The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Just in Time for the Finale! #review #giveaway

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a Mad Men fan for years. As difficult of a time as the 1960s (and now ’70s) were, Mad Men has always made this decade seem so sexy and cool. I’ve had a long time love affair with mid-century decor and watching Mad Men is like TV porn for me.  The costumes are so specific and structured, the sets are so stylistic and unique, and although the food of the ’60s isn’t featured on the show as much (outside of alcohol, so, so much alcohol), the food of the ’60s was also very interesting.

When I find a cookbook from this era, I get really excited. The colorful, yet desaturated photography of the time made the food look almost plastic, and in some cases unappetizing, but I still feel a sort of whimsy when I see the recipes from so long ago.

One book that captures both the recipes of the time and the show Mad Men is The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin. This book delves into the food and drink that appears on the show. Featuring recipes from some of the restaurants and bars mentioned on Mad Men, and cookbooks of the time, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook gives us a nice sample of of the cocktails, entrees, and desserts of the ’60s. Many of the recipes are paired with a show reference, history of the dish, or a suggestion for a character from the show. This is a cookbook that informs you of the past while teaching you the recipes. I love that!

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While there is a lovely section of full-color pictures from some select recipes, this cookbook is more focused on print information than photographs of the final products. What that means is the book is packed with more than 70 recipes that represent mid-century eating and drinking and the stories that go with them. Speaking of drinking, over 25 of those recipes are cocktails alone, which isn’t a surprise when you consider alcohol is one of the most consistently prevalent things on Mad Men.

One of the recipes I tried from the cookbook was the Manhattan. I love Old Fashioned cocktails, just as Don Draper does, but since I’ve had those before, I decided to try the Manhattan. It’s a similar cocktail, using whiskey and bitters, but with less ingredients and not nearly as sweet.

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 Manhattan

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Pour whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

**recipe reprinted with permission


This version of the cocktail is from the Oak Bar on Central Park South in New York where Don and Roger Sterling stop for an after-work drink in season 1 episode 7.  One thing that makes this cookbook unique, especially for a Mad Men fan, is that it points you to the episode that the drink or dish appeared, or could have appeared, in the show.

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Cherry Amaretto Cordial Cake Hearts

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and one thing that goes well with romantic holidays is chocolate and alcohol. These take a day or two to prep for, so if you want to make them for Valentine’s Day this year, better get to it (okay, okay, it’s my fault I didn’t get these posted sooner)! You can make them for any time of the year though so don’t fret if you don’t have time to do them this week.

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There are a few things you’ll need to make these. You’ll need a silicone mold of some kind that has slightly deep wells (I used a heart treat mold), some melting chocolates in your favorite colors or flavors, chocolate cake mix, canned frosting, maraschino cherries, cherry topping, pie filling or cherry jelly, and some amaretto.

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The amaretto doesn’t have to be the expensive kind. I got the cheaper stuff and it worked well for this recipe. For the cherries I chose maraschino cherries because they are bright and sweet. Fresh cherries could work too, but would change the flavor a bit. The cherry topping I found actually tasted more like fresh cherries and was dark in color but it went great with all of the other ingredients.

The first thing you want to do, is pull the maraschino cherries out of their syrup, drain, and dry them a bit. I just rolled them around in a couple paper towels. Pop them into an empty jar and pour the amaretto over them. Let them soak for 24-48 hours.

On the day you make the treats, bake the chocolate cake first and let it cool. While it cools, make your cherry sauce by adding 1/4 cup of cherry topping (strained of fruit pieces) with 1/4 cup of amaretto, set aside. If you’d like to omit the alcohol, don’t soak the cherries in it and only use the cherry topping for the sauce. If you’re using cherry jelly and need to thin it a bit, mix a little cherry syrup into it instead of amaretto.

Prepare your silicone mold by melting the chocolate/candy melts and coating just the bottom and sides of each heart well. The back of a spoon and a pastry brush helped me get it covered. Make sure there are no holes! Freeze the mold for 5 minutes. I suggest placing the mold on a baking sheet to keep it from bending.

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Once the cake is cool, crumble it up in a bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of frosting until it is completely combined. It should have a consistency of clay. It’s a messy job, but I like to mix it with my hands, I find it easier to combine this way.

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Shabby Chic Tea Party

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The tea party was a success! Putting on a party mostly by yourself is a tad daunting, but I’m really pleased with how everything turned out. Of course I was getting things ready all the way up to when people started to arrive, so I didn’t get all the photographs of the decor I wanted, but these pictures will give you an idea of what it looked like.

I made most of the decor myself. I explained how to make some of the decor here and here. For this lovely background, I found instructions at KoJo Designs for the paper flowers and at Shiny Happy Sprinkles for the paper fringed backdrop. It’s a really great idea for an inexpensive background that looks pretty and covers a good sized area. Something like this would be perfect for a photo booth background too!

I invited my guests with these home made tea invites. The invite is about the size of a business card and I attached it to a bag of tea.

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I asked my friends to dress up in their nicest clothes, and while everyone did, I put an accessories table together just in case someone didn’t have any fancy jewelry or hats to wear.

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There was one table that had all the tea supplies ready and I decorated the fireplace and mantel with flowers, candles, and the fabric swag and tea party banner that I showed you how to make last week. I had various glassware for my guests to drink iced teas from, but my favorites were these milk bottles I decorated with ribbon and paper flowers.

