Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hearst Castle favorite –– Eggs Newberg

William Randolph Hearst between the 2 hats in the middle of the table

I can’t deny it –– I have the teensiest bit of an acquisitive streak. I admit to collections of cookbooks and dishes and textiles and silver and, well, you get the idea. I know many of you love collecting many of the same things. But there are other, more eccentric items that some of us can’t resist. No, I don’t mean rooms worthy of a Hoarders episode filled floor-to-ceiling with glass eyes or Mahjong sets. This predilection is one that I can divulge with nary a blush.

I love those little booklets you get when you visit historic houses. They are easier to take away than a coffee table book and much more convenient, especially when you are traveling to a few places in a day –– you would need a cart or a back brace after a few stops and an extra suitcase on the plane home. Booklets are a great way to remember a visit and don’t take up much shelf space.

I lost my collection when I downsized a few years ago –– horrors. They were accidently tossed with boxes of magazines. They chronicled where I’d been over so many years of coming and going.

In the last few years, I’ve started a new collection –– many of them from Great Britain’s National Trust (that does a sterling job with them). Today’s booklets are well produced with great pictures and fine writing.

Most are just about the houses, others are about the gardens or a famous resident, but some houses sell small cookbooks. These are real gems if they are collections of the recipes of the inhabitants and not of trustees or docents (Bobo’s Tuna Melt doesn’t belong in a cookbook for an 18th century house!). You can learn a lot about a house and its occupants when you see what they ate.

I came across a little book called Hearst Castle Fare a few years ago. Priced at $2.25 in 1972, it is not well produced but a gem of a cookbooklet full of real recipes served at the Castle. I have seen the booklet in a 60’s edition for sale on ETSY –– the first printing could have been the 50’s (judging by the outfits and hairstyles on the female kitchen staff in a photo). The housekeeper of Hearst Castle, Ann Rotanzi, put the collection together. Although the title page of my booklet says they are authentic recipes served in the castle, a bit further in it says, “ Recipes have been altered to make them family-sized and to use foods available at this time.” –– fingers crossed that they aren’t too different from the originals (perhaps using chicken instead of guinea hen that wasn’t available to many in the 1970’s (before D’Artagnan) and not whole-scale changes).

It seems only right that I mention Hearst’s Castle when I talk about the acquisitive spirit. William Randolph Hearst collected lots and lots of everything from armor to entire rooms (you can check out the house HERE). The photos in the booklet are blurry black and white, which is a pity, but the stories are good and the foreword by no less than William Randolph Hearst, Jr.

In the foreword, Hearst Jr. said:

“Today, with somewhat of a reputation as a world traveler, I can honestly say that I have never eaten better food any place.

“Practically all of the perishable food –– beef and venison, all sorts of poultry, eggs, most of the fish, vegetables and fruits were raised, shot, caught or grown and eaten right there on the place, which of course, contributes a great deal to the savory result.

“The cooking was, with exception of a very few dishes, just plain American home cooking.”

Guests from Cary Grant, Charles Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Claudette Colbert and the Marx Brothers to Baron Rothchild, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt dined in the 27’ x 67’ dining room (with a 27’ ceiling).

Curiously, he chose to set the table with Booth’s Old Willow china (a pleasant but decidedly middle class set of dishes) with paper napkins and mustard and ketchup in bottles always set at the table –– more like a genteel boarding house than a castle. He liked to think of the food eaten there as “ranch food” –– eaten at a table that was hundreds of years old in a room filled with priceless tapestries and one of the largest private antique silver collections around –– go figure.

Mr. Hearst’s favorite dish wasn’t plain food though, it was pressed duck (Caneton à la rouennaise).

Christofle Silver Duck Press

To make it, the bird is barely cooked and the breast meat is removed, then the carcass is put in a duck press and the blood is squeezed out and used to make a rich wine sauce for the breast meat. It is a classic preparation that is at once simple and very elegant. This dish was served at the dinner of the century–– the 3 Emperors dinner in 1867 Paris so you could say it had a pretty impressive pedigree (that you can read about HERE). You can see the press in action at D’Artagnan HERE.

