyer Steven Jenkins with recipes from Fairway's renowned chef Mitchel London, who served as Mayor Ed Koch's cook at Gracie Mansion.

I love Fairway's parmesan-crusted Sicilian cauliflower dish. That recipe wasn't included, so I made Pasta With Cauliflower, Golden Raisins and Anchovies instead. The sauteed anchovies broke down into a toothsome brown sauce perfectly complemented by the raisins and nuts. The monochromatic dish could use a bit of color, though. Try to use white pickled anchovies (boquerones) if you can. I couldn't find them, so I substituted high-quality oil-packed anchovy fillets instead and reduced the amount of salt needed to season the dish.

Black and Whites

Makes 10 to 12 large cookies or 16 to 18 small ones

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

1 cup solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons light corn syrup

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 1/4 cups cake flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon flavoring

1/8 teaspoon orange flavoring

VANILLA ICING:

1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

CHOCOLATE ICING:

Add 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted, to the remaining vanilla icing

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut parchment paper to cover a large baking sheet. If making large cookies, trace four 4 1/2 -inch circles on each sheet of parchment. If making smaller cookies, trace four 3 1/2 -inch circles. Place oven rack in the center of the oven.

In a large bowl, using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the sugar, shortening and butter until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed to medium and add the corn syrup, then the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each until just incorporated. In another bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt.

On medium speed, beat the dry ingredient mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add vanilla, lemon and orange flavorings.

To make large cookies, place 1/2 cup batter in the center of each circle and spread evenly with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula to fill the outline. Bake 1 tray at a time for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden.

To make smaller cookies, spread 1/3 cup batter in each circle. Bake 1 tray at a time for 8 minutes, or until golden.

To make the vanilla icing, combine the ingredients in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir until well combined. The mixture will be thick. Cook to 100 degrees. If too thick, add a few drops of water. Remove from heat; keep icing over hot water.

Turn cookies over and frost one half of the flat side with vanilla icing. You can use a piece of wax paper as a guide for an even line of icing. Place on a rack to dry.

To make chocolate icing, add melted chocolate to remaining vanilla. Apply the chocolate icing when the vanilla icing dries.

From "Arthur Schwartz's New York City"

Per cookie (based on 12): 795 calories, 8 grams protein, 29 grams fat, 13 grams saturated fat, 129 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 92 milligrams cholesterol, 196 milligrams sodium

Online

Find more recipes for this review at baltimoresun.com/taste

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