I am currently obsessed with a cookbook I found at the library. Written by Mildred O. Knopf and published in 1986, its titled Memoirs of a Cook: Yesterday and Today. Given the fact that Mrs. Knopf was 88 when she wrote the book, “yesterday” covers quite a lot of ground. Married to Edwin Knopf (brother of publisher Alfred Knopf) Mrs. Knopf had an extraordinarily rich and full life, and her stories range from plucking and cooking chickens with the wife of pianist Arthur Rubenstein to dining in Switzerland at the chalet of Audrey Hepburn’s mother. A “foodie” before the phrase was coined, Mrs. Knopf’s book (one of many she wrote) reads like the blog of a beloved, sophisticated older friend – the recipes are charming and a bit old-fashioned, the stories about her life are fascinating, and her love of good food and gracious entertaining shine throughout the pages.
I will be using Mrs. Knopf’s recipes (I can’t call her “Mildred;” she was old enough to be my great-grandmother) as I compile my menus for next week, but I’ll give you a tidbit for today. I don’t have any particularly interesting pictures yet, because this recipe requires a 24-hour chilling before baking.
Here’s what Mrs. K. has to say about appetizers: “There are those today who believe that olives, potato chips, cheese and crackers should fill the bill. I have tried this modern approach and invariably sense my guests’ disappointment. There may not be as many cocktail parties as there used to be, but I frankly believe that interesting appetizers still have their place. They need not be smothered in mayonnaise or cream cheese, but the one thing they do need is imagination – and try not to have the same ones your friends had the week before!”
These Cheese Wafers sound very much like “cheese straws” which I have eaten from boxes and bags, but never been served by the actual hands that made them. They sound yummy, and light (texturally, not calorically) and as if they would be lovely to serve with a gin & tonic or a glass of crisp white wine.
from Memoirs of a Cook by Mildred O. Knopf
(Note: Plan ahead; the dough has to chill for 24 hours!)
- 1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 1/4pound butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup flour, sifted
First: Mix 1 pound coarsley grated sharp Cheddar Cheese with 1/4 pound butter. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons Worcestshire sauce, and 1/3 teaspoon pepper. Gradually work in 1 cup sifted flour. Knead the mixture with your fingers until well blended. (I confess to having done all of this in the bowl of my food processor).
Second: Form into 2 rolls, approximately 2 inches in diameter. wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using. (If you do not intend to use the rolls within a few days, keep them in the freezer.
Third: When ready to use, preheat oven to 450. Remove rolls from refrigerator and slice thin with a sharp knife. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake approximately 8 minutes. Watch them! They should be only slightly brown.