Dinners at Hearst Castle were prepared with the estate’s own fruits and vegetables (oranges, lemons, persimmons, pears, apples, tangerines, apricots, prunes, plums nectarines, figs grapefruit, mulberries, kumquats, peaches, avocados, guava, quince and many kinds of berries –– black and English walnuts). His son said his father enjoyed “fowl and birds [pheasant, guinea hen, partridges, quail, ducks, geese and turkey were raised there], lamb chops, cornbeef [sic] and cabbage, hominy grits, and on rare cases, roast beef [always well-aged], kidneys tripe etc.” 

Late in the evening after screening a movie (there was a full-size movie theatre at the house), Mr. Hearst would go down to his kitchen on his own and make Welsh rarebit to share with his guests or pick up a plate of cold meat and cheese to nibble.

Looking through the little book, I can see the food at Hearst Castle was simple and easy to prepare. It’s obvious Mr. Hearst loved cheese and buttery, creamy sauces (lots of cheese puffs and hollandaises and escalloped this and that). It's also obvious that the Castle was run a bit like a hotel!

Buffet lunches were served on electric warmers at 2 pm (promptness was requested, a loud cow bell would be rung). Dinner was served at 9pm. Breakfast was served between 9am and 12 and guests would have juice, fruit and coffee and then order their breakfast that would be cooked to order (Mr. Hearst only had fresh fruit and coffee with a lot of hot milk –– he rose quite late).

You can see some original Hearst menus HERE at The American Menu blog –– one of my personal favorites.

When I looked through my little recipe book Eggs Newburg stopped me in my tracks. I love Lobster Newburg (that I wrote about HERE) but this is a little different. It’s poached eggs on toast bedizened with a lovely sherried, creamy shrimp Newburg sauce. This would be a perfect thing to eat in a castle, don’t you think? 

Although I would want to have my Eggs Newberg breakfast in bed (served by Clark Gable, perhaps?), that wouldn’t have happened –– Mr. Hearst didn’t approve of breakfast in bed.

The original recipe says this is enough sauce for 12 eggs and 6 slices of toast –– serving 6. It would be a little slight I think unless the bread was large and you only had 2-3 shrimp per serving since there are about 8 -10 m shrimp per cup –– your call. Also, with the rich sauce and the shrimp, I thought one egg was a good portion.

William Randolph Heart’s Egg s Newburg serves 4 

1 recipe Shrimp Newberg
4 - 8 eggs
4 – 8 slices of toast (I used my mother’s recipe for pain de mie – a dense, milky, buttery loaf that’s perfect for fancy sandwiches and a dish like this but with small slices)

Poach eggs, Place eggs on toast and spoon Newburg sauce over them

William Randolph Hearst’s Shrimp Newberg Sauce

2 T butter
1 ½ T flour
½ t salt
few grains cayenne pepper
1 T sherry
dash of nutmeg
½ c cream
½ cup milk
2 cups cooked shrimp
2 egg yolks beaten

Broccoli or asparagus or pimento and parsley to serve.

Melt butter in top of double boiler add flour, salt cayenne and mix well. Add cream and milk gradually, stirring. Cook and stir until thickened. Add shrimp. Just before serving add the egg yolks and flavorings. Serve topped with parsley and think slices of pimento.


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Darling Deana,

I went to Hearst Castle on our honeymoon, 31 years ago, YESTERDAY: March 6. It was the first time I had ever been out of Los Angeles County (besides going to Japan). It was a world I had never seen before.

The "castle" kitchen intrigues me. It is a workable space, industrial, if you will. But there is an elegance that is almost invisible. Experiments of extravagance happen there, and the massive stoves and large tables are testimony to that. This is the kind of kitchen I LOVE.

I too have a large collection of Gourmet magazines and other pamphlets from France that I cannot part with. Not only are the recipes wonderful, but the time that I was there, the mood, the fragrance of it all is hard to get rid of.

Thank you my dear for coming to visit this morning! Heaven is indeed acquired bit by bit and in this case, BITE by BITE!