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The food table had all sorts of treats that fluctuated throughout the day. I provided tea sandwiches, cookies, biscuits and jam, petits fours, popcorn, fruit salad and candy. There was a ton to eat!

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These chocolate-dipped shortbread tea bag cookies were a hit! You can find the recipe for them here. The petits fours were also popular, especially the chocolate ones since they were devoured before I was able to get a closeup photo of them. If you’d like to make the petits fours click here for the recipe.

Thanks for joining me for my tea party!

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Dainty Petits Fours

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One of the cute treats I made for my Afternoon Tea Party this weekend was a batch of cute petits fours. They are a little labor intensive, but I cut some corners to make them a little easier than some petits fours can be.

They’re made out of pre-made poundcake that you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store, strawberry jam, and melted canned frosting. If you want them to be a little decorated, use sprinkles, frosting or candy confetti. I also made some petits fours with chocolate frosting, but they were eaten before I could get a picture of them!

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Dainty Petits Fours

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen loaf of pre-made poundcake
  • 1 can of vanilla frosting and/or 1 can of chocolate frosting
  • Candies, frosting, or sprinkles for decor
  • Fruit jam or jelly for filling

Instructions

  1. Defrost the poundcake and then trim off the dark edges all the way around the cake. Don't trim off too much cake though.
  2. Cut the cake into 1/2 inch slices.
  3. With a 1-1.5 inch square cookie cutter, cut slices into squares. You should be able to get two squares per slice.
  4. Spread jam on one square and sandwich it with another square. Repeat until you've used all the cake pieces.
  5. Take a jellyroll pan or a pan with a raised edge lined with foil or waxed paper and place a cookie rack in it.
  6. Melt the frosting in a bowl for 10-15 seconds. If the frosting is thin enough, move onto the next instruction, otherwise, heat for a few more seconds until the frosting is nice and runny.
  7. Put the cake sandwiches on the rack and drizzle melted frosting over them until they are fully covered on all visible sides.
  8. Before the frosting sets up, place your decor candy or sprinkles on top of each petit four.
  9. Place the pan in the fridge until the frosting has set completely.
  10. Serve petits fours in mini cupcake wrappers for clean handling.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2014/07/dainty-petits-fours/

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Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Tea Bag Cookies

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IMG_2225_2I’ve been planning a tea party for some time now and saw a picture of some tea bag cookies on a blog called Le Pétrin that I thought were cute, but it was in French, which I sadly cannot read. That’s when I decided to figure it out myself because I really wanted to include these at my party.

I found some shortbread mix in the baking aisle and decided that would be a great base for these cookies. I made a little tea pot tag in Photoshop and tied them onto the finished cookies with some thread. They were a total hit at my party!

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Tea Bag Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 package Betty Crocker Shortbread Cookie Mix or a recipe from scratch (and whatever ingredients are needed to makes these)
  • 1 package of chocolate melting candy

Instructions

  1. Make the cookie dough according to the instructions of your mix or recipe and roll it out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Cut cookies into tea bag shapes by making rectangles and cutting the corners off one short side.
  3. Poke a hole near the top of the cookie with a wooden skewer.
  4. Bake as directed on your cookie mix package or recipe.
  5. After they are done baking, let cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet, and then move them to a cooling rack.
  6. If the holes have closed up a little, re-poke the holes with the skewer while the cookies are still warm.
  7. Once the cookies are fully cooled, melt some chocolate in a mug in 15-30 second increments until its fully melted. If the chocolate is too thick, add a little cooking oil to thin it.
  8. Dip the cookies about a third of the way into the chocolate and place on a baking sheet covered in wax paper.
  9. Place in the fridge until the chocolate sets up.
  10. Create a tag on your computer or just cut up little blank squares and punch a small hole in it for string.
  11. Once the cookies are fully chilled, tie the string with the tag attached to the cookie.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2014/07/chocolate-dipped-shortbread-tea-bag-cookies/

***07/23/14 Edited to include the source for my idea.
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Easter Basket Cupcakes

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IMG_5664When I was a kid, my favorite part of Easter was going on an egg hunt around the house. Sometimes my parents would hide presents with each egg as well so it was double the fun!

This year I decided to relive my youth with adorable Easter basket cupcakes. I found these Wilton basket wraps in a store a while ago but never did anything with them. As I was going through my baking supplies recently, I came across them and figured they would be prefect for Easter cupcakes.

IMG_5675I’m not even sure if these are widely available anymore since they’re at least 2-3 years old, but you can still buy them on Amazon.

IMG_5669The cupcakes themselves are super easy to make and don’t even take long to put together. Just make a batch of any flavor cupcakes, frost them and cover them with dyed green coconut flakes and egg-shaped candy like M&Ms. That’s it!

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • One batch of cupcakes (any flavor)
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Green and yellow food dye
  • Frosting
  • Egg-shaped candy (such as M&Ms)

Instructions

  1. Make a batch of cupcakes in any flavor and let them cool completely.
  2. Make your favorite kind of frosting (I used buttercream) and frost the tops of the cooled cupcakes.
  3. Put some coconut flakes in a ziplock bag, add a few drops of green and yellow food dye, close the bag, and shake it up until the flakes are a good grass-green color.
  4. Sprinkle the coconut on top of the frosting.
  5. Place 3 egg-shaped candies in the middle of each cupcake.
  6. For the baskets, construct the basket wrappers and drop a cupcake into each one.
http://shaneskillercupcakes.com/2014/04/easter-basket-cupcakes/

IMG_5670Have a wonderful Easter everyone! What types of Easter goodies do you make?

 

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