Often I am asked what is my favorite" recipe. My favorite recipe is Edward Lear's recipe for Gosky Patties. It goes this way:
Take a pig three or four years of age and tie him by the off hind leg to a post. Place 5 pounds of currants, 3 pounds of sugar, 2 pecks of peas, 18 roast chestnuts, a candle, and 6 bushels of turnips within his reach; if he eats these, constantly provide him with more.
Then procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, 4 quires of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean, brown, water-proof linen.
When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the pig violently with the handle of a large broom.m. If he squeals, beat him again
Visit the paste and beat the pig alternately for some days, and ascertain if, at the end of that period, the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties. If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished.
Okay, that's my favorite recipe. What follows, on the other hand, is one of my favorite meals.
The Staples: Make sure these are all on hand: salt, pepper, olive oil, eggs, garlic, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, brandy, lemon, paprika.
Shopping List: Lobster (enough for 2 cups of cooked meat; lobster tails will be easiest), heavy cream, 1 large onion, fresh spinach (1 pound), butter, rolled oats, brown rice.
Prepare in Advance: The Gosky Patties.
Also Prepare in Advance: The oatmeal cookies. You'll be using an electric beater at a medium speed. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then mix together 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of soft butter. In a second bowl, beat together 1 egg, a dash of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of cream. Mix the contents of the two bowls together.
Now add 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Mix. Now add 1 cup of rolled oats.
Beat all these ingredients together until mixture is smooth. Butter the surface of cookie sheet and drop a tablespoon of the batter every couple of inches. Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies are nicely browned, then remove from oven.
Also Prepare in Advance: The Lobster meat. Whether you use live lobster (Caution: if you've purchased live lobster, make sure it is alive) or frozen lobster tails, the easiest way to prepare the meat is simply to boil it, allow it to cool and then remove it from the shells. Cut the meat into 1/2-inch chunks and set aside.
5:30 p.m.: The rice. Why brown rice instead of white rice? The lobster Newburg sauce will make the rice all taste the same and brown rice is much better for you. Ingore the directions on the box and cook it this way: Heat 2 1/4 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of dry brown rice. When water returns to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pot. It should be ready in 45 minutes.
6 p.m.: The Spinach. Carefully rinse the sand from the spinach leaves. The easiest way to do this is to dip the leaves in a large pot of cool water; the safest way to do this is 3 times.
In a large skillet, melt 1/4 stick of butter. Add a splash of olive oil. Add the large onion, chopped fine, and 2 cloves of garlic, minced. Allow this to cook until the onion softens, then add the spinach, lower the heat and cover the skillet. Just before serving, add a squeeze of lemon.
6:15 p.m.: The lobster Newburg. You'll be using a double boiler to make the sauce. Separate 3 eggs and hang on to the yolks. Put them into the top half of the double boiler over hot -- but not boiling -- water. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken, them remove from the heat.
In a separate saucepan, melt 1/2 stick of butter over medium-low heat and add the chunks of lobster. When lobster is warmed through, add a healthy splash -- oh, 1/4 cup -- of brandy and touch a match to it. Allow it to flame for a couple of minutes, then mix together the lobster and the sauce and a large pinch of paprika.
Check the rice to make sure the liquid has all cooked away. And the spinach to make sure it is tender. Serve the lobster Newburg over the rice and beside the spinach Provencale.
You will follow this, if everything worked out satisfactorily, with the Gosky Patties. If not, settle for the oatmeal cookies.
Incidentally, sometimes I am asked what is my second favorite recipe. That is the recipe for Amblongus Pie, also by Edward Lear. It begins in this fashion:
"Take 4 pounds (say 4 1/2 pounds) of fresh Amblonguses, and put them in a small pipkin." And it concludes: "Serve up in a clean dish and throw the whole out of the window as fast as possible."