La Table De Nana said...

Bedizened..will Google:-)
The eggs look really good.
I loved the kitchen in Downtown Abbey..:-)
I am most certain you love the kitchen and staff there too.

pam said...

Fascinating as always. I also have an
acquisitive streak :)

Diane said...

I love your posts I always learn so much. That dish really had my mouth watering. Have a good weekend, Diane

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I visited Hearst castle nearly 3 years ago (for my 30th birthday) and it was just stunning. I did a series of blog posts that you might find interesting featuring various rooms and my 'eh' photography skills -but I never saw the kitchens (at least that I can remember). You could do a search for hearst castle at my blog if you're interested.
Not sure I love the sound of this - eggs and toast and cream -great - add the shrimp and I think I'm out? Am I not adventurous enough or just too northern? haha

Thibeault's Table said...

Deana, That is a dish that Moe would love. I'm thinking it would be something he would love not just for breakfast but for dinner.

Thank you.


SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What an amazing place it must have been in its heyday. Wouldn't it have been wonderful to be at one of those dinners! I had to smile at the ketchup and mustard on the table. His way of feeling he was just a regular guy :)

This is a meal I would love to prepare myself! Beautiful and delicious.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hearst was such an interesting character indeed! I'd have loved to have been a guest and isn't it interesting that he liked middle class china, paper napkins and tomato sauce but also elegant food! :)

Chocolate Shavings said...

I visited the castle a little while back - it must have been quite the place to spend an evening at the time when Hearst lived there!

Barbara said...

(I must tell you, I accidentally discovered Hoarders a couple weeks ago. Never had seen it before. Totally terrifying. Why on earth did I continue to watch it??!! Does anyone get cured of that disorder? OMG. They actually go through the trash that's already in the truck. Now I KNOW you'd never do that, although you'd be tempted if you could find your old booklet collection. :) ) are NOT a hoarder, Deana. You just love beautiful things. There'll come a time when you'll say: enough is enough. I'm there now. I go to antique shows and fairs, am tempted (especially with silver) but do not buy. Unlike Hearst, space is a problem for most of us. And as well, who's going to care for these things like we do?

I adore your Hearst tales. Rather plebian, wasn't he? Although pressed duck certainly doesn't fit that image. (A boyfriend back in college years actually made pressed duck for me! Lord, at 19 you can imagine how impressed I was.) And besides, it always reminds me of that movie I love: Who's Killing the Great Chefs of Europe.
Yummy Newberg sauce.
Have you visited Lisa at Lisa is Cooking? She has discovered a book on sauces...I put it on my wish list. Between the two of you, I'll be all sauced up. Hah! You can take that any way you like.
Gosh, I'm wordy today.

Reggie Darling said...

My goodness, but that looks to be a mighty tasty dish you've made! I would be more than happy to dig into such a creation. It is interesting to see the current vogue for eggs in dinner dishes served in restaurants these days. Yesterday I ordered a penne pasta dish at Crown, one of the swellest of-the-moment restaurants on the UES her in New York City, and it came with a poached egg on top of it. It was delicious! Reggie

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Such an enjoyable post. This recipe would be lovely when having guests for brunch.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

It's been so long since I visited Hearst Castle. I, too, am a chronic collector of historic house and National Park pamphlets. WR Hearst does have a special, and showy place in the annals of American "royalty."

Erica said...

I love all your posts... They very interesting. That dish looks delicious!

Carole said...

Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole's Chatter is collecting links to posts about breakfast dishes. I do hope you link this in. This is the link . Please do check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Cheers

Carole said...

Deana, thanks for joining the link up for Food on Friday on Carole's Chatter. I hope you enjoyed looking at some of the other links. I have been reading them all and am blown away by all the great ideas! Cheers

Ps I am signing up to follow your blog. A follow back would be great – or maybe you have already?

lisa is cooking said...

Wow, the table setting and the ketchup and mustard are interesting. Not what I'd expect here. But, eggs newburg does seem very fitting. It looks fantastic!