Cookbook 155: The Book of Lost Recipes: The Best Signature Dishes from Historic Restaurants Rediscovered

The Book of Lost Recipes: The Best Signature Dishes From Historic Restaurants Rediscovered by Jaya Saxena was a Christmas present from very dear friends of mine, and it’s really interesting. The book is a collection of recipes from US restaurants that have closed down but that were once very popular. There is a bit of history about each restaurant, where it was located, and where the recipe was found. The recipes are not, as it could have been, collections of weird and wonderful food, from hard to find ingredients, they are instead comforting food that is incredibly tasty.

The cookbook isn’t great at having a wide range of vegetarian recipes, but I managed to make this work during this lockdown period when our resident vegetarian is here full time with us. There are a good number of vegetarian recipes, but don’t buy this cookbook if you don’t eat meat. All but one of the dishes were successful, and the one that wasn’t successful wasn’t a failure, it was just not as pictured in the book (which made sense when I thought about it), and a tad too salty. This book also had the best lamb shank recipe I’ve had in ages, and I want to do it again because it was just so good.

Overall 5 out of 5 stars.

Century Inn Braised Lamb Shanks (serves 6)

[No photo, because I forgot – check out the cover of the book, it looked like that]

Ingredients:

  • 6 lamb hind shanks (French trimmed)
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 pinch cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced (we used 1 large onion)
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced (1 – 2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced (1 large carrot)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 litre of beef or veal stock
  • 1 bay leaf

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Dredge with the flour, and pat off the excess. Heat the vegetable oil in a high-sided roasting pan (or cast iron casserole dish) over a medium heat. Add the lamb shanks to the pan, being careful not to crow, and brown them on all sides. You will probably have to do this in batches. Remove the shanks from the pan once browned.
  2. Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pan. Cook until they begin to caramelise, about 10 minutes, then deglaze with the red wine. Bring the mixture to a simmer until most of the wine has evaporated, about 3 – 4 minutes.
  3. Return the lamb shanks to the pan and add the stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cover with foil or a tight fitting lid. Place in the oven and cook for 2 – 3 hours, turning the shanks every 30 minutes. Add more stock or water if the juice seems to be evaporating too quickly. When done the meat should be able to be removed from the bone with a fork.
  4. Remove the shanks and keep them warm. Pour the sauce into a saucepan. Reduce until the sauce is thickened, for about 15 minutes, enough to coat the back of a spoon. Serve shanks with sauce on top.

Notes on this recipe:

  • So delicious, so perfect. The vegetables pretty much dissolve in the cooking liquid, so you can use more if you want. For this recipe, you don’t need to be exact with the quantity of vegetables.
  • I didn’t manage timing well on this recipe, so it was served after everything else was on the table. That didn’t stop my enjoyment of the recipe, and the remaining meat was even better two days later when we reheated it with some of the sauce to put on top of risotto (for the meat eaters)
  • We cooked our lamb shanks for 3 hours, that was a good amount of time.

Schweizer’s Potato Pancakes (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
  • 1 onion
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (for frying)

Method:

  1. Grate the potatoes (you can use a food processor grating attachment), and onions into a sieve. Let sit for a while so all the potato starch and juice starts coming out. Squeeze to remove as much juice as possible, then transfer to a bowl and gently mix with eggs, flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Heat the oil over a high heat in a large, non-stick frying pan, and slide a large spoonful of batter gently into the hot oil, making sure to heap high for thick, fluffy pancakes.
  3. Turn once, when pancakes are a golden brown, after about 5 minutes. Let the pancakes drain on paper towel, and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • The recipe doesn’t say to use a non-stick frying pan, but take it from me, it is very necessary in this recipe (that non-stick frying pan can be a very well seasoned skillet)
  • We didn’t shallow fry them as the recipe suggest, just added oil between each batch.
  • These went really well with the lamb shanks, as well as everything else.

Exchange Restaurant’s Cheddar Ha Pennies (makes about 20)

Ingredients

  • 113g butter, softened
  • 128g plain flour
  • 225g sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 45g dry onion soup mix

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the butter and flour together until fully incorporated (or just rub the butter into the flour, or use a food processor for this). Add the cheese, salt and soup mix to the flour and butter and mix until combined.
  2. Roll the mixture into balls approximately 2cm in diameter, and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, until balls form a light outer crust.

Notes on this recipe

  • My Ha Pennies turned into flat biscuits, which makes sense given the amount of butter in this recipe compared to the amount of flour. The Mersey Valley cheese was also very crumbly, so that probably didn’t help.
  • These biscuits were a bit salty, and surprisingly too cheesy.
  • If I made these again (and I probably won’t because I have better recipes for this), I’d add more flour, cut out the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and use a bit of water to bring the mixture together (given the butter wouldn’t go as far as it does in the current recipe).

Mister C’s-Style Fried Ravioli (servies 4 as appetiser)

Ingredients:

  • Neutral oil for frying
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs (or almost 2 cups of bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons mixed herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt blended together)
  • 24 fresh cheese ravioli, cooked and cooled
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Marinara sauce, for dipping (you’ll have to go and find your own recipe)

Method:

  1. Put milk and bread crumbs in separate bowls. Working in batches, drip the ravioli in milk, dredge in bread crumbs, then place on a plate or baking sheet.
  2. Pour 2.5cm of oil in a deep frying pan. Heat over medium high heat until hot and crackling (whatever that means)
  3. When ready, fry the ravioli in batches until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning often. Remove ravioli from oil with a slotted spoon (or tongs) and place on paper-towels to drain.
  4. Sprinkle ravioli with cheese, and serve with marinara dipping sauce

Notes on this recipe:

  • I never thought of crumbling ravioli, or any stuffed pasta, and frying it, and my life was lacking as a result of that failure to be creative. I mean, d’uh of course you can fry stuffed pasta, it’s just another form of dumpling, and I love fried dumplings.
  • I bought two packets (served 2) of fresh cheese ravioli because I wasn’t sure how many was in one packet, and how given this was a main for the resident vegetarian, how much I’d need. It was all eaten (by everyone).
  • You could do this with any ravioli or agnolotti. Don’t like cheese ravioli? Use beef, or mushroom, or chicken, or whatever you feel inspires you today.
  • This was only slightly fiddly. I’d recommend trying it at least once for the life changing experience it is.

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