Welcome to The Lost Family Virtual Supper Club!
I am so happy to be one of the bloggers invited to celebrate the release of Jenna Blum’s latest novel, The Lost Family with a cookalong!
The book is a saga which revolves around Auschwitz survivor and restauranteur Peter Rashkin, his glamourous young wife, June, and their daughter Elsbeth. It’s filled with food, fashion, romance, secrets, sadness, heartbreak, scandal, and Nazis.
Spanning 3 decades, The Lost Family is written in three distinct parts, divided by decade, each one from the point of view of one of the main characters.
Because of this, I decided to cook three dishes–one for each segment.
The book opens in Fall, 1965 at Masha’s restaurant–where Peter Rashkin is the head chef.
The book included the menu:
And a review:
If the Brisket Wellington is good enough for Craig Claiborne, it’s good enough for me.
So for the 1960s, I decided to make the entire Dinner is Served card no. 158. Beef Wellington. I even threw a little dinner party (although nowhere near as epic as my Unofficial Mad Men Cook Book Party)!
Substitution time! I made horseradish mashed potatoes and a green salad with mandarin oranges, almonds, green onions, and poppy seed dressing. I ended the night with a Grasshopper Pie which will eventually be featured here at DiS1972!
To begin, I didn’t have any suet (kidney fat!) in my kitchen, so I used Crisco, an idea I got from this article from The Spruce Eats as a guide. Basically you freeze the Crisco, then grate the Crisco, and then freeze it again.
So it went onto the beef and into the oven.
And it looked pretty damn good.
Then I prepared the forcemeat.
I had to do some substitutes (of course) so in lieu of ground veal and pork I used meatball mix and for the cognac I substituted this super-old bottle of Reynac Pineau des Charentes.
Yeah, I never heard of it, either.
So everything went bye-bye into the fridge until the next evening.
This was nice because it meant that all I had to do was wrap the Wellington and bake it once my guests arrived.
My beef was only a little over 1.5 pounds, so I have no idea how you’d be able to cover an entire 2-2.5 lb roast with one package of crescent rolls. I had to work hard to get that baby burrito’ed there!
Anyhoo! 30 minutes later I had this!
And, yes, I totally schlepped that Galliano bottle (which belonged to my grandfather) all the way from Pittsburgh to Baltimore just to take this photo.
Because recreating the Dinner is Served 1972 cards is what I do. And I’M COMMITTED TO THE DINNER IS SERVED 1972 CARDS, GODDAMNIT!
So, how was it?
Well, I’m sure that it’s not a smidge like the Brisket Wellington served at Masha’s, but considering that I didn’t think I’d have an ounce of success with this, I totally impressed myself.
The good: the beef wasn’t overcooked. It was so frickin’ tender. And the crescent roll dough actually browned!
The bad: the bottom part of the dough was just soggy and blarg. And the mincemeat I found to be like a steamed, sweet, meatball.
But everyone ate theirs. Some even had second helpings!
I also know that the Wellington was a semi-success, because I already have in my head: this is what I’d change if I make this again….