Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Nuts about cooking.

When I was a young gadabout, a devil-may-care chap about town, chasing the ladies and stroking my rich and compelling mustache...  I woke up and was my same ol' potato-looking self who couldn't grow a mustache with fertilizer, and had about as much luck chasing girls as a dog has chasing cars, with very similar results. But like the idealized young scamp, I enjoyed a good liqueur, and one such was Amaretto di Saronno.

I got sick of it eventually, and not because I got sick on it. Flavored coffees became a thing all of the sudden, as the kids say, because they're dumbbells, and amaretto flavored coffee (sans booze) was everywhere for a brief time. I got sick of that, and of hazelnut, in short order.

Somehow, though, and through none of my own doing, this 1978 gem found its way into the collection of weird cookbooks I inherited:

That's the front and back cover, of course, so you can see the panoply of edible delights as well as the product. Not sure what that bird is on the right. Maybe duck. Maybe pheasant. Maybe dodo; 1978 feels that long ago.

On the inside cover is one of the most 1978 looking ads I've ever seen:

Ah, Saronno, Italy, the village of love! And look, a recipe for a drink called Love-On-The-Rocks! Which is amaretto on ice. Hey, is that Mark Ruffalo at the bottom?

Amaretto is popular in several cocktails, like the Alabama Slammer and the Italian Sunset (more here), but is not too commonly thought of as a cooking liquor, like brandy or Grand Marnier. But this booklet has dozens of recipes.

What do they taste like? Hint: Amaretto. The almond-flavored liqueur has a potent taste that generally overwhelms anything it's paired with. I think it unlikely I would want to try any of these recipes even I could tolerate the stuff. Most of them look like ordinary versions of well-known recipes given a healthy dose of Saronno love.

I always look for anything gross or otherwise awful in these booklets, and while I found nothing grim, this did catch my eye:

You don't hear dishes with the tag "Barbarossa" much anymore, and I don't know if it comes from Barbary pirate known as Redbeard ("Red Beard" is what Barbarossa means) or that other Fred, Frederick I (a.k.a. Fred Barbarossa) or the Barbarossa grapes, or something else. You used to see it more often. Maybe it just meant that you were going to set fire to something. And here it is! Chicken with brandy and amaretto, set on fire.

Now, it's only 4 tablespoons of brandy and 2 of amaretto being burned, and Amaretto di Saronno is only 56 proof, so it's probably not going to blow the doors off the house. It did catch my eye because of a friend who is working on a cookbook, who got nervous about instructions for a flambe dish. She was afraid someone would burn down the kitchen and sue her. I said to relax; are people that stupid? Yes, we agreed. Finally she decided on a mere warning, something to effect that fire is dangerous. Because since 1978 the lawyers have taken over.

On that note, I should caution that setting fire to your entree can be dangerous, and the author of this blog assumes no liability if you should set fire to your tablecloth, the guests, the cat, or anything else through this recipe or the use of candles or any fire from food prep or anything else; that he is in no way responsible for you getting hammered on Amaretto di Saronno and driving your car into a tree, a school bus, the cat, or anyone else; or becoming an alcoholic, dipsomaniac, inebriate, or miscellaneous sot; or having anaphylactic shock from almonds in your booze; or suffering any other ill effects as the result of reading this entry.

There, are we all set? Phew.

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